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Yale: A History

Copyright Date: 1974
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 600
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This lively history of Yale traces the development of the college from its founding in 1701 by a small group of Puritan clergymen intent on preserving the purity of the faith in Connecticut, to its survival in the eighteenth century as a center for intellectual life, to its expansion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a major international university.

    "For tasting one of the well-springs of a peculiarly American version of higher learning,Yale: A Historyis clearly to be recommended to readers anywhere. It will be read with profit as well as enjoyment."-Times Higher Education Supplement

    "Kelley sustains [his] theme well and reconstructs the institutional development of Yale with considerable skill and empathy. . . . A very informative book."-Journal of American History

    "Useful both for those primarily interested in Yale as an institution and for students of the history of higher education generally."-The Historian

    "A readable, accurate synthesis of Yale's internal history, fully comparable to the best single-volume treatments of other major universities."-Times Literary Supplement

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15798-7
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    B. M. K.
  4. Part One: The Critical Years, 1701–1739

    • 1 Founding a College
      (pp. 3-10)

      For a moment, the Western world was at peace. England and France had reached one of the quiet intervals in the series of wars they fought from 1688 to 1815. In 1701, during this brief pause, a college was founded in the wilderness of Connecticut by a small group of ministers.

      The dream of establishing a college in this little corner of the earth was an old one. It had originated with John Davenport, a founder of the New Haven Colony and first minister to the New Haven congregation. Davenport had been one of the original overseers of the “colledge...

    • 2 Wanderjahre
      (pp. 11-22)

      The task facing the trustees and the new rector was a staggering one: to build a college in a colony that was still largely wilderness. In all of Connecticut there were only about 30,000 people, living in widely separated communities scattered along the shore of Long Island Sound and up the Connecticut River. Nor were they a wealthy people. They had to struggle hard for whatever they had—farming the meager, rocky soil and trading their few products beyond their borders. To support a college they would have to sacrifice, but that they seemed willing to do. Many years before,...

    • 3 The College Gets a Name
      (pp. 23-28)

      If the trustees who favored New Haven expected that all opposition would cease after holding a commencement and beginning the construction of a house for the college, they were sadly mistaken. The General Assembly, which tended to favor the up-river trustees, was angered by what it felt was the New Haven group’s failure to consult before acting. When the legislature met in New Haven on 10 October 1717, the lower house called the trustees to appear before it to show the reasons for their proceedings “and Particularly Why they or any of them Have Ordered a Collegiate School to be...

    • 4 Ichabod
      (pp. 29-36)

      Timothy Cutler, the new rector, was only thirty-five years old. He had been born in 1684 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and was graduated from Harvard at the young age of seventeen in the same year that the Collegiate School was founded. Several years later some of the leading ministers of New England selected him to defend the faith in Stratford, Connecticut, where lived a group of Anglicans who had seduced his predecessor away from the orthodox faith. A determined, intelligent, persuasive young man was wanted to be the Congregational minister in the town, and Cutler seemed to fit that description. But...

    • 5 The Solid Accomplishments of Elisha Williams
      (pp. 37-46)

      The years from 1726 to 1739 saw the first extended period of progress in the history of the college. Free for a time from conflict and crisis, it grew steadily in strength, size, and stability under the wise direction of Rector Elisha Williams and the constant support of the colony. Williams made sure that the college provided a decent education to the young students, who came largely from Connecticut and western Massachusetts; the Connecticut General Assembly supplied generous infusions of cash to help make it all possible.¹

      The growth of Yale and the assistance provided by Connecticut may be seen...

  5. Part Two: From Sectarian College to the University Spirit, 1740–1795

    • 6 Tumultuous Years
      (pp. 49-72)

      Thomas Clap was elected rector a little over a month after Elisha Williams’s resignation. He was inducted the following spring, on 2 April 1740. For the first time since the election of Abraham Pierson, the search had not taken years. The new rector, a graduate of Harvard in 1722, was nearly thirty-seven years old. He came to Yale from his ministry in Windham, Connecticut, where he had labored hard to build up church membership, establish morality (as he saw it), and uphold orthodoxy. In fact, it may have been Clap’s far-flung activities in behalf of orthodoxy that brought about his...

