REORGANIZATION UNDER THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH ADMINISTRATIONS OF DR. DURBIN, DR. EMORY, AND DR. PECK 1833-1852.
HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE METHODIST CHURCH TRANSFER
OF DICKINSON SUGGESTED TRUSTEES FAVORABLE COLLEGE UNDENOMINATIONAL GROUNDS FOR TRANSFER MODE OF TRANSFER UNANIMITY OF ACTION NEW
CONTROL ELECTION OF DR. DURBIN GRAMMAR SCHOOL
At this juncture the educational movement in the Methodist Episcopal Church had fairly set in, or it may be said, was earnestly revIved. Its earlier efforts toward the establishment of Cokesbury College, between 1785 and 1795, near Baltimore, although at first promising success, finally proved so fruitless that, for a quarter of a century, the field of higher education was neglected by that church. But a few years previous to the date reached in the history of Dickinson, Augusta College, in Kentucky, had been established by it, and Wesleyan University, in Connecticut, was just inaugurated. The old Baltimore Conference had been considering the question of the establishment
of a college for several years. On the 12th of March, 1833, a special meeting of the Trustees of the College was called to consider a letter of Reverend Edwin Dorsey, stating that the Baltimore Conference had appointed a committee to consider the propriety of establishing a college within its bounds, and inquiring whether Dickinson College could be obtained by that church, for that purpose, and on what conditions. The suggestion of a transfer to the Methodist Church met with favor, and a general meeting of the Trustees was called, by resolution, for the 18th of April, at which time a committee of the Baltimore Conference met with that body, and laid before it the resolutions of their Conference, expressive of its willingness to embrace the opportunity to secure the institution, and to assume the accompanying obligations to support it, and inquiring whether the transfer could be made. The Philadelphia Conference, in the meantime, became associated with the Baltimore Conference in the enterprise, and was equally recognized by the Trustees in the matter.
A committee of the Trustees, after conferring with this committee, made a report favorable to the proposed arrangement. Among the reasons assigned was : "That those colleges in the United States that have been conducted by, or under the patronage of, some prominent Christian sect, have been more flourishing in their operations, and more useful in their influence, than others that have not had these advantages." Up to this time the College had been regarded as under the control of the Presbyterian Church. Undoubtedly, at its origin, and throughout its whole history, that church was looked to for its main support in money and patronage, but the Board of Trustees was a joint one, of different denominations, and different church organizations were asked to cooperate, as such, in its support. In later years, one of the charges before the legislative committee was the election of trustees in such a way
as to secure Presbyterian control. The professor of languages was, at the time, not only an Episcopalian, but sustained the same relation to that church, in Carlisle, that Doctors Davidson and Nisbet had to the Presbyterian. Professor Mayer was of the German Reformed Church. The College, at its transfer, cannot, therefore, be regarded as a gift or surrender from the Presbyterian, or any other denomination, to the Methodist Church. Had it been recognized then as fully as a Presbyterian college, as it is now as a Methodist institution, it may be regarded as doubtful whether it would have been so readily abandoned by that denomination. The transfer of this large public interest, to the control of the Methodist Church was, in the language of the Trustees, regarded as a proper expedient for the effectual and direct promotion of the original design of the founders of the College, that church formally declaring its willingness and intention to assume it, and obligating itself to properly support it as a college. A committee, appointed by the Conferences, with plenary powers to arrange preliminaries for its proper transfer and control, if they deemed it wise, after carefully considering the subject, in sessions running through a week, reached an affirmative decision. The mode of transfer was very deliberately considered in all its legal aspects, and finally it was regarded as most advisable that it should be accomplished by the gradual resignation of the trustees then in office, and the election, in their stead, of those provisionally appointed by the Conferences.
The Conferences thus acquired the exclusive right to the possession of the grounds, buildings, fixtures, apparatus, libraries, &c., for the purposes of a literary institution. The action was unanimous on the part of the trustees present, and absent members were notified of the action of the Board, and requested to cooperate, and the body adjourned to meet on the 6th of June, after having ordered that, in the meantime, a circular
letter should be sent, at least three weeks before the date of the meeting, to each member of the Board, embodying its action, and stating that an election for members of the Board would take place at the meeting. At that meeting, a committee of the Conferences, with Bishop Emory as chairman, was introduced to the Board of Trustees, and after a short conference, retired. The vacancies in the Board of Trustees were, thereupon, increased to eighteen, by resignations, and individuals nominated by the committee were elected in their stead. The Board then organized anew, by the election of Bishop Emory as President, whose careful judgment is visible in all the preliminary proceedings, and the renewal of. the Board was completed during the year. Thus the transfer was made openly, with the utmost deliberation, and after the fullest consideration of all the interests and responsibilities involved on both sides, with the utmost harmony of feeling on the part of all concerned, and with the sole view to promote the public good.
