Here and There at Tufts

Doane, Lewis


A History of Tufts College


He who today visits College Hill and strolls along the well kept paths, or beneath the shade of the trees which dot the campus, watching the squirrels at play in the chequered shade, would scarcely realise that hardly more than half a century ago this beautiful spot was a bare and wind-swept hill.

It was early in the year of 1847 that Tufts College was first talked of. Several members of the Universalist denomination raised the question as to whether the church did not need a college connected with it, to which youths of Universalist families could be sent. In those days proselyting among schools and colleges was much more common than in our own time, and this fact was a sharp incentive to those of the Universalist faith who entertained this idea. General sentiment was aroused, and preparing for action, when in the spring of 1847 Rev. Thomas J. Sawyer of New York opened correspondence with Rev. Hosea Ballou, 2nd, of Medford, Mass., and Rev. Thomas Whittemore of Cambridgeport, Mass., editor of the Universalist magazine, the " Trumpet." The result of this correspondence was the issuing of a, circular calling for an educational convention to meet in New York on the 18th of the following May.

Great interest was evinced, and the convention was largely attended. The Rev. Hosea Ballou, 2nd, opened the meeting and the question discussed was: I, Do Universalists need a college, and 2, Shall an effort be made to answer the wants of the denomination by the founding of a college ? Both these resolutions were unanimously adopted. It is


interesting to note that the site talked of at the time was in the valley of the Hudson or Mohawk rivers. The reason for this was that many entertained the idea of making the Clinton Liberal Institute a basis for a new college. However, the selection of the site was left to a board of trustees elected at this meeting, consisting of the following members: the Rev. Calvin Gardner, J. Burley, Eli Ballou, B. B. Mussey, the Rev. Thomas Whittemore, the Rev. J. T. Greenwood, Dr. Jacob Henson, the Rev. S. R. Smith, T. J. Sawyer, and Dolphus Skinner, B. Ellis, Esq., and Josiah Bartlett, Esq, of New York, Col. J. Kingsbury, Elijah Dallet and Dr. E. Crosby.

It was then generally agreed that the college could not be founded unless the sum of $100,000 could be raised. Agents were appointed to solicit funds, it being the idea that all the pledges should be binding when the sum of $100,000 should be pledged. Report was to be made at the General Convention.

The General Convention assembled on Sept. 14, 1847. On the morning of the 15th Dr. Ballou preached on the text "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required." In his speech the doctor made a very powerful and impassioned plea for education which profoundly moved all present. On the following Friday, at a meeting of the Educational Convention, it was voted to rescind the vote appointing two or more agents to solicit funds and put it in the sole charge of one man, and this duty was entrusted to the Rev. Otis A. Skinner. To this man's devotion and disinterestedness all sons of Tufts should be grateful. It was a peculiarly trying and arduous undertaking, in a time when money was scarce, and in a cause which many deemed visionary. He visited Universalists all over the country, and was so successful that on April 21, 1851, he gave notice that he should begin to collect the amount subscribed. Death and failure had somewhat reduced


the amount, but in all $97,000 was pledged and Dr. Skinner generously gave the remaining $3,000 from his own pocket, and the existence of the college became an assured fact.

On the 19-20 of November, 1851, the trustees met and elected the following officers: President, the Rev. T. J. Sawyer of Clinton, N. Y.; Treasurer, B. B. Mussey of Boston; Secretary, the Rev. O. A. Skinner of Boston. It was now reported that the amount available considerably exceeded the requisite $100,000 and this cheered and encouraged everyone.

The committee on location reported two sites; one, on Walnut Hill, Somerville, on the farm of Charles Tufts, and the other in Franklin, Mass., on land owned by Oliver Dean. In connection with the Walnut Hill site is told a story which has always remained a tradition of the College. A friend, talking one day with Mr. Tufts as to what he intended to do with the bleak and wind-swept height, received the following characteristic reply: " I will set a light on it." It was finally agreed that the site offered by Mr. Tufts was the more advantageous, and the gift was accepted. Although desiring the college in Franklin, Mr. Dean generously supported the young institution and also founded in Franklin, Dean Academy, which is a preparatory school for Tufts. After the acceptance of the site Mr. Tufts increased his grant of land, making in all 100 acres. As he was the greatest benefactor of the young institution it received his name. Soon after, Mr. Timothy Cotting of Medford increased the land possessed by the college by a gift of 20 acres. Among other benefactors of the college at this time must be mentioned Sylvanus Packard, of Boston, and Thomas Goddard. At his death Oliver Dean generously remembered the institution, and gave largely during his life.

