History of Tufts College, 1854-1896

Start, Alaric Bertrand

CHAPTER THIRD: PRESIDENT MINER'S ADMINISTRATION. THE selection of a successor to Dr. Ballou was not an easy task, and for a whole year the college remained without an executive head. During this time, however, its affairs were administered with great care and discretion by Professor Marshall. Many men were suggested for the presidency, and considered by the Trustees, among them Professor Alpheus Crosby, who had been Professor of Greek in Dartmouth College, and was at that time Principal of the State Normal School for Girls at Salem, Massachusetts. The name of Alonzo Ames Miner, D. D., was brought forward by his parishioner, Sylvanus Packard, and met with ready support from a large number of the Trustees. The finances of the college were in a very low condition, and these members of the Board felt that Dr. Miner, with his splendid executive ability and his tireless energy, was the man of men to better the situation. They were not mistaken. The presidency was offered to Dr. Miner in the Spring of 1862, and he was inaugurated on the eleventh of July. He found the college with an income of about one thousand dollars, and a debt of eighteen thousand dollars, the latter increasing at the rate of five thousand dollars annually. When he resigned the presidency the assets of the college amounted to nearly a million dollars, although the expenses had greatly increased and the resources had been diminished by the Boston fire of 1872, and the flagging of manufacturing industries in which college money was invested. In becoming President Dr. Miner did not relinquish his pastorate in Boston, and during the first three years of his administration his services to the college were rendered gratuitously. He continued to reside in the city, but came to the Hill nearly every day, conducting the classes in Ethics and Political Economy. As an instructor he possessed many strong qualities, and the influence of his powerful personality upon the young men who came in contact with him was very great; but it is for his wonderful work as an administrator that he is chiefly to be remembered in connection with Tufts College. He was well known as an able and active public man, and his management of the affairs of the college inspired confidence among men of wealth. Mention has already been made of Sylvanus Packard, who had no children, and who was accustomed to point to his numerous buildings in the city, saying, "These belong to my heir, Tufts College;" and of Thomas A. Goddard, the large-hearted Treasurer of the college, whose gifts were all the nobler for being so quietly bestowed. Both these gentlemen were parishioners of Dr. Miner. It was also during this period that Dr. William J. Walker of Newport, Rhode Island, already a liberal donor, bequeathed about $200,000 to the college. Dr. Walker was deeply interested in Harvard University, and was not a Universalist in belief; but he was a man of broad views and keen foresight, and realized the future which was in store for the liberal young institution. The major part of his estate was divided among Amherst College, Williams College, Tufts College, and the Boston Museum of Natural History. The first large sum which the college received after the accession of Dr. Miner was a gift from his own parish amounting to between sixteen and seventeen thousand dollars. About this time the recently redeemed lands of the Back Bay were placed on the market, and the State decided to appropriate a considerable portion of the proceeds to educational purposes Fifty thousand dollars were offered to Tufts on the condition that an equal amount should be raised by friends of the college. Men were soon found to promise the required sum, and thus $100,000 was secured. Up to this time there had been a serious lack of secondary schools offering preparation for Tufts, Westbrook Seminary affording almost the only adequate facilities; but during this period the founding of Dean Academy at Franklin, Massachusetts, and of Goddard Seminary at Barre, Vermont, both largely owing to the influence of Dr. Miner, furnished ample opportunity for preparatory training. As a further condition of the gift of $50,000 by the State in 1863, it was required that three State Scholarships of fifty dollars each should be established. These were increased to one hundred dollars each in 1869, at which time the college tuition fee was raised from thirty-five dollars to sixty. During the same year a gift of one thousand dollars was made, the income of which was to be used as a loan fund for deserving students, and from this time the number of scholarships steadily increased. In 1865 four scholarships of fifty dollars each were set apart from a bequest of $10,000 from Edwin Howland, and five Walker Mathematical Scholarships of one hundred dollars each were also established in honor of Dr. Walker. In 1866 three scholarships of sixty dollars each were established, - the Perkins Scholarship, founded by James D. Perkins, of Boston; the Lillie Scholarship, founded by Henry A. Lillie, of Boston; and another established by converting the loan fund to that purpose. Two Natural History Scholarships, one of fifty and the other of one hundred dollars, were also founded, and were assigned to members of the Senior Class attaining superior rank in some branch of Natural History. In 1868 ten Packard Free Scholarships were established, admitting ten needy students to the college without the payment of tuition fees. Three more prize scholarships were offered in Natural History East Hall West Hall in 1870, and in 1874 four gratuities were made available. Additional opportunities for a few students to aid themselves