History of Ontario County , New York
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Kindly transcribed by Deborah Spencer
From History of Ontario County, NY
Published 1878 Pg 68 - 76
THE HISTORY OF
HOBART COLLEGE, GENEVA, NY. (William Stevens PERRY, D.D., LL. D.,
EARLY in the present century, the academy at Fairfield, in Herkimer county, was among the most flourishing educational institutions
in the State west of Albany. In the year 1806, the Rev. Amos G. BALDWIN, who had just received deacon's orders at Utica, from
the hands of the Right Reverend Benjamin MOORE, D.D., on his first visitation of western New York, began missionary labors in
Fairfield, there being at that time in the whole of the State now comprised in the dioceses of western and central New York but two
clergymen of the church. These were the Rev. Davenport PHELPS, of Geneva, and the Rev. Jonathan JUDD, deacon, officiating in
Utica and Paris. The conviction was forced upon the mind of the Rev. Mr. BALDWIN, in the midst of his extended labors, that there
was a "necessity of training up ' the sons of the soil ' in our institutions, in order to secure them to the church, and provide ministers
for her altars." (Baldwin MSS., in College Archives.) "At that time," continues Mr. BALDWIN, "the schools were everywhere in the
hands of non-Episcopalians, and we had few clergymen near the academies which were flourishing in western New York, and there
was not a chartered college in this part of the
The Fairfield academy occupied a large building erected for the double purpose of serving as a house of worship and a school. In
this academy the worthy missionary officiated on occasional Sundays, and speedily secured the support of a large portion of the
community. Perceiving the advantages likely to accrue to the church from the possession of the academy, after the organization of
the parish had been effected and its prosperity assured, Mr. BALDWIN sought, in 1811, to obtain the aid of Trinity church, New
York, to sustain a clergyman at Fairfield, the "application being grounded on the influence which the services of a clergyman would
have on the minds of the youth educated in the academy there." (Ibid.) Writing to Bishop MOORE under date of October 8, 1811,
Mr. BALDWIN proceeds: "We do feel, my venerable diocesan, that in asking aid for the church in Fairfield, we are pleading the
cause of the church in the western district of this State. The academy in that place is very flourishing, and were a clergyman of learning
and piety settled there, the young men educated in that seminary would have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the church,
and the advantages to the church would be great." (Ibid.) It was with this far-sighted vision that the excellent Mr. BALDWIN took
the initiatory steps which resulted in the foundation of Hobart College
A vacancy in the headship of the Fairfield academy occurring within a few months subsequent to the writing of this letter, immediate
measures were taken to fill the vacancy with a clergyman of the church. Petitions soliciting the aid of Trinity church, New York, were
drawn up, and finally a plan was digested by the indefatigable BALDWIN, which was communicated to the Rev. Professor BOWDEN,
D.D., of Columbia College, a leading clergyman of New York, and interested in the missionary operations of the Society for the
Promotion of Religion and Learning, in that city. The plan was as follows: "The trustees of the academy authorize me to say that
they will give the principal thereof $550 per annum, and allow him to instruct four divinity scholars free of charges for tuition. The
other part of the plan is that Trinity church gives to the church at Fairfield $250 per annum, and to the clergyman that may be settled
then $250, as theological instructor in the institution, and that he divide among the divinity scholars $50 per annum, in the proportion
he may think proper." (BALDWIN MSS.) The resolutions adopted by the trustees of the academy, the plan of obtaining a collegiate
charter was proposed, it being stipulated in the event of securing the aid desired from Trinity church, "that the president of said college,
if a charter should be obtained, shall
forever thereafter be an Episcopal clergyman."
The plan thus warmly advocated by Mr. BALDWIN and the Fairfield trustee received the favorable notice of the leading members
of the corporation of Trinity church. The rector, the Rev. Dr. BEACH, the Honorable Messrs. Robert TROUP and Peter Augustus
JAY, Thomas L. OGDEN, Esq., together with Professor BOWDEN and Bishop HOBART, who had succeeded to the episcopate
of the State, won by the importunity of the earnest and far-sighted BALDWIN, entered heartily into the scheme proposed, and the
grant from Trinity church, by means of which Fairfield academy was secured to the church, was obtained. Subsequently the original
grant of $500 per annum was increased to $750, so as to provide for an assistant in the work of instruction, it being a condition of
the gift "that eight students shall always receive the whole course of their classical and literary education, and afterwards of their
theological instruction, free of any charges or tuition." (Thos. D. BURRALL's Report and Memoranda, 1868, p. 7.)
The Rev. Bethel JUDD was the first principal appointed under this new arrangement, but in consequence of his removal to
Connecticut, he failed to "fulfill
his contract." (BALDWIN,
The Rev. Virgil H. BARBER subsequently entered upon the charge of the academy, being succeeded in January, 1817, by the Rev.
Daniel McDONALD, at that time rector of St. Peter's, Auburn. With his incumbency began a new epoch in the history of the
institution founded by the labors of BALDWIN, and shortly to be developed, on its transplanting to another site, into the free
"college planned by
the Fairfield academy trustees at the time of their first application
for the aid of Trinity church, New York.
In the year 1817, the subject of theological education, which had been brought prominently before the church as a matter of vital
importance, received the careful consideration of the triennial general convention, and measures were taken for the establishment
of a "general theological seminary." The following general convention, in 1820, ordered the removal of this school from New York
to New Haven, Connecticut. In the autumn of the same year the diocesan convention of New York proceeded to make provision for
theological education, and instituted "The Protestant Episcopal Theological Education Society in the State of New York." (Journal
of N.Y. Diocesan Convention, 1820, p. 25.) To this society was intrusted the power of establishing a theological school or schools,
professorships and scholarships, and, in fact, the adoption of any measures-that might tend to the promotion of theological education.
The bishop, in his address, had indicated the policy of affording "facilities for retired and for a public education for the ministry." To
secure this the bishop suggested that "it may be wise to make theological endowments both in the country and in the city." To this
idea the bishop again and again recurred, and it was the strong conviction forced upon him by his wide experience, of the necessity
for the provision of the means of theological education at various centres of population and influence, that secured for Geneva
College the bishop unvarying friendship and support.
Before the next convention, measures had been taken, under the auspices of the new Theological Educational Society, with the
approval of Trinity church, and at the suggestion of the bishop, by which a "branch" of the theological schools established in New
York city was instituted at Geneva. The vestry of Trinity on the 8th of January, 1821, resolved to transfer the annual grant to Fairfield,
the Geneva school; and, a month later, the managers of the society definitely selected Geneva as the site of the "branch" seminary,
on condition that the inhabitants of this village would erect a suitable building for the accommodatic of the theological students. The
same month, under date of February 15, 1821, the following subscription
paper was circulated in the village of Geneva, viz:
"The vestry of Trinity church, in the city of New York, having heretofore liberally endowed the academy at Fairfield, in Montgomery
county, on certain conditions, have recently agreed to transfer the endowment to the academy established at Geneva, (We give, as
of special interest in this connection, from the originals preserved among the papers of Hobert College, the list of "Subscriptions to
Geneva Academy, 11th January, 1813," and a copy of the charter of the institution, thus merged into Geneva College, as stated
in the text:
"Whereas, the general diffusion of knowledge, in a country where the government emanates immediately from the people,
is of the utmost importance to the preservation of liberty, and an academy having for many years been established in the
village of Geneva, and been in a considerable degree useful; and, whereas, we the subscribers are confident its usefulness
and respectability may be much promoted by an increase of its funds, and the procuring its incorporation under the
regents of the University of
the State of New York, and becoming subject to the visitation of the
"We, the subscribers, for the purpose of increasing the funds of the said academy, promise severally and not jointly to
pay to the trustees, hereafter to be appointed for the said academy, for the use of the said academy, the sums opposite
our respective names, or to secure said sum by mortgage on sufficient real estate to the said trustees and their successors
forever, so that the interest thereof shall be annually paid to the said trustees and their successors forever, for the use of
the said academy, and, in default thereof, the real estate so mortgaged, on which said interest has not been paid, may be
sold by the said trustees or their successors, and the said sum of money, with the interest so secured by said mortgage,
retained by said trustees, with the costs, for
the use of the said academy.
"[Signed] January 11th, 1813.
One hundred dollars.
