Dr. John N. Waddell: Christian Education in its Principles

Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History:

John Newton Waddell was born on April 2, 1812 in Willington, South Carolina to the Rev. Moses Waddell and his wife Eliza Woodson Pleasant Waddell. He received his education at the University of Georgia, attending there from 1826-1829 and graduating with the Bachelor of Arts degree. He taught at an Academy in Willington, SC from 1830-1832 and was principal of a grammar school in Athens, Georgia from 1833-1834. For a time he turned his hand to farming in South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi, 1835-1841, before answering a call to the ministry.

He was licensed to preach by Mississippi Presbytery on 15 September 1841 and then served as stated supply for the Mt. Hermon Presbyterian Church of Smith County, Mississippi in 1842. He was then ordained to the pastorate by Tombeckbee Presbytery on 23 October 1843, initially serving as stated supply for the Montrose and Mt. Moriah churches of Newton County, MS, while also serving as a teacher at the Montrose Academy from 1841-1848.

Rev. Waddell next served as stated supply for the Presbyterian church in Oxford, MS and concurrently as a professor of ancient languages at the University of Mississippi, from 1849-1857, having formerly served on the school’s Board of Trustees prior to his appointment. From 1857-1861, Waddell was a professor at the Synodical College in LaGrange, Tennessee. He then worked as an agent for the Bible Society attached to the Confederate States Army, from 7 February to 7 May, 1863 and as Commissioner to the Army of Mississippi (CSA), from 1863 until the close of the war in 1865.

After the war, Rev. Waddell was Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, from 1865 to 1874, and during these years he occasionally served as stated supply for the Oxford and Hopewell churches. Leaving the University of Mississippi, Rev. Waddell was Executive Secretary for the Georgia Commission on Education, from 1874-1879. He somehow also managed to serve as stated supply for the Lauderdale St. church in Memphis during these same years.

From 1879 to 1888, Waddell was Chancellor of the Southwest Presbyterian University, located in Clarksville, Tennessee. He is credited with calling Dr. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, the father of President Woodrow Wilson, to teach at Clarksville. Illness forced his retirement in 1888, though he apparently remained in the Clarksville area until 1891, and he then resided in Avondale (Birmingham), Alabama from 1891 to 1895. Rev. Waddell died in 1895, and is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Honors conferred upon Rev. Waddell included the Doctor of Divinity degree, awarded by the University of Nashville in 1850 and the Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.), awarded by the University of Georgia in 1873. Rev. Waddell is noted as having called to order the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. He also served as Moderator of the PCUS General Assembly in 1868 and as stated clerk for General Assembly from 1861-1865.

Prior to the War and before the Old School Presbyterian Church was divided North and South, Rev. Waddell brought a sermon before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (Old School), as it met in New Orleans on May 12, 1858. His message was brought on behalf of the Presbyterian Board of Education, and was titled Christian Education in its Principles: ...


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