The charter of the new college was issued April 15, 1852, and gave the right to confer all degrees except that of M. D, This was amended in 1867 to include that degree. At a


trustee meeting held July 21, 1852, B. B. Mussey, O. A. Skinner and Timothy Cotting were appointed a committee on building, and Hosea Ballou, 2nd, was elected the first president of the College. The labors of the building committee resulted in the erection of Ballou Hall, the first college building. It was built in the Italian style, of brick, trimmed with red sandstone, and on the 23d of July, 1853, with appropriate ceremonies, President Ballou laid the corner-stone. The day was one of rejoicing, and from fifteen hundred to two thousand persons were present.

The opening of the College was in 1855, but during the year 1854, three students were on the hill doing special work. During this year Dr. Ballou travelled in Europe, preparing himself for the labors of his office. The first examination for entrance was held Saturday, August 18, 1855, and on Wednesday, August 22, the formal opening took place.

The day of the birth of the college into the world of letters dawned warm and fair. By nine o'clock the people began to arrive, and long before the appointed hour the building was thronged. It was simply impossible to give seating accommodations to the immense crowd, and hundreds could not even get into the building. As originally planned, Ballou Hall contained not only recitation rooms, but dormitory and bathing accommodations, a chapel, a library, and rooms for two literary societies. How odd this seems to us now, who have so many buildings. After the inaugural address by President Ballou, dinner was served. Nine hundred plates had been provided, and hundreds who tried to obtain tickets had to be refused. After the feasting Dr. Ballou announced the following toast: " Charles Tufts, the venerable founder of Tufts College; may the fruition of his project gladden his heart through all his earthly journey." This toast was answered by the enthusiastic cheers of the assembled company. The following toasts were also responded to: " The founding of


the first Universalist college in the world; the success of this enterprise must be as gratifying to the numerous donors as it is honorable to the indefatigable agent," by Rev. O. A. Skinner. "Knowledge is Power," by the Rev. E. H. Chapin of New York. The fourth toast was: "The Tufts'College Educational Association," by the Rev. A. A. Miner, and the last: "The Treasurer of Tufts College," by B. B. Mussey, Esq. At the dinner about $4,000 was subscribed. The exercises were concluded by the singing of " From all that dwell below the skies," and Tufts was fairly launched on her career as an educational institution. Her founders builded better than they knew, and laid the foundations broad and deep upon which the Tufts of today has been reared: All honor is due to the faithful hearts who worked steadfastly for the future, and founded this college in a spirit of progression which has led and is still to lead it to greater and nobler accomplishments.

It is a significant fact that from the very first Tufts College gave evidence of that broadness of teaching which has since characterized it. At the time of the opening of the college, History was not recognized as a subject for college study, and under President Ballou's administration the course given in history was not equalled by any other institution in the country.

During President Ballou's incumbency only one course of study was offered-'that leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and the larger part of the college work was prescribed. Greek and Latin were required for two years and a half, Mathematics for two years, History for three years, and Rhetoric for four years. The work in modern languages was entirely optional. This curriculum offers an interesting comparison to the modern college curriculum, with its large number of elective subjects. When Dr. Ballou died, however, there was no one to whom the course in History could be entrusted, and it dropped from


the curriculum, not to appear again for more than thirty years, when the Department of History was organized.

The first catalog of the College was issued in 1854-55. It was a pamphlet consisting of about sixteen pages and showed very few changes in the curriculum, the principal one being the extension of Mathematics throughout the Junior year.

The opening of this year of 1854-55 saw the first Senior class in Tufts College. Its work included Chemistry, Intellectual Philosophy, Political Economy, Logic, Forensics, Mineralogy and Geology, Religion, and Rhetoric, with opportunity for the election of modern languages. In the years following a tendency to progress and liberality in curriculum can be traced. In 1857 Professor Drew resigned and A. A. Keene, a graduate of Harvard, was appointed Professor of Ancient Languages and Classical Literature. In 1860 Dr. Schneider was appointed Professor of the Greek Language and Literature.

By 1856-57 the number of students rose to a point which was maintained for several years. The class entering in 1856 numbered about fifteen, while the Sophomore class numbered nineteen. The Junior and Senior classes numbered nine and four respectively, while six special students brought the total enrollment of students up to fifty-three. The next year it dropped to fifty and the next year to forty-nine, rising again to fifty-eight in 1859-60, and dropping to fifty-three in the next year.

During the six years of Dr. Ballou's administration from 1855-61, one hundred and eight students registered in the regular course and twelve in special courses, while forty-seven men received the degree of Bachelor of Arts.

