Stephen Pearl Andrews, lawyer, abolitionist, and education innovator, the son of Elisha and Ann (Lathrop) Andrews, was born on March 22, 1812, at Templeton, Massachusetts, the youngest of eight children in a Baptist family. In 1828 he enrolled in the Classical Department of Amherst College. Two years later he accompanied an older brother and sister to Louisiana, where he was an instructor at Jackson Female Seminary. There he met Mary Ann Gordon, whom he married in 1835; the couple had four sons. Andrews began to study law and was admitted to the state bar in 1833. Shortly thereafter, he moved to New Orleans, where he established a successful law practice and became acquainted with abolitionist Lewis Tappan. The panic of 1837 and yellow fever epidemics resulted in Andrews's departure for Texas. In 1834 he settled with his family in Houston, where he achieved some prominence as a lawyer and became involved in real estate. During this time he devised a plan to abolish slavery in the republic through the purchase of slaves. Though he gained some support for his efforts, many people blamed him for stirring up trouble among the slaves. Because of his abolitionist efforts his home was mobbed in 1843, and he and his family were forced to leave Texas. The summer of that year he accompanied Tappan to England, where he endeavored to raise money for the purchase of slaves in the form of a loan from Great Britain to Texas. He influenced many British leaders, but the project was dropped when he was repudiated by Ashbel Smith, Texas chargé d'affaires.
While in England, Andrews became interested in the shorthand system of Isaac Pitman and, when he returned to the United States, opened a school of phonography in Boston. He added spelling reform to the list of his interests, moved to New York in 1847, and edited two magazines printed in phonetic type, the Anglo-Saxon and the Propagandist. In collaboration with Augustus F. Boyle, he compiled and published The Comprehensive Phonographic Class-Book (1845) and The Phonographic Reader (1845). In 1856 Andrews married his second wife, Esther Hussey Bartlett Jones. They did not have children. Andrews was reputed to have a good knowledge of thirty-two languages. He presented a deductive science of the universe, "universology," in his Basic Outline of Universology (1871). He was also involved in the woman suffrage movement and studied the works of Karl Marx. Andrews died on May 21, 1886.