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Colleges in America

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The American college system is deeply rooted in the past. It will be better understood if we trace briefly its historic connection with the ancient and European seats of learning. Higher education has been promoted among all great nations. Flourishing colleges were founded among ancient people. In the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, schools of the Prophets were located at Bethel, Gibeah, Gilgal, Jericho and Naioth. The Academy of Athens, the Museum of Alexandria, the Athenæum of Rome were once centers of intellectual activity and spread their influence over the civilized world.

The Greek race especially commands our attention for its activity in matters relating to higher education. The Academy of Plato flourished for nine hundred years. The schools of Athens are noted for their great and permanent influence in awakening thought and shedding the light of their teaching among the nations of the world. "So charged," says Cardinal Newman, "is the moral atmosphere of the East with Greek civilization, that down to this day those tribes are said to show to most advantage which can claim relation of place and kin with Greek colonies established two thousand years ago." The influences of the scholastic halls of Plato and Aristotle span the centuries with their light and power.

Here truths were taught that have found universal acceptance. Down to the second century, Athens was a favorite resort for students. The college at Alexandria, where so many of the Fathers of the Church were educated, was founded and carefully organized by Ptolemy two centuries before the Christian era. For six hundred years it exerted a great influence on the youth who gathered from all parts of the civilized world to receive instruction from its eminent professors.

Roman colleges likewise exerted a wholesome influence in their day. They began during the life-time of Quintilian, in the second century, and it continued to be the deliberate policy of Augustus, Vespasian and Hadrian to multiply and extend the influence of endowed schools in Rome and provincial towns. Their object, says Merivale, was to "restore the tone of society and infuse into the national mind healthier sentiments." These Romano-Hellenic schools were so tenacious of life that they continued to flourish down to the fifth century. Owing to the decline of personal morality and the low conceptions of the ends of human life, and other general influences which led to the downfall of the empire, these schools finally degenerated and could no longer survive.

"Some great new spiritual force," says Professor Laurie, "was needed to reform society and the education of the young. That force was at hand in Christianity; and if it very early assumed a negative, if not a prohibitory, attitude to the old learning, it may be conceded that this was an inevitable step in the development of a new ethical idea."

The Christian system of education gradually superseded the pagan system. Christianity fortified the sense of personality and introduced the idea of a broader and deeper sentiment of human brotherhood, which helped to diffuse the spirit of education among the people and awaken in the human mind a sense of its native dignity and power.

There were in the first century such men as Clemens, Ignatius and Polycarp, who employed their talent to build up Christianity and encourage the education of the people. In the second century, "the number of the learned men increased considerably, the majority of whom were philosophers attached to the elective system." It was at the close of this century (181 A. D.) that the first Christian catechetical school was established at Alexandria, in accord with Christian requirements. Such schools soon became numerous and efficient, and were under the superintendence of the Bishops. The priests, as well as the laity, were educated in them. At the end of the fourth century they had entirely superseded the schools of the grammaticus, when ancient culture became practically extinct.

The monastic schools arose in the fifth century to supplant the Romano-Hellenic schools. Chief among the founders in the West was Benedict, who in 428 A. D. founded a monastery on Monte Cassino, near Naples. "He had educational as well as religious aims from the first, and it is to the monks of this rapidly extending order, or to the influence which their 'rule' exercised on other conventual orders, such as the Columban, that we owe the diffusion of schools in the early part of the Middle Ages and the preservation of ancient learning. The Benedictine monks not only taught in their own monasteries, but were everywhere in demand as heads of Episcopal or Cathedral schools."


The monastic schools multiplied rapidly throughout Europe and took the lead in education and gained more influence than the episcopal schools. These schools, sheltered by the church, existed from the fourth to the twelfth century for the benefit of the ecclesiastical body. The majority of them did not admit lay instruction until the middle of the ninth century. Education during this period, with few exceptional centers, was crude and unenlightened. The power of the mediæval machinery was such that these schools gave to the clergy only the mere rudiments of learning. The conception of education at first did not embrace the culture of the whole man. It was commonly thought that the religious life opposed the life of the world, and that the temporal life should be one of abnegation and asceticism. It was the belief that human reason could not be trusted to have independent activity, and so dogma was substituted for its free movement. The mind was cribbed and confined by rules, for fear that speculations in philosophy and free investigations would disturb and rationalize theology. Thought was so fettered that philosophy, literature and science were almost forgotten. Everything was done to subserve the faith and suppress heresy. The Latin and Greek classics were denounced as the offspring of the pagan world. It required several centuries for the Christian world to conceive that there was no antagonism between reason and authority, and between Greek and Roman culture and the Christian religion. These schools, however, did a valuable service to the cause of education by transcribing manuscripts and becoming repositories of ancient learning.

The intellectual chaos began to end about the tenth century. The re-establishment of civilization and the revival of learning was still more manifest during the eleventh century, and soon university life became possible. The time was evidently ripe for Europe to awake from its intellectual sleep and begin a new educational development. The general causes which contributed to give fresh impulse to higher education at this time were the growing tendency to organization, the Saracen influence and the desire for higher learning in the more important centers. "The universities were founded," says Professor Laurie, "by a concurrence of able men who had something they wished to teach, and of youth who desired to learn. * * * It was the eternal need of the human spirit in its relation to the unseen that originated the University of Paris. We may say then that it was the improvement of the professions of medicine, law and theology which led to the inception and organization of the first great schools."

