A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 26 January, 1905, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, George Lyman Kittredge, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
President Kittredge communicated a letter written 25 June, 1690, by the Rev. Samuel Lee, Pastor of the Church at Bristol, Rhode Island, to Dr. Nehemiah Grew, sometime Secretary of the Royal Society, answering various questions of his correspondent about the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, Harvard College, and the Indians and their customs.49
Mr. Henry W. Cunningham gave a sketch of the life and career of the Rev. Mr. Lee.
The Rev. Dr. Edward H. Hall presented to the Society a draft for twenty-four dollars drawn 19 July, 1779, on the Commissioner of the United States of America at Paris, France, signed by Francis Hopkinson as Treasurer of Loans, and countersigned by Nathaniel Appleton as Commissioner of the Continental Loan-Office in Massachusetts. The thanks of the Society were extended to Dr. Hall for his acceptable gift.
The manuscript account of the Rebellion of 1766 in Harvard College herewith presented is contained in a little note-book, measuring 6 by 3£ inches, which bears the name of Clement Weeks, a graduate of the College in the Class of 1772. Clement Weeks was an older brother of William Weeks of the Class of 1775, five of whose letters, written while serving in the American army, were edited by Hiram Bingham, Jr., in 1901.50 Letters and note-book were both acquired by the Harvard Library in 1900.
An earlier owner of the note-book, to judge from an almost erased inscription on the first page, seems to have been Thomas Aston Coffin. Coffin was a classmate of Clement Weeks and a member of the well-known Loyalist family of Boston. During the Revolution he was private secretary to Sir Guy Carleton, and in 1804 secretary and comptroller of accounts of Lower Canada; he was also at one time a Commissary General of the British army.
Besides “The Book of Harvard” and “The Arguments in Defence of the Proceedings of the Scholars,” the note-book contains the beginning of “The Confession that was made after all was done” (incomplete because pages 15–18 of the note-book are missing), “Conjectures on original Composition from Young,” notes from “Augustine concerning Heresies,” and unfinished notes from “Rapin’s History of England.” The rest of the book is blank, except at the end, where is to be found, besides an index and two arithmetical problems, an amusing macaronic “Oratio” beginning “Viri honoratissimi ac tiptoptissimi,” addressed by a student to his fellow students on his leaving College.
The “Book of Harvard” is an account, in Biblical language, of the disorders in the College in September, 1766, consequent on the Steward’s persisting in serving out bad butter in Commons, a hardship for which, as the students declared, they had been unable by lawful means to get redress. A contributory cause of the disorders is also to be found in the fact that the Faculty had lately refused to accept certain customary and time-honored, but very elastic, excuses for absence from College exercises, so that the students felt that one of their rightful privileges was being taken from them. A further explanation of this custom will be found in the papers printed beyond. The “Book of Harvard” and the “Arguments in Defence” give the students’ statement of the case. The Faculty’s votes and a long “Representation” which was presented by the Faculty to the Corporation, and was referred by the Corporation to the Overseers, give the Faculty’s story of the same events, while the Corporation’s and the Overseers’ votes show the position taken by the College government in dealing with these matters as subjects of discipline.
The perfect seriousness of both sides and the exaggerated importance attributed to acts which would now be treated on quite a different plane, are particularly noticeable. If either party betrayed a sense of humor in the whole affair, it was the students and not the Faculty.
In regard to the general situation, it is enough to say that from the earliest days of the College the eating at a common table had been considered an essential element in College life, but that the arrangement under which the College itself provided the board gave frequent occasion for friction and dissatisfaction.
In 1747 it came to the attention of the Overseers that the Faculty had become lax in requiring constant attendance at Commons, and in requiring it alike of both students and officers, and in that year the Board began to urge upon the Corporation and Faculty the importance of a strict compliance with the law.