Lowthrop & Co...............................................
D. BURRELL...................................................... Fifty
Fifty dollars on demand.
One hundred dollars.
thousand six hundred dollars.
have been received from all
except three, not marked, agreeable to the written arrangement.
24, 1822. H.
H. B., late Treasurer."
Regents of the University of the State of New York.
"To all to
whom these presents shall or may come, greeting :
"Whereas, Jedediah CHAPMAN, Samuel COLT, Polydore B. WISNER, John NICHOLAS, Davenport PHELPS,
James REES, H.H. BOGERT, Walter GRIEVE, Robert SOOT, F.A. De ZENG, Thomas LOTHROP, John WOODS,
William HORTSEN, David COOK, Jonathan DOANE, William TIPPETTS, Abner COLE, Thomas D. BURRALL,
R.W. STODDARD, A. DOX, by an instrument in writing, under their hands and seals, bearing date the twelfth day of
January one thousand eight hundred and thirteen, after stating that they had contributed more than one-half in value of
the real and personal property and estate, collected or appropriated for the use and benefit of the academy erected at the
village of Geneva, in the county of Ontario, did make application to us, the said regents, that the said academy might be
incorporated and become subject to the visitation of us and our successors, and that the Rev. Jedediah CHAPMAN,
Polydore B. WISNER, James REES, Samuel COLT, John NICHOLAS, Herman H. BOGERT, Robert SOOT, David
COOK, Thomas LOWTHROP, Jonathan DOANE, Walter GRIEVE, William TIPPETTS, and Frederick A. De ZING
might be trustees of the said academy, by the name of "The
trustees of the Geneva academy."
"Now, know ye that we, the said regents, having inquired into the allegations contained in the instrument aforesaid and
found the same to be true, and that a proper building for said academy has been erected and finished and paid for, and
that funds have been obtained and well secured, producing an annual net income of at least one hundred dollars, and
conceiving the said academy calculated for the promotion of literature, do by these presents, pursuant to the statute in
such cases made and provided, signify our approbation of the incorporation of the said Reverend Jedediah CHAPMAN,
Polydore B. WISNER, James REES, Samuel COLT, Thomas LOWTHROP, John NICHOLAS, Herman H. BOGERT,
Albert SOOT, David COOK, Jonathan DOANE, Walter GRIEVE, William TIPPETTS, and Frederick A. DE ZENG, by
the name of "The trustees of the Geneva academy,' being the name mentioned in and by the said request in writing, on
condition that the principal or estate producing the said income shall never be dimished or otherwise appropriated, and
that the said income shall be
applied only to the maintenance or salaries of the professors or tutors
of the academy.
"In testimony whereof, we have caused our common seal to be hereunto affixed, the twenty-ninth day of March, in the
year one thousand eight hundred and
"Daniel D, TOMPKINS."'
of the Geneva Academy.
of New York, Secretary's Office, Recorded in Lib. Deeds
R. R., page 482, etc., the 25th day of February, 1814.
$1, paid by Mr. BOGERT
CAMPBELL, Dep. Secretary"
in the county of Ontario, with the intent to use all practicable means to raise the academy to the highly useful station of a college;
the transfer, however, to be subject to the reasonable condition that the inhabitants of the village of Geneva and its vicinity shall
furnish at their own expense a suitable lot of land and building thereon. Now, we, the subscribers, in consideration of the premises,
and to secure the transfer of the said endowment to the trustees of the Geneva academy, do hereby severally promise and agree to
and with the said trustees, to pay them the sums of money set opposite to our names respectively, and to do and perform the
several acts and undertakings hereafter promised by us respectively, at such times in such manner as shall be required of us by the
said trustees for the purposes
To this paper were affixed the names of Samuel COLT, James REES, F.A. DE ZENG, Abraham DOX, William HORTSEN, J.
DOX, Robert W. STODDARD, Thos. D. BURRALL, H.H. BOGART, H. DWIGHT, Nicholas AYRAULT, David HUDSON,
and others, resident
in the village of Geneva.
In the month of February, 1821, Bishop HOBART "visited the western part of the State, induced to this journey at this unfavorable
season principally with a view to consecrate the churches at Rochester and Buffalo, and to make arrangements with respect to the
branch theological school which had been fixed at Geneva." (Address to Convention, Journal 1821, p. 14.) On the 25th of April
the school was formally established at Geneva, under the charge of the Rev. Daniel McDONALD, D.D., who had been the head
of the Fairfield academy, and with the co-operation and assistance of the Rev. Orin CLARK, D.D., the able and learned rector of
Trinity church, Geneva.
On the 11th of June the branch theological school was opened in the vestry school-house belonging to Trinity church, Geneva, and
standing in the rear of the church, and nine young men were reported as in attendance, with the prospect of a speedy increase in
In his address to the convention of the diocese, in 1821, Bishop HOBART thus refers to the measures which had been taken in
furtherance of his plan for the
promotion of theological education:
"The Protestant Episcopal Theological Education Society, established by the last convention, has gone into operation, and the
report of the trustees, which will be laid before you, will inform you of their proceedings, and of the present state of the schools
which they have founded. The principal theological school is placed in the city of New York, and a branch of it in the village of
Geneva, in the western part of the State. The reasons for this arrangement, by which are secured to the candidates for orders the
advantages of a retired and of a more public education for the ministry, having been detailed in my address to the last convention, it
is unnecessary to repeat them. It is proper, however, to observe, that it is not designed to consider these institutions as entirely
distinct, but to afford to those students who, from preference or from circumstances of peculiar convenience, have pursued their
studies in the branch school at Geneva, an opportunity of completing or revising their course in the theological school in the city
of New York. By this arrangement they will enjoy the advantages which retirement affords for diligent application, and for the
formation of those serious dispositions and habits which are essential to the ministry, as well as the benefits resulting from the
theological establishment in New York, where the number of the clergy and the congregations of the church, and the opportunity
of more extended social intercourse, will afford to the candidates for orders peculiar facilities for strengthening and refining their
minds for obtaining that knowledge of human nature which is so important and useful, and for improving themselves in the
the various offices of the desk and the pulpit.
"In the city of New York, Columbia College, which is constantly rising in reputation, affords advantages inferior to no other
institution in the Union, for the studies preparatory to the ministry; and the corporation of Trinity church having transferred the
annuity granted to the academy at Fairfield to a similar institution at Geneva, opportunities will be thus furnished for these
"The handsome stone building which is erecting for the use of the academy, in which also accommodations are to be afforded for
the theological school, is situated in the village of Geneva, immediately on the bank of the Seneca lake, commanding a view of this
extensive and beautiful sheet of water, of the cultivated shores that confine it, and of the mountains that bound the distant prospect.
is considered by all who have viewed it as one of the most interesting
situations which are anywhere to be found.
"Its relative advantages are not less important. Geneva is situated in the midst of a very populous, fertile, and highly cultivated
country, having a water communication of a few miles with the grand canal which passes through the State, and being thus of easy
access from the extensive countries watered by the western lakes, and from those on the Atlantic border. And, indulging the
reasonable expectation that the academy there will, at some future period, be advanced to the privileges of a college, we must be
forcibly struck with the immense advantages of the contiguity of our theological school to an institution of this description. The
principal school in the city of New York, and the branch school at Geneva, both enjoying the advantages of colleges in which there
will be no influence unfriendly to the church, will be placed under as commanding circumstances as could well be expected."
(Journal of Convention,
1821, pp. 20, 21.)
At the same
convention the board of managers of the Theological Education Society
reported as follows:
"In the course of the last winter, several communications were received from the vestry of the church and the academy at Fairfield,
and from the rector, vestry, and the academy at Geneva---also from the corporation of Trinity church, New York, expressing their
willingness to transfer a certain annual grant from the institution in Fairfield to one in Geneva, should the board deem it expedient to
fix their interior school at a latter place. On mature consideration this change was determined upon, and the western branch of the
seminary was permanently located at that village, and is styled the
' Interior School of Geneva. '
professorships for the Interior School of Geneva are as follows:
of the Interpretation of Scripture, of Ecclesiastical History, and of
the Nature, Ministry, and Polity of the Church.
of Biblical Learning.
of Systematic Divinity and Pastoral Theology.
