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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Wingate, Washington Manly

by John R. Woodard, 1996

28 July 1828–27 Feb. 1879

Portrait of Washington Manly Wingate, from the <i>Wingate Junior College Announcements</i>, published 1923 by Wingate Junior College, Wingate, North Carolina.  Presented on Washington Manly Wingate, Baptist minister and college president, was born in Darlington, S.C., the son of William and Isabella Blackwell Wingate. After receiving an A.B. degree from Wake Forest College in 1849, Wingate continued his education at Furman Theological Institution from 1849 to 1851. He was ordained a Baptist minister on 3 Mar. 1852 by the Darlington, S.C., Baptist Church while pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and assistant pastor at Darlington.

In October 1852, at age twenty-four, he was elected agent of Wake Forest College to raise a $50,000 endowment, a task he completed in 1857. Wingate was elected both professor of moral and intellectual philosophy and rhetoric and president pro tempore of Wake Forest in June 1853. He served as acting president from 1854 to 1856 and as president from 1856 to 1879. Under his guidance the college grew steadily until the Civil War, when it was forced to close. Its buildings were used as a hospital, and its financial security was invested in Confederate States bonds.

During the war Wingate preached as an evangelist to the soldiers, was associate editor of the Biblical Recorder, and from 1862 to 1866 served as pastor of Baptist churches in Franklinton, Oxford, and Wake Forest. After the conflict Portrait of Washington Manly Wingate (with other artifacts) in the Wingate University Archives, Wingate, NC.  From North Carolina Cultural Heritage Institutions, NC ECHO Project, North Carolina Digital Collections. The town of Wingate, NC and Wingate University were named in honor of Washington Manly Wingate. Wake Forest College reopened, and Wingate began his second term as president in 1866. Faced with the problems of finance, he sent James S. Purefoy to secure endowments from Northern Baptists. The James W. Denmark loan fund was established, a new building was completed, and Wingate selected an excellent faculty. Though a strict disciplinarian, he was aware of the needs of the students; one biographer wrote, "He was so bright and cheerful and lovable." Wingate was an able preacher and speaker and presented the cause of Wake Forest College at many association and convention meetings.

He married Mary E. Webb of Bertie County in December 1850. They had seven children: Alice (Mrs. Needham Yancey Gulley), Lizzie (Mrs. W. J. Simmons), Walter Blackwell, William Jonathan, Belle (Mrs. Richard Battle), Sallie (Mrs. M. H. P. Clark), and Ruth (Mrs. Enoch Walter Sikes).

Wingate received an honorary D.D. degree from Columbian College (now George Washington University), Washington, D.C., in 1865 and from The University of North Carolina in 1871. He served as the first pastor of the Selma Baptist Church from 1872 to 1873. His only published work was a tract printed for soldiers entitled I Have Brought My Little Brother Back (1862?).

For fifteen years prior to his death, Wingate was aware of a heart condition. It finally proved fatal and he died of a heart attack. His funeral, conducted in the Wake Forest Baptist Church on 1 Mar. 1879 by William Bailey Royall, was attended by so many friends that a special train had to be chartered. He was buried at Wake Forest.


William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (1881).

F. H. Ivey, Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Rev. W. M. Wingate, D. D. (1879).

Luther Rice Mills, "My Recollections of Dr. W. M. Wingate," North Carolina Baptist Historical Papers 3 (July 1899, January 1900).

George W. Paschal, History of Wake Forest College, 2 vols. (1935, 1943).

Raleigh, Biblical Recorder, 5, 12, 19, 26 Mar., 2 Apr. 1879, 13 Mar. 1907.

Raleigh Observer, 28 Feb., 1–2 Mar. 1879.

Wake Forest Student 14 (May 1895 [portrait]).

Washington Manly Wingate Papers (North Carolina Baptist Historical Collection, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem [portraits]).

Davis E. Woolley, ed., Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, vol. 2 (1958).

Additional Resources:

Perry, Percival. "History of Wake Forest University." Wake Forest University Bulletin 1974. (accessed February 26, 2014).

Ivey, F. H.,  Wake Forest College; Edwards, Broughton & Co. "Good and faithful servant" : memorial address on the life and character of Rev. W. M. Wingate, D.D., late president of Wake Forest college, N.C. Raleigh, N. C.: Edwards, Broughton. 1879. (accessed April 25, 2014).

Image Credits:

Wingate Junior College. Wingate Junior College Announcements. Wingate (N.C.): Wingate Junior College. 1923. (accessed April 25, 2014).

"Wingate University, University Archives." June 6, 12, 2003. Photograph. Cultural Heritage Institutions of North Carolina, NC ECHO Project. (accessed February 26, 2014).