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2 112 VOL. XI.
WILLIAM AND MARY COLLEGE-BEFORE THE FIRE OF 1859. "WILLIAM AND MARY," the oldest of American colleges, with the single exception of Harvard University, has so many historical associations connected with it, that a full and minute history of it from its foundation to the present time would be almost the history of Virginia. It began its career soon after the settlement of the country, and is, consequently, now nearly two hundred years old. During all this long period it played an important part, first in the colony, and then in the commonwealth. Founded in the reign of William and Mary, it was a flourishing institution when Marlborough was fighting Louis XIV., and Addison was writing the "Spectator." The royal governors, from Spotswood to Dunmore, began and ended their official careers, and the country, from being a dependency of the British crown, became a great confederated republic, and the old college was still in the full tide of its energy and usefulness. From its situation at Williamsburg, the colonial capital, it witnessed and was a part of all VOL. XI.-I.
that was eminent, brilliant, and attractive in
to the navy, twelve Professors, four signers of the Declaration of Independence, seven Cabinet officers, the chief draughtsman and author of the Constitution, Edmund Randolph; the most eminent of the ChiefJustices, John Marshall, and three Presidents of the United States. And this list, honorable as it is, by no means exhausts the number of really eminent and influential men who owed the formation and development of their intellects and characters to "William and Mary." In the long list of students, preserved from the year 1720 to the present time, will be found a great array of names holding a very high rank in the commonwealth of Virginia and the States of the South and West-in the pulpit, at the bar, and in the local legislatures. These, with out attaining the eminence of those first mentioned, were the most prominent citizens of the communities in which they lived, and were chiefly instrumental in giving character and direction to social and political affairs. One and all, they received from their education at the old ante-revolutionary college the stamp and mold of character which made them able and valuable citizens-leaders, indeed, in opinion and action, whenever intellect and virtue were needed for important public affairs.
The history of the origin and career of such an institution ought to be worth considering; and the writer of this sketch hopes, by selecting some incidents and particulars connected with the college, to make his brief narrative as interesting as it is instructive. From the situation of the college at Williamsburg, he will be able, almost without digressing from the main subject, to notice also some of the historic localities of the ancient capital-the Raleigh Tavern, which played so important a part in the social and political history of the eighteenth century; the Governor's Palace, where the English Viceroys held audience beneath the portraits of the King and Queen; the Old Capitol, where the Burgesses sat and were dissolved time after time when the growing spirit of resistance alarmed the Governors; the old magazine from which Dunmore removed the powder, and other localities connected with the history of Virginia. The simple mention of these buildings, clustering together in the contracted limits of the city of Williamsburg, recalls a remarkable epoch in the history of the country-the sudden germination of republican ideas in the midst of the old splendid society in ruffles, powder, and silk stockings flashing to and fro
on the main thoroughfare, " Duke-of-Gloucester street;" the fiery protests of Henry against further submission to King and Parliament; the meetings of Jefferson and his associates at the Raleigh Tavern to inaugurate revolution; and the last scene, when, Dunmore having disappeared, and the royal authority with him, Patrick Henry, the "Man of the People," took his seat as the first republican Governor in the old Viceregal "Palace." William and Mary College its President, Professors, and studentswitnessed all these scenes, the prominent actors in which had been students there in their own youth, like their fathers and grandfathers, for this ancestral connection of families with the college is a marked feature in its history. An examination of the ancient records, which have fortunately been preserved, will show the same names running through the lists of students from the year 1720 to the year 1875.
William and Mary was formally chartered in 1693. It is honorable both to England and Virginia that the settlements on James River had scarcely become firmly rooted before a strong feeling was exhibited in favor of establishing an institute of divinity and learning-of "good arts and sciences," as the charter says in the new country. The original, and one of the chief motives, seems to have been the civilization and conversion to Christianity of the Indians, whose heathen condition seemed to weigh heavily on the minds and consciences of the good people of that day. It was not found, when the effort was duly made, that the aborigines, in any number, either acquired education or became Christians; but the impulse in their favor had important results in other directions. As early as 1619, about twelve years after the landing of Smith and his companions at Jamestown, Sir Edwin Sandys, then President of the "London Company," together with some other good people in England, raised a considerable sum of money to establish a university at Henrico, on James River. The result of the undertaking was melancholy, and the Indians, who were to be the main objects of this bounty, struck a death-blow to the project. George Thorpe, Esq., of his Majesty's Privy Council, was sent over to Virginia to effect the object in view, and everything seemed favorable to its success, when, in March 1622, he was attacked at Henrico by a force of Indians and slain, with three hundred and forty other persons. This incident, known as the massacre of 1622," abruptly checked the
enrage him. The nation was engaged in an expensive war, he told Mr. Blair-the money was wanted for other and better purposeswhat occasion could there be for a college in Virginia? The reply of Blair was, that the object was to prepare young men for the ministry-the people of Virginia had "souls to be saved as well as the people of England," he added. This idea seemed to strike Seymour as exquisitely absurd, and his retort, which is historical, indicates his character. 'Souls!" he exclaimed"damn your souls! Make tobacco!" In spite, however, of the AttorneyGeneral, the King and Queen adhered to their resolution, and affixed their signature to the charter on the 19th of February (N. S.), 1693.
