A Stated Meeting of the Society was held, at the invitation of Mr. Charles S. Rackemann, at No. 186 Marlborough Street, Boston, on Thursday, April 26, 1928, at half after eight o’clock in the evening, the President, Samuel Eliot Morison, in the chair.

    The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.

    The Corresponding Secretary reported the death, on April 19, 1928, of William Bradford Homer Dowse, a Resident Member.

    The Corresponding Secretary reported that letters had been received from Mr. James Phinney Baxter, 3d, accepting Resident Membership; from Mr. Charles Austin Beard and Mr. William Lawrence Clements, accepting Corresponding Membership; and from Mr. Reginald Coupland and Mr. Verner Winslow Crane, accepting Associate Membership.

    Mr. Percival Hall Lombard of Bourne was elected a Resident Member; Mr. Howard Judson Hall of Palo Alto, California, and Mr. Dwight Whitney Morrow of New York, were elected Corresponding Members; and Mr. Joseph Burr Tyrrell of Toronto, Canada, was elected an Associate Member.

    The President appointed the following Committees in anticipation of the Annual Meeting:

    To nominate candidates for the several offices, — Messrs. Allen French, Chester Noyes Greenough, and Frederic Winthrop.

    To examine the Treasurer’s accounts, — Messrs. George Pomeroy Anderson and Nathaniel Thayer Kidder.

    Dr. Frederick C. Shattuck read extracts from a Commonplace Book kept by Mrs. Benjamin Waterhouse, which gave accounts of some of her conversations with her husband, Dr. Waterhouse (1754–1846), concerning men and manners in his time.

    Mr. John H. Edmonds read a paper on “Oliver Cromwell and Major Sedgwick, 1654–1656.”

    Mr. Morison read the following paper:


    The resignation of President Kirkland of Harvard University, on April 2, 1828, came as a complete surprise to the community, and raised a small tempest in the Boston teapot. Not that the public was unaccustomed to college controversies. During the previous five years, there had been a spectacular rebellion by the student body, and a constitutional struggle of the faculty against the Corporation. After prolonged discussion a series of reforms in administration and instruction had been carried through. Financial difficulties had been aired, and a policy of severe retrenchment adopted. The college had also been a storm-centre of the Unitarian-Trinitarian controversy. So far as the public knew, harmony had been restored within the college by 1828, the accounts balanced, the instructors placated, and the students quieted. Yet, in the middle of the term, the President announced his resignation. The official reason given out, the President’s health, satisfied nobody; for although Dr. Kirkland had suffered a paralytic stroke the previous August, he had married a Cabot in September, and had performed his college duties during the academic year 1827–28.

    On April 1, the day before his resignation went before the Corporation, President Kirkland announced his purpose to the student body, assembled for prayers in the then college chapel.60 A committee appointed by the senior class drafted and presented to him the following address, which startled the public no less than the resignation itself:

    Cambridge, April 2nd, 1828

    Reverend and Dear Sir:

    We cannot think it presumptuous in us, to express to you our feelings upon your resignation, and the circumstances under which it has been made. We cannot believe that it will be unacceptable to you. It was kindly said by you, sir, when embarrassed with present troubles, and plans for the future, that you could not leave us without bidding us an affectionate farewell, without bestowing on us your advice and blessing. We are grateful for this last proof of your constant, parental friendship. It calls to our minds the multitude of good works and words, we have received at your hand. We thank you, sir, imperfectly, but heartily. We thank you for the honors which your award has made more sweet, and we thank you for the reproof, which has been tempered with love. We thank you for the benignity of manners which engaged our confidence, for the charities which secured our hearts. We thank you, sir, for all the little, nameless, unremembered acts of your kindness and authority. We are deeply in your debt, but the obligation is not irksome; it is a debt of gratitude we are well pleased to owe.

    We should have been happy, had your connexion with the University, at least, subsisted until we had been dismissed from its walls. — We had all along hoped, that we should go out into the world under your auspices, and that the parchment, which was to entitle us to consideration, as having completed our academic course, might be signed by a name so well known to fame and to the respect of society. But it has been ordered otherwise, and we can only now assure you, sir, that though you have ceased to stand to us in the relation of President, there are other tender relations between you and us, which will terminate but with life, and it is our prayer to God, that your years may be very long protracted amid pleasant recollections and troops of friends.

    We cannot forbear to say one word with regard to the untoward circumstances, in which you have been placed. It has been usual, when the activity of a great or good man has been interrupted by sickness, to deal generously by his character and claims. It has commonly been an occasion, to call forth whatever in the human heart is noble and christian; to cheer the sufferer under his affliction by an honest reference to past services, to treasure laid up. But to seize the opportunity of physical weakness, to encompass one with perplexities, and wear him down with petty calumnies; to choose this time, to sit in judgment upon inadvertent errors or improvident virtues; such malignity, we are grieved to say, has been reserved to be exhibited by individuals in our own community. This severe trial, sir, has been reserved to you. May you pass it unharmed. May your enemies have to contend, not only with your own signal merit, but also with the disapprobation of all just men.

    We commend your health and fortunes into the charge of Him, whose “eye is upon them that fear him, who hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.”

    Charles C. Emerson,

    Committee of the Senior Class

    Robert C. Winthrop,

    George S. Hillard.

    Rev. John Thornton Kirkland, D.D., LL.D.61

    The press lost no time in enlarging upon the hint given in the last paragraph of the seniors’ address. “Rumours and insinuations are afloat,” said the Boston Evening Gazette of April 5, that President Kirkland had been forced to resign “by the ‘mere enforcement’ of some, who, either without classical education, or not originally belonging to the Alumni of Harvard, have been recently fomenting difficulties and encouraging opposition with regard to the President, than whom a purer writer, a more correct thinker, or a more estimable man, does not exist in the country.” Everyone knew that the person referred to was Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch, the celebrated navigator, a fellow of the Corporation. It was rumored that President Kirkland had resigned in consequence of insulting and improper language addressed to him in corporation meeting by Dr. Bowditch.62 The newspapers of Salem, Bowditch’s birthplace, evinced considerable tenderness at this charge, and countered with hints of gross financial irregularities on the part of the President. A Boston paper retorted by dubbing the Navigator a “Salem Sailor,” and calling upon him to resign from the Corporation. A complete explanation by the Corporation and Overseers was demanded, but not vouchsafed; and both principals kept silent, although Dr. Kirkland’s silence after the seniors’ address was regarded as proof of the charge. For two months the controversy raged in Boston, and to some extent, the outside press, affording more heat than light, and more speculation than fact. Various contributors, mostly anonymous, revived the charges that Harvard College was the seat of impiety and dissipation, a rich man’s college, a decaying institution, where foreign fads and foibles were encouraged rather than good solid education such as the public interest demanded.

    President Quincy’s History of Harvard University, completed in 1840 shortly after Dr. Kirkland’s death, affords no clue to the reasons for his predecessor’s resignation, and no hint of the conflict that preceded it. Shortly after, the controversy was revived by the children of Dr. Bowditch (who died in 1838), taking exception to a statement in the Rev. John G. Palfrey’s published eulogy of Dr. Kirkland, to the effect that the late President had not been treated “in every quarter, by those who acted with him, with the delicacy and respect due to his greatness and his infirmity.” The Bowditch family asserted, and offered to prove, that this report was “utterly false,” and defended their notice of it on the ground that “the industrious antiquarian, a century hence, would perceive some secret meaning in this paragraph” unless it were contradicted. Dr. Palfrey took up the challenge, and declared that President Kirkland’s feelings had been “wounded by language of Dr. Bowditch, which also gave pain to the friends of both.” This was stoutly denied by the Bowditch family. In conclusion, they somewhat truculently referred to a certain manuscript memoir prepared by Dr. Bowditch as his justification, which, they declared, the “judicious friends” of Dr. Kirkland and “best friends of the college” would better not provoke them to print.63

    This mémoire justificatif of Dr. Bowditch has, through the kindness of one of his great-grandchildren, come into the possession of a not too industrious antiquarian of a century thence, who has made it the basis of the present paper.64


    John Thornton Kirkland, if not one of the greatest presidents of Harvard College, was certainly the best beloved. Three years after his graduation with the class of 1789 he became a resident tutor of the College. One of his pupils, the Rev. John Pierce, wrote: “Under the administration of the stiff and unbending, yet honest and conscientious President Willard, who feared to treat his most exemplary pupils with the least familiarity lest it should engender contempt, this young tutor was a complete gentleman in his manners; and he aimed to treat the students as gentlemen that, if possible, he might make them so.”65 As minister of the New South Church of Boston, to which he was chosen in 1793, at the early age of twenty-three, Kirkland proved himself a brilliant preacher, a favorite dinner guest of the “Essex Junto,” and became a public character. In 1798, when “French infidelity” was supposed to be making its deadly inroads upon our virtuous youth, and (to quote Dr. Pierce) “in promotion of the same unrighteous and ungodly cause Godwin’s Political Justice, a mischievous English work, had just been republished in Boston,” Mr. Kirkland particularly endeared himself to the Federalists by a Phi Beta Kappa oration, in which he flayed the enemy in such a manner as to show the potential Shelleys of Harvard College, if such there were, that wit, grace, learning, and humanity were on the conservative and not the radical side. His sermon on the death of Washington attracted wide attention, and procured for him a doctor’s degree at Princeton (1802). Such an honor from the College of New Jersey indicated that Dr. Kirkland was not yet an open and avowed heretic. Like several other Boston ministers, he was tactfully and imperceptibly leading his congregation along the road from Geneva to Divinity Avenue, and it was not until some years later that the orthodox Calvinists plastered him with the then opprobrious epithet of Unitarian.

    At the close of the Revolution Harvard College became very definitely and intimately related to the Federalist party, which comprised the dominant economic group in maritime Massachusetts, the great majority of the Congregational clergy in New England, and the governing class of the Commonwealth. This relationship had been established with open eyes by the Harvard Corporation, when the embarrassments and uncertainties of the Revolutionary War showed that the college must have some definite class or group to lean upon. It was effected, as Quincy relates, by the Corporation filling each vacancy in its own body with “men of experience in business, and practically acquainted with public affairs,”66 and it followed, as a matter of course, that such men would be Federalists. Dr. Waterhouse, the only Republican who held a responsible position on the teaching or governing body, wrote President Jefferson on March 20, 1813:

    Engraved for The Colonial Society of Massachusetts from the original painting owned by Harvard University

    Our college at Cambridge is under the absolute direction of the Essex Junto, at the head of which stands Chief Justice Parsons, the Goliah of the Massachusetts Gentile-Army, a man as cunning as Lucifer and about half as good. This man is at the head of the Corporation of the college. He is not only the soul of that body, but he is the evil councellor, the Ahithophel of the high federal party, while H. G. Otis is the Absalom.67

    By 1804, when President Willard died, the College was in good hands, and flourishing; there only wanted, to complete the laicization of the college, and to identify it more completely with the community, a liberal professor of theology, and an eminent lay President. The first was secured in 1805 with the election to the Hollis chair of a Unitarian, Henry Ware. The Presidency of the University was offered to Fisher Ames, who declined on account of his “advanced age” (of forty-seven!) and ill health. Eliphalet Pearson, Hancock Professor of Hebrew, and sole remaining representative of the teaching body on the Corporation, served as acting president for two years, when a long deadlock was broken by electing a Unitarian, the Rev. Samuel Webber, the somewhat colorless Professor of Mathematics.68 President Webber died, not greatly lamented, on July 17, 1810. Chief Justice Parsons, an enthusiastic parishioner of the New South, was then the leading member of the Corporation, and upon his nomination Dr. Kirkland was unanimously elected President of Harvard University on August 7.