Thus before the war Tufts was launched on a career that boded prosperity. With a constantly increasing equipment, more than half a hundred students, and a corps of able and


devoted instructors, a brilliant future seemed to lie before the young institution, but he to whom its success was so largely due, was not to live to see the fruitage of his labors. Dr. Ballou was a man of great conscientiousness, and the work into which he had thrown himself with his whole soul, at length brought on an illness from which he died on May 21, 1861.

Dr. Ballou's gift to the College was his library, which for the time was a remarkably fine one. Students to-day, in looking through the volumes of our library often find books whose margins are closely annotated in the fine scholarly writing of Dr. Ballou, and we cannot but think that he who wrote them filled well his place, and that without his painstaking care and lofty ideals Tufts College would scarcely be what it is to-day.

For a year after Dr. Ballou's death the College remained without an official head. During this time its affairs were well administered by Professor Marshall. On account of the low finances of the College it was thought that Alonzo Ames Miner, D.D., because of his energy and splendid business ability, would be the best man for the position, which was accordingly offered him, and on the eleventh of July, 1862, he was inaugurated.

When Dr. Miner assumed the responsibility of his position he found the College with an income of about one thousand dollars and a debt of eighteen thousand, which was increasing at the rate of nearly five thousand dollars annually. When he left the presidency, the assets of the College amounted to nearly a million dollars, although expenses had greatly increased, and owing to the great Boston fire of 1872, manufacturing interests in which college money was invested, had greatly depreciated.

But it was not merely as an executive business man that Dr. Miner took high rank, but also as a teacher. The influence of his powerful personality upon those who came under his instruction was great, although it is as an administrator that he is chiefly remembered.


He did not relinquish his pastorate in Boston, and came nearly every day to the Hill, conducting classes in Ethics and Political Economy.

During his administration several gifts came to the college. Mention has been made of Thomas A. Goddard and Sylvanus Packard, whose gifts were constant. During this period Dr. William J. Walker of Newport, R. I., bequeathed about two hundred thousand dollars to the college. Although not a Universalist, and deeply interested in Harvard University, he foresaw the career before the younger college. The first large sum which the College received after the accession of Dr. Miner was from his own parish, amounting to about seventeen thousand dollars. The state gave the sum of fifty thousand dollars on condition that the College furnish a like amount, and thus one hundred thousand dollars more was obtained.

In Dr. Miner's administration but one new building was erected. This was West Hall, a four-storied brick dormitory which is still, perhaps, the most popular dormitory on the Hill.

As the resources increased, the curriculum was expanded by the establishment of a Philosophical Course and a Department of Engineering. In 1861 Professor Brown was engaged as tutor in Mathematics and four years later was given charge of the Department. In 1864 Professor Dearborn was called to the chair of Latin, and Professor Shipman to take charge of the departments of Rhetoric, Logic, and English Literature. In 1866 a chair of Oratory was established with Moses True Brown as its incumbent. In 1869 an instructorship in vocal music was established. In 1871 Charles E. Fay of the class of '68 was appointed Wade Professor of Modern Languages. In 1874 Amos E. Dolbear, A.M., M.E., a man already prominent in the scientific world, was appointed Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Facilities for work in science and modern languages were increased and a few more electives added.

In 1865 a course in Engineering leading to the degree of Civil Engineer was established. In 1868-69 T. Willis Pratt, C.E. was instructor, being assisted by Mr. Kinsman as Instructor in Applied Mathematics; and in 1869 Charles D. Bray, C.E., was appointed instructor in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, being advanced to the grade of professor the year following. This course originally extended over three years. Mathematics, Physical Sciences, French, Rhetoric, Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Political Economy, and Logic were among the requirements of the course, and lectures on Mercantile Usages and Christian Evidences were introduced in the third year. It was not long, however, before this course was placed on a strictly technical basis. In 1874 it included Surveying, Drafting, Construction, Mechanics, Field Engineering, and Chemistry.

In 1869 another department, the Divinity School, was added.

The number of students increased with the facilities, and in 1874 there were eighty-three in attendance, forty-seven being in the regular course of Liberal Arts.

Athletics were fast becoming a prominent feature of college life. Baseball was introduced in 1863 and football followed ten years later. A fencing club was organized, of which Professors Tousey and Bray were honorary members. In the spring of 1865, a four-oared lapstreak boat was purchased by members of Theta Delta Chi and placed in a boat house on the Mystic. There was no regular crew, but C. V. Curtis, '66, was coxwain. Shortly after this some members of Zeta Psi purchased a boat, and friendly contests took place. The Tufts Athletic Association was formed in November, 1874, and on the fourth of that month the first athletic contest was held. The events comprised a mile walk, mile run, one hundred yard dash, wheelbarrow race, high and broad jump, sack race, and three-legged race.

