General Assembly Moderator

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The surnames of Alexander, Miller, Hodge, and Warfield represent familiar  faculty from the history of Princeton Theological Seminary, but despite his having taught in the seminary for nearly thirty years, Alexander Taggart McGill is not very well known. He was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, February 24, 1807, to his Scots-Irish parents, John, who was a weaver, […]

James was born to James and Elizabeth Blythe in recently established Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, October 28, 1765. According to W. B. Sprague in Annals of the American Pulpit, young James was receiving a classical education in a local school at his father’s behest when he decided he did not care for some of the […]

Ezra Stiles was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, June 13, 1786, to Rev. Zebulon and Sarah Ely. Zebulon tutored his son to prepare him for college at Yale which was the haven of New England theology. Following graduation from Yale he returned home for a period of theological studies with his father. Ezra was licensed to […]

In the history of Presbyterianism in the United States the surname Rice is a common one. For example, influential in Kentucky were David Rice (1733-1816) known as “Father Rice” for founding the Presbyterian Church in the state, and there was also the polemicist, minister, and educator Nathan Lewis Rice (1807-1877). In Virginia, key figures included […]

The image of Samuel Stanhope Smith shows him in his later years. Archibald Alexander described his impressions of Dr. Smith when they first met at an earlier time in his tenure at Princeton College. I had met Dr. Samuel Stanhope Smith in Philadelphia, six or seven years before; and certainly, viewing him as in his […]

The photograph was taken during the second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in 1974. It shows Stated Clerk Morton H. Smith at the podium as he presented a framed copy of the document “A Message to All the Churches of Jesus Christ” to the moderator of the first general assembly meeting, […]

John Blair Smith was born June 12, 1756 in Pequea, Pennsylvania. His mother, Elizabeth, was the sister of the first two ministers of Fagg’s Manor Presbyterian Church, Samuel and John Blair. The newborn Smith was named for his uncle John Blair. In his early education John showed an insatiable hunger for knowledge that was fed […]

John Hunter was born on June 29, 1806 to James and Eleanor (Thompson) Morrison in Wallkill Township, Orange County, New York. His early studies were completed in Bloomfield Academy, New Jersey. At twenty-two years of age he professed his faith in Christ in the Presbyterian Church on Cedar Street in New York (currently, Fifth Avenue […]

James Woodrow was born in Carlisle, England, May 30, 1828, the son of Rev. Thomas Woodrow, D.D., a native of Scotland. In 1886 the family moved to Canada, then the next year settled in the United States in Chillicothe, Ohio, where Rev. Woodrow was installed pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. James’s preparatory education for […]

The recent death in Northern Ireland of former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and the passing of Ian Paisley in 2014 are reminders of the more recent conflicts caused by England’s rule of the Irish. Some in the States will remember the days when the evening news often reported violence between English troops and the Irish Republican Army […]

Last week a biography of Dr. Abel McIver Fraser (1856-1933), who was for most of his ministry the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Staunton, Virginia, was posted on Presbyterians of the Past.  This week a PDF copy of the book honoring him edited by William E. Hudson is available for download. At the time the book […]

The first annual meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) held in 1789 was convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, likewise the location of the second meeting. The third assembly, the one that John Woodhull would moderate, was also held in Philadelphia. From 1789 through the division of […]