    Kirkland’s presidency was the first since that of the “great Leverett” (1708–24) which began a distinctly new era in the history of the College and University. The Corporation, uniting with the trustees of Bowdoin and Williams, in 1814 procured a legislative grant unprecedented in its generosity, apportioning the proceeds of a bank tax among those three colleges for a space of ten years. This grant yielded Harvard $10,000 annually. Anticipating these annual payments, University Hall, then the most magnificent college building in the United States, was built in 1815. The “Massachusetts Medical College” was erected on Grove Street in the West End of Boston, for the use of the Harvard Medical School, whose professors now for the first time received a salary, in addition to their students’ fees. The Divinity School, after successive reorganizations and a “drive” yielding $27,300,69 was firmly established in Divinity Hall in 1826. Edward Everett, elected in 1815 at the age of twenty-one to the Eliot Professorship of Greek, was allowed by vote of the Corporation — the wisdom and generosity of which was then unprecedented, and even nowadays would be unusual — to study and travel abroad for three years on full salary. He returned to take up his duties in 1819, after having taken a doctor’s degree at Gottingen, full of enthusiasm for making Harvard a genuine institution of learning, in the thorough German sense. George Ticknor, only three years older than Everett, obtained the new chair of modern languages on the Abiel Smith foundation, under the same conditions, and assumed his duties in 1819 with the same enthusiasm as Everett, a similar preparation, and far greater perseverance. A law professorship was established on the Royall foundation in 1815, and two years later the Harvard Law School was established.

    It would be difficult to sum up the material results of the first ten years of Kirkland’s administration better than Josiah Quincy has done:

    The early period of the administration of President Kirkland was preeminently distinguished for bold, original, and, in many respects, successful endeavours to elevate the standard of education in the University, and to extend the means of instruction and multiply accommodations in every department. Holworthy Hall, University Hall, Divinity Hall, and the Medical College, in Boston, were erected. Liberal expenditures were incurred for furnishing University Hall, and for extensive repairs and alterations in Holden Chapel and in Harvard, Stoughton, Hollis, and Massachusetts Halls. The library, the chemical, philosophical, and anatomical apparatus of the University, and the mineralogical cabinet were enlarged; and rooms for the lectures of the Medical Professors, and for the preservation of their collections and wax preparations, were fitted up in Holden Chapel. The grounds surrounding the College edifices were planted with ornamental trees and shrubberies, contributing to their beauty and usefulness. The salaries of the President and Professors were satisfactorily raised. As professorships became vacant, they were filled with young men of talent and promise. Fifteen new professorships were added to the ten which had previously existed. Three of these were titular, being conferred on Tutors after six years’ service; four were dependent on fees, or voluntary subscriptions; eight rested upon foundations more or less adequate to their support, independent of the general unappropriated funds of the College. With the exception of Divinity Hall, the additions and improvements were principally, if not all, effected within the first ten years of this administration. The external indications of prosperity and success were general, manifest, and applauded.

    The extraordinary enlargement of the means, and advancement of the interests, of learning in the University during this period are to be attributed to the fortunate influx of the liberal patronage of individuals and the legislature; to the spirit of an age of improvement; but most of all to the eminent men, who then composed the Corporation and brought into it a weight of talent, personal character, and external influence, combined with an active zeal for the advancement of the institution, previously unparalleled; and who, placing an almost unlimited confidence in its President, vested him with unprecedented powers in the management of its affairs, which he exercised in a manner liberal and trustful of public support. This confidence not only was known and avowed, but is distinctly apparent on the records of the College, and had unquestionably a material influence on all the measures and results of that administration.70

    In less palpable though no less important ways, the influence of the President was felt. “Dr. Kirkland was very affable, humorous and dignified. He always commanded respect, without appearing to require it by a severe effort.”71 Of fine presence, speaking faultless English and Ciceronian Latin without apparent effort, he gave Commencement such a character that even in 1817, when President Monroe received the degree of LL.D., everyone felt that President Kirkland was the more important of the two. The undergraduates, accustomed to rather dry, severe, clerical schoolmasters, were electrified by this brilliant man of the world, and at the same time impressed by his dignity, and attracted by his personality. A stanza in the class song of 1815 introduces a new note in the student attitude toward a Harvard president:

    To jolly old Kirkland let’s drink the first glass

    Whom a bottle did ne’er with impunity pass

    Lets pray to the Gods to protect him from harm

    And to send him a wife to tuck him up warm.

    Health to Kirkland! Blow it out Kirkland! Stick to the bottle,

    Gee up and gee ho!72

    Having no children of his own, Dr. Kirkland adopted, as it were, the entire student body; and during his administration the tone of the college was patriarchal. The undergraduates both loved and respected him; and if in some of the riots that took place during his administration, an occasional brick found its way through the President’s study window, it was aimed not at Dr. Kirkland, but at the tyrannical “government,” for the President’s attitude toward his scholars was by no means transmitted to the faculty. Even twenty years later, the Kirkland tradition was so strong among the undergraduates that they welcomed President Sparks as a promise that the “Augustan Age” of Kirkland would be revived.73 The journey through the United States that Dr. Kirkland made after his resignation was a triumphal progress from the house of one affectionate pupil to another; for during his administration Harvard had become, for the first time, a national university.

    The proportion of students from outside New England in the entering classes, which had risen to eleven per cent of the whole in 1810, fell off to half that during the War of 1812, then rose rapidly to thirteen per cent in 1815, eighteen per cent in 1816, and twenty-seven per cent in 1820. It was not until 1850 that so large a proportion of non-New England students was again found in an entering class, and only in 1853 was it surpassed.74 On the other hand, the absolute number of students entering Harvard College fell off from an average of 85, for the five-year period 1810–14, to 75 for the period 1820–24, and remained almost constant at that figure until 1845–49. This decline in numbers decreased the college revenues, and gave the critics of Kirkland’s administration a good target, especially as Yale and Princeton were at the same time pulling ahead.75

    It was also in Kirkland’s administration that Harvard graduated some of her most distinguished sons. A glance through the classes from 1811 to 1831 reveals names such as Benjamin Apthorp Gould and William H. Prescott (1814), John Amory Lowell, John G. Palfrey, and Jared Sparks (1815), George Bancroft, Caleb Cushing and Alva Woods (1817), Robert W. Barnwell and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1821), Charles Francis Adams (1825), Richard Hildreth and Robert Rantoul (1826), Robert C. Winthrop (1828), James Freeman Clarke, Benjamin R. Curtis, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Benjamin Pierce (1829), Charles Sumner (1830), John L. Motley and Wendell Phillips (1831).

    George Ripley, the eminent critic and transcendentalist, who graduated with the class of 1823, went so far as to assign President Kirkland a leading part in producing the great revival of letters and movement of thought that swept through New England in the ’thirties and ’forties.

    Without precisely defining the date, the accession of John Thornton Kirkland to the presidency of the college in 1810 may be said to mark the beginning of the era which has been so prolific in its results and so conspicuous in its influence. President Kirkland indeed made no pretensions to the character of a pioneer or a discoverer in the sphere of philosophy. His admirably balanced mind was not speculative, much less controversial. He had little genius and no taste for the discussion of purely abstract questions. Nor was he profoundly versed in the history of opinions. But the transparent clearness of his mental perceptions, the fine and subtle delicacy of his ethical instincts, his sympathy with whatever was rare and beautiful in literature, and the sagacity and firmness of his common sense created around him an atmosphere in the highest degree favorable to the cultivation of thought, freedom of research, and frankness of expression. His personal aversion to the toil of composition has prevented him from leaving any adequate memorial of his affluent mind, but the magnetic charm of his conversation, the sweet amenity of his manner, — the quaint and original suggestions of his fertile imagination must always be rated among the influences which led to the revival of a sound literature and an ideal philosophy among the descendants of the Pilgrims.76

    Tested, then, by increase of buildings and facilities, magnitude of bequests, number of new foundations, geographical distribution of students, and intellectual leadership and inspiration, Kirkland’s administration must be regarded as one of the best that Harvard College has known. Yet the best-loved Harvard President was forced to resign, under circumstances that gave rise to scandal.


    The difficulties of the latter part of Dr. Kirkland’s administration, which contributed to his downfall, may be summed up under three heads: discipline, reform, and finance.

    “In the government of the College President Kirkland was lenient, in the opinion of many, to a hurtful extent,” wrote Dr. John Pierce. “Some maintain that essential injury accrued to the institution from the continuance of members there, through his reluctance to exclude them, who served greatly to corrupt all with whom they came in contact.”77 Student rebellions were nothing new at Harvard in Kirkland’s day, but were particularly prolonged and severe during his administration. There was the Rebellion of 1818, recorded by “The Rebelliad.”78 It was the class of 1823, however, which gave the Immediate Government79 of the University most trouble, and which started what is known in college history as the “Great Rebellion.”

    A glance at the list of this class in the Quinquennial Catalogue of Harvard University reveals the surprising fact that most of its members received their bachelor’s degrees at an interval of eighteen to fifty-seven years after their proper commencement; and at least fifteen members of the class never obtained a degree. “John P. Robinson, he” obtained his degree in 1845 (three years before Hosea Biglow made his name immortal), in company with William Amory, Russell Sturgis, and two other classmates. James D. Halyburton had to wait until 1850, when he was judge of a federal district court. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, great-grandson of the Signer, and his neighbors George H. Calvert and Edward T. Tayloe, were thus honored in 1854 and 1855, while their friend Charles Harper, son of the great Federalist advocate, never got into the Quinquennial. Henderson Inches had to wait for his bachelor’s degree until 1880, shortly before his death; while John Adams, son and grandson of Presidents of the United States, has the rare distinction among Harvard graduates of having had a bachelor’s degree conferred upon him posthumously.

    The class of 1823, however, does not illustrate the adage about the boy being father to the man. It contained two noted rebels in later life — Thomas Wilson Dorr, the leader of Dorr’s Rebellion in Rhode Island, and George Ripley, who rebelled against society in establishing a communist phalanx at Brook Farm. Yet both those men upheld Government in the Great Rebellion of 1823, and received their degrees in due course.80 Conversely, most of the rebels of 1823 in after life were respectable, respected, and conservative citizens. There seems to have been no social distinction in the division; members of the Med. Fac. and other college societies were on both sides, and Dorr was president of the Hasty Pudding.

    The class of 1823 was so broken up by the events we are about to describe that it never published a report or kept a class album. Fortunately there is preserved in the College Library a manuscript account of the stormy undergraduate history of the class, compiled by Pickering Dodge (A.B. 1845 as of 1823) apparently about 1861, from the diary he kept while in College. It affords the liveliest possible account of student life in those turbulent days; and, checked by the Faculty Records and other sources, is found to be inaccurate only in minor detail. One should keep in mind that the Harvard students of that day were on an average two years younger than Harvard undergraduates today. The average age of the class of 1823 at the beginning of Freshman year was sixteen and a half.

    Brief Account of the Class of 1819–23.81

    August 27, 1819. Class enter Harvard university and commence a collegiate course at the end of the vacation, in number 81 on the Catalogue. Every thing proceeds peaceably and in order till the latter part of the third term, at which time it had been customary for the Freshmen to sup together on the night of the annual Examination. The Government wishing to put an end to all such convivial meetings, and having effected their purpose with the present sophomores, forbade the class from joining in the said supper82 — they however thinking it their duty and their privilege to support ancient customs, unanimously agreed to sup together at Neponset Hotel, ten miles distant from the Colleges: but hearing that the President had received some information concerning the affair, and intended to read the College laws to them the next morning at prayers, they were obliged to anticipate the evening. Consequently they all repaired to Neponset at sunsetting of the evening of August 16, 1820, and after amusing themselves with billiards, bowling, et caet. during the evening, seated themselves at table at eleven o’clock. Haskell83 presiding as President. Amory84 Vice President. Bronson85 and Bryan,86 Committee of arrangements. Everything was conducted in the finest style, and a full band of music encreased the merriment of the night. Toasts having been required from each individual, the following song composed for the occasion by a member of the Class, was sung to the chorus of Derry Down, received with great applause, and the Class rose from table at half past four o’clock the next morning—

    Class Supper Song.87

    In council one night, as report now will have it,

    When the Government members consulting were met:

    While every one “dicere sententiam amavit,”

    And the scrapings of Freshmen were themes of debate —

    First the Praeses rose up, and in anger began:

    “These — Freshmen — twere best that we scatter them all,

    “’Ere our laws they shall trample, suspend every man,

    “And the breeses alone better sigh through our hall.”

