History of Tufts College, 1854-1896Start, Alaric Bertrand
CHAPTER FIRST: THE FOUNDING OF THE COLLEGE.
MANY forces have operated toward the development of higher education in America; but it may be confidently stated that it is to its religious organizations that this country is indebted for the majority of its more advanced institutions of learning. While of late years, in the West especially, numerous universities have been opened with the direct support of the States, and on the other hand many an institution owes its foundation to the disinterested generosity of some wealthy friend of education, a careful examination of facts shows that nearly all the older universities and colleges owe their inception primarily to the zeal of the various religious denominations which have taken root on American soil.
It is from that body of Christians known as the Universalists that Tufts College derives its being. Naturally, the need of an educated ministry was the spring which first set the wheels in motion; but it was also early felt that Universalism owed its contribution to the educational interest of the country.
Proselyting, which was much more extended among schools and colleges than it is to-day, furnished a sharp spur to those of liberal belief toward the founding of an institution where the simple pursuit of truth, and not conversion to any
|particular religious tenets, should be the object sought. Toward the middle of the present century the idea became more and more prevalent that it did not pay to send young men from Universalist families to colleges under the control of other denominations: for there was no certainty that the liberal youth, who entered one of the orthodox institutions with the earnest intention of devoting his education and abilities to the faith of his parents, would not receive his degree holding altogether different opinions.|
It is interesting at the present day to glance over the articles which were written on this subject by prominent Universalists in the early forties. Numerous instances were cited of fine young men who, sent to evangelical colleges at the most susceptible age, had come forth either so hardened in bigotry as to believe their own parents to be utterly lost, or else so disgusted by attempts made at their conversion as to be confirmed atheists and scoffers.
Under these circumstances, Harvard appeared to be the only available institution, and the majority were debarred from attending there by the expense. Besides, many felt that the Cambridge university was far too near the temptations of a great city.
And yet higher education from some source was necessary, in order that children of Universalist parentage should be able to keep abreast of their more orthodox fellows, and the liberal church be provided with leaders of equal culture with those of the older faiths. General sentiment was therefore fully aroused for action when, in the spring of 1847, the Rev. Thomas J. Sawyer, of New York City, opened a correspondence with the Rev. Hosea Ballou, 2d, of Medford, Massachusetts, and the Rev. Thomas Whittemore, of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, then editor of the "Trumpet and Universalist Magazine," respecting the ways and means for inaugurating an educational movement in the denomination. As a result of this correspondence, Mr. Sawyer issued a circular, which
|was copied into the "Trumpet," of April 17, 1847, calling for an "Educational Convention" to meet in the Orchard Street Church, New York City, on Tuesday, the 18th of May following.|
The convention met according to the summons, and was called to order at ten o'clock A. M., a large attendance evincing the interest felt in the movement. James Hall, Esq., of New York City, was chosen moderator, and the Rev. L. C. Brown, of Norwich, Connecticut, secretary. The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Hosea Ballou. The Rev. Messrs. Sawyer, Whittemore, and Ballou, 2d, were appointed a committee on business, and presented for consideration the following questions: 1. " Do Universalists need a college ? " and 2. " Shall we at this time make an earnest effort to answer the wants of the denomination in regard to a college?" Both of these questions were answered unanimously in the affirmative, and resolutions were passed declaring it "expedient that means at once be devised for the establishment of a college to meet the wants of the denomination," and " that the said college be located in the Valley of the Hudson or Mohawk River." This location seemed to be quite generally agreed upon by those interested, there being some idea that the Clinton Liberal Institute might be made a basis for the new college. The selection of a definite site was left to a board of trustees, elected at the same meeting. This first board of trustees -five members of which it was voted should constitute a quorum-was made up of the following gentlemen, than whom none could have been found more enthusiastic over the cause in which they were engaged: the Rev. Calvin Gardner, of Maine; J. Burley, Esq., of New Hampshire; the Rev. Eli Ballou, of Vermont; B. B. Mussey, Esq., and the Rev. Thomas Whittemore, of Massachusetts; the Rev. T. J. Greenwood, of Connecticut; Dr. Jacob Harsen, the Revs. S. R. Smith, T. J. Sawyer, and Dolphus Skinner, B. Ellis, Esq., and Josiah Barber, Esq., of New York; Col. J. Kingsbury, and Elijah Dallet,