were offered by the annual appointment of a chapel monitor at a salary of twenty dollars, and a bell-ringer, who received a salary proportional to the number of students, one dollar being assessed on the term bill of each student. The Russell Lectureship was established in 1867, in accordance with a bequest of the Hon. James Russell, of Arlington, Massachusetts. This bequest provided for an annual lecture, to be delivered before the Faculty and students some time during the month of September. Two subjects, to be used in alternation, were prescribed by Mr. Russell, "The Importance of Christian Faith and Belief in the Formation of the Character of the Good Citizen and the Good Man;" and "The Sufficiency of the Promises of the Gospel to meet the Reasonable Wants of Man, both in Time and Eternity." The Russell Lecture is now regularly delivered on the first Sunday after the commencement of the Fall term, and really constitutes the formal opening of the college year. During the years since its establishment the subjects assigned have been treated by many eminent men who have given to them their best thought and most careful preparation. But one building was erected during Dr. Miner's administration, - West Hall, a four-storied brick dormitory, which was completed in 1872. This is an attractive building both inside and outside, and though not the newest it is still the most popular dormitory on the Hill. As the resources of the college increased, several additions were made to the teaching force, and the curriculum was expanded by the establishment of a Philosophical Course and a Department of Engineering. In 1861, while the affairs of the college were in the hands of Professor Marshall, Benjamin G. Brown, a graduate of Harvard, was engaged as Tutor in Mathematics, and four years later he was given charge of the department with the title of Walker Professor of Mathematics. In 1862 the Walker Special Instructorship in Mathematics was established, the appointment thereto being for a term of three years. Mr. Brown was the first incumbent, and on becoming a professor was succeeded by Benjamin F. Kinsman, of the Class of '68. In 1864 Heman A. Dearborn, A. M., of the Class of '57, was called to the chair of Latin, made vacant by the death of Professor Keen. In the same year Professor Tweed resigned his position, and William R. Shipman, A. M., a graduate of Middlebury College, was called to take charge of the departments of Rhetoric, Logic, and English Literature. At this time the work in Rhetoric still included Oratory, but in 1866 a special chair of Oratory was established, with Moses True Brown, A. M., as its incumbent. An instructorship in Vocal Music was established in 1869. From 1865 until 1872 a course of lectures on History was offered by the well-known historical writer, Richard Frothingham, A. M. Charles E. Fay, of the Class of '68, was appointed Walker Special instructor upon his graduation, but in the following year he was transferred to the department of Modern Languages, and in 1871 assumed entire charge of the work with the title of Wade Professor of Modern Languages. S. Minot Pitman, M. E., who had graduated from Tufts in 1869, and spent five years in study at Harvard and in Germany, was appointed Walker Special Instructor in 1874, and also served as Assistant in Chemistry, of which he subsequently became Professor. In the same year Amos E. Dolbear, A. M., M. E., who had already become prominent in the scientific world, was appointed Professor of Physics and Astronomy. With the corps of instructors thus augmented, the scope of the regular curriculum was of course considerably extended. Facilities for work in Science and the Modern Languages were especially increased, and a few more electives were offered. The feeling that there were many young men whom the requirement of preparation in the Classics would debar from admission to the regular course led to the establishment, in 1863, of a Philosophical Course. As originally planned this course extended over three years, the required work comprising French and German, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Botany, Mineralogy, Zöology, and Astronomy, Rhetoric and Logic, History and Political Economy, Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, and Revealed Religion, while opportunities were offered for elective work in Civil Engineering and Practical Chemistry. The degree conferred upon the completion of this course was that of Bachelor of Philosophy. The requirements for admission included Mathematics, Geography, History, and English Grammar. In 1866 Geometry and Algebra were added to these requirements for admission, and the course was shortened to two years, being given more of a purely scientific character. A course in Engineering,leading to the degree of Civil Engineer, was established in 1865. During the year 1868-69, T. Willis Pratt, C. E., served as Instructor in Civil Engineering, being assisted by Mr. Kinsman as Instructor in Applied Mathematics, and in 1869 Charles D. Bray, C. E., was appointed Instructor in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, being advanced to the grade of Professor the year following. This course originally extended over three years, the requirements for admission being the same as those of the Philosophical Course. Mathematics, the Physical Sciences, French, Rhetoric, Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Political Economy, and Logic were included in the requirements of the course, while lectures on Mercantile Usages and on Christian Evidences were introduced in the third year. It was not long, however, before this course was placed upon a thoroughly technical basis. In 1874 it included