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Chapman, Robert Hett

Robert Hett Chapman (1771-1833) was born in Orangedale, NJ, the son of minister Jedediah and Blanche Smith Chapman. In 1789 Robert graduated from the College of New Jersey (Princeton), where he was educated by John Witherspoon. He married Hannah Arnett in 1797, and they eventually became the parents of twelve children. A Presbyterian minister and missionary, Chapman became president of the University in 1812 at an annual salary of $1,200. He doubtless was nominated for the post by Joseph Caldwell, also a College of New Jersey graduate and Witherspoon man. Chapman led efforts to establish a Presbyterian church in Chapel Hill, and he adopted the Bible as a textbook in the University. Chapman's presidency was troubled by student unrest in 1814 and again in 1816 as well as by the death in November 1814 of a teenage daughter, Margaretta Blanche, buried in the old Chapel Hill cemetery. After leaving Chapel Hill in 1816, Chapman served as pastor of several Presbyterian churches in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 1:354-55).