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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 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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Warrenton Female Academy

by Jean B. Anderson, 2006

See Also: Women's Colleges

Warrenton Female Academy was founded by Jacob Mordecai (1762-1838) in 1809 as a means of livelihood after his commodities brokerage was bankrupted by the Embargo of 1807. Over the years, he was assisted with the teaching by his son Solomon and his daughters Rachel, Julia, Caroline, Judith, and Ellen. The school gained immediate repute for its excellence and attracted the daughters of planters from all over North Carolina and southern Virginia. Students were to be taught the full range of subjects of any classical male academy as well as needlework, music, and dancing.

Having accumulated a modest fortune by 1818, Mordecai decided to retire from teaching and move to Virginia. He sold the building to his son-in-law Achilles Plunkett and two Philadelphians, Joseph Andrews and Thomas P. Jones, who continued the school. Plunkett shortly afterward withdrew to start his own school, but Warrenton Female Academy survived and maintained its strong reputation under various principals until the Civil War shut it down. The restored school building remained standing in the early 2000s.


Charles L. Coon, North Carolina Schools and Academies, 1790-1840 (1915).

Stanley L. Falk, "The Warrenton Female Academy," NCHR 35 (July 1958).

Lizzie W. Montgomery, Sketches of Old Warrenton (1924).

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