John Leadley Dagg (1794-1884)
Dagg was born near Middleburg, Virginia, on February 13, 1794. He received limited formal education, attending school from 1803 to 1810. In 1817 he married Fanny H. Thornton, with whom he had four children. In 1832 he married Mary Young Davis; they had one child.
After beginning his career as a Baptist pastor and teacher in northern Virginia, Dagg served from 1825 to 1834 as the minister of a prominent Philadelphia church, despite being lame and almost blind. After he lost his voice as well, he resigned his pulpit and became president and professor at Haddington Literary and Theological Institute, near Philadelphia (1834-36), and then at Alabama Female Athenaeum, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (1836-44). In 1843 the University of Alabama awarded him an honorary doctorate of divinity.
As an educator and theologian, Dagg is best known for his work in Georgia between 1844 and 1870. From 1844 to 1856 he was on the faculty of Mercer University, then located in Penfield, as professor of theology and later president of the college. Under his leadership four brick buildings were constructed; the student body almost tripled, to a total of 181; and a three-year program leading to the bachelor of divinity degree was established, with three full-time professors.
In 1870 Dagg moved to Alabama, where he lived with a married daughter. He died on June 11, 1884, in Hayneville, Alabama. He is buried there in a grave approximately located and marked in 1957 by the Georgia Baptist Convention.
John Leadley Dagg, Autobiography of Rev. John L. Dagg: Written by Request, for the Perusal of His Family, and Not for Publication (Rome, Ga.: J. F. Shanklin, 1886).
Dictionary of Georgia Biography, ed. Kenneth Coleman and Charles S. Gurr (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983), s.v. "Dagg, John Leadley."
Robert G. Gardner, "John Leadley Dagg," Review and Expositor 54 (April 1957): 246-63.
Robert G. Gardner, "John Leadley Dagg of Georgia," Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History 1 (1968): 68-86.
Robert G. Gardner, Mercer University
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