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John Witherspoon
President of Princeton


OF Witherspoon's advent, Moses Coit Tyler has written so well that I can do no better than to quote his words. "His advent to the college over which he was to preside was like that of a prince coming to his throne. From the moment of his landing in Philadelphia to that of his arrival in Princeton, his movements were attended by every circumstance that could manifest affection and homage; and on the evening of the day on which he made his entry into what was thenceforward to be his home, 'the college edifice was brilliantly illuminated; and not only the whole village but the adjacent country, and even the province at large, shared in the joy of the occasion.' It is pleasant to know that in the six and twenty years of public service that then lay before him in America, the person of whom so much was expected not only did not disappoint, but by far exceeded, the high hopes that had thus been set upon him. For once in this world, as it turned out, a man of extraordinary force, versatility, and charm had found the place exactly suited to give full swing and scope to every element of power within him."

The inauguration of Dr. Witherspoon must have been a very simple ceremony. Dr. Ashbel Green, a student at the time, tells us that he delivered an address in Latin on the Unity of Piety and Science, but the address has not been preserved. His first sermon is found in his published works.

The first thing to which he addressed himself was the raising of money to pay a debt upon the college and to increase the endowment. He must have been startled by the statement made to the Presbytery of New Brunswick by the trustees in applying to the Presbytery for aid at the first meeting which he attended. It was frankly stated that unless something should be done speedily the college would have to be abandoned. So little ready money was there, that the trustees were unable to pay Witherspoon the one hundred guineas promised him for his expenses in making the journey from Scotland, and the treasurer was ordered to meet this debt with the first money that should come to hand. What Witherspoon thought of this financial outlook he has not recorded. No complaint was made. With characteristic energy he took hold of the business at once. Small legacies were received occasionally during the first few years and the friends of the college were active in collecting funds. The churches took collections under instructions from the Presbyteries and Synods. By the year 1772 New Brunswick Presbytery had raised over three hundred and sixty pounds, with two hundred more promised. Soon after his arrival, Dr. Witherspoon himself went to New England to collect money. From one of the founders of the college, Ebenezer Pemberton, now a minister in Boston, he received great help. Pemberton introduced him to wealthy friends. As a result of this visit over a thousand pounds were added to the college funds, a part of this being at the personal disposal of the president, who was authorized to use it as he saw fit. Both before, during and after the war he did what not only every president of Princeton but of every other American college has been obliged to do; he travelled far and wide seeking money and students for the college. Others helped him in this. A journey to the Carolinas was undertaken by Dr. John Rodgers, of New York, whose pulpit was supplied by the trustees during his absence. And he brought back a considerable sum. Long Island was the self chosen territory of Rev. James Caldwell, whose activity there and in Elizabeth, New Jersey, brought him a vote of thanks from the trustees. Having been himself elected a member of the board in 1769 he was authorized to solicit funds in Virginia; as a result one thousand pounds were added to the treasury. He extended his visit to Georgia, but told the trustees that owing to the scarcity of ready money in that province it would be necessary to accept produce, tobacco, lumber and other things, which the people promised. At his suggestion a vessel was chartered and sent to Georgia, the people having been informed in time for them to bring their gifts to the wharf so that no money was lost by delay. In the spring of 1772 Dr. Witherspoon was requested to visit the West Indies and Mr. Charles Beattie, who will be remembered as the man who finally secured Witherspoon's consent to accept the presidency, was appointed to go with him. Witherspoon was unable to go, although he prepared an address to the people of the islands. Mr. Beattie set out upon his journey but died in the Barbadoes in August before he had entered upon his business.

Dr. Witherspoon was a member of every committee entrusted with financial matters. In 1772 he and Mr. Halsey were authorized to arrange for the drawing of a lottery at New Castle, Delaware, a bond of fifty thousand pounds proclamation being given to Mr. George Monroe and others, the proceeds to be divided between the college and the Presbyterian churches of New Castle and Christiana Bridge. This method of raising money had been employed before. Mr. Halsey was paid fifty pounds for his services in conducting a previous one. The legislature of New Jersey refused several times to permit lotteries in that province. They were never very profitable. This one gave the trustees no little annoyance. The war came on before it was settled. In 1778, according to the minutes of the Board, Mr. Halsey was ordered "to prepare a just statement of the accounts for the next meeting," and again in 178o he was ordered to settle the lottery. But it would not remain settled. A certain Mr. Geddes who had drawn a ticket for several hundred pounds clamoured for his money and finally agreed to accept college bonds for a less amount than his claim. But as late as 1786 he was again urging it. When, finally, in 1791, he said that two hundred and twenty-two pounds were still due him, the board ordered the clerk to write him that so far from the college being indebted to him he was indebted to it, and we heard no more of him after that.