The people felt the need of providing and obtaining instruction beyond the monastic and episcopal schools. By the natural development of these, a number of high-grade schools were established which afterwards gave rise to the universities. They came into existence without charter from either ecclesiastical or civil power, and were not controlled or directed by either. The importance of these institutions was soon discovered by both Pope and Emperor, who cultivated friendly relations with these free, voluntary and self-supporting centers of learning and gave them special privileges and encouragement.

Among the first European schools was that of Salerno, in Italy, which was known as a school of medicine as early as the ninth century. The University of Bologna arose at the close of the twelfth century. In 1211 the University of Paris became a legal corporation. Oxford began as a secondary school, and passed to the rank of a university in 1140, and Cambridge was established in the year 1200. Professor Laurie says that "in the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there grew up in Europe ten universities; while in the fourteenth century we find eighteen added; and in the fifteenth century twenty-nine arose, including St. Andrew's (1411), Glasgow (1454), Aberdeen (1477). The great intellectual activity of the fourteenth century, which led to the rise of so many universities, coincides with the first revival of letters, or rather was one manifestation of the revival." The main center of this great intellectual movement was the University of Paris, the mother of universities, which gained pre-eminence in the great studies of theology and philosophy. It was chartered by Philip Augustus in the thirteenth century, and was fostered by France, Picardy, Normandy and England. These united and organized the Faculty of Arts, which became its chief glory. It taught the three arts, Latin grammar, rhetoric and dialectics, known as the trivium. The quadrivium, embracing arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, was likewise taught. The Faculty of Theology was created in 1257, that of Law in 1271, and that of Medicine in 1274.

Matthew Arnold says that "the University of Paris was the main center of mediæval science, and the authoritative school of mediæval teaching. It received names expressing the most enthusiastic devotion, the Fountain of Knowledge, the Tree of Life, the Candlestick of the House of the Lord. * * * Here came Roger Bacon, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Dante; here studied the founder of the first university of the empire, Charles the Fourth, Emperor of Germany and King of Bohemia, founder of the University of Prague."

The intellectual lead which belonged to France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries passed to Italy in the fourteenth century. Some of the universities in Italy ranked among the best in Europe. They were chiefly distinguished for their studies in law and medicine. In the early part of the thirteenth century, the University of Bologna was famous throughout the world, having at one time 12,000 students from all parts of Europe. These universities continued to exert a powerful influence until Catholicism triumphed over the abortive attempts at religious reform, and there settled down over the brilliant Italy of the Renaissance an unprogressive and anti-intellectual influence from which she has never fully recovered.

"The importance of the university in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries," says Matthew Arnold, "was extraordinary. Men's minds were possessed with a wonderful zeal for knowledge, or what was then thought knowledge, and the University of Paris was the great fount from which this knowledge issued. The University and those depending on it, made at this time, it is said, actually a third of the population of Paris. * * * One asks oneself with interest, what was the mental food to which this vast, turbulent multitude pressed with such inconceivable hunger. Theology was the great matter; and there is no doubt that this study was by no means always that barren and verbal trifling which an ill-informed modern contempt is fond of representing it. It is evident that around the study of theology in the mediæval University of Paris there worked a real ferment of thought, and very free thought. But the University of Paris culminated as the exclusive devotion to theological study declined, and culminated by virtue of that declension."

The great business of the universities from the twelfth to the seventeenth century was that of scholastic philosophy, which largely governed their teaching.

The scholastic philosophy was "the legitimate development of the philosophy of Aristotle and his successors, and was the only philosophy possible in its day. Nay, it was an integral essential element in human progress. It taught men to distinguish and define, and has left its impress upon the language and thought of all civilized peoples, 'in lines manifold, deep-graven and ineffaceable.' Out of it has grown our modern civilization."

The schoolmen would freely canvass the deep problems of the mind and soul, but would blindly exclude the new influences at work in society. They had to meet the opposition of the humanists, who made the study of Latin and Greek the basis of culture. The humanists were great writers and artists, who worked for more modern ideas and a newer civilization. They introduced the Renaissance, which was a literary movement that began in Italy in the fourteenth century. It was believed that vital knowledge was gained by knowing oneself, and that the best way to attain this was to study poetry, philosophy, history and all knowledge that was created by the spirit of man. Unfortunately, the knowledge of letters in Italy tended to paganize its adherents. Infidelity spread and immorality abounded in all ranks of society.

The great movement of the Renaissance secured a stronghold in Germany, where its power was extended to the established systems of instruction and utilized in the interests of a purer Christianity. Melancthon and Erasmus and all the chief reformers except Luther, were eminent humanists and friends of classical learning. They were outside the established schools, and were the leading spirits in intellectual culture, so that the Renaissance triumphed with the Reformation. These two forces united and gave spirit and power to the humanists. The influence of the new learning in Germany was marked by comparative freedom from frivolities, skepticism and immoralities. There was a critical and enlightened study of classical literature and a reverent and rational study of the Bible. The literary treasures of antiquity were made to minister to religion. The Reformation also gave fresh impulses to all the schools and institutions of learning. The school teacher and preacher of the gospel joined hands in the common work of education.

The universities, however, under the control of the schoolmen, retrograded and decayed because they chose to remain mediæval. They refused to become the educational agencies of the times, and so failed to be at the head of a great intellectual movement. They could not be induced to assimilate the new studies and make themselves the organ of the Renaissance and the Reformation. The rapid growth of positive and experimental science, however, was fatal to scholasticism. The narrow scholastic spirit was exemplified by Cremonini, who is called the last of the schoolmen, and who was professor at Padua in 1631.

