Presbyterian theologian; b. Lexington, Virginia, April 17, 1772; d. Princeton, New Jersey, Oct. 22, 1851. He was the son of William and Ann (Reid) Alexander. After studying at Liberty Hall College (later Washington College), Chestertown, Maryland, under Reverend William Graham, he was ordained in 1794. He served as president of Hampden–Sydney College, Virginia, from 1796 to 1807, when he accepted a call to Pine Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As moderator of the general assembly (1807), he advocated the establishment of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Installed as its first professor in 1812, he taught didactic and polemic theology there until his death. With the works of Turretini and other Calvinist scholastics as the basis of his courses, Alexander was the chief theologian of the Old School party, opposing the New School in his Thoughts on Religious Experience (1841) and in the columns of the Biblical Repertory, which he founded in 1825. His Brief Outline of the Evidences of the Christian Religion (1825) was widely adopted as a college text. In The Canon of the Old and New Testaments (1826) he taught verbal inspiration and inerrancy. He was also influential in advocating foreign missions and in the American Colonization Society.
Bibliography: j. w. alexander, The Life of Archibald Alexander (New York 1854). Sons of the Prophets, ed. h. t. kerr (Princeton 1963).
[r. k. macmaster]