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A Dissertation

Submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Notre Dame in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


Frederick W. Jordan, B.A., M.A.

____________________________________ George M. Marsden, Director

Graduate Program in History Notre Dame, Indiana April 2004


Abstract By Frederick W. Jordan This dissertation is a study of the role of Protestant faith in six American boarding schools: Phillips Andover and Phillips Exeter (Congregationalist), Lawrenceville (Presbyterian), St. Paul's (New Hampshire) and Groton (Episcopalian) and Mount Hermon (nondenominational). Each of these schools began as a denominational institution with an explicit Protestant mission and purpose. However, competing missions were also present from their beginnings, particularly the imperatives of college preparation and of preparing good citizens for the Republic. As these competing missions grew in importance, the Protestant mission and purpose also changed. Intellectual and religious currents in the wider culture also forced a recasting of the role and scope of Protestant faith in their educational mission. In the early nineteenth century, Phillips Andover and Phillips Exeter each responded to the rise of Unitarianism in significantly different ways, Exeter by embracing it and Andover by reacting against it. Lawrenceville was powerfully affected by the Revival of 1857. The Gilded Age and Progressive Era proved particularly significant as the schools made an accommodation with modernity which downplayed the traditional Protestant piety in favor of a more generic Christian faith emphasizing moral behavior. Though elements of this accommodation first appeared at St. Paul's, it was fully implemented at Groton

School after 1884, with the other schools adopting variations of it. (Mount Hermon proved to be an exception, maintaining a more evangelical faith.) Uneasy with the implications of a wholesale abandonment of traditional Protestantism, the schools adopted a blended faith, featuring a mix of traditional Protestant piety, nonsectarianism, and a generic morality of rectitude. This Gilded Age accommodation with modernity lasted until after the First World War, when the cultural crisis of the 1920s brought the arrangement into question. The headmasters of that era ended their careers on the eve of World War II harboring significant doubts as to the role that Protestant faith should, or could, play in the schools. Research for this dissertation was conducted in school archives accompanied by a wide reading in the secondary literature of the history of American Protestantism and the history of boarding schools.

For Karen, who has endured



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................. iv ARCHIVES ABBREVIATIONS ....................................................................... vi INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................1 CHAPTER I: ANDOVER, 1778-1805 ...............................................................16 CHAPTER II: EXETER, 1783-1805..................................................................48 CHAPTER III: ANDOVER, 1805-1871 ............................................................71 CHAPTER IV: EXETER, 1803-1873 ..............................................................120 CHAPTER V: LAWRENCEVILLE, 1810 ­ 1883...........................................166 CHAPTER VI: ST. PAUL'S, 1856 - 1895 .......................................................216 CHAPTER VII: GROTON, 1884-1919............................................................273 CHAPTER VIII: ANDOVER, 1872-1919 .......................................................326 CHAPTER IX: EXETER, 1873-1919 ..............................................................388 CHAPTER X: MOUNT HERMON, 1879 - c. 1935 ........................................435 CHAPTER XI: LAWRENCEVILLE, 1883-1919 ............................................473 CHAPTER XII: ST. PAUL'S, 1895 - c. 1925..................................................519 EPILOGUE AND CONCLUSION: THE SCHOOLS IN THE 1920s.............568 BIBLIOGRAPHY.............................................................................................601



Scholarship is truly the most cooperative of endeavors. Without the help and aid of numerous individuals and organizations, this project would not have been possible. A grant from the Council for Basic Education in 1984 first piqued my interest in the subject of the history of American Protestantism. Further study was afforded by the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle, North Carolina, where Grant Wacker, Christine Heyrmann, and Donald Scott introduced me to the wondrous complexities of the history of American Protestantism. A grant from the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicalism enabled me to pursue a specific interest in the field for the first time. The trustees and headmaster of The Stony Brook School were generous in providing a sabbatical leave in 1994-95 which allowed me to begin a graduate degree, and Fr. Wilson Miscamble and the administration of Notre Dame were instrumental in clearing away potential bureaucratic snags which could have derailed the project. Woodberry Forest Headmaster Dennis Campbell has been unfailingly supportive, providing both financial and moral support as well as a crucially-timed trimester sabbatical which allowed me to complete this work. Phil Gleason, John McGreevy, and Walter Nugent read the final draft with care, precision, and expertise. Above all, George Marsden has been everything one could desire in an advisor: rigorous and demanding, thoughtful and compassionate, warm-hearted and hard-headed.


Archivists and librarians should truly be counted among the helping professions. I am enormously grateful to Doug Brown and Michael Tronic of Groton; Marilyn Love and Jacqueline Haun of Lawrenceville; Ruth Quattlebaum of Phillips Andover; Ed Desrochers of Phillips Exeter; David Levesque and Roger Rettew of St. Paul's; and Peter Weis of Northfield Mount Hermon. The archivists and staff of Moody Bible Institute, the Library of Congress, and the Exeter Town Historical Society have also lent their assistance. At my own school, which is not one of the subjects of this study, Barbara May has answered request after request for interlibrary loans and database searches with unfailing grace, good humor, and occasional creativity when the need arose.



The following abbreviations are employed in the footnotes to refer to archival collections:

EHS GS Archives LC LS Archives MBI Archives NMH Archives PAA Archives PEA Archives SPS Archives

Exeter Historical Society, Exeter, New Hampshire Groton School Archives, Groton, Massachusetts Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Lawrenceville Archives, Bunn Library, Lawrenceville, New Jersey Moody Bible Institute Archives, Chicago, Illinois Northfield-Mount Hermon Archives, Northfield, Massachusetts Phillips Academy Andover Archives, Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, Andover, Massachusetts Phillips Exeter Academy Archives, Class of '45 Library, Exeter, New Hampshire St. Paul's School Archives, Ohrstrom Library, Concord, New Hampshire



American boarding schools have been the seedbeds for the American Century. Since 1932, these institutions have produced four Presidents (Franklin D. Roosevelt attended Groton; John F. Kennedy, Choate; and the two George Bushes, Andover), two Secretaries of State (Henry Stimson is a graduate of Andover and Dean Acheson, of Groton), and hundreds of Congressmen and Senators, ambassadors, Cabinet members and undersecretaries, and occupants of other influential government positions. They have also produced prominent writers (John Irving and John Knowles both went to Exeter, Owen Wister to St. Paul's), musicians (rock star Huey Newton went to Lawrenceville), cartoonists (Garry Trudeau of "Doonesbury" fame went to St. Paul's), and actors (Humphrey Bogart is reputed to have been dismissed from Andover for tossing the manager of a local inn into Rabbit Pond). Financiers abound as well, including Malcolm Forbes (Lawrenceville).1 With such distinguished graduates, one might expect a profusion of literature on these schools. To a point this is so. Histories of individual schools abound. Many schools have more than one, with different accounts produced for various anniversary celebrations of the institution. Samuel Slaymaker wrote about

Not the least of their contributions is to the history profession: Exeter alone produced economic historian Alfred W. Chandler, political historian Arthur S. Schlesinger, Jr., a scholar of American foreign policy in Robert Divine, and a colonialist in Robert Washburn. A progenitor of the field of African-American history, Winthrop Jordan, also briefly taught on the Academy's faculty.



Lawrenceville in 1985, fifty years after Roland Mulford's effort for the school's 125th anniversary.2 Historians of Phillips Exeter produced works in 1883, 1924, 1957, with another one presently underway.3 Claude Moore Fuess wrote about Andover in 1917; Frederick S. Allis produced a far more comprehensive work in 1979.4 And so on. Few of these histories, however, are by trained historians. (Allis's work on Andover is a notable exception) Often written at the behest of the schools' development offices, they are all too often penned by veteran teachers, former students, retired trustees, or children of faculty who grew up at the institutions, with an accompanying tendency toward institutional hagiography that is hardly surprising.5 Clearly intended for an alumni audience, they include vast amounts of detail (for which any trained historian can be grateful), and a tendency to emphasize the performance of athletic teams, "hijinks" of student life, and eulogies of masters renowned for high standards and nostalgically-viewed eccentricities.

2 S. R. Slaymaker II, Five Miles Away: The Story of the Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985); Roland J. Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 1810-1935 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1935).

Charles H. Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire: A Historical Sketch (Exeter, NH: William B. Morrill, 1883); Laurence M. Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History (Norwood, MA: The Plimpton Press, 1924); and Myron R. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter (Exeter, NH: The Phillips Exeter Academy, 1957). The current effort is being undertaken by The Winthrop Group, a consulting group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Claude M. Fuess, An Old New England School, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1917); Frederick S. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter: A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover: University Press of New England, 1979). The perspective of faculty children is evident in Sarah Stewart Robbins, Old Andover Days: Memories of a Puritan Childhood (Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1908), and Susan E. Jackson, Reminiscences of Andover (Andover, MA: The Andover Press, 1914).

5 4



These accounts are essentially "local" histories. Little scholarly study has been undertaken on the American boarding school as an institution of national importance. Indeed, it would appear that these schools have attained more prominence in American fiction and film than fact. John Knowles's A Separate Peace and J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, and are still widely read in American secondary schools, public and private alike. John Irving, a graduate of Phillips Exeter, has set a number of his novels (including The World According to Garp and A Widow for One Year) in them. The schools have also afforded much entertainment to American filmgoers through such movies as Dead Poets Society, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Another Country, Goodbye Mr. Chips, and The Emperor's Club. Comprehensive scholarly treatments, however, which seek to analyze several schools at once, or which attempt to place them in a broader context, have been produced only infrequently since their graduates started making the world over in America's own image. The earliest efforts were journalistic in nature. Harper's Magazine undertook a two-part overview of the schools in 1877.6 A 1903 book, Oscar Fay Adams's Some Famous American Schools, offered a breezy overview of eight of the institutions which depicted them as products of the rising middle class of the nineteenth century.7 Adams saw differences among

[Horace E. Scudder], "A Group of Classical Schools," Harper' New Monthly s Magazine, 55 (Sept. 1877): 562-575; "A Group of Classical Schools II," Harper' New Monthly s Magazine, 56 (Oct. 1877): 704-716. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 34-35, attributes the authorship of the article to Scudder, a graduate of St. Paul's in Concord, NH.



1903), 11.

Oscar Fay Adams, Some Famous American Schools (Boston: D. Estes and Company,


the schools, primarily with regard to the extent to which the schools embraced an in loco parentis model of scrutinizing their students' behavior. Nazareth Hall, a Moravian School in Pennsylvania, defined one end of the spectrum, with masters who oversaw virtually every aspect of their students' lives, while Phillips Andover and Phillips Exeter were based on a model "of allowing large freedom."8 An English educator, Sara A. Burstall, devoted one chapter to boarding schools in her Impressions of American Education in 1908. Her "impressions" ­ an apt word, for there is little more than anecdotal evidence in the work ­ were that the schools were not very "democratic," but existed primarily to serve the needs and desires of the emergent American upper class.9 A 1910 article in Scribner' Magazine was little different than the 1877 Harper's effort ­ if s anything, it was even more descriptive than analytical in content ­ as was a similar effort in Fortune in 1931.10 In 1959, a writer named Harriet Webster Marr resumed the tradition of describing the schools without great depth of analysis.11 If there were any interpretive themes running through these accounts, it was one of Anglophilia: American boarding schools mirrored their British counterparts and therefore must have been modeled on them. This de facto reasoning went

8 9

Adams, Some Famous American Schools, 34, 293.

Sara A. Burstall, Impressions of American Education in 1908 (New York: Longmans, Green, 1909), 70. Arthur Ruhl, "Some American Preparatory Schools," Scribner's Magazine, Vol. XLVII, No. 6 (June 1910), 681-700; "Boys' School," Fortune, September 1931, Vol. IV, No. 3, 76-101. The most recent example of this genre of writing about the schools is "America's Top Boarding Schools," Town & Country (August 1996), 89-108.

11 10


Harriet Webster Marr, The Old New England Academies (New York: Comet Press,


largely unexamined, and in fact was tacitly re-enforced, as boarding schools came under attack as "undemocratic" after 1920.12 The idea that the schools were merely the product of Anglophilia had any number of problems, not the least of which was the stark fact that many of them were founded in an era when antagonism towards things British was considerably warmer than any American love for the Empire. This all-too-casual theory was demolished by the first, and still arguably the best, scholarly attempt at a comprehensive overview of American boarding schools, James McLachlan's 1970 work, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study. McLachlan found the roots of American boarding schools in two educational experiments of the early national period, the Round Hill Academy of George Bancroft and the Flushing Institute of William Augustus Muhlenberg. McLachlan saw the schools as quintessentially American institutions, characterized by fundamentally democratic component. His work, originally a 1966 dissertation at Columbia University under the careful tutelage of Richard Hofstadter and Lawrence Cremin, is unquestionably the most scholarly analysis of American boarding schools ever produced. Though increasingly dated and limited, focusing as it does on a relatively small number of schools, it remains the definitive work in a largely unmined field.13

An article in the American Mercury in 1938 went to far as to call boarding schools "the most useless institutions in the United States." Lew Morris, "Don't Send Your Boy to Prep School," American Mercury, Vol. XLV, No. 178 (Oct. 1938), 177-181. See also Dallas Lore Sharp, "Patrons of Democracy," The Atlantic Monthly (Nov. 1919), 649-660. James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (Scribner's, 1970). Shortly after McLachlan's book appeared, two dissertations appeared which essentially replicated his thesis. See Elliott Brooks McGrew, "The Private School: A Study of an American




In the three decades since McLachlan published his study, historians have largely abandoned the study of American boarding schools, leaving the subject to educational theorists and sociologists. The former have tended to write about these schools as their concerns have risen over the increasing disarray of American public education. Otto F. Kraushaar's 1972 America' Nonpublic s Schools: Patterns of Diversity devoted some attention to boarding schools as he sought to persuade the public school world that there were different models available for the education of adolescents.14 Leonard L. Baird, a research psychologist, focused more specifically on boarding schools in The Elite Schools: A Profile of Prestigious Independent Schools, but was more concerned with the schools today than with their histories.15 The most recent effort in this brief tradition of employing independent schools to flay the public school world is Arthur G. Powell's Lessons From Privilege: The American Prep School Tradition.16 All three works rely heavily on surveys for their data while seeking to offer a contemporary analysis of boarding schools; all three are utterly lacking in any sense of the histories of the schools. In addition to these published

Phenomenon," PhD thesis, University of Minnesota, 1971; and John Porter McLeod II, "The New England Boarding School: An Analysis of Its Historical Development and Contemporary Uncertainty of Purpose," University of Massachusetts, 1973. Otto F. Kraushaar, America' Nonpublic Schools: Patterns of Diversity (Baltimore and s London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972). Leonard L. Baird, The Elite Schools: A Profile of Prestigious Independent Schools (Lexington, MA, and Toronto: Lexington Books, 1977). Arthur G. Powell, Lessons From Privilege: The American Prep School Tradition (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996).

16 15 14


monographs, educational schools have also produced some dissertations.17 Any list of thoughtful critiques of the contemporary state of the schools must include David Hicks's perceptive 1996 article in The American Scholar.18 Boarding schools have attracted at least as much attention from sociologists. Two works penned before McLachlan took their cues from the Anglo-seed theory, depicting the schools as progenitors of an American analogue to the British upper class. G. William Domhoff and C. Wright Mills both cast the schools as significant institutions in the preparation of an American "power elite" to assume positions of significant influence in the corporate and political life of the United States.19 Michael Useem has expanded this theme, studying the connections between the schools and corporate dominance. Vance Packard has argued more broadly that they serve primarily as avenues for varying levels of status-seekers, a view extended by Steven B. Levine in a 1980 article which examined the class-based origins of the schools.20 Most recently, two New York University sociologists, Peter Cookson and Caroline Hodges Persell, wrote

See for example Lawrence Henry Fuller, "Education for Leadership: The Emergence of the College Preparatory School" (Ph.D. dissertation Johns Hopkins University, 1974).





David V. Hicks, "Elite Boarding Schools," The American Scholar (Autumn 1996),

G. William Domhoff, Who Rules America? (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967), 16-17, 22-23; C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956), 63-66. Michael Useem, "The Social Organization of the American Business Elite and Participation of Corporation Directors in the Governance of American Institutions," American Sociological Review 44 (August 1979): 553-572; Vance Packard, The Status Seekers: An Exploration of Class Behavior in America and the Hidden Barriers That Affect You, Your Community, Your Future (New York: D. McKay Co. [1959]); Steven B. Levine, "The Rise of American Boarding Schools and the Development of a National Upper Class," Social Problems, 28:1 (October 1980), 61-94.



Preparing for Power: America' Elite Boarding Schools (1985), a sweeping s sociological analysis. While accepting the class-based model of boarding schools, they were less sanguine than Mills or Domhoff in their view of the effectiveness of the schools in inculcating adult values in their charges. In their view, boarding schools are "total communities" effectively run in the service of high (classbased) ideals, but whose purpose of service and character development is undercut by a student culture which often runs counter to the purposes of the adults who run the schools.21 The study provided a wealth of contemporary data and insights based on extensive interviews and polling data, but like so many efforts of sociologists it lacks broader historical analysis. The same might also be said for Kim Hays's study of Quaker and military boarding schools.22 Both scholarly study and popular perceptions are framed by class analysis and an admixture of admiration, envy, and disdain. These various sociological studies take exception, more often implicitly than explicitly, with McLachlan's argument that the schools are essentially democratic institutions. For Cookson and Persell, for instance, the schools' emphasis on a classical curriculum is designed to "distinguish gentlemen from virtually everyone else, and thus defined the difference between an `educated' man and an untutored one.... Such a division is critical to exclude nonmembers from groups seeking status."23 Baird's earlier

Peter W. Cookson, Jr., and Caroline Hodges Persell, Preparing for Power: America' s Elite Boarding Schools (New York: BasicBooks, 1985). Kim Hays, Practicing Virtues: Moral Traditions at Quaker and Military Boarding Schools (Berkeley: University of California, 1994).

23 22


Cookson and Persell, Preparing for Power, 73-74.


study, despite providing evidence that the schools were serving a broader clientele by the late 1970s, nevertheless entitled his work The Elite Schools.24 Powell's title, Lessons from Privilege, speaks for itself. The overall view of these works is not one of institutions which serve the democratic values of the republic, but which perpetuate an American upper class and its socially hierarchical values. While they undoubtedly shed considerable light on American boarding schools, these works tend toward two common flaws. First, they tend to be oriented toward the present, attempting to explain the current condition of the schools (or more broadly of American education) without resort to the longer histories of the institution. Second, they tend to ignore an important ­ indeed, vital ­ component of the story of the American boarding school experience. In this respect, an important clue was offered in 1991 by David Hein.25 Hein's article, "The High Church Origins of the American Boarding School," traced the origins of several schools back to efforts which had at their core neither the perpetuation of democratic values nor an elitist dominance of society. Rather, schools such as Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia (founded in 1839), and St. James School (then called the College of St. James) in western Maryland (1841) were the products of efforts by the Episcopal Church to prepare candidates for the ministry in the two decades prior to the Civil War. Though Hein's argument becomes somewhat strained when he attempts to credit these early

24 25

Baird, The Elite Schools, 36-43.

David Hein, "The High Church Origins of the American Boarding School," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 42: 4 (October 1991), 577-595


diocesan efforts with seminal influence over the more varied type of schools which emerged after the Civil War, he nevertheless called attention to a facet of the origins of these schools which had been greatly neglected. Protestant faith lay at the heart of the missions and purposes of American boarding schools.26 Concerns with denominationally-based Protestant faith shaped the origins and histories of six of the most prominent boarding schools in the eastern United States. Upon inception, Protestant Christianity was a leading factor in shaping the mission of Phillips Andover Academy, Phillips Exeter Academy, Lawrenceville School, St. Paul's School, Groton School, and Mount Hermon. That they also succeeded in preparing young men to attend college or to serve the nation or simply to be "Victorian gentlemen" (James McLachlan's phrase), or even a combination thereof ­ this should not obscure the fact that furtherance of the Protestant faith lay at the heart of their mission and purpose.27 In other words, this is a study of what E. Digby Baltzell (himself a graduate of St. Paul's) called "the Protestant Establishment."28 Rather than being incidental to other greater purposes, Protestant faith defined the schools' existence and was for many years the single most decisive factor in determining leadership selection, faculty hiring, curriculum, student life and discipline, and even architectural style and campus

Paul C. Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service: Religious Ideals and Educational Practice, 1868-1928 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 8, makes the point that such neglect is also reflected in the treatment of higher education.

27 28


McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 158-185.

E. Digby Baltzell, The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy & Caste in America (New York: Random House, 1964); see also William R. Hutchison, "Protestantism as Establishment," in William R. Hutchison, ed., Between the Times: The Travail of the Protestant Establishment, 1900-1960 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 3-17.


plan. It is not too much to say that the vision of the founders was that there be no area of the total life of a boarding school that would not be informed by their Christian faith. These schools were intentional communities, and the communities they created were intentionally Christian.29 Several themes should become evident in exploring this idea. The first is the significance of denominational attachments. For the greater part of American history, many Americans cared deeply about their Protestant denominations, and the members of these school communities were no different in that respect. Thus, Congregationalism shaped Andover and Exeter, though as we shall see it did so in entirely different ways. The same can be said for the impact of Episcopalianism on St. Paul's and Groton. Presbyterianism lay at the heart of the purposes of Lawrenceville. Even the broader movement of transdenominational revivalism came to function in much the same way as a denomination in the early history of Mount Hermon. The second theme is that of various tensions which lay within the missions and purposes of the schools. Mark Noll's fine study of the college of Princeton

29 The introduction to Theodore R. Sizer, The Age of the Academies (New York: Teachers College, 1964), 1-48, has proven to be immensely influential in framing contemporary understanding of American boarding schools. Sizer, 36, sees the academy movement of the early Republic as an essentially Lockean undertaking, founded by educators of the Enlightenment who sought to write proper experiences on the tabula rasas of young Americans. The schools also constituted something of an educational revolution in that they departed from the classical curriculum and offered mathematics, natural philosophy, and dual "Classical" and "English" departments (thus making, as we shall see, Andover and Exeter both traditional and innovative in this regard). This dissertation will hopefully offer a corrective to this paradigm by demonstrating that the schools drew from the ideals of Protestant Christianity, particularly three strains: one that descended from the Reformation of Luther and Calvin, one that was preserved in the Church of England and made its way to American in the form of the Episcopal Church, and the revivalism of evangelical Christianity, particularly as it was shaped by the First and Second Great Awakenings. See also Kim Tolley, "The Rise of the Academies: Continuity or Change?", History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Summer 2001), 223-39.


during the early Republic has ably demonstrated the difficulties of identifying a single, unitary "Christian mission" for educational institutions, and these six boarding schools were no different in that respect.30 From the very beginning, they sought to serve several masters, constantly seeking to balance priorities whose very nature changed over time. Primary among these were the twin ideals of college preparation and service to the republic. Just what it meant to be a Protestant Christian as well as an American and a college aspirant involved a very different set of challenges during the early Republic, when three of the schools (Andover, Exeter, and Lawrenceville) were founded, than it would be on the eve of the Second World War, when this study concludes. It should also not be overlooked that the integration of these imperatives was conducted in a market economy: simply put, at some point, the schools had to attract tuition-paying students so that they could pay their bills. Ultimately, however, the headmasters and trustees in charge of the schools found that the greatest tension lay in their institutional mission to serve their denomination or church and the ideal of college preparation. Thus by the 1930s, Samuel Drury of St. Paul's would assert that "I assure myself that that boy is not so distinctly an urchin bound for Harvard as a pilgrim bound for heaven."31 The two had not always been perceived to be in apposition with one another, and therein lies a story.

Mark A. Noll, Princeton and the Republic, 1768-1822: The Search for a Christian Enlightenment in the Era of Samuel Stanhope Smith (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989). Roger S. Drury, Drury and St. Paul' The Scars of a Schoolmaster (Boston: Little, s: Brown, 1964), 123.




