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HISTORY OF PARTICULAR COLLEGES
The origin of this college and its incorporation under a colonial charter, on the 31st of October, 1754, under the name of "King's College," have been noticed in connection with our account of the origin of a Board of Regents.
A class of students had previously been assembled in a room of the school-house belonging to Trinity Church. Provision had been made by a lottery and otherwise, for the erection of college buildings upon a parcel of ground west of Broadway, between Barclay, Church and Murray streets and the Hudson River, which had been designated by Trinity Church for this purpose.'
In May, 1760, the college buildings erected upon this ground and portions of the land not needed for its use were leased for business purposes, becoming in after years a valuable endowment to the college. In 1763 a Grammar School was established, but at first without financial success."
1 Among the literature relating to the origin of this College, may be mentioned an anonymous tract preserved in the State Library, with the following title :
"Some Thoughts on Education. With Reasons for erecting a College in this Province, and fixing the same in the City of New York; To which is added a scheme for employing Masters or Teachers in the Mean Time; and also for raising and endowing an Edifice in an easy Manner, the whole Concluding with a Poem; Being a Serious Address to the House of Representatives." * New York, J. Parker, 1752, p. 32.
It would appear from this that certain persons had proposed to locate the college some retired corner, either within or close by the city of New York," where the morals of the students would be better protected than in the city.
An agent was subsequently sent to England and France, to procure funds. In 1767 a grant of 29,000 acres of land was made under the government of Sir Henry Moore, but this afterward came within the territory of the State of Vermont, and the grant was lost.
About £6,000 sterling were procured in England by Dr. James Jay, the agent, and others. The King, besides this, gave £400. The sum of £3,282 was received from the lottery, £500 sterling from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, about £1,000 sterling from Mr. Edward Antillo, £500 from Paul Kichard, £100 from James Alexander, and property worth £8,000 from Joseph Murray, including his library.
The Rev. Dr. David Bristowe, of London, also gave his library of 1,500 volumes, and several of the Governors of the College gave from £50 to £200 apiece. Sir Charles Hardy gave £500, Gen. Shirley £100, and Gen. Monkton £200.
The following description of the College, supposed to have been written by Dr. Myles Cooper, its second President (1763-1775), shows its condition before the Revolution:
"Since the passing of the charter, the institution hath received great emoluments by grants from his most gracious majesty, King George the Third, and by liberal contributions from many of the nobility and gentry in the parent country; from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and from several publicspirited gentlemen in America and elsewhere. By means of these and other benefactions, the Governors of the College have been able to extend their plan of education almost as diffusely as any College in Europe; herein being taught by proper Masters and Professors, who are chosen by the Governors and President, Divinity, Natural Law, Physic, Logic, Ethics, Metaphysics, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Astronomy, Geography, History, Chronology, Rhetoric, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Modern Languages, the Belles-Lettres, and whatever else of literature may tend to accomplish the pupils as scholars and gentlemen.
"To the College is also annexed a Grammar School for the due preparation of those who propose to complete their education with the arts and sciences.
"All students but those in medicine are obliged to lodge and diet in the College, unless they are particularly excused by the Governors or President, and the edifice is surrounded by a high fence, which also incloses a large court and garden, and a porter constantly attends at the front gate, which is closed at ten o'clock each evening in summer and nine in winter, after which hours the names of all that come in are delivered weekly to the President.
"The College is situated on a dry, gravelly soil, about one hundred and fifty yards from the banks of the Hudson River, which it overlooks; commanding, from the eminence on which it stands, a most extensive and beautiful prospect of the opposite shore and country of New Jersey, the city and island of New York, Long Island, Staten Island, New York Bay and its islands, the Narrows, forming the mouth of the harbors, etc., etc., and being totally unincumbered by any adjacent buildings, and admitting the purest circulation of air from the river and every other quarter, has the benefit of as agreeable and healthy a situation as can possibly be conceived.
"Visitations by the Governors are quarterly; at which times premiums of books, silver medals, etc., are adjudged to the most deserving.