Until the beginning of the war the finances of the college were in a fairly prosperous condition, little difficulty being experienced in meeting the expenses. In 1771 the trustees felt justified in electing a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, William C. Houston being chosen at a salary of one hundred and fifty pounds. But when the country became unsettled by hostilities there was little money to be had. From 1778 to 178o the president's salary was, at his suggestion, paid in Continental currency, but in May, 1781, the Board ordered that he be paid in gold and silver. Accounts could not be kept correctly amid the confusion brought on by the war. For two or three years the trustees could not meet. In 1775 a meeting was held of which there is no record but at which a committee was appointed to examine the treasurer's accounts, the report of which was not finally made until 1793. Dr. Witherspoon was found to be indebted to the college about six hundred and forty-five pounds. The matter had been an annoyance to him and to the trustees. Covering so long a period mistakes had been unavoidable. He asked for a new audit and a few months before his death the whole affair was finally settled with a balance due him of one hundred and seventy-nine dollars. Ugly rumours magnified by Tory enemies during and after the war had run over the country. At no time had the trustees questioned his honour and again and again the minutes contain records of their confidence in him, their appreciation of his devotion and generosity in the service of the college. So that for every reason they were very glad to exonerate him fully. A very loose and irregular method seems to have been followed in collecting and disbursing the funds. Donations were given sometimes to the treasurer, sometimes to the president, sometimes to a committee of the trustees. It was not until 1786 that the Board decided that all money should pass through the treasurer's hands, in order to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. Some of the money was given for the ordinary expenses of the college, some for special objects and much "for the education of poor and pious youth." A fund for this latter purpose had accumulated from legacies and church collections. Personal fees belonging to the president and tutors were paid to the treasurer or to the person to whom they were due. The accounts of this period are lost, but every reference to them in the minutes of the Board shows that, while the college was well maintained, confusion of the accounts was unavoidable. Although the institution was comparatively small, the financial management of it was a burden of no small weight, and Witherspoon deserves great credit not only for commanding the confidence of the public and the trustees but also for keeping the college in a prosperous condition and increasing the endowment in spite of a desolating war.

In one respect the college resembled a modern boarding school. Its single building contained the steward's dining-room and kitchen, the rooms of the students, class-rooms, library and chapel. The president's house was a separate building. Every student was expected to live in college and board at the steward's table, with whom the trustees made a contract. The contract of 1768 provided that Jonathan Baldwin the steward, "should furnish the students such meat and drink, including small beer as had formerly been served up to them, at the rate of six shillings sixpence proclamation per week and should find and provide firewood and candles at the current prices and keep a proper number of servants for doing the ordinary business, including the ringing of the bell, and at the end of the year take all the kitchen furniture at a fair price." Each scholar must pay the steward seven pounds half yearly in advance, and one shilling per week for every week of absence after the opening of college, and be responsible for any damage he might do to the steward's property. The president, Tutor Joseph Berrian and Trustee Richard Stockton were a committee for advice and direction in the management of the stewardship. Mr. Baldwin gave them trouble the next year. It was found that he owed the college over a thousand pounds, and he finally gave bond and security for seven hundred. He remained in office, however, and a year later agreed " that the galleries (halls) shall be swept twice a week and washed and sanded once a month in the summer, and once in two months in the winter." Tuition fees were paid to the president who was diligent in keeping an account of them. To him also was paid the money for the board of " the poor and :pious youth " being educated for the ministry. The money for this purpose came from the Presbytery, or Synod, or from individuals sometimes in amounts to be used at once, sometimes as legacies to be invested for an income. Students failed to pay their fees both to the steward and to the president.

It would require an expert accountant to keep a clear record of all these sums, and I do not propose to drag the reader through their labyrinth. The selling of the choice of rooms had be-come an abuse as early as 1771. Upper class- men adopted the arbitrary custom of selecting the best rooms and ousting the lower classmen from them willy-nilly. This abuse was corrected by the energy of Witherspoon's personal attention, but it became so deeply rooted that to this day the college law is evaded.

Governor Belcher had begun the foundation of a library by a gift of books, other friends had added more. Witherspoon himself had brought with him about three hundred volumes the gift of friends in Scotland, Holland, and London. New books were added from time to time. Evidently the students were careless in their use of the library. Very strict rules were made by the librarian, such as would discourage the most zealous student, but by Witherspoon's direction the boys learned to avail themselves of the scanty shelves with very good results. In a baccalaureate address he said, "There is no circumstance which throws this new country so far back in point of science as the want of public libraries where thorough researches might be made, and the small number of learned men to assist in making researches practicable, easy, or complete."