Closely tied to this idea of competing and concurrent missions is that of the importance of external events and institutions. The six schools in this study were all founded in rural areas, largely marking an effort to distance themselves physically from outside institutions which might develop a claim on their purposes ("throwbacks to Gemeinschaft in an era of Gesellschaft," in one observer's fetching phrase).32 Such an effort was quixotic at best, however, for no amount of physical isolation could completely wall off the surrounding culture from the schools. Changes in the denomination to which they were attached would have an inevitable impact on the schools. So also would war and heightened nationalism, economic prosperity and downturns, changes in colleges and universities, and even changes in the nature of knowledge and the locus of cultural authority. The most prominent of those external institutions were the colleges and, as they emerged in the late nineteenth century, the modern universities to which the schools were so closely tied. The history of the treatment of Protestant faith in higher education has received considerable scrutiny, and I hope that an examination of boarding schools might shed some light on these issues at the next level down.33 There are limitations to this, to be sure, for the

Edward N. Saveth, "Education of an Elite," History of Education Quarterly 28:3 (Fall 1978), 374. [full article is on pages 367-386] The literature is vast, but particularly noteworthy are the following: George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); James Tunstead Burtchaell, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from their Christian Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998); Laurence Veysey, The Emergence of the American University (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965); Jon H. Roberts and James Turner, The Sacred and the Secular University (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000); Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service; Julie A. Reuben, The Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).




boarding schools were tied to a particular type of college (private not state, northeast and not national), particularly Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. The relatively narrow range of colleges to which the schools were tied suggests some other limits to this study. First and foremost, this is by no means an exhaustive examination of all types of American boarding schools. Other denominations undertook to found boarding schools in the nineteenth century. In fact, in surveying the American religious and educational landscape, one is hard pressed to find either a major Protestant denomination which did not at some point found a boarding school, or a boarding school bereft of religious influence in its founding.34 There were also mission school enterprises such as the Indian boarding schools constructed after the Civil War.35 Roman Catholics established schools, predominantly in the upper midwest. And so on. A comprehensive examination of all types of boarding schools in American still awaits the hand and eye of a scholar capable of synthesizing a remarkably wide range of institutions. This is also not a study of the shortcomings of the Protestant schools insofar as race, class and gender are concerned. While there are points at which these categories intersect with the history of Protestantism in the schools and therefore deserve attention, it does not constitute the primary focus of my study. I take for granted that throughout their early history, the schools at all levels ­ trustees, headmasters, and students ­ were almost entirely made up of white,

A few examples will suffice: Methodists founded Wyoming Seminary and the German Reformed Church established Mercersburg Academy, both in Pennsylvania; Quakers founded Westtown School in Pennsylvania and Moses Brown School in Rhode Island. David Wallace Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928 (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 1995).

35 34


upper-class males. I hope that my silence on these shortcomings will not be read as an endorsement of such practices, but simply as a recognition that there is more to be learned about the schools beyond their evident deficiencies. Finally, a few definitions are in order. I have avoided as much as possible any reliance on "secularization," difficult as it is to employ the term with either precision or dispassion. Where its use is indispensable, I use it along the same lines as the definition offered by Reinhold Niebuhr: "Modern secularism is divided into many schools. But all the various schools agreed in rejecting the Christian doctrine of original sin."36 (In fact, the schools' changing views toward human nature is yet another theme which will emerge in this study.) So also with the term "Christian," which I sometimes use as a convenient shorthand for "Protestant." Such use is intended neither to exclude a wide range of western and eastern Catholic faiths nor to simplify complex theological and practical differences within Protestantism. Finally, "modernity" and "modernism" are not used in a technical theological sense, but only as a shorthand phrase for those forces in the modern world which work to force people to set aside or modify traditional Christian doctrines.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of the Light and the Children of Darkness (New York: Scribner's, 1972 [1944]), 14.




After more than two centuries of existence, Phillips Academy Andover and Phillips Exeter Academy appear very similar. Both are college preparatory schools with annual college matriculation rates close to 100%. Both "prep" their students with the same methods. Each offers a dazzling array of courses, organized around a nowtraditional core of English, history, foreign language (primarily modern), mathematics, and natural science. These courses are taught by a well-educated faculty, 80% of whom possess advanced degrees, many from the best colleges and universities in the United States. Both academies house their students in dormitories; feed their students in "Commons," the school-wide dining hall; have athletic requirements and offerings in a wide range of sports, most of which compete interscholastically; and send approximately one-third of their graduates to Ivy League colleges and universities.1 Both have a wide spectrum of extra-curricular activities and campus organizations, including ethnic identification groups, media (both schools publish a weekly newspaper and have a campus radio station), community service organizations, and political awareness groups. In each school, there is remarkable diversity among the student body: the students who

"Special Report: Boarding Schools," U.S. News and World Report, Vol. 130, No. 19 (14 May 2001), 45, 49.



come to the academies do so from across the nation and all over the world, and approximately one-third are minority or international students. Both academies bring remarkable endowments, larger than most small colleges, to bear in support of their endeavors: in 2001, Andover's was $535 million; Exeter's, $493 million.2 Even the architecture is similar, with wooden New England houses on the edges of the campus dominated by pillared classroom buildings and ivied dormitories constructed around an open, central space set off from the athletic fields and a nearby New England town. Overall differences are slight, and arguably mean a great deal more to those inside the institutions than those without. For instance, the popular perception among faculty at the institutions is that Exeter is more academically-oriented, whereas Andover is thought to have better athletic teams.3 Andover is also justifiably proud of its leadership in producing Presidents of the nation, as both George Bush and George W. Bush are among its alumni. Given the contemporary similarities, common historical origins of Andover and Exeter come as little surprise. Both were founded in the late eighteenth century as academies, an unstable educational experiment amidst the fluid social arrangements of the early Republic and one which saw far more failures than successes in the first century of the nation's life. The founders of the two academies, a nephew and his uncle, hoped to provide educational opportunities for what they considered to be a wide social range of

2 3

Ibid., 65.

Courses of Instruction (Exeter, NH: Trustees of Phillips Exeter Academy, 2000), passim; Phillips Exeter Academy [Catalogue], no date [2000]. Phillips Academy Andover Catalogue, 1998-99. The percentage of instructors with advanced degrees is based on a random sampling of the faculty roster in the catalogue. Faculty perceptions have been unscientifically gleaned from a number of informal conversations with instructors at both academies.


young men ­ though it is doubtful that they themselves understood the forces that the revolution had unleashed, and the extent to which the concept of "opportunity" was being transformed even as they set up shop.4 They clearly went into the endeavor with the long view in mind, at least if the generous gifts they initially bestowed on their schools was any indication. The most significant factor in the history of the two academies, however, and the highest priority for both Samuel and John Phillips, was their commitment to the fortunes of Christianity in America and to educating young men who, they hoped, would prepare for college with an eye toward entering the gospel ministry of the Congregational Church. It should not be surprising that two schools founded under such a Christian vision should have been so similar at one time. However, the faith common to the two schools could divide as well as unite. American Protestantism has always been subject to atomizing forces, as a belief in the Reformed doctrine of an individual's direct relationship to God through Christ (what Luther called the "priesthood of all believers") has combined on the American continent with a uniquely pronounced individualism (the priesthood of this believer). Over the years, the result has been an explosive admixture of theological dynamite which has made American Protestant churches particularly prone to splits over doctrine, church polity, and practice at both the microcosmic level of the congregation and the macrocosmic level of the denomination. Admittedly, a school is neither, and it is important to remember that the schools had no formal connections with the Congregational Church. However, the Christian purposes of the Phillips Academies

Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York: Random House, 1991), 4-5, passim.



made them no less subject to these strains than their ecclesiastical counterparts. In fact, some elements of Congregational polity made them more likely to become the flashpoints of denomination-wide battles. The propensities toward fragmentation within Protestantism in fact offered a virtual guarantee that the academies' institutional lives would be anything but placid. Samuel Phillips and his uncle John Phillips founded Phillips Academy at Andover in 1778. Just six years later, John launched a second endeavor, which he called Phillips Exeter Academy, in his adopted hometown just across the New Hampshire border. The schools were founded in the long shadow of New England Puritanism and their initial purposes and early histories were shaped by the theological disputes over the legacy of the Great Awakening. That movement in fact exerted the single greatest influence on the founding of the schools. However, the different ways in which their respective founders interpreted the Awakening had much to do with the subsequent, and very different, courses that each school took. The Massachusetts family into which Samuel and John Phillips were born was directly descended from one of the founders of the colony, Rev. George Phillips, who arrived with Governor Winthrop in 1630.5 The Christian faith which was to pervade their schools was instilled in the two men from childhood. The father of John (founder of Exeter) and grandfather of Sam (who, together with John, founded Andover) was a Congregational minister who had prepared for his ministry at Harvard and began his

William E. Park, "The Earlier Annals of Phillips Academy," [n.p., n.d.], 3, PAA Archives. Park, a professor at Andover Seminary and a leading theologian of the day, delivered this at the Academy's centennial celebration in 1878.



ministry at a church in Haverhill in 1711.6 His name was also named Samuel, as were four generations of Phillipses, a fact which complicates immensely the New England sacrament of genealogy-reconstruction. Parson Phillips practiced the faith and ministry of the typical New England clergyman. To him and to his parishioners, ministry was an "office" and not a "profession." 7 He had been called to it by God, that call had been ratified by a God-given ecclesiastical structure, and that process conferred upon him a high degree of authority. The locus of that authority was his pulpit, from which he preached to a captive audience twice on Sundays and one more time in the middle of the week. Each sermon lasted for over two hours, such that a devoted member of his congregation might hear some seven thousand sermons through the course of a lifetime.8 In keeping with the Puritan ideal of society, his authority frequently extended well beyond the spiritual and into the temporal affairs of the town, and Parson Phillips was quick to denounce sins such as fornication, drunkenness, adultery, or suicide.9 He carried on this task in the set world of New England Christian orthodoxy of the eighteenth century, in which the chief difficulty seemed not to be earthquakes and Indian raids, but

Frederick S. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter: A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover: University Press of New England, 1979), 6-7. Donald M. Scott, From Office to Profession: The New England Ministry, 1750-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978), 1-17. Harry S. Stout, The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 3-4.

9 8 7


Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 9.


how best to understand just how such calamities represented the voice of God speaking to his errant and increasingly materialistic people.10 The three sons born to Parson Phillips departed from their father's calling but not his faith.11 William, the oldest, played only a peripheral role of interested donor in the fortunes of the academy. Of John, the youngest, more will be said later. The middle child, the second Samuel Phillips (it is perhaps easier to refer to him as "the Squire," as he has been labeled) was educated at Harvard, and went into trade in North Andover in 1738. With the aid of a fortuitous marriage he soon became a wealthy man, active in both church and town, holding numerous offices in each venue. In 1752, his wife bore a son who, not surprisingly, they named Sam.12 In addition to the church and the marketplace, the classroom was also clearly important to the Squire, and in 1764 Sam was sent off to the recently-founded Dummer School in nearby South Byfield. There, he was exposed to the influence of Samuel Moody, who in educating over 500 boys before his retirement in 1790, may well be counted as America's first legendary, if somewhat eccentric, schoolmaster.13 While contemporary colonists were debating the political economy of Parliamentary taxation, Samuel Phillips, Jr., underwent an experience at Dummer that

There was an earthquake in the area in 1755; Ibid., 8. For the problem that New England Puritans faced in interpreting natural events and human action, see Perry Miller, "Errand into the Wilderness," in Errand into the Wilderness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956), 6-9. Park, "Earlier Annals," 4, notes three sons. There were two daughters as well, Mary and Lydia. John L. Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, LL.D (Boston: Congregational House, 1856), 345. Taylor was on the faculty of the Andover Seminary.

12 13 11


Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 10-16.

James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York: Scribner's, 1970), 37; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 19-21. Moody is surveyed in Clifford K. Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College, Vol. XII, 1746-1750 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1962), 48-54; there is also brief sketch in Harriet Webster Marr, The Old New England Academies (New York: Comet Press, 1959), 73.


would prove formative to his later endeavors.14 In his sketch of Phillips, Clifford K. Shipton notes that while under Moody's tutelage, "he showed the poor health and systematic industry, without brilliance, which were to mark his life."15 He spoke of his gratitude to Moody, and hinted at future philanthropy, in a letter to his parents just before graduation:

I hope I shall ever be thankful that it was my Fortune to fall under the tutelage of such a worthy gentleman. He has almost every Thing requisite to constitute the Schollar, and the Gentleman.... He has one very valuable Quality in particular... in telling People their failures and Faults, without incurring their Displeasure.... He has been extreamly kind upon every Occasion; he has treated me with all the Tenderness possible.... The Needy are Witnesses to his very great Generosity.... But I am ... dispairing of ever recompensing him, except by Behaving in the best Manner I am able."16

Many of the elements of Phillips's own academy are in seed here, a quarter century before they came to fruition: a Calvinist philosophy of education, strong instructors, education for the formation of character, generosity to the poor, and the hope of somehow repaying a personal debt.17

14 15

Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 17-21.

Clifford K. Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College, Vol. XVIII, 1768-1771 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1975), 593605, quote on 593.

16 17

Sam Phillips to `Honoured Parents," 15 June 1767, cited in Ibid., 21. Italics added.

The historians of Phillips Andover, Fuess and Frederick S. Allis, maintain (with approval) that Moody did not emphasize the religious faith of his charges, concentrating instead on giving them a classical education, with occasional forays into such novel areas as French, dance, and swimming. Fuess is particularly hard on Moody's religious faith, depicting him as "an imperious pedagogue" and seems to be disparaging him when he claims that "it is legendary that George Whitefield...recommended Moody for the Dummer School position." See Claude M. Fuess, "The Oldest Boys Boarding School in America," The New-England Galaxy (Fall 1962), 4-8 (quote on 6-7); Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 42. A broader view is offered in Shipton, Harvard Graduates, Vol. XII, 1746-1750, 48-54, who surveys Moody's Calvinism, including a quixotic pamphlet exchange in which he attempted to rebuke the stridency of Joseph Bellamy.


There followed the obligatory Harvard education, marriage, and an active public life which included a tenure as the town clerk and treasurer of the town of Andover, and the more weighty decision to join the Whig cause. In this capacity, Phillips served in the earliest Provincial Congress for the state of Massachusetts, manufactured gunpowder for the Continental Army, and remained involved in state politics through the 1780s and 1790s, most notably as lieutenant-governor of the new state.18 In the midst of all this, he enlisted the aid of his father, Squire Phillips; his uncle John of Exeter, NH; and a Dummer classmate named Eliphalet Pearson; and began a school.19 Samuel Phillips was a somewhat enigmatic man, such that ascertaining his precise motives is difficult. One friend noted that he had difficulty reconciling "the kind, social, and free spirit" of Phillips's private life with the "rigidness and severity" of his Protestant faith.20 Chroniclers of the Academy have assigned a number of motives to Samuel Phillips and his family in undertaking the endeavor. One of the earliest, an 1877 piece in Harper's Magazine, attributed the venture to "the public spirit and devotion of the Phillips family."21 The first to offer a complete history of the Academy, Claude Moore Fuess (who served as its headmaster from 1933-48) ascribed a Lockean motive to Phillips and Pearson, maintaining that they shared the British theorist's ideas that "character is even more desirable than intelligence and that practical subjects should be included in the

Park, "Earliest Annals," 8-9; Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 324; Cecil F. P. Bancroft, "Historic Secondary Schools," Education, Vol. 14 (June 1894), 630-31.

19 20 21


McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 37-38; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 35-64. Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates, Vol. XVIII, 1768-1771, 596.

[Horace E. Scudder], "A Group of Classical Schools," Harper' New Monthly Magazine, 55 s (Sept. 1877): 563.


curriculum."22 Yet another theory has been advanced by Frederick Allis, who has penned the best institutional history of any single American boarding school, and James McLachlan, who wrote the seminal history of such institutions; they attribute the founding to a conservative effort to stave off social and religious change in New England.23 There are seeds of truth in all of these explanations. Samuel Phillips certainly believed in public service, and he likely had at least some familiarity with Locke. There is some evidence that he was alarmed at the pace of religious and social change unleashed by the American Revolution. At the time the revolution broke out, he expressed his alarm at "the very frequent instances of the decay of virtue, public and private, the prevalence of public and private vice, the amazing change in the tempers, dispositions, and conduct of people in this country within these thirty years." The solution appeared obvious to the young merchant: "The trouble is owing to the neglect of good instruction."24 But these explanations do not do justice to the role marked out for Calvinist Christianity in the school's Constitution, a concern which was central and not peripheral to the school's purposes. While it is certainly true that Phillips sought to establish an academy which would, in the words of the Constitution of the Academy, teach its students "the great end and real business of living," the phrase has been overly


1960), 11.


Claude M. Fuess, "The Old New England Academy," The New England Galaxy (Summer

Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 35-37; McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 38-39. The theory is repeated in Robert L. Church and Michael W. Sedlack, Education in the United States: An Interpretive History (New York: The Free Press, 1976), 46-47. McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 38; a large portion of the letter is reprinted in Claude Moore Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Boston: HoughtonMifflin, 1917), 55-57.



secularized by succeeding generations of historians, stripped of its explicitly Christian connotations. It would be far more accurate to take these words of Phillips and of the Academy's Constitution in their full context.25 Samuel Phillips had dreamed of how he might form a school for some time. His earliest effort to spell out his philosophy of education exists in a letter to an unnamed friend (possibly Eliphalet Pearson, his Dummer classmate) written before the founding of the academy, in which he identified both the goal and means of Christian education:

The object in educating youth ought to be to qualify young persons as ornaments, as blessings, and as comforts in the vineyards of the Lord. Too much industry, too much personal ease and comfort, cannot be sacrificed in this manner. The whole success of your seminary will depend on an instructor who is willing to do this. The industry of such a man will keep pace with the sun, and his wishes will always be reasonable....All his views will be to inspire his pupils with that knowledge which will influence them to remember their Creator in the days of their youth.... The blessing such a man might be to posterity is unspeakable."26

He then contrasted the benefits that his Phillips Academy might offer in contrast to the earliest public schools:

My dear friend, you desire me to write you my thoughts upon the rules and regulations of the public school about which you have been so thoroughly engaged. You express fears that the object as it now exists is not so perfect and beautiful as you anxiously desire it should be. I find myself in a wilderness of thought.... I must honestly confess that my expectations are not and have not been raised of late as to any great and singular benefit the public may receive from the institution. Knowledge is a very great blessing, but sure I am that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of that knowledge. Is this the first rudiment taught in your school?27

Laurence M. Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History (Norwood, MA: Plimpton Press, 1924), 304, says that PA's Constitution was written by Samuel Phillips and Eliphalet Pearson. Fuess, An Old New England School, 58, says that the letter was written to Eliphalet Pearson, likely before the Academy was founded; the same opinion is offered in the unsigned article, "The Principals of Phillips Academy: Eliphalet Pearson, 1778-1786," The Phillips Bulletin VIII:2 (January 1914), 10-15. Park, "Earlier Annals," 15-16, indicates that the material comes from a paper "in Judge Phillips's handwriting" which "bears neither address, date, nor signature."

27 26


Park, "Earlier Annals," 15.


This letter remains the only record of Samuel Phillips's intentions until the founding of the Academy in 1778, though there are other early clues to his mindset. For instance, the surviving record of his diary displays the complex interaction of introspection, self-reproach coupled with self-improvement, and intensity which characterized so many Puritan writings of an earlier generation:

April 3, 1769. ­ Have improved my time better than sometimes, tho' have misspent a vast deal of it, especially evenings by sleeping; but with deeper concern I may inquire, how I have neglected my soul's concern. The children of Christ can be known only by their fruits; and what fruit have I brought forth? Have I not great reason to fear that I am not a Christian, that I have nothing but a profession? Let me be fervent in my petitions for the Divine assistance, and diligent in my watchfulness to guard against sin.28

These are hints only, and hardly amount to a full-blown commitment to Christian education. However, when he and Eliphalet Pearson penned the Constitution of Phillips Academy in 1778, he left no doubt as to his intentions:

And whereas many of the Students in this Seminary may be devoted to the sacred work of the gospel ministry; that the true and fundamental principles of the Christian Religion may be cultivated, established, and perpetuated in the Christian Church, so far, as this Institution may have influence; it shall be the duty of the Master...not only to instruct and establish them in the truth of Christianity; but also early and diligently to inculcate upon them the great and important scripture doctrines of the existence of the One true GOD, the Father, Son, and HOLY Ghost; of the fall of man, the depravity of human nature; the necessity of an atonement, and of our being renewed in the spirit of our midst; the doctrines of repentance toward God and of faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ; of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, and of justification by the free grace of God, through the redemption, that is in Jesus Christ..., together with the other important doctrines and duties of our Holy Christian Religion.29

Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 22. The original copy of Phillips's diary is not extant, probably destroyed in the fires of 1818 or 1849. Capitalization altered to modern forms. Numerous copies of the Constitution exist in the Academy archives. It is reprinted in Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 683-690.




The Constitution also contained several provisions designed to further these basic goals. The Headmaster, known as the Preceptor, was required to be "a professor of the Christian Religion" ­ a telling phrase, for it implied full membership in a church based on profession of conversion. The document was even more specific about the masters: "Protestants only shall ever be concerned in the Trust or instruction of this Seminary." Indeed, Phillips once rescinded an appointment to a young Harvard graduate when it was discovered that the young man lacked a vigorous enough view of human depravity.30 The Constitution also mandated that a majority of the self-perpetuating board of trustees must be laymen, a clause which would hopefully subsume sectarian controversy in a more general Christianity and avoid the schismatic tendencies of New England Protestantism.31 But at the heart of the school was a Calvinist view of man, of the sovereignty of God, and of the need for saving redemption by faith in Jesus Christ. Should these core values of the school not be apparent from a reading of the Constitution, Phillips and the founders sought a more succinct rendition of their Calvinist beliefs and the school's mission in the original motto of the Academy inscribed on the school seal: Finis Origine Pendit, "One's end depends on one's origin."32 The long-term course of the Academy loomed large in the Constitution. Samuel Phillips and his family were endowing the academy with generous sums of money and had some hope that it would outlast them. Phillips's initial gift consisted of 1614 (with

30 31 32

Fuess, An Old New England School, 39-40. PAA, "Constitution of Phillips Academy"; Fuess, An Old New England School, 65.

Elliott Brooks McGrew, "The Private School: A Study of an American Phenomenon," (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1971), 33. The motto remains on today's school seal, but Non Sibi, "Not For Oneself," has also been added. The seal was designed by Paul Revere. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 61-63.


an accompanying clause providing for "decent, not extravagant entertainment" for meetings of the board of trustees) and some 340 acres of land.33 The question of "the Perpetual Government of this Institution" was vexing, however, and they were anxious to safeguard it from any "rule [which] shall be subversive of the TRUE DESIGN" ­ that is, the Christian mission and purpose ­ of the school. Given their hope that the school would last for some generations, it was crucial to ensure that the leadership ­ whether at the level of the Board, the Preceptor, or the instructors ­ was committed to its high vision. Almost by definition, there was no such thing as an innocent bystander to such a mission. It required active, diligent caretakers who were fully committed to the work. By mandating the presence of laymen on the board of trustees, Sam Phillips undoubtedly recognized the potential for disunity over small matters, particularly among the theologically-educated (of the first board, eight were laymen while four were ordained clergymen).34 This earned him the reputation from later generations as "broadminded," but it is a phrase which should not be taken in its modern sense. Phillips's broad-mindedness occurred in the context of eighteenth-century New England Congregationalism and not in that of twentieth-century modernism or post-modernism. As he assembled the leadership of his school, stepping outside of Protestant Congregationalism would have seemed to him a very large ­ and risky ­ step indeed. Even remaining within it carried a high risk of disunity. The lack of (even) greater specific theological strictures or requirements in the Constitution in fact served to

The Constitution further admonished that "Economy is ever to be viewed by the Trustees and Instructors, in their respective capacities, as an object, worthy their particular recommendation."



Fuess, An Old New England School, 74.


accommodate the two different factions of New England Congregationalism present in the board's makeup. Phillips Academy's board of trustees contained men from both the Hopkinsian and Old Calvinist wings of New England Congregationalism, common foes against Arminianism, but with high potential for theological disagreement.35 The former clustered around the heritage of Jonathan Edwards. They were also Calvinists, but ones who thought that the old theological wineskins could hold the "new means" of the Great Awakening wine quite well, and who therefore had supported the Awakening. Because of their debt to Edwards, they have been labeled by historians as New Light Edwardsians and also variously called the New Divinity, Consistent Calvinists, or the New England Theology. Predominantly younger men, they were comfortable with the high level of emotion ("enthusiasm") of the revivals as well as with the New Light critique of the existing clergy (though significantly they still retained their faith in the existing ecclesiastical structures, particularly the value of the local congregation ­ hence "Congregationalists").36 Their anti-Anglican bent, particularly their fear of the possibility of an Anglican bishopric for the colonies, had lead them into the Whig camp in the confrontation with Great Britain after 1763.37 In short, they were political radicals, social moderates, and theological conservatives.

Scott H. Paradise, Men of the Old School: Some Andover Biographies (Trustees of Phillips Academy, 1956), 14. Paradise taught English at Andover until 1956. Claude Moore Fuess, In My Time: A Medley of Andover Reminiscences (Andover: Phillips Academy, 1959), 5. The Trustees are listed in the Massachusetts Act of Incorporation of 1788. With the exception of Pearson, few are known outside of the Academy. Otherwise, the information is dependent on secondary sources. Joseph Conforti, Samuel Hopkins and the New Divinity Movement: Calvinism, the Congregational Ministry, and Reform in New England Between the Great Awakenings (Washington D.C.: Christian University Press, 1981), 23-25, 41-58, 181-86. Carl Bridenbaugh, Mitre and Sceptre: Transatlantic Faiths, Ideas, Personalities, and Politics, 1689-1775 (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), 207-229.