Surveying, Drafting, Construction, Mechanics, Field Engineering, and Practical Chemistry. In 1869 another department was added to the college by the establishment of the Divinity School, the history of which is detailed in another chapter. For many years the degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon all Bachelors of Arts who had been engaged in literary work for three years, provided that they were of an unexceptionable character, and chose to apply for the degree at least one week before Commencement. All requirements, however, were gradually raised as the college grew. The first prizes to be offered at Tufts were derived from the Goddard Prize Fund, established in 1862. One prize was offered for the best dissertation by a Senior; one for the best Greek Prose composition by a Junior; one for the best examination in Mathematics by a Sophomore; and one for the best Latin Prose translation by a Freshman. These prizes were originally in the form of books, as were also three others added from the same fund in 1866, - one of twenty-five dollars to the best reader of the Senior Class; one of twenty dollars to the Junior showing the greatest improvement in Oratory, and one of fifteen dollars to the best reader of the Sophomore Class. In 1868, in accordance with the will of Sylvanus Packard, ten prizes of twenty dollars each were offered to the ten students ranking highest in scholarship and good behavior. That year an extra prize was also offered by Professor Orello Cone, of the Canton Theological School, - a complete set of Schiller's works for the best examination in German. In 1869 the prizes offered in 1866 for reading were made equal, - twenty dollars each, and in 1874 second prizes of ten dollars each were also offered. In 1870 a prize of fifteen dollars was offered for the best examination in Mathematics by a Freshman, the Latin Prose prize taking the place of the Sophomore prize in Mathematics. In 1872 the Junior Exhibition was abolished at the request of the Class of 1873, and a year later the Faculty mercifully discontinued the "Junior Grinds," thus permitting peaceful forgetfulness of all Freshman and Sophomore subjects prior to the Senior year. At the end of Dr. Miner's administration the library had grown until it contained about fourteen thousand volumes and more than five thousand pamphlets. The income of a fund of twelve hundred dollars, established by John D. W. Joy, of Boston, became available in 1874, and was devoted to the purchase of books, preference being given to the department of Philology. The number of students increased with the facilities of the college, until in the year 1874 there were eighty-three in attendance, forty-seven of them being in the regular Course of Liberal Arts. During the first years of Dr. Miner's presidency, as in the days of Dr. Ballou, the college was loco parentis to the students, and their comings and goings were minutely watched. Gradually, however, the stringency of rules and regulations was relaxed, and the policy of the Faculty became less restrictive, although it was not until the following administration that the students were completely placed upon their honor. The college limits were before long enlarged to include Somerville as well as Medford, but as the boundary rules were much oftener "honored in the breach than the observance," all arbitrary lines were abolished in 1867. Although the young men were closely watched and frequently corrected, there was no lack of jolly good times, and many lively pranks prevented life on the Hill from becoming dull. One method of manifesting a sportive disposition was the issuing of mock programs at the time of the Junior Exhibition. Probably this custom has had its rage in almost every educational institution, and it generally passes the stage of simple ludicrousness. Some of the Tufts programs, which were generally distributed on the trains which brought guests from Boston to the Hill, are said to have been positively scurrilous. An occasion which the boys are said to have greatly enjoyed was the removal of an unsightly rail fence, which enclosed the entire campus and extended over other parts of the Hill. The students having obtained permission to take the fence down, it vanished in less than an hour and a half. During the first years of Dr. Miner's administration was continued the very proper custom of requiring from each student the deposit of a bond of two hundred dollars; but like many other rules this soon fell into disuse, the requirement not being revived until 1895. During this period student organizations multiplied rapidly. The Mathetican was very active, and in 1871 it found a running mate in the Zetagathean, which was a society of the same character organized in the Divinity School. Public exercises were held under the auspices of both these organizations, which performed a splendid work in the training of men for public speaking. Mock-trials, furnished annually by them, provided much amusement. In 1864 the Order of the Round Table was established as a rival to the Order of the Coffee Pot. Its motto was Utilitas pariterque Delectatio, and its badge was an octagonal silver plate very similar to that of the Coffee Pot. Both these orders were very active for a time, but the interest in them died out with the Commencement season of 1867, and in 1868 they ceased to have any actual existence. Another local secret society, the So Fa, was organized in 1869, and existed for a short time. Zeta Psi and Theta Delta Chi were rapidly coming to assume the position of leadership, which they subsequently maintained almost without a break for many years. As the boarding-house had begun to cause considerable trouble, the students