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Princeton, 1746-1896

Princeton, 1746-1896

Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker
With a new preface by John M. Murrin
Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 474
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  • Book Info
    Princeton, 1746-1896
    Book Description:

    Originally published fifty years ago,Princeton, 1746-1896has taken its place as one of the best institutional histories in America. Yet the book is more than an institutional history just as Princeton University, with its complex religious and political roots and impressive list of faculty and alumni, is more than simply a college.Princeton, 1746-1896will be valued by some readers as a rich and well-documented commentary on education in early America, and by others as a fascinating collection of biographies of some of the more influential people in American history, including Princeton University President and, later, U. S. President, Woodrow Wilson.

    Originally published in 1996.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5743-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xxviii)
    John M. Murrin
    (pp. xxix-2)
    T. J. W.
  5. CHAPTER I The Cornerstone Is Laid
    (pp. 3-47)

    Education in colonial America was the child of religion. It was the denominations who, through their own efforts or those of the provincial governments, founded schools and colleges, provided them with instructors and raised the funds for their support. In many cases the ministers themselves became teachers, and after expounding the Bible to their parishioners on Sunday, expounded Homer and Cicero to the children on week days. Education was important, they thought, not only to develop an enlightened citizenry and to insure an intelligent reading of the Scriptures, but especially to supply the churches with scholarly clergymen. So Harvard and...

  6. CHAPTER II The Cradle of Liberty
    (pp. 48-79)

    The news that Samuel Finley was dead brought sorrow and deep concern to Presbyterians from the Hudson to Georgia. Who now would unite the church, who defend it from the attacks of its enemies, who prepare young men for the work of the ministry? At a time when the air was full of rumors of the creation of an American bishopric and of an attempt by Governor Franklin to turn Nassau Hall over to the Anglicans, the selection of a president eminent enough to gain the support of both New Lights and Old Side was urgent. Wherever ministers or elders...

  7. CHAPTER III The School of Statesmen
    (pp. 80-117)

    American civilization had its inception in Europe, chiefly in England. It harks back to Westminster Hall, to Westminster Abbey, to the ports of London and Bristol, to the quiet country village, to the fishing towns of Suffolk and Devon. We inherited the English language, political institutions, common law, literature, and architecture. Since American education, too, had its origin in Great Britain, it becomes necessary for us in following its development and describing its character at Princeton, to turn back in our narrative to the mother country. There we discover that attention must be focused, not upon the great English universities,...

  8. CHAPTER IV The Stepchild of the Church
    (pp. 118-152)

    Fortunately for the college the death of Witherspoon caused no serious interruption in its life, gave rise to no anxiety for its future prosperity. For years all matters of instruction, administration, and educational policy had been largely in the hands of his able son-in-law, and it was taken for granted that Samuel Stanhope Smith would now have the title as well as the duties of president. At their meeting in May 1795, the trustees elected him by a unanimous vote, and five months later, at the commencement exercises, he celebrated the event with a distinguished inaugural address in Latin.¹


  9. CHAPTER V Princeton’s Nadir
    (pp. 153-183)

    The first step in reforming the college was the selection of a president in full sympathy with the policies of the trustees. Ashbel Green was obviously the man. He was one of the most prominent and influential ministers in the Presbyterian church, he had served as tutor and professor with marked success, in the autumn and winter of 1802 he had been acting president, he had been outspoken in criticizing the “laxness” of Smith’s administration. At a meeting of the board on August 13, 1812, when one of the members hinted to Green that their choice might fall on him,...

  10. CHAPTER VI Life in Nassau Hall 1790–1830
    (pp. 184-214)

    It was an eventful day for the entering freshman, especially if he lived in a state remote from Princeton, when he told his father and mother goodbye, turned his back on home, and set out to begin his college career. In the family coach with him was his chest, filled with clothing, a few books, and perhaps a box of delicacies; in his pocket a letter to Dr. Witherspoon, or Samuel Stanhope Smith, or Ashbel Green. A journey of hundreds of miles might lie before him, marked by changes from stage wagon to stage boat and back again to stage...

  11. CHAPTER VII The Alumni to the Rescue
    (pp. 215-255)

    Between ourselves, I could wish your worthy president were more known, but few in this part of the world seem to know at all who Dr. Carnahan is,” wrote an alumnus from South Carolina to John Maclean.¹ The day had passed when the presidency of the college carried with it leadership in the Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Carnahan was not the man to win distinction through the mere possession of scholarship or intellect. He was a pious, inactive person, without much vision as an educator. When he stood before the undergraduates in the Prayer Hall to deliver a Sunday sermon,...

  12. CHAPTER VIII Through Fire and War
    (pp. 256-289)

    John Maclean and his friends took for granted that he would be chosen to succeed President Carnahan. For thirty-five years he had served the college as tutor or professor or vice-president; he it was who had taken upon himself the chief responsibility for upholding discipline, who had formulated new educational policies, who had served as a link between the college and the Presbyterian church. Accordingly, surprise and resentment followed the discovery that a large faction in the board of trustees, consisting chiefly of laymtn, was opposed to his election. These men seem to have considered Maclean lacking in dignity, a...

  13. CHAPTER IX The Birth of a University
    (pp. 290-343)

    The selection of Maclean’s successor was a matter of grave concern for the trustees. American education was entering a new epoch. Under the stimulus of increased endowments the leading colleges were enlarging their faculties, erecting new buildings, adding to their scientific equipment, broadening their curricula to include art, engineering, economics, and other neglected fields of study, bettering the methods of teaching, seeking to arouse the intellectual curiosity of their students. It was a time when educational leadership was at a premium, and when a mistake in selecting a president might prove disastrous. There was rejoicing among the friends of princeton,...

  14. CHAPTER X Expansion and Inaction
    (pp. 344-390)

    The conservative group in the board of trustees insisted that McCosh’s successor should be a Presbyterian minister. Since the days of Jonathan Dickinson there had been an unbroken line of ministers at the head of the college; was it wise to disregard tradition? On the other hand the alumni, to whom the institution had been turning more and more for financial support and who were demanding some share in its control,¹ wanted an experienced administrator, one who was not only an educational leader but also a businessman. There was deep disappoiment among the graduates, then, when it was announced that...

    (pp. 391-395)

    Of first importance in the history of Princeton is leadership. The college was fortunate in having a long line of presidents farseeing enough to map the road of progress and strong enough to conduct her along it. Without Witherspoon, Smith, Maclean, McCosh the institution might have remained a small college with limited influence in American education and scholarship.

    But leadership would have been ineffectual without the support of the alumni. From the days when the first tiny group of students gathered around Jonathan Dickinson in his residence in Elizabeth, the sons of the college have taken with them into life...

  16. APPENDIX. Charters of the College of New Jersey, October 22, 1746 and September 14, 1748
    (pp. 396-404)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 405-424)