The Corporation being slow to respond to the demands of the Board, the Overseers returned to the subject again and again from 1747 to 1765, always insisting that “the scholars should be restrained from dieting in private families.” Finally, in 1765, the recent completion of Hollis Hall permitting the accommodation of a larger number of students within the College, and the occupation of the new Harvard Hall, rebuilt after its destruction by fire in January, 1764, again providing a suitable Commons room, the Corporation accepted a series of new laws recommended by the Overseers, which it may be worth while to print here in full, since they give a tolerably complete picture of the conditions under which the Rebellion of 1766 occurred.51
ARTICLES RESPECTING THE DIET AT THE COLLEGE PROPOSED BY THE BOARD OF OVERSEERS AND ADOPTED, WITH ALTERATIONS, BY THE PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS, 10 SEPTEMBER, 1765.
Vote 1. All the Tutrs. & Professors, Graduates & Undergraduates Who have Studies in College, shall constantly be in Com̄ons, while actually residing at the College, Vacation Times excepted, & shall breakfast dine and sup in the Hall, @ the stated Meal Times except Waiters; Saving That such as Choose to take their Supper from the Hall or Kitchen, to their Chambers may have liberty to do it; Saving also in Case of Sickness or other Necessity: wch. shall be determin’d by the Presdt. Profess. & Tutors or the major Part of Them. Provided alwaies That no Professr, or Tutr, shall be exempted but by ye Permission of the Corporation, wth. the Consent of the Overseers.
2. No Undergraduate shall be put out of Comons52 but by a Note from the Presdt. or one of the Tutrs, (his own if in College) wch. Note shall be granted only to such as have liberty to be absent a Week. And no Graduate shall put himself out of Comons, unless he is going out of Town for a Week: Saving that such resident Graduates as are Preachers, shall be exempted from Commons one third Part of the Week viz. When they go forth to preach, from Saturday before Dinner till Monday after Dinner, They giving seasonable Notice to the Steward. And when any Graduates or Undergraduates have been out of Commons, the Waiters @ their respective Tables, shall im̄ediately upon their coming into Town, notify the Stewd. to put them into Com̄ons; And if any Waiter shall neglect to give such Notice, he shall be liable to Punishmt. by Presdt. & Tutors not exceeding five Shillings, or to the Loss of his Place according to the aggravation of his Offence.
3. The Tables shall be cover’d with Clean Cloths twice a Week or oftner if judg’d necessary by the Presdt. & Tutrs & properly furnish’d for the respective Meals, @ the Charge of the College; And that a just & equal Assessment of any Damage may be made, all the Tables shall be mark’d & Number’d, & the Waiter for that Table where such Damage may be done, shall return to the Stewd. or Butler respectively, an Acco. therof; Otherwise he himself shall be accountable for the same; & the Scholars belonging to such Table, shall be accountable for the breaking, or Damage done, to any Utensil, unless the Person who hath done the same be known, in which Case, he shall repair the Damage.
4. The Waiters when the Bell Rings @ meal Times shall take the Furniture of the Tables, & the Victuals @ the Kitchenhatch,53 & carry the Same to the several Tables, for wch. they are design’d, imediately upon wch. the Bell shall Tole, And none shall receive their Breakfast or Dinner out of the Hall, except in Case of Sickness, or some weighty Reason to be judgd of by one of the Tutrs. And one of the Tutrs. or (in Case They should happen all to be absent) The senṛ Scholar in the Hall, shall crave a Blessing & return Thanks; And all the Scholars while @ their Meals shall sit in their Places & behave with Decency; & whosoever shall be rude or Clamorous @ such Time, or shall go out of the Hall without leave, before Thanks be return’d, shall be punishd by one of the Tutrs, not exceeding five Shillings.
5. The Provision for the Com̄ons shall be purchas’d by the Steward with the College Stock, wth.out his making any advance or Profit thereon, he keeping a distinct Acco. of all the sd. Provision spent @ the College.