|Esq., of Pennsylvania, and Dr. E. Crosby, of Ohio. The Rev. Otis A. Skinner, of Boston, and the Rev. Dolphus Skinner, of New York, were appointed agents to solicit funds for the college; and the name of the Rev. W. S. Balch, of New York, was afterward added, while a committee was appointed with power to make such further arrangements for soliciting funds as its members should deem necessary. The Rev. Hosea Ballou, 2d, declared that one hundred thousand dollars was absolutely necessary, and must be pledged before any definite operations could be commenced.|
To raise such a sum was at that time no slight undertaking. While the tie that bound together the Universalists throughout the land was a strong one, there had never been in the denomination any concerted action for any particular purpose, and no general call had ever been made for any considerable sum of money. The agents, therefore, had before them an untried field. But while there was some apprehension, there was no shrinking among these earnest men. It was voted that all subscriptions should be binding when one hundred thousand dollars should be pledged; and the vote was cast with a firm determination that the money should be forthcoming at no very distant date. The convention also decided to establish a theological seminary, and appointed a committee with instructions "to correspond with the brethren of different sections in reference to the most suitable place for its location." The assembly then adjourned, to meet again in New York City on the Friday after the ensuing meeting of the United States Universalist Convention, at nine o'clock A. M.
The General Convention assembled on the 14th of September, 1847, in the Orchard Street Church, New York City; and on the morning of Wednesday, the fifteenth, the Rev. Dr. Ballou, of Medford, preached the occasional sermon, taking as his text the last clause of the forty-eighth verse of the twelfth chapter of Luke: " Unto whomsoever much is given of him shall much be required; and to whom men have
|committed much of them will they ask the more." The church was crowded to overflowing; and, although the aisles were literally filled with chairs, seating accommodations could not be furnished for all the people. "It was an exciting spectacle." The subject which Dr. Ballou drew from his text was, "The responsibility of Universalists in the position they now hold before God and the world." Never had the Doctor been more eloquent than upon this occasion. He seemed to be completely carried away by his subject, and his enthusiasm communicated itself to his hearers. The following, which appeared in the "Trumpet," is authority for the latter statement:|
"The large audience were kept intensely interested for nearly an hour and a half, and those who were obliged to stand during the whole delivery declared, many of them, that not a single thought of their position entered into their minds during the whole discourse."
Toward the end of his discourse, the speaker made a powerful plea for education. He had hoped, he said, to see the denomination take up this important work, and to be able to aid in it himself; "but," said he, "the night is coming down, in which no man can work. The shadows of age are already on these eyes, and nothing is done. If we make an effort, it is like men striving in a troubled dream. There is a nightmare on our limbs; the muscles will not move at our volition. When shall we wake from our frightful slumber ? Shall we ever throw off the smothering incubus which has held us so long that it threatens death?"
To his impassioned eloquence the orator added much that was practical; and his words bore fruit in an enthusiastic meeting of the Educational Convention on the following Friday. At this meeting it was deemed expedient to rescind the vote appointing two or more agents to solicit funds, and to place the matter in the sole charge of one competent agent. The business committee subsequently intrusted the work to
|the Rev. Otis A. Skinner. With noble enthusiasm this gentleman at once set about his arduous task, visiting Universalists throughout the country and making vigorous public appeals through the press, until, under the date of April 21, 1851, he issued notice that he should begin to collect the money subscribed. The death or business failure of some of the subscribers, he said, had somewhat reduced the amount which could actually be collected; and the total amount then subscribed was but $97,000. But, confident that the balance could easily be raised among the few persons whom he had not yet visited, Mr. Skinner himself subscribed the $3,000 necessary to make the subscriptions binding. By the terms of subscription every sum pledged was to be paid in four equal instalments at intervals of six months. There were subscribers in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio.|
A meeting of the subscribers was held in Boston on September 16, 1851, at which the matter of a site for the college was discussed.