This countryman of Galileo, after the discovery of Jupiter's satellites, judging that this discovery contradicted Aristotle, would never consent to look through a telescope again. One could not have a better incident to end the career of the scholastic philosophy.

The Jesuits adopted a more liberal spirit and method. They established and controlled a large number of universities and schools, and made them the great channels of the movement of the counter-Reformation. Their educational activity gained for them a great reputation for teaching and a large patronage. In 1710, they had 612 colleges, 157 normal schools, 24 universities and 200 missions. They were inspired not so much by the value they placed on culture for its own sake, as to promote the authority of the old religion and prevent heresy.

The powerful initial impulse given to the cause of education by means of the humanists and the reformers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries began to flag in the seventeenth century, when the Protestant Church, like the Catholic, became cold and petrified. The universities were regarded as appendages of the church, and classical training largely lost its hold in Europe.

The condition of contemporary institutions for superior instruction in the old world is full of promise. The importance of building up great universities is conceded by nearly all nations. In the judgment of Mr. L. D. Wishard, the Foreign Secretary of the College Y. M. C. A., there are 500,000 young men in Asia in the high-class institutions.

The government of Japan, that has lately joined the Western nations in the onward march of civilization, gives enlightened direction to higher education. There are, besides the Imperial College of Tokio, five great secondary schools located in different centers throughout the empire, which serve as feeders to the university. There are 5,000 youth in Christian colleges and schools in the kingdom. In the Christian university at Kioto there are 600 youth pursuing a college education under Christian teaching.

China has always encouraged colleges for the education of her magistrates. "The literary class consisting of the graduates, and those who attend the examinations for degrees, numbering some two and a half millions, are the rulers of China."

There is a growing tendency to universal education in India. "It is computed," says Bishop Hurst, "that in the small area of Calcutta and suburbs there are 28,000 alumni who have completed the curriculum in the five Christian colleges. There are about 2,000 who are alumni or students of the Calcutta University, and there are 1,000 youths besides who are studying up to the matriculation examinations of the university." The English language is the medium of instruction in all these institutions. It may not be wide of the mark to suppose that in all India there are not less than 40,000 natives who have graduated at some school of high grade, and that ten per cent. of the number have passed the university degrees. The number is now more probably 50,000. These men enjoy the highest respect and are the recognized leaders of native thought. Already many are, and many more are to be judges, lawyers, magistrates, professors, teachers, orators, physicians, engineers, merchants, authors and journalists of the country.

The University of Fez, in Morocco, established in the eighth century, is one of the oldest universities outside of Asia. The Mohammedan University at Cairo, in Egypt, has more than 200 instructors and 10,000 students assembled from Europe, Asia and Africa to be instructed in the Moslem faith.

If we turn to Europe, we find that the planting and enlarging of the institutions for superior instruction has the most hopeful outlook. In Great Britain and Ireland there are 11 universities with 834 professors and 18,400 students. Besides, there are the old established and excellent schools at Eaton, Harrow, Winchester and Rugby.

A new era for the classical schools of Germany began in 1783, when Baron Sedlitz, encouraged by Frederic the Great, was able to revive "the dormant sparks planted in them by the Renaissance and they awoke to a new life, which since the beginning of this century has drawn the eyes of all students of intellectual progress upon them." Germany had in 1890, 250 gymnasia and 22 universities. The latter are manned by 2,431 instructors and have 31,803 students, or one student to every 151 of the population.

France has 19,152 students in her professional and technical schools. There are fifteen institutions of higher learning in the University of France, with 180 professors and 12,695 students. These are under the control and patronage of the State. The government appropriated in 1889–90, 12,000,000 francs for university purposes. Besides, there were expended in the same year 99,000,000 francs for new buildings for the advancement of higher education. In 1890, there were 598 professional chairs in the several universities, in which were taught 17,630 students, or one student to every 217 of the population.

The Austria-Hungary Empire had in 1891 eleven universities, eight of which were in Austria, with 1,112 professors and 14,272 students. The remaining three were in Hungary and had 322 professors and 4,098 students. There were for the same year in Switzerland nine universities, with 434 professors and 2,619 students.

The Catholic Church in Italy continued for years to exert an unprogressive and anti-intellectual influence. The present government of Italy, however, is fully awake to the importance of a university education for the people, and now maintains several universities at a large annual outlay.

This brief outline reveals the facts that all civilized nations are encouraging and maintaining schools for the higher education of the people, and suggests that a comparative study of them is both helpful and fruitful.

Many of the universities in the Old World lack the stimulus of the strong Protestant denominational influence and the marked religious character of the American colleges. They consequently fail to attain the highest results for the general good, but they are inaugurating an intellectual movement which will eventuate in a more glorious future.


Our national existence came into full bloom under the light of a Christian civilization. The political, social and religious institutions were sufficiently well organized in the Old World to be advantageously introduced, with some modifications, into a young nation in the New World.

The early colonists first founded a church, then a school, and then a college. They felt that the colonial organization was incomplete without a college to inculcate such piety, virtue and intelligence as would preserve and perfect the highest social order and secure the blessings of liberty. These colleges, modelled at first after the universities of Europe, soon mapped out a pathway for themselves, and have now come to occupy a unique place in our national life.