6. The Allowance to the Steward shall be one hundred & fifty Pounds ⅌ Ann. Salary and fifty Pounds ⅌ Ann. for Cooks & other Help, In Consideratiō whereof, He shall @ the College Expense provide, Breakfast, Dinner & Supper for the Scholars; And shall collect whatsoever is Charg’d to the Scholars, in the several Qtr. Bills & in fine do the whole Duty of a Steward, without any other Fee or Reward.
7. The Buttery shall be supply’d out of the College Stock & be furnish’d as the Corporation shall Order, wth. Wines & other Liquors, Tea, Coffee, Chocolate, Sugar, Bisket, Pens, Ink & Paper & other suitable Articles for the Scholars; And the Butler shall advance 15. ⅌ C upon what he delivers out to the scholars, for the College Stock, & have a Salary of Sixty five pounds ⅌ Ann. for his Trouble, & shall exhibit quarterly his accounts to the Corporation.
8. There shall alwaies be two Dishes for Dinner, a Pudding of some sort to be one of them; Except on Saturdays, Salt-fish alone; And the same Dish shall not be ordinarily provided, above twice in a Week, Puddings excepted: And there shall alwaies be, Coffee & Tea, Chocolate & Milk for Breakfast, wth. Bread or Bisket & Butter; And Bread & Milk Rice Applepye or something equivalent for Supper.
9. Every Scholar the first Fryday in each Month shall inform the Steward, wch. of the respective Articles he chooses for Breakfast & Supper, that he may provide accordingly.
10. Every Scholar shall, for the Present, pay Seven-Shillings & four Pence a Week for his whole Diet, the Corporation to make Alterations from Time to Time according to the Price of Provisions & other circumstances.
11. No Scholar shall be allow’d to run in Debt to the Butler above five Dollars, & shall have no more Credit till that is paid.
12. The Steward & Butler shall settle accounts some time in August every year, with the College Treasurer, and pay him their respective Ballances & at the same time or whenever it shall be necessary, the Treasurer shall advance to them respectively, out of the College Stock as much Money, as the Corporation shall think needful for Them in their respective Departments.54
The Faculty of the College in 1766, all of whom are referred to in the “Book of Harvard” by their first names or by students’ nicknames, was made up of the. President, three Professors, four Tutors, and the Librarian, the latter officer having been authorized by a vote passed 23 June, 1766, “to act in conjunction with the President and Tutors in the government of the Society in all their meetings,” and to have the same power to punish breaches of order.
Edward Holyoke, the President, now in his seventy-eighth year, had been an officer of the College since 1712, when he was chosen Tutor, and had held the office of President since 1737.
Belcher Hancock, the next in order of collegiate seniority, graduated in 1727, and had been Librarian in 1741–42, a Tutor since 1742, and a Fellow since 1760. He resigned in 1767.55
John Winthrop, the Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, graduated in 1732 and held his professorship from 1738 to 1779. He enjoyed a great reputation as a man of learning, being undoubtedly the foremost teacher of science in America in the eighteenth century, and a man who exercised a wide and lasting influence. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was the first person to receive the honorary degree of LL.D. from Harvard College.56
Edward Wigglesworth, of the Class of 1749, had just succeeded his father as Hollis Professor of Theology. Later he was chosen a Fellow, and in 1780–81 he was Acting President.
Simeon Howard, of the Class of 1758, served as Tutor for one year only, 1766–67, afterward becoming the minister of the West Church in Boston. He was for many years Secretary of the Board of Overseers (1778–1804) and a Fellow of the Corporation (1780–1804).57
Stephen Sewall had graduated in 1761, and had been immediately appointed Instructor in Hebrew, and afterward, in 1764, Hancock Professor of Hebrew and other Oriental Languages. In 1763 he had married Rebecca Wigglesworth, a sister of Edward Wiggles-worth, and in the same year (two years after graduation) had published a Hebrew grammar long used in the College. His later years were clouded by failing mental powers and bodily incapacity, so that in 1785 he had to be removed from his professorship.
