History of Tufts College, 1854-1896Start, Alaric Bertrand
ELMER H. CAPEN, D. D.
|ELMER HEWITT CAPEN was born in Stoughton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, April 5, 1838. He received his preparatory education at Pierce Academy in Middleborough and at the Green Mountain Institute in Woodstock, Vermont, and entered Tufts College in the Fall of 1856. Here he was known as a brilliant scholar and thorough student. The Kappa Charge of Theta Delta Chi was instituted during his Freshman year, and he became one of its charter members.|
The people of his native town early recognized his ability, for while he was yet an undergraduate they elected him to the Massachusetts Legislature, where he served during the year 1859-60. Mr. Capen was at this time but twenty-one years of age, and by some years the youngest member of the representative body in which he took his seat. Few young men would have withstood the temptation to enter political life thus offered; but, feeling that he should prepare himself more thoroughly for work in the world, Mr. Capen went quietly back to college at the expiration of his term. In 1860 he graduated with his Class, and at once began the study of law with Thomas S. Harlow, of Boston. Early in 1864 he was admitted to the bar, but he never practised, for a desire to enter the ministry had taken possession of his mind, and he studied theology with the Rev. A. St. John Chambré. During the year 1864 he preached, and in 1865 was ordained as a minister in the Independent Christian Church in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Here he enjoyed an exceedingly pleasant and successful pastorate of four years, at the end of which time he went to preside over a church
|in St. Paul, Minnesota, leaving behind him many warm friends.|
Mr. Capen remained in St. Paul for a year, and then accepted a call from the First Universalist Parish in Providence, Rhode Island. The church was then situated on Westminster Street, but this property was sold soon after his arrival, and the society purchased a lot on the corner of Green and Washington Streets. By dint of energetic work on the part of the pastor and hearty co-operation on the part of the congregation, a fine new building was ready for dedication in 1872. Mr. Capen remained in Providence for three years after the completion of the new church, resigning his pastorate in 1875 to accept the presidency of his Alma Mater.
President Capen's first marriage was to Miss Letitia H. Mussey, of New London, Connecticut. She died, and in February, 1877, he married Miss Mary L. Edwards, of Brookline, Massachusetts. They have three children, - Samuel P., a member of the Sophomore Class in the college, Ruth P., and Rosamund E.
The period of President Capen's administration has been one of marked growth for Tufts. He is a man of progressive ideas and great common sense in applying them. He is thoroughly in touch with all student interests, and the celebration of an athletic victory would be incomplete indeed without a word of congratulation and encouragement from his lips. Never forgetful of his own youth, his sympathy with student fun and his charity for innocent escapades are as marked as his quick censure of any act beneath the dignity of a gentleman, and his firm sense of justice in all matters connected with his administrative work.
President Capen's success at Tufts is the more noteworthy in consideration of the numerous duties which he has to perform. In addition to the work of administration, he conducts alone the department of Political Science, in which
|four courses are offered, and also regularly supplies the college pulpit. Besides all this he has to meet the various obligations imposed upon him by the position of acknowledged importance which he occupies in the educational world. He is an eloquent orator, and his services are constantly in demand at social, religious, educational, and political gatherings. He was very active in the establishment of Dean Academy, and served as the first Secretary of its Trustees. When the original academy building was destroyed by fire, he served as secretary of the committee having in charge the erection of a new building, and it is largely owing to him that the present structure is so decided an improvement on its predecessor. He has been President of the New England Commission on Admission Examinations since its establishment. For twenty years he was a Trustee of the Universalist General Convention. He is Chairman of the State Board of Education, of which he has been a member for several years. He is Chairman of the Board of Visitors of the Salem Normal School, and has in charge the erection of its new building, which, when completed, will probably be the finest normal school building in the country. He is also Chairman of the Building Committee of the new school-house in Fitchburg. He was President of the Citizens' Law and Order League during the entire period of its active existence; and in 1888 he served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.|
Dr. Capen contributed the article on the "Philosophy of Universalism " in the " Latest Word of Universalism;" the article on the "Atonement," in the Universalist Section of the Columbian Congress; the article on Universalism in Hertzog's "Religious Cyclopædia," and the articles on Universalism and Tufts College in the "Encyclopædia Britannica." He is also the author of a portion of the "Bible History" recently published by a Chicago house. He has
|written a number of magazine articles, and many of his Baccalaureate Sermons have been published.|
Dr. Capen was one of the principal founders of the Mystic Valley Club, and served as its President for five years. He is a member of the Twentieth Century Club, and was one of the organization members of the Delta Chapter of Massachusetts of Phi Beta Kappa. Saint Lawrence University conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1879.
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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