Rufus Columbus Burleson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rufus C. Burleson

Rufus Columbus Burleson (August 7, 1823 – May 14, 1901)[1] was the president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, from 1851 to 1861 and again from 1886 to 1897.[2][3][4][5]


Burleson was born near Decatur in northern Alabama.[2][3][4] In 1840, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to study law at the University of Nashville but dropped out and started preaching at the First Baptist Church of Nashville.[2][4] He fell ill in 1841, and taught in Mississippi until 1845.[3][4] From 1846 to 1847, he attended the Western Baptist Literary and Theological Institute in Covington, Kentucky.[2][3] He then preached at the First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas.[2] On November 19, 1854, he baptized Sam Houston.[3]

He served as the second president of Baylor University from 1851 to 1861.[2] He moved to Waco University, later merged with Baylor, because of friction with Horace Clark, and he became its president.[3] He was again President of Baylor from 1886 to 1897.[2] In 1894, a boarder at his home accused H. Steen Morris (no relation to Burleson) of having committed a sexual assault. Burleson was accused by William Cowper Brann of having some knowledge of this, and thus, complicit, but Burleson was cleared by a grand jury and the accused, H. Steen Morris, was acquitted. The scandal likely contributed to his demotion to president emeritus in 1897 despite being cleared of criminal charges by a grand jury.[3]

He was president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas from 1892 to 1893.[2][3] He was asked in 1869 by Barnas Sears, a former president of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, to establish the Peabody Education Fund.[2][3] He also helped establish Bishop College, an historically black institution originally in Marshall, Texas, but later moved to Dallas.[3]

Burleson died in Waco in 1901.[2] The suburban city of Burleson in Johnson County south of Fort Worth, Texas, is named in his honor. So was Burleson College in Greenville, Texas.