Thomas Danforth, of the Class of 1762, had succeeded Edward Wigglesworth as Tutor of the Freshman Class in 1765, when the latter took his father’s place as Professor of Theology. He became a Fellow in 1767, but severed his connection with the College the next year, taking up the practice of the law in Charlestown. The general political sentiment of the College was strongly American. Danforth, alone of the governing body, joined the Loyalists. He was proscribed and banished, and in 1766 removed to Halifax and thence to London, where he died 6 March, 1820.58
Andrew Eliot, a classmate of Danforth’s, was Librarian from 1763 to 1767, when he became a Tutor. It was during his administration that the Library was destroyed, and he had a hand in the measures adopted to replace it. From 1772 to 1774 he was a Fellow, his father, Andrew Eliot, being bkewise a member of the Corporation at the same time (1765–1778).
Joseph Willard had graduated only a year before (1765) and had just been chosen Tutor. In 1768 he became a Fellow, and from 1781 to 1804 he was President of the College.
To recapitulate, Hancock, Howard, Danforth, and Willard were the four Tutors, to whom the care of the four classes was committed under the old and long-established Older which provided that each class was instructed in all branches by one teacher. It was in November, 1766, that is, just after the date of our Rebellion, that this system was replaced by the more modern one which made each Tutor responsible for a single department, and brought all the classes in turn under his instruction. In the new division of work, Latin fell to Hancock, Greek to Willard, logic, metaphysics, and ethics to Howard, and natural philosophy, geography, astronomy, and the elements of mathematics to Danforth. These studies occupied the first four days of the week in rotation, Friday and Saturday being given up to elocution, English composition, and rhetoric, — in which each Tutor gave instruction to one of the four classes.
Winthrop, Wigglesworth, and Sewall were the three Professors, the first two on foundations established by the first Thomas Hollis so long before as 1721 and 1727, the third on the recent foundation of Thomas Hancock. Hancock and Winthrop were Fellows of the Corporation as well as members of the Faculty, the other three members being the Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Appleton, of the Class of 1712, the old minister of Cambridge, who served the College as a Fellow from 1717 to 1779, Thomas Marsh of 1731 (who had just resigned), and Andrew Eliot the elder of 1737. It is interesting to notice that the Corporation at this time contained no young men, its youngest member having been out of College twenty-nine years; but it is also to be noted that three appointments made soon after this, in 1767 to 1772, were of men who had been out of College but six, three, and two years, respectively.
At a Meeting of the Presdt. & Tutrs. ♂ Sept. 23, 1766, Dunbar (a Senr Sophr.) having been guilty of a very great Misdemeanṛ by an high act of Disobedience, to the Order of his Tutr both before the other Tutrs & the whole College then assembled at Breakfast, his Case was consider’d & upon due Consideration, They Came into the Following
Vote. That Dunbar, For the great Misdemeanr he hath been guilty of, in contemptuously refusing Obedience to his Tutrs, not only before the Rest of the Tutrs., but also before the whole College then assembled together, Do make a most humble Confession & be degraded to lowest Place in his Class, vid ye Confess, in Draw. No. F.
This Vote executed ☿ Sept. 24 imediately after morn. Prayer.
At a Meeting of the Presdt Professrs & Tutors Sep 24. 1766.
Voted, That Mr. Wigglesworth, Mr. Howard & Mr. Willard be a Comtee to examine the Condition of the Stewards Butter & condemn what they tho’t not proper to be offerd to the Scholars.
The abovemention’d Com̄tee having made Examination of the Stewdṣ Butter bro’t in to Us, the following Report.
- No. 1. viz a Barrel condemned absolutely.
- No. 2. a Firkin allow’d for Sauce only.
- No. 3. . . . . . condemn’d absolutely.
- No. 4. . . . . . allow’d for Sauce only.
- No. 5. . . . . . allow’d for Sauce only.
- No. 6. . . . . . condemn’d absolutely.
