James P. Boyce
1st President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJohn A. Broadus
Personal details
James Petrigru Boyce

January 11, 1827
Charleston, SC, US
DiedDecember 28, 1888
Louisville, KY, US
SpouseLizzie Ficklin
ChildrenTwo daughters
Alma materBrown University
Princeton Theological Seminary
OccupationSeminary President
Known forTheologian
Military service
 Confederate States Army
Years active1845-1888
Era19th century
MovementSouthern Baptist

James Petigru Boyce (January 11, 1827 – December 28, 1888) was an American pastor, theologian, professor, chaplain, and a principle founder of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


Early life

James Petigru Boyce was born in 1827. He was educated at Brown University under Francis Wayland, whose sermons contributed to Boyce's conversion. In 1849 Boyce began studying at Princeton Theological Seminary. His acquaintance with Charles Hodge, a Presbyterian minister and fellow Princeton graduate, led Boyce to adopt Calvinistic theology.


After completing studies at Princeton, he served as pastor of the Columbia S.C. Baptist Church and as a faculty member at Furman University. In 1859 he founded the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina, to establish a seminary that did not view owning slaves as disqualifying of becoming a missionary.[1] After the war ended, he resumed office as chair of the seminary and relocated it to Louisville, Kentucky. He taught theology from 1859 until his death in 1888 and served as the President of the institution. Throughout his ministry, Boyce insisted on the importance of theological education for all ministers. In a preface, he described his Abstract of Systematic Theology, published the year before his death, as follows: "This volume is published the rather as a practical textbook, for the study of the system of doctrine taught in the Word of God, than as a contribution to theological science." During his life, Boyce owned 23 slaves.[2]

Civil War

While the seminary was closed during the Civil War, Boyce served as a chaplain in the Confederate Army .[3] In 1865 he was elected as a representative to the South Carolina Constitutional Convention. He was a prominent advocate of white supremacy who opposed counting the black population in the census, stating that in his view it would be the “entering wedge of negro suffrage” proclaiming “this is a white man’s government".[4]

Broadus two slaves, William Williams five, Basil Manly Jr. seven, and James P. Boyce twenty-three


Boyce died in Pau, France on December 28, 1888. He had traveled to Europe with his family in early July 1888 and had been expecting to be traveling abroad for a number of months. News reports at the time indicated that he had been suffering from gout and that while traveling his condition worsened and became fatal.[5]


See also


  1. ^ Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Louisville, KY: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. 2018. p. 9
  2. ^ Bureau of the Census, Slave Schedule, Greenville District, SC, 1860; NARA mf. series 653, reel 1231, pp. 448-49..png
  3. ^ Louisville Courier-Journal, December 27, 1888, p. 6
  4. ^ Sidney Andrews, The South since the War: As Shown by Fourteen Weeks of Travel and Observation in Georgia and the Carolinas (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866), p. 72.
  5. ^ Louisville Courier-Journal, December 29, 1888, p. 6.
Preceded byPatrick Hues Mell President of the Southern Baptist ConventionJames Petigru Boyce 1872-1879 Succeeded byPatrick Hues Mell
Preceded byPatrick Hues Mell President of the Southern Baptist ConventionJames Petigru Boyce 1888 Succeeded byJonathan Haralson