NISBET TO DURBIN - 1804 TO 1833.
FACULTY DR. DAVIDSON PRINCIPAL pro tem. STATE AID - DECLINATION OF DR. MILLER DR. ATWATER PRINCIPAL APPARATUS AND LIBRARY JUDGE COOPER PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY SENIORS
VOLUNTEER DUEL TRUSTEES AND DISCIPLINE SUSPENSION OF THE COLLEGE REORGANIZATION STATE AID DR. MASON PRINCIPAL FACULTY DR.
NEILL PRINCIPAL STATE AID LEGISLATIVE INVESTIGATION DR. HOW PRINCIPAL DEFECTS IN THE CHARTER WANT OF PROSPERITY.
OF the faculty that surrounded Dr. Nisbet at the beginning, Dr. Davidson alone remained. He had been a faithful and invaluable aid. With more moderation and gentleness of disposition, and without any foreign peculiarities, he did much to harmonize jarring views and interests during the administration. Of the others, Professor Ross had resigned in 1792, and had been afterward appointed professor of languages in Marshall College, at Lancaster. He was succeeded by William Thompson, A. M. Professor Johnson, who had, in addition to Mathematics, given instruction for some time in Natural Philosophy, resigned in 1787, and was succeeded by
James McCormick, A. M., as tutor until 1792, and then as professor until 1814. In addition, Charles Huston, A. B , afterward Judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and Henry L. Davis, A. M., subsequently president of St. John's College, had filled positions as tutors. Immediately after the death of Dr. Nisbet, Dr. Davidson was appointed principal pro tem., a position he continued to hold for five years. Although prominently named in connection with the principalship, and having the favorable opinion of Dr. Rush, the suggestion was not agreeable to him, and he finally resigned his position, in 1809, in order to devote himself wholly to the pastorate. He had given instruction in languages, and had also for a long time filled the chair of Natural Philosophy, and is noticed more particularly in the sketch of the scientific department. During his administration of the College, an additional grant of $4,000 was received from the State in 1806, of which a large amount was appropriated for the purchase of philosophical apparatus. Two classes were graduated in 1805, one in May and another in October. In 1808 Dr. Samuel Miller was elected president. He had been urged by Dr. Rush as "a man of talents, learning, industry, and good temper, and a laudable ambition to be eminent and useful, and an American, who would not sport with our National government and character at the expense of the interests of the College." This combination of excellencies, however, declined the honor, and in June, 1809, Rev. Jeremiah Atwater, D. D. , President of Middlebury College, Vermont, was elected. He left the position he had occupied for nine years, much to the regret of the friends of that institution, and with their best wishes. In a farewell address delivered by him, he championed the usefulness of colleges. After an able inaugural address, he took charge of the College. Great stress was laid by the friends of the College upon his acquaintance with academic discipline, and a great improvement in this par-
ticular was claimed in the early part of his administration. Valuable additions were made to the library, and liberal sums were expended, through Dr. Rush, for the improvement of the apparatus. Several changes also occurred in the faculty. The building was divided into rooms for the accommodation of , students, who were thus, for the first time, brought together, in a separate building. Measures were taken to reduce the expenses of students. The number of students increased to seventy-seven in the first year. In 1811 the faculty was greatly strengthened by the election of Dr. Thomas Cooper, almost as eminent as a chemist as a jurist, to the chair of Chemistry and Mineralogy. In 1814, the Sophomore year was interpolated in the course. But difficulties, externally and internally, soon interfered with the continued prosperity of the College. The war had its effect. The greater part of the Senior class was in the volunteer ranks for the defense of Philadelphia, in 1814, and the degrees were conferred in absentia. A duel, in 1815, which resulted in the fall of a member of the Junior class, had a very depressing effect. The young man was an only son. Five other students, deeply involved, absconded. Difficulties in administration also set in. By a serious defect in the charter, that had been troublesome during Dr. Nisbet's administration, the Trustees and Faculty were joint administrators of discipline. The interference of the Trustees in the internal management of the College now became chronic. It culminated. in June, 1815, in a resolution by which the principal and professors were requIred to report in writing, every Saturday, to the Secretary of the Board, every delinquent, with the judgment of the Faculty in each case, and the extent to which it had been executed. Within three months after this action, President Atwater, and Professors Cooper and Shaw resigned. The Rev. John McKnight was appointed president pro tem., but in 1816 the operations
of the College were suspended, after petitioning the State, without result, to modify the charter and to assume more immediate control of the College.
