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Moses Waddel
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5th President of the University of Georgia
Term 1819 – August 1829
Predecessor Robert Finley
Successor Alonzo S. Church
Born June 20, 1770(1770-06-20)
Rowan County, North Carolina
Died July 21, 1840 (aged 70)
Athens, Georgia
Alma mater Hampden-Sydney College
Profession Educator

Moses Waddel (June 20, 1770 - July 21, 1840) [1] was an American educator and minister in antebellum Georgia and South Carolina. Famous as a teacher during his life, Moses Waddel was author of the bestselling book Memoirs of the Life of Miss Caroline Elizabeth Smelt.[2]


Life and work

Born in 1770 in Rowan County, North Carolina, Waddel graduated in 1791 from Hampden-Sydney College with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Hanover.

Waddel (pronounced Waddle) began his ministry in the low country of South Carolina, but coming to view Charleston, South Carolina sophistication as sinful, departed for the backwoods 'upcountry'. In 1794, he founded his first 'log cabin academy' at Carmel near Appling in Columbia County, Georgia. In 1801, Waddel moved to Vienna and then Willington, South Carolina, where he founded the famous Willington Academy in 1804. These prep schools trained the future elite of Georgia and South Carolina with a strict classical education, in an environment shrewdly calculated by Waddel to foster self reliance and self motivation. Graduates generally entered university at the Junior year. The Debating Society in Augustus Baldwin Longstreet's Georgia Scenes takes place at Willington and, as written by Longstreet himself, "is as literally true as the frailty of memory would allow it to be."

In 1819, Waddel further enlarged his fame with Memoirs of the Life of Miss Caroline Elizabeth Smelt.[2] Difficult reading today for its overwrought and pious sentimentality, Memoirs was a smash bestseller reprinted in the U.S. and Great Britain.

Considered the foremost educator in the South, Waddel "received an urgent and persistent invitation" to revitalize the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens.[3] He became the fifth president and served from 1819 until his resignation in August 1829.[1] Waddel found the school "nearly extinct, consisting of only seven students with three professors". With great industry he scoured the state and soon built enrollment to one hundred students.[1] He acquired money for the library, garnered state funding, and raised three new buildings: Philosophical Hall (1821), New College (1823) and Demosthenian Hall (1824).[1] As said by Longstreet, "The effect of his coming to this Institution was magical. It rose instantly to a rank which it had never held before, and which, I am happy to add, it has maintained ever since."[4]

Waddel was said to possess only an ordinary intellect but combined with an iron will. This 'Cromwell of the Classroom' produced a generation of Southern leaders including William H. Crawford, Madison’s Secretary of the Treasury and 1824 US Presidential candidate; Hugh S. Legaré, editor of the Southern Review; Governor and U.S. Senator George McDuffie of South Carolina; Judge James L. Petigru, the Unionist who famously stated that South Carolina was too small to be a nation and too large for an insane asylum; Governor George Rockingham Gilmer of Georgia; Judge Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, author of Georgia Scenes and president of two universities, and John C. Calhoun. Andrew Jackson is said to have (perhaps mistakenly) claimed Waddel's influence.[5][6]

Waddel died on July 21, 1840, in Athens, Georgia.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "From Ahmedunggar to Lavonia: Presidents at the University of Georgia 1785-1997". Athens, Georgia: GHargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Georgia. March 13, 2001. Retrieved 2007-04-15.  
  2. ^ a b "USC Special Collections: Women in the Quaker Tracts" (books), Melinda K. Hayes, Librarian, Specialized Libraries & Archival Collections, University of Southern California, 2006-11-22, webpage: USC.
  3. ^ Waddel, John Newton (1891). Memorials of Academic Life: Being an Historical Sketch of the Waddel Family. Richmond, Virginia: Presbyterian Committee of Publication. p. 69.  
  4. ^ Wadell, p.76
  5. ^ Parton. Life of Andrew Jackson. 1. pp. 62–63.  
  6. ^ Wadell, p.68


  • Boney, F. N. (2000). A Pictorial History of the University of Georgia. University of Georgia Press. pp. 14–16. ISBN 0-8203-2198-2.  

External links

Preceded by
Robert Finley
President of the University of Georgia
1819 – 1829
Succeeded by
Alonzo S. Church


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