The situation was this: Pearson and his fellow Calvinists wanted someone from their theological camp to be appointed Harvard’s new Hollis Professor of Divinity. The previous one, David Tappan, had died. Instead, Henry Ware, a Unitarian, was chosen. Worse, a similarly liberal theologue, Samuel Webber, was selected as Harvard’s new president, replacing Joseph Willard, who had been a Calvinist and supporter of Pearson's causes but had died in office during the controversy. Pearson had been acting president in the interim between Willard and Webber, but had never been seriously considered for the post. The Unitarians were in the ascendancy. Founded to train Calvinist ministers, Harvard been dominated by the creed ever since, until the Unitarians broke away, arguing that the college was dedicated to Christianity not Calvinism. What else could the snubbed Pearson do? On March 26, 1806, he resigned in a conspicuous huff, writing that he had been unhappy for the last seven years of his twenty at Harvard.
Jedidiah Morse, who, like Pearson and Willard, was an advocate for the old, orthodox Calvinist views, established a monthly magazine. The Panoplist, later The Panoplist and Missionary Magazine, to further the cause against the liberals. His advocacy did not go down well with his Charlestown parishioners, according to Reverend Bentley. In his diary he wrote that Morse’s conduct in the Harvard controversy “has cost him the favor of the Clergy who… spare no oppertunity [sic] to bespatter him… we may expect the noise of this troublesome man is much over,” especially since he was busy writing a new geography.  On the contrary, however, Morse was the one who gave voice to Pearson's (and others') novel idea of founding a seminary to rival Harvard. In The Panoplist he wrote of a crusade against those “who, by philosophy and cunning craftiness, wherewith they lie in wait to deceive, are secretly and assiduously undermining the fabric of Christianity.” To this end, he called for “a vigorous band of young men, already trained for this holy war, armed with the whole armor of God, and ready for the attack.”  And the place where the new seminary was to be founded? That was yet to be determined, but Andover already had something of a leg up, since Pearson had retreated there after his Cambridge resignation.
1. The name in Greek means “giant claw.” See http://iceage.museum.state.il.us/mammals/jefferson’s-ground-sloth. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
2. Conrad Wright, The Beginnings of Unitarianism in America (Boston: Starr King Press, distributed by Beacon Press, 1955), 278, quoting from notes copied into the “Commonplace Book” of John Eliot’s brother Ephraim.
3. Bentley, May 7, 1809.
4. Quoted in Stephen E. Berk, Calvinism versus Democracy: Timothy Dwight and the Origins of American Evangelical Orthodoxy (Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1974), 181.