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About Gideon Blackburn
Gideon Blackburn, Presbyterian minister, college president, and missionary to the Cherokees, was born in Augusta County, Virginia, on August 27, 1772. Orphaned in his youth, Blackburn moved to what is now East Tennessee in 1787 to live with his grandfather and uncle. In that same year he became an evangelical Presbyterian and decided to train for the ministry. He received his education at Martin's Academy, studied theology with Dr. Robert Henderson of Dandridge, and in 1792 received his license to preach from Abington Presbytery, which ordained him two years later.
Blackburn served as an itinerant chaplain in the Tennessee militia during the war with the Chickamaugas and Creeks (1788-94). He later claimed his military experience exposed him to the problems of the Cherokees and induced him to missionary work. More likely, the evangelical revival of 1800, which added 550 new members to Blackburn's congregations, convinced him to engage in more ambitious apostolic enterprises. In 1803 the Presbyterian General Assembly approved Blackburn's proposal to establish a school for Cherokee children and gave him $200 for living expenses. He obtained an additional $730 from private donors and, following a meeting with President Thomas Jefferson, the United States government. In the fall of 1803 Cherokee leaders granted him permission to begin his work.
President, Centre College, Danville, KY 1827-1830