37 36



Their best-known apologist was a Rhode Island clergyman named Samuel Hopkins, whose theology sought to simultaneously lay claim to the mantle of Jonathan Edwards while at the same time making mild renovations to the superstructure of revivalist Calvinism. He did so by attempting to inject more responsibility for human action into the act of conversion while at the same time maintaining a strong view of the sovereignty of God, essentially an attempt to eat his doctrinal cake and have it too. The only way this was possible was by modifying the older view of original sin, which had held that as a result of Adam and Eve's poor choices in the Garden, humankind was inevitably and inescapably sinful. Hopkins and the New Divinity men emphasized humankind's "bias of the heart," which inclined men and women toward action: the unconverted, toward evil, and the converted, toward good.38 Hopkins called this latter condition "disinterested benevolence," and urged the converted to act, told them they could act, and waxed lyrical on the effects of such efforts: "it will unite mankind into one happy society, teaching them to love one another as brethren, each one seeking and rejoicing in the public good and in the happiness of individuals; this will form the most happy state of public society that can be enjoyed on earth."39 Hopkins stopped well short of Christian moralism, preserving the need for conversion and the weighty role of God in achieving that.40 But his view of what happened after conversion produced an outwardlooking, optimistic, and socially activist creed. Hopkins believed that conversion so

John von Rohr, The Shaping of American Congregationalism, 1620-1957 (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1992), 216; J. William T. Youngs, The Congregationalists (New York: Greenwood, 1990), 109. Gaius Glenn Atkins and Frederick L. Fagley, History of American Congregationalism (Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1942), 138.

40 39


Conforti, Samuel Hopkins and the New Divinity Movement, 191-93.


enlightened a man that he had no choice but to go about doing good. (Not incidentally, he was an early abolitionist, writing a number of antislavery tracts.)41 Old Calvinists did not suffer such positions lightly, perceiving Hopkins's confidence in human activity as an assault on the principle of the absolute sovereignty of God.42 They upheld the traditional Puritan covenant theology, and though they had also favored the results of the Great Awakening earlier in the century, they eventually disavowed what they saw as an excessive emphasis on the role of emotion in Christian conversion. They also distrusted the speculations of the New Divinity on matters of free will and human agency.43 Their sovereign God was still the sole actor in the conversion experience. While unredeemed men and women might seek salvation through such "means" as Bible-reading or church attendance, in the end conversion was a one-way equation: God acted, humans responded. In this respect at least, the Old Calvinists were the conservatives in the conversation. These men were the theological establishment, socially secure ministers who saw themselves as a professional elite. Both groups had significant representation on the Phillips Academy board of trustees, and the impact of both would be evident at Phillips Academy throughout much of the following century. Judge Oliver Wendell had gone to Yale and could therefore have been in either camp. Dr. Jedidiah Morse was also a Yale man, but retained a fierce devotion to the principles of Old Calvinism. Professor Eliphalet Pearson, who was both on the Board of Trustees and the schools first Preceptor, was an Old Calvinist, as was

41 42

Youngs, The Congregationalists, 264.

Conforti, Samuel Hopkins and the New Divinity Movement, 95-108, recounts one such battle when Old Calvinists sought to bar Hopkins from a pulpit in Newport, Rhode Island.


Ibid., 109.


trustee Josiah Stearns.44 The presence of Morse and Pearson in particular would play a significant role not only in the course of Phillips Academy, but in the larger educational world as well.45 The Constitution of the new academy therefore addressed only those doctrines which were common ground to the two groups, ignoring issues such as the precise nature of predestination which divided the two. This lack of definition probably allowed each side to see what it wanted in the broader expression (the term is relative) of the essential Christian tenets. Samuel Phillips also ensured the long-term viability of the school by obtaining an Act of Incorporation from the Massachusetts legislature.46 The Act, much of which he wrote himself and modeled on the Academy's Constitution, was passed in October 1780. It is more of a political document than the Academy's Constitution, concerned with issues of governance such as the number of trustees, their procedures, and an assessment of the specific land owned by the school, rather than the mission and purpose of the place. As such, it is noteworthy for the omission of the explicitly Christian emphasis in the school, stating simply that the educational mission of Phillips Academy was to be

Clifford K. Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College, Vol. XIII, 1751-1755 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1965), 130134. Conrad Wright, "The Election of Henry Ware," in Conrad Wright, The Unitarian Controversy: Essays on American Unitarian History (Boston: Skinner House, 1994), 5, surveys Morse and Pearson; on Morse, see James King Morse, Jedidiah Morse: A Champion of New England Orthodoxy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939); on Stearns, see Atkins and Fagley, History of American Congregationalism, 377; Fuess, An Old New England School, 73-74, surveys the other trustees. His assessments of their theological positions are thin. This was not unusual as the legislature incorporated twelve academies in the years 1780-84 alone. Nathan Allen, "The Old Academies," in New Englander and Yale Review, Vol. 44, No. 184 (January 1885): 105.

46 45



"for the purpose of promoting true piety and virtue." This omission reflected the trend, well advanced in Massachusetts, toward disestablishment of churches.47 There remained the question of how all this was going to be put into practice. One way that Phillips and the trustees attempted to safeguard the Christian commitment of the school was by implementing a classical curriculum. Phillips' views on this have been the subject of long debate. An early assessment, written at mid-century as the classical curriculum was beginning to come under attack in the American educational world, depicts him as an educational reformer, intent on junking the then-current classical education and its emphasis on Latin, Greek, and mathematics.48 Latin especially had drawn Phillips's ire: "In the Latin, youths fall back upon something that has been dead these hundred years and never will exist again.... In it they study months without one new idea.... It is a pity that the best six years of youth should be spent in studying heathen writers."49 The critique is familiar to Latin students throughout the ages, but one wonders whether too much has been made if it.50 For one thing, Phillips offered the

Taylor, A Memoir of Judge Phillips, 214-217. The Act of Incorporation is reprinted on 360-66; numerous copies exist in PAA Archives..

48 49


Ibid., 12.

Park, "Earlier Annals," 15-16; "The Curriculum of Phillips Academy," The Phillips Bulletin VII:3 (April 1913), 10, PAA Archives; Fuess, An Old New England School, 59. Phillips echoed John Locke on this account, who had written: "When I consider what ado is made about a little Latin and Greek, how many years are spent on it, and what a noise and business it makes to no good purpose, I can hardly forbear thinking that the parents of children still live in fear of the schoolmaster's rod." The similarity in statements provides circumstantial evidence, albeit not strong, that Phillips was acquainted with Locke's writings; quoted in Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 24. Phillips is also said to have written that "I think our general plan of educating youth is injudicious, unnatural, and absurd.... In the Latin youths fall back upon something that has been dead these three hundred years and never will exist again, but if there were not a fragment of the language remaining it would not exclude us from heaven." "The Curriculum of Phillips Academy," 10. Shipton, Silbey's Harvard Graduates, Vol. XVII, 1768-1771, 601, says that "At first he opposed a classical school because of the immorality of the classics."



opinion in 1776, some two years before his academy became a reality; later surviving letters offer no indication that he was contemplating educational revolution. For another, his social conservatism certainly calls any reform impulse into question: few who would preserve a system of social arrangements choose to do so by reforming educational curricula. There is also the question of Phillips's formative educational experience at Dummer. It is difficult to think that, in the moment of starting a school that he hoped might be very much like Dummer, he would choose to depart from Master Moody's curriculum. In the end it may well be easier to see his comments on Latin in the context of the age-old student haranguing against dead languages, even as they choose to recommend such to the succeeding generation. In fact, the lack of social or curricular innovation reinforces the idea that the focus of the school was on other matters. The classical emphasis certainly made it no less Christian in the eyes of the founders, as it formed precisely that course of study which would prepare their students to enter the Congregational colleges of Harvard and Yale, and then proceed on to the ministry. To the contemporary mind, it also had an explicit Christian connection, one which the speaker at the Academy's closing exercises at the end of its third year noted as he reviewed the curriculum for the graduating students. They had been taught to read, write, and speak their own language "with propriety and grace." Greek and Latin had been offered, along with geography, mathematics, logic, and music. But lest the students think that mastery of these subjects was an end in and of itself, the speaker focused on the essence of their education:

Let me remind you, that the road to science, as well as to virtue, is a steep and arduous ascent: but in both cases, honest and persevering diligence will, by the blessing of God, surmount the greatest difficulties, and at length give you possession of the prize.... But in your laudable efforts to possess this human knowledge, you will


remember, that divine wisdom is the principal thing; that the fear of the Lord is the very beginning and consummation of wisdom, and that a good understanding is peculiar to those who keep his commandments. Though you had all the graces of a Chesterfield, the genius and knowledge of a Newton, yea, the eloquence of an Angle [sic], yet without a religious love to God and men, you would in the eye of Heaven be Nothing.51

This Christian curriculum, and the desire for long-term preservation of the mission and purpose, was the focal point of Samuel Phillips's penultimate gift of one thousand dollars to the Academy in December 1801, just two months before his death. He was careful to designate its use and mandated that five-sixths of it should be used to procure a number of books, among them "Bibles, Testaments, and Psalters; the Westminster Assembly Shorter Catechism," as well as a number of volumes geared to the spiritual development of children.52 He also asked that some of the funds be devoted to giving copies of Doddridge's Address to the Master of a Family on Family Religion to any alumni "who may be about to enter into the family state."53 This work offers a clear indication of the Old-Light Calvinist leanings of Phillips, for Doddridge and Watts (whose hymnal was one of the other books Phillips had requested) both wished to further evangelical religion absent of "enthusiasm."54 In making the gift, Phillips was clear as to its larger purpose:

"Address Delivered to the Students of Phillips' Academy, in Andover, Immediately After the Examination and Exhibition, on July 18, 1791" (Exeter, 1791), pamphlet in PAA Archives. Phillips's full deed conferring the gift is in Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 296-298; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 109. The amount is not recorded in the Board of Trustees' minutes.

53 54 52


Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 297.

Daniel Walker Howe, The Unitarian Conscience: Harvard Moral Philosophy, 1805-1861 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), 152. Howe also notes a strong element of emotionalism running through Doddridge and Watts. Phillips's friend Josiah Quincy noted that Phillips had memorized vast quantities of Watts's poetry; Shipton, Silbey's Harvard Graduates, Vol. XVII, 1768-1771, 602.


[A]bove all it is ardently hoped and expected, that in their selection of books for the distribution aforesaid, all possible care will be taken by the Trustees aforesaid, to guard against the dissemination of the least particle of Infidelity or Modern Philosophy, and also against the dispersion of such theological treatises on speculations, as tend to undermine the fundamental principles of the Gospel plan of salvation, or to reduce the Christian religion to a system of mere morality..."55

Aside from curricular concerns, two other components of the daily workings of the school reflected its Christian mission. The first was the matter of housing the students. In this respect, Phillips proved to be something of an innovator in proposing that the students board in the town of Andover, provided that the family in question "maintained the worship of God in their houses."56 This marked a departure from the local nature of New England academies and began a process which would eventually make the Academy into a national institution, attracting "youth from every quarter."57 The second innovation was the decision to educate "charity cases."58 Sam Phillips had begun to grapple with this issue of financing the students' education several years earlier. Perhaps as early as 1776, he had proposed to his father that the students at his school might one day support themselves by growing their own food. (He also asked a rhetorical question with tactful impertinence: "Must so glorious a plan fail for want of money, when there are so many to whom it would be a relief to part with some of it?" This is perhaps

55 56 57

Phillips Academy Trustees Records, Vol. I, 1778-1878, no date. Marr, The Old New England Academies, 128.

Sam Phillips appears to have first used the phrase in his diary as he lamented the poor state of the schools in Andover, Massachusetts. A new school, he observed, might well draw "collections from every quarter" ­ that is, from North and South Andover as well as the two other sections. As the school expanded, so has the interpretation of its geographic intent. Park, "Earlier Annals," 13.


Paradise, Men of the Old School, 12.


the earliest extant fundraising appeal in the history of American boarding schools.)59 He dismissed the idea that charity students would corrupt the morals of the children of those who could afford to pay.60 These early dreams of a scholarship program were embedded in the Academy's financial practices from the very start, and similar charitable endeavors infused its early life. For instance, Phillips's final gift to the Academy of $4000 a month before his death provided for, among other things, the purchase of religious books for residents of the local area.61 His brother John also contributed in this respect, earmarking a gift in 1789 for "promoting the virtuous and pious education of youth (poor children of genius, and of serious disposition especially). "He made an additional gift shortly before he died, earmarked for "poor children of excelling genius and good moral character, preferring the hopefully pious."62 The third brother, William, made a gift in 1792 "calculated to promote knowledge, virtue, and piety, and diffuse their benefits to those who, without such aids, might remain ignorant, and of course exposed to irreligion and vice."63 These practices, deeply woven into the fabric of boarding schools as financial aid and community service, were pursued from the very start of the Academy. Sam Phillips chose wisely in securing the appointment of his friend Eliphalet Pearson as the first Preceptor. Four years younger than the Judge, fluent in three

59 60 61 62

Park, "Earlier Annals of Phillips Academy," 14. Ibid., 17. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 109.

Ibid., 92; preface to Jedidiah Morse, An Address to the Students at Phillips Academy, in Andover, Delivered July 9, 1799, Being the Day of the Anniversary Exhibition (Charleston: Samuel Etheridge, 1799), vi.


Allis, 92.


languages, enough of a chemist to have been the driving force behind Phillip's wartime gunpowder enterprise, a recognized public speaker, and a dominant physical presence, Pearson had all the tools to lead a school.64 He was also a tempestuous man not known for broad-minded consideration of opposing views.65 The Academy he ran reflected the first principles of its founders and the personality of its headmaster. A 1780 report delivered by Pearson to the trustees described the daily regimen. On Mondays, the sixty students (who ranged in age from six to thirty) were "required to recite all they can remember from the sermons they have heard on the Lord's day previous." Each day began with devotional exercises and ended with a reading of Doddridge's Family Expositor, an eighteenth-century Reformed devotional tract. In between, the classical curriculum was pursued with vigor, though some amount of time appears to have been devoted to music as an extracurricular pursuit. Clearly recalling his days at Dummer under Master Moody, Pearson also ensured that his boys would know how to swim.66 Eliphalet Pearson moved to Harvard College in 1786, where he would remain to play a significant part in the battles that would shape both Andover and Exeter after the turn of the century, but retained a relationship with the school by continuing to serve on its Board of Trustees. Calvinists continued to be well represented on Andover hill, however, as David Tappan and Jedidiah Morse both spoke on occasion to the Academy

"The Principals of Phillips Academy: Eliphalet Pearson, 1778-1786"; see also Wright, "The Election of Henry Ware," 5.

65 66


Park, "Earlier Annals," 25.

Ibid., 27-31. Modern-day students are horrified to learn that the school year was some 45 weeks in length. Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 212. The two three-week vacations in April and October likely reflected the agrarian responsibilities of many of the students, enabling them to return home at planting and harvest time.


graduates. When Morse told them that "mankind, for the most part, continue in the path in which they first set out," there could be no mistaking the sound doctrine of Old Calvinism. He also painted a picture of the dangerous world that awaited Academy graduates, filled with "infidel and insidious philosophy" and those who "would lead you upon enchanted ground, where you will easily be bewildered and lost." "While we would encourage free inquiry, as the only way to arrive at the knowledge of truth," he told them, and then added a prescient qualification: "We would by all means, and especially in this seductive and demoralizing age, recommend that your early inquiries be pursued under the direction of an experienced and skilful guide."67 Tappan, more irenic and less strident, was content to blend the religious and the secular, citing the examples of both Jesus Christ and George Washington to his listeners.68 The mention of Washington affords an additional clue as to the role of Protestant faith at Phillips Andover during the period. Never reluctant to retreat from the political implications of religion, Tappan and Morse were in fact part of a larger group of New England ministers during the Early National period who engaged in a concerted effort to weave together the disparate strands of republicanism and Protestant faith. Their adherence to what Nathan Hatch has called "the sacred cause of liberty" was a complex mix of distrust of Jeffersonian democracy and deism, a civic millennialism which saw the French Revolution in near-apocalyptic terms, and a sustained effort to link republican and

67 68

Morse, An Address Delivered to the Students at Phillips Academy, 11-12.

David Tappan, Copy of an Address Delivered to the Students of Phillips Academy in Andover, Immediately after the Yearly Examination and Exhibition, Before the Board of Trustees, on the Seventh of July, 1794 (Exeter, NH: Stearns & Winslow, 1794).


Christian virtue.69 Henry May has ably summed up the essence of their argument: "morality is necessary to good government, religion is necessary to morality, and public support and respect is necessary to religion."70 These ministers had absolutely no doubt that the American republic was the proper venue for such an endeavor and that the Federalist Party was the most likely group to provide such support to religion. Phillips Andover students were treated to sermons on this subject on at least one occasion and likely a great many more. One unnamed board member ­ almost surely Morse or Tappan, though it could also have been Jonathan French ­ was said to have thought the Constitution as inspired as the Bible.71 Pearson was succeeded by Ebenezer Pemberton, whose selection as Preceptor continued the Academy's commitment to traditional Congregationalism. Like Pearson, he was a trained clergyman, having been education by the Congregationalists' close allies at the college of Princeton. He had also studied briefly under Samuel Hopkins in Newport, additional credentials which would have allowed him to pass the theological scrutiny of the Board.72 He continued the course set by Pearson, though with somewhat greater

Nathan O. Hatch, The Sacred Cause of Liberty: Republican Thought and the Millennium in Revolutionary New England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 97, 135, and passim.

70 71


Henry F. May, The Enlightenment in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 269.

Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 210; "A Group of Classical Schools," 564-65. All three men preached sermons in support of this idea. See Hatch, The Sacred Cause of Liberty, 108, 131n95, 131n96, and 157n47. "The Principals of Phillips Academy: Ebenezer Pemberton, 1786-1793", The Phillips Bulletin VIII:3 (April 1914), 13.



emphasis on Bible-reading and the memorization of James Watts's hymns on the carefully-observed Sabbaths.73 Samuel Phillips must have experienced a sense of satisfaction on the eve of his death in 1802. He had established his academy, made it a growing concern, and managed to cast it with a distinctively Christian mission. There were, however, three issues that might have tempered his optimism about the long-term prospects of Andover. For one, the Board had not chosen well in naming Pemberton's successor in 1793, for Mark Newman was a young man (he was only 22 when appointed) whose "mild and gentle character" was ill-suited to running a school.74 Even more important to Phillips, the spiritual life of the school does not appear to have been as active as it had been under Pemberton (let alone under Pearson), as Newman abandoned Pemberton's practice of requiring the students to memorize hymns, and may have done less work in inculcating them into Reformed doctrine as well.75 The third and most important development to give Sam Phillips pause was the theological storms that were beginning to blow across New England. By the turn of the century, the revisions to orthodox doctrine that the Unitarians had been quietly penning were stirring controversy in the studies, pulpits, and parlors of New England. The movement was centered in Boston, particularly in the writings and sermons of Joseph Stevens Buckminster of the Brattle Street Church, and William Ellery Channing of the Federal Street Church. Unitarianism was cerebral in approach, erudite in its proliferation,

73 74 75

Ibid., 12-16; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 89. Park, "Earlier Annals," 35-37; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 98.

Phillips Academy Trustees Records, Vol. I, no page, no date. The context indicates it clearly was written during Newman's tenure.


and upper-class in its appeal. Though a fairly small number of people embraced the new thinking, they were of enormous influence in educated circles in Boston. As their views became more and more widely known and held, orthodox Congregationalists rose to the defense.76 None more so than the aging Sam Phillips, who must have feared for his school's orthodoxy as the Unitarian threat increased in both vigor and respectability. It posed a significant challenge, for Unitarianism was particularly well-suited to the academic halls of New England. Its emphasis on rationality in religious belief complemented the goals of academia nicely (there are no records of Unitarian revivals on the backwoods frontier, for instance). It was also a predominantly upper-class movement with much appeal to the wealthy and well-born. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale University and a "moderate" (that is, Hopkinsian) Calvinist, assessed the movement:

During one hundred and forty years, Boston was probably more distinguished for religion than any city the same size in the world. An important change has, however, within a period of no great length, taken place in the religious opinions of Bostonians. Before this period, moderate Calvinism very generally prevailed. At the present time, Unitarianism appears to be the predominant system.77

An Academy such as Andover was therefore geographically, socially, and intellectually vulnerable to the musings of Buckminster and Channing.78 It was also not merely an intellectual debate, as the great majority of Andover students went off to



77 78

David Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985), Quoted in Morse, Jedidiah Morse, 38.

Conrad Wright, "Ministers, Churches, and the Boston Elite," in The Unitarian Controversy, 53. Wright is careful to point out that Unitarian dominance of elite Boston was not a foregone conclusion. For one, the very people most inclined by education were also among the most conservative socially, and therefore might be loath to embrace the new creed. The power of the dominant Congregationalism was also significant and should not be discounted.


Harvard College.79 Furthermore, Samuel Phillips's position on the Board of Overseers of Harvard, a post he held for more than twenty years, gave him a ringside seat for developments at that institution and he may well have foreseen its rising affinity for the new creed.80 As a result, toward the end of his life Phillips took a dramatic step to ensure his legacy. In the last months of his life, he asked the Board to create a Select Committee to oversee the affairs of his Academy.81 The Board acted on the request on November 2, 1802. The Committee's mandate was broad: "to meet once in a quarter, or oftener, enquire into the state of the Academy, the proficiency of the Scholars, and the conduct of the Instructors, that the core of the Institution may be attended to."82 The persons invested with this responsibility indicate just how important the trustees thought the work to be: Eliphalet Pearson, still at Harvard but now head of the Andover Board; Jedidiah Morse, the prominent and unyielding Old Calvinist who was Pearson's colleague at Harvard; and John Phillips, Jr., son of the founder.83 The future of Phillips Academy had not been entrusted to men with small opinions about theology. The Committee acted swiftly, voting at its first meeting to undertake a thorough examination of the Academy. The sheer range of their purview indicates the extent of

79 80 81 82

"The Principals of Phillips Academy: Ebenezer Pemberton, 1786-1793", 14. Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 187. Phillips Academy Trustees Records, Vol. I, 1778-1878, page 211.

Phillips Academy Trustees, Report of the doings of the Select Committee, Nov. 2, 1802 ­ Feb. 7, 1809, page 1. PAA Archives. Italics in original. The other two members were William French and Samuel Abbot. Report of the Select Committee, 1.



concern. To begin with, the Committee allotted time to examine the students in all classes and skills: spelling, reading, "arithmetical and mathematical" skills, "geographical class," English government, Latin and Greek (the latter received the lion's share of allotted time), Evidences of Christianity, and a class on "Self-Knowledge" (which Morse termed "that most important branch")84 In other words, the entire curriculum was to be reviewed. But this was hardly the extent of it. The Committee emphasized its core concerns in a December 1802 meeting. They announced that they would conduct "a general inquiry into the state of the Academy," and specifically mandated "that the study of Doctor Watts's divine songs and the Westminster Assembly's shorter Catechism be reviewed in the Academy." (Morse's influence is apparent here, as he had used Watts's volume to instruct his congregation in Charlestown. The book was stock in trade for Massachusetts Congregationalists. Pemberton had continued the practice.)85 Furthermore, they gave notice that "at the next visitation of the Select Committee, the Students will be examined in the History of the Birth, miracles, doctrines, sufferings, death, burial, resurrection, appearances, and ascension of the Savior."86 Apparently Preceptor Newman had been lax in overseeing the doctrine of his charges. Not coincidentally, these were also precisely the points of dispute that Unitarians across New England were raising with orthodox

Morse, An Address Delivered to the Students at Phillips Academy, 8. The course titles apparently reflected their primary textbooks. Paley's Evidences of Christianity and Mason's SelfKnowledge were two widely-read books in New England in the early nineteenth century. Marr, The Old New England Academies, 211, 212. Morse, Jedidiah Morse, 43; Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 152; "The Principals of Phillips Academy: Ebenezer Pemberton, 1786-1793", 15.

86 85


Ibid., 2-3.


Congregationalists. The Phillips Academy at Andover was shoring up its base in reaction to the Unitarian threat. What the Select Committee found was an Academy whose students appeared to be out of control, at least according to the norms of nineteenth-century schooling. Tardiness, whispering, and deficiency in spelling were among the shortcomings repeatedly identified in the Committee minutes in November 1803. A problem more familiar to contemporary schools, late returns from vacation, also appeared to be rampant. Apparently even the minor details of administration were lacking under young Preceptor Newman, as the Committee charged him to assemble such basic student records as each boy's date of entry into the Academy.87 The Committee also noted the absence of a copy of the very bylaws which governed the Academy, though whether this marked an oversight by Newman or the Board is impossible to tell.88 The Committee members appeared satisfied with their procedures, for their initial work evolved into a quarterly visit which rarely departed from its routine after 1804. During each visit, the Committee inquired into the basic academic areas of the school, examined the students in specific subjects, and tracked student behavior. They covered the entire academic program, examining languages and geography as well as the more explicitly Christian components of the Academy curriculum such as the classes in Bible, Catechism, and Christian Doctrine. Each visit was concluded with "reading [from the

87 88

Ibid., 5-9. Ibid., 18-19.


Bible], singing and prayers."89 Jedidiah Morse had recommended to the graduates of 1799 that they "avoid ensnaring and corrupting books" under the guidance of "some faithful, well principled, and experienced friend."90 His Select Committee would serve precisely that purpose for the Academy as a whole. Phillips Academy was in reaction. The winds of resistance were blowing strongly through the school, and would only intensify with the events at Harvard in 1805. ********** Samuel Phillips died on February 10, 1802, probably of complications from a lifelong affliction with asthma. He had lived only five days into his second half-century but had accomplished much in a relatively brief lifetime. At his funeral, his former Harvard classmate, David Tappan, now Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard College, delivered the eulogy. Tappan had been on the Board of Trustees for the past decade and, fittingly, would join the Select Committee the following year.91 He was a moderate Calvinist, further testimony to the hold that conservatives had at Andover, though he was of an irenic sort who got along well with both theological conservatives and liberals.92 It was a moment fraught with irony, for Tappan's own death the following year would set in motion a string of events that would shape both Sam Phillips's Academy and his uncle

Ibid., 9-28. The Report ends abruptly with the record of the February 1807 meeting. There is no indication of the fate of the Committee, either in the Report or in the Trustees' Minutes for the period.