"As soon as the funds of the society admit, the salaries of these professors will be at least $800 per annum; and in the mean time,
and while they are engaged in other duties and receiving other emoluments, their salaries are to be fixed by the board of managers,
as circumstances may render expedient.
"The office of librarian for the Interior School is also instituted, with the same duties as are assigned to the librarian of the school
in the city of New
"Until statutes shall be prescribed for the regulation of the two schools respectively, they are to be governed by such rules as the
professors in each, with
the approbation of the bishop, shall adopt.
"The following professors have been appointed for the seminary in this city, viz: The Right Rev. John Henry HOBART, Professor
of Systematic Divinity and Pastoral Theology; Mr. Clement C. MOORE, Professor of Biblical Learning, the department of
Interpretation of Scripture being added; Mr. Gulian C. VERPLANCK, Professor of the Evidences of Revealed Religion, and of
Moral Science in its Relations to Theology; and the Rev. Benjamin T. ONDERDONK, Professor of the Nature, Ministry, and Polity
of the Church, the department of Ecclesiastical History being annexed; and the Rev. Henry J. FELTUS is the librarian. For the
Interior School of Geneva, the following are the appointments made by this board, viz: The Rev. Daniel M' DONALD, Professor
of the Interpretation of Scripture, Ecclesiastical History, and the Nature, Ministry, and Polity of the Church, and librarian; the Rev. J
John REED, Professor of Biblical
Learning; and the Rev. Orin CLARK, Professor of Systematic Divinity and
From a report of the professors in Geneva, it appears that two of them commenced their duties in June last, that there are now
ten students under their care, and that a building is in progress which will contain thirty rooms for students and a chapel, to "be
ready for the reception of theological and classical students on the first of May next." The report of these professors is also added:
the Professors of the Branch Theological School at Geneva.
"To the Right Rev. Bishop HOBART, president of the board of managers of the Protestant Episcopal Theological Education
Society, in the diocese of New York, the
professors in the branch theological school at Geneva respectfully
"The branch theological school was opened in the vestry school-house of Trinity church, Geneva, on the 11th day of June last,
and the following young gentlemen, intending to enter the ministry of the church, have been admitted members of the school, viz:
Marvin CADY, Richard SALMON, William W. BOSTWICK, Orsamus H. SMITH, Burton H. HICKOX, John A. CLARK, John
GAVOTT, Thaddeus GARLICK, and Ira WHITE. In addition to which, Henry GREGORY, Alanson BENNETT, and Seth
DAVIS are daily
"The trustees of Geneva academy are now erecting, in an eligible situation on the bank of Seneca lake, a commodious stone building,
(Now called "Geneva Hall," the oldest of the college buildings), containing thirty rooms for students, besides a convenient chapel.
The building will be ready for the reception of theological and
classical students on the first of next May.
Professor of Ecclesiastical
"Orin CLARK, Professor
of Systematic Theology.
"The board of managers have also directed their attention to the munificent bequest of the late Mr. SHERRED. They have made
arrangements for appropriating it in such manner as shall most securely effect the objects intended by the liberal donor. Twenty
thousand dollars are appropriated to the support of a professorship in the school of the city of New York, which shall bear his
name; $10,000 to the support of a professorship in the branch interior school at Geneva, also to bear his name. And further (should
the board of trustees approve the measure), two sums of $5000 each are appropriated to complete the establishment of the two
first professorships of $20,000 each, towards each of which $15,000 shall be paid by any congregation or society, or individual or
association of individuals, in the city of New York, on or before the 1st of May, 1822, and two further sums of $3000 each (should
the board of trustees approve) are appropriated to complete the establishment of the two first professorships of $10,000 each in the
interior school at Geneva, towards each of which $7000 shall be paid by any congregation or society, or individual or association
of individuals, not resident in the city of New York, on or before the 1st of May, 1822: the interest only of these sums to be applied
to the above objects
In furtherance of the measures already taken by the Education Society, or indicated as of importance in their report, the convention :
"Resolved, That the proceedings of the said society, in the establishment, under the authority of the Convention of the Protestant
Episcopal Church in this State, of the seminary for theological education in this diocese, and in the organization of two schools for
this purpose, one in the city of New York, and the other at Geneva, as detailed in the said report, be, and they are hereby, approved
and confirmed by this convention."
The convention at the same time :
"Resolved, that this convention will concur in any proper plan for consolidating the said seminary with any seminary, for the like
purpose, which the general convention may, in its wisdom, see fit to establish and permanently fix within this diocese; all the
essential provisions and regulations of the seminary now established, under the authority of the convention of this State, being
preserved, and a just influence in the management and control of the general institution being secured to each diocese within which
contributions may be obtained, or donations made towards its funds. Provided, that the terms of such consolidation be approved
by the bishop of this diocese, and the clerical and lay deputies from the convention of the church in this State to the approaching
special General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States; and that those terms be submitted to, and also
approved, by the trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Theological Education Society in the State of New York, or the board of
managers acting under their authority."
A special general convention was called to determine the questions arising from the "Sherred bequest," referred to above. This
convention was held at Philadelphia, October 30, 1821, and on the 2d of November a compromise of the conflicting interests was
effected: the general theological seminary was removed to New York, and permanently established in that city, while the "Interior
Geneva," by the terms of the compromise, became a
"branch" of the Geneva Theological Seminary of the American
The success which had attended the establishment of the theological school at Geneva emboldened the friends of the church in this
village to secure a college of their own. An interesting letter from the Rev. Drs. McDONALD and CLARK, to the bishop of the
diocese, gives us the inner history of this incipient movement towards a college and theological school combined. We print it from
the Hobart MSS. in the possession of the general
convention of the church:
"RT. REV. SIR,---We take the liberty of stating to you the present situation of our academic school, the difficulties which meet us,
and what we suppose to be the best means of procuring relief. We have tried the experiment of the academy since June last, and
have not found the results to answer our expectations. Not more than eight scholars, on an average, have attended the school,
besides the theological students. The receipts for tuition have been only about fifty-seven dollars, leaving a deficit of about two
hundred and seventy dollars to be paid by the trustees, who have a full call for all the funds that they can raise to finish the academy;
so that unless some plan can be devised for our relief, the academic school must be necessity cease. The following causes tend to
prevent us from having more scholars: 1. It is industriously insinuated that this is exclusively a theological school, thus some are
prevented from attending. 2. It is also insinuated that we will receive none but language scholars. 3. An opposition school is
maintained in the village. You can readily judge what class of religionists try to do us this harm. To counteract the evil of these
obstructions, we propose to appoint an assistant teacher, who shall keep a regular day school for reading, spelling, arithmetic,
and writing, and admit quite young scholars. Such a course, we think (and we have the concurrent opinion of the chief churchmen
here), would repel the insinuation that we are merely a theological school, and must have everything Episcopal; that we refuse all
English studies below collegiate; would break up the opposition school, and, what is of great importance, would be a nursery always
at hand and under our own direction to form somewhat of a supply of scholars for the classical department. But as this school will
do no more than defray its own expenses, and must be adopted at present for self-defense, we think it necessary that some different
division of the principal's time should be made, and a different source be provided from which he can derive a part of his salary. It
is proposed that he should devote half of each day to the classical department, and the other half to the theological; and that the
theological school in New York permit him to draw upon their treasurer for two hundred and fifty dollars per annum in lieu of the
same sum now charged upon the trustees of Geneva academy. The salary will then be paid as follows: five hundred dollars from
Trinity church; two hundred and fifty from the theological fund, and two hundred and fifty from the trustees of the Geneva academy.
Such an arrangement would leave the academy the following annual expenses: two hundred and fifty to the principal, two hundred
and fifty to the assistant, five hundred,---together with repairs and incidental expenses; and we believe that the academy can do no
more, certainly not at present, than meet these demands. We, therefore, take the liberty of suggesting to you, as president, and
through you to the trustees of the theological school, their committee of finance, or any other committee that can take cognizance of
the proposition, that they will direct the principal of the Geneva academy, as being professor in the branch theological school, that
the devote one-half of his time to hearing theological recitations, explaining or lecturing before the theological class, in conformity
with the duties of his office as professor, and receive from the theological fund two hundred and fifty dollars per annum in lieu of the
same sum now paid to him by the trustees of the Geneva academy. The advantages of devoting so much time to the theological
scholars are: We have found, by experience and observation, that our lectures should not be before the school of unconcerned
students. If before the school, many idle remarks will be retailed by such students as are not churchmen; for it is impossible, before
the theological class, not to call in question the opinions of others, and jealousy is much alive on such points. The expense that
devolves on theological students being considerable, seems to demand that they should have as much of the professors' time and
attention as can well be spared. By making the proposed arrangement, we can probably proceed one year (until the funds are all
called into action), without being very burdensome to the theological treasury, less burdensome than if we proceed as we now are;
because the academical part does find it
extremely difficult to be supported, while the academy is unfinished and
the debts unpaid.
