John Watson (college president)

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John Watson
First President of Jefferson College
In office
August 29, 1802 – November 30, 1802
Succeeded by James Dunlap
Personal details
Born 1771
Died November 30, 1802
Washington County, Pennsylvania
Spouse(s) Margaret
Alma mater Canonsburg Academy
College of New Jersey

John Watson was the first principal and president of and professor of moral philosophy at Jefferson College.

Watson, a native of Western Pennsylvania, was born in 1771 and was a student at Canonsburg Academy (later Jefferson College, now Washington & Jefferson College).[1] He was a student of the school's founder, John McMillan, who was arranged for him to attend the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), from where he graduated in 1797.[2] Watson married McMillan's second daughter, Margaret.[2] In his time, Watson was known as an accomplished Latin and Greek scholar.[1] He was one of the founders of the Philo Literary Society at Jefferson College.[3]

A frail and intense man, in sharp contrast with his mentor and father-in-law McMillan, Watson was elected to the Presidency of Jefferson College (now Washington & Jefferson College) on August 29, 1802. Watson died on November 30, 1802, only three months after his ascension to the presidency and 2 days after the first Jefferson College diplomas were awarded.[2] McMillan carried out his duties until the election of James Dunlap as the second president of Jefferson College.[2]


  1. ^ a b "John Watson (1802-1802)". U. Grant Miller Library Digital Archives. Washington & Jefferson College. 2003-09-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d Coleman, Helen Turnbull Waite (1956). Banners in the Wilderness: Early years of Washington and Jefferson College. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 60–61. ISBN 3-540-63293-X. 
  3. ^ McClelland, W.C. (1903). "A History of Literary Societies at Washington & Jefferson College". The Centennial Celebration of the Chartering of Jefferson College in 1802. Philadelphia: George H. Buchanan and Company. pp. 111–132. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Position created
President of Jefferson College
Succeeded by
James Dunlap