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Transylvania: Tutor to the West

John D. Wright
Copyright Date: 1980
Edition: 1
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Chartered in 1780, Transylvania University played a significant role as an educational pioneer in the developing trans-Allegheny West and served as its first institution of higher education. Strategically located in the growing city of Lexington, Kentucky, the university established schools of law and medicine at a time when there were few such educational offerings in the country. Noted alumni include emancipationist Cassius M. Clay and Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Two centuries later, Transylvania University maintains its commitment to the highest standards of the liberal arts education. Now passing its 225th anniversary, it remains an educational beacon for Kentucky and the South.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4920-2
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiii)
    J. Winston Coleman Jr.

    It is most appropriate that as this nation celebrates the bicentennial of its independence that Transylvania University, which was born during that crucial era, should also commemorate its bicentennial with a new history of its long and colorful existence. Chartered in 1780, Transylvania played a significant role as an educational pioneer in the developing trans-Allegheny West. Strategically located in the growing cultural and mercantile center of Lexington, Kentucky, this University was to draw upon the young elite of the South and Southwest for its clientele as it gradually overcame the obstacles of its frontier existence to achieve a national reputation...

  4. Preface to Second Edition
    (pp. xiv-xv)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  6. 1 Learning in the Wilderness
    (pp. 1-15)

    It was the year 1780. It was a time of revolution in America, and the end of the War for Independence was nowhere in sight. British forces, frustrated in their attempts in the northern and middle colonies to corner General Washington and the Continental army and force a surrender, had turned to the southern colonies. In May 1780, Charleston, South Carolina, fell to the British, and General Cornwallis assumed command of the army and began moving northward through North Carolina towards Virginia. The threat of invasion alarmed the Virginia assembly which had convened in the very month Charleston had fallen....

  7. 2 Division and Reunion
    (pp. 16-32)
    Harry Toulmin

    Lexington, along with Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis, was representative of what Richard Wade has called the “urban frontier.” In his authoritative study,The Urban Frontier: The Rise of the Western Cities, 1790–1830, Wade has convincingly shown that as Americans pushed westward two frontiers were established. One was the more familiar and traditional rural frontier with its particular way of life and values, and the other was the urban frontier. Contrary to the usual view the urban frontier was not merely a gradual evolution of a rural community into a more concentrated and diversified town community; it was...

  8. 3 James Moore and the New University
    (pp. 33-46)
    James Moore

    With more expectations and hopes than money, the newly-appointed trustees sat down to draw the blueprint for their university. The very title of university opened visions for the institution that the former status of seminary never had. At the first meeting the trustees resolved to appoint a professor of medicine and a professor of law and politics. To fill these posts they appointed Frederick Ridgely and Samuel Brown as professors of medicine and George Nicholas as professor of law and politics. Medical training associated with educational institutions was relatively recent, beginning in 1765 at Benjamin Franklin’s College of Philadelphia. Harvard,...

  9. 4 Problems and Slow Growth of the New University
    (pp. 47-64)
    James Blythe

    James Blythe had been born in North Carolina in 1765 and educated at Hampden-Sydney College. He was a dedicated Christian and staunch Presbyterian, and the ministry was his calling. Licensed in 1791, he moved to Kentucky shortly thereafter and was ordained pastor of the historic Pisgah Church and also the Clear Creek Church in July 1793. He remained associated with the Pisgah Presbyterian Church for nearly forty years. Robert Peter writes in his history of the school that “as a preacher Doctor Blythe was energetic and animated, and was a staunch advocate of orthodoxy....”

    William Leavy, who attended Transylvania during...

  10. 5 Horace Holley and the Making of a University
    (pp. 65-98)

    It was in late November 1818, that the travel-weary Bostonians arrived in Lexington. Notice of their coming had been received in time for welcome ceremonies to be arranged. In the evening the graceful three-story main college building was glowing with candles in each of the windows. The proper speeches were made, and the Holleys accepted the invitation of Henry Clay to stay at “Ashland” a few days while their own house was being readied. TheLexington Reportermade the proper and flattering gestures in acknowledging Holley’s arrival, prophesying a promising new future for Transylvania “under the superintendence of this accomplished...

  11. 6 The Making of a Martyr
    (pp. 99-117)
    Horace Holley

    From the time Horace Holley was being considered for the presidency of Transylvania University, his religious orthodoxy was challenged. During his visit to Lexington in the spring of 1818, he became well aware of the suspicion and hostility of the religiously orthodox toward him. This was particularly true of the Presbyterians who saw in Holley not only a threat to creedal conformism but to their long-held control of Transylvania. In larger perspective, Holley was a symbol of the continuing struggle in Kentucky between the liberal eighteenth century rationalism and Protestant orthodoxy described by Niels Sonne inLiberal Kentucky, 1780-1828. It...

