Davidson, Robert 1750-1812
Robert Davidson was born in 1750 in Elkton, Maryland. As a young man, he attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1771. During his time as a student he married a woman named Abigail, and the couple would enjoy more than thirty years together until her death in 1806. In 1772, at the age of twenty-two, Davidson was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Castle and was soon sent to preach at the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. He became a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania in 1773, during which time he worked as an assistant to the pastor Dr. John Ewing of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. The University awarded him a doctor of divinity degree in 1784, shortly before he left the city to take up residence in Carlisle.
Davidson came to Dickinson College as the Vice President as well as Professor of History and Belles Lettres. In 1785 he became pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, a position that he held for twenty-eight years until his death. In October 1785, he was named Acting Principal upon Charles Nisbet’s resignation, but in May 1786 the Board of Trustees restored Nisbet to his former office. In 1796, Davidson was elected as moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Following Nisbet’s death in 1804, Davidson was again elected Acting Principal. He held this position until his resignation in 1809. He is considered the second president of Dickinson College, although he never officially held that title.
In 1807, Robert Davidson married his second wife, Margaret Montgomery of Carlisle, who was thirty-one years his junior. Unfortunately, she died in March 1809 giving birth to their second son. Davidson resigned from his position at Dickinson College in that same year in order to devote himself completely to the church. On April 17, 1810 he married once again, this time to Jane Harris. He continued on his duties as the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Carlisle until his death on December 13, 1812.
Biographical Sketch: University of Pennsylvannia Archives
Annals of the American Pulpit, Volume 3 - 1860 (page 322)
Biographical Sketch: The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 6 - 1896 (page 428)
Biographical Sketch: The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Volume 3 - 1904 (here)
A sermon, on the freedom and happiness of the United States of America: preached in Carlisle, on the 5th Oct. 1794. And published at the request of the officers of the Philadelphia and Lancaster troops of light horse. By Robert Davidson, D.D. Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Carlisle, and one of the professors in Dickinson College - 29 pageshttp://deila.dickinson.edu/theirownwords/title/0018.htm
Read the Sermon Online at Dickinson College Digital Collections
About the Author About the Sermon
Dialogue, 1775: A Dialogue in verse, with two odes set to music, which was performed as an exercise, at Commencement, in the presence of the Continental Congress.
A Sermon on the War before several military companies, from 1 Chronicles 5:22 - July 1775
"Geography epitomized, or, A tour round the world. Being a short but comprehensive description of the terraqueous globe, attempted in verse, for the sake of the memory. And principally designed for the use of schools" 64 pages
An Epitome of Geography in verse, for the use of schools - 1784 (mistakenly attributed to James Davidson)
Published Discourses on the great National Festivals
An oration, on the independence of the United States of America: delivered on the 4th of July, 1787 (16 pages)
Funeral Eulogium upon the death of General Washington - 1799 (in a printed collection of such discourses)
A tribute to the memory of Dr. Nisbet - 1840 (an extract from which may be found in Dr. Samuel Miller's Life of Nisbet, pp. 290-296)
The Christian's A.B.C. (or the 119th Psalm, in metre) - 1811
A new metrical version of the whole book of Psalms: in various measures; more free, plain and harmonious, and more in the language of the New Testament, than former translations: with occasional notes and illustrations. Robert Davidson - 1812 - 418 pages
New Metrical Verson of the Psalms
A Funeral Sermon containing a sketch of his life and labours, was preached by his intimate friend, Dr. Robert Cathcart, of York.