Archibald Alexander

H-SC President, 1797-1806

Archibald Alexander A graduate of Liberty Hall Academy (later Washington College, now Washington and Lee University), Archibald Alexander had been on the Hampden-Sydney periphery from his conversion by John Blair Smith at a revival in 1789. Something of a prodigy, Alexander soon qualified for ordination and at age 19 became pastor of Cub Creek Church, where the elder Smith had started his ministry. He had twice been offered a position on the faculty.

In spring 1797 after Acting President Lacy's second four-year contract had not been renewed, Alexander, 24 years old, was elected President. A bachelor when he arrived, he ate with the students in the Steward's Hall and became quite a popular figure. He was astonishingly learned and was abreast of academic trends: he revamped the College's class structure for students, increased science instruction, and won from the Board a considerable degree of faculty autonomy; he increased the enrollment, and more students pursued the full degree course.

In 1806 he left for John Blair Smith's old church in Philadelphia. Alexander was also involved in the formation in 1808 of another organization that is still in existance today, the Pennsylvania Bible Society. Alexander was involved with the Society until his departure to Princeton four years later.  In 1812 he founded Princeton Theological Seminary.