    But the sound of his voice had so bristled his hair,

    So fell was his menace — his jesture so tragic:

    “Mrs. Hedge88 and myself” thought “the nail was hit fair,”

    And lik’d the proposal because he lik’d Logick.

    The Praeses continued: “these upstarts we’ll tame,

    “Or send them all off in a quintuple ratio;

    “Et nunc quantum sufficit, your judgments I claim,

    “And Pop’s89 expectatur imprimis opinio” —

    The Doctor looked wild as is always his custom,

    When made adhortare on matters of moment:

    Where extracts of Greek non vacanter [vocantur?] in question

    As those ignorare qui aliter volent.

    Μοι δοκει,” sayd he, “If ’tis actively used

    “That a scrape is το ηχος a noise of the feet,

    “Tis a play which δοκαζειν seems greatly abused,

    Αξιος και ζημιασ — to speak in plain Greek.

    Πολλακισ τον τροπον, according to custom,

    “All the scrapes which they give me I sometimes review

    “And now μετρεσαντασ by just calculation,

    “I find they are πεντε και δεκα and two.

    Νυν εστιν κρατιστον, I think it most proper,

    That ταχιστα τι ισκμος should quickly be shewn,

    “Or by Jove it will happen δικαιος και οπερ

    Του Διαβολου εκειν before we have done.

    Ira Blanchard90 then spoke with unusual vim,

    “I’ve dealt them dead setts,91 tho they’ve scrap’d till I’m sore,

    “And I’ll stay here no longer unless you begin,

    “Ad docendum profanos to scrape me no more.”

    But Dr. Sykes92 rose at this perilous moment,

    The whole scope of his motions he stated had fines,

    “For tis mete that by letting them off so at present,

    “We shall get a fresh wine butt and bag of long nines.”

    The weighty proposal was sanctioned with joy,

    Συμβουλειν τοκαλεις,” says Popkin, “you call,

    Παρα το βελτιον χοειςθαιΩ ποποι — —

    Διαμονιον αλιςκε, the Devil take all —”

    Class return to Cambridge in a heavy shower of rain, attend prayers, regularly and not a few take cool dead setts at the morn’g exercises — The Government are in session93 all day and evening, and on the following day.

    August 18, 1820. Bronson, Bryan and Haskell were suspended each for six months for taking active parts at the supper and leave Cambridge amidst the cheers of applauding classmates.94 Order was then restored to College. At commencement four have left the class and eleven joined it, encreasing the number to 88. In course of the year three were suspended, — Commence Sophomore year.

    Sept. 29, 1820. Nichols of Boston dies October 15, and the class in testimony of their respect for him wear crape for thirty days on the left arm —

    Oct. 29. Sunday evening, the class have a severe battle in Commons Hall with the Fresh, and having demolished doors and windows and destroyed all the crockery, china etc., peace is restored and the students are prevailed on by the Professors and Tutors to retire to their rooms.95

    Oct. 31. Blunt, Gay and Lee96 are suspended each for four months for taking active [parts] in the disturbances on Sunday evening. A rebellious spirit is excited in the class and, to provoke Government, a large fire is kindled at midnight in front of University Hall, composed of Government’s newspapers nicely filed up in Harvard, after a great riot and confusion and the fire had burnt down, the students retire to their rooms, and to slumber.

    Nov. 2. Dunbar97 is suspended for nine months, for dropping a large cannon ball from the fourth story of Stoughton with an insulting note attached and addressed to “Bat Fuller,” the Proctor of the entry, breaking up the stone steps, endangering the life of “Professor Downing” and insulting by opprobious language the said “Bat.”98 A Junior99 was engaged and caught in the same scrape but owing to his father’s fame his conduct was unnoticed. Another fire is kindled at midnight and a number of the class are fined by Jim Hayward100 for hideous exclamation; he also received a bucket of ink and water on his head,

    Nov. 3. Class in great commotion, almost in a state of open rebellion, meet at the “Sign of the Golden Eagle” on the common at midnight, and forming themselves into separate parties, having armed themselves with Clubs and stones, break Fullers and Haywards windows. A detachment from the party afterward breaks in the windows of the President’s study.101

    Nov. 4. Saturday. Government in session as usual. Afternoon, Greenough is rusticated and Marsh dismissed “for taking active parts in the late serious and aggravated disturbances.” Class combine and miss prayers. Evening, a petition to diminish the punishment is signed and sent up from all College, contrary to the wish of the majority of the Class. Our “petitions are rejected,” as a matter of course.102

    Nov. 5. Sunday. Class attend meeting in the chapel regularly all day. Evening, a “round robin” is formed to which all the Class (with the exception of fifteen who were from that time denominated the “Black List”) signed an agreement that they would leave town the next morning, et caet.

    Nov. 6. Monday. The Government hearing from some informer that the class were determined to leave Cambridge, gave out a general permission for all to leave town who desired it, and stay till further notice, with the exception of Harris and Tayloe who were ordered to remain, and they were both dismissed on the evening of that day. The whole class returned to Cambridge. Nov. 9, Thursday, regretting that the recess was short, and with the exception of some few misdemeanours arid cold treatment towards the Black’s, all goes on peaceably to the end of the term.103

    February 9, 1821. Term commenced and with it commences the former rebellious spirit.104 The Black List are very much irritated at the neglect and coldness they receive from the class, and to avenge themselves become spies and informers, which they do not hesitate openly to avow. Satirical pieces and ridiculous caricatures are publickly posted on the advertisement boards, and considerable animosity is thereby excited.105

    March 11. 1821. Sunday. President preaches two very excellent pointed sermons, addressing himself to the class, taking for his text the verse in Mathew’s Gospel: “Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you, for this is the law and the prophets.”

    March 13. Tuesday. Morning. Printed copies of the Convention Song are circulated throughout College — Sturgis is seen distributing some of them, and being called before Government is ordered106 to go immediately into Boston — on the following page will be found one of the printed copies:107

    Black List Convention!!!

    “We have witnessed the intuitive sagacity of Davis—listened to Wright unrivalled in debate, and seen the splended conflagration of Dorr.”

    YOU know, or probably heard many mention,

    That lately the Black List met in Convention,

    Permit me to tell you, the order and name,

    Of every great man, who appeared at the same.

    First Jackson108 the fair, with his trapezoid nose,

    Which oft with his black greasy fingers he blows,

    Who lest he call in some kind neighbour to see,

    “If to grass he should go, he can’t get the idee;”

    Next, Mr. Chaplin,109 whose name I’ll just mention,

    And Crazy Jim Kendall,110 scarce worth your attention,

    For of all the contemptible fools ever known,

    These chaps bear the palm, you will readily own.

    Then Prince111 the Free Agent, with his Monkey face,

    And Henry A. Bruce,112 whom, no deed can disgrace;

    And Woodbury,113 the same who was driven from College,

    Whence he carried some kicks, if he carried no knowledge.

    Then Tom Wilson Dorr, of true Gothic size,

    Whose cheeks are so huge, one can scarce see his eyes;

    That mighty young mammoth, so highly renown’d

    For “Gift of the gab,” tho’ ’tis all empty sound.

    Then Silver fac’d Denny,114 so prim and precise,

    And Davis115 the Jackass, with his gravy eyes,

    With Gray,116 and his oil pot, whom, as I’ve heard say,

    The Blacks will appoint, for their poet straightway.

    Little Emerson117 came, once, a Government tool,

    A Pedagogue, now in the Classical school;

    And Stearns,118 the informer, of no great affair,

    Since the Devil will have them, we’ll leave as they are.

    Then Ned Vernon Child,119 next to these may be seen,

    Whose voice is like Mars — like a Woodchuck, his mien,

    In this one fine talent for digging, unite,

    With valor like Falstaff’s when no one’s in sight.

    Then Ripley the pious, as fickle as wind,

    For nine times an hour, he changes his mind,

    And Lunt,120 with Fresh Fishes, came sneaking in here,

    With Wright,121 the old hard head, to bring up the rear.

    Second Edition, Aug. 27, 1823.

    March 14, Wednesday. Sturgis is recalled from Boston, and entering the chapel where Rev. Mr. Channing was delivering Dudleian Lecture, the Class applaud his entrance by a stamping of feet et caet.122 Dodge is called up evening and having been cross examined is ordered to keep his room the following day. Sturgis is again examined —

    March 17, Saturday. Dodge and Sturgis are suspended each for nine months “for a series of insults conducted against fellow classmates.”

    March 21. Printed notifications came out for the black list as follows—

    The next week, Gutterson and Stearns, (the informers against Dodge & Sturgis) suffer such violent persecution that they are oblig’d to leave College — the former took up his connexions and the latter returned at the end of the year. Affairs have assumed quite a peaceable123 aspect and it was presumed the Class would finish the term without any further molestation, however

    May 16. about half past ten o’clock evening a loud report as of powder is heard in the southern entry of Stoughton Hall — Many of the Class are called up the next morning, but no evidence was found against any particular persons. Several rooms were searched, and they finally fixed their suspicions upon Coolidge and Cutts, alledging that powder was found in the room of the former & that the latter was seen a short time before the explosion happened, passing through College Yard with a bundle under his arm, etc. consequently they were call’d to Government, May 18, 1821, and Cutts dismissed and Coolidge rusticated.124 On the following day Dexter one of the Freshmen came forward and confessed that he was the sole author of the powder plot, and that the two persons who were punished were innocent. Dexter was suspended and on May 21, Coolidge and Cutts were restored to College125 — This confession tends very much to diminish the number of misdemeanours for the present —

    June 1, 1821. Third term commences.

    July 1. Peabody126 for three months for negligence, was suspended —

    July 10. Blunt and Bruce127 were dismissed for idleness and dissipation. Some days after this Peck128 was dismissed “for disturbances at declamation and improper behaviour on the stage.”

    August. Walker was dismissed “for scraping, stamping and other indecorum at Declamation.” At Commencement four have withdrawn their connexions, seven have been dismissed, one rusticated and one died, reducing the class to 77. Six were suspended —129

    Sept. 28, 1821. Term commences. Entering on the Junior years Class begin to re-form. Marsh and Tayloe reenter from dismission, and various students return from suspensions. Nothing remarkable happened in the history of the Class.

    Feby. 15, 1822. Second term commences.

    March 5, Locke130 is suspended for three months for absenting himself from College and attending an Assembly without permission.

    May 15. Langdon Elwyn131 was dismissed “for habitual negligence and dissipation,” alias “for general conduct.”

    May 31st 1822. Third term commences.

    June. Roy132 is dismissed for idleness & dissipation. Times very peaceable.

    July 2. Peabody, Amory, Harper, and Haskell are chosen officers to the Harvard Washington Corps.133

    July 25. Nine of the Class receive public admonitions for pursuing the ancient ceremony of “christening the bower.” At Commencement five have withdrawn their connexions, two have joined the Class, and four reentered from dismission, making in toto on the Catalogue 78, with which number Class commences Senior year.

    Sept. 27, 1822. Halyburton134 takes up his connexions.