Princeton was very proud of its scientific apparatus. Two hundred and fifty pounds had been appropriated for the purchase of it, at the president's suggestion, and doubtless against the protest of some who thought this a large sum for such a purpose. Visitors were usually taken to see the apparatus, which John Adams declared was the most complete and elegant he had ever seen. Two orreries, arrangements of spheres showing the relations of the planets to one another, were also exhibited. Another New England visitor thought little of either library or scientific equipment. The scientific spirit was fostered by Witherspoon who believed in the broadest and most liberal education.

While recognizing the rights and responsibilities of the trustees he claimed and enjoyed the greatest freedom in his management of the college. They usually met twice a year when the college bell was rung ten minutes to summon them to the session. They usually dined together. At first these dinners were held at the tavern but the bills grew so large that a rule of the board was finally passed requiring the steward to serve the dinner in the college, and thereafter the trustees continued to dine together, a custom still followed by them.

The faculty of the college was small in 1766. When Witherspoon arrived the chair of Divinity and Moral Philosophy was filled by Rev. John Blair. But as there was not enough money to support it he resigned a year later. His departure released some of the funds and enabled the trustees to increase the president's salary, with the understanding that he take the duties formerly performed by Professor Blair. Two tutors assisted the president and Professor Houston so that the entire teaching force during Wither- spoon's presidency of twenty-six years never exceeded four or at most five in any year. Most of the teaching fell to Witherspoon. In 1772 he offered Hebrew to those students who intended to become ministers, teaching this in addition to the advanced Greek and Latin. He also lectured on Divinity, Moral Philosophy and Eloquence. These lectures, making due allow-ance for the nature of the subjects must have been truly delightful. Witherspoon is always perfectly clear. No ambiguity clouds his style. He knows the subject thoroughly and is familiar with all the literature of it. The lectures abound with quotations and references to other writers and are lighted with pleasing illustrations. As they were not written in full they are not satisfactory to the modern reader. The lecture as given by him was not a droning deliverance, the students nervously taking such notes as were possible. It was rather a free conversation, the lecturer first stating his subject and his opinion of it, the students afterwards questioning him at their pleasure and being in their turn questioned by him. In a modern classroom such a method might subject an ordinary lecturer to an endless fire of questions designed to waste time. Nothing of that sort was attempted with Witherspoon, who never lost the respect of his pupils. They felt in his presence an unembarrassed freedom which never degenerated into familiarity. His dignity might at first inspire a freshman with awe, for he was the most dignified of men, with a stately manner. But that feeling soon left the boy. To his students he freely accorded every right. Naturally passionate, he had the greatest kindness of heart. A family tradition relates that as he was leaving the college building one morning, a boy threw from a window a basin of water intended for a fellow student who was just about to emerge from the door but who drew back to let the president pass out. The water drenched the doctor's new coat, to the dismay of the youngster who, having leaned from the window to see the effect upon his mate, was recognized. He retreated at once to his room. Witherspoon called upon him and, the door being Opened by the frightened culprit, remarked, "D'ye see, young man, how ye wet my new coat?" That was all. Of course the boy went to the president's house and apologized for his unintentional act, which was nevertheless a breach of college law. It was not reported, however; the boy was forgiven and was forever a devoted admirer of Witherspoon. James Madison, who graduated in 1771 testifies to Witherspoon's character as at once strong and gentle. Long after graduation his students endeavoured to keep in touch with him. Those who had been employed as his secretary, writing letters for him and attending to some minor details of college business by his direction, spoke warmly of his consideration and kindness. This was especially the case in the later years of his life when his eyesight had become impaired. No president of Princeton ever won the personal attachment of his students as did John Witherspoon unless we may except John McLean and James McCosh.

Besides. doing his work in the college he preached every Sunday in the chapel, long sermons, one in the morning, the other in the after-noon. The Sunday that John Adams spent in Princeton in August, 1774, he records in his diary, he "heard Dr. Witherspoon all day," a remark which may have been nearer the truth than Adams intended.

There were no first-class preparatory schools in the American colonies in those days. Many clergymen conducted classical schools in connection with their churches, which afterwards became fine academies. The public school was far in the future. Those private academies did most of the work of preparing boys for college. The preparation was not always well done. Schoolmasters who taught the parochial school attached to many a Presbyterian church, while not expected to send boys up to college, sometimes chose to put extra time upon some promising pupils. But many of the boys who came up to Princeton were deficient even in reading and spelling. So serious was the fault that in 1774 Witherspoon addressed a public letter to schoolmasters, both in America and the West Indies, urging them to be more careful in the preparation of students, specifying the text-books best adapted to a course looking to Princeton. There was, as yet, no printed annual catalogue of the college, indicating requirements for entrance. Boys were expected to be well-grounded in the rudiments of English and mathematics; to be able to read Latin readily, having gone through Caesar, Virgil and Cicero, perhaps further. A knowledge of Greek was also essential.