In 1821 the Trustees proposed to re-convey to the State, for ready money, the lands granted it in 1786, and the securities received for such as had been sold. The proposition was accepted, and the College thus received $6,000 in cash, and $10,000 in five equal annual installments. The debts of the institution consumed $4,000 of the first sum, and $2,000 were employed in necessary repairs, and in completing West College internally, much as it is at present. A new policy was adopted of liberal salaries to professors of acknowledged talent and reputation, with the exclusive claim of the College upon their time. After several unsuccessful efforts to obtain a principal, the services of Rev. John M. Mason, D. D., of New York, were secured. Before accepting he had satisfied his mind by inquiries as to revenues, regulations, professorships, &c. An alumnus of Columbia College, he had, for a number of years, filled the office of provost of that institution. He brought with him a reputation for pulpit ability and eloquence second to none in America. Among his associates, Henry Vethake, A. M., was elected to the chair of Natural Philosophy and Mathematics, a gentleman of established reputation. Rev. Alexander McClelland, D. D., was elected professor of Belles Lettres and Philosophy of the Mind, with an extravagant endorsement by Dr. Mason, which was fully sustained by his marvelous rhetoric. The Rev. Joseph Spencer, A. M., was made professor of languages, with permission to make an engagement with the Episcopal congregation of Carlisle to supplement his salary. The Rev. Louis Mayer, of the German Reformed Church, by virtue of an arrangement with its synod, became professor of History and German Literature. Liberal appropriations were again made for the library, apparatus, and mineral cabinet.
Dr. Mason was inaugurated before a large concourse of people, Chief Justice Gibson administering the oath, and delivered an address of high character. The College thus officered, and greatly renewed as well in its Board of Trustees, entered upon its new career with much promise. The classes filled up, public confidence was restored. Owing, however, in great part to the impaired health of Dr. Mason, as well as the suspicions of political influences at work in the Board of Trustees, the numbers began to diminish, and in 1824 Dr. Mason resigned, to be succeeded by Rev. William Niell, D. D., the Faculty remaining essentially the same. In 1826 John W. Vethake, M. D., was added as Lecturer on Chemistry, a position filled the next year by John K. Finley, M. D., who subsequently was elected to the Chair of Chemistry. The Legislature, in the same year, renewed the appropriation of $3,000 per year for seven years. But attacks from the outside, divisions among the Trustees, disagreement between the latter and the Faculty, and eventually dissensions in the latter, prevented the proper development of the institution. Charges of political and sectarian influences in the Board of Trustees and Faculty became of such a character as to receive investigation by a committee of the Legislature, and acquittal by the latter did not neutralize the effect of the notoriety, nor allay the unpleasant feelings generated. The mixed government of the Trustees and Faculty was also fatal, to good order.
In 1829, Dr. Neill resigned, together with the whole faculty. Professor Spencer was appointed Principal pro tem. In January, 1830, Reverend Samuel B. How, D D., was elected, and inducted into office March 30. A new faculty was organized, consisting of Reverend Alexander McFarlane, A. M., Professor of Mathematics, Charles D. Cleaveland, A. M., Professor of Languages, and Henry D. Rogers, A. M., Professor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy. Every effort
was made to recover the lost ground. The Trustees issued a pamphlet of nearly one hundred closely printed pages explanatory of the history from 1821 to 1830, which, however, was hardly calculated to produce a good effect. A new course of study was made out, and fuller statutes for the government of the College. The Alumni Association issued an address full of encouragement. Among the signatures of the committee, was that of James Buchanan. At the commencement of 1830, the procession moved to the church escorted by a troop of horse and several companies of volunteers. The Alumni oration was delivered by William Price, Esq., of Hagerstown, Maryland, and the question: Would it be expedient for the United States to establish a National University? was discussed by Benjamin Patten, Esq., and Honorable John Reed. The old organic defect, however, soon made its presence felt in new internal difficulties. The Trustees at last awake to the real difficulty too late, resolved to petition the Legislature to amend the charter so as to make the President of the College, ex-officio, a member of the board, and to commit the discipline of the College entirely into the hands of the Faculty, with exception of an appeal to the Trustees in case of expulsion, a practically nominal exception, whilst the power to dismiss was to be final with the Faculty. But the remedy was proposed too late, and in March, 1832, the Trustees felt constrained to consider the question of suspending the operations of the College, although one installment of the appropriation by the State still remained available.