The librarian continues his statements as follows:
"While the library of the college was slowly increasing in numbers and more slowly in value as measured by the wants of the students, there were begun two other libraries, designed in the beginning as supplements, but by their rapid increase and utility soon taking the leading place. In 1783, was formed the society of under-graduates known under the title of 'Social Friends' and the collection of a library was begun. Three years later, by the secession of a part of the members, the rival society of the 'United Fraternity' came into existence. The aim of the societies was to furnish literary culture, and their exercises and constitutions differed but little, while each attempted to obtain more and better men, and collect a larger library, than the other. It was provided in the constitution of the last formed society, that each member should advance for the use of the library twelve shillings lawful money.
"At a meeting during the next year the society voted to register its books, which consisted of twenty-three volumes of magazines and thirty-four other books, making with a few presented at the meeting a library of sixty-three volumes. In 1790, the two societies subscribed to what they termed 'articles of confederation,' in which it was agreed that a case should be procured to contain their books, and that each society should aid in the increase of the common library. For this purpose each society was to advance from one to two dollars for every member, the sum being largest for the lowest class and least for the Senior class, and a committee was constituted with power to settle all differences. But however strong the agreement between the two parties it could not eliminate jealousy; neither were the societies entirely free from internal dissensions. The records contain accounts of 'conspiracies,' and attempts to destroy the societies, accompanied by reports of committees, treating the subject with the dignity of a danger to the State. One of these 'conspiracies' in 1793, terminated in the destruction of nearly all the records of the 'Social Friends' and almost caused the dissolution of the society. Much of the strife between the societies was caused by the mode of securing members, and though there were amendments intended to lessen this, nothing like a settlement was made until 1815, when an order from the officers of the college limited the membership of each society to one half of the number in the different classes. It was probably this question of membership that caused, in 1799, the division of the 'federal library'; the 'United Fraternity' that year demanding a separation, and the 'Social Friends' replying that they cheerfully concurred. With the strong rivalry existing, the libraries could but increase more rapidly under separate management, especially as the students for many years taxed themselves severely, and contributed generously by subscriptions and donations to fill up their few shelves. Nearly all the books were contributed by under-graduates, and the value placed upon them forms a marked contrast with the present use of library books. It was upon these libraries that the students more generally depended, and while their additions were larger they also had larger losses and suffered more from the wear of usage. They obtained from time to time the books that were needed, the college library such as were given, and that was doubtless true during all of the time which was said of it fifty years later: 'The library contains some rare and valuable works, but is deficient in new books.' The society libraries from the beginning had regular and frequent hours for drawing books, while the college library during a great part of its history has been from various reasons hardly accessible, or open only at long intervals. In 1793, the college began the yearly assessment of eight shillings on each student, one fourth for the salary of the librarian, and the remainder for the purchase of new books.
"The first printed catalogue of any of the libraries was of that of the college, and was merely a list printed in 1810. It mentioned 2,900 volumes, but as there were many duplicates the number of books of any practical value was less than 2,000. The number of books in each of the society libraries at this time may be estimated as slightly over 1,000, so that the number of volumes to which access could be had was not much over 4,000." We quote an item worthy of notice from official records on this subject:
"Annual Meeting of Trustees, September, A. D. 1783. This Board being informed that Mr. Daniel Oliver, a student in the Junior class at this College, has made a donation to Library of the following books [43 volumes; 33 different works], Voted, that the Vice-president be requested to return him the thanks of this Board and request his acceptance of the use of the college library free of charge during the term he shall continue a student at this college."
LACK OF HARMONY BETWEEN PRESIDENT WHEELOCK AND OTHER TRUSTEES.—REMOVAL OF THE PRESIDENT FROM OFFICE.—ESTIMATE OF HIS CHARACTER.
The administration of President John Wheelock is remarkable for two things; its great length, and its unhappy close.
The great "Dartmouth Controversy" is one of the most impressive chapters in the annals of American colleges.
In discussing this subject it is necessary to consider some of the influences which had aided in moulding President Wheelock's character. His residence at Yale College was at an important period in the history of that institution, commencing soon after the resignation of President Clap, who had been driven from his position, virtually, for opposing any interference in the affairs of the college, by the Legislature. The friends of education were divided in sentiment, as to the wisdom of his course, and the institution was in some sense under a cloud till the accession of President Stiles—a friend of the Wheelock family—who effected an arrangement by which the State was admitted to a share in the management of the college. The following letter from a prominent Trustee of Dartmouth to the president, written just at this period, shows that the animated contest in Connecticut was only the natural and logical precursor of one more animated and much more important, in New Hampshire.
"Charlestown, November 17, 1791.
"Hon. Sir: I have set my name to the petition, etc., although, I confess not without some hesitation and reluctance. I like the plan well in general,—but there is one exception. I cannot form any idea of what is intended by the proposal, That the Council, or Senate, or both, be admitted to some cern in the government of the university [college].
"This appears to me to be a proposal of too much or nothing at all, and of something not in the power of this Board to confer, who I think cannot admit any foreign jurisdiction, any man, or number of men to any share in government of the university, properly so termed, otherwise than what the Constitution specifies.
"I have, however, subscribed under the influence of this consideration: That in the event it may subject us to no other inconvenience, but the imputation of inconsistence in conduct in hereafter rejecting a compliance with our own proposal, if we shall find that more is performed by others than was intended, or can be admitted by us, though fairly enough proffered.
"I think some precautionary injunctions to the Agent in this matter would be wise and prudent.
"I am, sir, with much esteem and sincere affection,
"Your sincere friend and humble servant, "Bulkley Olcott." "President Wheelock."
* * * * *
Mr. Wheelock's experiences also as a legislator and military commander, in early life, doubtless gave him a larger confidence in his own abilities on the one hand, and on the other a more profound conviction that everything in the State should, be subordinate to the State.
The religious aspects of President Wheelock's character, are worthy of special notice. He was the dutiful, in some sense the favorite son of an honored father. The former president, although sound in the faith, had more catholic views and broader sympathies than many of the leading divines of his day. The son was no less liberal than the father. This liberality was doubtless the real cause of difference between the second president and his associates in office. His first decided opponent was Nathaniel Niles, who entered the Board in 1793, a man of rare ability, and in early life a pupil of Dr. Bellamy, whose religious views on some points were materially different from those of his contemporary and neighbor, the first president.
The first important point gained by Mr. Niles was the election of his friend, Mr. Shurtleff, to the chair of Divinity, in 1804.
For ten years the breach was constantly widening between the president and his opponents. We now find the following official records:
"At a meeting of the Trustees, November 11, 1814, the following preamble and resolutions, introduced by Charles Marsh, Esq., were adopted.
"Whereas, the duties of the president of this university have become very multiplied and arduous; and, whereas, it is necessary that he should continue to attend to the concerns of this institution, and the various officers and departments thereof, and should have time to prepare and lay before this Board the business to which its attention should be directed; therefore, resolved, that, in order to relieve the president from some portion of the burdens which unavoidably devolve on him, he be excused in future from hearing the recitations of the Senior Class, in Locke, Edwards, and Stewart.
"Resolved, that the Professors, Shurtleff and Moore, jointly supply the pulpit, in such manner as may be agreed between them. That Professor Shurtleff hear the recitation of the Senior class in Edwards on the Will; that Professor Adams hear the recitation of the Senior class in Locke on the Human Understanding, and that Professor Moore hear the recitation of the Senior class in Stewart's Philosophy of the Mind, and that he hear them in both volumes of that work."
This action of the Board was followed by the publication of the "Sketches," and, in June, 1815, the presentation of the following Petition to the New Hampshire Legislature:
* * * * *
"Honorable Legislators,—The citizens of New Hampshire enjoy security and peace under your wise laws; prosperity in productive labors by means which you have adopted; and, by your counsels, increasing knowledge in the establishment of literature through the State. But, for none of these, can so much be ascribed to your attention as for Dartmouth College. By your patronage and munificence it was flourishing in former years; and so it still would have continued had the management of its concerns been adapted to answer the designs of your wisdom, and the hopes of its most enlightened and virtuous friends.
"To your Honorable body, whose guardian care encircles the institutions of the State, it becomes incumbent on the citizens to make known any change in their condition and relations interesting to the public good. To you alone, whose power extends to correcting or reforming their abuses, ought he to apply when they cease to promote the end of their establishment, the social order and happiness.
"Gladly would the offerer of this humble address, avoiding to trouble your counsels, have locked up his voice in perpetual silence, while the evils are rolling on and accumulating, were he not otherwise compelled by a sense of duty to your Legislature, and to the best interests of mankind, in the present and future times.