    Nov. 20. Class make a great disturbance at evening prayers while Folsom135 was praying on account of his detaining them too long — on the following day

    Nov. 21. Government meeting is called and many of the Class are examined concerning the disturbance, but unable to designate any particular individuals. The President at evening prayers, Nov. 22, Friday, gives a public admonition to the whole class.136

    February 14, 1823. Second term commences. Black List opposition still supported by the Class, who form an agreement to exclude them from the dinner when the Class graduate. The Blacks hearing this resolution are very much excited and the animosities are renewed stronger than before.

    March 10. 1823. A large shower bath belonging to Dorr is taken from the fourth story of Stoughton, and having been filled with wood et caetera is burnt at midnight in the middle of College Yard, in commemoration of the Second Anniversary of the Black List. Next morning March 11, many of the class are examined by Government but they can obtain no information concerning the Fire, etc.

    March 23. Four of the Class attempt to get a barrell of rosin from the Port, are detected, pursued, and reach the Colleges in safety at half past one night.

    March 24, Monday. During the Government meeting evening, the straw around the pumps is set on fire about eight o’clock, which making a great conflagration, the Professors and Tutors repair to the scene of tumult, but finding themselves unable to stop the confusion by their own presence, they despatch one of their number for the President, who making his appearance, College is quickly restored to order. The next morning many students are examined by Government but the incendiary cannot be discovered.

    March 27, Thursday. About nine o’clock evening a fire is kindled in front of the university, composed of newspapers from the reading room, on which occasion Tutor Folsom is severely snowballed. Next morning Dodge and Sturgis are examined by Government and ordered to keep their rooms, but getting no particular evidence against them, they vote a public admonition to the Class which the President pronounces to them, March 28, Friday, at evening prayers, adding that “if any one is hereafter found at or near one of these fires, he will be considered as an aider and abettor thereto and be punished as such.”

    April 11, 1823. Robinson137 is called up morning to Government and told that information has been given them “that he is an immoral, dissipated character, and that by his conduct he had proved himself unworthy of college favours.” Appearances are very much against Woodbury, and being charged with having disparaged the character of Robinson, his reply was that “such a person ought to be exposed.”

    As the remaining history of the collegiate Course must include the Rebellion, we have attempted to give a brief outline of the facts as they happened at the time — one or two circumstances must be inserted here, as they happened previous to the general rebellion.

    April 22. A pitch barrell is burnt in the arbour about half past ten o’clock evening but owing to the late promulgation from the President, but very few go to the scene of action, yet there is great tumult and confusion in College yard. Some few however ventured so far as the fire where Tutor Miles,138 disguised as a labourer, seizes Farley lst & next day, April 23, Wednesday, a Government meeting being called, Farley is dismissed “for aiding and abetting at the fire by his presence.”139

    When the parts were assigned for Exhibition, Woodbury thinking that his part was not so high an one as his talents and standing in the Class entitled him to, and being already prejudiced against Robinson to whom the oration was assigned, meanly determined if it were possible to get it away from him and by these means secure to himself a higher part than he would otherwise get at Commencement.140 To effect this as privately as possible, he informed some gentleman in Boston, (at the same time intimating whether it were not better that the President should be acquainted with the circumstances) that Robinson was an immoral character, and had expended in dissipation at Boston the money which had been allowed him by Government. Accordingly the gentleman immediately informed the President of the circumstances which Woodbury had communicated to him concerning Robinson, whereupon Robinson was called up to Government (as above stated), his charges read to him and asked the usual question, “What have you to say why you should not be severely punished?” to which he replied that he was innocent of the charges brought against him, and offered to shew them an account of all his expenses since he had entered College, the bills receipted, etc. At this the President appeared satisfied of his innocence and he was acquitted. Woodbury with Stearns his chum, then gave information to the Tutors that Robinson was the principal promoter of the division which had existed in the Class for the last two years; that he had by his influences excited the Class to insult them (the Black List) and that if he had not expended his own money in dissipation, money had been given him by some of the most dissipated of the Class and that he had “been into Boston” with them etc. These charges were reported by the Tutors to the Government and not doubting their truth, Robinson is called up again to Government April 15, and “deprived of all College and pecuniary favours during the remainder of College life,” and forbidden to perform his oration at Exhibition.141 At the reception of his sentence Robinson earnestly requested the Class not to make any disturbance as it would most assuredly end in his dismission from College.

    In the course of a week, April 21, a Class meeting is called for the purpose of choosing an orator and poet (as has been the custom for many years excepting with the last Senior Class, which as the Government refused to let them have a dinner, were determined that they would have no Oration, but attended prayers et caet. in the Chapel on the day they left College) when Robinson was chosen Orator, and Locke poet. The latter accepted, but Robinson rose and addressed the Class in a few words, the import of which was, that in his present circumstances and situated as he was with respect to Government, in consideration also of the punishment lately inflicted upon him, he must accept the appointment conditionally, viz. that if a Committee from the Class would acquaint the President with the vote and obtain his permission, he would then perform the oration, but until such was obtained, he must decline the honor.” A committee of three were then appointed. After this business was finished, Calvert142 requested to be heard for a few moments, when he proceeded to state that he had heard that the students generally intended to hiss Woodbury’s part on Exhibition Day, etc. He spoke of the impropriety and rashness of such a measure; that it would not only injure the feelings of the person himself, but injure the feelings of his friends who might be present, besides being an open insult against the company assembled in the Chapel & against the Government. He finished by saying, “I move therefore that we discountenance such proceedings” — when Sturgis the moderator of the meeting put it to vote and it was universally assented to “that both time and place were very improper to testify our disapprobation of Woodbury’s conduct and that we would exert ourselves to discountenance any disturbance on Exhibition Day.” Nothing more was said upon the subject and the meeting was immediately dissolved.

    April 29, Tuesday, was Exhibition day, and as had been generally expected Woodbury’s performance was hissed, and for the space of nearly five minutes the Chapel was in a perfect uproar. This was the last performance, Robinson’s oration being omitted, and the Exhibition was finished with [out] any further disturbance.143

    April 30, Wednesday morning, Robinson was called up to Government charged with being the cause of the disturbances made in the Chapel yesterday, and ordered to keep his room. Sturgis is then sent for and the President informs him that “from the first rate authority” he has heard that he was moderator at a meeting last week, when it was proposed that Woodbury should be hissed, that it was moved and seconded that the Class should do all in their power to countenance it, etc. Sturgis, in vindication of the Class, then gave a full account of all that was done at the meeting, mentioning the very expression Calvert used, “I move that we discountenance such proceedings.” Sturgis was then locked into an adjoining room and a number of the Class sent for, who all agreeing in the same story, even to the very words of Calvert’s expression, Sturgis was called from “the private chamber” with permission to retire, but not to leave the town of Cambridge.

    May 1, 1823, Friday Morning. Robinson is again sent for, and dismissed “for being the primary cause of the disturbances on Exhibition Day.” At the same time, Sturgis is informed that the Government, believing him to be innocent of the charges brought against him, “is honourably acquitted.”144 The class are very much incensed at the unjust punishment of Robinson, and assembling together, solemnly swear “that they will not attend another College exercise with Woodbury as a Classmate” — this was at 12 o’clock noon. At 2 o’clock, p.m. the Class attend Publick Declamation in the chapel, and as soon as Woodbury entered, every one instantaneously rose from his seat, and cries of “out with him”; “out with the rascal,” were succeeded by cheers and boisterous exclamations from every quarter of the house. In a moment Woodbury refusing to withdraw, some one advanced and struck him in the face, when the whole Class pressed toward him and immediately thrust him headlong over the stairs. The Class then returned and offered to go on peaceably and in order with the Declamation, but to this Professor Channing objected saying it was impossible to proceed in the present situation of things, consequently the exercise was dispensed with, and the students retired all peaceably to their rooms.145 Twas now near three o’clock, a Government meeting is immediately called, all the students are ordered to keep to their rooms and not to leave town the next day. About a ¼ before 4 o’clock Dodge, Lee, Locke and Walker are called before Government, and charged with “taking active parts in putting Woodbury out from the Chapel,” to which they (of course) pleaded “guilty” — They were then all sent to “the private chamber,” from whence they were separately called in the course of fifteen minutes and informed that they were expelled.146

    When this sentence was communicated to the Class, they were more exasperated than before that one man should be the cause of so much trouble, and resolved “to attend evening prayers, if Woodbury came in, they would put him out vi et armis, if he did not come in, they would be silent.” The President had commenced his prayer, when Woodbury made his appearance and the Class immediately rose up as before, and thrust him out from the chapel. The President refused to proceed with the Services and the students retired to Supper.147 After tea the bugle was sounded under the Rebellion Tree,148 when forty-one out of seventy bound themselves by an oath that they would not return to order till the four expelled members were recalled and Woodbury sent from College. While the Class were assembling, Loring and Weld,149 two who had been formerly numbered among the Black List, came forward and acknowledged that “they had done wrong in separating from the Class at the time of the Division and if they would once more receive them and consider them as brothers, they would join in the Rebellion hearts and hands.” They consequently met with a cordial reception, and a general shaking of hands, and exchanging of friendly sentiments ensued. The Class then endeavoured to persuade them to retire to their rooms, alleging that it was useless for them to join in the Rebellion. Weld finally consented but Loring persisted in remaining. Bronson and Tayloe then came forward and stated that they could not honourably join the Class in the Rebellion — that the only condition on which they were permitted to re-enter College from their dismission was, that they would not henceforward join in any disturbances, and by so doing they would break a promise which although extorted from them by force by the Government yet they must consider it binding. The Class unanimously assented to the justness of their remarks, and giving the “three times three” as a pledge of their perpetual friendship, proceeded with further business. Various resolutions were taken, among the rest that, “they would attend prayers the next morning for the last time, and if Woodbury again made his appearance they would put him out and thrash him severely, if he did not come in they would leave the Chapel themselves, etc.”

    May 2. Saturday. Woodbury did not appear at morning prayers, and the Class leaving the chapel, the President refused to proceed with the Services, and the students once again retired to their rooms. After breakfast 37 of the Class were dismissed150 (the Government reserving enough for a Commencement) and feeling at the same time confident that those they had retained would not make any further disturbance. Eben Dorr Child and Henry A. Bruce were the only two instances of deception and desertion. The former was one of the most active ringleaders in the Rebellion but finding himself in danger of punishment made acknowledgments to Government and was permitted to remain on promise of future good behaviour. It was ascertained also that Woodbury had left Cambridge the evening before, by Government orders, and was probably by that time in N. Hampshire. The dismissed members of the Class (with Bronson, Weld and Tayloe) assembled in Concert Hall, Boston, that same eve’g, Saturday, and having transacted some necessary business, adjourn’d the meeting till Monday evening, when they again assembled in the Hall and took a last, a long affectionate Farewell —

    List of the Members Dismissed & Expelled on account of Rebellion151 &c.

    Names Residence

    Adams, John (1873)

    Washington, D. C.

    Amory, William (1845)


    Baldwin, C. C.


    Blake, Samuel P. (1841)


    Blunt, Nath. B.152

    New York, N. Y.

    Borland, Francis


    Bryan, Thomas J. (1843)

    Philadelphia, Pa.

    Burton, Robert.

    Richmond, Va.

    Calvert, Geo. H. (1855)

    Pr. Geo. Co. Md.

    Carrol, Charles (1855)

    Baltimore, Md.

    Chapin, Chas. O. C. (1855)

    Brattleborough Vt.

    Chapman, Henry G. (1841)


    Choate, Charles (1842)


    Clark, John J. (1841)


    Coolidge, Cornelius F.


    Crowninshield, Jacob.


    Cunningham, John A. (1850)

    Richmond. Va.

    Cutler, David F.


