The first part of this book is about an idiosyncratic tradition in logic textbooks that no one has yet described or analyzed. The second and third parts give important examples of textbooks from this tradition, textbooks that have existed only as manuscripts which were passed among students through generations at Harvard College. This tradition in logic and these two textbooks supported dogmatic Christians by asserting that knowledge from God in the mind and divine testimony were absolutely certain forms of knowledge that could be used in logic to demonstrate a wider range of arguments that also attained absolute certainty.

    Philipp Melanchthon first popularized this type of religious logic textbook. His logic was basically Aristotelian. In the opening section on Humanism, Religion and Dogmatism, I explore how Melanchthon’s innovations helped future logicians transcend the boundaries between Aristotelian, Ramist, and Cartesian logics in the seventeenth century. By the end of the seventeenth century, Ramist logic was declining in popularity and replaced by such logics as the ones reproduced here. The first textbook transcribed here is Aristotelian and the second, Cartesian.

    This idiosyncratic tradition in logic and these two examples were not “bad” logics. The logic textbooks developed during and after the Renaissance offered a broader and more slippery kind of logic than the more narrow and formal strains which dominated late Medieval thought, and now dominate Modern logic. Unlike “formal” logic, the humanistic logics of the Renaissance were more subject to the perspectives of authors and communities. The two logics provided here were designed to fit a specific cultural situation: the then provincial college, Harvard, founded by dogmatists, Puritans, who found themselves in the midst of political and cultural transformations that threatened to undermine them. Harvard was an outpost in the history of logic; however, Harvard’s position in America as a bastion of Puritans make it an excellent case study in the history of an idiosyncratic tradition of logic textbooks. These textbooks also teach us much about the Puritans, especially about the epistemology and psychology that supported their particular form of rationalism.

    Transcription Notes:

    The following transcriptions of Charles Morton’s A Logick System and William Brattle’s Compendium of Logick are from manuscripts written by William Partridge, when he was eighteen or nineteen, while he was a student at Harvard in 1687. The original texts by Morton and Brattle are lost. They were probably destroyed by fire in 1764, when the library burned along with Harvard Hall. Since Partridge’s class at Harvard was the first to use Morton’s and Brattle’s textbooks (the former imported to America in 1686 and the latter’s composed in 1686 or 1687), Partridge probably transcribed directly from the original texts. Inconsistencies abound in the manuscript, and much as been standardized here for easier reading, especially margins, titles, and spacing. All spelling, capitalization, and punctuation has been transcribed as accurately as possible from Partridge.

    Partridge did not transcribe all of Morton’s two-line poems sprinkled throughout every chapter. Another student transcription by Samuel Dunbar from 1721 included all of the poems in their proper places. Kathy Nichols and I have marked all the poems found in Dunbar’s version but not Partridge with { }. In the texts, these marks also signal words or phrases that we could not make out in Partridge’s version, but were frequently plain in other versions.

    Although Partridge’s transcription of the texts were for his personal use, they have an important history. Partridge, himself, did not. Born in 1669, he graduated with the class of 1689, but died in 1693, age twenty-three, after assisting in the pulpit in Wethersfield, Connecticut. His notebook survived him to be used by several students and ministers, including Jonathan Edwards, before being housed in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. I appreciate the Library’s permission to publish that manuscript.

    Other extant transcriptions:

    1. Timothy Lindall (1677–1760), Harvard class of 1695, later a merchant and politician, transcribed in 1693 both A Compendium of Logick and what he called Mr Morton’s System of Logick. The notebook is owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Massachusetts.

    2. Daniel Greenleaf (1680–1762), class of 1699, later a parson, physician, and apothecary, transcribed three logic texts: A Treatise of Logic Extracted from Mr. Morton by Tutor Fitch who taught from 1697—1703; Brattle’s Latin Compendium Logicae, and Compendium of Logick. His son, Stephen Greenleaf, class of 1723, used the same notebook and added a transcription of Leverett’s Compendium Logicae Vera in 1720. The notebook is owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

    3. George Curwin (1683–1717), class of 1701, minister of Salem, transcribed in 1698 Brattle’s Compendium of Logick into a notebook now owned by the Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts. John Barnard’s funeral sermon for Curwin (The Nature and Manner, Boston, 1717, p. 37) notes that his ability as a logician made him a good preacher.

