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George Junkin

President, Washington College, 1848-1861

The Rev. George Junkin was born to Scots-Irish parents in Cumberland County, Pa., in 1790. He graduated from Jefferson College (now Washington and Jefferson College) in 1813. After studying theology privately, he entered the Theological Seminary of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, in New York City, and was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Monongahela in 1816. In 1830, Junkin became the first president of Lafayette College, near Philadelphia, and from 1841 to 1844 he served as the president of Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. He then returned to Lafayette College as president. In 1848, he became the president of Washington College. During his term, his daughter Eleanor married a VMI professor--Thomas Jackson, later to be known as Stonewall Jackson, famed Confederate general. His other daughter, Margaret, was a well-known poet. He was a Unionist who advocated the removal of slaves from the U.S. to colonies in Africa. Junkin resigned in April 1861 amid the swirl of events that led to the Civil War, spurred by the students' repeated raising of a secessionist flag on campus. He left Virginia for Pennsylvania.