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Henry Holcombe Tucker, D. D., LL. D.

The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881
      Henry Holcombe Tucker, D. D., LL. D., editor of the Christian Index, and perhaps the most brilliant Baptist Georgia has produced, was born in WarrenCounty, May 10, 1819. His father was the son of a wealthy planter, and was aman of culture and elegant address. His mother was a daughter of Rev. Henry Holcombe, D. D. Both families came from Virginia, where the former,especially, is well known and distinguished. When a mere child, young Tucker was taken to Philadelphia, where, with occasional interruptions, he remained until he was eighteen or nineteen years old.

      He received his preparatory education at the academic department of the University of Pennsylvania. Having gone through a marvelous amount of most exacting drill in Latin and Greek, he entered the university as Freshman in 1834, and remained until Senior half advanced, when he entered the Senior class of Columbian College, Washington, D. C., where he was graduated, A. B. in 1838. Years passed by, and in 1846 he was admitted to the bar in Forsyth, Monroe Co., Ga. He practised his profession until 1848, when he abandoned it to enter the Christian ministry. Selling his law books, he repaired to Mercer University to receive private instruction from its venerable president, Dr. Dagg. His desire was to enter fully and at once into the work of the Christian ministry, but strong pressure was brought to bear upon him, and he was induced reluctantly to give up his plans and become an educator. He taught young ladies for two or three years in the Southern Female College, LaGrange, Ga., and afterwards for a short time, in the Richmond Female Institute, Richmond, Va. In 1856 he was elected Professor of Belles-Lettres and Metaphysics in Mercer University, which position he held until 1862, when the institution was, in a measure, broken up by the war. In 1866 he was unanimously elected president of Mercer University, and it was during his administration. that the university was removed from Penfield to Macon. He has the credit of being one of the chief promoters of that change. Resigning the presidency of Mercer University in 1871, he went to Europe, taking his family with him, and was absent over a year. While there he assisted in the formation of the Baptist church in Rome, and baptized a man in the Tiber, probably the first time such an act was performed there since the days of the early Christians. While in Paris he officiated during a large part of one winter in the American chapel. In 1874 he was elected chancellor of the University of Georgia, a position which he filled four years. He is now the editor-in-chief of the Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., in the zenith of his powers, and wielding a pen of unusual brilliancy.

      Dr. Tucker was a regular pastor but once only, in 1854, at Alexandria, Va. Failing health compelled his resignation in less than a year, but he has never ceased to preach, and in many of the cities and towns on the Atlantic coast, from Maine to Georgia, he has proclaimed the truths of the gospel. His sermons always attract and delight large throngs by their originality, great vigor of thought and expression, and intense earnestness. A remarkable sermon, of his on "Baptism," preached at Saratoga in 1879, was published by the American Baptist Publication Society, and commanded very general attention because of its originality. About 1855 he published a series of letters on "Religious Liberty," addressed to the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, which were widely copied all over the United States. He has also published a number of sermons and addresses, one of the best of which is "The Right and the Wrong Way of raising Money for Religious and Benevolent Purposes." In 1868, J. B. Lippincott & Co. published for him a small volume entitled "The Gospel in Enoch," which excited much attention by its originality. Dr.Tucker's style of writing is polished and scholarly, racy, manly, pungent, and strongly Saxon, and, like his thoughts, logical and lucid. It never wearies, but always enchains and sparkles. His manner of speaking is bold, candid, and fearless. He is a logician by nature as well as by culture. His tone of mind is decidedly practical. He opposed secession, and debated the issue publicly; but when the war commenced he took sides with his own people, and, from first to last, co-operated heartily with the Confederates. One of the first to

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foresee the salt famine, he earnestly advocated the manufacture of salt, and soon became the president of a large salt manufacturing company. When smallpox prevailed in the country, he provided himself with pure vaccine virus and a lancet, and vaccinated all, old and young, black and white, whom he found willing to submit to the operation. He was the author and founder of the "Georgia Relief and Hospital Association," an institution which corresponded largely with the Northern Christian Commission, and which carried aid and comfort to tens of thousands of sick and wounded and dying Confederate soldiers. The institution was very popular with the Southern people, and enormous contributions to its support were made.

      He was baptized, in 1834, in the river Delaware, by the elder Brantly, and was ordained at La Grange, Ga., in 1851. The degree of D. D. was conferred on him by the Columbian College, Washington City, in 1860, and the degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by Mercer University in 1876.

      A most entertaining companion, he is a profound theologian, a well-informed man on all subjects, with a highly-cultured intellect.


[From William Cathcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881, reprint, 1988, pp. 1171-2. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]

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