The new Board proceeded at once to carry out the programme. The last installment of $3,000 of the State appropriation, together with some bank stock, was more than sufficient to pay the debts of the institution, and the surplus was expended in repairs and the improvement of the grounds. It is singular that the latter should have been neglected so long, susceptible as they have proved to be, of being rendered highly attractive at so little expense. To be sure, among the very earliest resolutions of the Trustees was one that upon a certain day trees would be planted, &c., and directing advertisement of the fact, and calling upon the citizens to assist. But, like many other good resolutions, it came to naught. The grounds were now, however, leveled, avenues were laid out, trees planted, and a substantial stone fence, mounted with an ornamental palisade, was placed on the south and east sides. Little else was necessary, but to allow development; and after the lapse of half a
century, the unrivaled beauty of the campus testifies to the taste, as well as thoughtful care, that projected its plans so far into the future. Agents were appointed by the Conferences to solicit subscriptions; addresses were issued to the public. Although, at the recommendation of the Conferences, the Trustees had resolved not to open the College until an endowment of $45,000 had been subscribed, they gave evidence of their faith, as well as purpose, by electing Reverend John P. Durbin, D. D., editor of the Christian Advocate, Principal and Professor of Moral Science, with the notification that the College would not open until the following May.
A grammar school was, however, organized at once, under the charge of Alexander F. Dobb, which, at the close of the year, had fifty pupils. In September Dr. Durbin signified his acceptance, and met with the Board. Six professorships were agreed upon, and several professors were provisionally elected. A department of law was also established, under the care of Judge Reed, limited to the fees of the students for its support. A committee was also appointed, which secured from the Legislature important changes in the charter, making the Principal ex officio President of the Board of Trustees, and giving the final decision, in all cases of discipline, to the Faculty, without appeal to the Trustees, except in case of expulsion, a merely nominal exception, whilst the equivalent penalty of dismission was left with the Faculty. At the next meeting, in May, 1834, the reports of the agents of the conferences exhibited subscriptions amounting to $48,000, and it was resolved to open the College in the following September. In that month the Faculty was organized. Dr. Durbin was inducted into office, and delivered a very able address, setting forth the views and intentions of those in control. Professor Caldwell, who had been previously elected, was assigned to the chair of it the Exact Sciences, and Rev. Robert Emory was elected Pro-
fessor of Ancient Languages. Both took the oath of office as professors, and delivered addresses suitable to the occasion. Other professorships were filled by election, and the College opened. Thus the College entered upon its second half century, not only with the profit of tbe experience of fifty years, with amended charter, with repaired buildings, with beautified grounds, but with new forces, new impulses at work. For the first time in its history, it was avowedly and unmistakably denominational in its controlling body. The professorship of Natural Sciences, which was vacant by the declination of the professor-elect, was filled, in July, 1835, by the election of John M. Keagy, M. D.; and upon his resignation, a year afterward, by reason of ill health, William H. Allen, A. M., of Augusta, Maine, was elected Lecturer on Natural Science and Instructor in Modern Languages for one year. During the year 1836, the professor-elect of Mathematics announced his declination of the position, and Rev. John M'Clintock, A. M., was engaged to teach these branches, ad interim, and at the meeting of the Trustees in 1837, he was elected to the professorship, and Dr. Allen, at the same time, to that of Natural Science. The permanent organization of the first faculty was thus complete.
It has always been regarded as fortunate that the re-organized College had the services of these men. It may be said, that Dr. Durbin alone brought to the institution an established reputation. As a preacher, he was widely known. He had been Chaplain of the United States Senate. His inexplicable eloquence had made him a power wherever he was announced to appear. He had declined a professorship in Wesleyan University. He left the most influential editorial chair of the denomination to assume charge of this high educational trust. As the organizing and directing head of such an enterprise, and as a college administrator, he has perhaps never been equaled.
According to the polity of American Colleges, especially of the smaller ones, a President is so essential as a figure head and financial agent, as well as administrator and instructor, that they often suffer for want of the combination of these qualities in a high degree in one individual, and so long as the system continues as it is, there will be a demand for men that are but seldom met with. A graduate of a college, and subsequently a professor of languages in Augusta College, he was, also, not a novice in the peculiarities of college life. His varied acquisitions and tastes put him in full sympathy with all branches of human learning. Every department and every interest of the College felt the touch of his attention. Revised statutes, new courses of study, new buildings, endowment, increase of students, &c., were all subjects of his constant consideration.
