Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Blast From the Past: Princeton University's Revolutionary Spirit


 

At one time, this Ivy League pillar was a hotbed of revolutionary radicalism -- from which there was no 'safe space'. 

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY. An institution of higher education at Princeton, N. J., founded in 1746. About 1726 William Tennent, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, had established in Bucks County, Pa., a school known as the Log College, the success of which led in 1739 to a movement by the Synod of Philadelphia toward the establishment of a larger college for the middle colonies. The plan was abandoned owing to the unsettled condition of the times. In 1742 internal conflicts led to the division of the synod, and members of the newly formed Synod of New York determined on independent action. They sought a charter for the founding of a college in New Jersey, without assistance from either of the old synods, and secured it on October 22, 1746, from John Hamilton, Acting Governor of New Jersey. The institution was called the College of New Jersey and was situated at Elizabethtown. The first president was Rev. Jonathan Dickinson. A second charter was granted in 1748 by Jonathan Belcher, royal Governor of New Jersey, owing to doubts as to the validity of the first charter, and in order to give other religious communions a share in the administration of the institution. 


President Dickinson died in 1747 and was succeeded by the Rev. Aaron Burr, to whom belongs the credit for the organization of the curriculum, the procedure, and the discipline of the college. The institution was soon removed to Newark, where the first commencement was celebrated in 1748. In 1752 it was voted that the college be fixed at Princeton upon condition that the inhabitants secure to the trustees 10 acres of cleared land, 200 acres of woodland, and the sum of £1000. In 1754 the cornerstone was laid for the first building, which was named Nassau Hall. The college was completed and the students removed from Newark to Princeton in the fall of 1750. President Burr died in 1757 and was succeeded by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, who died a month after assuming office. He was followed by Rev. Samuel Davies, who devoted much time to building up a college library. Davies was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Finley (1761-66) and in 1768 John Witherspoon, D.D., a Scotch clergyman, was inaugurated as president. 
He was a bold and active advocate of American independence. Among the students of this period were many later conspicuous as leading spirits, among them James Madison, Aaron Burr, William Bradford, Philip Freneau, and Henry Lee. The college suffered heavily during the war. The course of instruction was interrupted by the presence of both armies; Nassau Hall was wrecked, the library scattered, and the philosophical apparatus ruined. Yet only one commencement, that of 1777, was omitted, and the seven members of the graduating class for that year received their degrees a few months after the regular time.
President Witherspoon was succeeded in 1795 by Samuel Stanhope Smith, under whose administration the curriculum was broadened and the first provision for regular instruction in chemistry in an American college was made. On March 6, 1802, the interior of Nassau Hall was destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt in 1804. During the administrations of Presidents Ashbel Green (1812-22) and James Carnahan (1823-54) the institution had a rapid development. A department of law was established in 1846, but was abandoned in 1852 from lack of funds. Under President John Maclean (1854-68) four new professorships were established, with an endowment of $195,000. On March 10, 1855, the interior of Nassau Hall was again burned, and was rebuilt in 1860. James McCosh of Queen's College, Belfast, was elected president in 1868, and resigned the office in 1888. During his term the attendance increased from 281 to 603, and the faculty from 10 professors and 7 tutors to 31 professors, 4 assistant professors, and 5 instructors. Gifts amounting to upward of $3,000,000 were received, of which $1,000,000 was expended in the erection of 14 buildings. 
Among the more important changes in the curriculum were the introduction of the system of elective studies (1870); the founding of the John C. Green School of Science (1873); and the establishment of the Graduate Department (1877).Francis Landey Patton (q.v.) became president in 1888. During the fourteen years of his administration the college increased from 603 to 1354 students, and the faculty from 40 to 100 instructors, while 17 new buildings were added to the equipment. On October 22, 1896, the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the first charter of the College of New Jersey, the corporate title was changed to Princeton University. Dr. Patton resigned the presidency in June, 1902, to resume the work of teaching in the Princeton Theological Seminary, and, at his own request, was succeeded by Woodrow Wilson (q.v.), the first lay president of the institution.
The government of the university is in the hands of a self-perpetuating board of trustees under the presidency of the Governor of New Jersey. In 1900 five alumni trustees were added to the board, holding office for five years. The requirements for admission to the college, since June, 1903, conform to the recommendations of the National Educational Association and the College Entrance Examination Board, whose certificate is accepted in place of the regular examination. The university is organized in three departments, the Academic, the School of Science, and the Graduate School. The college course embraces instruction in the three departments of philosophy, language and literature, mathematics, and natural science. Most of the studies of the freshman year are required, with election between French and German. The elective studies of the sophomore year are Latin, Greek, mathematics, French, and German, while the elective course of the junior year occupies two-thirds of the student's time, and the senior year offers seven elective courses. Optional courses are also offered for those who wish to extend their work in special studies. 
In the John C. Green School of Science four-year undergraduate courses in general science lead to the degree of B.S., and the courses in chemistry and electricity to the degrees of C.E. and E.E. The graduate department offers over 200 courses of study leading to the master's and doctor's degree in arts and science. A number of fellowships, ranging in value from $200 to $600, are offered for advanced work.
The university campus now consists of 225 acres. Nassau Hall (1750) contains the histological and paleontological laboratories, the laboratory of experimental psychology, the department library of geology and paleontology, and the museum. The dormitories include West College (1836); Reunion Hall (1870), named to commemorate the reunion of the Old and New Schools of the Presbyterian Church; Witherspoon Hall (1877); Edwards Hall (1880); Albert B. Dod Hall (1890); David Brown Hall (1891); Blair Hall, (1897), a sesquicentennial gift from the Hon. John Insley Blair; Stafford Little Hall (1899), which is joined by an extension erected in 1902; and University Hall (1876). Upper and Lower Pyne buildings were erected in 1896. The sod was turned by President Wilson for a new dormitory, presented by the class of 1879, on the day of his inauguration, October 25, 1902. There are two library buildings, the Chancellor Green Library (1873), refitted as the working library of the university,and the New Library Building, dating from the sesquicentennial. It is connected with the Chancellor Green Library. The general collection occupying the united buildings in 1903 numbered 175,000 volumes and 47,000 unbound periodicals and manuscripts. Departmental libraries and special collections raise the number of volumes at the disposal of the students to a total of over 265,000. 
The museums comprise those in geology and archæology, biology, historic art, and mathematical models. The laboratories include the magnetic observatory, in connection with the School of Electrical Engineering; the chemical, histological, biological, paleontological, and civil engineering laboratories, with the mineralogical collections of the School of Science. Other important university buildings are the Halsted Observatory, containing the Clark equatorial, of 23 inches aperture, for scientific work, chiefly in the department of astronomical physics; the observatory of instruction, with a Clark equatorial of 9½ inches aperture, devoted entirely to the use of students; the Isabella McCosh Infirmary, erected by alumni and friends of the university; Dickinson Hall (1870), for the work of the academic department; Marquand Chapel (1881); Alexander Hall, seating 1500 persons, and used for commencement exercises and other public occasions; and the gymnasium (1869). A new gymnasium was erected in 1902-03 by the alumni at a cost of more than $280,000.
The university provides pecuniary aid to deserving students through a large number of endowed scholarships and charitable funds. In 1903 the total student attendance was 1383, and the faculty numbered 108. The endowment is about $2,500,000, and the annual income about $275,000.
New International Encyclopedia, 1905 

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