Born: February 11, 1836, Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania.
Died: July 2, 1918, Columbus, Ohio.
Buried: Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.
Gladden’s birth name is variously reported as Solomon Washington Gladden or George Washington Gladden, but he later dropped the first name. His father, a school teacher, died when Washington was a young boy, and the family moved to New York.
He married Elizabeth Shores in 1852, and entered the Owego Academy, Tioga County, New York, in 1855, then Williams College in 1859.
After working as a newspaper reporter, Gladden became an ordained minister in 1860, serving pastorates in Brooklyn, New York (1860); Morrisania, New York (1861–66); North Adams, Massachusetts (1866–71); Springfield, Massachusetts (1875–82); and Columbus, Ohio. In Columbus, he was pastor of the First Congregational Church for 32 years.
From 1871–75, he was on the editorial staff of the New York Independent, and later, while pastor at Springfield, he edited the weekly periodical Sunday Afternoon.
In 1891, he was a delegate to the international congress of Congregationalists in London. He was also moderator of the Congregational Church in America, helped settle an anthracite coal strike in 1902, and was known as a social reformer.