90 91


Morse, An Address Delivered to the Students at Phillips Academy, 13.

Biographical Catalogue of the Trustees, Teachers and Students of Phillips Academy, Andover, 1778-1830 (Andover, MA: The Andover Press, 1903), PAA Archives; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 108; Report of the Select Committee, 4; Fuess, An Old New England School, 93. Wright, "The Election of Henry Ware," in The Unitarian Controversy, 3; Joseph W. Phillips, Jedidiah Morse and New England Congregationalism (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1983), 131.



John's endeavor in nearby Exeter for the next three-quarters of a century. The Academy at Andover would respond to those events by strengthening and redoubling the reaction inaugurated by the Select Committee, and in so doing would extend the Calvinist Congregationalism of the Academy all the way into the Gilded Age of American history. Historians of the movement who have maintained that the Old Calvinists died out by the second decade of the nineteenth century have overstated the case.93 In fact, they survived well into the third quarter of the century, and even had a strong institutional base outside of their local congregations. They dominated the new academy in Andover, Massachusetts. However, an entirely different process would take place at the Phillips Academy in Exeter. As John Phillips established his school, it responded to the Harvard controversy in an entirely different manner. In the process, two entirely different academies emerged, each so entirely different from the other as to belie their common origins.


Ibid., 191-92.



On a spring New England afternoon in May 1783, the community of Exeter, New Hampshire gathered at two o'clock in the afternoon for a ceremony in honor of the dedication of the new building and installation of the first Preceptor of its new academy. The program began with a hymn, followed by prayers and several orations, all offered in the formal style of eighteenth-century commemorative occasions.1 Rev. David McClure of the nearby town of Northampton delivered the keynote address, while Rev. Benjamin Thurston, also a trustee of the new academy, and William Woodbridge, the Preceptor, also spoke. As he sat and a listened to the orations, the Academy's primary benefactor might well have reflected on a lifetime of decisions and aspirations which had brought him to this point.2 For John Phillips had once aspired to McClure's place as his own calling, but things had turned out far differently than he had once planned. Samuel Phillips's uncle had been born in Andover in 1719, some 33 years before Sam. Not only was John's father a minister, but his first wife, 18 years his senior, had

Joseph G. Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," in Miscellaneous Writings: Addresses, Lectures, and Reviews (Boston: Crosby and Nichols, 1863), 243; Frank H. Cunningham, Familiar Sketches of the Phillips Exeter Academy and Surroundings (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1883), 914. Cunningham was a student at the Academy in the 1820s. Unidentified biographical sketch of John Phillips, in a scrapbook of clippings donated to the Academy by Susan K. Bourne, wife of the pastor of Second Church in the 1890s, page 10. PEA Archives. Hereafter referred to as Bourne Scrapbook.




also been the child of one.3 Under such circumstances ordination was perhaps genetically inevitable and in 1735 he was graduated from Harvard College, equipped at least in academic training to do just that.4 In the year that he turned twenty, John Phillips preached for a year under his father's watchful tutelage, and appeared to be on his way to the Congregational ministry.5 He was not serving a spiritual indenture in calm waters, however. In the very same year that Phillips was laboring in his father's vineyard, a young Welsh clergyman of the Church of England, George Whitefield, landed in Lewes, Delaware, on his second trip to the English colonies. Since his graduation from Oxford in 1736, Whitefield had ministered largely to the dregs of the Anglo-American world, having served both in a parish which ministered to the London poor and ­ in descending order on the social scale ­ in the backwater English colony of Georgia. He had done so by taking his preaching outdoors and in the process discovered that he was, in the words of one biographer, "a dramatic preacher without par." A former actor with a genius for self-promotion, Whitefield combined the techniques of the stage, the cultural authority of the church, and the entrepreneurial alacrity of a born businessman, all to permanently transform both the profession of preacher as well as the churches to which he spoke. In the process,


1957), 10.

4 5

Myron R. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter (Exeter, NH: The Phillips Exeter Academy, Hoyt, "The Phillips Family," 236. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 1.


Whitefield became the first to mass-market evangelical religion to the masses, and transformed the faithful, their churches, and their faith in roughly equal measure.6 In other words, it could be said that George Whitefield was better suited to America than the Americans. When he arrived in 1739, he began a preaching tour of the colonies which profoundly altered a series of ongoing revivals. Before Whitefield's arrival in Delaware, these outbursts of religious "enthusiasm" consisted of a series of unrelated regional developments, led by individuals little known beyond their respective colonies. Methodists and Baptists were active in the South, particularly in the Appalachian backcountry rapidly filling up with Scots-Irish and German immigrants. The middle colonies were in flux over the "Log College" of a Presbyterian minister, Gilbert Tennent of New Jersey, and his claim that formal education was less important in the training of clergy than a heartfelt knowledge of God. In the same vein, Theodore Frelinghuysen was stirring up his Dutch Reformed Church parishioners, insisting that they be able to attest to the active working of God in their lives before taking communion. In New England, Jonathan Edwards continued his preaching from his pulpit in Northampton, Massachusetts, which he had occupied since 1726, but witnessed dramatically emotional responses to his sermons unlike anything he had seen before.7 Whitefield shared with all these ministers a passionate emphasis on the role of personal experience in Christian faith. He had little time for theological debate over

Harry S. Stout, The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1991), 30-87, quote on 32. Mark Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 106; 110-113; Sidney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972), 265-329; Patricia J. Tracy, Jonathan Edwards, Pastor: Religion and Society in Eighteenth-Century Northampton (New York: Hill and Wang, 1979), 3.




doctrine, but went straight for the heart in trying to achieve "New Birth" among his listeners. He used many of the devices from his short-lived career on the London stage, proceeding in the course of a sermon from whisper to shout to tears.8 Both his voice and his energy were prodigious. Ben Franklin, not generally known for his willingness to inflate figures in favor of evangelical religion, calculated that Whitefield could preach to as many as 30,000 people at one time, which he says was not unusual through Whitefield's career.9 Whitefield himself estimated toward the end of his life that he may have delivered as many as 15,000 sermons in a thirty-year career, an average of four every three days.10 At least one of those sermons, probably delivered in the Congregational Church of Exeter, New Hampshire in 1742, fell on the ears of young John Phillips.11 By that time, he was not speaking to the Reverend John Phillips, but to an interested layman.12 Both the experience at Harvard and under his father have all the earmarks of a disaster. Young John was reputed to have been rather shy, yet there he was in Cambridge, preparing for a career with a very public face to it, the weight of

8 9

Stout, The Divine Dramatist, 36-44, analyzes Whitefield's preaching style.

Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: Poor Richard's Almanac and Other Papers ([New York]: Spencer Press, [n.d.]), 133-38. Mark Noll et al, eds., Eerdmans' Handbook to Christianity in America (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 108-109.

11 10

1924), 10.


Laurence M. Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History (Norwood, MA: Plimpton Press, Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," 236.


generations of Puritan ministers impelling him into the ministry.13 As well, ill health may have also contributed to his difficulties, though such sickness could well have been more a result of them than a contributing factor.14 Whatever the specific cause, after the year with his father he had decided to forego the ministry, spent some time teaching (the perennial last resort for undecided college graduates) at a private classical academy in Exeter, and finally decided to risk parental disapproval and go into business.15 However ambivalent he must have been about pursuing his father's profession, Whitefield's sermon did not leave him untouched. John Phillips continued to listen to the Divine Dramatist periodically for the rest of his life. Over the years Whitefield spoke frequently in Phillips's adopted home town of Exeter, delivering his final sermon there on the day before he died in 1770.16 His words touched more than just Phillips. As in so many places where he spoke, Whitefield's message split the local church as the Congregationalist parish divided into New Light and Old Light camps. In 1743, a group of dissatisfied congregants left the existing Congregational Church (known thereafter as First Church) and established the Second Congregational Church of Exeter. Among the dissatisfied parishioners was John Phillips.17

In the oration at Phillips's funeral, Rev. Jonathan French said Phillips was "a serious, zealous, pathetic, animated preacher." Orations under such circumstances are rarely critical of the dead and should be treated with care, to say the least. Quoted in Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy, 9. Charles H. Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire: A Historical Sketch (Exeter, NH: News-Letter Press, 1883), 6; Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy, 9. It is possible that Bell's report of "delicacy of the lungs" (asthma?) has unintentionally conflated John's experience with that of Sam's.

15 16 14


Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," 239.

[n.a.], Historical Sketch of the Second Parish, Exeter, N.H., Together With The Creed, List of Members, Etc. (Exeter, NH: News-Letter Press, 1875), 3-4. Town of Exeter Historical Society. "History of Exeter: Twelfth Paper," Bourne scrapbook, 11; William G. Saltonstall, John Phillips (1719-1795): Merchant, Shipowner, Landed Proprietor, and Founder of Phillips Exeter Academy (New



Phillips left no written accounts of his religious beliefs, but there is good evidence to believe that he and Second Church were firmly in the New Light camp.18 For one, First Church, which had the legal charter from the colony (and, with it the all-important tax revenues), was clearly hostile to Whitefield; its minister forbade him from preaching within the parish, a command the evangelist ignored.19 Whitefield also appears to have formed a close relationship with Rev. Daniel Rogers, the minister whom Phillips and the other come-outers called to the pulpit of Second Church. Rogers, later described as "an ardent friend" of Whitefield, eventually served as a pallbearer at his funeral.20 His diary for 1761 attests to their relationship as co-workers:

October 22d. Mr. Whitefield precht in the morning. I came home and went down to Portsmouth. Mr. Whitefield preacht in the evening. 23d, Mr. Whitefield preacht a.m. and p.m. at Mr. Langdon's. 24th, he preacht at York; and p.m. at Kittery, where I heard him and came down to Portsmouth....25th, [he] came to my house and lodged. 26th, preacht in our meeting house. P.M. he preacht in the street before it.

And again in 1762, though the month is absent in the diary entry:

6th, I returned home, Expected Mr. Whitefield, but he went to Greenland. 8th, I preached at home. John 16:7,8. Greatly assisted. 12th, Newberry. Anniversary fast. Mr. Whitefield preacht'd a.m. I preacht p.m., to great congregation & was assisted; the congregation greatly attentive; several afflicted.21

York: The Newcomen Society in North America, 1951), 12. George E. Street, Commemorative Discourse on the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Reorganization of the Second Church, Exeter, N.H. (Exeter, NH: John Templeton, 1889), 4, also identifies Second Church as the New Light church; copy in PEA Archives. The extant letters of John Phillips are at Dartmouth College, but solely concern themselves with Phillips's philanthropic efforts for that college.

19 20 21 18

"History of Exeter: Ninth Paper," Bourne scrapbook, 11. Historical Sketch of the Second Parish, 4. "Extracts from the Journal of Rev. Daniel Rogers, First Pastor, 1748-1785," Bourne scrapbook.


Later biographical accounts of Phillips also placed him in the New Light camp. The Harper's 1877 article describes him as "a firm adherent to the old school [i.e. Old Calvinism] of New England orthodoxy."22 Rev. George Street, pastor of the church in 1888, described Second Church as the New Light Church which "separated themselves from the mother church and its conservative [that is, traditional, opposed to Whitefield and the revivals] pastor."23 At the same time, Exeter's First Congregational Church also conceded that Phillips was a New Light: Rev. A. P. Bourne, its pastor in the 1890s, paired Phillips with Jonathan Edwards as a defender of the revivals, describing "two men, deeply interested in that revival, and defending it against every attack, [who] stand as champions of an educated ministry."24 One of a series of articles, probably printed in the town newspaper in the 1880s or 1890s, notes that that Phillips "was much moved by the preaching of George Whitefield"; another describes him as "an admirer of the celebrated Whitefield." 25 Yet another provides additional detail of Whitefield's preaching at the New Light church:

Once when Mr. Whitefield preached there, a rough opposer took a stone in his pocket to throw at the preacher. But while Mr. W[hitefield] prayed the opposer's heart was broken down, and he was won to the interest the good man was laboring to promote. At the close, he made his way to Mr. Whitefield and said, `I bought a stone to break your head, but God has broken my heart.'26

[Horace E. Scudder], "A Group of Classical Schools," Harper' New Monthly Magazine, 55 s (Sept. 1877): 571.

23 24 25 26


Street, Commemorative Discourse, 4. Unidentified newspaper clipping, dated 10 October 1897, Bourne scrapbook. Bourne scrapbook, 13, 15. "History of Exeter: Twelfth Paper," Bourne scrapbook, 11.


Long after the Phillips Exeter Academy was an established and prestigious school, popularizers of these stories also maintained that Whitefield so dazzled John Phillips with his abilities that it deterred him from entering the ministry. Writing in 1858, a former Academy master noted that "[t]he wonderful eloquence of Whitefield... seems to have elevated the standard of pulpit oratory in the esteem of young Phillips to such an unattainable height, that he abandoned at once his ministerial plans, and devoted himself to business." It was an explanation repeated endlessly among the Academy's chroniclers.27 John Phillips's exposure to the fire of evangelical Christianity, coupled with his decision to go into business, had a determinative influence on the academy movement in New England. A half century after he initially heard Whitefield, and a half decade after aiding his nephew Sam's effort begin the school in Andover, Phillips decided to launch a similar venture in his own town. As with Sam and his school, the idea had been germinating for some time. As early as 1762, John had written his brother Sam (father of Andover's founder) along those lines. Noting Samuel Sr.'s recent retirement, he mused that " have now more leisure to employ your thoughts and cares upon the very important proposal you made, of a united effort in our family, for doing some special service for God." He went on to reflect that "Our parents designed and educated us to

Joseph G. Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," in Miscellaneous Writings: Addresses, Lectures, and Reviews (Boston: Crosby and Nichols, 1863), 237-38. Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 91, embraces the idea; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 11, hints that there is merit to it. Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy, 9-10, is dismissive but offers no alternative explanation. On the contrary side, there are two sources which place Phillips in the Old Light camp: an undated (probably c. 1890) article, "Men and Things of Exeter: The New Parish," in the Bourne scrapbook, 12; and Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 11. The preponderance of evidence, though, is strongly tilted towards a New Light association for Phillips. Williams's claim that he was an Old Light is one of any number of instances in which the winners appear to be trying to write the histories of the academies to suit themselves.



serve Christ personally in the work of the ministry; our time has been otherwise employed; our other labors by his blessing succeeded. May our God have the fruits of them for the carrying to an end the same blessed work by such whom he shall please to send."28 Just what that work was remained to be seen. In another letter to his brother William, he reflected on the end of the French and Indian War, and on the opportunities for work "of the utmost importance," mission to work to the Indians.

Has Christ subdued our enemies around us, and shall we not unite out endeavors to bring them under his yoke? Gratitude, my Brother, gratitude to our beneficent Lord requires it; compassion for the souls of our fellow-creatures calls for it. Was there ever a more open door, or a people less excusable if so great a work (heretofore too much neglected) should not now be generally promoted, with cheerfulness and zeal?29

Ultimately, of course, Phillips did not forget these sentiments, becoming one of the more generous benefactors to Dartmouth College, begun as an Indian mission in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, also a New Light.30 But ultimately John Phillips decided to begin his own school. Like his nephew's academy at Andover, he did not do so merely for educational reasons. Rather, John Phillips was embarking on a distinctly Christian endeavor. He did so under the state laws of New Hampshire, and in 1781 the state assembly incorporated the school upon Phillips's own deed of gift. The Act of Incorporation is intriguing in that the legislation lent its tacit assent to the Christian mission of the school. The academy at Exeter, noted the resolution, was to exist "for the

28 29 30

John Phillips to Samuel Phillips, 24 May 1762; reprinted in Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy, 90. John Phillips to William Phillips, 2 June 1762; reprinted in Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy, 91.

Noll, The History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, 101; Phillips Papers, Dartmouth College.


purpose of promoting PIETY and VIRTUE," as well as "for the education of youth" in specific subjects.31 It remained for Phillips's Deed of Gift to elaborate. John was obviously not bashful in borrowing from the Constitution which his nephew Sam had written for the academy at Andover, and much of the language is the same. Employing the same soaring Jeffersonian prose ­ indeed, the rhetorical style and organization of the document owes much to the Declaration of Independence ­ Phillips announced at the outset just what his Academy would attempt to accomplish:

When we reflect upon the grand design of the great Parent of the universe in the creation of mankind; and the improvements of which the mind is capable, both in knowledge and virtue; as well as upon the prevalence of ignorance and vice, disorder and wickedness, and upon the direct tendency and certain issue of such a course of things, such reflection must occasion in thoughtful minds an earnest solicitude to find the source of these evils and their remedy. And small acquaintance with the qualities of young minds, how susceptible and tenacious they are of impressions, evidences that the time of youth is the important period, on the improvement or neglect of which depends the most weighty consequences to individuals themselves, and the community.32

The long shadow of Puritanism endured in New England. Many of its presuppositions are embedded in the preamble: divine creation, emphasis on the capabilities of the mind coupled with a darker view of the "tendencies" of human nature as well as the inexorable connection between individual responsibility and the fortunes of the human community.

Numerous copies of the act exist in PEA Archives. Such legislative sanctions of Protestant Christianity was not unusual for the day. The state constitution, framed the following year, provided state support for "public [P]rotestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality," so that "morality and piety, rightly grounded on evangelical principles, will give the best and greatest security to government." In the same way, the Massachusetts state constitution, ratified in 1789, also called for the "support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality," a clause reaffirmed by the state assembly in 1827. See James Davison Hunter, The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 41. Numerous copies of the Deed of Gift exist in the Academy's archives. It is reprinted in Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 187-193, and Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy, 304-310.




There remained the details of just how these principles were to be embodied in a school. In the Deed of Gift, Phillips reserved to himself the prerogative of appointing the "first instructor." This headmaster was to "be a member of a church of Christ," a requirement which seems narrow and exclusionary today but which was tolerant indeed in the context of the denominationally-divided climes of eighteenth-century New England. But Phillips was after more than just a Christian. The headmaster must also be "of exemplary manners, of good natural abilities and literary acquirements, of a natural aptitude for instruction and government" and possessed of a "good acquaintance with human nature." As with Phillips Andover's Constitution, the document also stipulated that the headmaster was to be hired solely on the basis of "qualifications only, without preference of friend or kindred...." John Phillips followed the Andover Constitution in many other respects as well. Students would board in the town of Exeter, provided that "the daily worship of God and good government" was kept in the household (the wording of the requirement owes a clear debt to Andover). In class, they would be under the watchful tutelage of instructors whose "principal duty" was "to regulate the tempers, to enlarge the minds, and form the morals of the youth committed to their care," with "special attention to the health of the scholars, and ever to urge the importance of the habit of industry." The latter included the encouragement of manual labor.33 Phillips then wrote one of the most famous paragraphs in the history of American boarding schools:


PEA Constitution.


But, above all, it is expected that the attention of instructors to the disposition of the minds and morals of the youth under their charge will exceed every other care; well considering that though goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous, and that both united form the noblest character, and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind.

Like Sam Phillips's admonition that Andover teach its students "the great end and real business of living," Exeter's chroniclers repeatedly cite these words absent of their larger context. For John Phillips's explanation as to precisely how he expected the morals of the Exeter youth to be formed, and what he hoped they would come to believe, was only somewhat less thorough than the Church Council at Nicea:

And whereas many of the students of this Academy may be devoted to the sacred work of the gospel ministry; therefore, that the true and fundamental principles of the Christian religion may be cultivated, established, and perpetuated in the Christian church, so far as this institution may have influence, it shall be the duty of the instructors, as the age and capacity of the scholars will admit, to teach them the principles of natural religion; as the being of God and his perfections, his universal providence, and perfect government of the natural and moral world, and obligations to duty resulting from thence. Also to teach them the doctrines of revealed religion, as they are contained in the sacred Scriptures of divine authority, being given by inspiration of God. The doctrine of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; particularly the doctrine of Christ, as true God, the only begotten of the Father, with all the truths they declare relative to his office of mediator, and work of redemption and salvation from the state of sin, guilt, and depravity of nature man has fallen into. The necessity of atonement by the blood of Jesus Christ; and of regeneration by the Spirit of God. The doctrine of repentance towards God; and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, considered as duties and gifts of God's grace; and the doctrine of justification by the free grace of God through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness in his obedience unto death is the only ground and reason of the sinner's pardon and acceptance as righteous in the sight of God. The doctrine also of the Christian's progressive sanctification, in dying unto sin and living unto God in new obedience to all the commandments of Christ, proceeding from gospel motives and views, supremely to the glory of God; and the doctrines of the resurrection from the dead, and of the great final judgment, with its consequences of happiness to the righteous and misery to the wicked.34

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 23, is perhaps not on the mark when he writes that for Phillips, "a sound curriculum meant more to him than an exacting catechism."



Phillips also emphasized that a vital component to preserving such an undertaking was the Christian commitment of the faculty:

And whereas, the most wholesome precepts, without frequent repetition, may prove ineffectual, it is further required of the instructors, that they not only urge and re-urge, but continue from day to day to impress these instructions; and let them ever remember that the design of this institution can never be answered without their persevering, incessant attention to this duty. Protestants only shall ever be concerned in the trust of instruction of this Seminary.... [italics in original]

For John Phillips, then, there were two essential components of Christian education: sound doctrine and the Christian commitment of the faculty. He concluded the Deed by reiterating the core values of the school and reserving to himself "the full right to make any special rules for the perpetual government of this Academy" and to appoint a successor with the same prerogative. In constructing the document, Phillips had done everything humanly and legally possible to ensure the Christian mission of his Academy. He had every reason to be sanguine as he surveyed his new endeavor. Certainly the speakers who consecrated the opening of the school shared his optimism. Rev. David McClure's lyrical oratory not only reflected the optimistic nationalism of the 1780s, but hearkened back to the old Puritan idea that God would bless the nation through institutions whose purposes and behavior honored his precepts. Rightly accomplished, Phillips Exeter Academy would engage in the spread of education and knowledge under the auspices of "the happy system of evangelical truth," which in turn would contribute to the high civilization which set the United States apart from other nations.35 One hoped-for outcome was the establishment of a Jeffersonian citizenry

Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy, 36-42, recounts the ceremonies; Rev. David McClure, An Oration on the Advantages of an Early Education, Delivered at Exeter, in the State of New Hampshire,



necessary to such an endeavor. McClure emphasized the Academy's role in promoting civic virtue, a value deeply cherished by the revolutionary generation:

The design of education is to qualify youth for an active, useful, and virtuous life; and to direct them into the path of piety and endless felicity. These are the great ends for which this institution is founded; which ordains, that the youth be initiated into such branches of human science, as shall lay a foundation for their after improvement and above all, that such impressions of moral obligation, and the great principles of natural and revealed religion, be made on their minds as, by the divine blessing, may make them truly good; as well as useful in life.36

McClure was practically beside himself at the possibilities of such an undertaking:

On the wide theatre of this new world, upon the threshold of which we are just entering, what chearing [sic] prospects open before us! Here, virtuous freedom crowned with the laurels of victory over opposing ambition, will cherish future geniuses that will arise, to eclipse the glory of former ages! This prodigious continent, extending thro' various climates and regions, luxuriant in soil, will crown the arts and sciences with the productions of her worthy sons. --- Empire having reached the limits of the globe, will probably here rest, after it's [sic] long travel from the Eastern hemisphere; and the arts and sciences attain their last polish of perfection.37

But McClure was sure to remind his listeners that education was not an end in itself. It was instead "the hand-maid of religion," a means to an end. It "opens the mind to receive the light of revelation" which in turn had in the past produced men "whom God hath honored with distinguished usefulness in the world."38 McClure wanted to impress on his audience the need for "virtuous knowledge" ­ Phillips's "knowledge without goodness" ­ without which the endeavor was fruitless or misguided.

May 1, 1783, at the Opening of the Phillips Exeter Academy founded by the Hon. John Phillips, L.L.D. (Exeter: n.p., 1783), 9-10, PEA Archives. McClure, An Oration on the Advantages of an Early Education, 13. On the vital role of civic virtue in Republic, see Lance Banning, The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978), 42-69; Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, 215220; and The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (New York: Norton, 1969), 65-70.

37 38 36

McClure, An Oration on the Advantages of an Early Education, 16. Ibid., 13-14.