The Pilgrim Fathers sought to establish in the New World three great principles: civil and religious liberty, and to make education their corner-stone. The scholarly impulses were so dominant at this early day that when the entire population of New England did not exceed four thousand, the people determined to establish a college, which Cotton Mather says "was the best thing they ever thought of." It is estimated that this meager population contained as many as one hundred men who had received the training of Oxford and Cambridge. Sixty of them were from the University of Cambridge; twenty were from Oxford, and others, apparently, from the Scotch universities. The colleges they founded show traces of all these institutions. These intelligent and refined men, with breadth of culture and political foresight and public spirit, constituted the chief source of greatness in the early days of New England.

The three leading colonial colleges, Harvard, Yale, and William and Mary, were planted and permeated with the spirit of republican liberty and primitive Christianity. They began in a very modest way.

Harvard, the oldest of American colleges, was founded in the beginning of the colonial days, only eighteen years after the Pilgrim Fathers landed on Plymouth Rock, and when Boston was a village of twenty-five or thirty houses, and when only twenty-five towns had begun to be settled in the colony. In 1636, six years after the settlement of Boston, the colonial legislature voted the sum of four hundred pounds (equivalent to a tax of fifty cents to every person in the colony) towards the founding of Harvard College, with the avowed purpose of training young men for the ministry. This sum was increased in 1637 by the munificence of John Harvard, who was a graduate of Cambridge, and a finished scholar and clergyman from England. He gave eight hundred pounds and his library, consisting of three hundred volumes, towards the endowment, whereupon the college took his name. "The colony caught his spirit," says Boone. "Among the magistrates themselves, two hundred pounds was subscribed, a part in books. All did something, even the indigent; one subscribed a number of sheep; another, nine shillings' worth of cloth; one, a ten-shilling pewter flagon; others, a fruit dish, a sugar spoon, a silver-tipped jug, one great salt, one small trencher salt, etc. From such small beginnings did the institution take its start. No rank, no class of men, is unrepresented. The school was of the people." There is nothing in history to parallel the heroic spirit and boldness of these early settlers in attempting to found a college, surrounded as the people were with poverty, scanty subsistence, and savage enemies. They did not realize the wisdom of their liberality and sacrifice and its influence upon the future civilization of the Western World. Harvard College was located at Cambridge, with a single building, on less than three acres of land. It was supported by government appropriations and private philanthropy. For years the college was financially embarrassed. The salaries were small, and for nearly one hundred years were paid out of the colonial treasury. The President received a salary of $600. The total grants made to the college by the colony during the first century amounted to about $8,000. The total annual income from all sources at the close of the first century of its history was but £750. Down to 1780 the total amount contributed out of the public treasury was $68,675 and 3,793 acres of land. Individuals in England and America had likewise given $90,412.

No one at this period would have dared to predict that Harvard College would have in 1892 an endowment of $12,000,000 and an annual revenue of more than $1,000,000, with seventeen departments of instruction, three hundred teachers, and three thousand students. But such has been the phenomenal growth of some of our American institutions.

Among the colonial colleges, that of William and Mary is one of the most important. As early as 1617, an attempt was made in England to raise money to found a college among the Virginia settlers. In 1619, fifteen hundred pounds were in the hands of the treasurer, and ten thousand acres of land were granted by the Virginia Company. A preparatory school was founded two years later, but owing to the Indian massacre of 340 settlers which followed, the enterprise was suspended. The effort to found a college was subsequently revived in 1660. The Virginia Assembly enacted that "for the advancement of learning, education of youth, supply of the ministry, and promotion of piety, there be land taken for a college and free school." Nothing came of this until 1688, when a subscription was taken from wealthy planters for twenty-five hundred pounds for the college. Five years later (1692) the first royal educational charter in America was granted. The college was established at Williamsburg, Virginia, and was given £2,000 and 20,000 acres of land, a tax of a penny a pound on all tobacco exported from Virginia and Maryland, and the duty on furs, skins, and liquors imported, besides other fees and privileges of the Surveyor General's office. "In its royal foundation, its generous endowment, and liberal patronage," says R. C. Boone, "it stands in sharp contrast to the early years of Harvard. This was established by the Puritans, and stood for the severest of ultra-orthodox though dissenting Protestantism; that was founded to be and was an exponent of the most formal ceremonialism of the Church of England. The one was nursed by democracy; the other befriended by cavalier and courtier. Endowment for the one came from the purses of an infant and needy settlement; the other was drawn from the royal treasury. The one was environed and shaken for a hundred years by the schisms of a controversial people; the roots of the other were deep in the great English ecclesiastical system." This college has been called a school of statesmen. It was here that Jefferson, Randolph, Tyler, Monroe, Blair, Marshall, and other prominent statesmen received their training.

The history of Yale College is full of interest. The original design of the founders of the New Haven Colony was to establish a college. A lot was set apart for this purpose as early as 1647. A plan was proposed in 1698 to found a college, and to be placed under the general care of the churches. In 1700, sixty-three years after the founding of Harvard College, a society consisting of eleven ministers met to take the initial step. At a second meeting, in the same year, each of the trustees, numbering ten of the principal clergymen of the colony, were without money, but they brought forty volumes of books, and, placing them on a table, presented them to the body, saying in substance: "I give these books for the founding of a college in this colony." This was the humble beginning of Yale College. The colony had a population at this time of fifteen thousand people, fifty of whom were college-trained men. The outlook for this college was not very encouraging, in view of their limited means and scattered population. The work, at first, lacked system and unity. In 1718, the college was permanently located at New Haven, Connecticut, and named in honor of Elihu Yale, who was born in Boston in 1648. He received his education in England, and was afterward made Governor of Madras, and, later, Governor of the East India Company. His donation to Yale College was largely in books, and amounted to five hundred pounds. This gift was followed by that of Rev. George Berkely, who gave ninety-six acres of land in Rhode Island and one thousand volumes to the library. The college received for its support, in a century and a half, $100,000 from the commonwealth of Connecticut. It has been supported chiefly by private means. In 1890, there were 143 instructors and 1,500 students. There is no college in America that has a more enviable reputation for giving a thorough Christian education to the thousands of youth who have gone forth from her halls of learning.