"Will you permit him to suggest there is reason to fear that those who hold in trust the concerns of this seminary have forsaken its original principles and left the path of their predecessors. It is unnecessary to relate how the evil commenced in its embryo state; by what means and practices, they, thus deviating, have in recent years, with the same object in view, increased their number to a majority controlling the measures of the Board; but more important is it to lay before you that there are serious grounds to excite apprehensions of the great impropriety and dangerous tendency of their proceedings; reasons to believe that they have applied property to purposes wholly alien from the intentions of the donors, and under peculiar circumstances to excite regret; that they have in the series of their movements, to promote party views, transformed the moral and religions order of the institution, by depriving many of their innocent enjoyment of rights and privileges for which they had confided in their faith; that they have broken down the barriers and violated the Charter, by prostrating the rights with which it expressly invests the presidential office; that, to subserve their purposes, they have adopted improper methods in their appointments of executive officers, naturally tending to embarrass and obstruct the harmonious government and instruction of the seminary; that they have extended their powers, which the Charter confines to the college, to form connection with an academy in exclusion of the other academies in the State, cementing an alliance with its overseers, and furnishing aid from the college treasury for its students; that they have perverted the power, which by the incorporation they ought to exercise over a branch of Moor's Charity School, and have obstructed the application of its fund according to the nature of the establishment and the design of the donors; and that their measures have been oppressive to your memorialist in the discharge of his office.
 Kimball Union Academy.
"Such are the impressions as now related, arising from the acts and operations of those who have of late commanded the decisions of the Board.
"Your memorialist does not pretend to exhibit their motives, whether they have been actuated by erroneous conceptions, or mistaken zeal, or some other cause, in attending to the concerns of the institution. But with great deference he submits the question, unless men in trust preserve inviolable faith, whether pledged by words, or action, or usage, to individuals, unless they continuously keep within the limits assigned to them by law; if they do not sacredly apply the fruits of benevolence committed to their charge, to the destined purpose; if the public affairs in their trust are not conducted with openness, impartiality, and candor, instead of designed and secret management; if they become pointedly hostile to those who discern their course, and honestly oppose their measures which are esteemed destructive; if they bear down their inoffensive servants, who are faithful to the cause of truth, how can an establishment under these circumstances, be profitable to mankind? How can there be a gleam of prospective joy to any except to those who are converting its interest into their own channel, to serve a favorite design? What motive, then, will remain to benefactors to lay foundations, or to bestow their charities on such an object?
"There is also ground for increasing, fearful apprehension, by adding to the immediate, what may be the ultimate effect of the measures which have been described. In a collective view they appear to the best acquainted and discerning to be, in all their adaptations, tending to one end, to complete the destruction of the original principles of the college and school, and to establish a new modified system, to strengthen the interests of a party or sect, which, by extending its influence under the fairest professions, will eventually affect the political independence of the people, and move the springs of their government.
"To you, revered legislators! the writer submits the foregoing important considerations. He beholds, in your Honorable body, the sovereign of the State, holding, by the Constitution, and the very nature of sovereignty in all countries, the sacred right, with your duty and responsibility to God, to visit and oversee the literary establishments, where the manners and feelings of the young are formed, and grow up in the citizen in after life; to restrain from injustice, and rectify abuses in their management, and, if necessary, to reduce them to their primitive principles, or so modify their powers as to make them subservient to the public welfare. To your protection, and wise arrangements, he submits whatever he holds in official rights by the Charter of the seminary; and to you his invaluable rights as a subject and citizen.
"He entreats your honorable body to take into consideration the state and concerns of the college and school, as laid before you.
"And as the Legislature have never before found occasion to provide, by any tribunal, against the evils of the foregoing nature, and their ultimate dangers, he prays that you would please, by a committee invested with competent powers, or otherwise, to look into the affairs and management of the institution, internal and external, already referred to, and, if judged expedient in your wisdom, that you would make such organic improvements and model reforms in its system and movements, as, under Divine Providence, will guard against the disorders and their apprehended consequences.
"He begs only to add the contemplated joys of the friends of man and virtue, in the result of your great wisdom and goodness, which may secure this seat of science, so that it may become an increasing source of blessings to the State, and to mankind of the present and succeeding ages, instead of a theatre for the purpose of a few, terminating in public calamity.
"Whatever disposal your Honorable body may please to make of the subject now presented, the subscriber will never cease to maintain the most humble deference and dutiful respect.
* * * * *
It would not be profitable, at the present time, to re-open the discussion of the subject matter of the various charges contained in the above document, which were so fully elaborated in the "Sketches," and so carefully considered in the subsequent "Vindication" by the Trustees.
The prayer of the Memorial was granted by the Legislature, by the appointment of a committee of investigation. The following letter is worthy of careful attention in this connection:
"Exeter, August 15, 1815.
"My dear Sir,—In common with many others I have felt considerable anxiety for the issue of the matter so much in public discussion relative to Dartmouth College. I do not feel either inclined or competent to give any opinion as to the course which ought finally to be adopted by the Board of Trustees for the benefit of that institution. I am entirely willing to leave that to the determination of those much better informed on the subject and better able to judge. From certain intimations which I have lately had, I am led to believe an intention is entertained by some members of the Board of ending all difficulty with the president by removing him from office. I greatly fear such a measure adopted under present circumstances, and at the present time, would have a very unhappy effect on the public mind. An inquiry is now pending, instituted after considerable discussion, by the Legislature of this State, apparently for the purpose of granting relief for the subject matter of complaint. The Trustees acquiesce in this inquiry; whether they appear before the committee appointed to make it formally as a body, or informally as individuals, the public will not deem of much importance. The Legislature, I think, for certain purposes, have a right to inquire into an alleged mismanagement of such an institution, a visitorial power rests in the State, and I do not deem it important for my present view to determine in what department or how to be exercised. The Legislature may, on proper occasion, call it into operation. I have never seen the president's memorial to the Legislature, but am told it is an abstract from the 'Pamphlet of Sketches.' From the statements in that I take the burthen of his complaint to be, that the Trustees have not given him a due and proper share of power and influence in the concerns of the college, and that they have improperly used their own power and influence in patronizing and propagating in the college particular theological opinions. The alleged misapplication of funds [paid for preaching] is stated as an instance of such misconduct. These opinions, it would seem, are particularly disagreeable to the president. The whole dispute is made to have a bearing on the president personally. Should the Trustees, during the pendency of the inquiry in a cause in which they are supposed to be a party, take the judgment into their own hands, and summarily end the dispute by destroying the other party, they will offend and irritate at least all those who were in favor of making the inquiry. Such will not be satisfied with the answer that the Trustees have the power and feel it to be their duty to exercise it. It will be said that the reasons which justify a removal (if there be any) have existed for a long time. A removal after so long forbearance, at the present time, will be attributed to recent irritations.
"That part of the president's complaint which relates to his religious grievances, addresses itself pretty strongly to the prejudices and feelings of all those opposed to the sect called Orthodox. This comprises all the professed friends of liberal religion, most of the Baptists and Methodist, and all the nothingarians. The Democrats will be against you, of course. All these combined would compose in this State a numerous and powerful body. Any measure adopted by the Trustees with the appearance of anger, or haste, will be eagerly seized on. If the statements of the president are as incorrect as I have heard it confidently asserted, an exposure of that incorrectness will put the public opinion right. It may require time, but the result must be certain. If it can be shown that his complaints are nothing but defamatory clamor, he will be reduced to that low condition that it will be the interest of no sect or party to attempt to hold him up. I see no danger in delay, but fear much in too great haste. Perhaps there is no occasion at present to determine how long the Trustees should delay adopting their final course. Circumstances may render that expedient at a future time which is not now. I feel much confidence that a very decisive course against the president by the Trustees at the present time would create an unpleasant sensation in the public mind, and would, I fear, be attended with unpleasant consequences.
"I am sensible I have expressed my opinion very strongly on a subject in which I have only a common interest. I frankly confess I have been somewhat influenced by fears that some of the Trustees will find it difficult to free themselves entirely from the effects of the severe irritation they must have lately experienced.
"I am, dear sir, with esteem, "Sincerely yours. "Jeremiah Mason." "C. Marsh, Esq."
* * * * *
President Wheelock was removed from office on the 26th of August, 1815, by the vote of a decided majority of the Board, upon grounds of which the following is the substance:
"1st. He has had an agency in publishing and circulating a certain anonymous pamphlet, entitled 'Sketches of the History of Dartmouth College and Moor's Charity School,' and espoused the charges therein contained before a committee of the Legislature. The Trustees consider this publication a libel on the institution.
"2d. He claims a right to exercise the whole executive authority of the college, which the Charter has expressly committed to the Trustees, with the president, professors, and tutors by them appointed. He also claims a right to control the Corporation in the appointment of executive officers.
"3d. He has caused an impression to be made on the minds of students under censure for transgression of the laws of the institution, that if he could have had his will they would not have suffered disgrace or punishment.
"4th. He has taken a youth who was not an Indian, but adopted by an Indian tribe, and supported him in Moor's School, on the Scotch fund, which is granted for the sole purpose of instructing and civilizing Indians.
"5th. He has, without sufficient ground for such a course, reported that the real cause of the dissatisfaction of the Trustees with him was a diversity of religious opinions between him and them."