In the following paragraph, from the pen of Dr. W. H. Allen, one of his colleagues, his character as the presiding officer of the College is condensed :
quot;He was a man of tact, courteous, prudent, cautious, wise. He carried his measures in faculty meetings by a marked respect for his colleagues and deference to their opinions, while he adroitly molded their opinions to the shape of his own by modest suggestions and a certain recondite influence, which was perceived only by its effects. His well known devotion to the interests of the College gave weight to his recommendations to the Trustees, and they always assented to his propositions. In the presence of his classes, Durbin did not merely hear recitations * * * he gave instruction" He placed his own mind in electric communication with the minds of his students.quot;
The other members of the Faculty were young men, and as was natural, not widely known in the Church, and two of them from a section widely distant from the College. For the same reason they were without special reputation in the departments to which they had been assigned; they doubtless had predelictions
for them, but they had not as yet selected the fields of their special exertions.
The mathematics were soon abandoned by Professor M'Clintock for the more congenial study of languages and metaphysics. However congenial scientific studies were to Professor Allen, and in spite or his eminent success as a teacher in that department, he subsequently acquired his greatest reputation and influence outside of them. Emory hesitated between the professor's chair and the pastorate, with his decision in favor of the latter, until called to the presidency of the College, and had barely become fixed in purpose, and had but begun to demonstrate fully the wonderful elements of his character, when he was removed by death. Caldwell, too, was stricken down without opportunity to display his ripened ability. But they all seem to have brought to the College the capital elements of success. They all possessed natural ability of the highest, in some cases unusual, order. If not specialists, they all had the broad basis of a thorough liberal culture. Emory had graduated with the honors at Columbia College, Caldwell and Allen were graduates of Bowdoin, and M'Clintock of the University of Pennsylvania. They were studious and conscientious, as well as enthusiastic in their devotion to their work. However , diverse their fields of labor, they recognized a common object in the advancement of the interests of the College. In a short time they not only established reputations for themselves, but gave to the institution prominence, and a warm place in the affections and interest of the Church. They live, deservedly, not only in the memories of the graduates that passed out from beneath their instruction, but as well in the grateful recollection of the Church. It must not, however, be overlooked, that the strength of their maturer years; and great usefulness in their subsequent fields of labor, were as much a contribution of the College to the Church as were those who were trained by them.
The scholastic leisure, and the associations and opportunities of college life formed an atmosphere necessary to their full, symmetrical development. There were, too, it is true, many conditions peculiarly favorable to the success and development of this first faculty, as well as unusual obstacles to be overcome, and reasons why it should hold a more decided lodgment in the memory of the Church than any subsequent one. It had all the inspiration of the awakening impulses of the Church, in regard to higher education; colleges were then novel enterprises in the Church, as well as grand ones. Neither was it trammeled by traditions, nor depressed by contrasts with a preceding golden age, however earnest its efforts. The Church, although it did not measure up to the promises made or expectations formed, was earnest in its efforts, and, according to its ability, perhaps did more for the College than at any other period. The trustees, too, selected by the conferences, had a similar inspiration, and were under a sense of great responsibility. This Faculty has been sketched incidentally by Dr .Crooks, in his Life of M'Clintock, as only could be done by one who knew them all intimately. Emory and M'Clintock were especially intimate. "Each was the other's alter ego. They were alike and yet unlike. Both were affectionate, buoyant, and full of the inspirations of hope. In Emory the logical faculty predominated over all others, and gave to his mind a judicial exactness. M 'Clintock's equally great logical force was swayed by a mercurial temperament, and a lively fancy. In the acquisition of knowledge the latter was ardent, and swift as the wind, but in the eagerness of the pursuit, oblivious of a prudent self-care. His associate, though equally ardent, moved with a more deliberate step. Of the two, Robert Emory was, however, the first to wear himself out; he died before the promise of his earlier years was more than partly fulfilled. Professor Allen created perpetual surprises by his great versatility. He
passed from department to department with a facility that made one doubt which was the one he most preferred. Professor Caldwell's high moral character impressed every one who came near him. New England ruggedness was in him, tempered by a tender moral sensibility."
Although the subscriptions upon which the College was opened were not fully realized, and the Church seemed to come tardily up to the fulfillment of its promises in regard to the College, owing largely to the great financial depression that set in, South College was purchased in 1835,for Grammar School purposes, with an ample lot ninety feet by two hundred and forty feet, separated from the Campus by Main street. It was subsequently burned down and re-built, and is at present occu-pied exclusively by the scientific department and college library. In 1836, East College was erected of native limestone on the usual parallelopiped model of college dormitories. It is one hundred and thirty feet long by thirty-two feet broad and four stories high, and contains, besides three lecture-rooms with professors' offices attached, and rooms for eighty students, the residence of the President, and accommodations for a students' boarding-club. Although it may not be considered attractive in appearance in comparison with the more modern extravagant specimens of college architecture, it is about up to the average type of college dormitory buildings in external appearance, and internal finish and accommodation. Money was also freely expended for the library and apparatus. At times it was found necessary to incur debt and financial responsibility, but the faith in the success of the enterprise, and in the earnestness and liberality of the Church does not seem to have been misplaced. In 1840, Professor Emory resigned the chair of Ancient Languages to enter the pastorate, much to the regret of all connected with the College, and Professor M'Clintock was transferred to the vacant chair. At the same time, Colonel Thomas
E. Sudler, of St. John's College, was unanimously elected Professor of Mathematics, and accepted the position, although he had declined that chair as well as that of Natural Science tendered him immediately after the re-organization. Leave of absence was also granted Dr. Durbin to visit Europe. During his absence, in 1842, Robert Emory was re-called to the College as President pro tem.
