Reverend Francis Wayland, 1796-1856, was a prominent Baptist minister, the president of Brown University (1826-1855), pastor of Providence’s First Baptist Church, and an influential moral philosopher.
Wayland, the son and namesake of a Baptist minister, was born in New York City and graduated from Union College. Then, after two years of medical study, he attended Andover Theological Seminary and entered the Baptist ministry. Wayland’s first assignment was minister of the First Baptist Church of Boston from 1821 to 1826. There he met his first wife, Lucy L. Lincoln, by whom he had three sons prior to her death in 1834. In 1838, he married Hepsy Sage who survived him.
As the author of fourteen books dealing with such topics as education, political economy, slavery, evangelical Protestantism, and social reform, the conservative Wayland stressed the notion that individual conscience was a reliable guide for action, but only if it were informed by religious training and common sense. Such books as Elements of Moral Science (1835) a popularly-written treatise on personal ethics; Elements of Political Economy (1837); and The Elements of Intellectual Philosophy (1854) were widely-read and very influential.
As President of Brown University from 1826 to 1855 Wayland advocated what were then controversial educational reforms: that some courses of study could last less than the traditional four years, that a student be allowed to choose his own courses, and that a professor be paid according to how many students studied with him. After years of confrontation with the college’s trustees, Wayland resigned his presidency in 1855 and soon assumed the pastorate of Providence’s famed First Baptist Church. As a minister who believed that the measure of a good pastor was not his learning or oratorical skills, but rather his evangelical skills, Wayland was well-suited for his new post. For forty years as college president and pastor, Francis Wayland exerted great influence over his community, state and nation