In taking leave of the second president, we have only to remark, as we introduce his eulogist, Mr. Samuel Clesson Allen, that both parties to the contest apparently overrated their grievances.
"President Wheelock was distinguished for the extent and variety of his learning. With a lively curiosity he pushed his inquiries into every department of knowledge, and made himself conversant with the various branches of science. But of all the subjects which presented themselves to his inquisitive mind those which relate to man in his intellectual constitution and social relations engaged and fixed his attention. His favorite branches were Intellectual Philosophy, Ethics, and Politics. Possessing in an eminent degree the spirit of his station, he fulfilled with singular felicity the offices of instructor and governor in the college. Animated and ardent himself, he could transfuse the same holy ardor into the minds of his pupils. What youth ever visited him in his study, but returned to his pursuits with a renovated spirit, and a loftier sentiment of glory?
"He had formed the noblest conceptions of the powers of the human mind, and of its ultimate progress in knowledge and refinement. This sentiment called forth the energies of his mind, and gave direction and character to his inquiries. It pervaded all his instructions, and imparted to science and to letters their just pre-eminence among the objects of human pursuit.
"He never sought to preoccupy the minds of his pupils with his own peculiar notions, or to impose upon them any favorite system of opinions. He endeavored to make them proficients in science, and not the proselytes of a sect.
"In government he commanded more by example than by authority, and the admiration of his talents ensured a better obedience than the force of laws. His elevation of mind placed him above personal prejudices and resentments, and jealousies of wounded dignity. He practiced no espionage upon his pupils, but reposed for the maintenance of order on their sense of propriety, and his own powers of command. He conciliated their attachment while he inspired their reverence; and he secured their attention to the stated exercises and reconciled them to the severest studies by the example he exhibited, and the enthusiasm he inspired. He knew how to adapt his discipline to the various dispositions and characters, and could discriminate between the accidental impulse of a youthful emotion and deliberate acts of intentional vice.
"He was an interesting and powerful speaker. His erect attitude and dignified action inspired reverence, and commanded attention. But the wonderful force of his eloquence arose from the strength and sublimity of his conceptions. Such were his originality of thought, and rich variety of expression, that he could present the most common subjects in new and interesting lights. His public discourses evinced the strength of the reasoning faculty, the powers of the imagination, and the resources of genius.
"He would sometimes conduct the mind with painful subtility through the multiplied steps of a long demonstration. At other times he would glance upon the main topics of his argument, and seize on his conclusion by a sort of intuitive penetration. He frequently embellished his subject with the higher ornaments of style, and diffused around the severer sciences the graces and elegancies of taste. For force of expression he might be compared to Chatham, and in splendid imagery he sometimes rivaled Burke. He would, at pleasure, spread a sudden blaze around his subject or diffuse about it a milder radiance.
"To the interpretation of the Scriptures he carried all the lights which geography, history, and criticism could supply, and poured their full effulgence upon the sacred page. His daily prayers always presenting new views of the works and perfections of the Deity, exhibited whatever was vast in conception, glowing in expression and devout in feeling.
"He was probably formed not less for the higher offices of active life than for the speculations of science. Distinguished for the boldness of his enterprise and the decisive energy of his character, he set no limits to what individual exertion and effort could accomplish. He attempted great things with means which other men would have esteemed wholly inadequate, and the vigor of his mind increased in proportion to the difficulties he met in the execution of his enterprises. He was disheartened by no difficulties, he was intimidated by no dangers, he was shaken by no sufferings. The glory which he sought was not the temporary applause of this party or that sect, but it was the glory which results from unwearied efforts for the improvement and happiness of man. He was not less distinguished by the object and character of his enterprises than by the great qualities he exhibited in their accomplishment. His was a high and holy ambition, which, while it preserved its vigor, identified its objects with those of the purest charity."
Dartmouth conferred the degree of LL. D. upon President Wheelock in 1789. He died at Hanover, April 4, 1817, his wife, Mrs. Maria (Suhm) Wheelock, daughter of Governor Christian Suhm, of St. Thomas, W. I., surviving him.
ADMINISTRATION OF PRESIDENT BROWN.—CONTEST BETWEEN THE COLLEGE AND THE STATE.—TRIUMPH OF THE COLLEGE.
Rev. Francis Brown of North Yarmouth, Maine, was elected the successor of President Wheelock. His character will be the subject of a later chapter. He was inaugurated in September, 1815, and entered at once with vigor and earnestness upon the performance of his official duties.
The Committee of the New Hampshire Legislature of 1815, Rev. Ephraim P. Bradford, Nathaniel A. Haven, and Daniel A. White, appointed to investigate the affairs of the college, reported in substance, that there was no ground for interference by the State.
The deep interest in the college question produced a political revolution in the State. In his message to the Legislature at the opening of the session in June, 1816, Governor Plumer says:
"Permit me to invite your consideration to the state and condition of Dartmouth College, the head of our learned institutions. As the State has contributed liberally to the establishment of its funds, and as our constituents have a deep interest in its prosperity, it has a strong claim to our attention. The charter of that college was granted December 13th, 1769, by John Wentworth, who was then Governor of New Hampshire, under the authority of the British king. As it emanated from royalty, it contained, as was natural it should, principles congenial to monarchy; among others, it established Trustees, made seven a quorum, and authorized a majority of those present to remove any of its members which they might consider unfit or incapable, and the survivors to perpetuate the Board by themselves, electing others to supply vacancies. This last principle is hostile to the spirit and genius of a free government. Sound policy therefore requires that the mode of election should be changed, and that Trusties, in future, should be elected by some other body of men.
"The college was founded for the public good, not for the benefit or emolument of its Trustees; and the right to amend and improve acts of incorporation of this nature has been exercised by all governments, both monarchical and republican. In the Charter of Dartmouth College it is expressly provided that the president, trustees, professors, tutors and other officers, shall take the oath of allegiance to the British king; but if the laws of the United States, as well as those of New Hampshire, abolished by implication that part of the Charter, much more might they have done it directly and by express words. These facts show the authority of the Legislature to interfere upon this subject."
Governor Plumer communicated this message to Jefferson, who replied in his letter of July 21, 1816: "It is replete with sound principles, and truly republican. Some articles, too, are worthy of notice. The idea that institutions established for the use of the nation cannot be touched nor modified, even to make them answer their end, because of rights gratuitously supposed in those employed to manage them in trust for the public, may, perhaps, be a salutary provision against the abuses of a monarch, but it is most absurd against the nation itself. Yet our lawyers and priests generally inculcate this doctrine, and suppose that preceding generations held the earth more freely than we do; had a right to impose laws on us, unalterable by ourselves; and that we, in like manner, can make laws and impose burdens on future generations, which they will have no right to alter; in fine, that the earth belongs to the dead, and not to the living."
The following action shows the result:
"The undersigned, three of the members of the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College, having this morning seen a printed copy of a bill before the Honorable House [of the New Hampshire Legislature], the provisions of which, should they go into effect would set aside the Charter of the college, and wholly change the administration of its concerns, beg leave respectfully to remonstrate against its passage. The provisions of the bill referred to change the name of the corporation; enlarge the number of Trustees; alter the number to constitute a quorum; render persons living out of the State, who are now eligible, hereafter ineligible; vacate the seats of those members who are not inhabitants of the State; deprive the Trustees of the right of electing members to supply vacancies; and give to the new Board of Trustees an arbitrary power of annulling everything heretofore transacted by the Trustees; and this last without the concurrence of the proposed Board of Overseers. The consent of the present Board of Trustees is in no instance contemplated as necessary to give validity to the new act of incorporation.
"In the opinion of the undersigned, these changes, modifications, and alterations effectually destroy the present Charter of the college and constitute a new one.
"Should the bill become a law, it will be obvious to our fellow citizens that the Trustees of Dartmouth College will have been deprived of their Charter rights without having been summoned or notified of any such proceeding against them. It will be equally obvious to our fellow citizens that the facts reported by the committee of investigation [of the last Legislature] did not form the ground and basis of the new act of incorporation; and that no evidence of facts of any sort, relating to the official conduct of the Trustees, other than the report of the committee of investigation, was submitted to your Honorable Bodies.
"To deprive a Board of Trustees of their Charter rights, after they have been accused of gross misconduct in office, without requiring any proof whatever of such misconduct, appears to your remonstrants unjust, and not conformable to the spirit of the free and happy government under which we live. If the property has been misapplied, if there has been any abuse of power upon the part of the Trustees, they are fully sensible of their high responsibility; but they have always believed, and still believe, that a sound construction of the powers granted to the Legislature, gives them, in this case, only the right to order, for good cause, a prosecution in the judicial courts.
"A different course effectually blends judicial and legislative powers, and constitutes the Legislature a judicial tribunal.