On the 19th and 20th of the following November, the trustees met and elected the following officers: President, the Rev. T. J. Sawyer, of Clinton, New York; Treasurer, B. B. Mussey, Esq., of Boston; Secretary, the Rev. O. A. Skinner, of Boston. It was reported that the amount already subscribed exceeded the requisite one hundred thousand dollars, and that all the subscriptions were legal. "All hearts are cheered," says the " Trumpet" in its published report of the meeting. A committee on location reported having received very favorable offers regarding a place not yet visited by them, and after some discussion the subject was referred to them again for further investigation.
The place mentioned was a tract of twenty acres comprising Walnut Hill, a portion of the farm of Mr. Charles Tufts of Somerville, Massachusetts. The hill itself was upon the boundary line between Somerville and Medford, and it is
|reported that Mr. Tufts, when asked by a friend what he intended to do with the wind-swept height, replied, "I will put a light on it," - a remark which has become one of the traditions of the college which now bears his name.|
For some weeks it was undecided whether the new college should be located on the site offered by Mr. Tufts, or at Franklin, about twenty-five miles from Boston, where liberal money offers from Mr. Oliver Dean of that town invited its location.
It was finally agreed, however, as the offer of Mr. Tufts was in land and furnished an exceptionally fine situation, to locate the college upon Walnut Hill. It was believed that Mr. Dean would be above the influence of any local prejudice, and would give liberally to the institution in any event; and the future proved this belief to be well founded, for his gifts aggregated nearly a hundred thousand dollars, besides which he founded Dean Academy at Franklin, as a preparatory school for Tufts College.
After the acceptance of Walnut Hill as a site for the college, Mr. Tufts increased his gift by the addition of adjoining tracts, until its total reached a hundred acres, largely in Somerville. This tract was further increased by a gift of twenty acres from Mr. Timothy Cotting, of Medford.
Other names which stand conspicuous among those of the men who may be said to have laid the financial basis of the college, are those of Sylvanus Packard, of Boston, Thomas A. Goddard, of Boston, and Dr. William J. Walker, of Charlestown.
Mr. Packard's initial gift was his bond for twenty thousand dollars, upon which he agreed to pay four per cent during his life. This, however, is lost sight of in his subsequent liberality, for, after continual donations during his life, he bequeathed his entire estate of about three hundred thousand dollars to the college, at his death in 1866.
Messrs. Walker and Goddard were liberal donors to the
|initial fund, but the gifts for which they are most to be remembered belong to another chapter.|
Although Mr. Packard's legacy made his donation in the end the largest which the college has received from any one person, Mr. Tufts' gift and pledges made him, in the beginning, the largest donor, and as the college was situated upon his land, it was very appropriately resolved to give it his name.
The charter of Tufts College received the signature of N. P. Banks, Jr., Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, on April 15, 1852; that of Henry Wilson, President of the Senate, on April 21; and, also on April 21, that of His Excellency, G. S. Boutwell, Governor. The charter originally granted the right to confer all degrees except those in medicine, but this restriction was removed in 1867.
Immediately upon obtaining the charter, the work of establishing the college was begun. At a meeting of the Trustees, July 21, 1852, B. B. Mussey, O. A. Skinner, and Timothy Cotting were appointed a committee to " devise a plan for college buildings with all consistent dispatch," and the Revs. Hosea Ballou, 2d, T. J. Sawyer, O. A. Skinner, and L. R. Paige were appointed to draw up the outlines of a system of instruction.
At this meeting it was also voted to choose a president for the college, and the Rev. T. J. Sawyer, D. D., of Clinton, New York, was at once unanimously elected. Great satisfaction was expressed, both in the denominational and general press, with the choice of the trustees. Only one man doubted Dr. Sawyer's fitness for the position, and that man was the Doctor himself. In those early days of the young institution it was necessary that the President should also be an active financial agent, and it was on this account that Dr. Sawyer, after careful consideration, declined the honor which was offered him.
