Daniel A. Payne was born a free person of color in Charleston, South Carolina and came to Gettysburg Seminary in 1835 to study theology after a law prohibiting the education of slaves forced him to close his school and abandon teaching. With his arrival on campus, he became the first African American to study at the institution. In addition to his classes, Payne participated in the student mission society, organized Sunday school classes for Black children, and established a moral and mental improvement society for women. Upon leaving the Seminary in 1837 he was licensed and later ordained by the (Lutheran) Franckean Synod and served a Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York. In 1841 he transferred to the African Methodist Episcopal Church where he served as a parish pastor, historiographer, and later, Bishop. With his election as president of Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1863, he became the first African American to lead an institution of higher education in the United States. Payne, one of this seminary's most distinguished alumni, was also a poet, hymn writer, translator, and ecumenist.