"The undersigned also beg leave to remonstrate against the passage of the bill, on the ground of inexpediency. A corporation is a creature of the law, to which certain powers, rights, and privileges are granted; and amongst others that of holding property. Destroy this creature, this body politic, and all its property immediately reverts to its former owners. This doctrine has long been recognized and established in all governments of law. Any material alteration of the corporation, without its consent, and certainly such essential alterations as the bill under consideration is intended to make, will be followed with the same effect. The funds belonging to the college, although not great, are highly important to the institution; and a considerable proportion of them were granted by, and lie in, the State of Vermont. The undersigned most earnestly entreat the Honorable Legislature not to put the funds of the college in jeopardy; not to put at hazard substantial income, under expectations which may or may not be realized."
After alluding to lack of precedent for the proposed action, and the necessary increase of expenditures which would result from its consummation, they proceed to say: "If the provisions of this bill should take effect, we greatly fear that the concerns of the college will be drawn into the vortex of political controversy. We refer particularly to that section of the bill which gives the appointment of Trustees and Overseers to the Governor and Council. The whole history of the United States for the last twenty years teaches us a lesson which ought not to be kept out of view. Our literary institutions hitherto have been preserved from the influence of party. The tendency of this bill, unless we greatly mistake, is to convert the peaceful retreat of our college into a field for party warfare.
"Whilst the undersigned deem it their indispensable duty to remonstrate in the most respectful terms against the passage of the bill referred to, they have no objection, and they have no reason to believe their fellow Trustees have any objection, to the passage of a law connecting the government of the State with that of the college, and creating every salutary check and restraint upon the official conduct of the Trustees and their successors that can be reasonably required, and with respectful deference they would propose the following outlines of a plan for that purpose.
"The Councillors and Senators of New Hampshire together with the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the time being, shall constitute a Board of Overseers of Dartmouth College, any ten of whom shall be a quorum for transacting business. The Overseers shall meet annually at the college, on the day preceding Commencement. They shall have an independent right to organize their own body, and to form their own rules; but as soon as they shall have organized themselves they shall give information thereof to the Trustees. Whenever any vote shall have been passed by the Trustees it shall be communicated to the Overseers, and shall not have effect until it shall have the concurrence of the Overseers. Provided, nevertheless, that if at any meeting a quorum of the Overseers shall not be formed, the Trustees shall have full power to confer degrees, in the same manner as though there were no Overseers; and also to appoint Trustees or other officers (not a president or professor), and to enact such laws as the interests of the institution shall indispensably require; but no law passed by the Trustees shall in such case have force longer than until the next annual meeting of the Boards, unless it shall then be approved by the Overseers. Neither of the Boards shall adjourn, except from day to day, without the consent of the other. It shall be the duty of the president of the college, whenever in his opinion the interests of the institution shall require it, or whenever requested thereto by three Trustees, or three Overseers, to call special meetings of both Boards, causing notice to be given in writing to each Trustee and Overseer, of the time and place; but no meeting of one Board shall ever be called except at the same time and place with the other. It shall be the duty of the president of the college annually, in the month of May, to transmit to his Excellency, the Governor, a full and particular account of the state of the funds, the number of students and their progress, and generally the state and condition of the college.
"If the plan above suggested should meet the approbation of the Honorable Legislature, and good men of all parties give it their sanction, we may all anticipate, with high satisfaction, the future prosperity of the college, and its incalculable usefulness to the State; but if a union of the friends of literature and science, of all parties and sects, cannot be attained; if the triumph of one party over the other be absolutely indispensable; fearful apprehensions must fill the mind of every considerate man, every dispassionate friend of Dartmouth College.
Thos. W. Thompson, Elijah Paine, Asa M'Farland.
"June 19, 1816."
* * * * *
The effect of this proposed compromise was a modification of the bill in some of its important features. Against the amended bill, which was passed a few days afterward, there was a farther protest, from which we make brief extracts.
"The undersigned would not trouble the Honorable Legislature with any remarks in addition to those contained in their remonstrance of the 19th inst. did they not believe it was a duty not to be omitted."
Referring to the amended bill, they continue:
"They have not been able to obtain a sight of it, but have heard it contains provisions for an increase of the Board of Trustees to the number of twenty-one, a majority of whom to constitute a quorum, and that the additional number are to be appointed by His Excellency the Governor and the Honorable the Council. To many of the topics of argument, suggested in their former remonstrance (which are equally applicable against the passage of the bill in its present shape) they respectfully ask leave to add, that the bill in its present shape destroys the identity of the corporation, known in the law by the name of the Trustees of Dartmouth College, without the consent of the corporation, and consequently the corporation to be created by the present bill must and will be deemed by courts of law altogether diverse and distinct from the corporation to which all the grants of property have hitherto been made; and therefore the new corporation cannot hold the property granted to the corporation created by the charter of 1769.
"By the Charter of Dartmouth College a contract was made by the then supreme power of the State with the twelve persons therein named, by which, when accepted by the persons therein named, certain rights and privileges were vested in them and their successors, for the guarantee of which the faith of government was pledged by necessary implication. In the same instrument the faith of government was pledged that the corporation should consist of twelve persons and no more. The change in the government of the State, since taken place, does not in the least possible degree impair the validity of this contract,—otherwise nearly all the titles to real estate, held by our fellow citizens, must be deemed invalid.
"The passage of the bill now before the Honorable House will, in the deliberate opinion of the undersigned, violate the plighted faith of the government. If the undersigned are correct in considering the Charter of 1769 in the nature of a contract, and if the bill, in its present shape, becomes a law, we think it necessarily follows that it will also violate an important clause in the 10th section of the 1st article in the Constitution of the United States, which provides, that no State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts.
"The Honorable Legislature will permit us to add, that as it is well known that the Trustees have, as a Board, been divided on certain important subjects, although the minority has been very small, should the Legislature now provide for nine new Trustees, to be appointed by His Excellency the Governor and the Honorable the Council, and that without any facts being proved to the Legislature, or any Legislative report having been made, showing that the state of things at the college rendered the measure necessary, it must be seen by our fellow citizens that the majority of the Trustees have been by the Legislature, for some unacknowledged cause, condemned unheard.
Thomas W. Thompson, Asa M'Farland.
"June 24, 1816."
* * * * *
The recommendations of the Governor in substance, became a law; the name of the college was changed to "University;" the number of the Trustees was increased to twenty-one; a Board of Overseers was created, to be appointed by the Governor and Council; the president and professors of the university were required to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and of the State of New Hampshire; and the act provided that "perfect freedom of religious opinion should be enjoyed by all the students and officers of the university." The committee to whom the message, etc., relating to this subject, were referred, it should be remarked, did not undertake to decide in favor of either party to the controversy, but alleged that the troubles arose from certain defects in the Charter, and that they would recur again in some form, unless those defects were remedied.
The debates upon the historical and constitutional questions involved were able. The minority were ably led, both inside and outside the Legislature, but parliamentary tactics availed them nothing. Many of them joined in a written protest against the passage of the bill, the substance of which has already appeared in the action of the Trustees.
Directly after the passage of this bill Mr. Marsh prepared an elaborate argument, never published, setting forth the essence of the leading points of the case, as viewed by the majority of the old Trustees.
The following letter, addressed to Mr. Timothy Bigelow, Boston, is worthy of notice in this connection:
"Concord, July 27, 1816.
"Dear Sir: Dr. McFarland will do himself the pleasure to hand you this. In him you will recognize an old acquaintance. We wish to get the opinions of as many legal friends as we can upon the question of legitimate power in the New Hampshire Legislature, to pass the act relating to Dartmouth College, and with regard to the course the old Trustees ought to pursue. It is an interest, we think, common to all well wishers to New England.
"The old Trustees, I am confident, are willing to take just that course that their wisest and best friends recommend.
"Very cordially yours,
Thomas W. Thompson."
August 28, 1816, a majority of the old Trustees formally refused to accept the provisions of the act.
A meeting of the Trustees of the university, under the act of June 27, 1816, was called, but through the illness of a single member, failed for want of a quorum. The judges of the Superior Court, on December 5, 1816, in answer to the Governor and Council, gave their opinion that the executive department had no authority to fill the vacancies which had occurred. To remedy this, the Legislature, on December 18, 1816, passed an additional act providing for filling the vacancies, the calling of meetings and fixing a quorum; and on December 26, 1816, passed another act imposing the penalty of five hundred dollars upon any person who should assume any office in the university except by virtue of the preceding acts.
In view of this action President Brown writes to Mr. Timothy Farrar, of Portsmouth, January 3, 1817:
"Now, what shall we do? One of these four courses must be taken. We must either keep possession and go on to teach as usual, without any regard to the law, or, withdrawing from the college edifice and all the college property, continue to instruct as the officers of Dartmouth College; or, relinquishing this name for the present, collect as many students as will join us, and instruct them as private but associated individuals; or else we must give all up and disperse. Will you give us your opinion, what may be duty or what expedient, as soon as convenient? Particularly, will you give us your opinion whether, supposing this oppressive act to be judged constitutional, we should be liable to the fine, if we instruct as the officers of Dartmouth College, relinquishing, however, the college buildings, the library, apparatus, etc."