During the first eight years the college grew rapidly in the number of its students who came from every part of America. Witherspoon's fame added to Princeton's repute and his graduates sent up more students and encouraged gifts of money. The trustees were beginning to enlarge the faculty. Then the war came on. As early as the fall of 1775 there was a noticeable decrease of students. Troops on their way to Boston during the summer were quartered in and around the college. From these, if not from Witherspoon himself, the boys caught the military spirit, some of them enlisting. In the fall of 1775 there was not a quorum of the trustees present to transact business and confer the degrees, but those who were there passed such measures as were necessary, trusting that a future meeting would approve them. Nor was it possible to hold a meeting in the fall of 1776, but they adjourned for a month, only to find that the invasion of the province by the British kept the members away. Witherspoon himself was obliged to flee for his life. His experience is preserved in a letter to his son writ-ten from Baltimore in January, 1777. In a letter to his son-in-law, Rev. S. S. Smith, in whose Virginia school the young David Witherspoon was teaching, he had given one ac-count. In this letter he says, "I gave a very full and particular account of our flight from Princeton and the situation of your mother as well as myself. She is at Pequa (the home of Rev. Robert Smith, father of S. S.) I hope well, but I have not heard from that place since I left her. We carried nothing away of all our effects but what could be carried upon one team. Benjamin Hawkins drove your mother in the old chair and I rode the sorrel mare and made John Graham drive the four young colts." His experience was similar to that of many other Jerseymen. The trustees of the college, determined to have a meeting, assembled at Cooper's Ferry on the Delaware in May, 1777. Governor Livingston, ex-officio president of the Board, found time to be present. With him were eleven others and Dr. Witherspoon, now a member of the Continental Congress. He told the trustees that it was impossible to carry on the college. When Washington's army, retreating from New York, had passed through Princeton in December, 1776, the soldiers had found in the students' rooms softer beds than had been their lot for many a day, nor did they hesitate to use them. Their example was followed by the Hessians and British who were in close pursuit of them. On their return the next January while there was little time to stop for rest, the Continental troops drove the soldiers of Cornwallis out of the college and as quickly departed themselves, ragged, cold and footsore, but triumphant, for they had slipped out of a trap and won a notable victory. By the cannonading the building had been so badly damaged as to be unfit for use. All that the trustees could do was to appoint a committee to attend to such repairs as were absolutely necessary, while Dr. Witherspoon should collect as many students as possible and either instruct them himself or get some assistance. He was also requested to ask the Congress to forbid the quartering of troops in the college. By the next year it was possible to hold a meeting at Princeton, although some of the trustees were detained by the enemy in their homes, one of them being shut up in Philadelphia, which was then in possession of the British. The legislature of New Jersey was requested to confirm the charter of the college with some desirable changes, and to exempt the students from military duty, which was done. Such good prospects were there of doing the work of the college that advertisements were inserted in the New Jersey, Fishkill and Lancaster newspapers, stating that "due attendance will be given to the instruction of youth in the college after the tenth day of May." For a year and a half Witherspoon and Professor Houston were able to teach their classes in the badly damaged building, waiting for their salaries until the trustees could collect money to pay them. At the commencement of September, 1779, there were six graduates. Thereafter the classes were held together.

From Virginia, where he had been at the head of an academy, which afterwards grew into Hampden-Sidney College, came S. S. Smith to take the chair of Moral Philosophy. This addition to the faculty was made possible by the generosity of Dr. Witherspoon, who offered to divide his salary with the new professor and to give him the president's house while Witherspoon went to live upon his farm, about a mile north of Princeton, where he had built a comfortable house. In accepting this generous offer the trustees agreed to permit Dr. Witherspoon, Professor Houston and Professor Smith to divide the tuition money among them for the

coming year. At the end of that time they added two hundred pounds to Professor Smith's salary. For two years during the war the president's salary had been paid in the depreciated Continental currency, but in 1781 the trustees decided that he should be paid in gold and silver. Such generosity as is shown in these acts of Witherspoon won the cordial appreciation of the trustees and of other friends of the college. Some of these gave their notes for money to be used in repairing the college building and in meeting the necessary expenses. It was difficult to recover the funds of the college which had been placed in the Continental Loan office during the war and Witherspoon was ordered to compound, or to sell the certificates to the best advantage.