Whatever in the way of Christian faith was required of the faculty, no such qualifications were placed on the students who would attend the Academy. Also speaking at the opening dedication, another board member, Rev. Benjamin Thurston, outlined admissions requirements which land lightly on the modern ear. Students from every "state, town, and family" should have "equal right by the constitution to all the privileges of the seminary," and Preceptor Woodbridge should therefore "make no discrimination in favor of any particular state, town, or family, on account of parentage, age, wealth, sentiments of religion, etc."39 That they were all males reflected the gender expectations of the late eighteenth century. The school and its masters were faithful to their charge in the Deed of Gift that their "attention to the disposition of the minds and morals of the youth under their charge will exceed every other care." Once at the school, the students found an atmosphere very much like cousin Sam's school. Morning and evening prayers were part of the schedule. The Preceptor presided, opening with the collective reading of a Bible passage as students went around in a circle, each reading several verses from the passage. The Word spoke for itself as exposition was left for the Sunday sermons. A closing prayer was then offered by a faculty member, a duty rotated among the four masters.40 Under the Laws of Exeter Academy, idleness was banned, as was talking during worship. Students were to be "at home" (that is, in their boarding houses) on Saturday evenings and on Sundays, and could be required to give an account of their leisure hours. The Laws also

39 40

Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 9-10.

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 31; Harriet Webster Marr, The Old New England Academies (New York: Comet Press, 1959), 124; Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 236.


admonished that they "should use great care in their Amusements" and avoid "Gaming, Immorality, Profaneness, and Indecency in Language or Actions." Students were also charged to have "amiable and engaging Manners."41 According to Rule #13, they were also "strictly forbidden to spend their Time at any Tavern, and much more to call for Liquors or join in Company or Diversions with any Persons who do the same."42 Sabbath behavior was especially prescribed. Rule #11 read:

...every Student shall constantly attend public Worship on [the] Sabbath both parts of the Day, and endeavor to do it with Reverence and Attention suitable to the Solemnities of divine Service in the Temple of God, who is greatly to be revered in the Assembly of his adoring Worshipers. They shall carefully observe a decent and orderly Behavior on Sabbath Evening. All noisy Levity and Amusements, some of which might be allowed on other Evenings, are absolutely forbidden on this. The Preceptor does not forbid their visiting each other or a virtuous Friend, but in general would recommend that they would tarry at home, or spend it regularly in sacred Music, which is a noble and improving Amusement to a virtuous Mind.43

Since the Academy had only one building, students attended the service at the Second Congregational Church in town, reflecting Phillips's New Light roots in Whitefield's revivals. ************************ John Phillips died in 1795, in the thirteenth year of the Academy. All the elements appeared to be in place for the establishment of an Academy which would continue to honor its founder's wishes. The goals had been articulately stated, in detail sufficient enough to keep ambiguous interpretation at bay. The lucrative endowment provided by Phillips ­ his $60,000 gift was at the time the largest ever made to an American pre-

41 42 43

Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 291. Ibid., 295. Ibid., 294-95.


collegiate institution ­ would keep the Academy's mission free from financial constraints, preventing market forces from forcing a change of course.44 Preceptor Woodbridge had secured a faculty whose Christian commitment, which Phillips considered so important, was beyond question. Even the symbolic association with Second Church bespoke the school's mission and Phillips's desire to perpetuate the evangelical faith he had been exposed to under George Whitefield. In its opening decades, the Phillips Exeter Academy appeared to be firmly focused on Phillips's goal of preparing young men for the Congregational ministry. But for such schools, the maintenance of mission and purpose is an exceedingly difficult thing to do. There are any number of factors which can alter that mission, however much its guardians might wish otherwise, but three in particular stand out. First, financial constraints can bring market forces to bear, which will force a change in course as the school is forced to pay attention to the bottom line and perhaps yield (for the short run only, it will try to maintain) on matters of principle. A fiscal crisis can make the school dependent on a donor, who in turn may demand changes, which the school in its exigency is virtually powerless to resist. A second factor which can have a profound impact on the mission and purpose is the external associations which a school adopts. Once the school enters into a relationship with an outside agency ­ be it a church, seminary, denomination, athletic association, local or federal government, testing company, accreditation agency, professional umbrella organization, or any number of other paraschool groups which pervade the educational world ­ that relationship can drive changes in the school's mission and purpose. Compromises in standards, purposes,


Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 19.


curriculum, schedule, or ideals may be forced as a result of such association. While such changes don't necessarily strike at the school's mission and purpose, they may do so if the school isn't guarding its purposes assiduously and thinking through things lucidly. Finally, personnel changes, whether at the Board, administrative, or faculty level, can pose a considerable threat to the purposes of an institution. At such junctures, particularly if a particularly high percentage turns over in a brief period of time, or if individuals who have been important in either formulating or maintaining the mission depart, much depends on the institutional ability to communicate the school's ideals to its new caretakers. This last factor was to prove crucial in the year following John Phillips's death. Even as he breathed his last in 1795, turnover was taking place at his Academy, a development which would eventually call into question the Academy's institutional commitment to orthodox Congregationalism. The areas in which this occurred were hardly minor. At issue was the ideological composition of the Board of Trustees and a crucial faculty appointment. In somewhat the same manner as Sam at Andover, John Phillips had not placed a high premium on theological agreement when it came to appointing the Board of Trustees and Preceptor at Exeter. The first Preceptor, William Woodbridge, was from Yale, which at the time leaned toward the conservative end of New England Calvinist Congregationalism and therefore fit nicely with Phillips's own biases.45 The Board members appointed by Phillips (a prerogative he'd reserved to himself in the Deed of Gift), did not share such theological uniformity. Of the original seven members of the


Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People, 403.


Board, two were Arminian in their theology: John Pickering, a lawyer, and Rev. Benjamin Thurston. Three others ­ Paine Wingate, Oliver Peabody, and John Taylor Gilman ­ held theological views opposed to those of Phillips, as did the second Principal, Benjamin Abbot, appointed in 1788.46 Phillips had also stepped outside of the Old Calvinist ­ Hopkinsian split within New England Congregationalism in approving the appointment of the first two Preceptors: both William Woodbridge and Benjamin Abbot were Arminians.47 In light of the ensuing history of the school, just why Phillips would allow these appointments ­ particularly of Abbot, who was to prove so influential in the course of the school's early years ­ is particularly intriguing. The most likely explanation is that John Phillips placed a higher priority on getting a man of undeniable talents as a schoolmaster than he did on theological purity. In Abbot, he found a superb instructor and a man of high integrity, remembered thereafter as a "Christian gentleman."48 He was also a man of unquestionable authority. When Lewis Cass, later a nationally-renowned politician who was the Democratic candidate for President in 1848, was a student at PEA under Abbot,

On Wingate, see Clifford K. Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College, Vol. XIV, 1756-1760 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1968), 533-548. "A Group of Classical Schools," 571; Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," 242-43; Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy, 16; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 30-31, 3738. Abbot raised his son in the faith as well: John Emery Abbot is one of the twelve Unitarian moralists scrutinized in Daniel Walker Howe, The Unitarian Conscience: Harvard Moral Philosophy, 1805-1861 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970). "A Group of Classical Schools," 571; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 34. The Harper's article, 571, also notes Abbot's theological persuasions: "He [Phillips] saw in Benjamin Abbot, an Exeter youth, the qualities which constituted a wise teacher, and he chose him to the place [of principal], although their theological preferences were at variance, Abbot belonging to the new school which in the process of time became organized Unitarianism."

48 47



his father remarked to the Preceptor that young Cass's religious experience might improve "if he's half as afraid of the Almighty as he is of you."49 But he was not in fact a Calvinist, a development which opened the door to considerable change at Exeter over the next half century. The question of just why John Phillips would risk this in the fractious New England theological atmosphere remains a mystery. Modern-day historians of the Academy, baffled at its early religious roots, have seized upon this development as indicative of a kind of religious tolerance which reveals the true spirit of John Phillips, thus explaining how "a stern and aristocratic Calvinist" could "found a school later known for its democratic spirit and tolerant religious views."50 But the fact remains that such flexibility was extremely limited, and Phillips broached little compromise with what he saw to be the core mission and purpose of his academy. In a letter to Sam in 1778 as Phillips Andover was getting underway, he had been quite blunt on the subject: "I am convinced of the need of Scholars being under the Tuition of Instructors who are of what we call Calvinist Principles. I would not employ any that neglected teaching the Assembly's Catechism..." But he did add two qualifications. The first was that "if any part [of the Catechism] was objected to, [I] should expect to know what part," implying some latitude for individual convictions. He also went on to dismiss altogether the importance of theological doctrine with the breezy comment that "a sound divine will not need much scrutinizing to discover his real


1960), 16.


Claude M. Fuess, "The Old New England Academy," The New England Galaxy (Summer Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 20, 30.


principles."51 As a result, Abbot apparently did not undergo close scrutiny. Phillips may have valued his degree from Andover and assumed theological orthodoxy without questioning Abbot too closely.52 But he also may not have made doctrine an issue at all. A graduate of Exeter's class of 1843 later recounted the story, perhaps apocryphal, that on the eve of his appointment as the Academy's second Preceptor, Abbot told Phillips quite bluntly that he might not be as theologically orthodox as the latter might wish. "Have a drink of brandy, Mr. Abbot," Phillips is said to have replied.53 Perhaps an unfamiliarity with theological nuance was also responsible. Phillips simply may not have been attuned to the threat that Unitarianism posed to the traditional Protestantism he hoped to perpetuate at Exeter, or was not theologically astute enough to see that the pluralism on the Board might bring the movement into the Academy. His root desire to found a Calvinist Congregationalist institution ultimately foundered on this shoal. The other area involving personnel at John Phillips's academy was a direct result of his appointment of Abbot as Preceptor. In 1791, the Trustees ­ Phillips among them ­ authorized Abbot to appoint a Professor of Divinity to teach the students sound doctrine and to offer specialized preparation for those intending to go into the ministry.54 It was a fateful appointment, both for whom Abbot tried to hire at the time and for what ultimately came the position itself. For this single teaching appointment to the five-

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 15; Frederick S. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter: A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover: University Press of New England, 1979), 56.

52 53


Ibid., 32.

Attributed to John T. Perry, PEA class of 1843; quoted in Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy, 54.


Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," 243.


master faculty eventually became the flashpoint for Exeter's turn away from orthodox Congregationalism and its embrace of Unitarianism. It decisively defined the Academy's development through the nineteenth century and in time made it an entirely different school from the one John Phillips had envisioned. In the process, it also made it a very different place from Samuel Phillips's Old Calvinist undertaking at Andover. At a meeting on October 15, 1791, the Board of Trustees authorized the establishment of a position of Professor of Divinity at the Academy and made an offer to Joseph Buckminster, pastor of Old North Church in nearby Portsmouth.55 Buckminster, an orthodox Congregationalist, declined the appointment and nothing came of it for an entire decade. In 1800, however, his son, Joseph Stevens Buckminster (a graduate of the Academy), took the position.56 The latter had an undistinguished tenure at Exeter, known chiefly for his teaching of the young Daniel Webster who apparently experienced a bout of stage fright while declaiming in his class one day.57 The appointment was a fateful one. For one thing, it set a significant precedent, one which would not be forgotten in the following century. Though the position of Theological Instructor remained unfilled for many years, it remained in the Academy's

Ibid., 243, and Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy, 27, give the precise date. An undated mss. from the PEA Trustee minutes contains a report from Board subcommittee consisting of Daniel Dana and Jacob Abbot, probably written in 1818 or 1819; it indicates a date of 1790. Theological Instructors file, PEA Archives. Hereafter referred to as "J. Abbot ­ Dana Report #1." Crosbie, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 76. To James McLachlan, Buckminster is the archetype of the New England gentleman so influential in the formation of the academies of the early republic; see James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York: Scribner's, 1970), 19-27. Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 100, notes that the elder Buckminster "remained a Calvinist" even as his son embraced Unitarianism. Maurice G. Baxter, One and Inseparable: Daniel Webster and the Union (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1984), 23; Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 180. The incident is ironic in light of Webster's later fame as a superb orator.

57 56



collective memory, available as a resort should circumstances warrant it. In 1839, it became the focal point of the struggle for the soul of Exeter Academy. Secondly, Buckminster's presence was a harbinger of the fate of orthodox Congregationalism at Exeter. After leaving the Academy, Buckminster emerged as an early Unitarian, preaching the new creed from his pulpit at the Brattle Street Congregational Church after 1804. In a stellar, albeit short-lived, career before his death in 1812, he was one of the earliest ministers in the country to embrace an early form of German higher criticism of the Bible, insisting that the Scriptures be read in their historical context and publishing a version of the Bible which omitted some passages.58 His preaching, emphasizing character development and the rationality of religious belief, drew him into the Unitarian circle of Boston.59 Surely these views were in their incipient form while he taught at the academy, but the historical record is unfortunately silent as to why he left. But his were hardly isolated ideas. For as Buckminster sat in his study in Exeter, New Hampshire, and contemplated the Calvinism of his forebears, others were doing the same thing farther south in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Joseph W. Phillips, Jedidiah Morse and New England Congregationalism (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1983), 149. David Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985), 225-26; John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), s.v. "Buckminster, Joseph Stevens" by David M. Robinson; Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 310-311 and passim.





It was at this point, around 1805, in the fragile, early histories of Andover and Exeter, that the Unitarian controversy came to full boil some 30 miles south of Andover. Harvard College became the site of a major schism in American Protestantism. The confrontation was essentially an intramural event within Congregationalism. It had been building for many years as the theological descendants of Charles Chauncey moved into pulpits in Boston, including prestigious churches such as Brattle Street, Second Church, and West Church. Orthodox Congregationalists were appalled but hamstrung by the decentralized polity of the Congregational Church. The autonomy of local congregations meant that little could be done to dislodge a pastor of unorthodox views if he had the support of a majority, or even influential minority, of his parish.1 Conservatives thus stood by, helpless, longing for a means of engaging the foe. This polity of the Congregational Church made not only Harvard but also Exeter and Andover nearly inevitable battlegrounds for the fortunes of Congregational denomination in the nineteenth century. Educational institutions, which were less local than churches and therefore under the governance of a wider range of individuals, were some of the few



David Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985),


places in which battle could be joined. What had been up until that time a fairly quiet debate within the Congregational church thus broke out into a public religious controversy with the death of David Tappan in 1803 (the same man who had delivered the eulogy at Samuel Phillips's funeral just a year before). Tappan had held the Hollis Chair of Divinity at Harvard College, the oldest endowed university chair in America.2 The choice of his successor quickly became a contest for the soul of the college. Two Calvinists, both of whom were on the Board of Trustees of the Phillips Academy at Andover, led the conservative resistance: the minister of the First Church of Charlestown, Jedidiah Morse and the Academy's former Preceptor, Eliphalet Pearson. Morse had long been battling Unitarians from the hill overlooking Boston, going to far as to create a journal, The Panopolist, whose sole purpose was to refute the claims of the movement.3 Morse was without question the most effective, the most dogmatic, and the most dogged of the two. He placed a high premium on orthodoxy over relationships, on confrontation over consensus, and his stubborn personality and zeal was known to alienate even his own allies.4 It was he who inaugurated the controversy, warning in 1803 that "professed Unitarians" might well be elected to the Hollis Chair.5 A year later, he wrote to a friend: "The issue hangs in suspense. If the measure be pushed on their side, I see nothing but open war between them and the Calvinists which will seriously affect the

2 3

Ibid., 34.

James King Morse, Jedidiah Morse, A Champion of New England Orthodoxy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), 74-81. Conrad Wright, "Ministers, Churches, and the Boston Elite 1791-1815,"in Conrad Wright, The Unitarian Controversy: Essays on American Unitarian History (Boston: Skinner House, 1994), 54-58.

5 4

Robinson, The Unitarians, 34.


usefulness of the University, and the peace of the state."6 His criticisms of the movement, published in numerous pamphlets in the years 1803-1815, were conducted in this takeno-prisoners sort of prose better designed to defend citadels than build bridges.7 As a member of Harvard's Board of Overseers, it was Morse who sought to have Ware's views "examined" prior to the decision about Tappan's successor. When he was rebuffed by the Unitarian majority, Morse took his views public, publishing two pamphlets on the subject: Are You of the Christian or Boston Religion? and The True Reasons on Which the Election of a Hollis Professor of Divinity in Harvard College was Opposed at the Board of Overseers.8 Morse's chief ally was none other than Eliphalet Pearson, now firmly ensconced at Harvard and a member of the Corporation (one of the governing bodies of the College, which would make a recommendation to the Board of Overseers about Tappan's successor). The historian of the Ware controversy, Conrad Wright, has maintained that Pearson was newly arrived to theological orthodoxy, and that an alliance with Morse was little more than the product of sheer opportunism and his ambition to become President of the College. However, this view does not do justice to Pearson's prior history. He had come from Andover, dominated by Old Calvinists. His theological conservatism was

6 7

Morse, Jedidiah Morse, 90.

It was Morse who probably coined the term "Unitarian" in an 1815 pamphlet, Review of American Unitarianism. He did not intend it as a compliment. John von Rohr, The Shaping of American Congregationalism, 1620-1957 (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1992), 252; J. William T. Youngs, The Congregationalists (New York: Greenwood, 1990), 127. Conrad Wright, "The Controversial Career of Jedidiah Morse," in The Unitarian Controversy, 68; von Rohr, The Shaping of American Congregationalism, 251. Morse's critics answered with a pamphlet entitled, Are You a Christian or a Calvinist? Do You Prefer the Authority of Christ to that of the Genevan Reformer? Joseph W. Phillips, Jedidiah Morse and New England Congregationalism (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1983), 129-60, details the fight over the Hollis Chair succession.



very much in evidence while Preceptor of the Academy. A desire for Harvard's Presidency may well have helped shape his strategies, but his Calvinist allegiance had been set in place for his adult lifetime. Phillips Academy had been built up as a bulwark against rationalism; now the Calvinists would preserve Harvard.9 But they did not preserve Harvard. In March 1805, the Board of Overseers voted, probably by a vote of 33 to 23, to elect Henry Ware, a Unitarian who did not adhere to the Westminster Confession, to the Hollis Chair. Morse was in despair. Harvard, he wrote, "is most imminently threatened with a revolution which will deeply and lastingly affect the cause of evangelical truth.... [T]his ancient fountain will be poisoned, and its streams henceforth be the bane of evangelical religion."10 Two months later, it fell to the humiliated Pearson to preside over Ware's induction, and a half year later the liberals, now firmly in control, denied Pearson his ambitions and elected Professor Samuel Webber as the next President of the College. Pearson's response was immediate. He resigned from Harvard and returned to his beloved Andover, determined that it too should not be lost.11 While it may claim too much, as some historians have done, to label the event "an American Reformation," nevertheless the events at Harvard had significant repercussions across the American religious and educational landscape.12 Ultimately the controversy determined whether Harvard would remain a Congregationalist school preserving and


Conrad Wright, "The Election of Henry Ware," in The Unitarian Controversy, 6. Morse, Jedidiah Morse, 95.

10 11

Ibid., 9-16; Sidney E. Ahlstrom and Jonathan S. Carey, An American Reformation: A Documentary History of Unitarian Christianity (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1985), 24.


See Ahlstrom and Carey, An American Reformation, passim.


furthering the Puritan ideals on which it had been founded, or a Unitarian school marked by the ascendancy of rationalism in religious belief. At the end of the controversy, the very nature of the training of American ministers had been changed with the establishment of two specialized divinity schools devoted to that purpose. It had done much to hasten Harvard's evolution into a modern university.13 On a wider level, it split the Congregational Church and established a new, and uniquely New England, Protestant denomination. Henry Ware held his seat at Harvard until he resigned in ill health in 1840. It is interesting that he sent his son, Henry Ware, Jr., to Phillips Andover to prepare to follow in his father's footsteps, and the son then spent some time teaching at Phillips Exeter in the 1810's.14 And this was the least of the impact of the Ware controversy on the Phillips Academies. Though Samuel Phillips did not live to see the Ware controversy, it likely would not have surprised him. The very tone of his final bequest, executed in his will just before the storm broke, indicates his frame of mind, one which probably pervaded his Academy as well:

And it is farther requested, that the said Trustees and their successors, as aforesaid, in all future time, may ever bear in mind that the principal object of this donation, is the preservation of the essential and distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel, as professed by our pious ancestors...; above all, it is ardently hoped and expected, that in their selection of books of the distribution aforesaid, all possible care will be taken by the Trustees aforesaid, to guard against the dissemination of the last particle of Infidelity, or Modern Philosophy; and also against the dispersion of such Theological treatises, or speculations, as tend to

George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford: 1994), 181. Robinson, The Unitarians, 331-32; Frank H. Cunningham, Familiar Sketches of the Phillips Exeter Academy and Surroundings (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1883), 42.




undermine the fundamental principles of the Gospel plan of salvation, or to reduce the Christian religion to a system of mere morality; without which guard there will be great reason to fear that the object of this donation will be totally frustrated.15

It was more than a will. It was a call to arms. Phillips's request that the Board of Trustees at Andover create the Select Committee had anticipated the Unitarian controversy and marked Phillips Andover's initial response to the rationalist Christians. In retrospect the creation of the Select Committee marked the beginning of nearly three-quarters of a century of reaction at Andover. Until the appointment of Cecil Bancroft as headmaster in 1873, Andover fought a rear-guard action in a concerted attempt, ultimately futile, to preserve the orthodox Congregational faith. The Board of Trustees and, to a far greater extent, the headmasters of the Academy employed a number of strategies to preserve and even extend Samuel Phillips's dream of a Calvinist Academy. Beginning in 1810, two extraordinarily able and powerful headmasters, John Adams and Samuel H. Taylor, each served more than three decades in maintaining Samuel Phillips's vision. It was not, as the historian of the Academy has concluded, "the static period in the history of Phillips Academy."16 To see the years as nearly absent of innovation is to miss a vital part of the conservative strategy. Phillips Andover was in fact a vibrant place during the first half of the nineteenth century. Its goal was conservative, the maintenance and perpetuation of Old Calvinism. However,

Phillips's will is reprinted in entirety in John L. Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, LL.D (Boston: Congregational House, 1856), 298-301; quotation on 301. Frederick S. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter: A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover: University Press of New England, 1979), 117-18, 154.




this was in fact consciously pursued by employing novel methods of organization, innovative extracurricular activities, and pathbreaking institutional associations. The Select Committee redoubled its efforts after the Ware Controversy of 1805. One can only imagine the grim determination of both Pearson and Morse as they purposed to oversee Andover and prevent the Academy from going the way of Harvard College. Their sense of crisis was doubtless reinforced by a precipitous decline in enrollment, as the 57 boys enrolled in 1803 had by the winter of 1809 declined to 18.17 The Committee maintained its quarterly visits and thorough examination of student performance in both academic and moral accomplishment, and by implication its examination of the performance of the Preceptor and faculty. It proved extraordinarily effective ­ a sort of Committee of Congregational Safety, absent the guillotines of its counterpart in the French Revolution. By August 1807, the Secretary to the Board was able to record the following in the Trustees' Minutes:

The Selected Committee....asks leave to report, That since their first appointment they have visited the Academy sixteen several times, devoting at each visit the greater part of a day to the examination of the Scholars in the several languages, arts, and sciences, taught in the same,-- that they have enjoyed much please in witnessing the proficiency, made by the Pupils in their respective studies, and the good order and decorum, manifest on these occasion; particularly observing the mutual affection, esteem, and confidence, obviously subsisting between the Instructor and Pupils, and in learning from the Preceptor and others, that love and harmony prevail so generally among the Students in their diversions and customary intercourse with each other; and that they have been well satisfied, from careful examination of the various term bills, with the daily punctual attendance of the Pupils and with their silent application

Claude Moore Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1917), 131. By contrast, the first class admitted to the Seminary in 1809 numbered 36. Joseph A. Conforti Jonathan Edwards, Religious Tradition, and American Culture (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, 1995), 114.



to their studies in the Academy; and also, from the inquiries made, with their common deportment and good moral conduct in general.18

The Report then got to the heart of the matter:

Your Committee also wish further and more specially to report, that they have experienced peculiar delight in the evidences, given on these occasions, of serious attention having been paid to religious and moral instruction, on the part both of the Instructors and Students; and particularly with the solemn and pious manner, in which the concluding devotional exercises have been performed by the Preceptor, and attended by the Pupils; all which pleasing exhibitions have more deeply imprinted on your Committee their habitual conviction of the wisdom of the Trustees in making religious instruction the principal object of this Institution.19

Underlying the self-congratulatory tone of the Report, however, was the nearconstant worry that they weren't doing enough. Pearson's humiliation at having to preside over Ware's installation, and the liberals' denial of the Presidency, were only months old at the time, and there was an acute awareness that the same developments could overtake Phillips Academy if things weren't shored up. The Committee thus considered all possible options to safeguard the mission of the school:

Under the influence of this conviction, and in pursuance of the special object of this appointment, your Committee has been led, at a meeting appointed for the purpose, to direct their attention to this inquiry, viz., "whether some provision may not be necessary for carrying into complete effect the great and principal object of the pious Founders in this establishment on which interesting subject your Committee asks leave to report, That upon a careful examination of the Constitution with this object specially in view, and upon due consideration of the pious solicitude of the Founders, expressed in the Preamble, as well as of the course of religious instruction, so particularly delineated by them in the Constitution, and also the frequency and solemnity with which it is therein declared, that the first and principal object of this Institution is the promotion of true Piety and Virtue; and furthermore, the various cautions given and guards placed, "to prevent the smallest perversion of the true intent of this Foundation;" it is their unanimous opinion, that, notwithstanding the provisions already made, and the good effects, produced by them, some farther provisions and regulations are still necessary, to carry into

18 19

Phillips Academy Trustees Records, Vol. I, 1778-1878, pages 211-212, PAA Archives. Ibid., 212.


complete effect the first and principal object of this Institution, the promotion of true Piety and Virtue.20

Those "farther provisions" which were immediately recommended turned out to be innovative indeed. The entire school was to be divided into "three, four, or five divisions... according to their respective ages and capacities", who would "embrac[e]... a larger proportion of time, than has been usually devoted" to "some regular and well adjusted plan, making religious and moral instruction a more distinct and prominent object" of the Academy's curriculum. What the Select Committee was proposing was the implementation of graded education ­ an accepted norm in American primary and secondary education today, but innovative at the time. The Select Committee thought that perhaps "as much as one day in a week" might be devoted solely to "religious instruction and improvement of the Pupils" by assigning "the study of marked passages in prescribed useful authors." The Committee also recommended that "one hour be devoted, every Monday morning, to the examination of all the Students with reference to the Sermons of the preceding Sabbath, and in some of the most interesting historical parts of Scripture, especially in the Gospels, three, four, or five chapters having been previously assigned for this purpose, the preceding Saturday." This had the effect of restoring the practice of sermon examination, by then apparently defunct under Newman, which had characterized each Monday under Pearson's tenure as Preceptor. But it also extended the practice: not only would student mastery of the Bible be tested, but also that of a number of books on


Ibid., 213.


