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Mercer University Presidents

Archibald John Battle (1872-1889)

  • Provided temporary classrooms on campus after the University's move from Penfield to Macon
  • Envisioned a main academic building (now the Administration Building), hiring G. P. Randall of Chicago as the architect. The building's original drawings and plans were destroyed in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.
  • Was the first president to live in the Administration Building, occupying the first two stories of the left wing
  • Purchased eight lots across Elm Street for construction of the Mess Hall
  • Weathered both a financial depression and a campus meningitis outbreak in 1873
  • Established Mercer's School of Law 
  • Quick bio: (1826-1907); A.B., M.A., D.D., LL.D.; author, clergyman; spouse: Mary Elizabette Guild (1847)


Diary entries of Mercer student Aurelian Flavius Cooledge, related to the outbreak of meningitis on campus early in 1873:

Sunday, January 19, 1873
"Great deal of sicknes [sic] in the Hall. The physician comes out two or three times a day. Mr. Seago has gone home. The Dr. says that Mr. Gauldens [sic] case is a bad one. Mr. West has been delirous [sic] for two or three days, screamed like a madman last night."

Monday, January 20, 1873
"The physicians regard Messrs. Hamilton & Harverys cases as bad this morning. Mr. West died at a little after two this evening. Several of the boys have gone home & others are intending to go on account of sickness. Mr. W. parents came to-night."

Tuesday, January 21, 1873
"Set up from 12 ½ o'clock with the corpse until after 4 oclock [sic]. Some of the professors & physicians advised the students to go home. Packed my trunk & went & stayed at the Hotel & left Macon at ten minutes past 11."

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