- No. 7. . . . . . allow’d for Sauce only.
- No. 8. . . . . . condemn’d absolutely.
- No. 9. . . . . . condemn’d absolutely.
- No. 10. . . . . . condemn’d absolutely.
- No. 11. . . . . . condemn’d absolutely.
Resolves come into by the Presdt. Professrs & Tutrs. Sept 26. 1766
1. That the Stewd. hath been blameable in frequently sending in to the Hall bad Butter since the last Vacation.
2. That the Tutrs, have from time to time remonstrated to the Stewd. against his Conduct & tho’ he often promis’d to provide better Butter, yet at Times had continued to send unsuitable Butter into Comons.
4. That the Stewd. frequently sending unsuitable Butter into Comons, was a just Matter of grievance to the College in general.
5. That the Undergraduates might wth. propriety, have presented a Petition to those in the im̄ediate Governmt. of the College, to have this Grievance redress’d.
6. That the Meeting of the Undergraduates in the Old Chapel on Tuesday (Sep. 23. after Dunbar was censur’d) evening, when a Number of illegal Resolutions were made by Them was a Breach of the Law relating to Combinations.68
7. That a very great Number of the Undergraduates, going out of the Hall without Leave, on Wednesday Morning, before Thanks were return’d, when also the Tutors were present was a Breach of the Law, Lib. 7, law 5.69
8. That the Undergraduates Huzzaing, as soon as They got out of the Hall, was in Contempt of the Governmt. of the College.
9. That the Meeting of the Undergraduates on Thursday & Fryday morning in the Hall, was in Opposition to the Law relating to Combinations.
“A Representation,”70 drawn up by Professor Wigglesworth, was presented at the meeting of the President and Tutors on 4 October, 1766, was accepted by them, and referred to the Corporation. This “Representation” stated that complaint was made in regard to the butter, by several scholars, on the morning in question; that the Tutors, examining the butter, found it pretty good — much better than they had frequently been served with —and told them they had no reason to complain. The students then left the Hall, Johnson leading them. They went out in a tumultuous manner, and outside huzzaed in such a way that they could be heard in the town. Afterwards the students breakfasted in several houses of the town, contrary to the spirit of the laws regulating Commons.
The Professors and Tutors, at their meeting 24 September, were informed of the meeting of the scholars on the previous evening, and of the several measures taken by them in regard to calling the bill on Fridays,71 the punishment intended to be inflicted on Dunbar, and their intention to leave the Hall the next morning if the butter were bad. Various scholars were called in and examined. The unwarrantable conduct of the students was deliberately considered by the President and Tutors, and it was resolved that every just matter of grievance should be redressed; that further care should be taken to prevent the Steward from furnishing bad butter; and that a committee be appointed to inspect the Steward’s butter. The report of this committee was published by the President in the Chapel after evening prayers, when he also told the scholars that, though he should not accept their excuses for absence from prayers at calling over the bill, yet if, upon their application to him, he was satisfied their excuses were sufficient, he should remit the punishment.72
The next duty of the Immediate Government was to convince the students of the irregularity and illegality of their conduct. Johnson was called to wait upon Mr. Wigglesworth,73 who had been his tutor, and the evil nature of the students’ transactions was duly explained to him. Since he and Hodgson were more active than the others, he was told that they must make a proper acknowledgment; otherwise the Governors of the College could not avoid voting their rustication or expulsion. Johnson replied that he was not more culpable than the others, and that he would not make any confession; that the students intended no disrespect, and that they had no other method of procuring redress.
At a second meeting, 26 September, Johnson was called in again, but the interview had no different result. Johnson gave some intimation, however, that he was sensible they had not taken the most prudent steps, and that if their past misbehavior was overlooked, he and the scholars would behave well for the future. At the meeting in the afternoon, Hodgson was called in, and was told that if those who had misbehaved would make a suitable acknowledgment, all past miscarriages would be overlooked.