Christian doctrine, notably several on the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the standard Old Calvinist works by Doddridge and Watts.21 There was one more component of all this, one that the Select Committee deemed "of singular and superior importance." They recommended that the Preceptor meet frequently and individually with each student "on the subject of personal religion, the duty of prayer, watchfulness, self-examination, government of the passions, the importance of early habits of piety; and, in a word, on the state of his soul."22 This was classic Puritanism (though Unitarians of the day would not have disagreed), marking as it did a foundational epistemological assumption underlying education at both Phillips Academies. True education was not utilitarian, the mere amassing of facts in order to ascend the rungs of a ladder. Nor was it merely akin to an apprenticeship, in which a skill was mastered (though Puritan education might at some level involve these things). But at its most basic, education was undertaken for what it could do in the formation of a person's character. Its goal was nothing less than the tempering ­ for it could never be completely eradicated ­ of a student's inherent sin. Knowledge had to produce goodness, else it would lead to real danger; there was no via media between the two in the Calvinist world view. The second strategy employed at Andover to ward off the encroachment of Unitarianism was even more revolutionary. Pearson and Morse determined that if Harvard could not be trusted to train orthodox Calvinists to the ministry any more, then

Ibid., 213-14. The other works were Posteus's [Porter's?] Evidences of the Truth of the Christian Revelations, Mason's Treatise on Self Knowledge, Vincent's Explanations of Dr. Watt's and [no author given] Preservation against the sins and follies of Youth.



Ibid., 214-15.


they must undertake the task. The result was the creation of the first educational institution devoted solely to the training of ministers, a theological seminary. Jedidiah Morse played a vital role in this undertaking.23 The political challenge that he faced in starting such a Seminary was to paper over the internal differences which had in the past divided Congregationalists. In this respect, he had some work to do. The Ware controversy had been so bruising that Calvinists were now looking for theological monsters under their own beds, and Morse had to overcome fears on the part of the Hopkinsian group that the Old Calvinists of Andover had been penetrated by Unitarianism on the board of Phillips Academy.24 He proved extremely adept at this task, conjuring up the threat of the Unitarians and the example of Ware and Harvard to forge a united Calvinist front among the two factions. He did so by eschewing controversy over smaller details and simply asking that all instructors of the Seminary subscribe to the Westminster Shorter Catechism.25 (He also made clear what the Seminary was against. Professors were to teach "in opposition, not only to Atheists and Infidels, but to Jews,

Historians of the Academy have assigned the greater credit to Pearson, who is said to have traveled extensively to Newburyport and Boston "to hold conferences with recalcitrant clergymen"; see "The Principals of Phillips Academy: Eliphalet Pearson, 1778-1786," 13, a view which is repeated in Fuess, An Old New England School, 145-46; and in Scott H. Paradise, Men of the Old School: Some Andover Biographies (Trustees of Phillips Academy, 1956), 14. However, a more objective conclusion points to Morse's key role. Phillips, Jedidiah Morse and New England Congregationalism, 138-40. Leonard Woods, History of the Andover Theological Seminary (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1885), 98-99; see also Daniel Day Williams, The Andover Liberals: A Study in American Theology (New York: Octagon, 1970 [repr. of 1941 ed.]), 5. Woods, History of the Andover Theological Seminary, 72-144, recounts the intricate negotiations that took place. Once these were completed and the Seminary established, a lengthy creed setting forth the doctrinal beliefs of the institution, to which Professors had to subscribe, was added. It became known as "the Andover Creed"; in the estimation of one denominational historian, it "was the quintessence of New England Calvinism and was so well drawn that it held, heresy tight, for three long generations." Gaius Glenn Atkins and Frederick L. Fagley, History of American Congregationalism (Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1942), 130. The Constitution of the Seminary is reprinted in Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 372-86; the creed is on pages 387-390.

25 24



Mohammedans, Arians, Pelagians, Antinomians, Arminians, Socinians, Unitarians, and Universalists, and to all other heresies and errors, ancient or modern, which may be opposed to the gospel of Christ.")26 In one sense, Morse was playing off broader trends in the denomination, for the Unitarian controversy was eradicating distinctions among Congregationalist Calvinists across New England. But to assuage the high egos and historical animosities at Andover and create the Seminary was no small feat, particularly for a man so given to controversy in the past. The Seminary was, as Sidney Ahlstrom has noted, Morse's "most enduring classical memorial."27 Even more apt was the assessment of Moses Stuart, a longtime professor at the Seminary, who called Andover a "sacred West Point."28 Yet the Unitarian controversy at Harvard was not the sole impetus for the creation of the Seminary at Andover. However much the battle over the Hollis Chair appointment had driven the Calvinists out of Cambridge, it was still an open question as to where they would retreat. In this respect, Samuel Phillips's Academy at Andover afforded the most logical venue to which they might retreat. The school, now more than a quarter of a century old, lent itself perfectly to such purposes, for a recent gift had even been made to the school for the hiring of a "Professor of Divinity." The Academy was a perfect choice,

26 27

"Constitution of Andover Seminary," in Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 378.

Sidney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972), 394. Morse's son had an even greater impact on posterity: Samuel F.B. Morse, who graduated from Phillips Andover in 1805, invented the telegraph. On Morse, see also Wright, "The Controversial Career of Jedidiah Morse," 59; Morse, Jedidiah Morse, 101-120. quoted in Hugh Davis, Leonard Bacon: New England Reformer and Antislavery Moderate (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998), 21.



possessing infrastructure, a physical campus, and an endowment whose stated purposes matched that of the defeated Calvinists.29 Seen in this light, Andover Seminary is best viewed not only a reaction to the internecine battle at Harvard, but also as a logical culmination of Samuel Phillips's vision for conservative Congregational education and preparation of ministers.30 For with its creation in 1808 the new Seminary and the existing Academy together marked the epicenter of Calvinism in America. Andover, at both precollegiate and postcollegiate levels, was now institutionally committed to defending the old order of Calvinism.31 A common and theologically-united Board of Trustees ensured that the qualifications for instructors to educate ministers ­ right doctrine, a commitment to an intellectual view of the world, and a commitment to knowledge as a means of forming character ­ would also be important in appointing men to educate boys. As a result, the students of Phillips Academy were exposed to men of unqualified talent and intellect and a strong commitment to the life of the mind. Morse and Pearson were able to attract first-rate clergy and academics to Andover hill, a development all the more noteworthy in light of the chronic shortage of trained clergy faced by the

A PA trustee, Samuel Abbot, had given had reacted to the Ware appointment by revoking his large donation to Harvard and setting up the fund at Phillips Academy. However, before that could happen, Morse had had to persuade Abbot that the Hopkinsians were not a threat to Old Calvinism in the same way that the Unitarians had become. This he was able to do, with Abbot as well as several others involved in the project. Morse, Jedidiah Morse, 106-06, 113-14. Daniel Day Williams surveys the founding of the seminary but does not attribute a role to Sam Phillips; Daniel Day Williams, The Andover Liberals: A Study in American Theology (Morningside Heights, NY: King's Crown Press, 1941), 2-7. [Horace E. Scudder], "A Group of Classical Schools," Harper' New Monthly Magazine, 55 s (Sept. 1877): 568, makes this point. Morse, Jedidiah Morse, 115, says that as a result of the establishment of the Seminary, "a few Trustees of Phillips Academy who held Unitarian views withdrew."

31 30



Congregationalists during the era.32 Moses Stuart ­ famous for his statement that Unitarianism represented "a halfway house to infidelity" ­ brought a knowledge of foreign languages that made the Seminary into an important missions training center, and also began the teaching of those languages at the precollegiate level long before other schools in the nation were contemplating such a move.33 Leonard Woods was one of the most formidable conservative theologians of the nineteenth century; Academy boys heard his preaching regularly. They also heard the young Leonard Bacon, a student at the Seminary in the 1820s and later highly influential as both a Congregationalist theologian and a moderate abolitionist.34 Some years later in 1866, the Seminary launched one of the most influential religious periodicals of the era, Bibliotheca Sacra, an indication of the high level of commitment to academic propagation of the faith.35 All these were undeniable advantages to the students of Phillips Academy. However, the presence of the Seminary did not turn out to be an unqualified advantage to the "Phillippians." The Seminary also marked a broadening of the mission of the school beyond its original bounds, a broadening which was not all to the good. Fragmentation was inevitable, and predictably it was not long before the Seminary's tail began to wag the Academy's dog. As the Seminary increased in the priorities of the Board of Trustees,

Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992), 73. Paradise, Men of the Old School, 17-18. Ahlstrom and Carey, An American Reformation, 27, attribute the assessment to Stuart but say that it was first used by William Wilberforce. On Stuart, see Herbert Hovencamp, Science and Religion in America, 1800-1860 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978), 62-66.

34 35 33


Davis, Leonard Bacon, 25-26. Youngs, The Congregationalists, 164.


they tended to allocate the greater part of Andover's resources to it, making the Academy a "poor relation" to the now-parent institution.36 It also afforded more potentially divisive issues. In the years after the founding of the Seminary, relations between Morse and Pearson became quite strained, as Pearson felt Morse had sold out Old Calvinism to the Hopkinsians.37 The Seminary also demanded the greater part of the energies of the trustees, making it easier for the headmaster of the Academy to do things the way he wanted to.38 Perhaps, though, this was exactly as the Board intended. The third strategy pursued by the Academy in its attempt to shore up orthodox Congregationalism was perhaps the most innovative of all. Andover helped form the evangelical empire. The phrase is used by historians to describe a significant development which occurred as a result of the disestablishment of churches in the wake of the American Revolution. Faced with the loss of their privileged status, American churches were thrown into what was essentially a free-market economy as they competed for adherents in the growing population, and were forced to rethink how they appealed to the American people. Many denominations, notably the Methodists and Baptists, were able to do so with astonishing energy and significant results. Methodists were particularly effective, growing from about 3% of the population in 1776 to almost 35% in 1850.39 Some of the

The Seminary's Constitution explicitly placed the Seminary "under the immediate care and governance of the Trustees of Phillips Academy." Taylor, A Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips, 384.

37 38 39


Morse, Jedidiah Morse, 120. Fuess, An Old New England School, 315, sees this as the source of Samuel Taylor's power.

Mark A. Noll, "Revolution and the Rise of Evangelical Social Influence in America," in Mark A. Noll, David Bebbington and George A. Rawlyk, eds., Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies in Popular


innovations were not new. The evangelistic techniques of Whitefield's Awakening of the prior century were widely employed, notably by an ex-lawyer named Charles Finney. Under Finney, however, revivalism was refined and honed, with use of such techniques as the "anxious bench" (where people in a service could await the conviction of sin) and the "protracted meeting" (a service of several days in length). Some denominations became considerably more aggressive in seeking out converts. Methodist circuit riders, the most prominent of whom was Francis Asbury, promoted the idea of a personal relationship with God and individual righteousness as significantly more important than ecclesiastical structure or parish adherence, and put in an astonishing number of miles on horseback to spread their views through the burgeoning west. Roman Catholics, too, aggressively ministered to Irish and German immigrants arriving on American shores, and so built up a significant following in the United States.40 Churches and denominations were not the only ones unsettled by the broad changes in the era, for individual Americans had significant needs as well. The combination of the American Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century and the Market Revolution in the nineteenth century had brought about a broad reordering of social, political, and economic relations in American society. By 1830, egalitarianism was still the ideal in a society which had once been heavily stratified. Patterns of work were changing rapidly as merchants were drawn into different economic relationships and workers were moving into factories, many losing their older status as independent

Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1900 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 117; Finke and Stark, The Churching of America, 54-109. Mark Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 219-244, surveys the changes; Finke and Stark, The Churching of America, 109-144, provide a good overview of the Catholic efforts.



artisans. Immigration, predominantly from Ireland and Germany, was bringing the largest influx of people in history into the country. As a result, many Americans sought a mechanism by which they might bring some semblance of order to their lives.41 One of the most effective and long-lasting of the means by which Protestant evangelicals attempted to both strengthen their churches and bring a sense of order to their lives was by creating parachurch, or transdenominational agencies, each devoted to addressing particular causes. They saw a range of problems as varied as the Americans themselves, and so created a wide array of organizations, variously committed to the limiting the use of alcohol, the recolonization of slaves, the abolition of slavery, world peace, and even water cures for health problems, and phrenology.42 Between 1810 and 1870, some two dozen agencies were founded with the sole purpose of evangelism or furthering the Protestant cause through Bible distribution.43 The American Bible Society devoted itself to spreading the Protestant Scriptures across America. The American Sunday School Union transformed moral education in a country which was only in its earliest stages of adopting free public education. The American Tract Society sought to evangelize the unchurched through a new form of print literature, small pamphlets designed to persuade non-Christians (by which they meant non-Protestants) to convert.

Donald G. Mathews, "The Second Great Awakening as an Organizing Process, 1789-1830: An Hypothesis," American Quarterly 21 (1969): 23-43. Ronald G. Walters, American Reformers, 1815-1860 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978), passim. The classic interpretation is Clifford S. Griffin, Their Brothers' Keepers: Moral Stewardship in the United States, 1800-1865 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1960), best modified by Lois Banner, "Religious Benevolence as Social Control: A Critique of an Interpretation," Journal of American History LX (June 1973), 23-41. William R. Hutchison, Errand to the World: American Protestant Thought and Foreign Missions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 45.

43 42



The American Board for Foreign Missions sought to spread the gospel to foreign lands (and to "heathen peoples" such as Indians on the North American continent).44 Not limited to any particular denomination, these evangelical agencies drew from across the wide range of American Protestantism and by the eve of the Civil War had created a "benevolent empire."45 At least some of the Congregationalists at Phillips Academy were sympathetic to this movement by virtue of their theology. The compromise on which the Academy had been founded between Old Calvinists such as Jedidiah Morse and Hopkinsians such as Oliver Wendell had muted their theological differences, but it had also admitted Hopkinsian theology to the counsels of Phillips Academy. The latter represented a modification of ideas about virtue which had been advanced by Jonathan Edwards. A central tenet of Samuel Hopkins was the idea that human beings, though sinful, were nevertheless capable of selfless love and service to God and humanity. That being the case, once a person had entered into a covenant relationship with God through Christ, he was capable of "disinterested benevolence," an ability to act without regard to one's own needs, but instead to totally give oneself to the needs and interests of others. Taken to its

One of the founders of the Board was Adoniram Judson, a graduate of Andover Seminary who went on to be an early and influential example of the nineteenth century missions impulse. Before he went to Burma, however, he taught Latin at the Academy for a brief period. Edward G. Coy, "A History of Phillips Academy Andover," The Phillips Bulletin VI:2 (Jan. 1912), 24); "Andover and Foreign Missions," The Phillips Bulletin V:1 (January 1911), 10. Mathews, "The Second Great Awakening as an Organizing Process"; Gregory H. Singleton, "Protestant Voluntary Organizations and the Shaping of Victorian America," American Quarterly 27:5 (December 1975): 549-560. On the Board of Foreign Missions, see Clifton Jackson Phillips, Protestant America and the Pagan World: The First Half-Century of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1810-1860 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969). On temperance, see W. J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (New York, 1979); Ian Tyrrell, Sobering Up: From Temperance to Prohibition in Antebellum America, 1800-1860 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979).




logical extreme, anyone who became a Christian would become an agent for good in the wider society.46 Hopkinsian theology therefore provided a powerful rationale for Christian social reform and a concept of community morality in America. Not all American Protestants thought this way about social reform, however, as a considerable body of thought disassociated religious conversion (and its macrocosmic manifestation, revival) with social action. Many Protestants, particularly in the South, were inclined to view conversion and revival solely in terms of the individual and the church rather than the nation or society. In this view, the impact of regenerated Christians would be first and foremost to revitalize the church, with any social reforms as byproducts of the more fundamental process. These twin views produced what one perceptive historian of the era has called "the divided conscience of antebellum Protestantism," a division that would ultimately come to reflect a fundamental partition over economics, culture, and the existence of slavery.47 The presence of the Hopkinsians at Andover placed Phillips Academy clearly on the social reform side of Protestantism. Not only did the development of chapters of evangelical agencies devoted to reform flow naturally from a part of its theological heritage, but their existence served a number of purposes at Andover. The most important one was the legitimacy they provided for the Academy. By affiliating with organizations whose doctrine was perceived to be sound and whose goals were Biblical, the Academy could assure itself, its students, and conservative Congregationalists that all was right with the school. To put it

Kathryn T. Long, The Revival of 1857-58: Interpreting an American Religious Awakening (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 98; Daniel G. Reid et al, eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), s.v. "Samuel Hopkins" by J. R. Fitzmier. James Moorhead, "Social Reform and the Divided Conscience of Antebellum Protestantism," Church History 48:4 (December 1979), 416; quoted in Kathryn T. Long, The Revival of 1857-58, 94.

47 46


another way, adherence to mission is not always self-conferred. Sometimes it's important to be in the right groups, affiliated with the right sorts of people. Joining with these national evangelical agencies served a vital role in affirming that orthodoxy was being upheld at the Academy. Sponsorship of the agencies also served to extend the religious life of the classroom into the extracurricular lives of the students. The Select Committee had recognized the important principle that the learning that accompanied lectures, memorization, and formal instruction was limited, and that there had to be more to it if the education was to have a lasting impact on the character of the students. The presence of the agencies hopefully meant that students were actually applying what they had learned, whether in prayer meetings, evangelism, or ministry to the needs of the less fortunate. Furthermore, the fact that participation was voluntary (in fact, the agencies were referred to in that era as "voluntary associations") served to answer the central question which constantly vexes those who seek to spread the faith through required lectures and Sunday chapel: were the students really latching on to true religion? Participation in the voluntary associations provided valuable confirmation that indeed some of them were. Finally, the agencies served a valuable purpose in inculcating the students into the regional values of New England Protestantism and into the special concerns of upper class Americans. Historians of Anglo-American evangelicalism have commented on the movement's bifurcation between elitists and populists, and there is little doubt as to which side of the divide Phillips Academy lay. With a student body dominated by the upper class, the Academy reflected the commitment to education, the political inclination


toward the Federalist and, later, Whig parties, and the social and behavioral desires of upper-class New Englanders.48 The evangelical agencies proved to be an effective means by which the Academy demonstrated its approval of the core values of its constituency.49 Andover's connections with these agencies developed early. Indeed, it is possible to make a case that Phillips Academy was at the forefront of these movements and played a role in shaping them. Chapters of the transdenominational agencies appear from the earliest years of the Academy. Eliphalet Pearson had been the first president of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, an early tract society, as well as a member of the Society for the Suppression of Intemperance, a local forerunner to the American Temperance Society.50 The creation of the Seminary furthered this impulse as chapters of American Tract Society, an unnamed temperance association, and the American Board of Foreign Missions all appeared in its early years.51 An early version of the latter had been created at Williams College in 1810, but the chapter established by Andover Seminary the following year was to prove even more influential. The ABCFM was heavily dominated by Massachusetts Congregationalists and by the legacy of the social activism of Samuel Hopkins. Once again, Jedidiah Morse was influential. Together with some local clergymen who eventually became known as the "Andover Brethren," he

48 49

Noll, "Revolution and the Rise of Evangelical Social Influence in America," 117.

For an overview of these two movements, and the closely-related emphasis on Sabbatharianism, see Curtis D. Johnson, Redeeming America: Evangelicals and the Road to Civil War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1993), 115-154. William E. Park, "The Earlier Annals of Phillips Academy," [n.p., n.d.], 24; Paradise, Men of the Old School, 12; Phillips, Jedidiah Morse and New England Congregationalism, 117.

51 50

Susan E. Jackson, Reminiscences of Andover (Andover, MA: The Andover Press, 1914), 9-10.


helped establish a Society of Inquiry for Foreign Missions, open to all students interested in missions and not just those committed to participating in the work.52 The two most important of these transdenominational societies in Phillips Academy's period of reaction were the Missionary Society and the Temperance Society. The former was founded during the brief tenure of Academy Principal Osgood Johnson. Its earliest record stated that its object "shall be to enquire into the moral state of the world, and the effect a mission to the heathen in the persons of its members."53 The mission, however, was not to be conducted by others. The preamble cited the "Great Commission" passage of Jesus ­ "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature" ­ and then offered in Article 2 that "the object of this Society shall be to secure the personal labors of its members, in the Foreign Missionary field, and to aid them in preparation for that important work."54 An 1845 revision of the Constitution, after the name of the organization had been changed to the Society of Inquiry, read

the object of this Society shall be to collect and circulate information respecting the moral condition and wants of the Heathen and thereby to secure the individual interests of its members, in the great cause of Missions and to unite their prayers and efforts for the conversion of the world to Christ.55

Phillips, Protestant America and the Pagan World, 1-31 recounts the background and founding of the Board; Morse's role is outlined on 27-28. Constitution of the Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass, PAA Archives; S[amuel] H. Dana, "Historical Reminiscences of the Society of Inquiry," in Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Exercises of the Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, pamphlet in PAA Archives. The Society mimicked the constitution for the chapter founded by Seminary students in 1811; see Davis, Leonard Bacon, 29-30. Constitution of the Society of Inquiry; Constitutions and Records of the Missionary Fraternity, notebook in PAA Archives; A. Graham Baldwin, The Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1833-1933 [1933], 6; pamphlet in PAA Archives.

55 54 53




Membership was originally open to "any pious member of this Academy;" the 1845 revision added the codicil that it was for those "whose solemn purpose it is by leave of Providence to devote himself to the Foreign Mission work."56 The Society also committed itself to "cause prayer meetings to be held" three times a week.57 A more or less typical meeting of the Society in December 1833 opened with prayer and a reading from the Bible. Then, noted the Secretary, "remarks were offered relative to the State in which the members found the churches." The students then engaged in a discussion of the question of "in what manner can we best advance the cause of Missions in this Academy." Two new members were admitted by vote, and two others assigned to investigate the establishment of a library devoted to missions works. Finally, the Society voted to "observe the first Monday of January as a day of fasting and prayer."58 The Society's activities afforded its members sound training for church committee work, as meetings appear to have been interminable, Presidents constantly resigned, absent members were voted out, and Parliamentary haggling was raised to a high art.59 At its worst, at one of its early meetings in 1833 or 1834, the membership decided to dispose of a gift of books entitled "the Universalist library" by burning them.60 Knowing who one's enemies were was still a vital factor in the life of Phillips Academy.

56 57 58 59 60

Constitution of the Society of Inquiry; Dana, "Historical Reminiscences," 7. Constitution of the Society of Inquiry. Constitutions and Records of the Missionary Fraternity, minutes for 20 December 1833. Ibid., passim. The minutes for 6 May 1844 is a good and representative example. Baldwin, The Society of Inquiry, 7.


The high ideals of the Society reflected the soaring optimism of the Second Great Awakening and the conviction of American Protestants that they could see the millennium of God into their world by repairing its shortcomings. But the Society also reflected the parochialism which accompanied such a worldview throughout the nineteenth century. In 1834, a student at Andover Seminary named Southgate (his first name was not recorded) addressed the Society:

So far, then, as Christians are regarded as laborers in the service of Christ, so far they must be regarded as laborers in the cause of evangelizing the world. It is his only work, and their only work.... "If this be true ­ that it is the business of Christians in general, and of Christian ministers in particular, to regenerate the world ­ it becomes, to every disciple of the Savior, and especially to him who has in view the ministry of the gospel, an all-important question, which part of the work belongs to him.... "In Christ all are one. The Godless Hottentot ­ the superstitious Hindoo ­ the image-worshiping Chinese ­ the savage cannibal of New Zealand ­ the rude son of the forest ­ the haughty follower of the false prophet ­ the deluded and besotted children of the Mother of Abominations ­ and the blessed inhabitant of Christian lands, are all bound together and undistinguished, in the regard of holy philanthropy.61

The activities of the Society were varied, but all had in view the propagation of the faith. According to the 1833 Constitution, members were to collect "Missionary Intelligence," in order to be informed about the peoples with whom they might come into contact. In this regard, the Society served the Academy as a branch of cultural studies, otherwise absent in the curriculum. The Constitution also stipulated that the members were to engage in evangelism, for which distribution of tracts of Gospel newspapers seems to have been the favored means.62 The following decade, a distinction between "home" and "foreign" missions begins to appear in the Minutes of the Society, and in the

H. Southgate, Jr., An Address Delivered before the Missionary Fraternity in Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover, MA: Gould and Newman, 1834), 3-5. Pamphlet in PAA Archives.



