Sylvester Graham was born in West Suffield, Connecticut. From a very young age, he was raised by neighbors due to his father's death and his mother's mental health problems. Graham's father and grandfather had been Calvinist ministers, and he wanted to become a minister, too, but poverty forced him to delay his studies. In 1823, at age thirty-one, Graham entered Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, but withdrew after a short time due to mental illness. He continued studying, and in 1826 became a Presbyterian minister. He had apocalyptic visions and became obsessed with reforming society through diet, nutrition, and physical effort. In particular, he argued that consuming meat and alcohol caused disease and immorality. One key component of his dietary prescription was the consumption of Graham flour, which is coarsely ground, unsifted ("unbolted") wheat flour, often pressed into the dry cracker he is remembered for today. In his later years Graham lived in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he died in 1851.