It is a matter of record that our ancestors showed much self-denial, courage, and genius, to turn aside from the work of organizing a new social order, and the readjustment of themselves to their surroundings in a new country to provide for the higher education of the people. The founders and supporters of these colleges, as a rule, were men of high intellectual and religious character, and worked intensely and earnestly for the highest good of society. It would prove an inestimable blessing to our nation if every American citizen were inspired with the zeal of the early colonists in behalf of the cause of higher education. They, out of their poverty, poured their gifts into the treasury of the colleges in order to leave future generations a great and glorious heritage. Gratitude should prompt us to excel them in our love for the education of the present and future generations by cheerfully giving of our abundance for the same high and holy ends.

Other colleges were founded within the century. Aside from the three colonial colleges, six more were founded prior to the Revolution, and four during the war of independence. Following the Revolution was a period of expansion, and by the close of the century there were twenty-four colleges established. These colleges, scattered throughout the Union, appeared as a galaxy of stars in the literary firmament of the nation. They were founded and located as follows:

  Institution. State. Date. 1. Harvard, Massachusetts, 1637 2. William and Mary, Virginia, 1693 3. Yale, Connecticut, 1701 4. Princeton, New Jersey, 1746 5. University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, 1749 6. Columbia, New York, 1754 7. Brown, Rhode Island, 1764 8. Dartmouth, New Hampshire, 1769 9. Queen's Rutgers, New Jersey, 1766 10. Hamden-Sidney, Virginia, 1776 11. Washington and Lee, Virginia, 1782 12. Washington University, Maryland, 1782 13. Dickinson, Pennsylvania, 1783 14. St. Johns, Maryland, 1784 15. Nashville, Tennessee, 1785 16. Georgetown, Dist. of Columbia, 1789 17. University of N. Carolina, North Carolina, 1789 18. University of Vermont, Vermont, 1791 19. University of E. Tennessee, Tennessee, 1792 20. Williams, Massachusetts, 1793 21. Bowdoin, Maine, 1794 22. Union, New York, 1795 23. Middlebury, Vermont, 1795 24. Frederick College, Maryland, 1796

It remained for the nineteenth century to exhibit in the New World an unprecedented multiplication and expansion of institutions of higher learning.

At the opening of the century there were only twenty-four colleges in the United States. Thirty years later the number had reached forty-nine. In 1850, there were 120 colleges, manned by 1,300 teachers, with 17,000 students. There were besides 42 theological seminaries, 35 medical schools, and 12 law schools.

By 1890, the number of colleges and universities had grown to 415, having 7,918 instructors and 118,581 students. There were in the same year 117 medical schools, with 7,013 students, and 54 law schools, with 4,518 students. These facts bear witness to the determination of the American people to satisfy the needs of their higher nature, and not to rest content with material growth and the bare necessities of life.

The spirit of our early ancestors was never more manifest than in their earnest advocacy of religious liberty, and their protest against all ecclesiastical authority. The numerous settlements in different sections of the country, with their different nationalities and diverse religious opinions, tended to multiply the religious denominations and to establish churches with divergent aims and plans. These independent sects gave rise to a great number of schools claiming to be colleges. These schools they regarded as essential and supplementary to their churches. Harvard owes its origin to non-conforming clergymen. The Episcopal Church claimed William and Mary College. The Congregationalists of Connecticut founded Yale. Princeton was founded under the auspices of a Presbyterian synod, and Brown was established by an association of Baptist Churches. One hundred and four of the first one hundred and nineteen colleges established in the United States had a distinctively Christian origin. Their founders intended that they should be, in some sense, ecclesiastical as well as religious. Notwithstanding their diversity, there was unity in their general character and design. While they maintained a denominational character, they were in nowise illiberal, and set up no religious test for entrance.

The Christian Churches have been not only pioneers of education, but their followers recognize as never before the power and efficiency of the Christian College to further the Kingdom of God on earth. Out of 415 colleges in 1890, 316 of them were under the control of some religious denomination. These were distributed in 1890 among the several denominations as follows: Methodist, 74; Presbyterian, 49; Baptist, 44; Roman Catholic, 51; Congregational, 22; Christians, 20; Lutheran, 19; United Brethren, 10; Protestant Episcopal, 6; Reformed, 6; Friends, 6; Universalist, 4; Evangelical Association, 2; German Evangelical, 1; Seventh Day Adventist, 1; New Church (Swedenborgian), 1.

The leading denominations are especially active in promoting the cause of higher education. We summarize the educational work of a few of them:

The Congregational Churches, with a membership of 525,097, had, in 1890, thirty-eight schools of distinctly college rank, with 1,034 instructors and 13,601 students. This denomination has generously endowed many of her colleges. She has been pre-eminent in her efforts to extend a liberal education to the people.

The Roman Catholic Church in the United States claimed to have, in 1894, 116 colleges, 637 academies, and 768,498 pupils in parochial schools. This church, that numbers among its adherents one-tenth of the population of this country, has one-fourth of all the colleges.