    Cutts, Hampden (1842)

    Portsmouth. N. H.

    Danforth, Samuel


    Dodge, Pickering (1845)


    Dunbar, Robert T.

    Natches. Miss.

    Farley, Joseph H. (1845)


    Gay, Martin (1841)


    Harper, Charles C.

    Baltimore, Md.

    Haskell, Charles T. (1855)

    Charleston. S.C.

    Hearsey, Isaac P. (M.D. 1827)


    Hilliard, Francis (1842)


    Hodges, Edward153 (1855)


    Inches, Henderson (1880)


    Lee, John C. (1842)


    Locke, Andrew A.


    Loring, Ellis G.


    Newell, George154


    Peabody, George (1843)


    Pickering, Charles155 (1849)


    Stark, Caleb (1852)

    Pembroke. N.H.

    Sturgis, N. Russell (1845)


    Sumner, Frederick A. (1841)

    Charlestown, N.H.

    Thompson, Thomas H.


    Walker, Charles (M.D. 1826)


    Peace and quiet are once again restored at Cambridge, and every thing goes forward regularly and in order —

    June. 1823. Langdon Elwin reenters from his dismission. The remaining part of the class, in number thirty-six, leave Cambridge.

    July 15. Thursday — a week previous to Commencement, Tayloe goes up to the President, informs him “that he has accidentally lost the copy of his part, and wished to be excused from performing — that when he returned from the Springs, upon asking Bronson why he had not sent on his part as he requested, Bronson informed him that he had sent it on by mail three weeks before and that if it had not reached him it must probably have been miscarried etc.” The Government however were dissatisfied with the story and informed him “that if he did not prepare over the same part, he should forfeit his degree etc.” Bronson pleaded indisposition but the Government refused to excuse him from performing. Chaplin was called up at the same time and informed “that if he did not prepare himself by the next day in some particular studies he omitted the last winter he also should forfeit his degree, etc.” They all three

    Bronson, Frederick (1824)

    New York, N.Y.

    Chaplin, William L.

    Groton, Mass.

    Tayloe, Edward T. (1854)

    Washington D. C.

    refusing to comply with the injunctions of the Government were consequently deprived of their degrees, but their names were not erased from the order of Exercises . . . on Commencement Day, August 27. 1823.156

    The dismissal of forty-three members out of a class of seventy, on the eve of graduation, naturally gave the Boston press an opportunity to display their accustomed Schadenfreude at Harvard difficulties. The families of the expelled students were especially stirred. Among the letters of indignant parents that still repose in the college archives; the most interesting is that of the then Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, a former professor in the University:157

    Revd J. T. Kirkland

    President of Harvard University


    Washington, 19 May 1823.

    Dear Sir,

    In acknowledging the receipt of your kind favour of the 12th. Instt. I will not attempt to express the painful feelings which it excited in my mind. I am fully aware of the necessity of maintaining, and of vindicating the authority of the immediate Government of the University, and am in no wise disposed to justify the disobedience, and much less the violence of the young men, who have incurred the censure of their Instructors.

    I do nevertheless feel it to be my duty not only as the Parent of one of those unfortunate Youths, but as an ever affectionate and grateful pupil of the Institution myself, to request of you as its Head, to bring in deliberation of the competent authority, whether the Corporation, or Board of Overseers or both the question, if some mode of punishment or of atonement cannot be substituted instead of that which you state to be by the Law of the University applicable to the case.

    Is not that Law in its Nature suited rather to the punishment of one, or a few offending individuals than to the aggregate transgressions of nearly a whole class — The punishment of postponing the honour of a degree for a year, is a punishment of disgrace. Its efficacy consists in its effect upon opinion — To an individual or two or three it is severe, without injuring the character of the Institution itself — but a degraded Class! — would it not necessarily shed some of its dishonour upon the University itself?

    The second Century is drawing to a close since the foundation of Harvard College, the nursing mother of almost all that has been wise, and good, and great in the Annals of the Colony and of the Commonwealth — During that time like all similar Institutions, it has been subject to occasional collisions between the lawful authority of the Government, and the passions or indiscretions of its pupils — combinations of single Classes, and Rebellions of the whole four have more than once occurred and been subdued — But never yet has it exhibited to the contempt of the world, the example of a degraded Class.

    This is now what must as it appears to me, be the inevitable result, of the Law which your Letter intimates must on this occasion be put in force. I say it would be a degraded Class; for if the remnant of it which has escaped the punishment should receive their degrees at the appointed time, I truly believe that in the opinion, which constitutes the pungency of the penalty they would be as much disgraced by their honours, as their Classmates by their exclusion from them —

    The dishonour of the whole, I ask again, will it not be the dishonour of the University and of the Commonwealth? A dishonour, the more Shameful as it will befall bodies legally immortal; while that of the degraded individuals will at least be washed away by death.

    I intreat you then My Dear Sir, to devise either some terms of submission upon which these young men may be restored to their standing; or some other punishment which will not exclude them from their degrees at the regular time — Save the honour of our native State, from a Catalogue of her lettered children with a year in blank, or worse than blank.

    I am with the highest esteem and regard, Dear Sir,

    your very obedt Servt

    John Quincy Adams.

    President Kirkland replied in a letter which probably still reposes in the Adams family archives, but which “far from convincing me,” wrote the inflexible Secretary, “of the impropriety of my request, has confirmed me in the conviction that it was just and reasonable, and induces me to renew it.”

    To this, President Kirkland replied coldly that Mr. Adams’s letters had been referred by the Corporation to the Immediate Government, which instructed him to reply that his observations upon their public statement of facts were observed with pain, and that if the offenses of the students appeared less criminal to outsiders than to the Government, it was because many of the aggravating circumstances were “out of tenderness omitted.” John Adams finally received his degree from President Eliot in the fiftieth anniversary of his class, thirty-nine years after his death.

    The Immediate Government gave its own version of the rebellion in the following letter, drafted by President Kirkland and Professor Everett, which was sent out to the parents and friends of the students dismissed.158


    The Immediate Government of the University think it due to the institution and to themselves to furnish you an accurate statement of the nature of the excesses on the part of the students, which have lately led to a very painful but necessary exercise of authority of the college, in which your [blank] with others has been involved. — The government would also explain to you the effect of the censure, which has been inflicted.

    On the forenoon of Friday May 2, in consequence of the resentment conceived by a part of the Senior class against one of their number, a meeting of a portion of the class took place, to concert measures to express their resentment.

    The Government forbear to enter in any degree into the merits of the question between the portion of the Class above stated and that individual; inasmuch as the conduct of the former, as will immediately appear, can admit of no justification from any circumstances of provocation, real or supposed. At this meeting the Government believe, that a resolution was taken, by public insults and indignities, and if those should be ineffectual, by force, to drive the individual in question from the chapel, at the public declamation, which was to take place at two o’clock p.m. of the same day. Of this meeting however, the Government had no knowledge at the time. At this declamation, an exercise attended by the two upper, and a portion of the two lower classes, the appearance in the chapel of the obnoxious individual, was the signal for a tumult in the class. The Professor, presiding at the exercise, in vain attempted from his place to procure order. After violent hisses and outcries by a large number, an assault was made on the individual. No regard was paid to the remonstrances and commands of the professor, who had forced himself into the throng. The individual in question was struck in the presence of the professor, and thrust with violence out of the chapel. The exercise was forthwith dismissed by the professor. The Government assembled, and as their first measure, the students were enjoined to repair to their rooms and remain in them. The officers of college in giving this order to members of the Senior Class were in some cases met with direct defiance. The Government proceeded without delay to apply the laws, and four members of the Senior class, who had been forward in the disorder and assault, and two of whom had directly defied the officers, who ordered them to go to their rooms, were expelled. The Government hoped by this prompt and decisive act to suppress the disorder. At evening prayers however, which took place at six o’clock, the disorder was repeated. While the President was about to offer the introductory prayer, outcries and a knocking against the seats broke forth at the appearance in the chapel of the obnoxious individual. The attempts of the President twice made to calm the violence which prevailed, by a mild expostulation and solemn warning, were unsuccessful. The outcries, knocking, and stamping were not discontinued, and the President was constrained to dismiss the assembly soon after the service had begun. Immediately after evening commons a gathering of a considerable part of the senior class, and among them of the individuals who had been expelled, took place in the college yard. The attempts of several members of the Government to disperse the collection were met with direct disobedience, and produced no other effect, than the removal of the meeting, with tumultuous shouts, to the play ground. Under these circumstances, the government assembled in the evening, and passed a vote of expulsion on four more, hoping that by pursing this course, the disorder of the class might be reduced, without the application of a more comprehensive censure. As it was however late in the evening, the publication of these expulsions was deferred till the next morning. As the Government moreover, had twice found themselves unable to protect the individual in question from assault and menace in their presence, they thought it their duty not to permit him to expose himself, a third time, and he was accordingly directed not to appear at prayers the next morning. He therefore did not appear the next morning, May 3; but scarcely had the President engaged in prayer, when an outcry was made, and a large number of the senior class rushed from the chapel. As this act of disorder and irreverence took place without the provocation of the obnoxious individual’s presence, and in consequence, as the Government understood, of an agreement to which those concerned in it had bound themselves by an oath, the Government relinquished the hope of restoring order to college by any thing short of the removal of all who had thus pledged themselves. Instead therefore of inflicting the expulsion, which had been voted the preceding evening, the Government came to the unanimous determination of dismissing all, whom they knew to have taken a share in these disorders: which was forthwith done to the number of thirty five.

    In reply to questions, which have often been asked, with respect to the nature of a dismission, the Government think it proper to explain the effect of this censure. By the laws of the University, over which the immediate Government have no control, a dismissed student is removed from College, and is not to be readmitted without a vote of the major part of the whole Government nor then within less time than twelve months. In the case of dismission of a Senior, whose class will of course have been graduated, before the expiration of a year, the Government consider the law to provide, that no senior dismissed can be permitted to take a degree till the commencement after the graduation of his class: although his degree, if conferred, may date from the year in which his class was graduated. While, however, by their provisions of the law, the Government are empowered, after the lapse of a year, entirely to restore a dismissed senior from the operation of the censure, the Government feel it their duty to add, that such restoration is in no respect, a matter of course. Dismission from College is a total dissolution of the connexions of the dismissed student; and while the laws forbid his restoration under a year, they do not provide that it shall then take place; but they leave it wholly with the discretion of the Government when, or if at all, a restoration shall be granted. The Government presume not to form any purpose with respect to distant future events, but they feel it their duty to add, that there is nothing in the nature and circumstances of the acts which led to this censure to call on the Government at any period to restore those concerned in them, and bestow the honors of the University on those engaged in acts so violent and dangerous.

    The Government are aware of the apparent severity of this course, as it respects those, who were drawn, against their private feelings, into this combination. In some of them, as in some even of its more active leaders, the Government recognize young gentlemen of great worth and promise, who will ever be remembered by them with affection, and are now dismissed under censure with deepest regret. At the same time, however, when the Government consider the alarming recurrence of combinations, less violent indeed, than this, but necessarily destructive of the peace and order of college, and when they add, that this is the second occasion, on which members of this class have been thus engaged in open resistance, to the college Government, they feel the necessity of a decisive course. The well disposed members of a class, constituting in general its great majority, but who are subject in various ways to be drawn reluctantly into similar combinations, require to be convinced, that they are called on upon these occasions, to resist the few active leaders. To restore students of the description in question from the censures they incur for thus joining in Acts of resistance, is to destroy the only hold, which the Government can have upon them, on the occurrence of such disorders since, as those who are conversant with the education of youth need not be told, general principles of duty and propriety weigh but little in such moments against the contagion of example. The Government ascribed in a considerable degree the repetition of disorders of this nature to the lenient course, which has before been followed of readmitting those concerned, on expression of regret, and to the opinion, which has hence obtained currency, that no worse consequences will result, from the most violent resistance of the college authority, than a temporary absence from the University. The dangerous tendency of this opinion and the unexampled violence of the disorders in question have dictated to the college Government on the present occasion, the adoption of severer measures.