In the disturbed period of the war Wither-spoon had assumed the responsibility of providing teachers, but when peace came he requested the trustees to resume that duty. But he agreed to continue to pay half of Professor Smith's salary as long as he shall remain in the college. Up to this time there had been no faculty organization in which the government of the college was vested, all authority apparently resting with the president. Discipline was seldom administered. The minutes of the Board make no mention of the system of fines formerly in operation. But there are ac-counts of three cases of insubordination among the students. The first of these had some political significance. In December, 1773, Paul Revere had ridden post-haste through the town bearing to Burlington and Philadelphia the news of the Boston tea party. Of the crowd that gathered about the tavern door no doubt a goodly number were students who listened eagerly to the stirring story. They sent the courier on his way with a cheer, bidding him Godspeed, and then set about the usual way employed by college students to show their enthusiasm and their sympathy. Boston folk had set them a worthy example in burning an effigy of the stamp collector and the devil; New Yorkers seizing Governor Colden's coach had placed in it the figure of an imp and burned it before the governor's residence. Princeton "students needed no better examples. An effigy of Hutchinson, royal governor of Massachusetts, was soon ready. The boys formed a procession, marched through the town and on to the campus, where a spirited oration was made. Probably John Dickinson's song of Liberty was sung, and the whole hideous figure set on fire. Such conduct was scarcely a breach of college discipline —not being directed against any of the college authorities. Witherspoon himself did not interfere nor reprimand the students, but Richard Stockton, one of the trustees of whom we have heard before and shall hear again, one of the finest men in the province of New Jersey and a high-minded patriot, felt it his duty to stop the unlawful proceeding, for it was unlawful, and might get not only the boys but the college authorities into trouble. But when Mr. Stockton undertook to remonstrate with the excited young patriots and put a stop to their serious sport, one of the students, Samuel Leake, dared to accuse him of cowardice and even of treason to the patriot cause; and upon Mr. Stockton's rebuking him for using such language, and endeavouring to send the students away, young Leake promptly took him by the shoulders and hustled him off the campus, telling him to go about his business. Needless to say his dignity was ruffled. If he reported the affair to the president of the college we have no record of it. At all events Dr. Witherspoon failed to ad-minister any rebuke or inflict any punishment. On the other hand, Mr. Samuel Leake, being one of the best students in the class of 1774 and an orator of college reputation, was awarded the salutatory for the commencement exercises.

Such appointments, however, must receive the approval of the Board of Trustees, and when Mr. Stockton told his story and protested against the honour being bestowed upon Leake, the trustees refused to sanction the award, although they permitted him to graduate. The account is interesting because it throws a side light upon Witherspoon's sympathies.

The second case was entirely different in its nature and occurred in 1787. Seven luckless seniors having refused to prepare the pieces assigned for commencement were called before the board and ordered to ask the pardon of that body and of the faculty. They were then sentenced to "be reprimanded by the president in the presence of the whole college." Moreover they were refused permission to pronounce any honorary oration at commencement. Not long afterwards a rule was made forbidding any student to speak before his oration had been passed upon by the faculty. And when some of the boys inserted in their commencement deliverances some sentences which had not been found in the manuscript submitted for inspection the trustees made a rule that such conduct would deprive the offender of his degree.

A third instance can hardly be called an act of insubordination, yet shows the necessity for some authority in the hands of the faculty. In the summer of 1783 a Frenchman had gathered a dancing class at Princeton, many of the students joining. It proved disastrous to discipline and interfered with the college work. Since coming to America Witherspoon had not changed his mind as to the evil effects of amusements. And it was plain that attending the dancing class involved some of the boys in more expense than they ought to incur, not only for the dancing lessons but for the jolly suppers which followed. The class was held at the tavern where the boys were tempted to drink too freely. After the late hours so spent they came to their recitations the next day with sadly muddled ideas about Greek construction and moral philosophy, the effect of too much wine and too little sleep. The reputation of the college suffered by the tales of these midnight gaieties. They were regarded by the faculty and trustees as " circumstances very unfriendly to the order and good government of the institution." Looking upon "a dancing school as useless to them in point of manners, they being generally past that period of youth in which the manners are formed," the board forbade the students to attend the dancing school.

Such cases having arisen the board, at the meeting in the fall of 1788, formally vested in the faculty the government of the college " whose authority should extend to every part of the discipline of the college except the expulsion of a student which shall not take place unless by order of the board or six of them convened and consenting thereto."

Two years later this authority was tested by Mr. Robert Stockton, who complained by letter to the trustees, "that his son, Job Stockton, had received personal violence and abuse from Dr. Smith in a cruel and illegal manner and had been sent from the institution in an arbitrary and unprecedented manner." After hearing all parties in the case the trustees sustained Dr. Smith as quite within bounds in dealing with the young man "as so high an offense merited."

The government of the college gave the Board less trouble than the raising of money to meet expenses. This was far more difficult after the war. The endowment of the college had suffered the loss of funds in the Continental Loan office, by the depreciation of the paper currency and by the general financial depression following the war. It was almost impossible to collect debts. The courts were in confusion.