    4. Joseph Sewall (1688–1769), class of 1707, minister of the South (second) Church in Boston, transcribed three of Brattle’s textbooks: Compendium Logicae, Compendium of Logick, and Enchiridium Metaphysicum. The notebook is owned by the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.

    5. David Jeffries (1690–1716), class of 1708, married Brattle’s niece in 1713. Very pious, he was the founder of an informal religious club while a student. His transcription of Compendium of Logick is owned by the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

    6. Obadiah Ayers (1689–1768), class of 1710, later a military chaplain and convert to the Church of England, transcribed Compendium of Logick into a commonplace book now housed at the Harvard University Archives.

    7. Nathan Prince (1698–1748), class of 1718, was from 1723–1741 a Harvard tutor known for his scholarship and Calvinist orthodoxy, but not good teaching. Thomas Siegel in his dissertation on Governance and Curriculum at Harvard College in the 18th Century speculates that Prince is the editor of the published version of Brattle’s Compendium Logicae (1735). This speculation is discussed in chapter four of “Aristotelian and Cartesian Logic at Harvard.” Prince’s transcription of Compendium of Logick, done while a student in 1716, is owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

    8. Samuel Dunbar (1704–1777), class of 1723, later a minister noted for his devotion to Calvinism, transcribed A Logick System, Fitch’s A Treatise of Logick Extracted from Mr. Morton, Compendium of Logick, and Compendium Logicae. This notebook is housed at the Harvard University Archives.


    During the ten years of my study of Morton, Brattle, and their contemporaries, I have benefitted from kind and helpful librarians while working in very gracious settings. The Harvard University Archives under the friendly leadership of Harvey Holden and the Massachusetts Historical Society with its always pleasant staff made this book possible. Other manuscript and rare book libraries that supported this research include the Beinecke Library at Yale University; the Houghton Library at Harvard University; the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University; the Congregational Library in Boston; the archives of the Congregational Church of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Special Collections in the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University; the Huntington Library in San Marino, California; the American Antiquarian Society library in Worcester, Massachusetts; the Library of Congress; the British Library; Lambeth Palace archives, London; Dr. Williams’ Library, London; and the archives of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in a closet in Holy Trinity Church, London, which the archivist kindly made a special trip to open for me.

    For the day-to-day research, the libraries at University of California at Santa Barbara and Indiana University Southeast served me well and their librarians were very helpful. John Goodin found for me the important information about the true author of Coke’s logic. The microfilm room in the research library at Bloomington, Indiana, has been enormously useful.

    Tim Vivian has been a constant help to me. My ideas about logic have mutated many times. I think Tim has read every draft of every mutation. Jeffrey B. Russell has always been helpful. Thomas J. Siegel and Richard Dickson gave me copies of their dissertations and supplied many hours of enjoyable conversation about our seventeenth-century friends. Harley Holden took me to lunch in the Harvard Faculty club to teach me about Samuel E. Morison and Clifford K. Shipton, two scholars I trail behind. Barbara Shapiro and Peter Schouls gave me good advice. Richard Watson, Steven Nadler, and Martin Klauber graciously sent me books and articles related to my subject. Norman Fiering told me to “do logic” even though I told him that I had never studied logic. Without his writings and support, this project never would have started or reached publication. The works of Lisa Jardine and E.J. Ashworth also got me started. Harold Kirker, my mentor, who is now retired from the University of California at Santa Barbara, embodies for me the ideal humanist tutor.

    Indiana University Southeast has supported this research with time, money, and supplies. My colleagues in history—Stephanie Bower, John Findling, Frank Thackeray, and Andrew Trout—were very supportive when I embarked on “doing logic.” My colleagues in philosophy—James Barry and William Rumsey—often had to hold my hand. Kathy Nichols, first a student and now a colleague, jumped into the project with enthusiam. Her hard work on the transcriptions while going to graduate school and raising three children in Indianapolis made it impossible for me to complain about my own work schedule. Kathy appreciates the help of Sharon Strange and Robert Marshall. Both of us appreciate the editorial work of Elizabeth M. Burke and John W. Tyler.