"Further, we would remark that we conceive our plan to be a reasonable one, when it is considered that the trustees could hardly
have suspected that any expense would have to be incurred by them during the building of the academy, save for the building; and
this remark is of more weight when it is recollected that scarcely none but churchmen have subscribed anything, and that some
persons, not churchmen, have manifested a disposition not to pay their subscriptions, alleging that the thing is altogether Episcopal,
in which thing they claim to have been deceived. Now we know from what source all this springs, but still the burden lies hard on
the churchmen; they will do what they promised, and they can do no more. The academy will cost seven thousand, and the land is
worth two thousand more; nine thousand, all of which, save about five hundred, comes of churchmen. We hope you will give us
an immediate answer, or at least your opinion of what we may safely expect, for we must commence on some different plan from
the present one, in the first week in January next.
We are laboring with a project for a college here, but not having mastered any plan, we say but little now; hereafter, and that soon,
we will send you a detailed account of our scheme. In the mean time we hope a few of your thoughts, and those of our energetic
VERPLANCK, will be turned to the subject of an Episcopal
college at Geneva.
are, etc., most respectfully,
Recurring to the
matter referred to at the close of this interesting letter, the two
professors were shortly ready with their plan for Geneva College.
December 13, 1821.
"RT. REV. SIR,---We take the liberty of communicating to you our views relative to a college in this place. The necessity of having
one west of Clinton is obvious, and some other place will soon advance pretenses to it if we do not. We shall say nothing to a
person as well acquainted with the west as you are, relative to our claims, founded on local circumstances. But the necessity of our
having a college is pressing. A college gives great weight and influence to that denomination that has it and manages it well. We
could educate more young men, and better, too, in a college than in an academy; because it would be popular, and possessed of
better discipline. Such is the charm of a diploma to a youth, that he will ever prefer a college to an academy. Hence some will
leave us. A diploma, like an oath in disputes, cuts off all controversy, and the possessor is admitted by the world as competent,
without further examination. But what is worthy of deep attention in ecclesiastical concerns is this: he that goes to college must,
and thinks he must, proceed through regularly. He that is a member of an academy thinks himself at liberty to study as much as he
pleases and no more. Hence a college is indispensably necessary to us if we mean to have a learned clergy. Fifty thousand dollars,
exclusive of academy buildings and lot, will be required by the regents, before they will permit us to exercise college functions. To
obtain this sum to the satisfaction of the regents, we propose: 1st. To get the regents to accept of the Sherred professorship as a
part of the required fund (if acceded to by the trustees of the theological school), which is $10,000. 2d. We hope Trinity church
would, in case we could obtain a charter, convert her donation into an annuity, which would count $11,000 more. 3d. We would
hope to have another professorship here, $10,000 more, making $31,000. We think $9000 could be filled with subscriptions of
lands, and some lands might perhaps be obtained from the State. And $10,000, the remainder, must be solicited through the
secured on property, where the principal was not paid down.
"The professors in the theological school might be officers in the college. Thus, the president might receive the stipend from
Trinity church. There might be a professor of divinity, as in New Haven; and the professor of ecclesiastical history might be
professor of languages and history
generally. The professor of
divinity might also be professor of logic and rhetoric.
"We press, and think there is more need of pressure, upon this point of a college from this consideration: Without flattery, we think
that the whole weight of the theological branch here rests upon you. Sir, you are its author and supporter. But what guaranty have
we of your life, of the good will of your successor, or of the favorable views of other States towards us after your exertions shall
have ceased by the course of nature? But if we had a college with the proper professors, sanctioned by the trustees of the
theological school, we should be safe, and always have the means of educating young men ourselves. Party feelings could do little
mischief to a college, but might
destroy a branch theological school.
"This winter seems to present a combination of favorable circumstances for us to apply. Mr. VERPLANCK is in the Legislature;
no application of the kind is pending. The census is recent, by which the importance of this western world is fresh in the minds of
all; and the west is favorable to the majority in politics. Our friends here are decidedly for making an application this winter.
Colonel TROUP thinks there will be no difficulty in obtaining a charter. There will probably be difficulties in obtaining the charter
as we want it.
We want it to be our own, but the property given must secure
the control of it.
"We hope to hear from you touching this point; in the mean time we shall open communication with Mr. VERPLANCK, with whom
we trust you will consult, and assist us to do so. The legal course of procedure in the actual application is pointed out in the statutes,
but we wish to have the thing well understood by the
church before we move, that there may be unity in motion.
are, with great respect and obedience.
much obliged and dutiful presbyters,
With the bishop's approval, and in accordance with the views so ably expressed in the letters written by Professors McDONALD
and CLARK to their diocesan on the 22d of January, 1822, the trustees of the Geneva academy petitioned the regents of the
university for a college charter. The petition was as follows:
Regents of the University of the State of New York.
"The petition of the trustees of the Geneva academy most respectfully sheweth: That your petitioners, solicitous for the prosperity
of the institution with whose interests they are entrusted, and satisfied that the step they contemplate is the only effectual means of
securing the ends for which it was established, have determined to make an effort to procure for it such endowments as they trust
may, in the estimation of
your honorable body, entitle it to the important powers and privileges
of a college.
"The necessity of such an institution in this part of the country cannot but be obvious to all who have the least acquaintance with
the extent, resources, and population of the western counties of this State. The simple fact that there are, in the contemplated
district of country, more than half a million of people whose average distance from any college is more than one hundred miles, is
sufficient, it is presumed, to put this point beyond question. Another instance of a population of equal extent who are so far
removed from the advantages of such an institution does not, it is
confidently believed, exist in the United States.
"Your petitioners are aware of the prevalence of an opinion that the multiplication of colleges is unfavorable to the advancement
of literature and science, and that the number already chartered is sufficient for all the purposes of public education. But this idea
is certainly incorrect, except in places where they are located so near as to interfere with each other, and cannot apply in the case
under consideration, as Geneva is situated at such a distance from Clinton as must preclude the apprehension of any injury to the
college at that place by the establishment of a like institution at
"In a general view the idea is at variance with both reason and fact. No principle can be more obvious than that the diffusion of
knowledge and the advantages of learning will be in proportion to the facilities afforded for acquiring them. But the fact that the most
flourishing and respectable colleges in the Union are situated in those States whose population is far less than that of the contemplated
district, is an ample refutation of the
"Your petitioners, sensible that private and local interest ought ever to yield to considerations of public good, have been guided
solely by a regard to this object in naming Geneva as the proper place for a college in the western district, and they assert, without
fear of contradiction, that no spot more eligible in all respects can be selected within its limits. It possesses all the local advantages
that can be desired for a literary institution. In its position it is central, and is easily accessible, by means of the lakes and Erie canal,
to a vast population. It is surrounded by a country of great fertility, abundant in every production that can contribute to the wealth
and comfort of its
inhabitants, and in beauty and healthfulness is not surpassed by any
place in this or any other country.
" Upon the whole, your petitioners are confident that when your honorable body shall take into consideration the destitute situation
of this part of our State, its great and increasing population, and the great advantages to be derived to it from a well regulated
and liberally endowed college, the only question which will present itself to your deliberation will be whether we have a reasonable
prospect of raising funds sufficient to render such an institution useful and respectable. As to this point, your petitioners beg leave
to state that they entertain no fears, and they would cherish the hope that what they have already done may be viewed as a pledge
of their success in the
accomplishment of this important object.