The Faculty of the college issued the following:
"ADDRESS OF THE EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF DARTMOUTH COLLEGE TO THE PUBLIC.
"As the undersigned, after the most serious and mature consideration, have determined to retain the offices which they received by the appointment of the Trustees of Dartmouth College, and not voluntarily to surrender, at present, any property committed to them, nor to relinquish any privileges pertaining to their offices, they believe it to be a duty, which they owe to the public no less than to themselves, to make an explicit declaration of the principles by which they are governed.
"They begin by stating the two following positions, as maxims of political morality, which they deem incontrovertible:
"1. It is wrong, under any form of government, for a citizen or subject to refuse compliance with the will of the sovereign power, when that will is fully expressed, except in cases where the rights of conscience are invaded, or where oppression is practiced to such an extreme degree that the great ends of civil government are defeated or highly endangered.
"2. Under a free government, where the sovereignty is exercised by several distinct branches, whose respective powers are created and defined by written constitutions, cases may arise in which it will be the duty of the citizen to delay conforming to the ordinances of one branch until the other branches shall have had opportunity to act. If, for example, the legislative branch should transcend its legitimate power, and assume to perform certain acts which the Constitution had assigned to the province of the judicial branch, a citizen, injuriously affected by those acts, might be bound, not indeed forcibly to resist them, but, in the manner pointed out by law, to make an appeal to the judiciary and to await its decision.
"The undersigned deem it unnecessary, in this place, to detail the provisions of the acts of the Honorable Legislature, passed in June and December, A. D. 1816, relating to this institution. Those acts are before the public and are generally understood.
"The Board of Trustees, as constituted by the Charter of 1769, at their annual meeting in August last, took into consideration the act of June, and adopted a resolution, 'not to accept its provisions.' In the preamble to this resolution, we find a paragraph in the words following: 'They (the Trustees) find the law fully settled and recognized in almost every case which has arisen, wherein a corporation or any member or officer is a party, that no man or body of men is bound to accept, or act under, any grant or gift of corporate powers and privileges; and that no existing corporation is bound to accept, but may decline or refuse to accept any act or grant conferring additional powers or privileges, or making any restriction or limitation of those they already possess; and in case a grant is made to individuals or to a corporation without application, it is to be regarded not as an act obligatory or binding upon them, but as an offer or proposition to confer such powers and privileges, or the expression of a desire to have them accept such restrictions, which they are at liberty to accept or reject.'
"If the doctrine contained in this paragraph be correct, and of its correctness the undersigned, after ascertaining the opinion of eminent jurists in most of the New England States, entertain no doubt, the act of June, and of course the acts of December, have become inoperative, in consequence of the nonacceptance of them by the Charter Trustees, and the provisions of these acts are not binding upon the corporation or its officers. We take the liberty to add, that, in our opinion, the reasons assigned by the Trustees in the preamble before mentioned for not accepting the act of June, are very important and amply sufficient. Indeed, it has ever appeared to us, that the changes proposed to be introduced into the charter by the acts in question, would have proved highly inauspicious to the welfare of this institution, and ultimately injurious to the interests of literature throughout our country.
"The Trustees appointed agreeably to the provisions of the act of June have, however, thought proper to organize, without the concurrence of the Charter Trustees, and to perform numerous decisive acts.
"At a meeting in Concord on the fourth instant, they brought several specifications of charges against the undersigned; and at an adjourned meeting, holden on the twenty-second instant, they proceeded to displace, discharge, and remove them from their respective offices in Dartmouth University. A similar procedure was adopted against four of the Trustees acting under the Charter.
"Unless we greatly mistake, in the view already expressed of the act of June, the votes of the university Trustees, removing us from office, are wholly unauthorized and destitute of any legal effect; and we are still, as we have uniformly claimed to be, officers of Dartmouth College under the charter of 1769.
"The Charter Trustees having resolved to assert their corporate rights, and having, for this purpose, recently commenced a suit against their late Secretary and Treasurer, in the issue of which it is expected the question between them and their competitors will be finally settled, the undersigned, being united with them in opinion, in principle, and in feeling, cannot consent to abandon them, or to perform any act which may prejudice their claims, while this suit is pending. They must therefore proceed, as officers of Dartmouth College, to discharge their prescribed duties. They are sensible of their obligation to render submission to the laws, and their first inquiry, in the case before them, has been, What is law? The result is a full conviction in their own minds, that the course they have concluded to adopt is strictly legal, and that no other course would be consistent with their duty. If they err, their error will shortly be corrected by the decision of our highest judicial tribunals; and with this decision they will readily comply. In the meantime, while the appeal is made to the laws of their country, and to the constitutions of this State and of the United States, which are the supreme law, they trust that none of their fellow-citizens will have the unkindness to charge them with a want of respect to the government under which they live. As soon as the will of the government shall be fairly expressed, they will render to it a prompt obedience.
"The undersigned are placed in a situation singularly difficult and highly responsible. To them it seems to be allotted in Divine Providence, to perform a part which, in its consequences, may deeply affect the interests not only of this institution, but of all similar institutions in this country. And although they are fully conscious of their own inability to perform this part in a manner worthy of its importance, yet they are firmly resolved, relying on divine assistance, not to shrink from any duty, or any danger, which it may involve.
"The penal act of December they cannot but regard as unnecessarily severe; nor do they see what purpose it was calculated to answer, except to influence them, by the prospect of embarrassing suits, to an abandonment of their trust. They are aware that men may be found disposed to multiply prosecutions against them, and to despoil them of the little property they possess; but they believe themselves called in Providence not to shun this hazard, as they cannot reconcile it with their obligation to the institution under their care, to relinquish the places they occupy, until it shall be ascertained that they cannot rightfully retain them.
"As the university Trustees have expressed a great regard for the laws, the undersigned have a right to expect that neither they, or any agents appointed by them, will resort to illegal measures to seize on the college buildings and property. Should such measures unhappily be adopted, the undersigned will make no forcible resistance, it not being a part of their policy to repel violence by violence. They will quietly withdraw where they cannot peaceably retain possession, and, with the best accommodations they can procure, will continue to instruct the classes committed to them, until the prevalence of other counsels shall procure a repeal of the injurious acts, or until the decision of the law shall convince them of their error, or restore them to their rights.
"Francis Brown, "Ebenezer Adams, "Roswell Shurtleff.
"February 28, 1817."
* * * * *
The above gentlemen constituted the permanent Faculty at this period. In view of all the circumstances they determined to surrender the college buildings and library to their opponents, and the Trustees determined to test their rights before the courts, the action being brought against the former Treasurer, who adhered to the "University" party.
"The action: 'The Trustees of Dartmouth College v. William H. Woodward,' was commenced in the Court of Common Pleas, Grafton County, State of New Hampshire, February Term, 1817. The declaration was trover for the books of record, original charter, common seal, and other corporate property of the college. The conversion was alleged to have been made on the 7th day of October, 1816. The proper pleas were filed, and by consent the cause was carried directly to the Superior Court of New Hampshire, by appeal, and entered at the May Term, 1817. The general issue was pleaded by the defendant, and joined by the plaintiffs. The facts in the case were then agreed upon by the parties, and drawn up in the form of a special verdict, reciting the Charter of the college and the acts of the Legislature of the State, passed June and December, 1816, by which the said corporation of Dartmouth College was enlarged and improved, and the said Charter amended.
"The question made in the case was, whether those acts of the Legislature were valid and binding upon the corporation, without their acceptance or assent, and not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States. If so, the verdict found for the defendants; otherwise it found for the plaintiffs.
"The cause was continued to the September Term of the court in Rockingham County, where it was argued; and at the November term of the same year, in Grafton County, the opinion of the court was delivered by Chief Justice Richardson, sustaining the validity and constitutionality of the acts of the Legislature; and judgment was accordingly entered for the defendant on the special verdict.
"Thereupon a writ of error was sued out by the original plaintiffs, to remove the cause to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it was entered at the term of the court holden at Washington on the first Monday of February, 1818.
"The cause came on for argument on the 10th day of March 1818, before all the judges. It was argued by Mr. Webster and Mr. Hopkinson, for the plaintiffs in error, and by Mr. Holmes and the Attorney-general (Wirt), for the defendant in error.
"At the term of the court holden in February, 1819, the opinion of the judges was delivered by Chief Justice Marshall, declaring the acts of the Legislature unconstitutional and invalid, and reversing the judgment of the State court. The court, with the exception of Mr. Justice Duvall, were unanimous."
The arguments in the New Hampshire court by Messrs. Mason, Smith, and Webster for the college, and Messrs. Sullivan and Bartlett for Mr. Woodward; the decision of that court, and the cause in the Supreme Court of the United States, are an important part of our country's judicial history. The result was logically based upon prior decisions of the Supreme Court. We invite special attention to one point in Mr. Webster's argument. If, in the lapse of time, under the strong light of careful research or elaborate criticism, all the other brilliant colors of this remarkable fabric shall fade or vanish, this central figure will remain forever, to illustrate the relations of the college to the State.
