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Mercer University Presidents

John Leadley Dagg (1844-1854)

  • Tripled the student body to a total of 181
  • Oversaw the construction of four brick buildings 
  • Initiated a three-year bachelor of divinity degree 
  • Heard the first resolutions at the Georgia Baptist Convention for removal of the University from Penfield
  • Lame because of an ankle injury, practically blind from studying Greek by candlelight, and only able to speak above a loud whisper. W. L. Kilpatrick, an 1850 graduate and eventual trustee, said of Dagg, "He can't walk and he can't talk, he can't read and he can't write, but he is a very good president."
  • Quick bio: (1794-1884); D.D.; spouses: Fanny H. Thornton (1817) and Mary Young Davis (1832)


Dagg to Professor Benjamin O. Pierce, letter excerpt, February 19, 1848:

"You inquire, what books our Library needs. I answer, All books of all sorts....We except only works of fiction, and light reading, and those of an immoral tendency. In Theology, we need a complete set of the ancient Fathers, and of the Reformers and indeed the distinguished Divines of every age. Our Library at present is so small, that there is very little risk of its being supplied with more copies of any work, than will be found useful."

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