They have, as trustees of the academy, property, well secured, to
the amount of ...............................$1,500
Also a lot, for buildings, of eight acres, valued at
On which they have erected a large stone edifice, containing a
chapel and rooms for the accommodation of sixty
They also receive an annuity from the corporation of Trinity church, New York, of seven hundred and fifty dollars per annum, for
the support of a principal and assistant in the academy, which, it is expected, would be rendered permanent to the president of the
college, and which arises from a principal of not less than......................................................10,714 Total $21,714
"In addition to which they have encouragement of aid from other sources, from which they feel justified in calculating with confidence
upon raising funds within the term of three years to the amount of more than fifty thousand dollars, and which shall produce annually
more than three thousand
"Wherefore your petitioners humbly pray your honorable body to grant them college powers, to take effect at the expiration of
three years from the date of the grant, provided your petitioners within that period shall acquire permanent funds as your honorable
body shall deem sufficient for the
important objects of collegiate education.
petitioners will ever pray.
"By order of the
board of trustees of Geneva academy.
"James REES, "Senior Trustees. (College archives.)
The result of this
application appears in the following document on file among the college
"In pursuance of a resolution of the regents of the University of the State of New York, passed April 10, 1822, it is hereby certified
that the regents have declared their approbation of the plan on which it is intended to found and provide for a college at Geneva, in
the county of Ontario, and that the term of three years be allowed for completing the same; and if at the expiration of that time it shall
appear to the satisfaction of the regents that the said plan has been executed, and that permanent funds, producing annually the sum
of four thousand dollars or upwards, for the benefit of said institution, have been properly secured, the said regents have further
declared that the said institution shall thereupon be incorporated as a college according to the laws of the State and the regulations
of the regents.
whereof the seal of the said regents is hereunto affixed at the city of
Albany, the 16th day of April, 1823.
"Gideon HAWLEY, Secretary.
term of three years commenced on the 10th day of April, 1822.
"G. HAWLEY, Secretary."
A hurried letter (from the unpublished Hobart MSS, in the keeping of the general convention of the church) from the Rev. William B.
of St. Peter's, Albany, to Bishop HOBART, gives the secret history of
"RT, REV. SIR,---The regents have this moment decided (five against three) to grant the Geneva petition, on condition that the
corporation raise a fund that shall produce an annual income of four thousand dollars. So I trust we shall have an Episcopal college
in the State of New
A letter written the following day by the Hon. William A. DUER to the bishop intimates that in the case of the Ithaca petition, granted
on the same terms, the pecuniary requirement was considered as effectually precluding the possibility of the petitioners' success. In
view of the strenuous opposition made to the Geneva project, to which the Hobart correspondence bears ample testimony, it may
there were hopes that a like failure might attend both projects.
An interesting letter from the bishop, which we give from the original MS, preserved among the college files, throws further light
upon the history of this interesting
"New York, April
"MY DEAR SIR,---You must not suppose because you have not heard from me that I have been indifferent to the application from
Geneva for a college. The moment I heard of it I took all the measures in my power to promote its success, and addressed letters
to several of the regents, and in some cases, I believe, with effect. You are much indebted for the success of the application to Mr.
DUER and Mr. VERPLANCK, particularly the former, who brought in the report to the regents, and I think it would be well for
yourself and Mr. CLARK and some of the friends of the church at Geneva to write to him a letter of thanks. It is unfortunate that
Ithaca is connected with you. But there was no help for it. They will find it difficult, I should think, to raise four thousand dollars
per annum, and I am afraid this will be
difficulty with you. Means,
however, must be devised for surmounting it.
"You, who know how much I have thought and how much I have planned and labored for this object, can readily conceive my
gratification at seeing it thus far accomplished,---sooner, indeed, than I could have expected. Providence has favored us. I am the
more gratified, inasmuch as I have found it difficult to make the clergy and others in this quarter feel as I have felt on the subject.
And even now M. and W., etc., seem to care little about it. It will give unfeigned pleasure, however, to Bishop Bowen, of South
Carolina, who recently wrote to me, expressing, as he has often done, his deep sense of the importance of our having a college, and
wishing success to the plan in relation to Geneva. . . .
"The branch theological school is, as you may suppose, not popular with many, and it was not an easy matter to obtain for it the
arrangements which have been made. As our income will this year fall short of our expenditures, I have been afraid to press more
for Geneva than has been obtained. . .
"The organization of the college, particularly with regard to the trustees who are to be appointed, and other matters, will require a
great deal of deliberation, as much will depend on these measures. I expect, God willing, to be at the westward this summer, and
conclude it will be well for me to spend some days at Geneva. . .
"Very truly and
"The Rev. Dr.
In the report on the state of the church, at the next general convention in 1823, it is referred to as a matter of public congratulation to
the whole church, "that there is now a prospect of securing at Geneva, in this diocese (New York), what has so long been a
desideratum in our
church---a college, to be under the management and direction of its
Warmly as Bishop Hobart had espoused the scheme of a "branch" theological seminary at Geneva, the plan was not generally
"popular," as the bishop frankly confessed, and the next general convention in 1823 recommended to the trustees "to reduce the
expenses of the seminary by abolishing the branch school at Geneva." (Journal of the General Convention, 1823, p. 53.) This
could not properly be done without some equivalent; and to enable the trustees of the general theological seminary to effect it, the
trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Society for Promoting Religion and Learning in the State of New York, in February, 1824,
agreed to advance to the trustees of the seminary eight thousand dollars, or to secure the annual interest of that sum. The trustees
of the seminary received from the several parties concerned at Geneva, a formal renunciation of all claims on the seminary, secured
the annual interest of eight thousand dollars at six per cent towards the endowment of the proposed college, and in return to the
Protestant Episcopal Society, gave to its trustees four scholarships in the seminary. (Proceedings of the Trustees of the General
Seminary, July 1824, pp. 7-9.)
This instrument of renunciation we append in full, as it forms one of the important links in the chain connecting Hobart College
with the venerable Society for the Promotion of Religion and Learning, from which it has received so many proofs of interest and
"To all to whom these presents shall come or may concern:
"We, the trustees of the Geneva academy, the rector, churchwardens, and vestrymen of Trinity church at Geneva, Orin CLARK,
rector of the said church and professor in the branch theological school heretofore established at Geneva, in connection with the
general theological seminary of the Protestant Episcopal church in the United States, Daniel McDONALD, lately principal of the
Geneva academy, and professor in the same branch theological school, and Samuel COLT and William S. DE ZENG, a committee
charged with the collection of funds for the
permanent endowment of the new college at Geneva, send greeting.
"Whereas, by a certain instrument of writing under our seals, dated the twentieth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and twenty-four, we the several parties above named, acting for ourselves and on behalf of all others interested in the
branch theological school above mentioned, did forever renounce all connection between the said general seminary and branch
school, and all claims and demands by or on the part of the said branch school upon the said general seminary, on condition that the
said general seminary should cause the sum of eight thousand dollars to be appropriated towards the permanent endowment of the
new college then proposed to be established at Geneva, or should secure to its use and benefit the interest of that sum perpetually,
half-yearly payments, at the rate of six per centum per annum.
"And whereas, the said then-proposed college has since been incorporated, and the said general theological seminary has since
caused the yearly interest of eight thousand dollars, payable half-yearly, at the rate of six per centum per annum, to be secured to
the use and benefit of the said college by means of a grant for that purpose made by the Protestant Episcopal Society for Promoting
Religion and Learning in the State of New York, and an appropriation of real estate satisfactorily assuring the due payment of the
said interest, which grant and appropriation we have accepted and do accept as a full performance of the condition above mentioned
by and on the part of the said general seminary. Now, therefore, know ye that we, the several parties above named, acting for
ourselves respectively, and for and on behalf of all other persons and bodies corporate in any wise interested or concerned in the
premises, in consideration of the said grant and appropriation, and of the sum of one dollar to each of us in hand, paid by the trustees
of the general theological seminary of the Protestant Episcopal church in the United States, have, and each of us hath, ratified and
confirmed, and by these presents do, and each of us doth, fully and unconditionally ratify and confirm, the instruments of renunciation
and release hereinbefore
recited and referred to.
"In witness whereof, we the trustees of the Geneva academy, and we the rector, churchwardens, and vestrymen of Trinity church at
Geneva, have caused our respective seals to be affixed to these presents; and we the said Orin CLARK, Daniel McDONALD,
Samuel COLT, and William S. DE ZENG have to these presents affixed our hands and seals this twenty-fourth day of June, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six.
order of the trustees of the Geneva academy.
