He was a brother of Jacob Abbott, and was associated with him in the management of Abbott's Institute, New York City, and in the preparation of his series of brief historical biographies. Dr. Abbott graduated at Bowdoin College in 1825, prepared for the ministry at Andover Theological Seminary, and between 1830 and 1844, when he retired from the ministry in the Congregational Church, preached successively at Worcester, Roxbury and Nantucket, all in Massachusetts. Owing to the success of a little work, The Mother at Home, he devoted himself, from 1844 onwards, to literature. He was a voluminous writer of books on Christian ethics, and of popular histories, which were credited with cultivating a popular interest in history. He is best known as the author of the widely popular History of Napoleon Bonaparte (1855), in which the various elements and episodes in Napoleon's career are described. Abbott takes a very favourable view towards his subject throughout. Also among his principal works are: History of the Civil War in America (1863-1866), and The History of Frederick II, Called Frederick the Great (New York, 1871).
In general, except that he did not write juvenile fiction, his work in subject and style closely resembles that of his brother, Jacob Abbott.
He died at Fair Haven, Connecticut. In 1910, a series of twenty short biographies of historical characters by J. S. C. and Jacob Abbott, was published. Their brother, Gorham Dummer Abbott, was also an author.