Dana, "Historical Reminiscences," 7.


1850s the Society began operating a home mission, staffing a local Sunday School in Abbot Village.63 Debate was also an important activity of the Missionary Society. Indeed, the predominance of this activity appears to be one of the reasons for the change in the Society's name to "Society of Inquiry" in 1839.64 The topics varied. At one meeting, the members debated whether or not it was "right for a church to resort to dramatic entertainments, fairs, lotteries, etc., to secure funds for the support of the Gospel."65 At another, they took on the question, "Ought collegiate and academic students be compelled to attend religious worship[?]."66 A final activity of the Society involved preparing its students for their religious lives on college campuses. In 1871, the final year of Samuel Taylor's tenure as headmaster, the student members conducted a survey of colleges and concluded that "out of 7615 students in certain colleges, 3,162 are professors of religion, and 874 are studying for the ministry."67 Just how this information would help those who matriculated from Andover is uncertain, as the report made no recommendations. The second organization present on the Academy campus was that of the Temperance Society. The national organization had its origins in Maine in 1826 under the

Ibid., 12; Constitutions and Records of the Missionary Fraternity. This may also explain why no chapter of the American Sunday School Union appeared at Phillips Academy, as the Society of Inquiry had already undertaken that work.

64 65 63

Baldwin, The Society of Inquiry, 7-8.

Constitution and Records of the Society of Inquiry, Sept. 1850 ­ July 1861, notes for 28 June 1860. PAA Archives. Records of the Society of Inquiry, Andover, Mass., September 1861 ­ November 1872, notes for 15 October 1863. PAA Archives.

67 66

The Christian Union, Vol. III, No. 9 (March 1, 1871), 140.


energies of a reformer named Neal Dow. Eventually the American Temperance Society soon grew to be one of the biggest, and ultimately one of the most effective, reform movements in the history of the Republic. It was such an integral part of the evangelical empire that its presence at Phillips Academy during this period comes as no surprise; indeed, its absence would have been unusual. Phillips Academy's chapter was founded in 1827, where it received great support from Headmaster Adams, a teetotaler who refused to serve wine at his daughter's wedding.68 (In the same year, the Board of Trustees voted to cease serving liquor at their meetings.)69 The association appears to have been both more extensive, with significant numbers of faculty members listing an affiliation with the Society, and less formal, as there is no record of regular meetings. By 1841, there are accounts of temperance gatherings in the town of Andover, in which the Academy's chapter participated, in which 1200 to 1500 children rallied to show support for the dry cause.70 There were limitations to the Academy's participation in the evangelical empire, though. In 1835, abolitionism arrived in Andover when William Lloyd Garrison and an English member of Parliament, George Thompson, asked to speak at the Seminary. Rebuffed by Principal Johnson, the two secured the Methodist church in the town of Andover and ignited the town's emotions on the subject of slavery. While the faculty of the Seminary were in accord with Johnson's desire to avoid controversy which would detract from the Seminary's "real" business of preparing for the ministry, the students of

68 69 70

Fuess, An Old New England School, 195. "Some Early Academy Records," The Phillips Bulletin VII:4 (July 1913), 13; Ibid., 176. J. Farrar to Parents (Mr. And Mrs. James Farrar), 8 July 1841, Samuel Taylor papers, PAA



Andover had no such reservations. A hundred students twice petitioned Johnson for permission to form an anti-slavery society, a desire they explicitly linked to their evangelical religious beliefs: "Resolved, that we regard Anti-Slavery as the cause of God and humanity, an that christians should devote themselves to its promotion, with that boldness, meekness, and prayer, which become the gospel of Christ; as no other spirit will in reality advance the cause, or be acceptable to God."71 As in the case of so many student revolts throughout history, though, they had little leverage with which to move Johnson, and over forty were dismissed from the Academy. The "Anti-Slavery Rebellion" illustrates the limits to which Phillips Academy was willing to take its innovation during this period, and sheds some light on American boarding schools as cultural institutions.72 At few times in their histories have the schools adopted stances on public issues which were consciously countercultural, and though Andover would eventually supply leadership later in the abolitionist movement (there is some irony in the fact that Theodore Dwight Weld was an Academy graduate), the incident underlines the cultural conservatism that the schools have tended to display through their histories. Phillips Academy's relationship to the evangelical empire was further cemented by the interests of the men who served on the Academy's Board of Trustees during this period. A survey of this constitutes something of a Who's Who of transdenominational evangelicalism, at least on the regional level. Abiel Holmes, a trustee from 1809-1837, was one of the founders of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, one of the

"A Statement of the Circumstances Which Induced Fifty Students of Phillips' Academy, Andover, to ask a Dismission from that Institution," 5 August 1835, reprinted in The Phillips Bulletin I:3 (April 1907), 11.



See Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 184-86 for a complete account of the episode.


many minor transdenominational agencies. Justin Edwards, trustee from 1820-1853, was involved with the American Tract Society, a "general agent" of the American Temperance Society in the 1830s, and secretary of the American and Foreign Christian Union (he also served as President of Andover Seminary from 1836-42).73 Three other trustees during this time are listed with affiliations to the American Temperance Society, the American Tract Society, and the American Board of Foreign Missions. Nor were the affiliations limited to the Trustees. Over half of the 107 instructors who taught at the Academy in its first half-century were either members of the American Temperance Society or served on a home or foreign missions board.74 The school steeped in the concept of original sin also addressed the original sin of American democracy, that of slavery.75 In this respect, the long influence of Samuel Hopkins's theology, which opened up a world of social activism, was evident at the Academy. In no area was this more apparent than that of abolitionism, which produced several agencies among students and faculty. In 1835, Academy students together with a number of Seminarians physically defended two abolitionist speakers in the town of Andover from a mob of Irish laborers.76 The final way in which Phillips Andover attempted to preserve Samuel Phillips's vision for the school as a training ground for conservative Congregationalists lay in its

73 74

Williams, The Andover Liberals [1941 ed.], 23.

Biographical Catalogue of the Trustees, Teachers and Students of Phillips Academy, 1778-1830 (Andover, MA: The Andover Press, 1903). PAA Archives. The phrase is William Chafe's in his essay, "Epilogue from Greensboro: Race and the Possibilities of American Democracy," in David S. Cecelski and Timothy B. Tyson, eds., Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 276-86; quote on 277.

76 75

Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 184-85.


choice of leadership. Of the various strategies employed ­ the Select Committee, creation of the Seminary, joining the evangelical empire, and the choice of headmaster ­ this was arguably the most important of the four. The nature of the institutions lent itself to this. Boarding schools of the era were small and intimate places, a far cry from the educational megafactories of today.77 They were purposely isolated from outside influences, whether they be hands-on trustees, meddlesome parents, or interested outsiders.78 As such, they were true "island communities" in which a single charismatic individual could have considerable impact. The small size of the schools in the nineteenth century also mitigated the trends toward specialization which were later to characterize boarding schools (and all schools for that matter). Not only did the headmaster run the school, but he taught classes and handled discipline, external relations and fundraising, and admissions. Where such extensive responsibilities resided, there was invariably great power. That power grew to enormous proportions when the simple fact of longevity was added to the mix. New England headmasters of the era had tenures and lifespans which approximate those in the book of Genesis.79 After the departure of the ineffective Newman, the Board must surely have realized that conservative leadership was vital to their enterprise, not only in preserving

"Special Report: Boarding Schools," U.S. News and World Report, Vol. 130, No. 19 (14 May 2001): 65-66. Andover and Exeter each had over 1000 students in the 2000-2001 school year. From the very beginning, boarding schools have generally been located in the country, and have extolled the benefits of what one historian has called "the benign moral influence of a rural environment." James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York: Scribner's, 1970), 79. In this respect, at least at the Congregational schools, the headmasters, who were invariably ordained clergy, had found a haven form the high turnover rates experienced by most clergy of the century. Donald M. Scott calls this "pastoral chaos." As clergy vulnerability to congregational dissatisfaction increased, the office generally became considerably less authoritarian. Clearly this was not the trend at Andover. Donald M. Scott, From Office to Profession: The New England Ministry, 1750-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978), 112-121.

79 78 77


orthodoxy but in placing the Academy on a sound financial footing with an adequate number of students. But the ill fortunes of the Academy meant they were operating in a buyer's market, and their first choice, Ebeneezer Adams, a master at Exeter, turned them down.80 The Board turned to John Adams, whose Yale degree offered some hope of theological orthodoxy.81 He did not disappoint them, and for twenty-three years John Adams ruled over the Academy, implementing the innovations and shaping P.A. as a preserver of orthodoxy. It was fortunate that John Adams was born in the nineteenth century, for he would have been tragically out of place any later. A staunch Calvinist, he was determined to preserve the creed. All the elements of Puritan theology were present in his worldview: a belief in the efficacy of "the visible church," a high view of the Bible, an emphasis on the importance of conversion.82 Even allowing for the hyperboles of funeral sermons, associates recalled a man of intense religious fervor:

The ruling principle of his mind was faith. `He believed God,' and delighted in his perfections, as appears from his own words, `I love and admire the character of God as it is delineated in the Bible and in his providence....' This faith in God was not merely doctrinal, but practical, not general but specific, pervading every thought, and entering into the minute acts of his life.... His faith included Christ and the Gospel. On this point his words are explicit, "I heartily approve, I love, I admire the great, the glorious, the eternal plan of salvation through the mediation of Jesus Christ."...The love of Christ constrained him. It entered into his governing principles, and gave to his religious character an unwonted elevation and force.83

80 81

Fuess, An Old New England School, 161.

L[invonston] M[aturin] Glover, Living and Dying Unto the Lord: A Discourse Delivered at the Funeral of John Adams, LL.D., April 26, 1863 (Jacksonville, IL: Jacksonville Journal Job Office, n.d.), 5.

82 83

Ibid., passim, especially 15. Ibid., 7.


There is every indication that this was not simply inflated rhetoric to honor the dead. When Adams was eased out in 1837 as principal of the Academy after he had passed the age of sixty, rather than retiring, he spent the next 30 years working for the American Sunday School Union in Illinois, forming over 250 new "Sabbath Schools" there before his death in 1863 at the age of 91.84 "He talked about the kingdom of God as we talk about national expansion, and it was all perfectly real to him," recalled a contemporary.85 Adams's efforts to further the piety of his Congregational forebears was powerfully reinforced by his Treasurer, Squire Samuel Farrar. Farrar, Treasurer of the Academy from 1803-1840, was arguably as important as Adams during his tenure. This was in all probability due to the timing of his hiring. When he first assumed his duties at the Academy, the school was in the throes of Marc Newman's ineptitude, and an able ­ and theologically orthodox man ­ would have been able to acquire considerable influence in the midst of such turmoil. A classic example of how pursestrings can lead to power, Farrar used his position to become a dominant force at the Academy for almost four decades. An unsparing man of deep and constant piety, he was a cross between Cotton Mather and Ebeneezer Scrooge. Piety and precision were his watchwords as he read daily from his Bible, took two walks a day, held prayer meetings at his house promptly at nine

84 85

Ibid., 14.

Elliott Brooks McGrew, "The Private School: A Study of an American Phenomenon," (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1971), 52.


minutes (not ten) past six each morning, and in the process set the finances of Phillips Academy on a firm footing.86 One of the fruits of Farrar's influence was the establishment of a Teachers' Seminary in 1830, behind which he was the driving force.87 Though it did not play a central role in Adams's efforts to shore up conservative Congregationalism ­ it was an early Normal school, designed to prepare those students who did not intend to attend college for careers in school teaching ­ it was undoubtedly yet another example of innovation in the name of conservation at Phillips Andover during this period.88 For what Andover what doing was revolutionary: developing institutions solely devoted to professional training, first for the ministry and now for teaching. It was quite literally something that was happening at no other place in America. Evidently, Adams, Farrar, and the Board felt that the energies of preparing students for ministry were being deflected from their true goal by having a separate (and somewhat weaker) English curriculum (as opposed to the classical curriculum set in place by Samuel Phillips at the school's origins). The attempt was therefore to give what a contemporary journal called "a thoroughly scientific and practical education, preparatory to the profession of teaching."89 They did not go into the venture half-heartedly, taking pains to attract a Congregational minister of proven ability in this area, Samuel Read Hall, to run the

Park, "Earlier Annals," 43-44, contains an extended sketch of the Squire. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 149-79, sees Farrar as far more dominant than Adams. Fuess, An Old New England School, passim, assigns Farrar a somewhat lesser place though he acknowledges his importance.

87 88


Park, "Earlier Annals," 42-43. "The Curriculum of Phillips Academy," The Phillips Bulletin VII:3 (April 1913), 11, PAA Cited in ibid., 42.




Teachers' Seminary.90 In the end, though, the primary task of Phillips Academy was to prepare young men for the gospel ministry. Anything which diverted it from that appointed task was to be spun off into a separate endeavor. The Teachers' Seminary was a short-lived experiment, lasting only 12 years, but marked the willingness to experiment under Adams's administration.91 The innovations of Congregationalism in reaction worked. Phillips Academy changed in order to remain the same, and in the process secured the Academy for the faith through the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century. While Adams was headmaster, the behavioral norms of evangelical religion held sway. Novels, dancing, and smoking were forbidden, establishing the boarding schools' long war against student vices (Adams himself was a teetotaler but indulged in tobacco.)92 Yet contrary to the conclusions of Academy historians prone to stereotyping the stern Puritan schoolmaster, discipline appeared to be carried out with a measure of thoughtfulness, with genuine concern for the student. Adams used the rod but he also spared it. "Flogging is a strange work, a catastrophe to be avoided if possible, never to be used in anger, never publicly," he later wrote. "When you do punish, never dismiss the subject, not let the offender pass out of your hands so long as he exhibits a sullen, revengeful, or pouting temper."93 He

Paul H. Mattingly, The Classless Profession: American Schoolmen in the Nineteenth Century (New York: New York University Press, 1975), 28-30. The Teachers Seminary was absorbed into the larger Academy in 1842 as a separate and, to a great extent, autonomous English Department. The result was a school within the Academy, costing its students less, offering its own curriculum and setting its own standards. It remained for Cecil Bancroft to end this unwieldy arrangement in the 1870s. "The Curriculum of Phillips Academy,"12.

92 93 91


Fuess, An Old New England School, 172-76. Harriet Webster Marr, The Old New England Academies (New York: Comet Press, 1959), 137.


was also firmly convinced that punishment was a private affair, never to be carried out in front of others.94 The rhythms of the day were centered around the practice of evangelical piety, the centerpiece was the beginning and end of each day. A former student wrote:

The studies always opened in the morning and closed at night with religious services. The first half hour of every morning in particular was devoted to the reading of the Scriptures, the explanatory and practical remarks of the learned instructor, and to prayer. And it was understood by all, whatever might be the state of their own minds, that this religious exercise was regarded by the teacher [Adams] as one of preeminent importance.95

This morning exercise took place in the main school room, with the boys seated at their desks (with movable lids) and Adams at a "high table" mounted a step above the floor. After the older boys, serving as monitors, called the students to order, Adams rose and pronounced an invocation. He obviously abandoned Pearson's earlier practice of letting the Scriptures speak for themselves, offering an exposition on the passage himself or else reading from a theological commentary. A hymn was sung and an anthem might be played, all as preface to the academic work of the day.96 Not surprisingly, the constancy of these occasions could make for a perfunctory service in the eyes of some. A student in 1819 wrote tersely to his father, a U.S. Senator: "We study one hour and a half in the evening or morning just as you please and 8 hours in school besides; all the time we have it at night. When we go to school we have two prayers and sing; we have one prayer in

94 95 96

Park, "Earlier Annals," 38. quoted in Glover, Living and Dying, 11. Park, "Earlier Annals," 38-39.


the morning at 6 oclock and another in the evening at 9."97 The "Phillippians" also attended Sunday church with the Seminary students, hearing professors from the Seminary who were more than occasionally "long in preaching."98 The pietistic atmosphere which pervaded the school had its desired effect. Revivals took place periodically, not only in the chapel, but in the student dormitories as well, as students led many of the meetings. One recalled a revival meeting in a letter to his father:

The room was crowded, body and all, so that you could not have got through, but no one stirred. Sobbing and weeping was heard all round the room. William Adams, Allen, Styles, and I went round and conversed with them. They all burst into tears immediately and listened with the greatest eagerness.... They all seemed to fell very deeply, and all begged me earnestly to pray for them. We could not get them away. They stood round weeping and looking for someone to say something to them. Oh, my dear father, what can we render to God for all His mercies!99

Adams did not mince words about subjects he considered eternal. One hot day he told his class, "There will be a prayer meeting. Those who wish to lie down in everlasting burning may go; the rest will stay."100 His view of leisure time reflected the Puritan desire to be constantly about the business of "redeeming the time," for he told a student at one point, "You're on the direct road to hell. You're reading too many novels."101 Adams also

James L. Burrill to his parents, 25 June 1819. Burrill letters, PAA Archives. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 165, identifies young Burrill's father.

98 99


Jackson, Reminiscences of Andover, 12, 34.

cited in Paradise, Men of the Old School, 86. See also Park, "Earlier Annals," 39n1, for an account of student leadership in the religious impulses of the Academy.

100 101

Marr, The Old New England Academies, 79.

McGrew, "The Private School: A Study of an American Phenomenon," 33. For the decline of the Puritan view of leisure and the sanctification of spare time that occurred during the nineteenth century, see R. Laurence Moore, Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture (New York: Oxford, 1994), 91-117.


held prayer meetings at his house, and tried as best he could to carry on the tradition, recommended by the Select Committee, that the headmaster speak to each boy personally about his religious convictions.102 Overall, the results of all this depends on one's criteria. Adams's eulogizer, a former student named Livingston Maturin Glover, rhapsodically claimed that during Adam's tenure at the Academy, some 150 of his students "had become hopefully pious" and over 200 had gone into the Congregational ministry. While these are admirable numbers, it must also be admitted that they marked a fairly small percentage of the 1100-plus students who had attended Phillips Academy during the Adams era.103 The architects of innovative reaction continued the construction of their edifice with Adams's departure in 1833. His successor, Osgood Johnson, accomplished little in his three years, but he did maintain the course and at least the school did not experience the decline that it had under Newman in the early decades of the century.104 Johnson was succeeded by Samuel Taylor, the second of three patriarchal headmasters for Phillips Andover in the nineteenth century. Under the 34-year tenure of "Uncle Sam" Taylor, Puritan reaction at Andover reached its apogee. Taylor was quintessential Andover. His reputed lineage from the

102 103 104

Park, "Earlier Annals," 39-40. Glover, Living and Dying, 13.

Johnson served for only three years. He was so close to Samuel Taylor, his successor, that Johnson and Taylor's tenure may for all practical purposes be considered a single administration. On the relationship, see Phillips Academy Class of 1871, A Memorial of Samuel Harvey Taylor, Compiled by His Last Class (Andover, MA: Warren F. Draper, 1871), 18-19. Hereafter referred to as Taylor Memorial. The records of religious life in the school during Johnson's brief tenure are sparse. A letter from his wife to their son while a student at Dartmouth survives, in which the mother expresses her hope that the College's religious life, which was "at a low ebb" at the time, might improve. Letter from Mrs. Osgood Johnson to her son, 26 February 1835[?], Taylor Papers, PAA Archives.


Divine Dramatist, George Whitefield, lent itself nicely to a Calvinist sense that he was predestined to lead the school.105 He had graduated from Dartmouth (the college founded as an Indian mission, in which John Phillips had taken such interest) and then from Andover Seminary, so he was the first of PA's own to return and run the school.106 While at Andover, he had been heavily influenced by the Old Calvinist, Leonard Woods. A Seminary colleague later recounted, "Dr. Woods was pleased with his patient thought and conservative tendencies; for, throughout his life, Dr. Taylor cherished the principles and habits of conservatism. As a theological student, he was animated with a missionary spirit; and he earnestly deliberated on the question of devoting his life to the foreign service."107 In short, Taylor was ideally suited background, theology, and temperament to carry on the legacy of Samuel Phillips, Eliphalet Pearson, and Jedidiah Morse. In one respect, Taylor set himself apart from Adams. He was a fearsome disciplinarian. Indeed, Taylor's authoritarian reputation was so great that even the glossy funeral oratory of the nineteenth century could not ignore it. He was, said Edwards A. Park, a professor at Andover Seminary, "constitutionally fitted for a disciplinarian", with "a stern conscience, a keen sense of duty, a deep regard for obligation."108 As Park recalled, such qualities reached Olympian proportions Taylor's passion for instilling obedience:

105 106 107 108

Taylor Memorial, 10-11. Fuess, An Old New England School, 242. Taylor Memorial, 16.

Ibid., 19. Park was immensely influential in the mid-nineteenth-century debates within Congregationalism. See Joseph A. Conforti, "The Creation and Collapse of the New England Theology: Edwards A. Park and Andover Seminary, 1840-1881," in Jonathan Edwards, Religious Tradition, and American Culture (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, 1995), 108-144.


The future well-being of his pupils required it. He believed that one of the dangers to which this democratic land lies exposed is a disregard for law: he therefore believed that he was performing an act of kindness to his pupils when he was accustoming them to obey. He believed that, if they would yield their wills to the authority of a school, they would more easily yield their individual interests to the civil government, and would be more apt to prostrate themselves before the Infinite Ruler and Sovereign.109

Students did not lack for opportunities to learn such allegiance. Harper' s Magazine reported that students were forbidden a wide range of activities: among others, "To be found any where but in one's room during study hours was regarded as a crime which by accident only had been omitted from the Decalogue."110 Students were variously expelled during Taylor's years for breaking the Sabbath, consumption of alcoholic beverages, or even "failing to catch the Spirit of the Academy." Late in his career, Taylor's draconian reaction to a case of class-cutting, in which he expelled five students, provoked a first-rate reaction from the students in an incident known as the Revolt of 1867.111 Taylor not only punished offenses, but appears to have sought them out. An Academy alumnus, Nathaniel Miles, was sneaking back with a friend from a surreptitious visit to the girls at "Fem Sem" (the nearby Abbot Academy), when they saw Taylor leave his house, an action which forced them into a pasture where they were unable to move

109 110 111

"Memorial Address by Prof. Edwards A. Park," Taylor Memorial, 20. "A Group of Classical Schools," Harper' 565. s,

Fuess, An Old New England School, 268-75. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 197-99, also has an account of the affair. It began when three students determined to skip their Saturday morning classes to go swimming, and two others went to Boston to see a baseball game. All five were expelled by Taylor, provoking half the class to boycott classes the following Monday. Taylor expelled them all. In addition to the resentment over such a draconian punishment for a minor offense, much of the students' anger was due to the fact that one of the students was nearly thirty, had been admitted to college, and had been a Civil War hero. Little wonder that such harsh measures struck them as unfair. In retrospect, the Board thought so, too: the students were retroactively reinstated in 1903. Some of the students gained a more immediate revenge as many of them chose to do additional preparation and attend apostate Harvard.


without being apprehended. "Dr. Taylor walked slowly out his yard, turned down the street, and stopped under a tree, where he was completely invisible in the dense darkness. Here he stood over an hour to nab any boy that happened to pass, or perhaps to overhear a conversation.... [A]fter waiting an hour without accomplishing anything, he went back into his house."112 All this was done with a New England reserve and commitment to duty that seems from a later perspective to have robbed the entire enterprise of its joy. Writers and speakers in the Memorial that was published to honor Taylor repeatedly noted this. One wrote that "His piety was not of that kind which often effervesces into rhapsody; but it was sound and deep. It was remarkable for its freedom from pretence and parade. It was characterized, not so much by a fervor of utterance as by a readiness to deny himself for the sake of duty." Another student noted that "we came to understand what a warm heart there always was beneath his usual and natural reserve of manner," but it must have taken a great deal of mining to get to that point.113 The religious life which accompanied this diligence would have made Cotton Mather feel at home. Alumni later recalled a typical school day beginning with morning prayers at 8:30:

The moment Dr. Taylor appeared at the door, we all rose, and remained standing while he ascended to the desk, and uttered...the invocation. A chapter of the New Testament was then read aloud by the scholars...; and then the doctor, while sitting in his chair, frequently gave us a clear and pungent exposition of some text in the morning lesson which was adapted to our religious needs. I can almost hear at this moment his heavy and sonorous voice as he uttered some great truths of revelation, and said, 'Notice these points, young men; weigh them well.' After offering the morning prayer, he often arose and made us an address; sometimes

112 113

Fuess, An Old New England School, 262. Taylor Memorial, 48; see also 92, 94-95, and 111.


managing in a masterly manner a case of discipline in the school... Occasionally he threw the whole weight of his character against some foolish opinion which was taking possession of our minds, and in a few minutes chased it away, as a fog is scattered by a sharp wind. We listened to those remarks as though our destiny depended upon them...114

Students attended Sunday chapel, together with the Seminary students. Since the pulpit was usually filled by a Professor from the Seminary, the sermons were more often than not pitched at a high theological level, an arrangement which drew mixed reactions. Susan Jackson ­ probably a faculty daughter ­ recalled the eminent Professor Park's sermons fondly: "Even when, like Paul at Troas, `he was long preaching,' the Academy boys hung spellbound on his words and could recall them long years afterward."115 A former student, Charles Phillips Taft, had a different assessment:

Prof. Stowe gave us another terrible long sermon this afternoon which pretty nearly used me up.... I have just come from the Chapel where I heard Prof. Park preach one of his sermons of an hour in length. The chief thing that he seemed to be driving at was, that there was no end to eternity. I would not make anything else out of it. As I hear Prof. Park is going to preach this afternoon, I thing it will be expedient for me to begin my letter now while I am not quite so sleepy as I expect to be after hearing him.116

Student life outside of their curricular and extracurricular activities was also governed by the school's commitment to conservative Protestantism. Gradually through the years, the idea of boarding the students in town had given way to dormitory or "Commons" living, though some students still sought individual families in nearby homes. Interestingly, there seems to have been less adult supervision of these living

114 115 116

"Reminiscences of a Pupil of Dr. Taylor," Taylor Memorial, 112. Susan E. Jackson, Reminiscences of Andover, 34. Paradise, Men of the Old School, 202. Taft was a half-brother of the future President.


arrangements than there was to be in the following century; instead, the boys were largely left on their own, the older students looking out for the younger through a formal system of governance which included selection of "Monitors" who helped keep order. The school appears to have policed only the infractions which came to a master's attention. The "Laws of the Academic Commons" announced its basic purposes: "It shall be the duty of all to live together as a band of brothers, act upon Christian principles, avoid levity, jesting, loose language, and every thing inconsistent with the character of young gentlemen."117 Many of the rules and regulations of modern dorm life are present' albeit with a conservative religious tinge. Students were not to remove furniture from the building, excessive noise was forbidden, and rooms were to be swept, though an exemption was made for the Sabbath. Card-playing, dancing and smoking (the latter they got right) was also prohibited.118 Even the old Puritan belief in the pagan nature of Christmas was honored: school was held rather than celebrate the "Papist" holiday.119 As it had under Adams, revival occurred from time to time under Johnson and Taylor. A student later recalled that a revival in 1834 produced 60 conversions, many of whom later went into the ministry.120 The Academy also experienced the Revival of 1857, though to what extent is not known.121 Though obviously deserving of sharp



118 119

"Laws of the Academic Commons," undated mss. in Taylor Papers, PAA Archives. Italics in Paradise, Men of the Old School, 51.