"James REES, Chairman and Acting Clerk, [L.S.]
order of the rector, church-wardens, and vestrymen of Trinity church,
"David HUDSON, Clerk of Vestry, [L.S.]
"Orin CLARK, [L.S.]
"Daniel McDONALD, [L.S.]
"Samuel COLT, [L.S.]
[Signed] "W.S. DE ZENG, [L.S.]
and delivered in presence of
Prior to the execution of this release, the first of a series of compromise measures by which the college has surrendered from time
to time prospective advantages or actual rights for the purpose of meeting a pressing present want,---the charter had been secured,
though by no means without difficulty. We transcribe from the original manuscript in the college archives the statement of these
funds, as it was presented to the regents of the
The funds of the
college now consist:
1. Of the old academy fund of $1800, of which the sum of $1500 is secured by bonds and mortgages yielding an annual interest
of 7 per cent; and $300 is secured by contracts given on the sales of the old academy lot, also yielding an annual interest of 7
2. The donation made by the society in New York for the promotion of religion and learning, which now yields a semi-annual
interest of 6 per
3. A donation from Bishop HOBART out of the Startin legacy, so called, which is secured by bonds and mortgages bearing a
interest of 7 per cent ....5,000.00
4. Amount collected from various subscriptions and donations, and secured by bonds and mortgages, about $25,000 of which is
subject to a semi-annual interest of 7 per cent, and the remainder annual interest at 7 percent .....33,800.00
Academy fund of $1800, at 7 per cent,
New York donation of $20,500, at 6 per
Starting legacy $5000, at 7 per
Amount collected from various sources, and producing 7 per cent,
In addition to the funds which have been invested and secured, subject to interest as above, there is a considerable amount of
notes and subscriptions, including several subscriptions for land. It has heretofore been estimated by the committee under whose
agency and direction the college funds were obtained, that about ten thousand dollars would be realized from this source. But it is
impossible to estimate at this time with any precision
the value of these subscriptions, as many of them are bad. (College MS.
Thus the charter was obtained, and the work, whose small beginning we have so minutely traced, brought to that point whence a
rapid progress was comparatively
On the 24th of May, 1825, the organization of the college under its charter was effected, a meeting for that purpose having been
called at the academy building. On motion of the Hon. John C. SPENCER, LL. D., (Subsequently Secretary of the Navy, a life-long
friend of the church and of the college of which he was a trustee, 1825-1840.) the proper officers were appointed, James REES,
Esq., the senior trustee, being elected chairman, and the Hon. Bowen WHITING, the secretary of the board of trustees. Thus the
new college was fairly launched before the world.
One feature in its proposed educational work demands our especial notice. In a circular issued in anticipation of the full organization
of the college classes under date of March 1, 1824, the following outlines of an "English course" are sketched, at a time, we believe,
when this feature of collegiate education was elsewhere untried, if not
"That the blessings of civil liberty---real blessings only when shared equally among all ranks of people---may be extended as far as
possible, and continued as long as possible, a general diffusion of useful knowledge seems indispensably necessary. This is so
universally acknowledged by all enlightened politicians, and is so universally received in these United States, both theoretically and
practically, that it needs no enforcement from any single institution of learning. But there is another light in which the diffusion of
knowledge may be viewed as of the highest importance to the community at large. It is where practical information is communicated
to citizens in all stations of life, enabling them to add pleasure to business, and extend their exertions for the means of domestic
comfort into fields of
research hitherto confined to the philosopher.
"The present extensive application of the discoveries in chemistry to improvements in agriculture and the various manufactures,
convenient or necessary to human life, demonstrate in the fullest manner the utility of diffusing a practical knowledge of the arts and
sciences among all ranks of
citizens, rather than confine that knowledge to the closet of the
"For these reasons it is proposed, should the plan receive the approbation of the honorable the regents of the university, to institute
in the Geneva College, besides the regular course of study pursued in similar institutions, a totally distinct course, in direct reference
to the practical business of life, by which the agriculturist, the merchant, and the mechanic may receive a practical knowledge of what
experience have discovered, without passing through a tedious course of
"Students of certain qualifications and age shall be admitted members of the college, with all the privileges of it, to pursue a full
course of the following
studies under the appointed instructors:
"1. Under the English professor they shall study the Philosophy of English Grammar, Geography, Rhetoric, History, English
Moral Philosophy, Logic, Metaphysics, Evidences of Christianity, and
shall practice public speaking.
"2. Under the professor of mathematics they shall study Geometry, Trigonometry, Land Surveying, theoretical and practical;
Mensuration, generally; Navigation Leveling, with reference to canals and aqueducts; Hydraulics, as applied to machinery driven
by water power; Steam Power, Natural Philosophy, and Astronomy, with the use of Mathematical Instruments, the principles of
proportions and Bridge Building, Drawing of Plans, etc.
"3. Under the professor of chemistry shall be studied Chemistry; the principles of Dyeing, Bleaching, etc.; the nature and use of
Earths and Soils; the fertilizing qualities and effects of different
substances; Mineralogy and Botany.
"4. This course of study shall consume at least two years, and the students shall be classed by years, as in the classical departments
"5. Students pursuing this course shall be subject to the same number of public examinations in every year as are the classical
shall equally conform to all the by-laws of the college.
"6. Upon the expiration of the prescribed term of study, such students in this minor course as shall appear, upon public examination,
to merit it, shall receive from the president on commencement day, if the president be so authorized by the honorable the regents
of the university, an English diploma, signed by the president and professors of the college, and which shall be considered an
honorary testimony of
application to practical studies, as the other diploma of the college is
of classical and theoretical studies."
Thus broadly did the founders of Geneva College lay the foundations of their educational course, preceiving at the outset the wisdom
of furnishing that parallel course of scientific instruction which, up to the date of this circular, (The same ideas are brought out more
fully, but evidently from the same pen, in one of the earliest printed pamphlets relating to Hobart College, viz.: "Observations upon
the Project of Establishing Geneva College." 8vo, New York, 1824, p. 8.)--in the wording and theories of which we cannot fail to
recognize the style and mental grasp of the
accomplished McDonald,---no other institution of collegiate learning had
The following year the Rev. Jasper ADAMS, D.D., at that time president of the college in Charleston, South Carolina, was chosen
to the presidency of Geneva College. Prior to this choice, efforts had been made in vain to secure the services of the present
Bishop of New York, the Right Rev. Horatio POTTER, D.D.; LL.D., D.C.L. Oxon., at that time a professor in Washington
(now Trinity) College, Hartford, Connecticut. Dr. POTTER visited Geneva, and it was only on personal and family grounds that
he quite reluctantly declined the invitation. The venerable Rev. Dr. John REED, of Poughkeepsie, New York, was also elected to
this post, which, after deliberation, he refused, on the
ground of a lack of special adaptation to collegiate work.
Prior to the entrance of Dr. ADAMS upon his work, the first class had been graduated at the commencement, 1826, consisting of
the following gentlemen, all of whom became clergymen, and of whom one only, the Rev. Orsamus H. SMITH, residing at Patterson,
New Jersey, is at present (1876), after the lapse
of a half-century, living and engaged in his life-work of the sacred
GREGORY, B.A., subsequently M.A. and S.T.D., and a tutor and trustee of
M. WHEELER, B.A. and M.A.
W. BOSTWICK, B.A. and M.A.
H. HICKOX, B.A.
Richard SALMON, B.A. and M.A.
H. SMITH, B.A.
The Rev. Dr. ADAMS delivered his inaugural in Trinity church, Geneva, at the commencement, August, 1826. A copy of this
discourse was published, (An Inaugural Discourse, delivered in Trinity Church, Geneva, NY, August 1, 1827, by Rev. J. ADAMS,
President of Geneva College. Geneva: Printed by James BOGERT, September, 1827. 8 vo, pp. 56.) and gives abundant proof of
the wide reading and thorough scholarship of the accomplished author. At this time, as appears from the "Catalogue of the Trustees,
Faculty, and Students of Geneva College, December 28, 1826," (Printed by James BOGERT, 1827. 8 vo, pp. 8.) the first of a long
series of catalogues which have been issued, with an occasional exception, annually, from 1837 to the present time, the faculty
consisted of the President, Rev. Dr. ADAMS; the Rev. Daniel McDONALD, S.T.D., Professor of Languages; Mr. Horace
WEBSTER, A.M., subsequently LL.D., and President of the College of the City of New York, Professor of Mathematics and
Natural Philosophy; Mr. Joseph N. FARIBAULT, Professor of the French Language, and Mr. Henry GREGORY, A.B., Tutor. The
latter gentleman had succeeded the Rev. John S. STONE, A.B., subsequently D.D., and lately the head of the theological school
of the Protestant Episcopal church at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the father of a president of Hobart in later years. In the senior
class there were five, of which two were students of the English course. In the junior class there were two, both English students.