Upon this, the acknowledgment was draughted in the following terms:
We the Subscribers Students of Harvard-College being now made sensible, That some of our late Proceedings, in Order to procure Relief from a Grievance we have lain under, were irregular & unconstitutional,74 do hereby manifest our Concern, for every Thing we have said or done, repugnant to the Laws of this Society, (some of wch. we were ignorant of) Or that may be construed as a Disrespect to the imediate governrs. thereof, promising to behave as becomes dutiful & Obedient Pupills for the Future; And yt. if any Grievance should occur hereafter, We will seek Redress therefor, by a Proper and constitutional Application to the Governmt. of the College.
This was read to Johnson, who replied that he would not sign any confession, and that all the undergraduates would leave College before they would sign any confession. He was told that it was intended only as an expression of sorrow, but Johnson said he could not express any sorrow for anything in the past, for the method they went into was the only one by which they could have obtained a redress of their grievances.
He was told, that the College Law prescrib’d, First an Application to the Presdt. & Tutrs., Then to the Corporation & Overseers. He said, if they had proceeded in that Manner, they shou’d have been obliged to have eat all the Bad Butter before They cou’d have procur’d Redress. Upon this he was told, That upon emergent Occasions The Presdt. call’d a Meeting of the Corporation im̄ediately & that if They had made a proper Application, There might probably have been a Meeting of the Corporation on ye next Day.75
He was recommended to carry the Acknowledgment to College, and to read it to the scholars, but he absolutely refused, saying he should be afraid to enter the College Yard should it be known that he had such a paper about him, for he should either have his limbs broke or be hissed out of the Yard. He was then told to ask the scholars to draft something of their own, which they might entitle “A Declaration of Grievances and the Reason of their Conduct.” Johnson still persisted that he did not think the scholars would sign anything. When he went from the President, he was told that if any person had any objections against signing, when he returned they might come with him and offer them. In about half an hour, almost the whole College was at the President’s door, it being then near prayer time. The President told them he would speak with them after prayers, at which time the aforewritten acknowledgment was twice read to them, and they were told that those who had any objection to signing might signify it, upon which all the scholars almost, manifested their unwillingness.
This “Representation” was laid before the Corporation at its meeting on 7 October, on which day the Board of Overseers also met in Cambridge.
At a Meeting of the Presdt. & Fellows of Harvard College ♂ Oct. 7. 1766.
A Representation of the Presdt. Professrs. & Tutrs. relative to some late illegal Combinations & Proceedings of the Scholars in Opposition to the Governmt. of the College (vid. Presdt. & Tutrs. Book No. 3, p. 7) was now read, And being maturely eonsider’d it was resolv’d,
1. That the Proceedings of the Scholars, as set forth in the sd. Representation, were irregular & disorderly in an high Degree, & tended to the Subversion of the Governmt. & Dissolution of the Society & as such justly merited a severe Punishmt.
2. That the Conduct of the Presdt. Professrs. & Tutrs. with respect to those Proceedings, hath been mild & gentle, & that the Acknowledgmt. & Submission propos’d by Them, for the Scholars to make, was as moderate, as could be consistent wth securing the Ends of Governmt. (vid. Presdt. & Tutrs. Book. No. 3, p. 13)
4. That the Scholars ought to be injoin’d to sign a full & ample Confession of their Crimes afforesd. & to make an explicit Promise of their Obedience to the Governmt. of the College for the Future.
5. That if any Scholar shall refuse to sign such Confession & promise, The Presdt. Professrs. & Tutrs, be advis’d to proceed against Them according to Law.
6. That if any Scholar shall leave the College in persuance of the Combinations enter’d into as afforesd. or shall go out of the Town of Cambridge wtḥout Leave, before ye Fall vacation which will begin on Wednesday the fifteenth Instant, every Scholar so offending shall be adjudged to have renounc’d his Relation to the College & shall not be again rec’d. into it, wtḥ out a Vote of the Presdt. Professrs. & Tutors.
7. That all the above resolves be laid before the Honble. & Revd. The Board of Overseers at their Meeting this Day, for their Concurrence.76
At the meeting of the Board of Overseers in the Philosophy room at Cambridge, there were present —
|His Excellency Governor Bernard|
|His Honor Lt. Govr Hutchinson|
The Faculty’s “Representation of the present uncomfortable state of the College” and the Corporation’s votes were read to the Board, and the Board adopted a series of resolutions (printed in Peirce’s Histoiy of Harvard University, p. 221) which repeated in effect the votes of the Corporation. The last resolution was as follows:
12. Resolved That this Board will by every way and mean in their power support & encourage the immediate Governors of the College in preventing all such unlawful combinations, & in carrying into execution the laws of the College made for that purpose, It being the opinion of this Board that if in consequence of the punishment of such combinations, many persons who are now Students, should finally leave the College it will be by far less mischievous to posterity & the future well-being of the College than to suffer such offences to pass with impunity.
13. Voted That The Overseers will be present with the Scholars in the Chapel & that His Excellency the Governor be desired to read the foregoing resolutions to the Scholars & enforce them in such manner as he shall think proper.
Before the next meeting of the Board, on 10 October, a Committee on behalf of the Scholars had drafted a Defence of their Proceedings, which is here printed from the copy preserved in Clement Weeks’s note-book. So far as I know, it is not preserved elsewhere, though the records of the Overseers’ meeting on 10 October show that the paper was read before the Board.
It will be noticed that the first member of the Committee was Thomas Bernard, whose father, Governor Francis Bernard, presided over the meeting of the Overseers. In College at the same time and taking part in the proceedings of the scholars were William Hutchinson, a son of Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Hutchinson, three sons of Professor Winthrop, — Adam, James, and William, — Peter Oliver, third son of Andrew Oliver, Samuel Adams, son of the patriot Samuel, John Bulkley, grandson of the Rev. Peter Bulkley of Concord, Benjamin Wadsworth, a grand-nephew of President Wadsworth, besides others belonging to prominent Massachusetts families. Among the “Junior Sophisters” was also Jonathan Hastings,80 a son of the Steward81 whose butter had caused the outbreak. He apparently took no part in the disturbance and it would be interesting to know something of his relations with his classmates at this time.
An adjourned meeting of the Board of Overseers was held on October tenth. The record of this meeting begins:
- The Representation of the President Professors & Tutors read
- A Paper said to be found on the Chapel door read.
- A Paper signed by a number of the Scholars, who call themselves a Comtee read
- A Confession signed by 43 Scholars read
The text of the Confession is found in the Faculty Records (III. 17), with the votes passed by the Overseers. The entry in the margin reads: “The Scholars in the Combination &c their pretended Submission to the Governmt of the College.” The Confession is as follows:
To the Revd, the Presdt. & to the Professrs. and Tutors of Harv. College
As the Undergraduates of this College have been inform’d, That their late Transactions, have had a Tendency, to disturb the Peace & good Order of this Society; “We do therefore to testify our earnest Desire, to promote that Harmony wch. ought ever to subsist, and to remove any Suspicion, wch. may have arisen in the Breasts of our immediate Govern”., freely acknowledge, That our Proceedings have been attended, wth. some irregularity; That we are sorry, if by any of our Actions, we have incurr’d the Displeasure of any of our Worthy Instructrs.; Wou’d have persu’d better & more lawful Methods, if we were sensible of Them; Are willing to pay all due Respect to the Authority over us, and if any future Grievance should arise, will seek for Redress according to the Directions of Law; And hope by the regularity of our Conduct, to reinstate ourselves in the Good Opinion of our Instructrs. & reflect Honour on this Society.
In the Name of the Undergraduates.