finally took the matter in hand; and in 1870 the Adams Club was formed, furnishing good board at a reasonable price. John Coleman Adams was the leading spirit in this movement, although Dr. Miner and Professor Shipman had an oversight of the affairs of the club. In 1872 another economic organization was formed, known as the Tufts Laundry Association. A Glee Club was formed as early as 1866, and if this one died out, another was certainly organized in 1874. Several other musical clubs flourished for short periods. A number of minor organizations were instituted during this time, among them the Tufts Chess Club, founded in 1873, and the Tufts Amateur Dispatch Company, formed for practice in telegraphy. A Reading-room Association existed, and was very strong considering the number of students. It supplied the college with many of the leading periodicals. Athletics were fast becoming a prominent feature of college life. Base-ball was introduced in 1863, and foot-ball followed ten years later. Many graduates of this period are inclined to condemn our present athletic system in toto, but on examination one finds that it is the manner and not the matter of which they complain. When one says, "There is a great deal more of athletics in the college course now than formerly," he should not be set down as an old fogy, for the remark is explained by what follows: "Then we boys used to go out, all of us, and take a hand at the bat or football, and come in refreshed and invigorated. . . . Now to win is the great object at any cost. " It was this universality of athletics in the life of the students, not the absence of athletics, - this exercise for the love of it, taken in connection with steady work in other fields for their Alma Mater, that produced the players who, in the first years of President Capen's administration, defeated everything in sight. A fencing club, known as the Order of the Foil and Mask, was active in cultivating the graceful art of swordsmanship during this period. Professor Tousey and Professor Bray were honorary members. Two boat clubs were also organized. In the Spring of 1865 a four-oared lapstreak working boat was purchased by members of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity, and placed upon the Mystic River. A boat-house was provided about half a mile from the Medford Bridge. There was no regular crew, about ten students being interested in the boat, of which Virgil G. Curtis, '66, was coxswain. Shortly after the purchase of this boat some students belonging to Zeta Psi purchased a boat also, and erected a boathouse a short distance below the bridge. Occasional friendly contests took place between the two crafts, but no formal races were held. The width of the river, indeed, permitted racing only in the English fashion of the rear boat bumping the one before it. A college crew was nominally organized, but it was difficult to maintain an interest in aquatics owing to the distance of the boat-houses from the college, and in 1866 both boats were sold. The original Tufts Athletic Association was founded in November, 1874, and the first athletic contests ever attempted at the Hill were held on the fourth of the same month. The events comprised a mile walk, a mile run, a 100-yards dash, a wheelbarrow race, high and broad jumping, a sack race, and a three-legged race. The first three events were held on the reservoir, with prizes of "a fine cane, two elegant silver cups, and two silver vases." The other contests were held on the ball ground, south of the reservoir, and must have greatly resembled a Scotch Picnic. Previous to 1864 no college publications were issued, but in that year the first number of the "Tuftonian" appeared. This was originally an annual of four pages, and the first issue contained lists of the college organizations, a short salutatory, and brief articles on "Professor Tweed," and "Land and Water Sports. " It was published jointly by Theta Delta Chi and Zeta Psi, and appeared without essential difference of form until 1867, when it came out in a tinted cover with a cut of Ballou Hall. It appeared in this form irregularly until 1872. Its price was ten cents. Prior to the issue of this sheet a written paper had been read at stated times before the Mathetican Society. On acount of a failure to agree on the part of the two fraternities, the "Tuftonian," enlarged to thirty-two pages, was published by Zeta Psi alone from 1872 to 1877, while Theta Delta Chi issued an annual of its own, of forty-eight pages, entitled the " Budget." Considerable literary effort was expended upon these annuals, and the "grinds " were comparatively few and harmless. In 1874 was formed the Tufts College Publishing Association, and in June of that year the first number of the "Tufts Collegian" appeared. This paper at first consisted of eight pages, then of twelve, and later of sixteen. It was published monthly at the price of one dollar a year. It was in every respect a high grade paper from the first, although it has been said that too many of its best articles were contributed by the Faculty and by prominent friends of the college. It continued under the name of the "Collegian " for four years, when it was rechristened by the name originally chosen for the college annual. Mention has been made of the reservoir in connection with the holding of athletic contests. This was one of the steps toward improving the land about the college which followed each other rapidly during these years. During the entire period of Dr. Ballou's presidency there had been no regular roadway to the college. College Avenue, leading from Stearns Avenue in Medford to Broadway in Somerville, was built during the years 1861-62. For some