February 8, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Robert Baylor

Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor was 45 years old when he became a Christian in 1839. To that point he had led a colorful atheistic life on the American frontier. He had fought in the War of 1812 and studied law in the offices of his uncle, United States Senator Jesse Bledsoe of Kentucky. Baylor was elected to the Kentucky legislature and then moved to Alabama which sent him to the United States Congress in 1829 to work with Andrew Jackson. He returned to Alabama to lead a regiment against the Creek Indians in 1836.

But such was the strength of his religious conversion that now Baylor became a Baptist minister and set out for Texas. He settled in La Grange where he organized a Baptist Church and established a small school for those unable to pay tuition. Baylor was quickly an esteemed member of the community and was overwhelmingly elected Judge in La Grange in 1841. For the next 25 years Baylor would travel by horseback across Texas establishing courts, churches and schools.

Baylor believed that Texas needed a Baptist college for its people and as President of the Education Society applied to the Texas Congress for a charter in 1845. The bill passed through the legislature, albeit without a permanent name. Baylor pushed to name the school after William Tryon, who had done most of the pioneering work for the institution.

Tryon objected saying, "I have done so much work that it might look like I was doing it all for my own honor if we use my name and this might injure the prospects of the school." So he wrote "Baylor" in the blank space on the charter.

Baylor then objected, "First, I do not think I am worthy of such a distinction; second, my humble donation ($1000) might be misunderstood and the motives prompting it misunderstood." The school had been Baylor's idea and his objection was outvoted.

Independence, Texas outbid three other locations to house the new school. With the leadership of its founders, however humble, Baylor was the only one of 15 institutions chartered by the Republic of Texas to survive.

No comments: