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<gf the 

Early History f 
Amherst College 

prepared by 

President Heman Humphrey, D. D. 

At the Request of the Trustees 



[An undated manuscript in the handwriting of President 
Heman Humphrey, D. D. It has never before been printed 
but was frequently quoted from by Professor W. S. Tyler 
in his " History of Amherst College.' 1 The original text 
appears here without change. The manuscript is the 
property of Amherst College Library. It is published and 
distributed by the kindness of Mr. Frank W. Stearns, of the 
class of 1878.'] 

The law of growth and expansion is necessarily progressive, 
whether in the vegetable and animal kingdoms or in human insti- 
tutions. Nothing springs up to full perfection at once. Every- 
thing requires more or less time to grow and ripen. 

Thus in the vegetable kingdom there is "first the blade, 
then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear. ' ' First the 
acorn, then the leaf, and by the slow process of annual accre- 
tions the giant oak, rooted and braced by the mountain storms 
of a hundred winters. 

Thus the lion, king of the forest, was once a little cub, in- 
capable of self defence, much less of sustaining the dynastic rule. 

Thus all the world-wide conquerors who have shaken the 
earth under the iron tread of their mighty legions were once 
helpless babes in their mother's arms. 

So with tribes, states and nations. They spring from small 
beginnings and pass through all the stages of growth, strength 
and renown, till at the end of many centuries it may be, " the 
little one becomes a thousand and the small one a strong nation." 

Thus it is with all the institutions which in process of time 
take root, expand and become the strength and glory of the 
most enlightened states and kingdoms. They grow like the 

cedars of Lebanon. This great nation, clasping the continent 
from the rising to the setting sun, was born in the May Flower and 
rocked in its infancy upon the rocky shore of Massachusetts Bay. 

And what is true of nations is true of the institutions which 
constitute their highest advancement, glory, security and 
strength. This proposition admits of great enlargement by per- 
tinent examples selected from the history of all our most flour- 
ishing humane and benevolent institutions for the destitute, for 
the insane, for the deaf, for the blind, for the Christian enlight- 
enment of our own people, and for sending the bread of life to 
famishing millions in other lands. 

But this is not the time nor the place. We have no more 
striking examples of infancy, growth, prosperity and public 
usefulness than the New England colleges, though now the 
observatories and light house of our northern skies, they all 
sprung from small beginnings. 

Thus Harvard, the oldest, and now the richest of them all, 
was founded and partly sustained for several years by voluntary 
rations in corn and wheat and other commodities out of the 
common granary in Boston, near where Park street church now 

Yale College, now so large and prosperous, sprung from the 
gift of a few books presented at a meeting of ministers in the 
town of Saybrook from their own scanty libraries. This was 
all they had to begin with, and lo, " what hath God wrought !" 

But I hasten to the planting and early history of Amherst 
College. In no case, I believe, has the guiding hand of God 
been more visible than in the several steps which led to it, nur- 
tured it in its feeble infancy, and in due time brought it into the 
sisterhood of the New England colleges. When the set time 
had come He raised up just the men that were wanted to under- 
take the all but hopeless enterprise. But there were several 
years of preparatory work for them to do before the vision of 
establishing a college with full powers and franchises gladdened 
their hearts and encouraged them to go forward. 

They felt the want of an Academy in Amherst for the edu- 
cation of their own children and others who might wish to come 

and enjoy its privileges. Accordingly in the month of July, 
1812, a subscription was opened to erect a suitable edifice for 
such a school. With the avails of this and other free-will offer- 
ings the building soon went up, and in due time was opened 
with highly encouraging prospects, with a corps of competent 
teachers. In the winter of 1816 an act of incorporation was 
obtained. The trustees named in the act were David Parsons, 
Nathan Perkins, Samuel F. Dickinson, Hezekiah W. Strong, 
Rufus Cowls, Calvin Merrill, Noah Webster, John Woodbridge, 
James Taylor, Nathaniel Smith, Josiah Dwight, Rufus Graves, 
Winthrop Burley, Experience Porter and Elijah Gridley. A 
notable corporation of the friends of education in Hampshire 
County. Their aims were high. They determined to nave an 
Academy of the very first class in the State. To this end on 
the 8th of Nov., 1817, they took a step in advance of all their 
competitors. In view of the demand for educated ministers be- 
yond the ordinary supply without aid, a project was presented 
by Rufus Graves, Esq., and adopted, for encouraging the use- 
fulness of the Academy by raising a fund for the gratuitous edu- 
cation of pious young men. In the preamble and resolves which 
follow we have the nucleus and outline of the charitable founda- 
tion which ultimately resulted in the establishment of Amherst 
College. (See Webster's manuscript book, pages 3d, 4th and 
5th) in which they say, " encouraged by the past and animated 
by the prospects of the future, humbly and devoutly relying on 
the Divine assistance in all our endeavors to promote the cause 
of truth and train up the rising generation in science and virtue, 
we do hereby resolve as an important object of this board to 
establish in this institution a professorship of languages with a 
permanent salary equal to the importance and dignity of such 
an office." 

To this end a Committee was raised to draw up a constitu- 
tion and system of by-laws for raising and managing a perma- 
nent fund as the basis of a classical institution for the education 
of indigent young men of piety and talents for the Christian 
ministry. This was done and adopted by the Board of Trustees 
at their meeting on the 18th day of August, 1818. This plan 

failed. The committee found that the establishment of a single 
professorship for the purposes mentioned in the project was too 
limited an object to induce men to subscribe. To engage pub- 
lic patronage it was found necessary to form a plan on a much 
broader basis to accomplish the end in view. Accordingly 
Rufus Graves, Esq., drew up the constitution of the charity 
fund of $50,000 and the Trustees commissioned him to circulate 
it for subscriptions, in which laborious service he spent the 
greater part of two years. (See Webster from page 7 to page 
25.) Before the meeting of the Trustees of the Academy 
August 1818, as above cited had been apprised of the con- 
templated design of the Trustees of Williams College to remove 
that Institution to some town in one of the counties which for- 
merly constituted the old county of Hampshire, a committee of 
the Trustees of that college had visited Amherst for the purpose 
of inquiring into the situation and advantages of the town for 
being the seat of that college should it be removed. Subse- 
quently, in the month of September, two gentlemen, delegated 
for the purpose, waited upon the trustees of Williams College 
and presented them with a copy of the Constitution for a Charity 
Fund. The papers were returned without any answer. 

This was considered by the Trustees of Amherst Academy 
as a declining to accede to any proposal for uniting that college 
with the proposed Institution in Amherst. Whereupon it was 
resolved at a meeting on the 10th day of September that in the 
opinion of this Board it is expedient to invite a convention of 
clergy and laity to approve and patronize a Charitable literary 
Institution contemplated by this Board for the education of 
pious indigent young men for the gospel ministry, and that the 
convention be composed of the Congregational and Presbyterian 
cle-gy of the several parishes in the counties of Hampshire, 
Franklin and Hamden, and the western section of the county of 
Worcester, with their delegates, together with one delegate from 
each vacant parish, and the subscribers to the Fund. An invita- 
tion was accordingly drawn up and circulated with that intent. 
(Here follows the circular. Webster, page 27, 28, 29.) 

On the 29th of Sep. 1818 the convention assembled and 

was formed in the church in the west parish of Amherst. (Here 
follow the names of the ministers and delegates to the number 
of 71, among whom were Dr. Lyman of Hatfield, President of 
the convention, Dr. David Parsons, Rev. Dan. Huntington, Rev. 
Theophilus Packard, Rev. Dr. Cooley, Rev. J. Smith, (Fiske?) 
Rev. T. Snell, Col. Henry Dwight, Col. Joseph Billings, Dr. 
William Hooker, George Grennell, Esq , and Rodger Leavitt, 
Esq. ) The proposed constitution and by-laws for the proposed 
Institution were read by Noah Webster, Esq. A committee of 
twelve was then raised to take the subject into consideration and 
make reports. (Here follow the names of the committee.) 
The Committee reported at length in favor of the establishment 
of such an Institution, leaving open a door for a union with Wil- 
liams college upon fair and honorable principles, should the 
guardians of that institution deem it expedient to remove and 
form the connection. They say in their report that an Institu- 
tion of this description, designed to diffuse its blessings with in- 
creasing influence to the end of time, should be judiciously 
located cannot be reasonably questioned, nor that Hampshire 
county presents one of the most eligible places for the purpose 
in the United States. 

Having compared a number of pleasant towns in this vicinity 
in relation to advantages and disadvantages they are of opinion 

First That an Institution might flourish as located in the 
Constitution, and at the same time are convinced that it might 
flourish to a greater extent were it to have the advantage of that 
union which would result from its location by a disinterested 
Committee appointed by a Convention. 

Second In this general view of the subject the Committee 
cordially approve of the object of a religious, and classical Insti- 
tution on a charitable foundation in the town of Amherst, and 
recommend to the Convention to give it their united and individ- 
ual patronage. 

Third They also recommended that suitable measures be 
adopted by the Trustees of Amherst Academy for the estab- 
lishment of a college in connection with the charitable Institution 
possessing all the advantages of other colleges in the Common- 

They also recommended that such preparations and arrange- 
ments be made as will accommodate students at the Institution 
as soon as possible. "With these resolutions and recom- 
mendations your Committee express their fervent wish that the 
great object may be kept in distinct view in this body, that 
there may be union and harmony of feelings and deliberation 
and that it will please our God and Saviour to succeed the 
endeavor of His servants and under the contemplated Institution 
a rich blessing to the church of this generation and to the most 
distant posterity." Joseph Billings, Secretary. 

After a full discussion the report was approved and ac- 
cepted, with the following amendments. The first article was 
rejected. The second was amended by inserting "in the town 
of Amherst " after the word foundation. The third by inserting 
" The Trustees of Amherst Academy" after the word adopted. 
And the fourth was amended as above recited, and then the 
whole report was adopted by a large majority of the votes, after 
which the convention adjourned. (See Webster 35, 36, 37.) 

At a special meeting of the Board October 26th, 1818, a 
committee of three was appointed to confer with the Board of 
Trustees of Williams College and communicate to them the 
result of the late convention in Amherst and make suitable state- 
ments and explanations respecting the same. They went to 
Williamstown and presented to the Board of Trustees of that col- 
lege a copy of the proceedings and resolutions of the convention^ 
with such verbal representations as they supposed necessary. 

To these communications no answer was given. But at this 
meeting the Board of Trustees resolved that it was expedient to 
remove the College on certain conditions, and as a preliminary 
measure they appointed the Hon. James Kent, Chancellor of the 
State of New York, the Hon. Nathaniel Smith, one of the 
Judges of the Superior Court of Connecticut, and the Rev. Dr. 
Payson, of Rindge, New Hampshire, to determine the place to 
which the college should be removed. In consequence of this 
action the Trustees of Amherst Academy at their annual meet- 
ing, Nov. 17, 1818, appointed Noah Webster, Esq., the Rev. 
John Fisk, the Rev. Edwards Whipple, the Rev. Joshua Crosby 

and Nathaniel Smith, Esq., to attend upon the Committee just 
named and represent to them the claims of the town of Amherst 
to be the seat of the College, including the funds procured^ by 
the Trustees for a Charitable Institution, the recommendation of 
the Convention in Sep. last, and all the facts and circumstances 
that might affect the decision of the question. On account of 
the lateness of the season the meeting of the locating committee 
was deferred till the next spring. To prepare for that meeting 
the Committee of the Academy drew up a long and labored 
paper setting forth the claims of Amherst as the most suitable 
location for the college, such as conveniences of situation, salu- 
brity of the climate, the cheapness of living, and the advantages 
for literary and moral improvement in this and future ages. 
These advantages were presented at great length and with 
marked ability before the committee of location. (See Web- 
ster's manuscript, pages 40 to 50, signed by the Committee.) 
The locating committee, however, were unanimous in naming 
Northampton as the most suitable place for the Institution. 

Under this decision, cutting off the hope and expectation 
which had been indulged that if removed at all Williams College 
might come to Amherst, the Trustees at a meeting on the 18th 
of Nov. 1818 appointed a large committee to solicit subscrip- 
tions to make up the Charity Fund which had been already 
commenced, and also funds for the foundation and support of a 
college to be connected with the same. But in consequence of 
the proceedings of the corporation of Williams College in resolv- 
ing to remove that Institution and in appointing a Committee to 
locate it the trustees of Amherst Academy suspended further 
measures until the event of an application of Williams College 
to the Legislature for authority to remove should be known. It 
is added, " They made no opposition to that application and 
took no measures to defeat it." So far as appears no other 
action was taken till July, 1819, when a committee appointed to 
examine the subscription to the Charity Fund reported that the 
money and other property subscribed amounted at a fair esti- 
mate to Fifty-one thousand, four hundred and four dollars. 
Previous to this, on the 23d day of the same month, the Trus- 


tees of Williams College published an address to the public 
assigning reasons for proposing to remove that Institution and 
soliciting donations to increase the funds and promote its pros- 
perity in its proposed location at Northampton. A paragraph 
from that address is in the following words : 

"The Trustees, highly approving the object of a charitable 
Institution at Amherst and the benevolence which has influenced 
so many to unite in contributing to the very important object of 
educating poor and pious young men for the ministry, are par- 
ticularly desirous that that should be so united with the college 
at Northampton and this college with that, that contributions to 
either should be conducive to the good of both, and so form an 
Institution which would receive the united patronage of all the 
friends of literature, science and religion. A copy of this ad- 
dress was sent to the Trustees of Amherst Academy dated Aug. 
18, 1819. An answer was returned of which the following is 
the substance : ' ' The Trustees of Amherst Academy have re- 
ceived your letter and have given the subject of it their delib- 
erate consideration. In our opinion a union between the college 
and the charitable Institution in Amherst would be conducive to 
the interests specified in the western section of Massachusetts. 
The constitution of the Charity Fund opened the door for that 
union, and nothing on our part, we believe, has been wanting to 
accomplish the object. We entertain the most friendly disposi- 
tion toward Williams College and shall rejoice in its prosperity, 
although we see not at present how a union between the college 
and a charitable Institution can be effected. Yet if a plan 
could be devised for that purpose it would meet our most cor- 
dial approbation. 

In the next winter, 1819-20, the Trustees of Williams Col- 
lege made their application to the Legislature for an act author- 
izing them to remove the college to Northampton, but it failed, 
whereupon the Trustees of Amherst Academy judged that the 
way was open for them to proceed and put in operation the 
Charity Fund entrusted to their care. So on the 15th of March 
1820 they resolved that this Board consider it their duty to pro- 
ceed directly to carry into effect the provisions of the Constitu- 

tion for the classical education of indigent pious young men, 
and the financier was directed to proceed with as little delay as 
possible to effect a settlement with subscribers to procure notes 
and obligations for the whole amount of the subscriptions from 
benevolent individuals and also to solicit further subscriptions in 
aid of this great charity, and for erecting the necessary buildings. 

At the next meeting, May 10, 1820, it was resolved, That 
great and combined exertions of the Christian public are neces- 
sary to give due effect to the charitable Institution. The Rev. 
Joshua Crosby with others were appointed agents to make ap- 
plications for additional funds and for contributions to aid in 
erecting suitable buildings. 

The Committee proceeded to execute the trust committed 
to them, secured a title to the land, marked out the ground for 
the site of the building of a hundred feet in length, and invited 
the inhabitants of Amherst, friendly to the design, to contribute 
labor and materials, with provisions for the workmen. With 
this request the inhabitants of Amherst friendly to the under- 
taking, and a few from Pelham and Leverett, most cheerfully 
complied. The stones for the foundation were brought chiefly 
from Pelham by gratuitous labor, and provisions for the work- 
men were furnished by voluntary contributions. At two o'clock 
P. M. on the 9th of August, 1820, the Board met after an ad- 
journment and voted, That the Board will proceed immediately 
to lay the corner stone of the edifice, which was done. 


The corner stone of the first college edifice, 100 feet long 
and 4 stories high, was laid by Dr. Parsons, President of the 
Board, in presence of a numerous audience on the 9th day of 
August, 1820, after which Mr. Webster delivered the following 
address. See p. 58, Manuscript Book. 

This was followed by an exceedingly eloquent and impres- 
sive discourse in the church by Rev. Daniel A. Clark, entitled 
A plea for a dying world, which was published along with the 
address and widely circulated. 

Another step in advance was the appointment of a commit- 


tee Sept. 7th, 1820, to correspond with the American Education 
Society on the terms upon which the Board might co-operate 
with that society in the education of their beneficiaries. 

At the next meeting, Nov. 8th, it was resolved to establish 
three Professorships in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy 
in Rhetoric and in the Learned Languages. 

The next step was to erect the College building. The labor! 
How was it to be done ? Says the record from which I quote, 
"Notwithstanding the building committee had no funds, not 
even a cent, except what were to be derived from gratuities in 
labor materials and provisions, they prosecuted the work with 
untiring diligence. Repeatedly during the progress of the work 
their means were exhausted and they were obliged to notify the 
President of the Board that without aid they could proceed no 
further ! Those were dark days. It required the clear eye of 
faith to look through the cloud. It sometimes seemed as if the 
enterprise must be given up ; but help gratuitously came. The 
work went on and so rapidly that on the ninetieth day from lay- 
ing the corner stone the roof was on ! It seemed more like 
magic than the work of the craftsmen. But only a few weeks 
ago the timber was in the forest, the brick in the clay, and the 
stone in the quarry, and how came they here, fashioned into a 
solid and lofty edifice on the hill, seen from 15 (?) towns, 
hailed with delight by some and scowled upon as we shall see 
by others, as boding evil rather than good to the educational 
cause in Western Massachusetts. 

The building was completed with almost equal dispatch for 
receiving students, and on the 8th day of May, 1821, Dr. Moore 
was unanimously elected President of the " Charity Institution," 
as it was then called. At the same day, " the Trustees passed 
a vote prohibiting the students from drinking ardent spirits or 
wine, or any liquor of which ardent spirits or wine should be the 
principal ingredient, at any inn, tavern or shop, or to keep 
ardent spirits or wine in their rooms or at any time to indulge in 
them, under penalty of admonition for the first offense, and for 
the second admonition or expulsion according to the nature and 
aggravation of the offence." 


This was a remarkable step, quite in advance of the times. 
It was several years before the formation of the American Tem- 
perance society and no such prohibition I believe had been 
thought of in any college or other public seminary. I am sure 
it was wisdom from above which dictated it, and the enforce- 
ment of the law from the beginning has been, I do not say one 
of the main safeguards to the morals of the students, but the 
greatest of them all. To make this protection doubly serve a 
college temperance society embracing the faculty as well as the 
students, was early formed under a pledge, not only of total 
abstinence from all intoxicating drinks, but of the use of to- 
bacco. This pledge has been presented to each freshman class 
as they have entered college, and I am happy to say that in 
some cases nearly all the members have signed it, and I believe 
a majority in every class. It can never be known in this world 
how many promising young men have by these means been 
saved from falling into dissipated habits which would have 
blighted their scholarship, blasted their prospects of usefulness 
and happiness in life, brought down gray hair with sorrow to the 
grave and doomed them to a drunkard' s eternity. I do not say 
that none have fallen or indulged in habits of inebriation which 
they brought with them, secretly to their final undoing ; but I 
am confident the number must have been very small. In 
running over the catalogue of more than twenty years while I 
was connected with the college I have not been able to ascertain 
that more than three or four out of some eight hundred of our 
graduates have turned out miserably dissipated and pestilential 
hangers on to the skirts of society. This has been a perpetual 
source of thanksgiving to me and will be while I live and the 
more so as I contrast it with the state of things when I was in 
college. If there were any precautionary restrictions to prevent 
the undergraduates from drinking ardent spirits and wine they 
were little regarded. In my own class of forty two there were 
at least who drank badly and early died drunkards, besides 
others who barely escaped, and this, I think, was about the 
proportion in other classes. Woe to the college that does not 
vigilantly watch over the habits of the students in this regard. 


Woe to the families to which they belong and to the places 
where they cumber the ground till the undertaker shovels their 
putrid carcases out of sight. 

Here quote Dr. Moore's answer accepting the Presidency 
of the Institution, p. 70. So also Dr. Moore's letter to Mr. 
Webster, p. 72. 

At a meeting on the 13th of June the Trustees " voted that 
the preparatory studies of admission to the Institution and the 
course of studies pursued during the four years should be the 
same as in Yale College." 

This was a very wise endorsement of Dr. Moore's views in 
his letter of acceptance. To have aimed at anything below a 
college and short of a charter for conferring degrees would not 
only have insured a negative from Dr. Moore or any other man 
qualified to fill the place, but would have forfeited the patron- 
age of all the friends of a thorough classical education for the 
ministry, no less than for the other learned professions. An 
institution of a lower grade anywhere between our academies 
and colleges was not wanted and could not have been sustained. 

The inauguration of the President and Professors with ap- 
propriate exercises took place in the village church on the 18th 
of Sept. 1821, and on the next day, Sept. 19th, the College was 
opened and organized by the examination and admission of the 
four regular classes, viz : Seniors 3, Juniors 6, Sophomores 19, 
and Freshmen 31 total 59 a larger number, I believe, than 
ever was matriculated on the first day of opening any new col- 
lege. It was a day of great rejoicing. What had God wrought ? 

The ship was now fairly launched. An experienced pilot 
was at the helm. The skies were propitious ; the cheering was 
loud. With all sails set she was going to sea, but without suf- 
ficient rations for even a short voyage. The crew were liable 
soon to be put upon short allowance. The craft had no insur- 
ance other than the prayers and faith of the builders ; but they 
did not allow themselves to doubt that He who had so remark- 
ably smiled upon the enterprise would in his own time and way 
supply all deficiences. 

To drop the figure here was a college regularly organized 


and officered ; and here were four classes entering upon the 
regular course of studies for graduation in the usual form. To 
the astonishment of all outsiders it had sprung up as it were 
suddenly out of the ground ; aiming at nothing less than an 
honorable competition with older public seminaries of the first 
class in giving a thorough classical education. But propitious 
as was its opening two essential aids were still wanting : an en- 
dowment and a charter. The trustees could not even have paid 
their debts had they been pressed to a settlement, and where 
was the money coming from to pay the faculty, furnish more 
ample accommodations as they should be wanted, buy tools to 
work with in the departments of philosophy and chemistry, and 
meet other unavoidable expenses ? The term bills and the in- 
terest on the charity fund, to be sure, would help to defray the 
regular expenses of instruction ; but they must and did, at first, 
fall far short, even of that. This was sufficiently discouraging 
to paralyze the hearts of common men in so great an undertak- 
ing, but it was not the most essential want of the institution. 

Though the classes would be carried through the four 
years' course of studies under the Trustees of Amherst Academy, 
a college Charter with the power to confer degrees in the usual 
form was absolutely essential to the prosperity and even the ex- 
istence of the new institution. Young men who aspire to the 
advantages of a classical (public) education, will not go to a 
seminary, however thorough the course of studies may be, when 
they cannot graduate with college diplomas. Not a class could 
have been induced to enter the Amherst Collegiate Institute 
without the implied assurance that if they sustained the final 
examinations they should be graduated and carry away with 
them the honors of a chartered college. As .no charter came 
many became extremely uneasy at the end of the first year. A 
certificate with a contingent promise of a veritable parchment just 
as soon as we could get leave to confer it was all that the class 
could receive. And before the end of the second year some of 
the leading men in the classes had nearly made up their minds 
to leave, and so dark were our prospects of success in petition- 
ing for a charter, as will be seen presently, that in looking back 


I wonder they did not go. It was with great difficulty that we 
persuaded them to wait a little longer. If the charter had not 
within the next year come to our relief it is almost certain that 
they would have taken their dismissions and finished their 
course where they could receive diplomas. Had the leading 
men left us others would soon have followed for the same rea- 
son. New classes would not have entered, and then where 
would have been Amherst College ? Young men may think 
more of the parchment than it is worth, but it is worth some- 
thing. They will have it at the end of the regular course, and it 
would be impossible to sustain any college without it. Nor 
could the standard of a thorough public education be kept up, 
without some such authorized testimonial of scholarship. 

But could a charter be obtained ? That was the great 
question ; it was the sine qua non, and the prospect was far from 
encouraging. It was known that the trustees and friends of 
Williams College were decidedly opposed to it, and it was ex- 
pected they would do everything in their power to prevent it, as 
we shall see they did. It was foreseen, too, that they would 
carry all the representatives from Berkshire and probably from 
Hampshire with them to the General Court in opposition. Nor 
could it be expected that Harvard would look with much favor 
upon the establishment of another orthodox college, and that al- 
most in the heart of the state. 

But the case was urgent ; the necessity was imperative ; a 
Charter must be had or all would be lost. Accordingly a petition 
was presented to the Legislature at their June session in 1823 by 
Dr. Moore, Hon. John Hooker and others, together with a 
memorial from subscribers to the Charity fund, praying for such 
corporate powers as are usually given to the Trustees of colleges. 
The Petition and Memorial went in due form to the Senate. 

They were referred, whether with or without does not 
appear, to a joint Committee of seven who reported in favor of 
the petitioners having leave to bring in a bill. See pamphlet A. 
No further action was taken at that session, save a reference to 
the next Gen. Court. 

At the next session, Jan. 17th, 1824, the Report came up 


in the Senate and was debated at length by some of the ablest 
members. It was earnestly supported on one side and as stren- 
uously opposed on the other. The question on the acceptance 
of the Report was taken and 22 out of 37 votes in the affirma- 
tive. It went down to the House and was referred to the June 
session. (An interlinear pencilling in the handwriting of Pres. 
Humphrey says : "rejected by a vote of 91 yeas to 108 nays." 

This was encouraging to the Petitioners. They had got the 
upper branch of the Legislature in their favor and had sanguine 
hopes of carrying the Bill through the lower house when it 
should come up for discussion. In this they were disappointed. 

To prevent all occasion of delay and bring the question be- 
fore the House, the Committee of the Trustees drew up the 
following statement, which was published in more than 30 news- 
papers. It was dated March 12th, 1814. See the last leaf of 
the pamphlet C. 

The following petition of the founders and proprietors was 
also presented June 5th, 1823. This petition was signed by 
about four-fifths of the subscribers to the $50,000 Charity fund, 
and similar petitions were presented by more than 500 sub- 
scribers to other funds, to which was appended a schedule, 

1. Of the course of studies pursued in the Institution. 

2. The permanent charity fund. 

3. Disposable property ; what in and how secured. 

4. Another college demanded to accommodate the 227 stu- 
dents that go out of the state for their education. 

5. Expenditures and means of support. 

6. Public sentiment in favor of the petition. See pamphlet 
marked D. 

Under these several heads the petitioners presented their 
claims for a charter and the means on which they relied for the 
support of a college. 

To enforce these claims, in behalf of the Trustees I came 
before the joint committee early in the session and the 

cause as well as I could in a speech of an hour and a half. I 
was followed by Solicitor Davis in a strong and eloquent ap- 


peal. An agent from Williams appeared against us in reply 
which was patiently listened to by the committee. They sus- 
tained the Senate report in our favor at the preceding 
session, and the whole subject was fairly before the House. 
An earnest debate sprung up on the question of concurrence 
and it was strenuously argued in opposition chiefly by members 
from Berkshire and our own neighborhood, that a third college 
was not wanted in Massachusetts ; that according to our own 
showing we had not funds to sustain a college ; that nothing 
like the amount presented on paper would ever be realized and 
that there was reason to believe that many of the subscriptions 
had been obtained by false representations. These were for- 
midable objections against giving us a charter, and though 
fairly answered by our friends as we thought, if the vote had 
been taken it would probably have gone against us. 

It was finally resolved that more fully to test the validity of 
our claims for a charter and the objections urged against it, 
a commission should be sent to Amherst under instructions to 
inquire what reliable funds we had ; what means had been re- 
sorted to by the petitioners or by persons acting in behalf of their 
institution, and what method had been adopted to procure stu- 
dents, and report to the next meeting of the Gen. Court. A 
committee of five was accordingly appointed. They were all 
of them intelligent, fair-minded men, but not one of them sym- 
pathized with us in our well known orthodox religious opinions. 
This we thought might unconsciously operate against us. But 
in the end it proved to be for our advantage. 

Thus our hopes were again deferred and the next thing was 
to prepare for the visitorial investigation. This was no easy 
task ; for although the committee in making up their report ex- 
onerates the trustees and their agents from any intentional mis- 
representations in circulating subscriptions or otherwise obtain- 
ing funds, our finances were far from being in a favorable state 
to meet the prying scrutiny which awaited them before the 
Committee. While all that had not been paid in were bona fide 
subscriptions and obligations, they were not in the right shape 
for presentation. This was especially the case with the charity 


fund of $50,000, on which we had so earnestly based our claim 
for a Charter. The conditions of that subscription were that 
no part of it should be binding under that full amount. By 
great and persevering efforts they were brought up to $45,000, 
(in pencil $35,000 is written, Ed.) leaving a deficit of $15,- 
000. To meet this, several individuals gave their bond to the 
Trustees. While this guarantee of $15,000 was a legal obliga- 
tion and nobody doubted their ability to pay it, it was 
understood that they must be exonerated by additional 
subscriptions. They had subscribed very liberally to bring the 
fund up to $45,000, (again in pencil, $35,000, Ed.) and they did 
not expect to be called upon to pay the balance. It was not 
reasonable they should. Something must be done to put this, 
our main reliance, in a better shape. It would not do to lay it 
before the investigating committee as it then stood. The bond 
must be immediately enforced, or subscriptions must be 
obtained to cancel it. The Trustees decided without hesitation 
to make a new appeal to the friends of the seminary for help. 
They sent me to Boston, where I laid the case before a number 
of gentlemen, at a meeting called for the purpose, and succeeded 
in raising about half the needed amount of $15,000. Still, as 
much more was wanted, and it was no easy matter to get it. To 
this end some of the old subscribers, together with the Faculty, 
were pretty heavily assessed, and with other help, the full 
amount was made up. 

Nothing could be done with our other subscriptions and ob- 
ligations, but to let them take their chances before the Commit- 
tee, just as they were. 

Two or three weeks before the time appointed for the in- 
vestigation, an agent from Williams College brought me a letter 
from the chairman of the Committee, virtually requiring us to 
put into his hands all our subscriptions and other to aid him in 
preparing for the trial ! 

I was directed to answer this remarkable demand, which I 
did, and put it into the hand of the agent, saying that we had 
been notified of the appointment of the legislative Committee to 
come to Amherst and look into our condition and make report 


at the next session ; that we believed the Committee had not 
authorized their chairman to demand any of our papers in ad- 
vance of their meeting ; and that then all should be put into 
their hands. Baffled in this application for the means of look- 
ing up our subscribers for testimony against us, the agent was 
left to find them as best he could ; and to do him justice, he 
was very successful, as appeared when he brought them per- 
sonally and by their affidavits before the Committee. 

The investigation commenced on the 4th day of Oct., (1821 
appears in pencil, Ed. ) and continued in session until the 19th. 
This was no child's play. We were to be put down, or 
encouraged to go on. In their Report the Committee say " The 
Trustees appeared before them by council; (Mr. now Judge 
Els worth of Hartford) afforded every facility to the Committee 
in investigating the affairs of the Institution, and discovered the 
utmost readiness to lay before them all the transactions of the 
Board and its agents. That three distinguished gentlemen 
appeared as council for the remonstrants against a petition for 
a charter, and gave great aid to the Committee in conducting the 
investigation." One of them has long been on the bench of the 
Supreme Court of the Commonwealth. 

Rarely has there been a more thorough and searching in- 
vestigation. All our books and papers were brought out and 
laid on the table. Nothing was withheld. Every subscription 
note and obligation was carefully examined, and hardly any- 
thing passed without being protested by the able counsel against 
us. The trial lasted a fortnight, the room was crowded from 
day to day by anxious listeners. Were we to live or die ? 
Were we to have a charter or to be forever shut out from the 
sisterhood of Colleges ? That was the question, and it caused 
many sleepless nights in Amherst. Whatever might be the re- 
sult we cheerfully acknowledged that the Committee had con- 
ducted the investigation with exemplary patience and perfect 
fairness. When the papers were all disposed of the case was 
ably summed up by the counsel and the Committee adjourned. 

Many incidents occurred in the progress of the investigation 
which kept up the interest, and some of which were very amus- 
ing ; but I have only room for two. 


Among our subscriptions of one dollar and under there was 
a very long list amounting to several hundred dollars, mostly by 
females, and children under age, which did not escape the notice 
of the lawyers from Williamstown and on which it was plain we 
could place very little reliance. It was no trifling task to arrange 
and figure them up so as to present them in due form before 
the Committee. This they undertook to do after the evening 
adjournment, so as to have their report ready in the morning. 
They sat up nearly all night, as was afterwards reported, and 
anticipated the pleasure of seeing all those subscriptions thrown 
out at once. Learning in some way what they were about three 
of the Trustees drew up and signed an obligation to pay them 
to the full amount. The morning came ; the session was 
opened ; the parties were present, the gentlemen who had taken 
so much pains to astound the Committee by their discovery 
were just about laying it upon the table, when the obligation 
assuming the whole was handed in by one of the subscribers. I 
leave the reader to imagine the scene of disappointment on one 
side, and of suppressed cheering on the other. It turned out to 
be a fair money operation in our favor. 

The other incident was still more amusing. When the 
notes came up to pass the ordeal of inquiry and protest, one of 
a hundred dollars was produced from a gentleman in Danvers. 
"Who is this Mr. P. ?" demanded one of the astute lawyers. 
" Who knows anything about his responsibility?" "Sir, will 
you let me look at that note," said Mr. S. V. S. Wilder, one of 
our trustees, and taking a package of bank bills from his pocket, 
" Mr. Chairman, I will cash that note, sir," and laid down the 
money. It was not long before another note was protested in 
the same way. " Let me look at it. I will cash it, sir," and 
laid another bank bill upon the table. By and by a third note 
was objected to. "I will cash it, sir," said Mr. Wilder, and 
was handing over the money when the chaiiman interposed. 
"Sir, we didn't come here to raise money for Amherst Col- 
lege," and declined receiving it. How long Mr. Wilder' s pack- 
age would have held out I don't know, but the scene produced 
a profound sensation all around the board, but very few pro- 
tests were offered afterward. 


In the progress of the investigation the Committee at the 
request of the counsel from Williams College summoned a num- 
ber of subscribers who refused to pay to appear and give their 
reasons. Their excuse was that when they subscribed they 
were assured by the agents that there was no doubt Williams 
College would be removed to Amherst. As it was not they 
didn't consider themselves bound to pay. Affidavits to the 
same effect were also presented. The object of all this array 
of testimony and affidavits was to prove the subscriptions in 
question were obtained by false pretenses, and I have very little 
doubt that our opposers very confidently expected that the re- 
port of the Committee would be against our receiving a Charter. 
But to make assurance doubly sure a pamphlet of 36 pages was 
immediately prepared and brought out for circulation, contain- 
ing the testimony and affidavits before the Committee, together 
with a number of letters from other subscribers who declined 
paying on the ground that they were induced to subscribe by 
the expectation and assurance that Williams College would come 
to Amherst and be united with our Collegiate Institute. 

It was never denied, I believe, that this pamphlet came 
from the same source as the opposition before the Committee 
did, and when the General Court met in January the representa- 
tives found it in all their seats, as it were forestalling the Report 
of the investigating Committee if it should happen to be in our 
favor. How it came there, from what source, every man was 
left to guess for himself in view of all the circumstances. 

See the letter E. in the bound volume. 

When on the 3d of Jan. 1825, the question was called up 
in the House the Report (see pamphlet F.) of the Committee 
was presented and read in which they first exhibit the available 
funds of the institution, and with regard to the manner in which 
the subscriptions had been obtained, which was one of the main 
charges brought against us, they say : The persons who ob- 
tained the subscriptions without doubt spoke confidently of the 
removal of Williams College. The Committee entertain no 
doubt that many of the subscribers calculated that they would 
not be holden to pay unless Williams College should be removed 


to Amherst. But at the same time in justice to the persons who 
obtained the subscriptions, we are bound to report that no satis- 
factory evidence was presented to us that in any case the re- 
moval of the College (Williams) was made a condition of the 
payment of the subscription. 

In relation to other charges the Committee have examined 
all such as were brought to their knowledge by the counsel for 
the remonstrants, or any other source, and they do not find any 
of them which implicate the Trustees or gentlemen in the insti- 
tution supported. There appears to have been nothing so far 
as the Committee can judge (and they examined many witnesses 
on the point) to show that the Trustees or persons employed in 
the institution have resorted to any improper or unusual means 
in obtaining subscriptions. There can be no question but that 
some of the many agents were animated with an indiscreet zeal 
and they did as is always done in similar cases, overstepped 
the bounds of prudence and of the instructions given them. 

The third inquiry of the Committee was directed to ' ' what 
methods have been adopted to procure students " and they do 
not find that any unusual or improper measures have been 
taken. The whole number of the students in the institution is 136. 

It would be difficult to select in any part of the State a 
place better calculated for a College than that on which Am- 
herst Institution have located their buildings, whether regard be 
had to the site, the surrounding country or in its local situation 
as it regards the whole Commonwealth. 

The refusal of the Legislature to grant a Charter to Am- 
herst will not, it is believed, prevent its progress. A large and 
respectable body of citizens in every part of the Commonwealth 
are of opinion that the public good requires the incorporation of 
'this institution and that the refusal of a charter to the petitioners 
by a state which grants charters with readiness to almost every 
description of applicants is a species of persecution. Your 
Committee are therefore of opinion that any further delay to 
the incorporation of Amherst institution would very much in- 
crease the excitement which exists in the community on the 
subject, and have a tendency to interrupt those harmonious 

22 . 

feelings which now prevail. They therefore would respectfully 
suggest that a College should now be incorporated, to be located 
at Amherst, conformable to the prayer of the petitioners." 
Signed, Joseph E. Sprague. These short extracts were all the 
essential points presented in the Report of fifteen pages. See 
pamphlet F. 

This was a step in advance and an important advantage 
gained through the examining committee. But when the ques- 
tion of adoption came before the House it was soon manifest 
that it would meet with very strong opposition. There was to 
be a very hard struggle and so influential were some of our op- 
posers near home that it seemed very doubtful how the case 
would turn. Should we get a charter or should we be again dis- 
appointed and sent empty away ? As the discussion progressed 
the probabilities preponderated somet mes for and sometimes 
against ; but after a long and earnest debate which brought out 
the best talent in the House, the question was taken and decided 
in the affirmative. When the announcement was made we 
breathed freer. The object of our long importunity was gained. 
We went home with light hearts ; the students illuminated the 
college buildings ; we had got the Charter with a Board of Trus- 
tees and should soon be organized by the choice of a President 
and professors. This was done without delay and at the ensu- 
ing Commencement the three first classes received their diplo- 
mas. From 126 students in 1823 the number increased the 
next year to 136, in 1825 it rose to 152, 1826 to 170, 1827 
to 200, 1828 to 211, 1829 to 207, 1830, 188, 1831, 197, 1832, 
227, 1833, 239, and the next year, 1834, the number of under- 
graduates rose, I think, to more than 260, and for two years 
stood next to Yale, even above Harvard. 

I cannot be expected to say much of the twenty two years 
of my connection with the College, nor is it necessary that I 
should, as the materials for a full history are at hand in the Col- 
lege archives. I may just add, however, that when I entered 
upon my office in 1823, the students worshipped on the Sab- 
bath in the old parish meeting house on the spot where the 
Lyceum and Observatory now stand. How it was before I 


came I can't say, but I soon found that the young men of the 
society felt themselves crowded by the students and that there 
were increasing symptoms from Sabbath to Sabbath of collision 
and disturbance. I accordingly told the Trustees that I thought 
it would be safest and best for us to withdraw and worship 
by ourselves in one of the College buildings till a chapel could 
be built for permanent occupancy. They authorized us to do 
so, and I have never doubted the expediency of the change on 
this and even more important grounds. 

Though there is but one gospel for all persons, wherever 
they may worship, the most profitable preaching for a promis- 
cuous congregation is not exactly adapted to meet the case of 
young men in the course of a public education. They need 
more frequent and direct appeals from the pulpit, suited to 
their age and circumstances, than they can have where so 
many other classes ; young and old, parents and children, 
rich and poor, men of business and men of public influ 
ence, are to receive their portion of the bread of life in due sea- 
son. While there is but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, so 
much must be said to others that college classes in the promis- 
cuous assembly are apt to feel that most of the preaching is not 
meant for them, and so they go to sleep or let their thoughts 
wander with the fool's eyes in the ends of the earth. There is 
nothing like " Thou art the man " to arrest attention and carry 
conviction to the conscience and the heart of the sinner. This 
is what all need. 

In the Chapel the preacher has the students in a body right 
before him. They are his congregation. He preaches to them. 
They know he means them and nobody else, and they can't 
shift off the truth and the responsibility of hearing and obeying 
it to anybody and everybody else as in a mingled congregation. 
They are constrained to feel that religion, that salvation, is per- 
sonal concern which they may not ignore, and if the preaching 
during the four years that they sit under it (is personal, Ed.) 
they are more likely to be awakened and savingly converted than 
if they were where they could dodge the sword of the Spirit. 
The arrangement has from the beginning worked well in Am- 
herst College, and nothing would induce the Trustees to alter it. 


And here let me just say that in my judgment requiring the 
professors who are preachers to occupy the pulpit by turns, as 
is and always has been the case in Amherst College, has some 
advantages over that of devolving the whole of the preaching 
upon a theological professor. It is less likely to be scholastic 
and formal. It brings the professors before the students as re- 
ligious men and gives them a religious influence in College 
which they would not otherwise have. A church was early or- 
ganized in Amherst College. The President is the pastor. He 
preaches every other Sabbath in the chapel and the professors 
in succession take the alternate Sabbath. For some two or 
three years I did most of the preaching as best I could, besides 
hearing the Senior class daily in all their studies save the nat- 
ural sciences. The work was a great deal better done by 
professors afterwards, but it was the best we could do then. 

I have not spoken of the many glorious revivals which 
have been enjoyed in College so that no class has ever gradu- 
ated without witnessing at least one of them. Among all the 
rich blessings bestowed upon the institution these times of re- 
freshing from the presence of the Lord stand at the head. I 
am quite sure they will be so regarded when they come to be 
arranged and woven into an extended history of the college. 

Having now rapidly glanced at the rise and struggles and 
progress of the Institution up to the time of its establishment 
under a College Charter, the vote of the Trustees under which I 
have been collecting and arranging materials for future use 
would excuse me from further enlargement. But in looking 
back upon all the way in which God led the projectors and early 
friends and patrons of the College, I cannot while I lift up my 
heart in fervent thanksgiving, refrain from giving utterance to 
some of the reflections which crowd upon my mind, in view of 
the remarkable success of the enterprise from its inception to 
its accomplishment. And, 

First, let me say what I think of the character and instru- 
mentality of the men who planned and laid the foundations of 
Amherst College. When God has any important end to ac- 
complish He raises up and qualifies to carry on His pur- 


poses. This has always been the economy of His adminis- 
tration. Thus when He would deliver the tribes from Egyptian 
bondage He raised up Moses to be their leader and law-giver. 
When Moses was dead Joshua was commissioned to go before 
them to take possession of the promised land and prosecute the 
wars of the Lord against the Canaanites whom He had doomed 
to extermination for their enormous wickedness. So he raised 
up Samuel and David and Ezra and Nehemiah to reform and 
govern the nation and lead the remnant back from their seventy 
years' captivity. In like manner he raised up Luther and Cal- 
vin and their compeers of like precious faith to take the lead in 
the glorious Protestant Reformation. And in later ages the his- 
tory of the church gives us the names of Whitfield and the 
Wesley s and Edwards, whom God raised up as leaders and 
reformers in their time. 

The same holds true in the execution of all God's benevo- 
lent purposes. Whenever he wants a new institution to advance 
the interests of His kingdom in the world He raises up just such 
men as are needed to do the work. They may or may not be 
great or honorable in the sight of men. They will be more or 
less so as more or less planning and executive qualifications are 
needed. A great military leader is not wanted to put down a 
city riot, but when a nation is to be emancipated God raises up 
a Washington to command their armies. 

Before a stroke was struck which led to the founding and 
establishment of Amherst College, God had been raising up 
and qualifying agents altogether unconsciously to themselves to 
take the lead in the enterprise when the set time' should come. 
I cannot name all the men who were concerned in projecting it 
and doing the first work, but some of them were so prominent 
that there can be no mistake in placing them at the head of 
the list. 

And in looking over the whole ground I have no hesitation 
in putting the name of Rufus Graves first. I do not say he 
was the greatest man among them all. It was not necessary he 
should be for the part which Providence assigned him in the 
work. But for that essential service in the early stages of the 


enterprise he stood at the head. No other man could or would 
have taken the time and done what he did. Col. Graves was 
an educated man of a remarkably sanguine temperament. He 
poured his whole soul into whatever he undertook and made 
light of obstacles which in the very beginning would have dis- 
couraged any other man. 

Revivals had brought into the churches many pious young 
men of promising talents who were wanted in the ministry at 
home and abroad, who could, not obtain a suitable education 
without pecuniary assistance, and could anything be done at 
less expense outside of the Colleges to help them ? When to 
this end it was proposed to endow a theological professorship 
in connection with Amherst Academy he promptly took the 
agency to collect the funds and devoted a year or more to the 
service with all his constitutional and religious ardor, but with- 
out success. When it was given up and the Trustees of the 
Academy voted to circulate a subscription to raise $50,000 as a 
permanent fund to aid pious indigent young men of promising 
talents to a public education for the ministry, he enlisted in the 
service with all his heart and soul. As he proceeded in circu- 
lating the subscription it absorbed his whole mind. It became 
a perfect passion with him. It may almost be said that he 
thought and talked of nothing else. He drew up a Constitu- 
tion for the security and disbursement of the annual interest of 
the fund and went everywhere soliciting subscriptions of all 
classes of people from the highest he could obtain down to a 
dollar and under. So entirely was he devoted to this one object 
that for weeks when he was abroad he forgot that he had a 
family at home to care for. In this arduous service he spent 

and succeeded at last in raising the subscription 

with a responsible guarantee, to $50,000. This it was believed 
no other man could have done. And without this fund Am- 
herst College could never have been built and got a charter. 
In this view of the case the church and the world are more in- 
debted to Rufus Graves for all the good that has been done 
through the establishment of the Institution than to any other 
man. His name certainly stands with the first three as one of 
the founders. But he never could have originated and success- 


fully prosecuted the enterprise without the aid, checks and 
balances of cooler heads than his own. He was too ardent, too 
impulsive, to be a safe leader out of his own line. But just such 
men are wanted in the complicated relations and enterprises of 
human society. If they are inclined to go too fast ; if they are 
too sanguine to be safe ; if they sometimes fail in their favorite 
venturesome speculations ; if now and then they build castles in 
the air and their most sanguine expectations come to nothing, 
the world could not well do without them. To just such men it 
is indebted for a great many of the most important inventions 
and discoveries in very age. As there are many members in 
one human body and all are necessary to harmonious and effi- 
cient action, so the body politic would be incomplete without 
such men as I am here describing. Col. Graves had wise asso- 
ciates and advisers, or all his' zeal and perse verence would have 
been but little better than lost labor. Such men God had 
raised up to carry forward the undertaking. They were men of 
faith and prayer. They were such men as Noah Webster, 
Samuel F. Dickinson, Nathaniel Smith, Rev. John Fiske, Rev. 
Thomas Snell, Rev. Joshua Crosby, Rev. Theophilus Packard, 
John Leland, all good and true men, with others of like precious 
faith. I have with common consent, I believe, and for the reasons 
which I have given, placed Col. Graves at the head of the list, 
and from all the information I can get, Mr. Dickinson is enti- 
tled to stand next, as his intimate adviser and helper. Although 
ardent and enterprising and hopeful himself in an eminent de- 
gree, he was such a cool and reliable adviser as Col. Graves 
needed, and was untiring in his personal services as well as lib- 
eral in his contributions. 

The founders of great and good institutions may be likened 
to the stalwart masons who work out of sight below the surface 
in laying up the cellar wall of a costly edifice with great stones. 
It is the hardest to be done and it is the most essential that it 
should be thoroughly done for it is the foundation on which the 
whole building rests. But it is not seen and but small credit is 
likely to be given to the sturdy workmen who laid the founda- 


tion deep and solid, compared with what is given to those who 
do the lighter work of rearing, adorning and finishing the edifice. 

So the founders of a college, while they have the hardest 
and roughest of the work to do, it is mostly out of sight, toiling 
in the cellar as it were, and but little thought of, while those 
who come after them, when everything is settled and the work 
is comparatively light, are counted as benefactors. The men 
whom I have named and their efficient helpers were the founders 
of Amherst College in the midst of great opposition, in the face 
of discouragements which seemed to men of little faith insuper- 
ableand they ought to be had in everlasting remembrance. 
Most of them lived to see their most sanguine hopes more than 
realized in the growth and prosperity of the College. And this 
is only one case in a thousand where good men inaugurate great 
and good public enterprises. They know not what they are do- 
ing. With all their zeal and glowing anticipations they seldom 
dare to expect the half of what in due time is realized. 