Very fortunate were the trustees then in not having far to seek before tendering the responsible office to another. In the following May the presidency was offered to Dr. Sawyer's most earnest and active co-worker, the Rev. Hosea Ballou, 2d, D. D., of Medford, and was accepted by him with many misgivings, which, however, his administration more than proved to be groundless.
Meanwhile building operations had been commenced at the Hill, and on July 23, 1853, the corner-stone of the first college building- now Ballou Hall - was laid with appropriate exercises. The weather was all that could be desired. A special train left Boston at nine o'clock in the forenoon, and Mr. Yale of Boston had spread for the attending ladies a large awning, above which floated three American flags. From fifteen hundred to two thousand persons were present. In the absence of Dr. Sawyer, Vice-President Whittemore of the Trustees presided; the Scriptures were read by the Rev. T. J. Greenwood; the Rev. A. A. Miner, who was to do so much for the college later on, delivered the address; prayers were offered by the Rev. Messrs. H. Bacon and W. H. Ryder; and hymns were sung written for the occasion by Mrs. N. T. Monroe and Mrs. Mary T. Goddard. The corner-stone was laid by Dr. Ballou, president elect of the college. The Doctor is said to have been very particular that the fine block of Connecticut sandstone should be laid absolutely fair and true, - a fact which is symbolic of the care with which he attended to each minutest detail of his work in connection with the college and elsewhere.
Dr. Ballou spent the next year in travelling through Europe and preparing himself for his work.
Meanwhile the building progressed. It was, and is, rectangular, one hundred feet long by sixty feet broad, three finished stories in height, built in simple Italian style, of red-faced brick with sandstone trimmings. As originally planned it contained, besides recitation rooms, dormitory, and bathing
|accommodations, a chapel, library, and rooms for two literary societies. The chapel and library were finished with stucco; the other rooms were plain. In November, 1853, the roof was completed; and on the nineteenth of the month, the Rev. William A. Drew, Editor of the " Gospel Banner," sat down beneath a window in the unfinished chapel, and, using a board for his table, inscribed beneath a quotation from Horace what were probably the first written words to proceed from the halls of the new seat of learning.|
"Doctrina nunc vim promovet in sitam, Rectique cultis pectora roborant; Utcumque defecere mores, Indecorant bene nata culpae."
"Sacred to a progressive literature and to an enlightened piety be this place ! May light from the Supreme Intelligence, and the spirit of him who was its holiest image, illuminate and sanctify these halls, ever ! This is our prayer to Heaven; and could our wishes reach the pupils who may, through long coming years, throng hither, we would admonish them, according to the Latin sentiment above expressed, that the highest office of learning is to refine the mind, to fortify the virtues, and retain in vivid beauty and power the impress of the divine Father's character in his human children."
It had been intended to open the college with the fall term of 1854, but it was finally decided to postpone the formal opening until the next year, when a large boarding-house, as well as the main building, would be completed. During the year 1854-55, however, three students, William N. Eayrs, Harvey Hersey, and Edward K. Sampson, were residents at the Hill, pursuing their studies under the tuition of Dr. Ballou and Prof. J. P. Marshall, the present senior member and Dean of the Faculty, who was a most able assistant to President Ballou in the work of organization.
The second and last regular examination for admission prior to the opening of the college, was held on Saturday,
|August 18, 1855, and the formal opening of the institution was announced for the following Wednesday, the twenty-second.|
Meanwhile, in February, 1855, an association had been formed which did much good work in raising funds for the college. It was composed of parishes, auxiliary and religious societies, and was known as the " Tufts College Educational Association." Dr. Miner was its President, and was ably assisted by an interested and efficient corps of officers and directors. Many large amounts flowed into the college treasury through this association. The parish at Plymouth gave $1400 not long after its organization.
