Robert Davidson was born in 1750 in Elkton, Maryland.
As a young man, he attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating
in 1771. A year later, at the age of twenty-two, Davidson was licensed
to preach by the Presbytery of New Castle and was soon sent to preach
at the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. He became a professor
of history at the University of Pennsylvania in 1773, during which time
he worked as an assistant to the pastor Dr. John Ewing of the First
Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. The University awarded him a doctor
of divinity degree in 1784. Shortly thereafter, he left the city to
take up residence in Carlisle as the Vice Principal (under Principal
Charles Nisbet) and Professor of History and Belles Lettres at the fledgling
In 1785 he became pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, a position
that he held until his death twenty-eight years later. In 1796, Davidson
was elected as moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church. Following Nisbet's death in 1804, Davidson was elected Acting
Principal. He held this position until his resignation in 1809. He is
considered the second president of Dickinson College, although he never
officially held that title.
While a student, Davidson married, and he and his wife Abigail shared
a long marriage before her death in 1806. In 1807, Robert Davidson married
his second wife, Margaret Montgomery of Carlisle, who was thirty-one
years his junior. Unfortunately, Margaret died in March 1809 after giving
birth to their second son. Davidson resigned from his position at Dickinson
College in that same year in order to devote himself completely to the
church. On April 17, 1810 he married once again, this time to Jane Harris.
He continued with his duties as the pastor of the Presbyterian Church
of Carlisle until his death on December 13, 1812.
Please visit the following link for materials authored
by Robert Davidson maintained in the Their Own Words database:
Davidson, Robert, 1750-1812.