    It is clear that President Kirkland must share the responsibility for the whole affair, and the recorded notes at the shilly-shallying faculty meetings of April suggest that with a little more firmness on his part justice might have been done to Robinson, and the subsequent rebellion averted.159 Whatever his private views may have been at the time, the President later endeavoured to make amends, in individual cases, but was thwarted by the Corporation. Just before the commencement of 1827 he recommended to have the master’s degree conferred on certain members of the class of 1823 who had been deprived of their bachelor’s degree. Dr. Bowditch remarked that the young men had not done works meet for repentance, and that it was contrary to college law and usage to confer a master’s degree on others than bachelors of arts. Judge Jackson remarked that several of the dismissed rebels had been admitted to the Suffolk County bar before those who had received a degree, because the Bar had misunderstood the certificates of dismissal given them by the President. That brought out the fact that the kindly Kirkland had furnished certain rebels with testimonials to the effect that they had “studied in College from August 1819 to May 1823.” Dr. Bowditch inquired, “Did not your certificate state that they were then dismissed?” Dr. Kirkland “rather tartly replied, ‘I was not obliged to criminate them.’” Dr. Bowditch: “It is your duty not to mislead, and if I had been President of the College I would not have signed that paper.” The Corporation then voted to grant no master’s degree to an ex-rebel. Notwithstanding this vote, the President had a diploma made out for a master’s degree to Joseph H. Farley; but the stern Dr. Bowditch discovered it, got his hands on the diploma on the morning of commencement, and cut out Farley’s name.160


    The Rebellion of 1823 was the occasion for one of the most important reform movements in the history of the College. George Ticknor, since his return from Germany, had been dissatisfied with the antiquated system of discipline and instruction that he found at Harvard. The whole course of studies was rigidly prescribed; almost the only method used was the recitation;161 and the examinations were a farce. The real unit of instruction was not a subject, or even a course, but a book: the students “learnt Locke or Brown, rather than metaphysics, and Horace rather than Latin.”162 The worst feature of the system, in Mr. Ticknor’s view, was the division of the classes into alphabetical sections, so that the industrious, the idle, the good, bad and indifferent, went through exactly the same books at the same pace. There was one advantage to this system that we can appreciate better in our day than in Kirkland’s: it required so little effort that the best students, men like Emerson and Thoreau, had plenty of time for private reading. On the other hand it left too much time to the “bloods” for riot and dissipation — there being no athletics to use up their superfluous energy.163 At best, this system was antiquated, rigid, and wasteful. Ticknor had already got the ear of the Overseers and Corporation in 1821, and induced the first-named body to direct a questionnaire to the Faculty, whose replies were discouraging to reform. None of Ticknor’s colleagues but Everett and Bancroft had known anything better than Harvard; Bancroft remained at Harvard only one year (1822–23), and Everett was elected to Congress in 1824.

    The Great Rebellion, however, convinced both governing boards and the public that something was radically wrong. Professors Ticknor, Ware, and Norton started things moving by private discussions with a few of their Boston friends, including four Overseers, in July, 1823. At their instance the cumbersome wheels of the college government began slowly to revolve in the reluctant motion of reform. Committee of Overseers; Committee of Corporation; Joint Committee of Overseers and Corporation, Mr. Justice Story, chairman, and long report; new Committee of Overseers, John Lowell, Esq., chairman, thirty-one questions addressed to the Immediate Government; Committee of Immediate Government instructed to prepare reply; reply reported, with proposed changes in the college laws, discussed, amended, and adopted (fifty-eight pages, giving an immense amount of information about the college and conjectures about the students); colossal report including the above, from Mr. Lowell’s committee, dated January 6, 1825, and printed; Mr. Lowell’s report found insufficient by the Overseers; Mr. Lowell’s report and Mr. Justice Story’s report discussed together by the Overseers, with the result that the latter, the more radical of the two, prevailed; Mr. Justice Story’s report sent down to the Corporation, with instructions to draft on that basis (not neglecting the promising features of Mr. Lowell’s report) a new code of college statutes; Corporation sends up new code to Overseers; Overseers accept; and in June, 1825, appear the printed “Statutes and Laws of the University in Cambridge, Massachusetts” — one hundred and fifty-three laws in thirteen chapters.

    The principal reforms in this portentous code were: a rearrangement of vacation, on the theory that warm weather produced rioting;164 the requirement that the President submit an annual report to the Overseers; the abolition of fines as a method of punishment; a stricter supervision of students;165 reorganization of the teaching force — now for the first time called the Faculty — into six departments;166 a slight concession to the elective principle for upper-classmen; and in Law 61, a revolutionary division of classes:

    The Students shall be formed, for the purpose of instruction, into as many divisions as shall be found practicable, and conducive to their mprovement; the divisions shall be made with reference to their proficiency and capacity, and each division shall be encouraged to proceed as rapidly as may be found consistent with a thorough knowledge of the subjects of their studies.167

    Ticknor wrote:

    This may be regarded as the broad corner stone for beneficial changes in all our colleges; and as a change to which all will come, as fast as their means will permit them. For it is a plain injustice, which nothing but the necessity of the case can excuse, to give a young man of high powers and active industry no more and no other means of improvement than are given to the idlest and dullest in a class of sixty or seventy.168

    These reforms fell short of what the Story committee had recommended, and far short of what Professor Ticknor wanted; but they went much further than the Faculty desired. Ticknor had yet to learn, what so many academic reformers in this country and royal commissioners in England have learned to their cost, that it is one thing to get changes into college statutes, and another to get them carried out in letter and in spirit. The Code of 1825 had been inspired by a non-resident professor who was not a member of the Faculty,169 and imposed on the teaching force from above.170 President Kirkland had taken, so far as I can ascertain, a neutral and passive part in the decision. Dr. Bowditch inferred from his subsequent actions that he was not in sympathy with the reforms, and that he regarded Professor Ticknor as a troublemaker with whose services he would gladly dispense. His view is borne out by the following letter from Ticknor to the President, written on February 28, 1825, before the new laws went into operation:

    In the mean time, if I am wanted at Cambridge, I pray to be informed of it. My lectures have been made so entirely a farce, that I have, of late, thought little of them, and expressed no opinion or desire, as to the times of delivering them. I hold myself at all seasons, at the command of the Corporation, within the limits of my Statutes; but, your communication now, as well as the communications I have heretofore received from you are so vague, that I know not what is wanted of me, or by what authority it is required. I will present myself at College, whenever the following terms are duly determined and made known to me: —

    1. 1. The Times and Places of Lectures.
    2. 2. The number of Lectures desired of me.
    3. 3. Whether, I am to examine and if so, how?

    The last point, I wish to have definitely settled. What you say about it, is, heretofore, more dark than you intended; because one sentence in your letter is left unfinished and has no meaning at all.

    Yrs. respectfully,

    Geo. Ticknor.171

    Ticknor did not learn until late October, 1825, whether a department of modern languages would be organized, or whether he would be the head of it; and it was not actually organized until January, 1826.

    Certain laws, such as the abolition of fines and the rearrangement of the college year, were automatic in operation. But Law 61, the division of classes into sections on the basis of proficiency, required the whole-hearted coöperation of the faculty, and the President. That, it did not obtain. The experiment had already been tried, in 1822–23 by George Bancroft, without success, and abandoned.172 This whole subject of divisions is still an open pedagogical question in America, though long since closed in England. Both practices — division according to proficiency and arbitrary division by lot or alphabet or convenience of hours — are still pursued at Harvard College, according to the views of individual professors. Most American teachers still regard the Ticknor method as “undemocratic,” and unjust to the average or below-average student. Such was the opinion of the Harvard Faculty in 1825. Further, the Faculty were disgruntled by the failure of a little rebellion of their own in 1823.

    Since the resignation of Professor Pearson in 1806, there had not been a single resident teacher on the Corporation. A vacancy occurred in 1823. The Faculty then claimed, as of right, the fellowship of that body — so far as its chartered number of five would admit them.173 Exactly a century before the same question had been raised, and after long discussion, decided against the teachers.174 Once more the whole constitutional history of the College was raked over. In 1825, Professors Everett and Norton appeared in public debate before the Overseers as protagonists of the theory that the Corporation should consist only of active teachers; Chief Justice Parker and Francis Calley Gray of the Overseers, and Charles Jackson, defended the practice of the Corporation in electing anyone to its fellowship, whom it thought worthy of the honor. Ticknor regarded this movement as a red herring across the trail of reform. He took a decided stand against his colleagues because he feared that to combine the teaching, financial, and administrative functions in the same body would defeat reform, and produce the same abuses that had crept into the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. The Overseers decided against the teachers, Judge Charles Jackson was appointed to the vacant fellowship, and that question was set at rest.175

    With the majority of teachers opposed to it, Law 61 functioned very badly when first applied in January, 1826, to the class of 1829. For instance, James Hayward, tutor in mathematics, divided his sections “in the most obnoxious manner,” yet “made them all get the same identical lessons, so that the duller scholar had to attempt to keep pace with the most gifted, thus rendering perfectly nugatory the wishes of the Board of Overseers. The consequence of Mr. Hayward’s measures was that the lowest sections knew nothing, and were perfectly reckless about their lessons, having been forced on beyond their powers of acquiring knowledge, and without understanding well the elementary principles of the science.”176 This sabotage by the teachers caused disorder among the students and discontent among their parents, who were naturally predisposed against it. After the same thing had happened again with the class entering in 1826, President Kirkland took the initiative in getting Law 61 modified, so that its application was left optional with the Faculty; and the Faculty allowed it to be continued by a given department only by its express permission.177 The system of division according to proficiency was abandoned by all departments in January, 1827, except that of modern languages, where it had been wholly successful and acceptable to the students.

    It must be said in justice to the Faculty that they let Professor Ticknor do as he liked in his own department. He had to struggle against the President’s desire to crowd all modern language instruction into the junior year. That would have defeated Ticknor’s object of catching the student young, and getting him along far enough to read foreign literature with pleasure.178 The Faculty made a very important concession in allowing Freshmen to elect a modern language in place of half the prescribed work in Latin or Greek.179 Professor Ticknor applied Law 61 in his department with such success that modern languages became the most popular branch of study for undergraduates. A system of sections was arranged by which the best scholars were pushed forward without even reference to their year or class;180 and although all the instructors under Ticknor were foreigners,181 there was no trouble between them and the undergraduates, not one of whom, during the ten years that Ticknor administered this system, had to be reported for misdemeanor in his lecture or recitation rooms.182


    There remains the important subject of college finance. The act of the General Court, appropriating $10,000 a year to Harvard College for ten years, expired in 1824. By that time the Federalist party had been permanently unhorsed, public clamor against the College for student disorder, high cost of education, aristocracy, Unitarianism, etc., was loud and wide-spread, and the Republican legislature refused to renew the grant. That left the college with a total estimated income short of $45,000, of which $21,500 came from students’ fees and rents, and most of the remainder was tied up to special foundations.183 Some feeble attempts at retrenchment were made by the Corporation, but the Treasurer’s report for the year ending June 30, 1825, showed a deficit of $4,000, and a serious diminution of the unappropriated funds.