Let us briefly recite the main points and provisions of this interesting paper, through whose ancient verbiage, involutions, and repetitions shines clearly the honorable and worthy ambition of the King and the Queen to spread education, good morals, and Christian piety throughout the growing colonies of the Western Continent. The college was to be established, as will be seen, on an enlarged and comprehensive basis. The objects in view were, "that the Church of Virginia may be furnished with a Seminary of Ministers of the Gospel, and that the youth may be piously educated in good letters and manners, and that the Christian faith may be propagated among the Western Indians to the glory of Almighty God; to make, found, and establish a certain place of universal study, or perpetual college of divinity, philosophy, languages, and other good arts and sciences,"
surely a broad and generous plan, doing honor to the good sense and good character of the Virginians and the royal pair alike. The charter then proceeds to details and special provisions. The officers were to consist of a chancellor, eighteen visitors or governors, a president or rector, and six professors, who were to teach one hundred students. As the Virginia Assembly had recommended the Rev. James Blair for the office, he was "created and established first president of the said college, during his
education of youth, supply of the ministry, and promotion of piety"-the religious aspect of the undertaking still occupying all minds, a character it afterward assumed and retained up to the Revolution, when Mr. Jefferson succeeded in modifying it. Nothing resulted, however, from this action; but the Virginians still persisted, and at last the project took a definite shape. In 1688-9 an additional sum of twenty-five hundred pounds sterling was subscribed by a few wealthy Virginians and Englishmen, and in 1693 the long-hoped-for success came. The Colonial Assembly had conceived the fortunate idea of sending as their representative to England the able and energetic James Blair, a clergyman of high standing, who is styled by William and Mary in the charter of the institution "our well-beloved in Christ." Mr. Blair, full of zeal and ardor, went over to London, and first unfolded his scheme to Queen Mary, who warmly approved of it. King William was equally favorable to the plan, and gave "out of the quit-rents" two thousand pounds sterling to assist in the erection of the buildings. More difficulty was found in making a friend of Seymour, the Attorney-General. When the King sent him an order to draw up the charter, and see to the payment of the two thousand pounds, the command seemed to
natural life." The chancellor was to be elected by the rector and visitors; meanwhile, our well-beloved and trusty, the reverend father in God, Henry, by Divine permission Bishop of London," was to be
REV JAMES BLAIR, FOUNDER AND FIRST PRESIDENT OF WILLIAM AND MARY COLLEGE. (FROM AN OLD PORTRAIT IN THE LIBRARY.)
the first chancellor, and to hold the office for seven years. The rector was to be elected yearly, "on the first Monday which. shall happen next after the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary," and to hold office for one year. And to "perpetuate the succession of the said rector, and of the said visitors and governors of the said college," as often as any should die or remove himself and family out of the colony, the rector and a majority of the visitors should "choose one or more of the principal and better sort of the inhabitants of our said colony of Virginia," in place of the dead or absent. The visitors and governors, says the charter, "shall forever be eighteen men, or any other number not exceeding the number of twenty:" and these gentlemen were to have the general direction and superintendence of the whole institution.
The charter then proceeds to endow the college, in the amplest manner. To erect the buildings, the visitors were to have "the whole and entire sum of one thousand nine hundred and eighty-five pounds, fourteen shillings and tenpence (£1,985 145. 10d.), of good and lawful money of England, that has been received and raised out of the quit
rents of said colony," then in the hands of William Byrd, Esq., Auditor; and this money was to be applied to "no other use, intent, or purpose whatever" but building the college. The college was also to have one penny per pound for all tobacco exported from Virginia and Maryland; the office of Surveyor-General, with "all issues, fees, profits, advantages, conveniences, liberties, places, privileges, and pre-eminences whatsoever;" ten thousand acres of land lying on the south side of Blackwater Swamp, and ten thousand additional acres in what was known as "Pamunkey Neck," between the Pamunkey and Mattapony, here spoken of as the "forks or branches of York River." An important provision, in the last place, was the right bestowed upon the college to have its representative in the Burgesses. Authority was granted to the president and professors to select from their own number, or from the visitors, or from "the better sort of inhabitants of our Colony of Virginia, a discreet and able person to be present in the House of Burgesses of the General Assembly of our Colony of Virginia," there to represent the institution.
To this ample charter a condition was added-slight and somewhat fantastic, as was the fashion of such things at that time. By way of full discharge, acquittance, and satisfaction for the twenty thousand acres of land, the college authorities were to pay "to us, and our successors, two copies of Latin verses yearly, on every fifth day of November, at the house of our Governor or Lieutenant-Governor for the time being." And in the "Virginia Gazette " for November 12th, 1736, nearly half a century afterward, may be found this paragraph: "On this day se'n night, being the 5th of November, the president, masters, and scholars of William and Mary College went, according to their annual custom, in a body to the Governor's, to present his Honor with two copies of Latin verses in obedience to their charter. Mr. President delivered the verses to his Honor, and two of the young gentlemen spoke them."
The College of William and Mary was thus successfully founded, and from time to time additional donations and bequests were made to it by the Assembly, good citizens, and Queen Anne, which may as well be noticed here. Certain "well-disposed, charitable persons, for encouraging and furthering so good a work," gave "two thousand pounds sterling (£2,000) and upward." The Assembly laid duties upon raw hides and tan