In 1845 , Dr. Durbin resigned and returned to the pastorate in Philadelphia. This step was taken by reason of "permanent interests of his children and family, which required his presence for some time in Philadelphia," and he assured the Trustees that his resignation was wholly on account of these private interests that he could not neglect, and that he wished it might be otherwise. At the same meeting, Rev. Robert Emory, A. M., was elected his successor, and signified his acceptance, and Spencer F. Baird, of the class of 1840 , was elected Professor of Natural History and Curator of the Museum. The following year showed an increase in the number of students, and at its close in 1846, Dr. George R. Crooks, of the class of 1840, who had had charge of the preparatory school, was added to the Faculty as Adjunct-Professor of Languages. A fine and thorough scholar, he was the collaborator of M'Clintock in the preparation of a series of text-books in Latin and Greek that enjoyed a wide popularity, and his subsequent career as editor and author fully realized the promise of his earlier life at Dickinson. The substitution of modern languages for other studies, without affecting the graduation of the student was also permitted, a plan that was more fully adopted a year afterward.
The health of Professor Caldwell had been precarious for several years, and during 1847, Dr. Emory, after an attack of hemorrhage of the lungs, went to the West Indies by medical advice. The college work was distributed, as best it could be, among the Faculty. At the meeting of the Trustees in July, 5, 1848,
it fell to the lot of Dr. Allen, as acting president, to communicate the most serious loss the institution had experienced since its re-organization. Emory and Caldwell had passed away, and Professors M'Clintock and Crooks had signified their intention to resign; the former called by the Church to the editorship of its leading periodical. He was led the more cheerfully to accept the new position by reason of the sad changes that had deprived him of his most intimate friends at the College, and also by reason of a restiveness under a restraint he felt imposed upon the free expression of his unequivical anti-slavery sentiments. He had passed through a trial for his life in the dock with twenty negroes, because of his courageous friendship for them, and although acquitted not only by the court but by the friends of the College, the students, and the intelligent public, he was still M'Clintock the " abolitionist," though prudent in his expression of opinions out of consideration for the interests of the College with which he was identified.
In 1848, Dr. Jesse T. Peck was elected President; Professor Allen was transferred to the chair of English Litterature and Philosophy, and Professor Baird to that of Natural Science. The chairs of Mathematics and Ancient Languages were filled, respectively, by Messrs. Otis H. Tiffanny and James W. Marshall, as adjunct professors, both being recent graduates of the College. The dissolution of the first Faculty thus begun by death and resignations, was completed in 1850, by the resignation of Dr. Allen, to assume the presidency of Girard College, and of Professor Baird to enter upon the post of Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, with special charge of the National Museum.
If the administration of Dr. Emory is to be regarded as one of strict discipline, that of Dr. Peck was one of moral suasion and of mild disciplinary expedients. One of his colleagues says of him, that "he was a man of commanding pres-
ence, had a good voice, was a reputable preacher, but he had not received a collegiate education, and his want of acquaintance with what might be termed the unwritten law of Colleges, subjected him to numerous embarrassments. He was a man of large heart, genial, sincere, friendly, and confiding." The chair of English Literature was filled by the election of Reverend H. M. Johnson, then Professor of Ancient Languages in Ohio Wesleyan University, that of Natural Science by the election of Reverend Erastus Wentworth, D. D. , for four years previous, and at the time, President of McKendree College, Illinois, and James W. Marshall was promoted to the Professorship of Ancient Languages.
In 1851 Professor Sudler resigned, and Rev. 0. H. Tiffany, the adjunct professor for four years, was elected his successor. At the same time Dr. Peck resigned the presidency, to take effect at the end of the ensuing year, with the determination to devote himself to the more congenial work of the pastorate. One of the most far-reaching measures in importance, was then also first presented to the notice of the trustees, in a communication from Professor Johnson, in regard to the production of an endowment fund by the sale of cheap scholarships, and an extra meeting of the Trustees was held in February, 1852, to consider a more detailed plan wrought out by Professor Johnson in the meantime.