    • 7 The (Extended) Interregnum
      (pp. 73-90)

      Though Thomas Clap helped to establish the Yale that was later to become one of the world’s great universities, he left it weakened within and under attack from without. Many students had departed—enrollment had dropped from around 170 to 100—and those who remained were in revolt. The General Assembly had largely withdrawn its financial support, and the dislike and distrust that this action indicated were echoed widely even beyond the borders of the colony.¹ The institution clearly needed peace and quiet to recover from Clap’s reign, but the tumultuous period which saw Connecticut and her sister colonies in...

    • 8 The Rise of the University Spirit
      (pp. 91-112)

      The war, the resignation of Daggett, the scattered college classes, and the need for financial assistance made it clear to the Corporation that it would be diplomatic to seek the advice of the state government on who should fill the presidency. If a successor to Daggett acceptable to the General Assembly were chosen, the result might well be new grants from the state.

      In consultations with a committee of the Assembly held in July 1777, the Corporation revealed its weakened financial condition. The committee recommended Ezra Stiles for the presidency and suggested that the General Assembly “should have a voice...

  6. Part Three: The Development of a National Institution, 1795–1871

    • 9 College Becomes University
      (pp. 115-139)

      The fellows of the Yale Corporation quickly elected Timothy Dwight as president. Dwight was an obvious choice: at the age of forty-three, he was a well-known divine, an excellent teacher, a prominent poet, and perhaps the most famous living Yale alumnus. He had graduated from Yale in 1769 at the early age of seventeen, became a tutor at nineteen, and served for the unusually long period of six years. After being asked to resign by the Corporation (see p. 99), he had gone into the Revolutionary army as a chaplain and served for two years until called home upon the...

    • 10 The Quiet Achievements of Jeremiah Day
      (pp. 140-170)

      If Timothy Dwight started Yale on the course it would follow throughout the nineteenth century, Jeremiah Day fixed it there. Day was Dwight’s own choice for president. At a faculty meeting shortly before his death, Dwight abruptly turned and said, “Mr. Day, you must be my successor.” The faculty approved this choice, but Day “utterly shrunk from it.” It appears that the Corporation may have preferred “a man of some prominence as a preacher, and of strong qualities”; and when Day expressed his lack of enthusiasm for the job, they turned to another. The Reverend Henry Davis (B.A. 1801), president...

    • 11 President Woolsey and the Growth of the University
      (pp. 171-208)

      Early in the year 1846 it was known that Jeremiah Day would definitely retire in the fall. With so much warning there was much discussion of a successor. In May one group began to urge the candidacy of Benjamin Silliman. Though Silliman in his later years was often considered by intolerant students to be prolix, wandering, and excessively anecdotal in his lectures, he was, to the outside world, the voice of Yale. As President Woolsey later said, “He, in his prime, was our standing orator, the principal medium between those who dwelt in the academic shade and the great public....

    • 12 College Life under Day and Woolsey
      (pp. 209-232)

      For more than half of the nineteenth century, daily life for a Yale student was little different from what it had been in the eighteenth century. A student of the earlier period could easily have written much of Donald Grant Mitchell’s description of his days at Yale in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Mitchell, better known as “Ik Marvel” clearly recalled

      the hardship of being routed from bed at half-past five, and of toiling in the winter season through snow drifts (before the days of Goodyear rubber boots) to college prayers at six; where the obscurity of the old...

  7. Part Four: Age of Uncertainty, 1871–1921

    • 13 Stagnation
      (pp. 235-272)

      Theodore Dwight Woolsey had changed and improved Yale. But as his term was drawing to a close, discussion and argument broke out over the course the university should take in the future. American higher education was reaching a turning point in its development and many men in and around Yale recognized instinctively that the institution was at a critical point in its history. From some alumni—the group called Young Yale—came criticism of existing conditions; from faculty came serious proposals for building a true university. The response of the fellows to these suggestions, especially in the selection of a...

