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Mercer University Presidents

Billington McCarthy Sanders (1833-1840)

  • Billington SandersLed in establishing Mercer Institute in Penfield, Georgia in January 1833
  • Unanimously elected the first president of Mercer University in 1838
  • Also served as superintendent, teacher, steward, and farmer
  • Developed campus from two double log cabins and a dining room to seven buildings 
  • Increased student body from 39 to 95 students
  • Quick bio: (1789-1854); A.B. degree; ​spouses: Martha Lamar (1812) and Cynthia Holliday (1824)


Sanders to Samuel Wait on October 15, 1833 (letter excerpt):

"We are always in school by sun rise, spend in study on an average more than seven hours per day—besides about two at night....I find less difficulty to get the students to labor than to study. I go with them myself—never hesitate to assist them in the most unpleasant part of it. I endeavor to have it considered honorable to volunteer in the most humiliating labor. If something is to be done more disagreeable than common I ask for volunteers. If they hesitate I volunteer myself and ask, 'Who will assist me?'"

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