AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Daniel Bliss (1823-1916)

Portrait of -Daniel Bliss Ph_SPC-AUB_1866-1902_1_1-12l.jpg

Portrait of Daniel Bliss

(Service to AUB 1866-1902)

American missionary, educator, founder, and first president of the Syrian Protestant College, Daniel L. Bliss was born on August 17, 1823, in Georgia, Vermont, United States. He graduated from Amherst College at the age of twenty-nine, spent two years at Andover Seminary, and was an ordained minister. He joined the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and came to Syria in 1855 to teach at the American Abeih Seminary for Boys, and later at Souk el-Gharb. For four years he was not only a teacher, but also a student of Arabic. Selected to set up an institution of higher education, he returned to the United States in 1862 and met the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) where he discussed the resolution adopted in Beirut. Then he met William E. Dodge who was impressed by Bliss's presentation at the ABCFM meeting and helped him form a Board of Trustees for the new college. A certificate of incorporation and a charter for a college was granted by the legislature of the State of New York in April 1863. After raising funds in the US and the UK, Bliss came back to Beirut and started the Syrian Protestant College in a rented house in Zuqaq al-Blat until the college moved to Ras Beirut where it started getting land lots of its own to form a fully-fledged campus. He supervised the construction of the buildings erected on campus between 1871 and 1902. Daniel Bliss retired in 1902, when his son Howard became president, however he continued living in Ras Beirut until his death in 1916. Bliss was buried, with other missionaries, in the Anglo-American Cemetery in Furn el-Shubbak, Beirut. He authored few books about his experience in Syria.