    • 14 Beginnings of Change
      (pp. 273-297)

      The Yale Corporation hardly hesitated in its choice of a successor to Noah Porter. Though several laymen were considered, Timothy Dwight, an ordained minister and grandson of the first president of that name, was selected on 20 May 1886.¹

      This quick election did not indicate that the alumni were satisfied by the reforms of 1872. For perhaps a decade thereafter they had been quiet, but the whole question of the makeup of the Corporation was reopened when Simeon Eben Baldwin (B.A. 1861), professor of Constitutional law, corporations, and wills in the Law School, devoted a paper delivered at the New...

    • 15 The Rise of the Extracurriculum
      (pp. 298-314)

      There was good reason for the uneasiness with which Yale men faced the twentieth century. Interest in scholarly things was just reaching its lowest point in the history of the college. Years later the classes that entered in 1900 and 1901 would argue over which had the honor to be the worst class to go through Yale.¹

      The faculty wondered what had happened. Why had the old, simple, sometimes uncouth Yale of Day and Woolsey disappeared? Professor H. A. Beers noted in 1895 that the old individuality, the “accidental, spontaneous charm” which had existed when he was a student (1865–...

    • 16 Revival
      (pp. 315-347)

      Hardly had the Yale Corporation received the news of President Dwight’s forthcoming retirement at the close of the academic year 1898–99 than they were presented with a candidate for the presidency who was supported by many of the faculty and alumni. The man they wanted was Arthur Twining Hadley, Yale’s charming and brilliant professor of political economy. The Corporation was not so sure. There were several problems: Hadley was not a minister; he was young; and he did not seem very conservative. So the Corporation looked elsewhere. They sounded out several ministers, but none wanted the job. They even...

    • 17 War and Reorganization
      (pp. 348-366)

      Yale men were not of one mind about the Great War. Professor G. B. Adams wrote from England that Germany must be defeated, while Dean Oertel of the Graduate School reported from Munich on the thrill of mobilization in defense of the fatherland. Other Yale men prepared to fight. The university was well represented at the summer military training camps in 1913 and 1914.¹

      By 1915 a number of graduates were calling for the university to be more active in preparing for war. Never questioning whether it was proper for a college dedicated to training men for service in church...

  8. Part Five: Action and Inaction, 1921–1950

    • 18 James Rowland Angell and the Triumph of the University
      (pp. 369-392)

      The announcement of Arthur T. Hadley’s impending retirement set off perhaps the widest and most intense search for a successor in Yale’s history. Everyone recognized that the university had reached another crossroad in its history. If the advances made under Hadley—and especially the important progress looked for from the trauma of reorganization—were to be realized, no mistake could be made in the choice of the next president.¹

      A Corporation committee, chaired by Samuel H. Fisher and made up of men with a wide variety of interests from many geographical areas, was appointed to undertake the search. The members...

    • 19 “Holding at the Three-Yard Line”
      (pp. 393-422)

      On 13 February 1937 the Yale Corporation elected Charles Seymour president of the university. He had, according to theYale Alumni Weekly, spontaneous support throughout the entire institution. As in the case of Stokes, he was the most obvious candidate, but this time there was little opposition.¹

      A graduate of King’s College, Cambridge, in 1904 and of Yale College in 1908, Seymour had received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1911. He had then worked his way up the Yale ladder, taking time out to serve in Paris as chief of the Austro-Hungarian division of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace...

  9. Part Six: The Modern Era, 1950–1963

    • 20 March toward Greatness
      (pp. 425-460)

      When Charles Seymour decided to follow the example of Arthur Hadley and retire at the age of sixty-five, there was no clear-cut candidate for the presidency of Yale. At President Seymour’s suggestion, the Corporation appointed a survey committee to “act as a clearing-house for candidates and report them to the corporation.” The committee’s members, Wilmarth Lewis, Irving Olds, and Bishop Henry Knox Sherrill, spent ten months studying the field. In an unprecedented move they even sought the advice of fifty carefully chosen members of the Yale faculty. As Lewis put it, “The faculty was pleased to be consulted, after 250...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 461-548)
  11. Index
    (pp. 549-588)