I have already said that the $50,000 Fund was the nucleus 
without which the College could never have been established. 
The founders expected that it would greatly bless the church 
through the instrumentality of the pious Timothys whom it 
would help to educate. But it has bestowed one incalculable 
blessing upon the Institution which most likely but few if any of 
them anticipated. By bringing large numbers of pious young 
men to the College it has given it a religious character, which it 
could not otherwise have had. From the beginning one-half, 
often two-thirds, and sometimes three-fourths of the students 
have been professors of religion. What an influence they must 
have had upon their unconverted classmates, and who can tell, 
or how many of them in answer to their prayer have been con- 
verted in the many glorious revivals with which the college has 
been blessed. 

Wherever two or three hundred young men are brought 
and kept together four years in the most excitable period of 
their lives it would be strange indeed if there were no outbreaks 
in so nne of the classes. There always have been in our Ameri- 
can as well as other colleges. Young men everywhere are apt 


to be restive under tutors and governors. In this respect Am- 
herst College has been highly favored. Very few disturbances 
of any sort have given the faculty trouble. The only rebellion 
there has ever been was professedly for conscience sake. Some 
of the members of a class were dissatisfied with the appoint- 
ments for the junior exhibition, and asked to be excused upon 
the plea that they considered these college distinctions wrong, 
and that they could not conscientiously perform the parts as- 
signed them. One of them refused in such a style of insubord- 
ination that the faculty were constrained to require a suitable 
acknowledgment, which he insolently refused to make, and ap- 
pealed to the sympathies of the class, which unhappily pre- 
vailed, and arrayed them against us and the laws of the Institu- 
tion. They carried it so far and were so fast spreading the ex- 
citement among the other classes, that we were compelled either 
to surrender our authority into their hands or require every one 
engaged in the rebellion to make a suitable confession under the 
penalty of being cut off from College. We chose the latter, 
and though it went hard against their consciences, or something 
else in that region, they submitted and returned to their studies ; 
the next year in due course the whole class was graduated, and 
no class has ventured upon a rebellion in Amherst College since. 
Another reflection. The founders of the College were 
orthodox religious men in the strict New England sense of the 
term. And though no religious test was required for admission 
to its privileges, they intended it should be an Evangelical col- 
lege in the Calvinistic and Edwardean sense, and there has 
been no departure from it in its religious administration till now. 
There has been no concealment to curry favor with men in any 
denomination calling themselves more liberal in their doctrinal 
opinions. The pulpit in the chapel of Amherst College has al- 
ways spoken the same language. Though there have been 
diversities of gifts, it has been the same spirit in all. The 
trumpet has given no uncertain or jarring sound. Its creed is 
known and read of all men. The preachers have seen eye to 
eye and taught the same things. There has been no shunning 
of what are called hard doctrines, when they came in the way. 


This open avowal and adherence to it through good and evil 
report has, I am satisfied, l^een one of the main sources of its 
prosperity. It has given it confidence in all the orthodox 
churches, and earned the respect of those who differ from us. 
They may regard us as righteous over much, but they cannot 
help thinking the better of us for honestly avowing and teaching 
what we believe. Again, 

Want of funds in the earlier years of its history has been 
another source of the growth and success of Amherst College. 
This will probably seem a very strange remark to many. They 
cannot understand how the pecuniary necessities which com- 
pelled the Trustees again and again to appeal to the public for 
large subscriptions could have been better than to have had 
ample funds from other sources. And certainly it is no desira- 
ble agency to go here and there begging money, even for the 
most worthy public objects ; but it is often worth more in dol- 
lars and cents than a full treasury to begin with. It enlfsts the 
sympathies of hundreds or thousands who would have remained 
ignorant of the benevolent objects of the institution or enterprise 
had not its wants and claims been carried to their doors. 

I am quite sure it has been so in the early history of Am- 
herst College. Much as those who opposed us before the in- 
vestigating committee made themselves merry over our long list 
of small subscriptions for the Charity Fund, down to twenty-five 
cents and under, they enlisted a thousand prayers for its suc- 
cess, which for want of information would not have been offered 
and which I nothing doubt have brought down blessings worth 
more than thousands of gold and silver. 

And just so on a larger scale the several subscriptions with- 
out which the College could not have been sustained, brought it 
to the notice and enlisted the good will and prayers of the 
friends of education and religion both in and out of the state 
beyond what a few large donations from a few could have done. 
It was the most effectual way to make its objects and character 
known to the greatest number who have power with God and to 
make them feel that by their contributions they have a pecuniary 


interest in the college. That through this very agency a great 
many students have been and will be induced to come and enjoy 
its privileges I feel sure. Once more, 

Though it was hard and discouraging again and again to be 
denied a Charter in which we stood in such pressing need, it 
was overruled for our advantage. It was a new institution. 
Something was necessary to make it known to the public, on 
whom it must depend for students and support. The petitions, 
discussions and newspaper articles growing out of the delay were 
just what was wanted. If the Charter had been granted and 
without opposition as soon as asked for, poor and unknown as 
the Collegiate Institution was it would have been hard if not 
impossible to get the means of turning it into a College and 
building it up. So God often helps those hearts he makes sick 
by delay. Again, 

When we were almost ready to despair under grave charges 
of misrepresentation and dishonesty by a powerful opposition in 
the lower House of the General Court, to stave off the question 
the Committee was appointed to come to Amherst, call the 
Trustees before them, demand all their papers, make a full in- 
vestigation of our affairs, and report at the next session, it was a 
new source of anxiety and alarm. Many were ready to say, 
All these things are against us. And in truth we were but 
poorly prepared for such an ordeal. The $15,000 bond to se- 
cure the $50,000 charity fund must be cancelled by new sub- 
scriptions, as we have already seen, and many of the other un- 
paid subscriptions were in no condition to be relied on and pre- 
sented to the Committee as everything would depend upon their 
report. The time was short. The $15,000 were raised to can- 
cel the bond which could not have done under any other pres- 
sure. The searching inquisition lasted twelve days with the aid 
of able counsel by a powerful opposition. In their Report, as 
we have seen, the Committee entirely absolved the petitioners 
from all culpable misrepresentations and charges, recommended 
that the Charter prayed for be granted, which was done, and 
returned home and we returned home with it rejoicing. 

Now, unkind as we thought the sending of that Committee 


was, and unmistakably intended by ouropposers to oppose us, it 
turned out to-be just what was wanted to set the character of 
the Institution right before the public, and to better its pecuniary 
condition. I have no doubt it was a clear gain of fifteen or 
twenty thousand dollars on the bond and subscriptions. The 
appointment of the Committee compelled us to bring up all 
arrearages, which otherwise would never so successfully have 
been done. Thus God brought light out of darkness and set 
us in a large place. 

And if I may volunteer a word for our friends of the Berk- 
shire College, though they did not succeed in defeating us, it 
compelled them to follow our example in raising funds, and in- 
stead of being crippled by our success it gave a new start to 
Williams, and it soon grew and prospered more than ever. 

[Note : In the early pages of these " Sketches " refer- 
ence is made to " Webster's Manuscript Book." It is very 
much to be regretted that this can not be found. No refer- 
ence to it is made either in Professor Tyler's History or in 
Dr. Field's " Brief History of Amherst College." Ed. ~] 

Printed November, 1905 





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