There was no source of national revenue. Business was timid in the uncertainty of laws governing both foreign and domestic trade. Those who had hoarded gold and silver used it sparingly. Nevertheless, as before, so now, Witherspoon indefatigably set to work to raise money. So successful was he that in the ten years following the war more than twelve thousand dollars were added to the funds of the college, truly a marvellous sum under the circumstances. And yet it was not sufficient, although it brought the endowment up to twenty thousand dollars. By 1784 it became imperatively necessary that something should be done. No friend of the college had been more generous than Witherspoon himself. Half of his salary had been relinquished to keep Professor Smith in the chair of Moral Philosophy; the expenses of many a poor student had been borne by him. Of course he expected to be reimbursed from the fund for educating poor and pious youth, but he was greatly imposed upon. He frequently obligated himself for the tuition and boarding of a student who never paid the debt. So flagrant became the abuse of his good nature that he was obliged to notify the public through the newspapers that he should not comply with requests to advance money to the students or make himself responsible for them in any way. Friends of the boys sometimes bought articles of clothing expecting Witherspoon to pay for them out of what they seemed to regard as an unlimited fund for maintaining needy scholars Among the papers in my possession is the following note:

Doct Witherspoon,
SIR :
I have bought the above Articles for my W John Blair, and when Mr. Saml Smith was in Town he desired me to call on you for the money which you will please to be so kind as to leave with Mrs. Irwin and oblige Sir your Humble
Servt,
BETSY BLAIR.

Many a poor boy owed his education to Witherspoon's generosity. He broke his own rules when to keep them would deprive a boy of his education. But he could not afford to carry such a heavy burden as was laid upon him. He bore expenses for which the trustees were not directly liable and they testified to his magnanimity on several occasions. His own private fortune while not large was enough to maintain him in a manner befitting his position. But the college itself was sorely in need of funds to repair the damaged building and to carry on the work.

Before the war there had been many friends of Princeton in Great Britain who had contributed generously to the college. At an extra meeting of the Board of Trustees in October, 1783, the suggestion was made that perhaps these former friends and others abroad might help them out of their difficulties. It was hoped that Witherspoon's popularity at least in Scotland had survived the bitterness of the struggle by which Great Britain had lost her American colonies. During the war many Englishmen and Scotchmen had openly avowed their friendship for America, their belief in the justice of her claims. Even if Scotch newspapers had called Witherspoon such names as knave, fool and traitor, his experiences during the excitement that followed the publication of the "Characteristics" thirty-five years before, seemed to show that these were the words of enemies and his friends were numerous. Besides, his correspondence brought him assurances of friendship and continued interest in his career. Others among the trustees cherished the belief that those who had sympathized with America would respond to an appeal from the college to help them restore it and continue the work. As we look at it now, we wonder how they could have persuaded themselves into such a belief. But they did, and the trustees permitted Dr. Witherspoon and General Reed, who had commanded the Pennsylvania line during the war and was president of the Assembly of his state, to go to Europe to solicit subscriptions. General Reed generously offered to bear his own expenses and Mr. Bayard and Mr. Snowden advanced the money to pay Dr. Witherspoon's. There was no money in the college treasury. The mission, it is needless to say, was worse than a failure. It exposed the college to unkindly criticism. It was, indeed, felt by some of the American patriots to be a disgrace. Witherspoon through a friend applied to Franklin and Jay asking for letters of recommendation and approval to their friends. Franklin replied, "The very request would be disgraceful to us and hurt the credit of responsibility we wish to maintain in Europe by representing the United States as too poor to provide for the education of their own children. For my part I am persuaded we are fully able to furnish our colleges amply with every means of public instruction and I cannot but wonder that our legislatures have generally paid so little attention to a business of so great importance. Our circumstance in the application here made me somewhat ashamed for our country. Being asked what sums had been subscribed or donations made by signers to a paper I was obliged to reply only one."

John Jay wrote, "While our country remained part of the British Empire there was no impropriety in soliciting the aid of our distant brethren and fellow subjects for any liberal and public purpose. It was natural that the younger branches of the political family should request and expect the assistance of the elder. But as the United States neither have nor can have such relations with any nations in the world, as the rank they hold and ought to assert implies ability to provide for all the ordinary objects of their government, and as the diffusion of knowledge among a republican people is and ought to be one of the constant and most important of those objects, I cannot think it consistent with the dignity of a free and independent people to solicit donations for that or any other purpose from the subjects of any Prince or state whatever."

