|Chapter 19 Samuel Blanchard How 1829-1832. Another Hibernation|
ON NEILL'S withdrawal at commencement, September, 1829, the President of the Board announced the election of Philip Lindsley of Cumberland College, Kentucky, to succeed him. Lindsley, who was a graduate of Princeton of the Class of 1809, declined. He seemed to have been desired as president by some nine colleges, including his Alma Mater. Thus invited, he declined them all until 1825, when he became president of Cumberland College, which he served for twenty-five years.
Samuel Blanchard How was thereafter elected, and he accepted. He was born in 1790, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1810, had charge of the Dickinson Grammar School 1810-1811, served churches in New Jersey for some years, and later a Union Church in Savannah, Georgia, 1823-1829. He seems to have been in Philadelphia when called to Dickinson, and was inaugurated on March 30, 1830. How was a man of ability and force, though this must be judged more from services elsewhere than at the College. Later he held a prominent position in the Dutch Reformed Church in North America, being pastor of the First Church of New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1832-1861, and President of the General Assembly in 1859. Some years before this he had been the protagonist of a North Carolina Synod applying for admission to fellowship with his church. The application failed on the slavery issue, even though How espoused their cause in a vigorous address, later published under the heading "Slaveholding not Sinful." He had probably adopted the southern view during his pastorate in Savannah. His position could not have been a popular one two years before the Civil War.
The Faculty was completed by the election of Henry D. Rogers as Professor of Chemistry and Natural Science,
Alexander W. McFarland for mathematics and the exact sciences, Charles Dexter Cleveland for languages, and later, on Rogers' retirement because of his failure to coöperate with the Faculty, Lemuel Gregory Olmsted to succeed him.
Among these members of the How Faculty, Cleveland stands out as the author of many books on literary and classical subjects. Among them are "Compendium of Greek Antiquities," "Compendium of English Literature," "Compendium of Classical Literature," "Moral Characters of Theophrastus," "American Literature," and "English Literature of the Nineteenth Century."
For the half year following Neill's departure in September of 1829, the college organization was very uncertain. Much of the ordinary college work was not offered at all, and the student body almost disappeared. A circular issued by How on March 8, 1831, one year after his arrival, gives data on the conditions he found. When his Faculty
was organized in May, 1830 ... the number of students at that time connected with the College was fourteen; the number of applicants for admission during the first seven months following was twenty-two, of whom sixteen entered; and there are now several applicants for admission after the spring vacation.... The Government of the Institution is designed to be parental [a statement jeered at by many generations of students]....
All the students are required to attend prayers ... every morning and evening. Public worship is held and a discourse delivered in the college chapel every Sabbath morning; and on the Sabbath afternoon, there is a Biblical recitation, which is conducted by the President.
The price of boarding varies from $1 to $2. It may be obtained without difficulty at $1.50. With economy, from $125 to $135 ... will cover all the necessary expenses of a student for the year, exclusive of books and clothes.... (heretofore) the annual expenses (of the College) amounted to $61oo, to meet which 125 students were required. The present annual expenses are $3400, to defray which ... sixty-five students (are) sufficient. Preparations are now making for the erection of an additional edifice to accomodate students with lodgings, and near $1500 have been already subscribed toward it in Carlisle. By a resolution of the board of trustees the New College building will bear the name of any individual who may contribute $1500 toward its erection. [There were no bidders for the honor!]
This circular shows how sadly the troubles of Neill's later years and the resulting disorganization had affected the College. There were over one hundred students in college classes in 1827 and 1828; but only fourteen were present in 1830 when How's administration began, and very few seemed disposed to enter.
How was at the College two years, but he soon sensed the fundamental weakness of college conditions; and in his second annual report to the Board, September, 1831, the first one to be found in the college archives, he told them what he thought was wrong:
The history of our College may be considered as exhibiting a series of experiments, unhappily of a very unsuccessful kind. But I must ask permission of the Board to say that the failures excite no surprise in my mind & may be satisfactorily accounted for from the heterogeneous nature of the Faculty and its limited authority. Every nation & even different parts of our own country have their own peculiar habits, views and prejudices. When twenty years ago I was connected with the College, the Faculty was composed of most discordant materials. It excited wonder that they disagreed. Now instead of being surprized at their disagreement, I think it would have been almost a miracle if they had agreed. The sure method of producing discord in a faculty is to form it of persons of different habits, sentiments and views. In the College of New Jersey and in most if not all of the northern colleges an arrangement of this kind exists. The President of the College is generally ex-officio Presdt. of the Board of Trustees. Of course no appointment of a professor or tutor can be made without his being present at the appointment & generally his wishes are consulted. Again instead of looking abroad for professors and tutors they select the alumni of their own college. At least such I believe has generally been the fact for several years past. The consequence is that the Faculty is composed of persons acquainted with each other accustomed to the same system of instruction & dis- cipline & attached to the College as their Alma Mater. This is the system I earnestly desire to see adopted in our college. At present neither the professor of mathematics nor myself think the appointment of a tutor necessary tho' perhaps it is proper to state the professor of languages earnestly desires it. The number of students is small the present faculty can attend to all their recitations except in the department of natural sciences, & I consider it a matter of great importance that the funds of the College should be carefully husbanded. Its situation is critical it is depressed & surrounded with foes past misfortunes press heavy upon
it, & it requires not only the best counsels, but the active exertions of its friends in its behalf. The alumni of other colleges are exerting themselves nobly to promote their prosperity. Those of Yale College have resolved to raise for it the sum of One Hundred Thousand Dollars. Will not the alumni of Dickinson aid her in her depressed conditions?
Salvation for the College might have been possible at an earlier date, but the cure now proposed by Principal How was too late, and six months later he told the trustees that he saw no hope of keeping the College in operation under the then existing conditions. The trustees agreed with him, and the College was closed at the end of the term, March, 1832, as they recorded, for "some time to come." It was to be opened unexpectedly two and one half years later under radically different auspices, avowedly in charge of one of the great churches of the country.
During How's two years there were serious faculty divisions. How and McFarland were apparently in accord, while Cleveland was out of harmony with them, Duffield, pastor of the Presbyterian Church and a trustee of the College, agreeing with him. How and McFarland lodged charges before the trustees against Duffield and Cleveland, who countered with other charges. These charges resulted in many Board meetings, but as the College was about. to suspend, the trustees suggested that all the parties involved withdraw their papers, charges and countercharges, and this was done.
When it had been decided to close the College, in view of "the sudden and unexpected suspension," a bonus of $100 was voted to each member of the Faculty. Action was taken to care for some of their property, notably the libraries of the College and the literary societies, and things of a perishable nature were sold.