  12. 7 The Phoenix Rises
    (pp. 118-131)
    Alva Woods

    With Holley’s departure the trustees were again confronted with the difficulty of securing an able president. The circumstances surrounding the New Englander’s resignation were hardly conducive to encourage a man with goals or beliefs similar to Holley’s to assume the responsibility for this institution. Because of his wide contacts, Henry Clay conducted most of the exploratory correspondence. Despite the Holley disaster, New England· was again regarded as a possible source for a new man, and Alva Woods, the president pro tern of Brown University, came to the attention of the trustees. Born in Vermont in 1794 into a Baptist family,...

  13. 8 The Failure of Innovative Education
    (pp. 132-144)
    Benjamin O. Peers

    As the construction of Morrison College neared completion, the trustees actively sought a new president. Thomas Matthews, Charles Short and John Lutz had all taken brief turns as acting presidents in the period following the departure of Woods in the spring of 1831. In December 1832, the trustees elected Benjamin O. Peers as Morrison Professor of Moral Philosophy, proctor of Morrison College and Acting-President of Transylvania University. Born in Virginia in 1800 Peers had been brought to Kentucky three years later. He completed his education at Transylvania under Holley who was impressed by Peers’ outstanding abilities. After graduation in 1820...

  14. 9 The Crisis in the Medical Department
    (pp. 145-157)
    Thomas Coit and Robert Davidson

    In the years following Peers’ departure, there were long stretches when the University operated under acting presidents. For example, between February 1834, and June 1, 1842, there were only two formally elected presidents: Thomas Coit, who served from July 1835 to September 1837, and Robert Davidson, who served from June 1840 to June 1842. Both these men were ministers, the former an Episcopalian, the latter a Presbyterian. Both men approached their new duties with hope and zeal, but neither of them successfully changed the moribund condition of the Academic Department. Fortunately for Transylvania, the Medical Department maintained its high reputation...

  15. 10 The Methodists Take Their Turn
    (pp. 158-171)
    Henry B. Bascom

    At the September Board meeting in 1841, the trustees passed a resolution which offered to the Methodist Episcopal Church of Kentucky the control of Transylvania University “so far as the nomination of the Faculty in the college proper & the preparatory department together with the direction of the course of studies and internal government of the College is concerned. . . .”¹ Thus came to an end the long struggle of Transylvania to remain unattached to any single denomination. It was a poignant confession of failure to persuade the Kentucky legislature and the Kentucky constituency it represented that Transylvania was...

  16. 11 The Period of Decline, 1850–1865
    (pp. 172-189)
    James B. Dodd and Lewis W. Green

    The period following the end of Methodist support of Transylvania was a dreary one for the institution, marked by futile rearguard actions against the inevitable decline in all departments of the University. Only a brief episode in 1857–1858, when the state gave its momentary approval to the establishment of a state normal school at Transylvania, lightened an otherwise gloomy period. This era, extending through the Civil War, was undoubtedly the nadir of the college’s long and fluctuating history, and the prophets of doom who consigned the school to the graveyard of institutional failures were numerous. Even Transylvania’s loyal supporters...

  17. 12 The Great Experiment: Kentucky University
    (pp. 190-211)
    John B. Bowman

    From 1865 to 1878 a remarkable experiment in higher education was undertaken in Lexington: the fusion of two other institutions with Transylvania to form one large university complex under the name of Kentucky University. This achievement was due largely to the educational vision, driving ambition and energy of John Bryan Bowman. This young Mercer County farmer was remarkably aware of the new educational currents in his day and tried, against great odds, to create in Kentucky a state university which could compare with other universities that were beginning to appear in the country. His failure to do so was based...

  18. 13 The Embattled Sectarians, 1865–1877
    (pp. 212-233)

    Confronted with a July 1, 1867, deadline of the Morrill Act requiring that at least one agricultural and mechanical college be in operation in the state, Bowman worked feverishly to secure the necessary land and buildings. This vigorous man with his long beard and dark, intense eyes had employed his persuasive powers to convince Lexingtonians to pledge generously to the project, and early in 1866 he purchased the fine home and estate of Henry Clay’s “Ashland for $90,000. Adjoining “Ashland” was the large estate of J. B. Tilford known as “Woodlands,” which Bowman also purchased for an additional $40,000. Thus...

  19. 14 Apes, Girls, and ‘Daddy’ Loos
    (pp. 234-257)
    Henry White and Charles Loos

    The collapse of Bowman’s dream of a great state university signaled the second failure of Kentucky within half a century to erect a first-rate institution of higher education. With regard to the first failure, President Patterson once said:

    Transylvania might have been among the great universities of the country had the State managed its interests herself alone. But instead of this, she delegated, from time to time, the duty and business of its management to successive religious denominations, each of which promised great things, but accomplished little.¹

    The second failure resulted from the impossibility of erecting a state institution on...

  20. 15 The Creative Administration of Burris Jenkins
    (pp. 258-280)
    Reuben Lin Cave, Alexander Milligan and Burris Jenkins

    Between 1897 and 1901 two men filled the presidential chair for brief terms. The first was Reuben Lin Cave. Five times wounded while serving in the Confederate army and one of the famous 8,000 of General Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House, this native Virginian had gone into business after the War. Having decided to enter the ministry, he enrolled in the College of the Bible in 1869. He served a number of churches over the next few decades, interrupted by a few years as a faculty member and later president of Christian University, Canton, Missouri. He had made a...

