December 16

Jesse Mercer

December 16, 1769 - Atlanta

He wrote the section of Georgia’s constitution that guarantees religious liberty to its citizens.

Jesse Mercer was born in North Carolina in 1769 and migrated to Georgia with his family as a child. A preacher’s son, he was ordained a Baptist minister and was a gifted preacher who pastored seven churches in his life, several at the same time. But his wider influence came through his involvement in state and national organizations. He helped found the institution that became the Georgia Baptist Convention in 1822, and was its president until his death.

Mercer purchased a Washington D.C. Baptist newspaper named the Christian Index, and moved it to Georgia. He edited the paper for seven years and it became the official newspaper of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Mercer was a strong advocate of education. He helped establish the school that became Mercer University in 1833. Mercer and his wife personally donated one-third of the school’s endowment. The Baptist college eventually relocated to Macon, where it remains, the legacy of the man born in North Carolina on December 16, 1769, Today in Georgia History.