"The State of Vermont is a principal donor to Dartmouth College. The lands given lie in that State. This appears in the special verdict. Is Vermont to be considered as having intended a gift to the State of New Hampshire in this case, as, it has been said, is to be the reasonable construction of all donations to the college? The Legislature of New Hampshire affects to represent the public, and therefore claims a right to control all property destined to public use. What hinders Vermont from considering herself equally the representative of the public, and from resuming her grants, at her own pleasure? Her right to do so is less doubtful than the power of New Hampshire to pass the laws in question."
Thus closed one of the most important contests in the history of American jurisprudence.
Law, politics, literature, and religion combined to make it a subject of national concern. The decision gave to a large class of chartered institutions a security never enjoyed before. The lapse of more than half a century enables us to consider the question calmly and candidly, uninfluenced by interest, prejudice, or passion.
The case was attended with serious embarrassments. Neither counsel nor court had thorough knowledge of the history of the school and the college, and the relations of each to the other. Had they possessed this knowledge, the line of argument in some respects would have been very different, although perhaps with the same general results. More than this, there were no precedents. Indeed, at that early day questions of constitutional law had occupied very little of the attention of the American courts.
There would have been embarrassment had the British Parliament, before our Revolution, assumed the right to alter materially the Charter of the college. Changes in chartered institutions in America, especially, by that body, although within the scope of its power, were usually met with the sternest protests. After the Revolution, there were wide differences of opinion as to who had power over charters granted antecedent to that event. In the case of Dartmouth's Charter any one of several opinions might have found plausible support. To determine whether it was a fit matter for State or national legislation, or judicial control, we must revert to the history of the Charter. There we find that it was the unvarying purpose of the founder, adhered to through a long period of severe and persistent effort, to obtain a Charter which would enable him to locate his school or schools in any of the American colonies. He was determined to be as free as possible from local obligations and local control. There can be no doubt that in securing the Charter of the college he believed that he had accomplished a similar purpose. The Charter appointed as a majority of the first Board of Trustees residents in Connecticut,—making it for the time being, by design of the founder, for good and sufficient reasons, in a sense, a Connecticut institution,—with a provision that after the lapse of a brief period a majority of the Board should be residents in New Hampshire. In writing upon this subject to a business correspondent, in June, 1777, President Wheelock says, referring to a third party: "Let him see how amply this incorporation is endowed, and how independent it is made of this government or any other incorporation," and adds that "a matter of controversy" relating to the township granted by the king to the college nearly at the same time with the Charter, "can be decided by no judicatory but supreme, or one equal to that which incorporated it, i. e., the Continental Congress."
The views of no one person will be received by all, as conclusive on a subject of so much importance. But certainly, Eleazar Wheelock had a right to construe the provisions of an instrument which in almost every line bore his impress, never possessed by any other individual.
Had John Wheelock presented his grievances to the National Legislature,—only in a limited sense, it is true, if at all, the successor of that king, whose grant of Landaff, in addition to the College Charter, made him, in a sense, according to Coke, the founder of the college,—he might, in all probability, have obtained what he desired in a peaceful manner, although an important judicial decision might never have occupied its present place in American law.
CHARACTER OF PRESIDENT BROWN.—TRIBUTES BY PROFESSOR HADDOCK AND RUFUS CHOATE.
In Sprague's "Annals of the American Pulpit," we find, in substance, the following notice of President Brown:
Francis Brown was the son of Benjamin and Prudence (Kelley) Brown, and was born at Chester, Rockingham County, N. H., January 11, 1784. His father was a merchant, and had a highly respectable standing in society. His mother was a person of superior intellect and heart, and, though she died when he had only reached his tenth year, she had impressed upon him some of the most striking of her own characteristics; particularly her uncommon love of order and propriety, even in the most minute concerns, and her uncompromising adherence to her own convictions of truth and right. In his early boyhood he evinced the utmost eagerness in the pursuit of knowledge, and never suffered any opportunity for intellectual improvement to escape him. At the age of fourteen, he ventured to ask his father to furnish him with the means of a collegiate education; but, in consideration of his somewhat straitened circumstances, he felt constrained to deny the request. By a subsequent marriage, however, his circumstances were improved; and the new mother of young Brown, with most commendable generosity, assumed the pecuniary responsibility of his going to college. He always cherished the most grateful recollection of her kindness; and, but a few days before his death, he said to her with the deepest filial sensibility, "My dear mother, whatever good I have done in the world, and whatever honor I have received, I owe it all to you."
In his sixteenth year he became a member of Atkinson Academy, then under the care of the Hon. John Vose, and among the most respectable institutions of the kind in New England. His instructor has rendered the following testimony concerning him at that period: "Though he made no pretensions to piety during his residence at the academy, he was exceedingly amiable in his affections and moral in his deportment. It is very rare we find an individual in whom so many excellencies centre. To a sweet disposition was united a strong mind; to an accuracy which examined the minutiae of everything a depth of investigation which penetrated the most profound. I recollect that when I wrote recommending him to college, I informed Dr. Wheelock I had sent him an Addison."
Of the formation of his religious character little more is known than that it was of silent, yet steady growth. It was not till the year that he became a tutor in college that he made a public profession of his faith, by connecting himself with the church in his native place.
In the spring of 1802 he joined the Freshman class of Dartmouth College, and, during the whole period of his collegiate course, was a model of persevering diligence, of gentle and winning manners, and pure and elevated morality. From college he carried with him the respect and love of both teachers and students. Having spent the year succeeding his graduation as a private tutor in the family of the venerable Judge Paine, of Williamstown, Vt., he was appointed to a tutorship in the college at which he had graduated. This office he accepted, and for three years discharged its duties with great ability and fidelity, while, at the same time, he was pursuing theological studies with reference to his future profession.
Having received license to preach from the Grafton Association, he resigned his tutorship at the Commencement in 1809, with a view to give himself solely to the work of the ministry. After declining several flattering applications for his services, he accepted an invitation from the Congregational Church in North Yarmouth, Me., to become their pastor; and he was accordingly ordained there on his birthday, January 11, 1810. Within a few months from this time, he was chosen Professor of Languages at Dartmouth College; but this appointment he was pleased, greatly to the joy of his parishioners, to decline. For the succeeding five years he labored with great zeal and success among his people, while his influence was sensibly felt in sustaining and advancing the interests of learning and religion throughout the State. He was the intimate friend of the lamented President Appleton; and no one, perhaps, co-operated with the president more vigrously than he, in increasing the resources and extending the influence of Bowdoin College.
He was inaugurated President of Dartmouth College, on the 27th of September, 1815.
During the period when the college controversy was at its height, and it seemed difficult to predict its issue, Mr. Brown was invited to the presidency of Hamilton College,—a respectable and flourishing institution in the State of New York. He did not, however, feel at liberty to accept the invitation, considering himself so identified with the college with which he was then connected that he must share either its sinking or rising fortunes.
President Brown's labors were too severe for his constitution. He was not only almost constantly engaged during the week in the instruction and general supervision of the college, but most of his Sabbaths were spent in preaching to destitute congregations in the neighborhood; and, during his vacations, he was generally traveling with a view to increase the college funds. Soon after the Commencement in 1818, he began to show some symptoms of pulmonary disease, and these symptoms continued, and assumed a more aggravated form, under the best medical prescriptions. His last effort in the pulpit was at Thetford, Vt., October 6, 1818. In the hope of recovering from his disease, he traveled into the western part of New York, but no substantial relief was obtained. In the fall of 1819, with a view to try the effect of a milder climate, he journeyed as far south as South Carolina and Georgia, where he spent the following winter and spring. He returned in the month of June, and, though he was greeted by his friends and pupils with the most affectionate welcome, they all saw, from his pallid countenance and emaciated form, that he had only come home to die. As he was unable to appear in public, he invited the Senior class, who were about to leave college at the commencement of their last vacation, to visit him in his chamber; and there he addressed to them, with the solemnity of a spirit just ready to take its flight, the most pertinent and affectionate farewell counsels, which they received with every expression of gratitude, veneration, and love. In his last days and hours he evinced the most humble, trusting, child-like spirit, willing to live as long as God was pleased to detain him, but evidently considering it far better to depart and be with Christ. His last words were, "Glorious Redeemer, take my spirit." He died July 27, 1820.
His wife Elisabeth, daughter of the Rev. Tristram Gilman, a lady whose fine intellectual, moral, and Christian qualities adorned every station in which she was placed, survived him many years, and died on the 5th of September, 1851. They had three children, one of whom, Samuel Gilman [now President Brown], is a professor in Dartmouth College.
The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon President Brown by both Hamilton and Williams Colleges, in 1819.
