George Washington Baines
Portrait of G. W. Baines
3rd President of Baylor University
In office
Preceded byRufus Columbus Burleson
Succeeded byWilliam Carey Crane
Member of the
Arkansas House of Representatives
from Carroll County
In office
November 7, 1842 – February 4, 1843
Personal details
Born(1809-12-29)December 29, 1809
Chowan County[1] or Perquimans County,[2] North Carolina, U.S.
DiedDecember 28, 1882(1882-12-28) (aged 72)
Belton, Texas, U.S.
Cause of deathMalaria
Resting placeOld Salado Graveyard, Salado, Texas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Melissa Ann Butler
(m. 1840; died 1865)
Cynthia W. Williams
(m. 1865; died 1882)
Children9; including Joseph
RelativesLyndon Baines Johnson (great-grandson)
Alma materUniversity of Alabama
  • Baptist preacher
  • journalist
  • politician
Known forCo-founding Baylor University
AwardsHonorary A.M. degree from Baylor University

George Washington Baines (December 29, 1809 – December 28, 1882) was an American politician, Baptist preacher, journalist, slaveowner, and educator. He was a co-founder, and the third president of Baylor University, while the university was located in Independence, Texas.

He was the maternal great-grandfather of the 36th U.S. president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Early life

Baines was born near the Atlantic Ocean in either Chowan County,[1] or Perquimans County, North Carolina,[2] on December 29, 1809, to Thomas Baines, a Baptist minister, and Mary (née McCoy) Baines. Baines was the eldest of ten children and was raised in Georgia and Alabama where he spent most of his childhood. His family moved to a farm near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1818.[3] Baines entered the University of Alabama, later leaving due to poor health in 1836.[1]


Baptist ministry beginnings

The G. W. Baines House

In 1832, he had a conversion experience[clarification needed] in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, under the T.J. Fisher ministry.[4] He was baptized in Salem Baptist Church at the age of 25, and in 1834 he became licensed to preach by the Philadelphia Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa County.[5] He was ordained by the Grant's Creek Baptist Church on August 7, 1836. His father was among the signers of his preaching license and certificate of ordination.[2]

Political career in Arkansas

In 1837, he settled in Carroll County, Arkansas, moving in an effort to recuperate from his recurring dyspepsia.[3] He lived along Crooked Creek, about two miles southwest of present-day Harrison, Arkansas, the area today lies in Boone County. After settling in, he resumed his religious calling, helping to establish three churches, where he then preached. He also served as a missionary for the Baptist Home Mission Society of New York. In 1842, Baines was elected as a Democrat to the Arkansas House of Representatives, representing Carroll County from November 7, 1842, to February 4, 1843. As a representative, Baines was a member of several select committees, including one to create Newton County.[1][6]

Baines baptized more than 100 people in Arkansas, where he lived for seven years, before moving to Mount Lebanon, Louisiana, with his family in July 1844.[7]

Baylor University

Baines moved to Huntsville, Texas, with his family in 1850. In Huntsville, he was the pastor for Sam Houston.[8] He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Baylor University from 1851 until 1859.[9] Baines, working almost singlehandedly, established the Texas Baptist in 1855 in Anderson, Texas. He arranged the printing of the paper with R. A. Van Horn, publisher of Anderson's Central Texian. A former Baylor University professor, J. B. Stiteler, joined Baines as assistant editor.[10] Baines became the first editor of the first Baptist newspaper in Texas, the Texas Baptist, while a member of the Board of Baylor. After Rufus Columbus Burleson departed the presidency of Baylor University for Waco University, Baines was appointed president by the Board, until they could find a suitable replacement for Burleson and before the start of the American Civil War.[9] On July 27, 1861, Baines was awarded with an honorary Master of Arts degree by Baylor University.[3] After his first year as president, the trustees found it difficult to find anyone to lead the financially-plagued university, and asked Baines to continue as president.[9] Health issues forced him to resign from the position in 1863. Shortly after leaving Baylor he moved to Fairfield, Texas, where his wife and youngest son died.[3]


He devoted his life as a Christian leader; even with his chronic dyspepsia, he was a field agent of the Baptist State Convention for several years. After the death of his second wife in January 1882, he lived with his daughter Anna in Belton, Texas. G. W. Baines died on December 28, 1882, of malaria, a day before his 73rd birthday. At the time he was a pastor at Salado.[3]

Political and social views

Baines was a member of the Democratic Party when he was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives between 1842 and 1843. He introduced resolutions asking the United States Congress to turn over "refuse lands" and worked to adopt the paper ballot and end voice voting.[1]


George Washington Baines was an owner of slaves, along with the other three founders of Baylor University. In the 1850 census, Baines is recorded as the owner of two slaves when he was the pastor of a church in Huntsville. In the 1860 census, when he was a pastor in Anderson at the time, Baines is recorded as the owner of eight slaves.[9]

Personal life

Baines had nine children with his first wife, Melissa Ann (née Butler). He did not have any children with his second wife, Cynthia.[2] His son Joseph Wilson Baines was Secretary of State of Texas and a member of the Texas House of Representatives.[11] His great-grandson was U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Polston, Michael D. (June 19, 2023). "George Washington Baines (1809-1882)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d Ballard, D. La Pierre (March 4, 2006). "The Reverend George Washington Baines, Pioneer Texas Baptist Preacher, and President of Baylor University". US GenWeb Archives. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e Summerlin, Travis L. (June 12, 2010). "Baines, George Washington, Sr". The Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  4. ^ Early, Joseph Everett (2004). A Texas Baptist History Sourcebook: A Companion to McBeth's Texas Baptists. University of North Texas Press. ISBN 978-1-57441-176-8.[page needed]
  5. ^ Boone Co, AR. Turner Publishing Company. 1998. ISBN 978-1-56311-423-6.
  6. ^ Arkansas Biennial Report of the Secretary of State John W. Crockett, Tunnah & Pittard, 1903, Fourth Legislature Held November 7, 1842-February 4, 1843, pg. 123-124
  7. ^ "Baines Family Collection, Inclusive: 1807-1912, undated; Bulk: 1855-1882; 1896-1899" (PDF). Baylor University. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2018. Retrieved January 20, 2024.
  8. ^ "LBJ and Religion". Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. Retrieved January 20, 2024.
  9. ^ a b c d e "George Washington Baines, Baylor President, 1861-1863". Baylor University. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  10. ^ Stone Jr., William J. "Texas Baptist [1855–61]". The Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved January 20, 2024.
  11. ^ "Joseph Wilson Baines". Texas Legislators: Past & Present. Legislative Reference Library of Texas.

Further reading

Academic offices Preceded byRufus Columbus Burleson President of Baylor University 1861–1863 Succeeded byWilliam Carey Crane Political offices Arkansas House of Representatives Preceded byUnknown Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from Carroll County(Crooked Creek) 1842—1843 Succeeded byUnknown