The votes passed by the Overseers at this meeting are given in Peirce’s History of Harvard University, p. 222. The Overseers declined to consider the Confession offered one that could be accepted “consistently with the maintenance and support of government in the College,” but recommended the acceptance of a full confession if it should be presented. If no such confession should be made, the Faculty was desired “to proceed to a vigorous execution of the laws of the College,” and it was declared that “if any scholar shall, from resentment at any censure or punishment of a fellow scholar, absent himself without leave from the College, he shall be deemed to have renounced his relation to the College, and shall not be again admitted without an express vote of the Faculty.”
Such were the “threatnings” of the “Great Sanhedrim” to which our Biblical account refers.
The Faculty Records, after giving the votes of the Overseers in full, tell us how the whole affair was closed (III. 18, 19):
The above Votes [of the Overseers, 10 October] were read by the Presdt. in the Chapel the next morning after they were pass’d, to the Scholars, who were told, That as many as were so minded might that Day have an Oppty. to sign such Confession as should be drafted for Them, the Copy of wch. Confession here followeth,
We the Subscribers being now made sensible, That some of our late Proceedings in Order to obtain Relief from a Grievance We labour’d under, were irregular & unconstitutional; That our resolving to go out of the Chapel in a disorderly Manner, & to leave College in Case Dunbar should be rusticated or expell’d, or if our Absence from Prayers was not excus’d by the Presdt when We should respectively answer Detentus a Nuntio paterno: And that our entering into a written Ingagemt. to do the same, if any public Censure should be inflicted upon any Student, for his being concern’d in the late extraordinary Transactions; Were Violations of our Duty as Pupils, inconsistent wth the Peace & good Order of this Society & eventually tended to its Destruction; And that our Offence, in entering into the abovesd. Resolutions is aggravated by the Obstinacy we discover’d in refusing to sign a Moderate acknowledgemt. of the same, & a Promise of future good Conduct, when invited thereunto by the Presdt. Profesrs & Tutrs., wth. a Promise that our Misconduct shou’d be overlook’d upon our Compliance: [vid. p. 13, 14.] Do hereby manifest our hearty Sorrow for every Thing Each of us severally have done, contrary to the good Order & Laws of the College, & humbly ask Pardon therefor of every Person to whom We have Given just Cause of Offence: promising that if We shall hereafter be under any Grievance or Difficulty, We will seek Redress in a regular constitutional Way, & That We will never enter into any agreemt. to oppose the good Governmt of this Society, but on the contrary will alwaies discountenance, & to our utmost, endeavour to prevent, all disorderly unlawful Combinations, & in all Respects behave as dutiful & obedient Pupils.
The above was signed by all the scholars, except four who had no hand in the opposition, eleven who were out of town at the time, and two who went out of town in the midst of it, —that is, by 155 out of 172.
As an additional illustration of the methods of discipline at this time and of the quality of the relation between Faculty and students, the following paragraph may be quoted which is to be found on the first fly-leaf of the third volume of the Faculty Records, which begins in September, 1766. Its position in the volume indicates that it was customary, as the fifth of November with its characteristic temptations approached, to warn the students in no uncertain terms of the risk they ran in yielding to them.
At [a meeting] of the Presdt. & Tutrs. Nov. 4.
Voted, That in Consideration of the Disorders that have sometimes been on the fifth Day of Novr. Each Tutr, should Charge his Pupils, That They should not throw Squibs or Crackers &c within the College yard That Evening, & yt They should not dare to make Destruction of any Fence &c. for any Bon-fire: And to be all @ their Chambers, @ Nine o’Clock according to College Order: And that the Presdt. be desir’d to give the like Direction, publicly in the Chapel after Evening Prayers on the Morrow.
Wch Direction & Order I have now hereby given you, & remember you are now fairly Warned, wherefore if any of you shall presume to make a Breach upon this Order, it is at yor Peril.
Dr. James Read Chadwick and the Rev. James Eells of Boston were elected Resident Members, and the Rev. Dr. John Carroll Perkins of Portland, Maine, was elected a Corresponding Member.