Witherspoon was much depressed by the failure, more particularly by the sense of alienation from his former friends in Great Britain, although some of these wrote him most kindly regretting his mission and sympathizing with him in his disappointment. To us it is astonishing that he should permit the trustees to persuade him or himself to cherish the idea that his request would be agreeable or even his presence acceptable to many in Scotland. Five pounds was the munificent sum remaining after the expenses of the trip had been paid.

The commencement of September, 1783, was probably the most memorable in Witherspoon's administration. The Continental Congress had been in session at Philadelphia endeavouring to hit upon some measures for raising money to pay the soldiers who had helped to win the independence which the colonies enjoyed. Some of these soldiers were in the city and wished to hurry the deliberations of the Congress, which they did with such good effect that, disturbed by the threats of the soldiers, the dignified delegates took horse and, at Witherspoon's request, fled to the quiet shades of Princeton, where they might continue their discussions in peace. On commencement day the Congress adjourned to attend the exercises. Gen. George Washington was also present, as was likewise an English officer who had received permission to go through the lines to travel for a while before the British troops finally evacuated New York. He was treated with every possible courtesy, and from his letter to a friend we have a description of the scene. Of course Washington had the seat of honour. The letter is so interesting for so many reasons that I insert here that portion of it which refers to Witherspoon and the commencement :

"DR. WETHERSPOON.—An account of the present face of things in America would be very defective, indeed, if no mention was made of this political firebrand, who perhaps had not a less share in the Revolution than Washington himself. He poisons the minds of his students, and through them, the Continent.

"He is the intimate friend of the General, and had I no other arguments to support my ideas of Washington's designs, I think his intimacy with a man of so different a character of his own (for Washington's private one is perfectly amiable), would justify my suspicions.

"The commencement was a favourable opportunity of conveying certain sentiments to the public at large (for even women were present) which it now becomes important to make them familiar with. This farce was evidently introductory to the drama that is to follow.

The great maxim which this commencement was to establish, was the following : A time may come with every republic, and that may be the case with America, when anarchy makes it the duty of the man who has the majority of the people with him, to take the helm into his own hands in order to save his country; and the person who opposes him deserves the utmost revenge of his nation—deserves—to be sent to Nova Scotia. Vox populi, vox Dei!'

"These were the very words of the moderator, who decided on the question was Brutus justifiable in killing Caesar. Or they thought us all that heard them blockheads, or they were not afraid of avowing their designs. This was plainer English still than the confederation of the Cincinnati.

"When the young man who, with a great deal of passionate claquere, defended his favourite Brutus, extolled the virtues of the man who could stab even his father, when attempting the liberties of his country, I thought I saw Washington's face clouded; he did not dare to look the orator in the face, who stood just before him, but, with downcast look, seemed wishing to hide the impression which a subject that touched him so near, had, I thought, very visibly made in his countenance. But we are so apt to read in the face what we suppose passes in the heart, maybe that this was the case with me. But if ever what I expect should happen, I shall think that moment one of the most interesting ones of my life.

"The orations of the younger boys were full of the coarsest invectives against British tyranny. I will do Mr. Wetherspoon the justice to think he was not the author of them, for they were too poor, indeed; besides, they evidently conveyed different sentiments; there was one of them not unfavourable to liberal sentiments even towards Britons. But upon the whole, it is but just to suppose that Wetherspoon had read them all."

At this meeting of the trustees Dr. Wither-spoon was requested to ask Washington to sit for his portrait to be painted by the. well-known artist, Charles Wilson Peale, "and that his portrait when finished be placed in the hall of the college in the room of the picture of the late king of Great Britain which was torn away by a ball from the American artillery in the battle of Princeton." Washington promised to accede to the request and his full-length portrait now hangs upon the south wall of the hall, in a room at present used as a museum of natural history, in which are also hung the portraits of the presidents of the college. When Dr. Witherspoon reported to the trustees that Washington would grant their request he added that the general had also given him fifty guineas for the college.

After the disheartening failure of the European mission a very strong plea was made to the American Presbyterian Church which was, after all, the best hope and surest support of the college. A little money was realized from the sale of Rocky Hill lots and of land in Philadelphia, the legacy of Dr. William Shippen, a warm friend of the college. But as long as Witherspoon lived and for many years afterwards the most perplexing question for the trustees was how to raise money enough. No college then or in our own day has always been fully maintained by the fees of the students. So that endowments whose income is intended for the maintenance of needy students does not greatly increase the efficiency of the college equipment or assist in the support of the teaching force. A generous legacy from a certain Leslie for this purpose, while welcomed by the church and the college did not help the solution of the financial problem. In order to avoid confusion, as far as possible, the trustees, in 1786, finally made a rule that all money should pass through the treasurer's hands, he to receive all fees, rents, donations and legacies and pay all bills, the salaries of the officers first of all. Thereafter the financial affairs of the college appeared in better order.