The following is a list of President Brown's published works: "An Address on Music," delivered before the Handel Society of Dartmouth College, 1809. "The Faithful Steward:" A Sermon delivered at the ordination of Allen Greeley, 1810. "A Sermon delivered before the Maine Missionary Society, 1814." "Calvin and Calvinism;" defended against certain injurious representations contained in a pamphlet entitled "A Sketch of the Life and Doctrine of the Celebrated John Calvin;" of which Rev. Martin Ruter claims to be the author, 1815. "A Reply to the Rev. Martin Ruter's Letter relating to Calvin and Calvinism, 1815." "A Sermon delivered at Concord before the Convention of Congregational and Presbyterian Ministers of New Hampshire, 1818."
The following is from Prof. Charles B. Haddock, D.D.: "My acquaintance with the President was, for the most part, that of a pupil with his teacher; an undergraduate with the head of the college. And yet it was somewhat more than this; for it was my happiness, during my Senior year, to have lodgings in the same house with him, and to eat at the same table, in the family of one of the professors, and as one of a small circle, all connected with college, and a good deal remarkable for the freedom and vivacity of their conversation. After graduating, I saw him only occasionally, until the last few months of his life, which he passed here, near the close of my first year's residence at the college as a teacher,—months in which the greatness of his character was still more signally manifest than in any other circumstances in which I had seen him.
"In recording my youthful impressions of so uncommon a personage, I may, therefore, hope to be thought to speak not altogether without knowledge, though it should be with enthusiasm.
"Dr. Brown came to preside over the college at the age of less than thirty-two, and in circumstances to attract unusual attention to his administration. It was during a violent contest of opposing parties for the control of its affairs, and immediately after the removal of his predecessor from office. His qualifications and his official acts were, of course, exposed to severe scrutiny, and could command the respect of the community at large only by approving themselves to the candid judgment even of the adverse party. And I suppose it would be admitted, even in New Hampshire, that no man ever commended himself to general favor, I may say to general admiration, by a wiser, more prudent, or more honorable bearing, amid the greatest and most trying difficulties. Indeed, such was his conduct of affairs, and such the nobleness of his whole character, as displayed in his intercourse with the government of the State, with a rival institution under the public authority, and with all classes of men, that not a few who began with zeal for the college over which he presided, came at last to act even more from zeal for the MAN who presided over it.
"The mind of Dr. Brown was of the very highest order,—profound, comprehensive, and discriminating. Its action was deliberate, circumspect, and sure. He made no mistakes; he left nothing in doubt where certainty was possible; he never conjectured where there were means of knowledge; he had no obscure glimpses among his ideas of truth and duty. Always sound and always luminous, his opinions were never uttered without being understood, and never understood without being regarded. There was a dignity and weight in his judgments which seem to me not unlike what constitutes the patriarchal authority of Washington and Marshall.
"If not already a man of learning, in the larger sense of that term, it was only because the duties of the pastoral relation had so long attracted his attention to the objects of more particular interest in his profession. Had his life been spared, however, he would have been learned in the highest and rarest sense. His habits of study were liberal, patient, and eminently philosophical; and within the sphere which his inquiries covered, his knowledge was accurate and choice, and his taste faultless. The entire form of his literary character was beautiful—strong without being dogmatic; delicate without being fastidious.
"His heart was large. Great objects alone could fill it; and it was full of great objects. There was no littleness of thought, or purpose, or ambition, in him—nothing little. The range of his literary sympathies was as wide as the world of mind; his benevolence as universal as the wants of man.
"His person was commanding. Gentle in his manners, affable, courteous, he yet, unconsciously, partly by the natural dignity of his figure, and still more by the greatness visibly impressed on his features, exacted from us all a deference, a veneration even, that seemed as natural as it was inevitable. His very presence was a restraint upon everything like levity or frivolity, and diffused a thoughtful and composed, if not always grave, air about him, which, never ceasing to be cheerful and bright, never failed to dignify the objects of pursuit and elevate the intercourse of life. A gentleman in the primitive sense of the word, he was, without seeking to be thought so, always felt to be of a superior order of men.
"On the whole, it has been my fortune to know no man whose entire character has appeared to me so near perfection, none, whom it would so satisfy me in all things to resemble.
"How much we lost in him it is now impossible to estimate, and it would, perhaps, be useless to know. His early death extinguished great hopes. But his memory is a treasure, which even death cannot take from us."
Hon. Rufus Choate writes thus: "It happened that my whole time at college coincided with the period of President Brown's administration. He was inducted into office in the autumn of 1815, my Freshman year, and he died in the summer of 1820. It is not the want, therefore, but the throng, of recollections of him that creates any difficulty in complying with your request. He was still young at the time of his inauguration—not more than thirty-one—and he had passed those few years, after having been for three of them a tutor in Dartmouth College, in the care of a parish in North Yarmouth, in Maine; but he had already, in an extraordinary degree, dignity of person and sentiment; rare beauty,—almost youthful beauty, of countenance; a sweet, deep, commanding tone of voice; a grave but graceful and attractive demeanor—all the traits and all the qualities, completely ripe, which make up and express weight of character; and all the address and firmness and knowledge of youth, men, and affairs which constitute what we call administrative talent. For that form of talent, and for the greatness which belongs to character, he was doubtless remarkable. He must have been distinguished for this among the eminent. From his first appearance before the students on the day of his inauguration, when he delivered a brief and grave address in Latin, prepared we were told, the evening before, until they followed the bier, mourning, to his untimely grave, he governed them perfectly and always, through their love and veneration; the love and veneration of the 'willing soul.' Other arts of government were, indeed, just then, scarcely practicable. The college was in a crisis which relaxed discipline, and would have placed a weak instructor, or an instructor unbeloved, or loved with no more than ordinary regard, in the power of classes which would have abused it. It was a crisis which demanded a great man for President, and it found such an one in him. In 1816, the Legislature of New Hampshire passed the acts which changed the Charter of the institution, abolished the old corporation of Trustees, created a new one, extinguished the legal identity of the college, and reconstructed it or set up another under a different and more ambitious name and a different government. The old Trustees, with President Brown at their head, denied the validity of these acts, and resisted their administration. A dominant political party had passed or adopted them; and thereupon a controversy arose between the college and a majority of the State; conducted in part in the courts of law of New Hampshire, and of the Union; in part by the press; sometimes by the students of the old institution and the new in personal collision, or the menace of personal collision, within the very gardens of the academy; which was not terminated until the Supreme Court of the United States adjudged the acts unconstitutional and void. This decision was pronounced in 1819; and then, and not till then, had President Brown peace,—a brief peace made happy by letters, by religion, by the consciousness of a great duty performed for law, for literature, and for the Constitution,—happy even in prospect of premature death. This contest tried him and the college with extreme and various severity. To induce students to remain in a school disturbed and menaced; to engage and inform public sentiment, the true patron and effective founder, by showing forth that the principles of a sound political morality, as well as of law, prescribed the action of the old Trustees; to confer with the counsel of the college, two of whom—Mr. Mason and Mr. Webster—have often declared to me their admiration of the intellectual force and practical good sense which he brought to those conferences,—this all, while it withdrew him somewhat from the proper studies and proper cares of his office, created a necessity for the display of the very rarest qualities of temper, discretion, tact, and command, and he met it with consummate ability and fortune. One of his addresses to the students in the chapel at the darkest moment of the struggle, presenting the condition and prospects of the college, and the embarrassments of all kinds which surrounded its instructors, and appealing to the manliness and affection and good principles of the students to help 'by whatsoever things were honest, lovely, or of good report,' occurs to recollection as of extraordinary persuasiveness and influence.
"There can be no doubt that he had very eminent intellectual ability, true love of the beautiful in all things, and a taste trained to discover, enjoy, and judge it, and that his acquirements were competent and increasing. It was the 'keenness' of his mind of which Mr. Mason always spoke to me as remarkable in any man of any profession. He met him only in consultation as a client; but others, students, all nearer his age, and admitted to his fuller intimacy, must have been struck rather with the sobriety and soundness of his thoughts, the solidity and large grasp of his understanding, and the harmonized culture of all its parts. He wrote a pure and clear English style, and he judged of elegant literature with a catholic and appreciative but chastised taste. The recollections of a student of the learning of a beloved and venerated president of a college, whom he sees only as a boy sees a man, and his testimony concerning it, will have little value; but I know that he was esteemed an excellent Greek and Latin scholar, and our recitations of Horace, which the poverty of the college and the small number of its teachers induced him to superintend, though we were Sophomores only, were the most agreeable and instructive exercises of the whole college classical course.
"Of studies more professional he seemed master. Locke, Stewart, with whose liberality and tolerance and hopeful and rational philanthropy he sympathized warmly, Butler, Edwards, and the writers on natural law and moral philosophy, he expounded with the ease and freedom of one habitually trained and wholly equal to these larger meditations.
"His term of office was short and troubled; but the historian of the college will record of his administration a two-fold honor; first, that it was marked by a noble vindication of its chartered rights; and second, that it was marked also by a real advancement of its learning; by collections of ampler libraries, and by displays of a riper scholarship."
PROGRESS FROM 1820 TO 1828.—ADMINISTRATIONS OF PRESIDENT DANA AND PRESIDENT TYLER.