The Regular Baptists of the United States have one hundred and fifty-two chartered institutions of learning, with an endowment and property valuation of $32,162,904. Of these, seven are theological seminaries, with 54 professors, 776 students, and $3,701,620 of endowments and property. Thirty-five are universities and colleges open to both sexes, with 701 professors and instructors, 9,088 students, and endowment and property to the amount of $19,171,045. Thirty-two are colleges exclusively for women, with 388 professors and instructors, 3,675 students, and endowment and property, $4,121,906. Forty-seven are seminaries and academies, male and co-education, with 369 professors and instructors, 5,250 students, and endowment and property worth $3,787,793. And thirty-one are institutions of learning for colored people and Indians, several of which are chartered colleges, with 279 instructors, 5,177 students, endowment and property worth $1,380,540.

Among the church families in the United States the Presbyterians stand third, having about 1,500,000 members, 13,476 organizations, and church property valued at $94,869,000. They have always been favorable to the higher education of ministers and people, and therefore liberal in support of the better class of schools and colleges. They now have under their immediate care 56 colleges, with an enrollment of 10,143 students. The estimated value of property owned by these institutions is $6,780,600, and their permanent endowment funds amount to $6,891,800. There are, besides, four colleges which are jointly owned and patronized by Presbyterians and Congregationalists. In addition there are some forty classical academies, under the care of different Synods and Presbyteries, which have over 3,000 students, and property whose net value is over $1,000,000. Fourteen theological seminaries are scattered over the country, with more than 1,200 students. These have property and endowments amounting to $8,164,762. This makes the total investment of the churches in classical institutions and seminaries to reach the large sum of $22,837,162. Immediately connected with these halls of learning are some 700 of the church's finest scholars and most devoted Christians acting as teachers, while 14,343 of the best and brightest young men and women sit at their feet as learners.

Methodism has been a great educational force in this country. It took its rise in a university, and its leaders were trained in the oldest of English universities. The Methodist zeal for higher education has put her in the front ranks of the moral and educational forces of the age. Though among the youngest of Christian bodies of this country, the magnitude and extent of her educational work is second to none.

The Methodist Episcopal Church comprises less than one-half of the Methodists in the United States, yet she has 49 institutions of collegiate grade, with property and endowment of over $17,000,000, and from the 6,000 students there are sent out annually 1,500 graduates with the Bachelor's degree. In 1892, she had 195 institutions of learning of every grade, with property and endowment valued at $26,000,000, with 2,343 professors and teachers and 40,026 students.

"The increase in population in the United States from 1880 to 1890 was 26.7 per cent.; for the same period the increase of students in college classes in all schools in the United States was 53.1 per cent.; in all Methodist schools in the United States, 52.3 per cent." It is certainly a hopeful indication of the ambition and lofty purpose of Methodist youth that one-eighth of the whole number of students of the Johns Hopkins University are Methodists, seeking the broadest educational facilities. A church with such a record will not lose her hold upon the intellect and scholarship of the age.

Methodism has wisely undertaken to establish the American University in Washington City. The founding of such a university was the dream of Washington and other great statesmen. This is the most strategic educational center in America. The scientific and literary treasures of the government, aggregating a cost of more than $33,000,000, and maintained at an annual expense of three and one-half millions of dollars, will be at the service of this university. The funds of the university will not be tied up in expensive buildings and equipment, but, like the great German universities, employed in paying enthusiastic professors of the broadest scholarship and culture to instruct graduate students in every department of learning, and to widen the horizon of knowledge. This is certainly one of the most magnificent opportunities in the history of the Christian Church to establish a powerful and comprehensive agency to help uphold and expand and organize a Christian civilization. It will gain an increasing power through coming generations.

The Federal Government has, likewise, favored and materially encouraged the cause of education. The wisest statesmen believe that the colleges are not solely the auxiliary of the churches, but that they have an equal value to the State. They firmly believe that education is essential to the general good of the community, and worthy of favorable legislation. "During the first century of its existence, the United States made land grants for educational purposes of nearly 80,000,000 acres, a territory greater than all the landed area of Great Britain and Ireland, and more than half of all France. What a tribute to learning this munificence presents. Of these gifts it is estimated that more than 80 per cent. went to permanent funds for the elementary schools."

The spirit of the American people was shown in the Magna Charta of the Northwest, framed in 1787, which declared that "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." In obedience to this spirit, the Federal government made grants of land to encourage and support institutions of learning, as follows: "One section of land in every township for common schools, and not less than two townships in every State for founding a university." Appropriations have since been made by the general government to establish and foster State universities. In 1862, the Morrill act was passed by Congress, whereby a liberal grant was made to provide for "the endowment, support and maintenance of at least one college, where the leading object should be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislature of the States may prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life." This act was supplemented in 1890 by an additional provision of $25,000 a year for the better equipment and endowment of each of the colleges of agriculture and mechanic arts. The land grant made by the general government to all the States aggregated 9,597,840 acres, from which was realized $15,866,371.

The Hatch act of 1887 made generous Federal provision for the establishment of agricultural experiment stations "for the investigation of the laws and principles that govern the successful and profitable tillage of the soil."

The State universities numbered 30 in 1890, having 12,846 students and 964 instructors. The value of the grounds and buildings aggregated $15,146,588, and the productive fund $10,411,964. The total income for the State schools reached the handsome sum of $2,176,250. These State universities have become fixed factors in our civilization, and give promise of accomplishing a great work for the people. What the character of the work shall be, remains with the American people to decide.