  21. 16 Student Life from the Civil War to World War I
    (pp. 281-311)

    Nothing more strongly supports the contention that human nature has changed very little over the past millenium than a historic survey of student life in educational institutions in western civilization. Whether one delves into the ancient records of a medieval European university or those of colleges in America from the colonial period to the present, one is struck by the similarity of attitudes and behavior patterns of the students. The perennial struggle between the dynamic, rebellious spirit of adolescence challenging the entrenched discipline of the educational institution is ever present. The sheer exuberance of animal spirits as expressed in a...

  22. 17 The Beginning Struggle for Identity
    (pp. 312-330)
    Thomas B. McCartney Jr. and Richard Crossfield

    The period from the departure of Burris Jenkins to the end of Andrew Harmon’s administration was a challenging and critical one for both Kentucky University (or as it reassumed the name Transylvania University in 1908) and the College of the Bible. From 1912–1928 these two institutions became increasingly integrated — sharing the same president, faculty and financial resources. After Harmon’s departure in 1928 the process of disentanglement began, although not until 1938 did the College of the Bible have its own president, the first since the death of McGarvey in 1911. The interlocking of fortunes of these two schools raised...

  23. 18 World War I and the Heresy Trial
    (pp. 331-343)

    Outside political events intetfered only rarely in students’ interests. The college campus can become a rather isolated, self-centered community in which academic and social activities of the student wrap him in a protective screen of circumscribed interests and actions. Against this, editors of student publications have energetically fought in a frequently futile attempt to awaken the student body to an awareness and concern for realities beyond the campus. In March 1913, the editor ofThe Transylvanianspoke of the significance of Wilson’s inauguration, warned against possible United States intervention in the Mexican imbroglio a few months later and in December...

  24. 19 Transylvania Survives the Twenties
    (pp. 344-363)
    Andrew D. Harmon

    The problem of survival and identity became critical in the decade of the twenties. This was not immediately apparent as the University recovered with vitality from the temporary intrusion of the war. In November 1919, the boards of Transylvania and the College of the Bible agreed to launch a drive for over a million dollars for the immediate needs of Transylvania, the College of the Bible and Hamilton College, plus an additional two million dollars over the following five years. The money was to be spent in part on increasing faculty salaries by 50 percent, thoroughly repairing Morrison Hall, erecting...

  25. 20 Depression and War
    (pp. 364-389)
    Elmer Campbell, Raymond F. McLain, Arthur Braden and Leland A. Brown

    Following the tempestuous climax of Harmon’s administration, Transylvania desperately needed a period of calm evaluation of its position. This was provided by the serene and reasonable leadership of Thomas McCartney while the Board searched for a new president. It was not so much that McCartney had the solutions to all of Transylvania’s problems, but that the search for such solutions under his guidance proceeded in an atmosphere of thoughtful deliberation. His health, as always, was in precarious balance. This was one reason he would not assume the presidency permanently. His restatement of Transylvania’s purpose and nature in the fall of...

  26. 21 Innovation and Expansion
    (pp. 390-406)
    Frank A. Rose

    In January 1946, Raymond McLain returned to Transylvania after serving in the Navy for two and a half years. While away from the campus he had had time to view the College from a new perspective and to mull over his educational philosophy. Now full of new ideas and brimming with energy, he was ready to confront a bewildering array of problems. There was, first of all, the fundamental question of the future of the small, churchrelated, liberal arts college in the post-war period. There was the stubborn, ever present problem of providing adequate physical facilities, not only for the...

  27. 22 Expansion and Consolidation
    (pp. 407-430)
    Irvin E. Lunger

    The years from 1954 to 1970 were ones of phenomenal growth for a college that for much of its history had remained relatively stagnant in size and physical plant. Frank Rose had provided the momentum the College needed for its expansion, and the curators were faced with the difficult task of replacing him. A committee, headed by Frank Dickey, alumnus, curator and then president of the University of Kentucky, completed its work with the selection of Irvin E. Lunger.

    A native of Pennsylvania and a graduate of Bethany College, Lunger continued his studies at the University of Chicago, making a...

  28. Epilogue
    (pp. 431-434)

    In looking back over the two hundred years of Transylvania’s history, certain major features, stages, and recurrent themes are discernible. In the 1780–1865 period Transylvania sought to establish itself as a non-denominational public institution in pioneer Kentucky to become, if the state were willing, Kentucky’s university. After a period of modest growth under trustees with strong Presbyterian affiliations, the Holley years of 1818-1827 saw the amazing advance of Transylvania to become the most influential university in the West, matching in size and educational quality its sister institutions in the East, until the countervailing forces of sectarian hostility and state...

  29. Bibliography
    (pp. 435-440)
  30. Index
    (pp. 441-445)