Moses Hoge

H-SC President, 1807-1820

Moses Hoge At age 55, Moses Hoge was by far the oldest of Hampden-Sydney's early Presidents when elected, and was certainly the best known. A farm boy in the Valley, he heard a call to the ministry when he was twenty-six, left his plow and went to Liberty Hall Academy, where he did fine work but did not take a degree. Prepared for the ministry under the traditional apprentice-style system, he had been pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Shepherdstown, now West Virginia, for twenty years and was famous as a preacher, theological teacher, and tract-writer when he was elected President in June 1807. The Synod of Virginia held its annual meeting at the College that year, in the last week of October; many delegates stayed through Sunday, 1 November, the first day of the Hampden-Sydney fall term, and Hoge preached and presided at Holy Communion in the College Hall - in effect, this was the first presidential inauguration ceremony. From the start, Hoge's real interest was in training ministers, and his efforts laid the groundwork for the establishment of what became Union Theological Seminary at the South end of the College campus. Princeton gave both him and ex-President Alexander the D.D. in 1810. There was a decided (and to some people disturbing) increase in religious fervor among the students; but dissatisfaction with Hoge on several counts, ironically including the pattern of his theological instruction, culminated in open criticism by 1818. In 1820, after attending the American Bible Society convention in New York, he attended the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, where he died. Along the way he visited Princeton to see Samuel Stanhope Smith, whose preaching had helped lead him to the ministry over forty years earlier.