years previous to this there had been a foot-bridge, near the site of the present bridge, for driving cattle across the railroad tracks, and thence a plank walk ran to Stearns Avenue. An old cart path had run through the Tufts farm, passing the spot where the President's house now stands, and turning up by Professor Marshall's house to the top of the hill. Over this were hauled the materials for the first college buildings. After the completion of College Avenue, Professors Row was laid out as far as Packard Avenue, the last-named street being opened by the improvement of the land about the reservoir in 1866. The reservoir itself is a part of the Boston water supply system, and was built by the united action of Somerville, Charlestown, and Chelsea. Some grading had been done prior to the building of the reservoir, but the completion of the streets around it required still more, principally near West Hall; and about 1869-70 some further grading was done between the present sites of the chapel and Miner Hall; so that, taking all the work together, a large portion of the Hill has been lowered from three to four feet. A large number of trees had been planted before this time, and when the grading was done these had to be lowered with the land. Many of the trees on the southern lawn were planted by the earlier classes. On December 3, 1874, at the end of the first half of the college year, 1874-75, Dr. Miner resigned the presidency. He felt that he must give up either the college or his parish. His preferences lay with the latter, and believing that the work for which he had assumed the presidency was accomplished, he laid it down, and devoted the remainder of his long and useful life to his labors in the city. To the day of his death, however, he was an active member of the executive committee of the Trustees, and he never lost his interest in the young institution which he had helped to place in a position of strength and power. The services of Dr. Miner to Tufts College can be set forth in no better way than by quoting a "minute" prepared by the committee to whom his resignation was referred.

MINUTE. "In receiving this day a communication from Rev. Alonzo A. Miner, D. D., resigning the office of President of the College, we would unanimously express and place on record our ackowledgment of the zeal, ability, and faithfulness with which he has served the corporation. From the moment the movement was made to establish a college under the auspices of the Universalist Church, the institution has had in him a steadfast, devoted, and efficient friend. We think it may be affirmed with truth, without disparagement of any who may be reckoned among the patrons and founders of Tufts College, that no one has contributed in so many different ways to its growth and prosperity. He was one of the very first to declare its needs and present its claims to the public. "The College has had many generous and noble benefactors, yet perhaps no one has done more than he to give it financial foundation and success. Mainly through his instrumentality some of its amplest endowments have been secured. Not alone from his pulpit and in familiar intercourse with his parishioners, but in broader fields, where his reputation for prudence and business sagacity have commanded a respectful hearing, he has again and again called the attention of those who value sound learning and Christian culture, to the wants of our College, with an emphasis that has brought golden gifts to its treasury. "Nor has he been less mindful of its chartered rights and legal privileges than of its financial interests. He has pleaded its cause before legislative committees with a dignity and logical force that have secured for it all the immunities of an institution whose plan is as universal as human learning. He was even the moving cause that enrolled the State among its patrons. "By his extensive fame and commanding talents, moreover, he has done not a little to obtain for the College the widest public recognition, and to give it an honorable place among other and older institutions of a similar class. "Upwards of thirteen years ago the office of President of the College became vacant by the death of the late Hosea Ballou, 2d, D.D. Yielding to the solicitations of this Board, Dr. Miner laid the corporation under a new obligation by consenting to fill the vacant chair. During the entire period that has intervened, at great personal inconvenience and sacrifice,--for three years without pecuniary compensation, -he has discharged the duties of the office with honor to himself and to the satisfaction and pride of nearly every friend of the institution. Under his administration the College has advanced from comparative weakness to more than ordinary strength. The sphere of its usefulness has been greatly extended, and a large measure of freshness and vigor has been infused into all the departments of its work. Not only have its own members felt the stimulus of his powerful intellect, but the members of other institutions have been taught to regard with unwonted admiration the young College which could boast a head so illustrious. "While, therefore, with unfeigned reluctance, we accept the resignation which he has tendered this day, and which we would have averted, if possible, we deem it but just to record our thanks for these and other services which he has rendered to the work with which this Board is intrusted." Goddard Chapel

View all images in this book
 Title Page

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.

This object is in collection:
Digital Collections and Archives records
Permanent URL
ID: tufts:UA069.005.DO.00091
To Cite: DCA Citation Guide
Usage: Detailed Rights