    Harvard College was then the most expensive in the country. The annual tuition fee had been raised from $20 in 1807 to an average of $55, and the fashionable tone of the college under Kirkland encouraged expense and extravagance. In order to attract poor students, one quarter of the State grant had been earmarked for scholarships. This source of relief to the poor students was now cut off, and the total number of undergraduates declined from about three hundred to two hundred in four years.184

    In 1825–26 the personnel of the Corporation was almost completely changed by the death or retirement of four members, and the election of Charles Jackson, Joseph Story, Francis Calley Gray, and Nathaniel Bowditch. The surviving members were the President, the Rev. Eliphalet Porter (elected 1818), an amiable retired clergyman, and the Treasurer, Judge John Davis (elected 1803). Mr. Justice Story, absent during a large part of the year at Washington, took little part in the Board’s deliberations. Judge Jackson, who had lately retired from the Supreme Bench of the Commonwealth, Mr. Gray, an accomplished and scholarly lawyer of thirty-six years,185 and Dr. Bowditch, became the active members of the Corporation.

    Dr. Bowditch was of very different metal from his colleagues. A self-made man who had suffered privation in youth, deprived of a classical or a college education, but a keen scientist and acute business man, fearless, tactless, and inflexible, he had no patience with student disorder or loose administration, although his ideas on education were akin to those of George Ticknor. On the Board of Overseers since 1810, he had already considerable acquaintance with the college affairs. During the earlier part of Dr. Kirkland’s administration the college business had been administered in an easy-going fashion, and in great harmony; for, as Quincy wrote,186 the strong men on the Corporation had complete confidence in the President, and let him do practically as he liked. His statutory powers had been increased, and he had been accustomed to exercise without let or hindrance many powers beyond the college statutes. Dr. Bowditch found President Kirkland a most exasperating person to deal with. Always cool, and courteous, secure in power and popularity, he would readily consent to measures contrary to his desires, and then either blandly ignore them, or start a movement in the Faculty to procure their repeal.

    Dr. Bowditch’s first tiff with the President was over chapel. Since time immemorial Harvard students had been compelled to attend chapel twice daily, and the President was supposed to preside at both services. Afternoon chapel, the hour of which varied between 4.30 and 6 according to the season,187 was generally unpopular. On the occasion of the President’s not infrequent visits to Boston, where he was a favorite guest at the lengthy three o’clock dinners, chapel was taken by one of the faculty, and was generally put upon one of the younger members. In November, 1826, there was a prolonged “scraping” at afternoon chapel as a protest against the ministrations of an unpopular tutor. The President brought the matter before the Corporation, and proposed that Chapel be postponed to nine o’clock in the evening. “I could see no reason for the change,” wrote the sententious Navigator, “except that it would enable the President to officiate after a return from a visit in Boston.”188 The President then made the sensible suggestion to abolish afternoon chapel. The Corporation non-concurred, as they were sensitive to the clamor about “Harvard impiety” and wished to give it nothing new to feed upon. The President refused to be put off. He brought in a compromise proposition from the Faculty that afternoon chapel be discontinued in winter. Dr. Bowditch then discovered that Henry Ware, the Hollis Professor of Divinity, knew nothing of this Faculty report, and was opposed to the change. “This is one of the many instances of management of the meetings of the Faculty to obtain a favorite object,” records Dr. Bowditch. Afternoon chapel continued, as before.189

    As head of a committee on finance, Dr. Bowditch discovered that the accounts of the Treasurer were in hopeless confusion and arrears. Although satisfied with his integrity, “yet his habits of procrastination and indecision were so inveterate, that no hope of cure remained.” Judge Davis was persuaded to resign in January, 1827,190 and an efficient merchant, Ebenezer Francis, appointed in his place. An audit of the treasury accounts by Benjamin R. Nichols, a task which required six months, frequently at the rate of twelve hours a day, revealed a surprising state of affairs. Errors to the amount of $120,000 were found in Judge Davis’s accounts — fortunately they largely cancelled each other. The President, instead of receiving his salary ($2550) at regular intervals, had obtained it by drawing orders at pleasure on the Steward, and had overdrawn to the amount of $1700. He had abated at will the term-bills of students whom he deemed meritorious, without vote of the Corporation, or regard to the charity funds, and had thus paid out over $1000 of the college capital. Hilliard, Metcalf & Company, printers to the University, had run the Corporation heavily in debt without their knowledge, and had lost or mislaid several thousand text-books which were College property. No rent had been received from the Pennoyer estate in England since 1820. Various debtors to the College had long since died, without the Treasurer making any effort to collect the debts from their estates. Several thousand acres of land in Maine, granted to the College by the General Court, had had the timber cut off by trespassers, or got into the possession of squatters. Various deeds and bonds had been mislaid, and a lease of the Province House estate had been left at the Suffolk registry of deeds for three years. The accounts and methods of the Steward, Stephen Higginson, Jr., were found to be in bad order, and his resignation was procured, against the wishes of the President, through the persuasion of his kinsman, Judge Jackson.191

    A comic relief to these laches is afforded by the question of the College wood. For many years the Corporation had owned the sloop Harvard, which made ten or twelve trips a year down-east (“being about two-thirds as much as other vessels did” says Bowditch), procuring from the College lands in Maine the wood which was the only fuel then used in the students’ rooms, or in the college buildings.192 She docked at the college wharf near the present Anderson bridge, and the wood was sold to the students at $7.50 a cord. This ancient bark was the butt of every college critic. The wood she brought was described as “rotten down-east punk,” said to be largely birch, which was kept so damp in transit and in the college woodyard that it was “doted” when delivered to the students’ rooms. They could have bought good country hardwood as cheaply, but the college article had the attraction of being charged in the term-bills. Judge Davis figured that the College made a profit of $180 a year on this wood business; Dr. Bowditch found a loss of $4,400. He records with considerable satisfaction the remarks of the Cambridge ship-carpenter when the new treasurer disputed a bill for repairs. “Judge Davis was never the man to dispute my bills. I used to call on him at his house, at 3 o’clock, just after he had eaten his dinner and was smoking his cigar, and he was always in his study. he always looked at the bottom of the account, and gave me a check without saying a word — he’s the fellow for me!” The sloop Harvard was promptly sold by the soulless Corporation, and no longer navigated the waters of the Back Bay and the Charles with her fragrant if somewhat punky cargoes.193

    Having discovered the worst, restored order to the finances, obtained some sound by-laws for the conduct of the college business,194 and secured a competent steward and treasurer, Dr. Bowditch and Judge Jackson applied themselves to the ungrateful task of retrenchment.195 The President’s salary was reduced from $2550 to $2250. The Steward’s salary was reduced from $1500 to $1000, and his duties increased by becoming the President’s secretary. That office, which the kindly Kirkland had assigned to some poor but meritorious scholar, was suppressed. The teaching force, naturally, were the next to feel the axe. Resident professors’ salaries were reduced from $1700 to $1500, and the salaries of non-resident professors of law and medicine were reduced to the actual income of their foundations. Certain positions were telescoped, by which the teaching force was reduced by two professors and two tutors. Dr. Jacob Bigelow, the first Rumford Professor, and Chief Justice Isaac Parker, the first Royall Professor of Law, were forced to resign by requiring their residence at Cambridge.196

    Reluctant consent of the Faculty and the President was obtained for this new schedule. The President demurred at having tutorial duties assigned to John Farrar, the Hollis Professor of Mathematics; but Dr. Bowditch put Farrar in his place by remarking that he had been teaching only an hour a day, and making $2000 a year by translating and publishing French text-books; and that if he was not willing to do his proper share of teaching he could resign. Kirkland struggled in vain to retain the services of the one suppressed professor, James Hayward. “The President urged it with great zeal, and magnified the importance of Professor Hayward’s services, remarking that he had from choice prepared himself for this occupation.” “I replied,” says Bowditch, “that he had prepared himself for the ministry, but could not obtain a call, and though his acquirements were sufficient for the present duties of mathematical tutor, he had not attended to the sciences from any particular taste for them. The President replied, ‘He is however a very good mathematician.’ I answered, ‘There is nothing very great in him, for at this moment [Benjamin] Peirce of the Sophomore Class knows more of pure mathematics than he does.’” Unpleasantly right Dr. Bowditch!197

    An interesting schedule of the revised daily teaching hours of the principal members of the Faculty is recorded by the exacting Doctor:

    Henry Ware, Hollis Professor of Theology

    1 hour 45 minutes

    Levi Hedge, Alford Professor of Philosophy

    2 hours

    John S. Popkin, Eliot Professor of Greek literature

    3 hours

    Sidney Willard, Hancock Professor of Hebrew

    2 hours 48 minutes

    Edward T. Channing, Boylston Professor of Rhetoric

    2 hours 30 minutes

    Latin Tutor

    1 hour 40 minutes

    Mathematics Tutor

    3 hours 33 minutes

    John Farrar, Hollis Professor of Mathematics

    3 hours 33 minutes

    Average daily time for each officer

    2 hours 36 minutes

    Many other petty economies were effected, such as assigning the duties of organist, chorister, monitors, and guardians of the college clock, which had formerly been remunerative, to students on scholarships, without remuneration.198 The Corporation refused to provide a dinner for the examining committee of the Overseers, with the result that “there was an examination but not a committee” in 1828. It cut off the supply of sacramental wine for the college chapel.199 The Corporation even voted to present a certain bass viol to the Pierian Sodality, in order to be saved the expense of repairing the instrument! The only saving to the students was a reduction in the price of board at commons; but, on the other hand, the President was forbidden in future to abate term bills of poor students not on scholarships, except so far as the existing charity funds allowed; and no more credit was given for term bills.

    By the end of 1827, the college accounts showed for the first time in many years a favorable balance, and the Corporation and its servants were committed to business-like methods. Dr. Bowditch, however, continued to have trouble with the President. Dr. Kirkland had been in the habit of augmenting his colleagues’ meagre salaries by grants of one to three hundred dollars for “additional services,” although this practice had been forbidden by a Corporation vote on March 12, 1819. The Corporation voted unanimously on January 10, 1827, that officers of instruction should in future perform without extra pay any reasonable and necessary duties assigned to them, not inconsistent with their respective foundations.200 The President, nevertheless, continued to ask for such grants, as of right. Dr. Bowditch also discovered that the President seldom took the trouble to notify recipients of honorary degrees, which at this period were generally conferred in absentia. Horace Binney and Justice Bushrod Washington learned that they had become Harvard LL.D’s in 1827 only through the medium of the newspapers, and received no official notice until the following year.

    In many petty ways, the President’s procrastination, and his habit of ignoring a vote of the Corporation which he did not like, or taking steps to thwart it, convinced Dr. Bowditch by the beginning of the year 1828 that the University would never be properly administered while Dr. Kirkland remained in office. Some of the facts of the President’s financial irresponsibility recorded by Dr. Bowditch would be hard to believe, had we not had a recent example, in a sister university, of a great teacher who was equally blind on the financial side. For instance, when the audit showed that the President had overdrawn his salary to the amount of $1700, he compiled an extraordinary expense account, including postage, stationery, and bridge-tolls on his visits to Boston for seventeen years past. Judge Jackson sadly remarked, when this “plaguy account” was presented to the Corporation in Dr. Kirkland’s absence, “The President is not the man he once was.” Dr. Kirkland had had a slight stroke in August, 1827, and was unable to preside at Commencement; and although he married the following month (at the age of fifty-seven), and presided once more at Corporation meetings in October, his shaky signatures to the letters of that period in the college archives show that his health was still far from good. Judge Jackson proposed that a Vice-President be appointed at a salary of $1000 to perform the President’s duties; or that the President be asked to resign and given a pension of $1000 per annum. Dr. Bowditch coldly objected to each alternative as too expensive, and certain to be disallowed by the Board of Overseers.