This century has witnessed in the United States the beginning and growth of Colleges for Women. This is the fruit of the increasing development of the idea and sentiment in favor of women sharing with men in the privileges of the highest culture and all rational enjoyment. Exclusive privileges and distinctions on account of sex are contrary to the character and genius of a free people. "If," says President Dwight, "education is for the growth of the human mind—the personal human mind—and if the glory of it is in upbuilding and outbuilding of the mind, the womanly mind is just as important, just as beautiful, just as much a divine creation with wide-reaching possibilities as the manly mind. When we have in our vision serious thought as the working force and end of education, the woman makes the same claim with the man, and her claim rests, at its deepest foundation, upon the same grand idea." The history of the movement in favor of the collegiate education of women is interesting and instructive. One of the first steps in this direction was taken by Mrs. Emma Willard, who opened a school for girls in Middlebury, Vermont, in 1808, which in 1819 was removed to Waterford, New York. Two years later she founded the Troy Female Seminary. Education for women received a new impulse through Miss Catharine E. Beecher, who, in 1822, opened at Hartford, Conn., an academy for girls, and it met with excellent success. Further efforts were made to extend education to young women of more mature years and give them the advantages of an intellectual training equal with that of colleges for men. The Wesleyan Seminary for women was founded at Kent's Hill, Maine, in 1821, and Granville College for women in 1834. Through the earnest effort of Miss Mary Lyon, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary was incorporated February 10, 1836. The Elmira Female College was founded in 1855. These colleges multiplied rapidly and now there are more than two hundred institutions of higher learning devoted exclusively to the education of women.

Colleges for women have been quite liberally endowed by high-minded and generous individuals, and the stability and permanency of these colleges have thus been secured. Vassar College was incorporated in 1861. Mr. Matthew Vassar, the founder, gave 200 acres of land near Poughkeepsie, on the Hudson, which with his other gifts aggregated $788,000. The total productive endowment in 1892 was $1,018,000, and the value of the grounds, buildings, etc., was $792,080 additional.

Wellesley College was founded by H. F. Durant in 1875, at Wellesley, near Boston. He gave 400 acres of land and an endowment of more than one million dollars. Smith College was founded through the beneficence of Sophia Smith, who gave $400,000. Bryn Mawr, near Philadelphia, was opened in 1885, through the generosity of J. W. Taylor, M. D., whose gifts amounted to $1,000,000.

In 1890, there were 179 colleges devoted exclusively to the education of women, having grounds and buildings valued at $11,559,379, with scientific apparatus valued at $419,000 more, and the productive funds aggregated $2,609,661. The total number of students in these colleges for the same year was 24,851, and taught by 2,299 teachers.

The co-education of the sexes in colleges is also constantly growing in favor among those colleges which have given it the most thorough trial. Two hundred and seventy-two colleges in this country, or 65.5 per cent., excluding those devoted exclusively to the education of women, are open equally to both sexes. The favorable results as to scholarship, manners and morals of the two sexes have abundantly confirmed the wisdom of this method. The question of co-education has its complications, but with proper restrictions these are not serious. There is no more danger of women developing bold or masculine qualities of character in a college where co-education exists than in the high schools, or in social and business life outside of college. The charm and beauty of a lady are found in the qualities of modesty and grace. The private life of the ladies attending a college where co-education exists is in most cases so regulated as to secure such home care and retirement as will help to preserve the charming qualities of womanhood. The ladies in these schools gain a certain poise and independence without boldness, which is of inestimable advantage. Aside from this they get a knowledge of character and life that is not likely to be secured in any other way.

The growth of the colleges since the war in the sixteen Southern States for both white and black population is very encouraging. Fully one-third of the colleges and universities and one-third of the instructors and students of the nation are located in the Southern States. Many of these colleges are only first-class academies, but they are doing an excellent service. Benefactions in behalf of higher education in the South have been something phenomenal in the history of philanthropic work. The Peabody Fund for education in the South was $3,100,000. The Slater Fund $1,000,000. Tulane and Vanderbilt each gave $1,500,000 towards founding universities in the South. It is estimated that more than $20,000,000 have been given by special donors for this purpose since the war. This vast sum has been augmented by the annual gifts of the churches for this object. The Methodist Episcopal Church had expended up to 1892 the sum of $6,187,630.46 to promote higher institutions of learning among both white and black population in the South.

Other denominations have given largely in the same direction. These benefactions have given new impulses to the cause of education, which have been of vital importance in the regeneration of the social conditions of this section of the country. The annual outlay for schools in the Southern States increased from $11,400,000 in 1878 to $20,000,000 in 1888. All these educational influences have contributed to establish a New South that presages far-reaching possibilities for good for all time to come.

The growth, number and progress of the American colleges and universities is more and more attracting the attention of the civilized world. In 1890, they numbered 415, with grounds and buildings valued at $65,000,000, with scientific apparatus and libraries valued at $9,000,000, and the productive endowment funds aggregated $75,000,000. The total income of these higher institutions of learning from all sources was $11,000,000.

The colleges and universities and professional schools in the United States for the same year contained 135,242 students and 7,819 instructors. In the colleges and universities alone there were 46,131 men and 11,992 women. There were 34,964 in the normal schools, 6,349 in agricultural and mechanical colleges, and 35,806 in the various professional schools. Besides, there were 117 medical schools with 4,552 students, and 145 theological schools with 7,013 students, and 54 law schools having 5,518 students.

These facts give us some faint conception of the extensive educational agencies which have been provided, chiefly by private enterprise and by the churches, for higher education.