One of the causes of annoyance had been the necessity of renewing the furniture in the students' rooms, which had been originally provided by the college. The first step towards bringing this detail into some shape was taken in 1789, by the appointment of an inspector of rooms, whose duty it should be to take account of the furniture in each room, to prevent its removal from one room to another, and in general to assign rooms to the students. The system, or lack of it, hitherto in vogue had been a mild form of anarchy. The upper classmen selected the rooms which they preferred, sometimes ousting a freshman or a sophomore, appropriating the best pieces of furniture and bidding the unlucky under classmen shift for themselves. The unwritten rules of honour among the students forbade a boy to appeal to the college authorities. The boy who complained to the president at once lost caste. He found it best to submit until time gave him an opportunity to despoil those below him. The new rule of the trustees obliged a student to keep the room assigned, and in 1791 the trustees ceased to provide furniture, each student being obliged to furnish his room himself. The assignment of rooms remained nominally in the hands of the faculty, but so deeply rooted had the custom become that to this day in Princeton College the students always find the way to avoid the college rule. If a senior wishes to sell his room he knows how to do so without an open violation of it. For a while the faculty tried to assess upon the whole student body the amount of any damage done by one or more of their number. But it was found impossible to enforce such a regulation which died of neglect. The number of students had increased rapidly since 1789. The country had begun to recover from the disastrous effects of the war. Free tuition afforded by the Leslie fund and others attracted boys, who, ambitious for an education, were unable to bear the expense of it. The graduating class of 1791 numbered twenty-five; the next year there were thirty- seven, the largest class in the history of the college up to this time.

For several years, however, Dr. Witherspoon had left the more exacting details of the administration to Professor Smith, who had been made vice-president in 1786. Six or seven years before that he had removed to his farm about a mile and a half north of the college where, as he wrote to a friend in Scotland, he played the role of a scientific farmer. He was not a successful farmer. Nor was he fortunate in his land speculations in Vermont. Ever since the depressing failure of his European mission his health had been failing. In spite of this and the burdensome, often discouraging, aspect of the college, he brought his indomitable energy to the task. Upon him rested the care of the Presbyterian church in Princeton, although he had never been formally installed as its pastor, a statement which surprised the Presbytery when, in 1793, the congregation came up with a request for a duly installed pastor, Dr. Witherspoon having declined to serve them any longer in that capacity. Even as early as the sessions of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia John Adams thought Witherspoon's memory was failing. He had fallen in a faint several times as he was about to leave the pulpit. The amount of labour undertaken by him was enough to break down the strongest constitution. His duties in the college, always heavy, were supplemented by his services in the Continental Congress. He served upon many committees of Presbytery and Synod and General Assembly. Although not more than seventy-two he could no longer sustain these labours. He was well enough to preside at the commencement of September, 1794, but died on the 14th of November following.

His service to the college had been in-calculable. Although the least he did was for the financial endowment, that in itself was considerable when one reflects upon the scarcity of money in colonial times, its practical absence from public channels during the war, and the depreciation of the currency, the panic and stagnation in business which followed. A college, which sent the new president to the first meeting of his Presbytery in 1769 with the statement that the trustees feared it would have to be closed unless the money to carry it on were supplied, had been brought by this new president, undismayed, resolute, resourceful and energetic, into such a sound financial condition that it never again faced such a crisis. By his personal self-sacrifices of money, his patience in waiting for his own salary sometimes two or three years in arrears, by faithfully performing that most disagreeable duty of soliciting money from private individuals often strangers to himself, and whose respect and admiration he won, "by journeyings often," never uttering a word of complaint or giving a sign of discouragement, this stranger in a strange land, practically saved the college from threatened bankruptcy, and in spite of war and financial depression in the land made it financially one of the strongest institutions in America.
Better than this, under Witherspoon's guidance, the educational facilities of the college were enlarged and its standards exalted. The purpose of its founders, to educate men for the ministry, was more than accomplished. From its halls there went a large proportion of men who achieved distinction in public life, in the learned professions and in business. It was a thoroughly democratic institution, Indians and free black men finding there an equal opportunity with Witherspoon's own sons and with boys from the best families in America. Many students whose usefulness in after life fully justified the practice, received their education as a free gift. Witherspoon was probably the most scholarly man in his church at the time, enjoying great fame as an author, regarded as a model writer with a clear and forceful style, having a wide acquaintance with literature, master of five languages, speaking French and Latin as easily as English, and an authority in Greek and Hebrew. His theological writings had a wide circulation, bringing commendation from the universities of Europe as well as from his own church. John Adams called him "a clear and sensible preacher." Although not a great orator, he had no superior in the pulpit. All of these abilities he employed directly or indirectly in the service of Princeton.


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