III

SAMUEL WAIT AND THE CONVENTION

Samuel Wait,

1

one of
the men who helped institute the
North
Carolina Baptist State Convention, and who was afterwards the first
President of Wake Forest College, was born in Washington County,
New York, December 19, 1789. In 1806 his father, Joseph Wait,
moved to Middletown, Vermont, where on March 12, 1809, Samuel
Wait was baptized by Elder Sylvanus
Haynes into the
membership
of
the Baptist Church. In 1813 Wait felt called
to preach. To prepare
himself
for his calling
he entered
Salem
Academy in Washington
County, New York, where he studied
Greek and Hebrew under "the
celebrated linguist, Professor James Stephenson." Even at this early
day he saw the importance of an education for the ministerial calling,
and is reported to have said: "I have a great work to perform,
and am
anxious to begin it. It is an arduous
and tiresome
work
to get ready,
but I dare not begin till I feel some strength to meet the infidel on his
own ground, and this strength at this day must be derived from study."
On July 13, 1815, the church at Middletown licensed him
to
preach
for one year, and gave him
unlimited license on
December 16, 1815.
A year later he became pastor of
the Baptist Church at Sharon,
Massachusetts, which church called him
to ordination as a full
minister on June 3, 1818. Two weeks later he married Miss Sarah
Merriam, a daughter of Jonathan Merriam, and a first cousin of Rev.
T. J. Conant, D.D. As a wife she proved a true helpmeet for her
husband in his

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1

The most important sources for the life of Dr. Wait are "The Origin
and Early
History
of Wake Forest
College," by
Samuel
Wait, Wake
Forest
Student, Vol. 2;
"Our
College,"
by
L. R. Mills, Wake
Forest Student, Vol. 3; " E a rl y
L i fe
of
D r.
Samuel Wait," by W. L. Wait, Wake Forest Student, Vol. 5; "Life of Samuel Wait,
D. D. , "
by
J o h n
B .
B re we r, North Carolina Baptist
Historical
Papers, Vol. 1; A
Manuscript
Journal
printed and edited with
notes by C. E.
Taylor
in Wake Forest
Student, IV, 365 ff. Ibid., 417 ff. numerous letters of Wait in
the Biblical Recorder,
1835-1865, and notebooks of
Dr. Samuel Wait, the records
of
the Board of
Trustees
and of the Faculty of Wake
Forest College, and the minutes of the Baptist State
Convention of North Carolina.