The sophomore class numbered fourteen, eight being English
students; and the freshmen class, wholly classical, numbered eight.
In April, 1828, Dr. ADAMS, who had amply proved his ability as the head of the college, and had won golden opinions from the
students, accepted an invitation to resume his position at the south, being influenced, to some extent, in this decision by the fact that
his health was not sufficient to endure the rigors of our northern climate. The presidency was then offered to the Rev. John Churchill
RUDD, D.D., of Auburn, a name inseparably connected with the history of the church in western New York; but Dr. RUDD
declined the post. Efforts made to secure the place for the Rev. Dr. McDONALD, to whom the college owed more, doubtless,
than to any other man, failed, if we may believe the MS. letter of the time, (Preserved among the Hobart MSS.) in consequence of his
uncompromising churchmanship; and finally the choice fell upon the Rev. Richard S. MASON, D.D., an eminent scholar and a most
conscientious and devoted clergyman. His term of office covered five eventful years, during a portion of which he fulfilled the duties
of rector of Trinity church, Geneva, the mother-church with which the college had from the first sustained the closest relations.
Almost coincident upon the inauguration of Dr. MASON was the death of the gifted and energetic McDONALD, a loss well-nigh
irreparable. In the same year, all too soon for the interests of the college he had founded and nursed with infinite care and pains,
the venerable Bishop of New York entered into rest, and Geneva College, in the loss of the wise counsels and constant support of
Hobart, seemed indeed cast down and well-nigh destroyed. Toward the close of Dr. MASON's term of office a medical school
was established in connection with the college, which subsequently attained an honorable position among the medical institutions
of the land, and was finally transferred to the Syracuse University, a few years since, only in view of the attraction of students to the
great centres, where they could naturally secure greater opportunities for improving in their specialty. In 1835, the needs of the
college had become so pressing that the trustees sought relief in their extremity at the hands of the Society for the Promotion of
Religion and Learning. At a meeting of the trustees of this society, in July, 1836, further aid was granted to the college, accompanied
by the declaration, "That the intent of the grant about to be made at Geneva College is to advance and secure the fundamental object
for which this society was established and endowed, viz: the promotion of religion and learning in the State of New York, in
connection with the interests of the Protestant Episcopal church; and that the trustees of this society rely on the honor and good
faith of the trustees of Geneva College and their successors, that in
all future time this intent will be scrupulously observed."
Further stipulations were annexed to this grant. It was required that the president should always be a communicant of the church,
as he had always been, in fact, not only a communicant but also a clergyman of the church. There seems in this provision an evident
purpose to prepare the way for a possible necessity of intrusting the headship of the college to lay hands, as had been so successfully
tried at Columbia College. Other requirements with reference to free scholarships were added; and on these terms the society
became again the benefactor of the sorely-straitened college. At the same time, on the entrance upon the presidency of the Rev.
Benjamin HALE, D.D., in 1836, on the resignation of the amiable Mason, a new epoch in the history of Geneva College was begun.
For 23 years this venerated man---whose name will ever live, in view of the patient toil, the abundant sacrifices, and the
ceaseless devotion, rendered so freely, and at the cost of health and strength---gave himself to the arduous duties of his charge.
Order was established; harmony secured; the narrow means nursed and augmented, often by personal gifts and the results of most
generous self-denial on the part of him who, in giving himself to the college, gave all that he was and all he had. A life more noble
than that of Benjamin HALE cannot be conceived. Not for himself, but for others, he labored; and when spent with the untiring
exertions of laborious years, and rejoicing at last in beholding the fruits of his labors, he retired from the post he had filled with
singular devotion and success, throughout the length and breadth of the land, in the sacred ministry and in every walk of life, there
were intellectual sons of his who could and did rise up to call
him---their beloved instructor---blessed.
As a most valued and honored coadjutor to the devoted Hale, there was added to the staff of professors, at his incoming, David
PRENTICE, LL.D., succeeding the Rev. Dr. McDONALD in the chair of languages, and for eleven years, and till failing health
required a relaxation of labor, maintaining a most brilliant reputation for high scholarship, singular devotion to his work, and unusual
success in imparting the stores of a most richly-furnished and cultivated mind. For an even longer period, from 1831 to 1845, the
college enjoyed the efficient and valued services of General Joseph G. SWIFT, LL.D., as Professor of Statistics and Civil Engineering.
General SWIFT, who will be remembered in military annals as the post-graduate of the West Point Military Academy, in giving his
labor to the college, could not fail to inspire the students with admiration of a character at once so noble and so attractive as his own,
while the zeal with which he engaged in the work of his department made him a beloved and worthy fellow-worker of Hale and his other
Our brief allusions to the staff of professors during these early days of Geneva College would be sadly incomplete without full
recognition of the able and long-continued services of the late president, Horace WEBSTER, LL.D., whose term of office equaled
in years, though it was not coterminous in point of time, the incumbency of Dr. HALE. In the darkest days at Geneva College the
zeal and interest of Dr. WEBSTER knew no possibility of failure; and it was a touching tribute to the love he bore to the college he
had so faithfully and acceptably served, and the village where he had spent so many useful, laborious, and happy years, that after
attaining the highest honors in his walk in life in the metropolis of the State, he returned to Geneva to close within the sound of the
college and church bells his mortal career. To these noted names should be added that of David Bates DOUGLAS, LL.D.,
ex-president of Kenyon College, and for a year professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Geneva College. Rarely have
higher hopes been excited than by his coming to Geneva. Rarely has there been a greater disappointment than at his sudden decease.
The name of Theodore IRVING, LL.D., for ten years (1837-47) professor of Modern Languages, History, and Belles Lettres, will
recall his charming contributions to the romantic history of his country in his "Conquest of Florida," while the devotional reader will
not readily forget "The Fountain of Living Waters," in which, with transparent style and deep fervor of piety, he has given to our
religious literature a work that should not be forgotten. The name of Dr. Edward CUTBUSH, as professor of Chemistry, Agriculture,
and the Mechanic Arts, and that of a distinguished foreigner, General Henry L. DuCoudray HOLSTEIN, as professor of Modern
Languages, should be added to the galaxy of gifted men whose names have honored, as their services have adorned, the institution
to which they
gave much of their valued lives.
In 1836 the middle college building was erected for the use of the medical department. In 1837 the new college building was erected,
now known as Trinity Hall. In 1838 the State granted the college an annuity of $6000 per annum, which was continued until 1846,
when the grant was held to be inoperative by the amendment to the constitution made in that year. In 1841 the medical college building,
to the erection of which the State had granted the sum of $15,000, was added to the number of college edifices, and the middle
college building was appropriated to the use of the academic department. In 1848 the small building then used for lectures, and now
known as the Philosophical Room, was fitted up as a chapel. In 1849, the sum of $15,000 having been raised for that purpose,
chiefly in the diocese of Western New York, the "Hobart Professorship" was established and assigned to the department of the
Classical Languages; and on the completion of their foundation, the society for the "Promotion of Religion and Learning" gave the
college, in 1851, the interest of a similar sum for the endowment of a professorship. (Historical notices prefixed to the "Triennial"
catalogue of 1856.)
On the 12th of May,
1848, the following minute and resolutions were adopted by the
corporation of Trinity church:
"The vestry then considered the resolution heretofore submitted by the committee, to whom was referred the application of Geneva
College, together with their report and the accompanying statement of the Bishop of Western New York; and the same having been
discussed it was, therefore,
"Resolved, That, for the purpose of promoting religious education in connection with the church in this State, it is expedient to endow
the college at Geneva, in the diocese of Western New York, with an annuity of $6000, to commence on the 1st of May, 1866; such
sum to be thereafter annually expended in the support of professors and tutors, and upon terms, conditions, and provisos, and with
checks to be hereafter settled, so as to insure its application to the uses intended, provided the college shall raise, by subscription or
other grants, a sufficient sum to insure the continuance of the institution in its late efficiency, until the endowment of this church shall
"And it was
referred to the same committee to consider and report the proper terms,
conditions, provisos, and checks aforesaid."