The day upon which Tufts College was to be introduced to the world of letters, dawned bright and beautiful, warm and sunny without being oppressively hot, -an ideal summer day. The exercises had been advertised to begin at half past ten in the forenoon. By nine o'clock people began to arrive, and before the appointed hour the building was thronged; and at eleven o'clock a delayed special train brought about six hundred more persons from Boston. It was impossible to give seating accommodations to the immense crowd, and many could not even get into the building, which was crowded from basement to roof. The audience certainly deserved praise for the good nature which it displayed, for it was palpably a mistake to hold the exercises in the chapel when the weather was doing its best to make things inviting out of doors. After the arrival of the train it was discovered that Mr. and Mrs. Tufts were not present, owing to its failure to stop at Somerville. A committee was appointed to fetch them post-haste in a carriage, and at last all was ready to begin.
While the Germania Band of Boston furnished music, a procession was formed in the south-west corner of the basement and proceeded upstairs to the chapel. There the Rev. Henry Bacon, of Philadelphia, offered prayer, and in the
|absence of Dr. Oliver Dean, President of the Trustees, Vice President Rev. Thomas Whittemore installed President Ballou and Professors John P. Marshall, William P. Drew, and Benjamin F. Tweed, the first faculty of the college.|
President Ballou then delivered his inaugural address, and the closing prayer was offered by the Rev. E. Fisher, of Dedham.
After the chapel exercises, dinner was served, the tent of Mr. Yale, who acted as assistant marshal, being again brought into requisition. Nine hundred plates had been provided, and hundreds who attempted to obtain tickets at the last moment were refused. An hour and a half was occupied in seating the company, and an hour more was consumed in gastronomic exercise. The caterer was J. B. Smith, of Boston, and the " Trumpet," in enthusiastic praise, says that the tables were served " bountifully as one could have them in his own house."
After the feasting was concluded Dr. Ballou spoke a few well-chosen words of welcome, after which the first toast: " Charles Tufts, the venerable founder of Tufts College: may the fruition of his project gladden his heart through all his earthly journey!" was answered by the company rising and giving three enthusiastic cheers.
" The founding of the first Universalist college in the world, the success of this enterprise must be as gratifying to the numerous donors as it is honorable to the indefatigable agent:" was responded to by the Rev. Otis A. Skinner, who told the story of his work, in which there was much of interest. One pleasant little anecdote was that of Mr. F-, a gentleman of Charlestown, who had agreed to give one hundred dollars through each of his four nephews. Before the time for payment arrived another nephew had been added to the original quartette, and Mr. F said to Mr. Skinner, " I see no way but that I must add another hundred dollars to the donation, as I want to treat them all alike."
The Rev. E. H. Chapin, of New York, responded to the toast: "Knowledge is Power,- an aphorism verified in the undisputed dominion of the Christian orator;" and so eloquent did Dr. Chapin become that many pledges of financial aid are said to have resulted from his speech.
The fourth toast was: "The Tufts College Educational Association, - the channel through which may flow the sympathies of the people for our infant institution !" In response to this, the Rev. A. A. Miner, of Boston, read a letter in which Mr. Sylvanus Packard, of Boston, already the donor of twenty thousand dollars, gave his promise to duplicate the next three ten thousands raised outside of those who were already contributors.
"The Treasurer of Tufts College," was the next toast. "The treasury being empty we this day draw on the Treasurer, who will honor our draft at sight." B. B. Mussey, Esq., rose amid cheers and stamping, and proved the treasury not empty by showing that out of forty-five thousand dollars received for building expenses, but forty thousand dollars had been paid out, leaving five thousand dollars in the treasury.
After a thrilling speech by the Rev. T. B. Thayer, of Lowell, an appeal for funds was started by the ever ready Mr. Packard, who gave another five hundred dollars, immediately matched by an equal sum from Mr. Mussey. The total amount subscribed at the dinner was about four thousand dollars.
The exercises were concluded by singing, "From all that dwell below the skies;" and the first great gala day in the history of Tufts College came joyfully to a close.
Published by the Class of 1897. The original contains appendices with a directory of alumni, the college catalog, and the college charter. These were not included in this addition.
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