    Events shortly played into Dr. Bowditch’s hands. Professor Ticknor, incommoded by having the recitation rooms for his department in four different buildings, proposed that he be assigned the four rooms on the top floor of an entry in Stoughton or Hollis.201 Dr. Bowditch was under the impression that the Corporation consented, at its meeting of February 21, 1828; but the Corporation records show that on that date Professor Ticknor’s proposal was merely committed to the President.202 At the next monthly meeting of the Board, the President reported adversely, but was overruled, and the Corporation instructed the Steward to prepare four rooms in the upper story of Hollis or Stoughton,203 and to provide the dispossessed students with as good or better. When the Steward chose the south entry of Hollis, he was obstructed by one of the occupants of the rooms, a member of the class of 1829, who had previously been detected by the Librarian stealing a book from the library, but had been shielded from punishment by the President’s withholding his name from the Faculty and Corporation. This student told the janitor that “he would be damned if he would remove.” At the next meeting of the Corporation (March 27) a letter of the Steward was read, reporting the refusal, though not the exact words of this student, and recommending that the reassignment be postponed until Commencement. The President supported the Steward, on the ground that the coming and going of students to recitations would disturb other occupants of the entry. He declared that the students affected had petitioned the Faculty against the proposed change, and that the Faculty agreed with them. Dr. Bowditch, scenting another case of tergiversation, upbraided Dr. Kirkland for bringing the Faculty into it, for proposing to let a profane and pilfering student thwart the vote of the Corporation; and even accused the President of having procured the student petition himself. He went on to declare that the President was evidently “opposed to all our measures of retrenchment,” that he “believed the Corporation and Overseers must have the same opinion,” and that everything in the way of improvement left to the President to be done, was left undone. After which tirade — which by his own showing was both offensive and unnecessary — Dr. Bowditch moved to adopt the President’s recommendation in this case, and it was adopted!204 Other business was then transacted, and the meeting adjourned, Mr. Gray remarking on leaving that Dr. Bowditch had perhaps spoken too plainly.

    The following day the President sent to Mr. Gray a letter of resignation, composed by Mrs. Kirkland. The President’s friends persuaded him to take it back and alter the phraseology. A new and final letter, also dated March 28, was written and circulated among individual members of the Board on Monday, March 31.205

    Considerations in my judgment, imperative, induce me to resign the office, which I now hold in the University, and I beg you to be persuaded, that I quit this high, and responsible situation, with the most sincere prayers, and wishes for its future prosperity, and advancement.

    Any arrangement which the Corporation may be disposed to make as to the time in which I shall cease to perform the duties of my office, I shall cheerfully concur in, it being understood however, that the resignation is absolute, unless the Corporation shall request a postponement for the residue of the present term.206

    It was generally understood that the President had made the language of Dr. Bowditch the occasion and cause of his resignation; and by the time the second letter was received, rumors were flying about — circulated by Mrs. Kirkland, according to Dr. Bowditch — that the latter had called the President an “imbecile,” to his face. The undergraduates were well acquainted with this rumor on April 1, when the President made them his farewell address in chapel.207 The following day his letter of resignation was laid before the Corporation, and accepted. Mr. Gray moved the following minute:

    Voted, that, in accepting the resignation of the President, the board express their full sense of all the benefits conferred by him on the institution over which he has presided for so many years with singular dignity and mildness, highly raising its reputation and increasing its usefulness by his splendid talents and accomplishments, his paternal care, and his faithful services.208

    Dr. Bowditch refused to vote for this resolve because he disapproved the adjective “faithful.” The President’s salary was paid up to Commencement, and he was given an additional grant of $2000 which served to extinguish his over-draft; but no pension. Fortunately Mrs. Kirkland had property in her own right, and the presidential family promptly vacated Wadsworth House, and moved into Franklin Place, Boston.

    Unfortunately, we have no record of Dr. Kirkland’s side of the question. It seems probable that he was affronted and hurt by Dr. Bowditch’s attitude and manners; and that after consulting with his wife (who was a masterful Cabot) he determined to put up with it no more.

    Unfortunate and unjust as were the circumstances of Dr. Kirkland’s resignation, there is little doubt that the best interests of the University required it; for his health and intellect had been impaired by the stroke in 1827.209 He had served the University brilliantly and faithfully; but he was out of touch with the needs of a new era. Yet a few thousand dollars would have softened the clash of temperament between Dr. Kirkland and Dr. Bowditch. An addition of $100,000 to the invested funds of the college would have enabled the one to indulge in what the Seniors called his “improvident virtues”; and the other to attain his principal objective, a reduction in the cost of college education. The next president, Josiah Quincy, effected that, and much more.

    In losing Dr. Kirkland, the college lost something more than a personality. It broke definitely with a tradition that the President of Harvard College was primarily a loving father to a large if turbulent family.

    Mr. Albert Matthews made the following remarks:


    Most of the material contained in the two volumes of Harvard College Records, issued last August, relate, as one would naturally expect, to College affairs. Occasionally, however, an entry will be found that has nothing to do with the College. Thus, there is twice entered a protest signed by nine magistrates, dated May 10, 1649, against “the wearing of long haire after the manner of Ruffians and barbarous Indians”;210 though why this should have been inserted is not easy to see.

    Also, there is occasionally found an entry that has nothing to do with collegiate affairs, though it touches the College indirectly. Let me call attention to one such entry that has apparently hitherto escaped notice, since its significance is not clear and might easily elude the reader. On May 16, 1644, William Tyng, “ye Treasurer for ye Country” — that is, the Colony — gave in an account of the financial dealings between the Colony and the College in the years 1636–1642. Under the head “The country hath payd ye Colledge as followeth,” one item is this:


    Henry Dunster received 9ll of wc 12s–6d for printing ye laws, for ye College received


    Exactly what were these “laws” for printing which at the College press Dunster was paid by the Colony twelve shillings and sixpence? It will be observed that the word “laws” is followed by a period, indicating that they were Colony laws. In view, however, of the erratic way in which punctuation marks were employed in the early days, it is conceivable that the laws were those adopted by the College in 1642; and if they were College laws it is conceivable, so close was then the relationship between the Colony and the College, that the bill for printing them should have been paid by the Colony. But so far as is known, the College laws were first printed in 1790.212 Of course, this is not absolutely conclusive, because the College laws of 1642 may have been printed and yet no copies have survived.213 But had the College laws of 1642 been printed, it is difficult to believe that Samuel Sewall, who came to this country in 1661, entered Harvard in 1667, and graduated in 1671, would have been ignorant of the fact. Yet on March 23, 1683, Sewall wrote to Increase Mather, then a Fellow of the College, as follows:

    Honoured Sir, — If you think it not inconvenient, I have some thoughts what if I should print the Colledge-Laws? that so every student admitted may have a fair Admittatur to keep pr him, in memory of his Admission. I know that to avoid writing out a copy, many borrow Laws to present at their Admission, which they are fain to return agen awhile after, which is very mischievous, for by that means, they are without both Laws & Admittatur. I supose the Colledge-Orders are not very bulkey, so I could have some stitch’t up in Marble-Paper, & (considering the fewness of what shall part with) afford them at a very easy rate.214

    The notion that the laws printed in 1642 were College laws may with reasonable safety be dismissed.

    Hence we are forced to the conclusion that the laws printed in 1642 were Colony laws. But here a difficulty arises. The earliest volume of Colony laws was that printed in 1648. Previous to that date, there had been printed in London in 1641 “An Abstract of the Lawes of New England, As they are novv established.” This was not, as often stated, the Body of Liberties, prepared by the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, for that was first printed in 1843. Moreover, the above title is misleading, since the Rev. John Cotton’s Abstract of the Laws of New England was never actually in force.215

    The only possible explanation of the item in William Tyng’s account is furnished by the following vote of the General Court passed June 14, 1642:

    It is ordered, that such lawes as make any offence to bee capitall shall fourthwth bee imprinted & published, of wch lawes the Secretary is to send a coppey to the printer, when it hath bene examined by the Govrnor or Mr Bellingham wth himselfe, & the Treasurer to pay for the printing of them.216

    These Capital Laws, thus ordered to be “imprinted & published,” are found in Major John Child’s “New-Englands Jonas Cast up at London,” printed in London in 1647. But recently there has come to light a broadside in the British Museum entitled, “The Capitall Lawes of New-England, as they stand now in force in the Common-Wealth. By the Covrt, In the Years 1641. 1642.” A facsimile of this broadside was, by the courtesy of Mr. Worthington C. Ford, communicated to the Society by Mr. Frederick L. Gay in 1913.217 The colophon reads:

    Printed first in New-England, and re-printed in London for Ben. Allen in Popes-head Allen.218 1643.

    The item in William Tyng’s account may be regarded as confirmation, from an unexpected source, of the statement in the colophon of the London broadside that the Capital Laws were first printed at our Cambridge, presumably in 1642.

    Mr. Lawrence Shaw Mayo exhibited a pre-revolutionary New Hampshire marriage license,219 which is here reproduced, and spoke briefly on


    According to a statute passed in 1714220 any settled minister in New Hampshire might join parishioners in matrimony “provided they be published three publick meeting days, and have a certificate thereof” from the town clerk, or “have a sufficient license from the governor for the time being according to former custom.” Further provisions of the law established the minister’s fee at five shillings, and required that the marriage be recorded within a week. Failure to record the marriage incurred a fine of twelve pence a week after the first seven days had elapsed.

    The significant part of the law as far as the present document is concerned is the clause allowing a man and woman to evade the fifteen days’ publishment by obtaining a license from the governor, “according to former custom.” What was the former custom, and how ancient was it? The earliest provincial statute regarding marriage appears to have been one of the General Laws made by the General Assembly and approved by the President and Council at the time when New Hampshire was organized as a royal province.

    This law221 was passed March 16, 1679–80, and its provisions were as follows:

    Any member of ye Councill shall have liberty to joyne any persons together in marriage; and for prevention of unlawfull marriages it is ordered yt no pson shall be joyned in marriage before the intentions of the pties pceeding therein shall have been 3 times published, at some publique meeting in ye townes, where ye pties, or either of them doe ordinarily reside, or be sett up in writing upon some post of theire meeting house door, in publique view, there to stand soe as it may be easily read, by ye space of 14 dayes.

    The opening clause of the law suggests that the governor’s power to issue a marriage license, as it appears in the eighteenth century, might have been a relic of the power granted to any member of the Council in the early days. Such it may have been, but Belknap gives a more convincing explanation. According to him,222 “the granting of these licences was accounted part of the royal prerogative; but this practice ceased at the revolution.” As the authority is not granted explicitly in any statute or governor’s commission, there is every indication that Belknap is correct in stating that it derived from the royal prerogative.

    If this was the source of the governor’s power in this particular, the limitation of the license “to either of the ordained Ministers of the Gospel in said Province, and to them only” is more understandable. The law of 1714 allowed “any settled minister residing in New Hampshire” to perform the marriage ceremony if the man and woman had “a sufficient license from the governor.” But the governor appears to have taken care that only ministers of the Church of England might function under the given condition. Of these there were only two in the province — one at Portsmouth, the other at Claremont. Possibly this denominational restriction reflects only the ecclesiastical preference of the Wentworths, for all three governors of that name were Episcopalians. More probably it was established because the governor’s power to issue the license was considered to be a part of the royal prerogative, and the king would be inclined to recognize only “ordained Ministers of the Gospel.”

    engraved for the colonial society of massachusetts from the original owned by mr. lawrence shaw mayo

    It would be interesting to learn how many New Hampshirites availed themselves of the governor’s license as a means to matrimony. The present document is numbered 246; but whether the numbering runs from the beginning of Governor John Wentworth’s administration or from the beginning of the “custom” is a question.

    As colonial typography goes, the printing of this license is unusually handsome. The type is Caslon. In all probability the work was done by Daniel and Robert Fowle of Portsmouth. When printing a volume of the province laws in 1771 the Fowles used a font which appears to have been identical with that from which this document was printed.