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Mercer University Presidents

Shelton Palmer Sanford (acting 1856-1858)

  • Served on the faculty as a mathematician for 52 years
  • Published a popular series of analytic arithmetic books which were helpful in drawing attention to Mercer University's move to Macon in 1871
  • Organized and equipped a voluntary corps of Mercer cadets during the Civil War
  • Served as captain of a military district that included Penfield and the Mercer student body
  • Carried a gold-headed cane inscribed with the names of the Mercer volunteers until his death
  • Continued to teach with Joseph E. Willet when the war made a meeting of the board of trustees impossible and the faculty reluctantly voted to close Mercer's doors.  They continued to teach until the trustees met and made formal arrangements to keep the school open.
  • Quick bio: (1816-1896); A.B., A.M., LL.D.; spouse: Maria F. Dickerman (1840)


Letter excerpt from W. D. Holland to Urban Rumble concerning the creation of a military company on campus led by Professor Sanford, February 21, 1861:

"I have joined a military company & I can tell you I have begun to put on quite a soldier like appearance since you saw me last. We have about one hundred & five in our company. Prof. Sanford is our Captain & he is an excellent drill officer too. I tell you what the old fellow marches us around these old fields here considerably every Saturday."

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