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This Day in Georgia History

June 20, 1770

Moses Waddel Born

To view the Moses Waddel historical marker, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Famous antebellum educator Moses Waddel was born in Rowan County, North Carolina. With an aptitude for learning at an early age, he became a schoolmaster in South Carolina at age 14. He subsequently moved to Georgia, where he opened a school near Greensboro in 1788. He graduated from Sydney College in Virginia in 1791 and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. Waddel returned to teach in Georgia, where one of his students was future U.S. Treasury Secretary and presidential candidate William H. Crawford. In 1795, Waddel married the sister of John C. Calhoun and moved to South Carolina, where he taught her brother and future U.S. vice president. An academy that he opened in the early 1800s soon gained national attention, and in 1819 Waddel was offered the presidency of the University of Georgia. Arriving to take over the helm, Waddel was shocked to discover that the “university” consists of one faculty member and seven students. Though he served as president for only a decade, the university grew rapidly under Waddel’s leadership. Resigning in 1829, he moved to South Carolina. After a stroke in 1836, he returned to Athens to live with his son, who taught at the university. Moses Waddel died in 1840.