It was not an easy matter, especially in the impoverished condition of the college, to find a worthy successor of President Brown.
During the period of President Brown's illness, and at different periods after his death, Professor Ebenezer Adams, a gentleman of decided and energetic character, and (in years) the senior professor in the college, was acting president.
Rev. Daniel Dana of Newburyport, Massachusetts, was elected the fourth president of the college in August, 1820.
The substance of the next few pages is from the "Life of President Dana," published in 1866.
The following is one of many letters addressed to him, urging his acceptance of the presidency:
"Dartmouth College, Sept. 7, 1820.
"Rev. and dear Sir:—Not having heard from any of our friends what is the prospect in regard to your acceptance of the appointment made by our Trustees, I cannot help troubling you with a line.
"I need not tell you that our solicitude would rise to extreme distress were we seriously apprehensive that you might decide in the negative. Oh, sir, remember the desolations of Zion here, and have compassion. The friends of the college look to you, and to you only, to repair the waste places. When you know that the voice of the Trustees conspires with that of the clergy and of the public at large, and when this same voice is echoed from the tomb of our late beloved and much lamented President Brown, can you hesitate? That good man, in his last days, with almost the confidence and ardor of prophecy, declared his belief in the future prosperity and usefulness of Dartmouth College. You have, I hope, been informed of the strong manner in which he, last autumn, expressed himself in relation to a successor; and of the same decided and unwavering opinion which came from his mouth a few days before his death. 'I have,' said he, 'but one candidate, and that is Dr. Dana. Whom do they talk of for a successor? My opinion is exactly the same as when I conversed with you last fall.'
"I do pray, my dear sir, that Divine Providence may not permit you to fail of coming.
"I should be grieved if, on making the trial, you should not find yourself pleasantly situated here. I verily believe that you would find a disposition on the part of the people of the village, including all the college Faculty, to render your situation comfortable and pleasant.
"We shall watch every mail and ask every friend, till we learn the decision, or rather what we may expect the decision to be.
With great respect, "Your obedient servant,
"R. D. M."
 Professor R. D. Mussey.
* * * * *
What is here stated as to President Brown, was also true of President Appleton of Bowdoin College. Each had desired that Dr. Dana should be his successor. No stronger proof could be given of the confidence felt in him, than these concurrent last wishes of two such men. Each had brought to the office he held not merely intellectual pre-eminence, but a dignity and elevation of character, and a singleness of purpose, rarely equaled; and to each the future welfare of the institution over which he presided was an object of the deepest solicitude.
Dr. Dana's letter of acceptance is as follows:
* * * * *
"To the Rev. and Honorable Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College,
"Gentlemen:—I have received, with deep sensibility, not unmingled with surprise, the notice of the appointment with which you have honored me, to the presidency of the institution under your care.
"The consideration of a subject of such magnitude has been attended with no small degree of perplexity and distress.
"The character and objects of Dartmouth College; its intimate connection with the great interests of the Church and of human society; the important services it has long rendered to both; its recent arduous struggle for existence, with the attending embarrassments, and auspicious issue; the claims it possesses on the community, and especially on its own sons; the unanimity of your suffrages in the present case; these with other affecting circumstances have been carefully considered, and I trust duly appreciated.
"Considerations of a different kind have likewise presented. My long and intimate connection with a most beloved and affectionate people—a connection rendered interesting not only by its duties and delights but by its very solicitudes and afflictions—a diffidence of my powers to meet the expectations of the Trustees, and the demands of the college; the exchange, at my age, of a sphere whose duties, though arduous and exhausting, are yet familiar, for another in which new duties, new responsibilities, new anxieties arise; in which likewise success is uncertain, and failure would be distressing—these considerations, with a variety of others scarcely possible to be detailed have at times come over me with an almost appalling influence.
"In these circumstances I have not dared trust my feelings, nor even my judgment, with the decision of the case.
"One resource remained,—to seek advice through the regular ecclesiastical channel—and this with a full determination to consider the judgment of the presbytery as the most intelligible expression which I could hope to obtain of the mind and will of Heaven, respecting my duty; to this measure my church and people gave their consent.
"The presbytery having determined, by nearly a unanimous vote, in favor of the dissolution of my pastoral relation, and my acceptance of the appointment, my duty is of course decided. I now, therefore, declare my compliance with your invitation.
"I devote the residue of my life to the interests of the institution committed to your care.
"This I do with deep solicitude, yet not without an animating hope that He whose prerogative and glory it is to operate important effects by feeble instruments, may be pleased, even through me, to give a blessing to a seminary which has so signally enjoyed His protecting and fostering care.
"Providence permitting, I shall be at Hanover on the fourth Wednesday of the present month, with a view to attend the solemnities of inauguration. It will then be necessary, considering the advanced season, and other circumstances, for me to return without delay, that I may arrange my affairs and remove my family.
"Gentlemen, my resolution on this great subject has been taken in the full confidence of experiencing, in all future time, what I shall so much need, your liberal candor, and your cordial, energetic support. Suffer me, in addition, to request, in my behalf, your devout supplications to Him who is the Father of Lights and the munificent bestower of every blessing.
"I am, gentlemen, with every sentiment of esteem and respect,
"Your devoted friend and servant, "Daniel Dana.
"Newburyport, Oct. 3, 1820."
* * * * *
"Allusion is made in his farewell sermon at Newburyport, to his 'recently impaired health.' This was premonitory. Scarcely had he removed his family to Hanover, and entered on his new duties, before the crisis came to which, doubtless, the wasting cares and anxieties of preceding years and the recent severe pressure upon his sensibilities, had been silently but inevitably tending. His health gave way, and great depression of spirits accompanied his bodily languor. He took more than one long journey in the vain effort to recruit his energies. He writes to a friend of being 'in a state of great and very uncommon debility, undoubtedly to be attributed to the protracted operation of distressing causes, both on mind and frame.' He also states, that, whilst absent from Hanover in accordance with the advice of his physician, he still hoped to be able, after his strength was recruited, to accomplish something in the matter of soliciting aid to the funds of the college; a work which, however uncongenial to his tastes, he found would necessarily be devolved on its president.
"The winter months passed by, and there was still little or no improvement in his health. When it became known that he was agitating the question of resigning his office, many urgent requests were made to him not to decide hastily. He delayed only till April, and then called a meeting of the Trustees, to be held early in May, for the purpose of receiving and acting upon his resignation of his office. He wished it to be considered as 'absolute and final.' The notification to a member of the Board with whom he was specially intimate, was accompanied by a letter in which he says:
"'You will naturally conclude that the resolution which I have taken has cost me many a struggle, and much severe distress. This is the fact. The last seven months have been with me a scene of suffering indeed. I have fondly hoped that repeated journeyings would give me relief. But their effect has been only partial and temporary. Such is my prostration at this moment, that the duties of my office, and not less its cares and its responsibilities, seem a burden quite beyond my power of bearing. Had it pleased God to make me an instrument of important good to the college, I should have esteemed myself privileged indeed; but this privilege, though denied to me, awaits, I confidently hope, some more favored instrument of the Divine benevolence. I earnestly pray, that, in what pertains to this great concern, the Trustees may be favored with much heavenly wisdom and direction.'
"He now took a long journey to Ohio, visiting at Athens the brother who had been the companion of his early years. Under these favorable influences, his health began more decidedly to improve. At their meeting, July 4, the Trustees of the college, by unanimous resolution, requested him to withdraw his resignation; but he declined to do so, though 'gratefully acknowledging the kindness expressed in their communication.'
"Many years after these events, the Rev. Dr. Lord, so long and so honorably the president of Dartmouth College, thus referred to Dr. Dana's connection with the institution:
"'He was chosen president for his well-known excellence as a scholar and theologian, and his extraordinary ministerial qualifications. He was honored the country over, in these respects. It was not doubted that he would be equally honorable as president of the college, should his health endure.
"'That he would have been, had he been able to retain his place, everybody well understood, as well from his auspicious beginning, as his distinguished qualities. He made a deep impression upon the college during the short period of his actual service.
"'But his sensitive nature had received a great shock in the breaking up of his many and most endearing relations at Newburyport and the country around. He began here with health seriously impaired, and in great depression of spirit. The change of scene, of society, labor, and responsibility, was too much for his disordered frame. He sought relief by travel. But he gained little or nothing, and was driven to the conclusion that his life could probably be saved only by resignation. He could not consent to make such an office as he held a sinecure, or to see the college labor through its severe adversities without greater vigor of administration than his infirmities admitted. With great conscientiousness and magnanimity, he chose to put himself at a seeming disadvantage, rather than to risk the interests of the college upon what he judged to be the doubtful chances of his recovery.
"'He left with the profound respect and sincere regret of the Trustees and Faculty. Their confidence in him was unshaken; and they never doubted, that, had he been more favorable to himself, and borne his new burdens with less solicitude, till he could regain his health, he would have been as distinguished here as elsewhere, and raised the college to a corresponding usefulness and dignity.