It is claimed by some that the number of colleges in this country exceeds at present the demand. It should be remembered, however, that we are building for a population that is likely to reach 500,000,000 people. There is no doubt but that the planting and expansion of colleges on a meager basis has been somewhat over done. The duty of the hour is for the American people to cease establishing more colleges, and to give their attention to strengthening those already founded, in order that they may increase their power and efficiency. The founders have planted better than they knew. The unfavorable conditions and sacrifice surrounding many of their beginnings strengthen the desire that these colleges may grow and flourish with each succeeding generation, and continue in their beneficent work of moulding Christian character and promoting human brotherhood.


The American college occupies a distinctive place among the educational systems of the world. It differs from the English and Scotch systems, and is diverse in form and purpose from the German university system. The American college signifies more than the English Grammar school, the French Lycée or the German Gymnasium, and its course of study is broader and more comprehensive. The German gymnasia hold the place of our high schools and academies, and their course of study carries the student through what is an equivalent to our Sophomore year in college.

The colleges established in the early history of our country were shaped in some measure after the English model, but the American college of to-day "is the bright consummate flower of democracy." We may apply to it what Lowell says of Lincoln:

"For him her old-world moulds aside she threw,And choosing sweet clay from the breastOf the unexhausted West,With stuff untainted shaped a hero new."

The American colleges have held fast to the best of the ancient learning and utilized the best experiences and ideas of the English, German and French systems of education, and mapped out a distinctive system for themselves. They have sought to meet the needs of our age and the requirements of our generation, and we have as a product the modern American college, adapted to the wants of the people and the formation of a strong national character.

The American people believe in individual rights and personal sovereignty. They have accordingly shaped their institutions in harmony with this view. In Germany the man is educated largely for the State, but here we educate the man as a citizen and as an individual whose intrinsic dignity and value are worthy of training. The American college makes adequate provision for the full development of all the human powers and the exercise of the functions of the noblest manhood and womanhood. Her halls have always been wide open to all the youth of the land, who have gathered by the thousand to drink in "the American spirit of freedom and brotherhood of mankind, of reverence for God, for law, for the Bible and for the Sabbath." Our colleges have been built up through the generous and effective support of the several churches, and of the patriotic people. For more than two and a half centuries it has been the settled policy of the American people to maintain and perpetuate colleges. They are deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, since they are the offspring of their free-offerings and voluntary sacrifices.

A few unthinking people are indifferent and fail to see and realize the vital relations the colleges sustain to the national welfare; but the more enlightened public opinion is eager and restless for their advancement and influence. Our colleges are the pride and the crowning glory of the American people. They bring the nation more renown than all her fertile plains, rich treasures and splendid palaces.

In order to particularize some of the distinctive features of the American college, we need to understand our educational system as a whole. We start with the public school and impart to the youth a primary education. In the high school or academy the pupil is introduced into a higher circle of thought and life and then passes on to the college, where the aim is to extend general culture and prepare for special work. The educational system culminates in the university, which is devoted chiefly to technical and professional education.

These educational agencies do not differ in kind, but in degree. There is not as yet, however, a sufficient co-ordination of them to secure the greatest economy of time and strength in mental effort. The richest and broadest culture and scholarship demand a friendly and harmonious relation between all of these educational agencies. We are approaching co-operation and unity on these lines, but there are practical difficulties which it is hoped that time will help to solve. One of the difficulties has been that the standard of admission into many of our colleges has outgrown the capacity of the high schools. In order to supply the need of a more thorough preparation, a preparatory department has been maintained in many colleges. The present aim and tendency of our educational system is to introduce the pupil from the high school to the rank of Freshman in college. This condition can not become general unless there be a greater differentiation in the courses of study in our high schools. It is encouraging to see that in many States the high schools, academies and colleges are coming to a helpful understanding of each other's province, and that there is a practical agreement among them regarding a uniform minimum requirement for entrance into the Freshman class in college.

The prescribed courses of study in the average American college are broad and comprehensive. They cover the general field of knowledge. The regular parallel courses of study are usually designated Classical, Scientific, Literary and Philosophical. These special arrangements aim to encourage thought and study along different lines. The groupings vary according to the time devoted to the study of languages and other special branches. Each of the courses includes the study of language, mathematics, science, mental and moral philosophy, and covers a period of four years, generally designated Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years. As a rule, in the Classical course the study of Greek and Latin is required, while Greek is omitted in the Scientific course, and more attention is given to the study of the sciences. The Literary and Philosophical courses substitute one or more of the modern languages for the ancient classics. The number of these courses may be multiplied indefinitely, especially in the universities where the grouping of studies is essential to the highest success.

The work of the college and the university so overlap each other that it is difficult to make clear their distinction. The word university is an elastic term in the United States, because until within a brief period we have had nothing more than colleges. Many of our colleges are called universities because of their chartered privileges, but their aim is to become universities in fact.

Hence the terms are often used interchangeably. The few universities we have are modelled largely after those in Germany and have grown up by a natural development out of colleges. The reverse is true in England, where the college has grown up within the university. The college originally signified a society of scholars. In this country it is an incorporated school of instruction in the liberal arts, having one faculty, with advanced courses of study.

The college and university differ first in their aim. The college endeavors to discipline the mind and form character for the broader work in a chosen field of university study. The thorough scholastic training is now regarded quite an essential preparation for the more advanced work of the university. On the other hand, the university aims at universal culture, and includes, if possible, every description of knowledge for the training of specialists in the various professions. Its aim is rather to do graduate work exclusively.

Again they differ in their courses of study. In the college, the courses of study include the higher branches of learning; and are so arranged as to give the student an outline survey of the field of knowledge. The study is largely restricted