Contributions-Wait Agent 225
meeting at Wake Forest on February 3, 1839, the very day on which
the institution which had been Wake Forest Institute was starting on
its career as Wake Forest College, asked President Samuel Wait to
take the field as their agent. This was a work for which he had proved
qualifications. As the first Agent of the Baptist State Convention, in
the years 1830-33, he had traveled to every part of the State and had
become acquainted with the Baptists of every Association, and had
shown wonderful skill and tact in winning them from indifference and
often from violent hostility to sympathy with the new Convention in
its purpose to foster missions and build an institution to train ministers
for Baptist churches. In November, 1838, the Baptist State
Convention had asked him to take the agency of that body, and he had
accepted, probably with the understanding that the Trustees of the
College would at their February meeting ask him to become their
agent also. During the winter vacation of the Institute, which began in
November and continued until February, he had already been working
in the Convention agency.2
Before taking the field Wait wrote a letter which was published in
the Biblical Recorder of February 23, 1839. This letter was addressed
to the Baptists of the State and deals with matters both of the
Convention and of the College. That part which treats of the College
is interesting since it sets forth at the very beginning of the institution
in its new role its condition and the means by which its president
believed it might be brought to its proper place in the services of our
State and denomination. A summary of this part of the letter is given
The work of education has only just begun; it is now impeded by
lack of funds, and yet our churches are greatly in need of trained
ministers. The College was created primarily to supply that need; it is
the child of the Convention, the child of many prayers; the Lord has
shown his approval of it; in five years it has had four great revivals.
Now it needs the help of the brethren. They can help with their
prayers; they can help with their patronage of which it is entirely
worthy, and while all should be free
2 Convention minutes for 1840, p. 8.
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