Skip to Main Content

Mercer University Presidents

Otis Smith (1840-1844)

  • Presented diplomas to the first graduating class in 1841.  These grads included:
    • Richard Malcolm Johnson, educator/author 
    • Benjamin F. Tharpe, minister 
    • Abner R. Wellborn, physician
  • Received $40,000 bequest of Jesse Mercer to the University in 1841
  • Saw Mercer through a severe and widespread agricultural depression. Two impacts:
    • enrollment dropped from 132 students in 1840 to 50 in 1842
    • resignation of the entire faculty in 1842 (Professors Sanford, Mell, and Pierce were reelected)
  • Clergyman, educator 
  • Quick bio: (1800-1865); A.B. degree; spouse: Martha Womack (1827)


Smith in Circular, December 1840:

"Religious Worship. Every student is required to attend regularly morning and evening prayers; and preaching twice, and Sabbath school once each Sabbath."

"Labor. Each student is required to labor from 2 to 2½ hours, 5 days in each week. Those over 18 years, to receive 5 cents per hour for their labor, and the younger in proportion, to be paid at the end of each term."

This work by Mercer University Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License