"This seminary hath already produced a number of gentlemen.
who do great honor to their professions, the place of their educa tion and themselves, in Divinity, Law, Medicine, etc., etc., in this and various other colonies, both on the American Continent and West India Islands; and the College is annually increasing as well in students as reputation."
Dr. Samuel Johnson writing in July, 1760, described the building as one hundred and eighty feet long, thirty wide, and three stories high. It was intended to have been one side of a quadrangle,
inclosing a court.
The College continued in operation until the 6th of April, 1776, when the Treasurer received a message from the Committee of Safety, informing him the premises must be ready within six days, for the reception of troops. The students were dispersed, the library and apparatus were deposited in the City Hall, and the building was used for a military hospital.' The college record of that year remarks: "The turbulence and confusion which prevail in every part of the country effectually suppress every literary pursuit," and but faint traces of life are found during the eight years that followed.
Its revival is identified with the proceedings of the first Board of Regents, from 1784 till 1787, during which period the College had no other Trustees. Yet nothing was left undone by this Board in their efforts to restore order, and to organize the institution upon a bread and liberal basis.
On the 14th of December, 1784, they decided to establish the four faculties of Arts, Divinity, Medicine and Law, the first to comprise seven Professorships, and the second to consist of such as the different religious societies in the State might provide. The third was to have seven Professors and the fourth three. There were to be besides these, nine extra Professors, a President, a Secretary and a Librarian; and this grand scheme of University education was agreed upon, when the entire income of real and personal prop erty of the College did not exceed the sum of £1,200."
During the three years under the Regents no President was ap pointed, and at the commencements of 1786 and 1787, the graduates received certificates to be exchanged for diplomas, whenever there was a President qualified to sign them.
Most of the apparatus and books were lost by this removal. Some six or seven hundred volumes were found thirty years afterward. in a room in St. Paul's chapel, but no one could tell how they came there.
2 Moore's Hist. of Columbia College, p. 68.
The act of 1787 reörganizing the Board of Regents upon a new plan, very nearly the same that now exists, gave a separate Board of Trustees to the College, and on the 21st of May of that year, William Samuel Johnson, LL. D., was elected President. On the 12th of November he signified his acceptance of the office. There were then three Professors in the Arts, and three in Medicine, but none in Law or Divinity. An extra Professor of German was employed, but without fixed salary."
During the next twenty years no event of particular interest occurred in the College, which gradually acquired strength, and its affairs became settled.
In 1792 the College received a grant of £7,900 for specific objects," and £750 per annum for salaries.
In 1801 it shared with Union College in a land grant at Lake George, Ticonderoga and Crown Point.
In 1809 the requirements for admission were very much raised, to take effect the next year, and a new course of study and discipline was established.
On the 23d of March, 1810, the college charter was revised, its Trustees named and their powers and privileges defined. Former grants were confirmed, former acts consolidated, and the law of 1787 relating to the Regents of the University, so far as it concerned this College, was repealed. The value of real estate to be acquired was not to exceed the sum of $20,000 a year, and the land received from Trinity Church was not to be granted for a longer term of time than sixty-three years.
In 1812' the Provost was made eligible as a Trustee.
In 1814' the College received the grant of a tract of twenty acres of land which had been acquired by the State from Dr. Hosack as a
'Mr. Johnson was a son of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson, the first President of the College.
Of the thirty-nine students, nearly half of them in the freshman class, five lodged and boarded in the College, and five had rooms and studied there. The yearly income at that time was about £1,330.
Act of April 11 (chap. 69), Laws of 1792. Of the above sum, £1,500 was for a library, £200 for chemical apparatus, £1,200 for a wall to support grounds, and £5,000 for a hall and wing to building, making in all £7,900.
Chap. 85, Laws of 1810.
$ Chap. 6, Laws of 1812. The office of Provost was created in June, 1811, to supply the place of President in his absence, and to conduct the classical studies of the senior class. It was discontinued in 1816.
Chap. 120, Laws of 1814.