In 1800 a double tier of counties was laid out, from the Ohio river to Lake Erie. Within the next ten years a single tier was extended along the New York border as far eastward as Wayne county, which had been laid out a few years earlier. Probably quite a third of the counties of the state are of later origin than 1800. In one of the northwestern counties, Alleghany College was founded, about 1817, Bentley Hall, which is still in use, being the first building erected. As the history of the college is, in some respects, parallel with that of Dickinson, we will follow it a little farther. A preliminary meeting of the citizens was held in June, 1815. At that time Meadville had about four hundred inhabitants, and Crawford county perhaps fifteen times as many. Jefferson College, in the southwestern corner of the state, was founded in 1802, and its near neighbor, Washington College in 1806. Rev. Timothy Alden, a graduate of Harvard and a leading citizen of Meadville, was chosen president of the college, a charter was obtained and as much enthusiasm manifested as if all the president had to do was to get aboard the new craft and call out: "Full steam ahead." Few things were easier to do in many of our states, and is probably still easy in some, than to obtain a charter for a college, this privilege doubtless being considered one of the "inalienable rights" of every free-born American citizen. President Alden was authorized to go abroad that is, out of the state to solicit funds. He succeeded in raising about ten thousand dollars. His inauguration took place in July, 1817, "with imposing ceremonies." "Three addresses in Latin, three in English, and one in Hebrew were delivered." Some dialogues were also spoken. However, enthusiasm could not furnish students. There were few from the start, while the few who entered could not remain long on account of poverty; consequently, by 1832 the number of graduates was only twelve. In spite of the herculean labors of President Alden, the college could not be kept going, and was closed. It is a sad, sad story, but by no means the only one of its kind. The next year the annual conference of the Methodist church was held in Meadville. As some of the leaders were seeking a site for a college, it came about that the ill-fortune of the Presbyterians proved to be the good fortune of the Methodists. An agreement was entered into similar to that made at Carlisle, and Alleghany has been under Methodist control for more than a century. It had, however, many difficulties to overcome. But the pertinacity which has always characterized the leaders of said church, carried the day. A few years ago a centennial campaign put Alleghany College firmly "on its feet." Its trustees, like those of Dickinson, never aspired to make it anything else than a college. At the time of the granting of its charter, Alleghany College received from the legislature an appropriation of two thousand dollars. In 1821 it was voted an annual allowance of a thousand dollars for five years; in 1827 a like allowance for five years longer. This seems to have been the last legislative grant to the western college. The custom of making such grants was continued until well along towards the middle of the century. In 1838 nine college and more than a hundred academies received state appropriations. However, as increasing sums were needed for the common schools, and bad financeering had depleted the state treasury, most, or perhaps all, the grants were discontinued about this time. In 1786, Dickinson College was granted five hundred pounds and ten thousand acres of land. Three years later it realized two thousand dollars from the proceeds of a lottery. In 1803 the state loaned the college $6,000, and in 1806 $4,000 more on mortgage. In 1814 the general assembly extended the time of payment, but in 1819 it forgave the debt and canceled both the principal and the interest. Other appropriations were made, the last one in 1826, which was for three thousand dollars to continue through seven years.
The first class at Bucknell was graduated in 1851. Lafayette College was chartered in 1826, but was not organized, strictly speaking, until 1832. Here, as at Alleghany, an effort was made to introduce manual training; yet at neither place was it successful. If we draw a straight line across the state from east to west, about the middle, it will pass close to Bucknell and Penn State College. There is, however, no institution of collegiate rank except that at Meadville and a few belonging to the present century north of this imaginary line. West of Carlisle there is none until we come to that at Huntingdon, which is both small and recent.
In none of the older states is there so large a territory without an institution of collegiate rank. Albeit when we come to the vicinity of Pittsburgh they are almost "bunched together." Of the two colleges nearest the center of the state, Bucknell has for several decades occupied a respectable rank. The same affirmation can hardly be made of Penn state. It could scarcely be regarded as a success until near the close of the nineteenth century. For one thing there is probably no state in the Union in which so little need for scientific agriculture is felt by the farming community, or in which it received so little attention until quite recently, as in Penn's colony. But something had to be clone with the congressional land grant. We are not here further concerned with this aspect of the case; but it may be remarked in passing, that Lancaster county is generally regarded as the richest county agriculturally in the world. Other counties near by or contiguous are little inferior. And they attained this preeminence long before agricultural colleges were thought of in this country. Besides, whether rightly or wrongly, the opinion was long prevalent that Pennsylvania's agricultural college was "run" more in the interest of politics and politicians of a certain stripe or brand, than of agriculture or of any other culture.
That American educators of the eighteenth century not only had a different idea of the functions of a college but also of the order of studies from that now current, is shown by the fact that, in granting the first five thousand dollars to Dickinson College, the legislature stipulated that it should receive any number of students not exceeding ten, who were to be taught free, reading, writing and arithmetic. None of the beneficiaries were, however, to be allowed to remain longer than two years. It may also be mentioned here that at Yale, in 1777, arithmetic was studied by the Freshmen; algebra and geometry by the Sophomores; trigonometry by the Juniors. Most of these subjects are now considered too elementary to merit a place in the college curriculum. Dickinson was, however, not the only institution where the three R's were taught. At a comparatively early period in the history of Pennsylvania a few men began to interest themselves in imparting knowledge which they considered practical, and which could be acquired without attending a regular school of any kind. It is, however, a question whether the lack of this knowledge produced "an aching void." Great empires have been built up without a knowledge of writing or the use of what we call "figures." In 1789 Dilworth's "Young Bookkeeper's Assistant" appeared in Philadelphia. Seven years later a similar manual by Benjamin Workman was published in the same city. William Mitchell's "Ready Reckoner" was issued in New York about the same time. William Jackson's "Bookkeeper's Assistant" seems to have been given to the public near the same date and at the same place. James Maginness had a similar work printed in Harrisburg in 1817. Somewhat later a Mr. Bennett conducted a sort of ambulatory commercial college that sojourned temporarily in Philadelphia.