Gideon Blackburn

Gideon Blackburn

Gideon Blackburn (August 27, 1772–August 23, 1838) was an American Presbyterian clergyman, missionary, and college president.

Blackburn was born in Augusta County, Virginia, of Scots-Irish descent. He was orphaned at the age of eleven, he moved to eastern Tennessee in 1787 to live with relatives. He worked at a sawmill and as a surveyor in order to obtain an education. As a youth he studied at Martin Academy in Washington County, Tennessee, was ordained and received his preacher's license from the Abingdon Presbytery, Virginia, in 1792. [ Gideon Blackburn, Centre College President, 1827 - 1830] , Centre College website]

In the 1790s he began his ministerial career as pastor at Maryville, Tennessee. His first notable project (1803-1809) was as a cultural missionary to the Cherokee, opening two schools for Cherokee children in southeast Tennessee -- one on the Hiwassee River near Charleston, Bradley County, in 1804 (where future Chief John Ross attended), and one at the mouth of Sale Creek, Hamilton County in August 1806. Both schools were terminated in 1809 or 1810 after Blackburn's reputation was damaged when some Creeks accused Blackburn, his brother Samuel, and the Cherokee chiefs John McIntosh and The Ridge of scheming to illegally ship whiskey through Creek territory. [ Gideon Blackburn] in the "Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture"]

Blackburn served as pastor at Franklin, Tennessee, in 1811-13, and at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1823-27, and as president of Centre College, Kentucky, from 1827-30. He moved his family to Carlinville, Illinois in 1833, and died there, in the process of founding a new seminary, four days short of his 66th birthday.

Blackburn Theological Seminary, now Blackburn College, in Carlinville, Illinois was named after him in 1859. Blackburn was a great-uncle to Kentucky Governor Luke P. Blackburn.cite book |last=Baird |first=Nancy Disher |title=Luke Pryor Blackburn: Physician, Governor, Reformer |year=1979 |publisher=The University Press of Kentucky |location=Lexington, Kentucky |isbn=0813102480]


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