Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Davidson, Robert

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DAVIDSON, Robert, educator, b. in Elkton, Md., in 1750; d. 13 Dec., 1812. He was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1771, appointed instructor there in 1773, and in 1774 was given the chair of history and belles-lettres. In the latter year he was also licensed to preach, and a year later was ordained by the second Philadelphia presbytery, becoming Dr. Ewing's assistant in the first church. In 1775 he composed a metrical dialogue, which was recited at commencement before the Continental congress, and in July of the same year, one month after the battle of Bunker Hill, delivered before several military companies a sermon from the text “For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God.” In 1777 the occupation of Philadelphia by the British compelled him to retire to Delaware. In 1784 he was appointed vice-president of the newly organized Dickinson college, Carlisle, Pa., and given the chair of history and belles-lettres there, also acting as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Carlisle. He held this last office till his death, and succeeded by his tact in harmonizing the discordant elements in his congregation. In 1794 he preached twice before troops on their way to suppress the whiskey insurrection, and in 1799 delivered a eulogy of Washington. After Dr. Nisbet's death in 1804, Dr. Davidson discharged the duties of president of the college till 1809, when he resigned. He had a high reputation as a scholar, but was especially fond of astronomy, and invented an ingenious cosmosphere or compound globe. He was also a skilful draughtsman, and was the composer of several pieces of sacred music. Besides numerous sermons, he published an “Epitome of Geography, in Verse,” for the use of schools (1784); “The Christian's A, B, C,” or the 119th psalm in metre, each stanza beginning with a different letter (1811); and a “New Metrical Version of the Psalms,” with an- notations (1812). — His son, Robert, clergyman, b. in Carlisle, Pa., 23 Feb., 1808; d. in Philadelphia, Pa., 6 April, 1876, was graduated at Dickinson college in 1828, and at Princeton theological seminary in 1831. He was pastor of the second Presbyterian church in Lexington, Ky., in 1832-'40, and in the latter year became president of Transylvania university there. After his resignation in 1842 he held pastorates in New Brunswick, N. J., in 1843-'59, New York city in 1860-'4, and Huntington, L. I., in 1864-'8, removing to Philadelphia in the last-named year. Mr. Davidson was for a quarter of a century a member of the American board of commissioners for foreign missions, was permanent clerk of the general assembly in 1845-'50, and in 1869 was a delegate to the general assembly of the Free church of Scotland, in Edinburgh.