The cessation of the State grant, however, created an immediate and pressing need, and application was made to Trinity church,
New York, for relief. How that venerable corporation responded may be best inferred by the following extract from its minutes:
"November 14, 1851. "Resolved, That the promised endowment to Geneva College made by this vestry on the 12th of May, 1848,
of $6,000 per annum, to commence on the 1st of May, 1866, be so modified as to allow instead thereof $3000 per annum in perpetuity,
payable quarterly, to commence from the first day of the present college term, provided that the trustees of Geneva College assent to
This grant was qualified by certain conditions, which were accepted and fulfilled: and among them was one, that the college should
assume the name of the revered HOBART, a fitting tribute to distinguished zeal and service in the work and welfare of the college;
and another, to the effect that any necessitous young man should receive his education and lodging in the college without any charge,
thus making this institution
of the church free to all.
This arrangement, concluded under the beloved and wise Bishop De LANCEY, was the salvation of the college. Trinity church and
Bishop HOBART must be gratefully regarded as its founders; and the college has had abundant proof that the parent has never
forgotten, and will not forget, her offspring. But the endowment of $100,000, which would otherwise have been received in 1866, is
by the terms of this compromise now only $50,000, at 6 per cent, and the values of money are so changed that, practically, even this
sum is greatly diminished. It may be hoped, if not confidently anticipated, that "Trinity" will from its abundance eventually make
The retirement of Dr. HALE, full of years and honors, was succeeded, in 1858, by the inauguration of the Rev. Abner JACKSON,
D.D., LL.D., at that time
Professor in Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.
During these nine years of abundant and successful work, there were associated with President JACKSON men of like spirit, and
hardly less renown as scholars, as those who shared the work and honors of the excellent Dr. HALE. Foremost among these---alas !
that he has passed away from earth---should be mentioned the late Kendric METCALF, S.T.D., who, for nearly a quarter of a century,
as professor in more than one department, as senior professor, and from time to time acting president, and finally, when worn out in
the work, as deservedly emeritus professor, gave to the college a life's devotion and all the varied powers of a singularly gifted mind.
Nor should the name of Edward BOURNS, LL.D., subsequently President of Norwich University, in Vermont, who was long a
successful professor of languages here, be forgotten. The Rev. William Dexter WILSON, D.D., LL.D., LH.D., now of Cornell
University, and Professor John TOWLER, M.A., M.D., the honored and beloved senior professor of the present faculty, are still
living. Their worth and
praise every graduate or friend of "HOBART" will attest.
In 1860-61, the efforts of President Jackson to increase the endowment of the college added about sixty-seven thousand dollars to
the general funds of the institution. The beautiful chapel, built after designs by the Messrs. UPJOHN and Son, at the sole charge of
Mr. William B. DOUGLAS, of Geneva, was consecrated on the 29th of October, 1863, by the Right Rev. Bishop De LANCEY, D.D.,
LL.D., D.C.L. OXON, the life-long friend and supporter of the college. The sermon on this interesting occasion was preached by
the Rev. Morgan DIX, S.T.D., rector of Trinity church, New York. The Rev. Henry A. NEELY, D.D., now Bishop of Maine, was
the first incumbent of the chaplaincy. He was succeeded by the Rev. Pelham WILLIAMS, D.D., now rector of the Church of the
Messiah, Boston, Massachusetts, and, after a lengthened interval, he in turn was succeeded by the present incumbent, the Rev. Walter
D.D., an alumnus of the college over whose religious
interest he is called to preside.
On the retirement of Dr. JACKSON from the presidency of HOBART, the Rev. James Kent STONE, D.D., son of the first tutor
of the college, the Rev. John S. STONE, D.D., was called to the position, which he filled but a single year, but little of which, in
consequence of family affliction, he was able to spend in actual collegiate work. The vacancy created by Dr. STONE's retirement
was filled by the appointment of the Rev. James RANKINE, D.D., rector of St. Peter's memorial church, Geneva, and head of the
De Lancey training school. Dr. RANKINE's incumbency extended over two years, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Maunsell
VAN RENSSELAER, D.D., late President of Deveaux College, Suspension Bridge, New York, whose term of office was terminated
early in the present (1876) year. During the presidency of Drs. RANKINE and VAN RENNSELAER, mainly through the exertions
of the bishop of the diocese, the Right Rev. Dr. COXE, assisted by the presidents and the local Geneva clergy and trustees, the sum
of $65,000 was added to the funds of the college, while various improvements, such as the purchase of valuable philosophical
apparatus; the erection of an observatory, and the purchase of a fine telescope, with other subsidiary appliances for the practical
study of astronomy; the fitting-up of a college reading-room; the increase and arrangement of the college library of thirteen thousand
volumes, etc., etc., prove that the college is not
On the 11th of May the Rev. William Stevens PERRY, D.D., LL.D., who had been elected on the 20th of the preceding month,
entered upon the presidency of the college. On the 31st of May the newly-chosen president was unanimously elected to the
episcopate of the diocese of Iowa. The circumstances of the diocese and of the election being such that there could be no doubt
as to the question of duty in the case, Dr. PERRY tendered his resignation to the trustees of the college on the 21st of June, which was
accepted by the board, after the adoption of complimentary resolutions, to take effect on his consecration to the episcopate. A
committee was empowered to nominate a new president, who will enter upon his duties on the removal of Dr. PERRY to his future home.
At present the
following gentlemen form the faculty and lecturers of Hobart College for
The Rev. William Stevens PERRY (Harvard College), D.D. (Trinity), LL.D. (William and Mary), President, Trinity Professor of
Christian Ethics, Startin Professor of the Evidences of Christianity, and Acting Professor of Intellectual Philosophy; John TOWLER,
M.A. (University of Cambridge, England), M.D. (Hobart), Professor of Civil Engineering and of Chemistry, and Acting Professor
of Mathematics and Modern Languages; Hamilton L. SMITH, M.A. (Yale College), LL.D. (Trinity), Prendergast Professor of
Astronomy and Natural Philosophy; Joseph H. McDANIELS, M.A. (Harvard College), Professor of the Greek Language and
Literature; the Rev. George F. SIEGMUND (graduate of the Universities of Halle and Berlin, Germany), M.A. (Hobart), Hobart
Professor of the Latin Language and Literature; Charles D. VAIL, M.A. (Hobart College), Adjunct Horace WHITE Professor of
Rhetoric and Elocution, and of the English Language and Literature; the Right Rev. Arthur Cleveland COXE (University of New York),
D.D. (Trinity), LL.D. (Kenyon), Lecturer on English Literature and History; the Hon. Samuel A. FOOT, M.A. (Union College), LL.D.
(Hobart), Lecturer on Constitutional Law; the Rev. Walter AYRAULT, M.A. (Hobart College), D.D. (Hobart), Chaplain and Pastor
on the Swift
Foundation; Charles D. VAIL, M.A. (Hobart), Librarian.
Hobart College is the college of the five dioceses of the State of New York. The five bishops of these dioceses are all visitors.
Three of them have consented to serve as trustees; and the rector
of Trinity church, in New York, is also a visitor and a trustee.
church possesses in this college:
(a) Endowments, inclusive of value of buildings ($53,000),
amounting to $266,000. Total
of college property, $333,000.
(b) Income from all sources, $13,700.
(c) A corps of eminent scientific and classical professors, whose names and college honors we have given above, all laboring to
give the highest tone and character to the scholarship of the college, the standard of which is not surpassed by any college in the State,
elsewhere only by the two great universities of the land.
(d) An incomparable site on the banks of the beautiful Seneca lake, in a healthy and beautiful village, where the social and religious
influences are of the happiest kind.
(e) A historic character, shown in this sketch, which is always
valuable to an American college, and is a guaranty of perpetuity.
(f ) A community of relations and claims that never can be shared by any future institution, growing out of the common history of
dioceses of the State of New York.