On December 3, 1874, at the end of the first half of the college year, Dr. Miner resigned


the presidency. He felt that he should either have to give up the College or his parish, and believing that the work for which he had assumed the presidency had been accomplished, he resigned. During his administration the College increased wonderfully in endowment, equipment, and in general facilities; and it is due largely to his great executive ability that this was accomplished. He put the College firmly on its feet and prepared it well for the further work that it was destined to accomplish in the line of education.

At the resignation of Dr. Miner, the Trustees cast about for another suitable man, and for a while the name of the Hon. Israel Washburn, Jr., ex-Governor of Maine, was considered, but it was finally decided to put a graduate at the head, and on March 2, 1875 the Rev. Elmer Hewitt Capen was nominated, and soon after elected. His inauguration took place on June 2 of the same year.

Owing to the briefness of this history, Dr. Capen's administration will be considered only as regards its effects. Under Dr. Ballou a place was prepared for the College, under Dr. Miner this place was made secure, and under Dr. Capen " Progress " was the watchword. He, as no other, enlarged its scope and placed it in the front rank of New England colleges.

It was noticeable soon after his administration began that the courses gained in liberality and opportunity for election. It was soon after this that the scheme in vogue up till 1907, the requirement of 128 term hours for a degree, the greater part of which were elective, was instituted.

The College grew rapidly. By 1886 the library had reached such proportions that a stack was built on the rear of Middle Hall, which ever since has been the Library. Many buildings were erected during President Capen's term; Goddard Chapel, one of the finest gems of architecture in the country, the Gymnasium, both the gift of Mrs. Mary T. Goddard


in memory of her husband; Barnum Museum was erected in 1882, and here the remains of immortal Jumbo rest. Dean Hall was built in 1886, and in 1894 the Bromfield-Pearson School was established from funds left by Henry B. Pearson.

In 1892 the college was opened to women and in 1894 Metcalf Hall was erected as their dormitory. In this year were also built the Chemical Laboratory and Commons Hall. The number of students increased rapidly and money also flowed into the college from various sources. In 1892, by the gift of ex-President Miner, the hall was built which bears his name, and made a very necessary addition to the Divinity School. Paige Hall was erected soon after as a dormitory for divinity students.

In 1893 the Boston College of Physicians and Surgeons was in rather a precarious condition, and several of the professors resigned, formed a school, and applied to the trustees of the College for incorporation. On August 29, 1893, they held their first faculty meeting. Drs. Dudley Nott, Thayer, Hall, Chipman, Johnson, and Wheatly thus became the founders of Tufts Medical School. On September 1, 1893, a building at 188 Boylston Street was taken and lectures began. The school increased so rapidly that an additional hall was leased on the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets. In 1900 it was voted by the Trustees to provide a building for the combined schools of medicine and dentistry and a building was erected at the corner of Huntington and Rogers Avenues. The school is the largest in New England and holds a very high rank among medical schools in the country. Great credit is due Dean Williams for his painstaking labor in behalf of the school.

Thus, during the administration of Dr. Capen the college expanded to university proportions, and it is to his splendid achievements and winning personality that Tufts owes so much. On March 22, 1905, he was stricken down, in the height of his powers. His name


will always be held in reverence by all who knew him, and he will always be regarded as having done his best for Tufts and having placed her on a commanding eminence among educational institutions.

Soon after President Capen's death, Rev. F. W. Hamilton, D.D., LL.D., was appointed acting-president, and on June 19, 1906, was inaugurated president. Dr. Hamilton brings to his office those qualifications which modern college presidents should have. He has, by his tact, insight, and unremitting energy, won the confidence and support of the members and constituency of the College.

In 1906 the name of the Divinity School was changed to that of the Crane Theological School, through a gift of $100,000 from the estate of Thomas Crane of New York, whose son, Albert Crane, '63, thus carried out the wishes of his father. In 1905 a gift of $100,000 from Mr. Andrew Carnegie made possible the erection of a fine, new library on ground opposite Miner Hall. Thus progress is ever being made, and the future promises an achievement for the College which shall be worthy of its past. All departments of the College have grown rapidly and in 1900 the Engineering Department was further increased by the erection of Robinson Hall. In 1899 the Medical School, by the absorption of the Boston Dental College, was enabled to offer courses in these branches.

Thus we bring this short history to a close. It is in many respects faulty, as must necessarily be from its length, but if it has given some idea of the growth of the College, its purpose has been fulfilled. We are indebted to the editors of the history published by the class of 1897, which has been followed in making this history.

  • Here and There at Tufts, was published by the class of 1909 as an early form of a yearbook. The text includes photographs and histories of academic buildings, dormitories, former deans and presidents, classrooms, fraternities, athletic teams, and student organizations.
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