Biography of Jesse Mercer

MERCER, Jesse, clergyman, was born in Halifax county, N.C., Dec. 16, 1769; son of the Rev. Silas Mercer born 1745. His parents removed to Georgia in 1775, and settled in Wilkes county, but returned to North Carolina at the outbreak of the Revolution, where he remained until 1788, when he once more settled in Georgia. He was almost wholly self-educated, and was received the Baptist church in 1787. He was married, Jan. 31, 1788, to Sabrina Chivers, and was ordained, Nov. 7, 1789, by the Rev. Silas Mercer and the Rev. Sanders Walker. He was pastor of churches in Greene, Oglethorpe, Wilkes, Hancock and Putnam counties, 1789-1840, during which time he travelled extensively throughout the state. He was also the leader of a political party in Wilkes county, and was sent by them as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1798. He was president of the general Baptist missionary convention, 1816, and represented the board in the general conventions of 1820 and 1826. He was for a time corresponding secretary of the board of trustees of the co-operating Baptist associations for instructing and evangelizing the Creek Indians. He organized the general committee of the Georgia Baptists, which resulted in the Georgia Baptist convention, and was president of the convention for eighteen consecutive years, and presiding officer of the Georgia association up to the time of his death. He was [p.343] influential in establishing Mount Enon academy in Richmond county in 1807, and was one of the founders of Mercer Institute, Penfield, Greene county, in 1833, named in his honor, which became Mercer university in 1837, and was removed to Macon in 1870. He gave the sum of $40,000 to the university during his life and by will, and served as a trustee, 1838-41. He gave about $25,000 to other religious and educational institutions, among them Columbian college, Washington, D.C. He received the honorary degree D.D. from Brown university in 1835. He edited the Christian Index, the first Baptist newspaper published in Georgia, which he purchased of Dr. W. T. Brantly, of Philadelphia, in 1833, and established at his home in Washington, Ga., and in 1840 he gave it to the Georgia Baptist Convention. He collected a volume of hymns entitled Mercer's Cluster, and is the author of: History of the Georgia Baptist Association (1836). He died in Washington, Ga., Sept. 6, 1841.

The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Volume X. Rossiter Johnson, ed., Boston: The Biographical Society, 1904.

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