Fuess, An Old New England School, 291; Paradise, 199, cites the reminiscences of Charles Taft, who was at Andover in 1859-60 and recalled that P.A. "ignored the celebration of Christmas." The school broke for Thanksgiving, a far more "Christian" holiday, instead.

120 121

Horace Eaton to C.F.P. Bancroft, 28 May 1878. PAA Archives; cited in Allis, 721. Jackson, Reminiscences of Andover, 34.


scrutiny, Taylor's reports to the Board also indicate a high level of religious interest: "During the winter term," he wrote in 1847, "there was much more than the usual earnestness on the subject of religion; I have rarely witnessed a more happy state of feeling among the professors of religion, and it is with devout gratitude that we hope that eight or ten were savingly converted."122 The more pious students labored for such conversions in prayer through class and school-wide prayer meetings.123 A student in 1856 reported that the first prayer meeting of the term crowded "as nearly as many people as could get into [the room]." 124 One alumnus of the 1830s described the fruits of their labors in more detail in a letter to his father:

The room was crowded, body and all, so that you could not have got through, but no one stirred. Allen, Style, and I went round and conversed with them. They all burst into tears immediately and listened with the greatest eagerness....They all seemed to feel very deeply, and all begged me earnestly to pray for them. We could not get them away. They stood round weeping and looking for someone to say something to them. Oh, my dear father, what can we render to God for all His mercies!125

An account in 1859 provides some idea as to the emotions of those who responded:

My Dear Aunt, I hasten to communicate to you the joyful news that within a few days I have begun to realize that there is something else to live for besides the gratification of self, and that pleasure should not be the only aim of my life. In fact, I have found that peace for which my soul has been seeking in vain so many years, and which indeed `passeth understanding.' For years I have thot [sic; "thought"] more or less on the subject of religion and have always thot, that at some future time would become a Christian but I never resolved to begin a new life immediately. It was always a matter for future action as well as contemplation and I have

122 123 124 125

Fuess, An Old New England School, 251. Ibid., 252. Simon McQueston to "Friend," 17 Sept. 1856, in The Phillips Bulletin, January 1921, 24-25. Paradise, Men of the Old School, 86.


always endeavored to throw off the serious thots which have visited me from time to time, and always made me unhappy. Thanks the good God that he has out of his abundant mercy brot [sic; "brought"] me to a right understanding of my real condition, and that I have a hope which I would not exchange for untold gold or the highest earthly honors. Alas that I have so long withstood the stirrings of that `still small voice' when I might have been enjoying such seasons of true happiness, and might not only have possessed peace myself, but have brot joy to the hearts of a numerous circle of friends and relatives, which have importuned God for my conversion times insurmountable. And my dear Aunt ­ does it not prove conclusively that our heavenly father is a prayer hearing and a prayer answering God.... I suffered intensely for sometime before I could be brought to now in humble submission to him who rules heaven and earth, even Jehovah. I read the Bible with new emotions of pleasure and its teachings now seem simply and plain, and then how different the feelings with which I enter the house of God, and there listen to the preaching of his word. How beautiful the passage, `Remember now thy Creator in the day of thy youth[,]' so simple[,] so easy and yet I just begin to understand that if was meant for me. With the grace of God, I mean to press forward in the Christian life assured as I am that `Life is the time to serve the Lord. The time to insure the great reward. I pray for strength and wisdom to be useful to guide and direct many to that Savior who holds out so many invitations for all to come and drink at that fountain of living waters.126

Not all of the students were so affected. One student later offered that "educationally and morally I believe [Taylor] to have been a humbug."127 Isaac Stevens of the Class of 1833 was outspoken about his Unitarian convictions; once, when his sisters came to an Andover revival meeting and began to yield to the preacher's exhortations by taking a seat on the "mourners bench," Stevens marched to the front and insisted that they leave the room with him.128 Perhaps one graduate, Augustine F. Hewitt, reacted most strongly against the evangelical revivalism at Andover: he became a Roman

126 127 128

"Charlie" to his Aunt, 3 March 1859. Samuel Taylor papers, PAA Archives. G.H. Palmer to [C.P. F.] Bancroft, 5 February 1888. Samuel Taylor Papers, PAA Archives.

Paradise, Men of the Old School, 167. The experience of defying Taylor may have prepared him well for his role as a general in the Civil War.


Catholic.129 On other graduates, however, the evangelical Puritanism of the school left its mark. Two of the more religiously prominent graduates included the abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld, who went on to become a prototypical evangelical reformer of the antebellum era, and Henry Durant, future President of the University of California.130 On the whole, traditional Congregationalism was alive and flourishing at midcentury Andover. Those who disliked it simply chose other options.131 What strikes the student of evangelical life in modern America is the extent to which the religious atmosphere of the school translated into high academic standards. Contemporary scholars have noted the anti-intellectual bent to which conservative Protestantism can turn, but such was emphatically not the case at Andover under Samuel Taylor.132 Taylor himself led the way. He published several workbooks for preparation in Latin and Greek with suggestions as to how to properly teach Nepos, Virgil, Cicero, and Homer, and so the classical curriculum was furthered at the Academy (as it was in most

Augustine F. Hewitt, "Why I Became a Roman Catholic," The Catholic World 46:271 (October 1887), 33. Available: [Online] Cornell University, The Making of America,, accessed 7 July 2002. On the strong relationship between Weld's evangelical faith and his anti-slavery activities, see Donald W. Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 25-34. The relationship between Andover and Weld's religious convictions is problematic: Weld was converted by Charles Finney in a crusade in upstate New York after he had left the Academy. Weld's account of this, however, may well have depicted himself as more of a sinner than he was, in order to claim more credit for Finney than was rightly due the evangelist. On Durant, see Marsden, The Soul of the American University, 135-141. Durant served as the University's first President toward the end of his lifetime and exerted a palpable, if not quite permanent, religious influence on the school. Claude M. Fuess, the erstwhile Unitarian, claimed that the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes refused to send his son and namesake to Andover in the 1840s because of the school's conservative religion, and so the future Supreme Court justice attended Boston Latin. Claude M. Fuess, Reminiscences of Claude M. Fuess, Columbia Oral History Project, 23 January 1962 (New York: The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 1962), 247.

132 131 130


Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1994).


academies in the country).133 From 1851 until his death in 1871, he also edited Bibliotecha Sacra, a leading theological journal of the nineteenth century.134 The overall tone of Phillips Academy was one of rigorous expectation and high academic achievement. Masters at the Academy were not reluctant to fail students if they were not measuring up. One boy wrote to his father, complaining that in a recent Greek class, "there were 37 `flunks' to 7 good recitations, and out of the seven probably only two or three did not make one mistake."135 His father was doubtless delighted. The rigor proceeded according to the academic standards of the day. American education in the nineteenth century was conducted in a Baconian fashion, with enormous emphasis on the collection and classification of data. Contemporary educational theory, as articulated by philosophers such as Herbert Spencer, "unavoidably cherished the notion that a child's mind could be made to order; that its powers were to be imparted by the schoolmaster; that it was a receptacle into which knowledge was to be put, and there built up after the teacher's ideal."136 Andover students had for years remarked on the

Method of Classical Study: Illustrated by Questions on a Few Selections from Latin and Greek Authors (Boston: Brown and Taggard, 1861); copy in PAA Archives. See George H. Cross, "A Farm Boy at the Academy Fifty Years Ago," The Phillips Bulletin, April 1926, 26-27; Taylor Memorial, 36-39. Taylor also translated several textbooks, one of which was Raphael Kuhner, Grammar of the Greek Language, for the use of High Schools and Colleges, transl. By B.B. Edwards and S. H. Taylor (New York: Mark H. Newman, 1844). The work was favorably reviewed in the conservative Princeton Review, which called it "a great elevation of the standard of classical instruction in our country." (The Princeton Review, 16:3 (July 1844), 457-58, Available: [Online]: Cornell University, The Making of America,, accessed 6 July 2002.)

134 135


Taylor Memorial, 38.

Deming letter, in Frederick S. Allis, "Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah. Write, Write, Write," Andover Bulletin, April 1960, 4. There was some indication that the preparation was stronger in classical languages than in mathematics, for at one point the weakness of PA students in this area incited a complaint from the Yale faculty who were inheriting them. However, this was not the first time that college faculty blamed the secondary institution for the shortcomings of their students. See Henry M. Saville, A Schoolboy's Letters of Seventy-Seven Years Ago (Boston: R.G. Badger, 1930), 76; cited in Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 723.


quoted in Fuess, An Old New England School, 249.


amount of sheer memory work involved in their education.137 Yet even this was set in place with an eye toward furthering their faith. John W. Churchill, who taught Elocution at the Academy for 34 years while also teaching under an appointment at the Seminary, later recalled that to Taylor, faith in God was nothing more than "cultivated logic" based on data. "Facts must not only be collected, but weighed, compared, and classified; and this taught us method. With a start in these four things, ­ accuracy, attention, logic, and method, ­ he equipped us for college."138 The worthiest area of study was the classical world, which afforded an example of the highest civilization.139 Taylor's twin commitment to a classical curriculum and to Baconian learning was effective in the relative short run of his lifetime in instilling theological orthodoxy in the students and maintaining it at Phillips Academy. Knowledge of the classical world undergirded a learned ministry and proper selection and organization of facts made sense of the world God had created. For Samuel Taylor, as for Adams, Pearson and Phillips before him, the overwhelming goal of education was salvation.140 In their bifurcated world, one way led to heaven and the other to...Harvard. The latter was to be avoided at all costs, and this effort shaped the curriculum of Andover for three-quarters of a century, and its college admissions patterns long after that. In the nineteenth century, colleges required different textbooks for preparation for admission, and Adams and Taylor

137 138

Paradise, Men of the Old School, 70, 86, 149.

"Sermon by J.W. Churchill," in Taylor Memorial, 87-88. Fuess, An Old New England School, 320-22, gives biographical information on Churchill.

139 140

Taylor Memorial, 22-35, 39-44.

Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in SeventeenthCentury New England (New York: Harper's, 1966), 90-92.


consciously made sure that the texts of Harvard were not in the curriculum of Phillips Academy.141 As a result, as early as 1811, Andover students were being steered elsewhere, and by mid-century there was what one student called "a deeply rutted road to Yale."142 In the final seven years of Taylor's administration, Andover sent fewer than six students per year to Harvard (compared with Exeter's 27 per year).143 If theologies have colors, Calvinism in nineteenth century New England was Eli blue, whereas Unitarianism was crimson. In the end, however, Samuel Taylor's administration was a failure. There was a palpable sense of difference from Adams's administration to Taylor's. Under Adams, the Academy was a vibrant place, swept up in the enthusiasm and excitement of carrying out the high vision of preserving orthodox Congregationalism. There was a sense of urgency and dynamism to the enterprise as one idea after another was put into effect: the Seminary, the benevolent agencies, the Teachers Seminary, even the Select Committee. By Taylor's time, though, the commitment to conserve was no longer innovative. It had stultified, hardening into an unyielding ideology that sanctified tradition. Samuel Taylor lost sight of a central truth, that in the face of a constantly changing world, Christian endeavors must constantly be willing to try new methods and means in order to maintain their core vision. John Adams did this successfully until he departed in 1833, but Taylor

A student at Phillips Exeter noted that "If we were going to Harvard, we used Euler's Algebra; if to Dartmouth or Yale, Day's." William Gilman Perry, "In the Thirties," Phillips Exeter Academy Bulletin, Vol. III, No. 1 (March 1907), 28.

142 143


Fuess, An Old New England School, 163, 243-44.

Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 312. These affinities were part of the larger New England pattern in which rural western Massachusetts men tended to go to Yale, Brown or (after it was chartered in 1825) Amherst. Harvard drew from the more urban and cosmopolitan eastern part of the state. Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 9.


failed, taking traditional Congregationalism in a Napoleonic retreat to irrelevance as the world passed by the Old Calvinists at Andover. Denominational historians have tended to greatly exaggerate the death of Old Calvinism in New England in the nineteenth century, or they have antedated it by placing it in the second decade of the century.144 Andover's experience, however, would appear to confirm the conclusion offered by Daniel Day Williams, who placed it in the 1880s.145 At least until Samuel Taylor's death in 1871, Phillips Academy remained a final citadel

144 145

von Rohr, The Shaping of American Congregationalism, 192. Williams, The Andover Liberals [1941 ed.], 1.


of Old Calvinism, a city of Puritanism entrenched on one of its last hills on the American landscape.



Phillips Andover had responded to the galeforce winds of the 1805 battle over the Hollis Chair at Harvard by battening down all hatches and hoisting the storm sail of Old Calvinism in an effort to survive the storm and perhaps even change its course. At John Phillips's Academy at Exeter, however, the response was entirely different. In the first two decades of the nineteenth century, Principal Benjamin Abbot and the Board of Trustees pursued a different tack, going with the winds, consenting to being taken wherever they blew, and hoping that the ultimate destination might prove favorable. However, Poseidon proved to be a poor servant, and the stormy seas more than a little treacherous for the school. For in responding to the Ware controversy, Exeter changed its original mission and purpose, jettisoning its moderate Congregationalism in a relatively brief period of time. This did not go uncontested as conservatives, predominantly Hopkinsian Calvinists, sought to maintain orthodox Congregationalism at Exeter and so preserve the legacy of John Phillips. In the short run they were able to do so with some success through their dominance of the position of Theological Instructor and by taking advantage of the Academy's unique relationship with one of the town churches. Ultimately, though, after a twenty-year standoff in which the fundamental issues remained unresolved, the two sides engaged in a pitched battle for the soul of the academy. By 1840 the issue had been settled. Exeter became a Unitarian school. 120

The story of Exeter's experience in the nineteenth century begins off campus, neatly illustrating the point that Andover and Exeter were not independent entities acting entirely on their own, but were caught up both in state and local affairs as well as in the larger religious controversies of New England. Two developments, one involving the two Congregational churches in the town of Exeter and the other a statute passed by the state legislature, decisively shaped the long-term shift in the Academy's religious orientation. Since its inception in 1747 as a result of the split between New Lights and Old during the Great Awakening, the Second Congregational Church of Exeter had experienced a long period of stability under the leadership of Rev. Daniel Rogers, the friend of Whitefield, until Rogers's death in 1785. As an evangelical New Light Church favorably disposed toward Whitefield's style of preaching and the new means, it had not had the benefit of legal support from the town that the original First Congregational Church possessed, and much of the early history of the "New Parish" or "Second Church" involved trying to gain legal establishment, with the all important tax revenues. In 1755, the state granted this. Newcomers to the town would no longer automatically be added to the rolls of First Church, but would instead have three months of residence in which to decide which of the two parishes to join.1 At the same time, amity increased between the two congregations as the original perpetrators of the division died off and the emotions spawned by the Great Awakening waned. Some pulpit-sharing occurred, and transferal of memberships appears to have become routine. A common communion

Marilyn J. Easton, Five Pastors, 1638-1895: A History Compiled from the Archives of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire,, and Printed in 1998 in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the Current Meeting House (n.p. [privately printed], 1997), 31. Copy in the Town of Exeter Historical Society. Easton is a local historian whose doctoral training is in psychology.



service was even held in 1788 and seemed to some to signify a very real comity of fellowship, with the attendant possibility that the two parishes might soon be reunited. Theological differences prevented this, however, for evangelicals continued to control New Parish. Second Church remained the smaller of the two, struggling for membership; clearly it was a stretch for the small town to support two Congregational churches. One indication of this is that Second Parish lacked a full time minister for nine years after Rogers's death. Not until 1794 did Rev. Joseph Brown, a man "in the Whitefield succession," agree to take the pulpit.2 Second Church was also the less socially prestigious of the two. First Church boasted in its membership a number of prominent citizens, including Jeremiah Smith, New Hampshire Chief Justice; John Sullivan, who had served as President of the state during the political vacuum after the Declaration of Independence and before the formation of the state constitution (during which time the government had met in Exeter); New Hampshire Governor John Taylor Gilman; and Oliver Peabody, a prominent lawyer in the town of Exeter.3 In contrast, Second Church lost its most prominent town member when John Phillips died in 1795. The older church had its own problems, however, for it was a faction-riven congregation. In mid-September, 1803, a cabal of congregants of First Church, led by two unnamed men, met at the home of a prominent judge, Samuel Tenney, to confer about their pastor, William F. Rowland.4 Their stated complaint about Rowland was that

2 3 4

Street, Commemorative Discourse, 5. Easton, Five Pastors, 27.

"Letter to the Reverend Doctor Daniel Dana," New Parish records, Town of Exeter Historical Society. The context of the letter indicates it was written in 1838, after the Hurd controversy had broken out.


his preaching was dry, with a "disregard of lucid arrangement in his discourses" and given to "vulgar and disgusting epithets, ungrammatical expressions, and incorrect figures, pompous, and florid, not sensible and elegant."5 However, town politics and personal animosities may well have contributed to the revolt, for two men were later said to have quarreled with Rowland.6 More significantly, though, was the role of theology. The pastor was a graduate of conservative Dartmouth; the seven men who met were all from Harvard, itself just entering the Ware controversy. The Unitarian controversy had come to Exeter, New Hampshire. The group proceeded to constitute itself as "The Committee for the Associated Brethren." A later chronicler of the Church's history described them as "strenuous men...who do not yield to common obstacles, yet who wished to proceed in a legitimate manner."7 Their first move was to launch a correspondence with Rowland designed to hound him out of the parish. Rowland, however, dug in his heels and refused to budge, confident of the support of the majority of the church's members. (In this respect, the incident may shed some light on the broader rearrangement of social relations of the early national period, as social inferiors showed increasing tendencies to disregard the wishes of their "betters." It must have been truly disconcerting to men such as Smith, Sullivan and Gilman to have their wishes frustrated.) The Associated Brethren were therefore caught in a dilemma of their own making. They were too few to establish a third Congregational church in the small town,

5 6 7

Easton, Five Pastors, 27-28. "Letter to Dana," 1. Street, Discourse, 8.


yet to remain in First Church with Rowland entrenched and their wishes snubbed would be humiliating for such a socially prestigious group of men. However, they found an ingenious way out and applied for membership in the struggling Second Church. Since John Phillips's death in 1795, the church became virtually moribund. Rev. Brown departed after only three years in 1797, possibly because no one was paying his salary. The parish fell into virtual disuse and there were only nine families on its rolls.8 Yet it was still legally established, and thus the secessionists would not need to undertake the politically laborious task of establishing yet another church with a claim on the town tax revenues. Second Church's Elder in charge of such matters, likely unnerved by the request, initially pleaded that there was no mechanism to transfer memberships, but this was clearly not so in light of recent practice and the parish eventually acceeded to the request. The congregation of First Church responded by thumbing their financial noses at the Associated Brethren, voting to give Pastor Rowland a raise.9 The Second Church cabal moved slowly and did not write a "Confession of Faith and Covenant" until 1813. On the surface it was a fairly orthodox statement of Christian belief, but it is noteworthy for its brevity. There are virtually no requirements stated to hold membership in the Church, as all discussion of baptism, conversion, or millennial expectations are omitted. This lack of definition would have been particularly important for early nineteenth-century Unitarians increasingly inclined to question the doctrine of

Historical Sketch of Second Parish, Exeter, N.H., Together with the Creed, List of Members, Etc. (Exeter, NH: News-Letter Press, 1875), 5-6; [Gideon Soule], "A view of the controversy between Mr. Hurd, the Parish and the Trustees of the P[hillips] E[xeter] Academy," n.d., unnumbered page following 21.Theological Instructors Papers, PEA Archives. The manuscript is not signed but is clearly in Soule's hand. Hereafter referred to as "Soule's Reply to Hurd."



Easton, Five Pastors, 28-30, 32..


the Trinity, and offers a strong clue as to the theological persuasions of the Associated Brethren.10 The "Confession" was orthodox enough to retain the Calvinists, yet its ambiguity and omissions could also accommodate the views of the "New Departure", as Unitarians were termed. It was a politically masterful document and stands in stark contrast to the lengthy "Articles of Faith" of the First Church that they had left.11 Some three times as long, that creed spelled out orthodox Calvinist doctrines such as predestination ("You believe, that God, before the foundation of the world, chose some of our apostate race, in Christ unto holiness and salvation") and the visible church. It also described in detail the "covenant obligations" of the congregants including baptism, attendance at communion, and the obligation to raise their children in the faith, all of which were absent in the broader "Confession" of Second Church.12 Once again Second Church was roiling the town of Exeter. The evangelical New Light church of the Great Awakening was now in the hands of Unitarians. Several blocks away, First Church remained as it had in the Great Awakening, resisting the changes and holding to a more conservative Congregationalism. The takeover of Second Church and its reconstitution as a liberal Christian church is of more than passing interest to the fortunes of Phillips Exeter Academy since the Academy's headmaster, trustees, and faculty were significantly involved. Of the Associated Brethren, Smith, Gilman, and Peabody made up three of the seven trustees of

"Confession of Faith and Covenant," Second Church, 1813. Copy in the Town of Exeter Historical Society; Charles H. Bell, History of Exeter, New Hampshire (Exeter: Heritage Books, 1979 [1888]), 198. Street, Commemorative Discourse, 23, says it was still in use at the end of the century.

11 12


Street, Commemorative Discourse, 7. "Articles of Faith," First Church. Copy in the Town of Exeter Historical Society.


the Academy. Principal Abbot was also heavily involved, as the 1813 "Confession" is written in his hand. An Exeter faculty member, Hosea Hildreth, served as clerk of Second Church and, in the absence of a full-time minister, he also frequently filled its pulpit. Hildreth was a graduate of Harvard in 1805 (at the height of the Ware controversy) and was appointed to the Academy faculty in 1811. A colleague later described him as "a man of eminent ability and fine scholarship, fill of quaint wit and irony, with an exceedingly expressive face."13 However, Hildreth became another in a long line of boarding school masters who discovered that there was little time to pursue interests outside of the Academy, and so in 1815 resigned as clerk of Second Church. During the ensuing year, the parish's pulpit was frequently supplied by none other than Henry Ware, Jr., son of the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard, who also did some teaching at the Academy.14 The efforts of the Associated Brethren had not been a rousing success, and Second Parish continued to struggle. Too small to attract a full-time minister and too large to fold, the Church limped along. This uncertain situation held until 1819, when a law passed by the New Hampshire state legislature caused Unitarians and Congregationalists alike to reexamine their polities. The American revolution had caused many Americans to rethink the relationship between church and state, and in particular the existence of established churches which received town tax revenue. Not all Americans favored disestablishment by any means. In

Joseph G. Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," in Miscellaneous Writings: Addresses, Lectures, and Reviews (Boston: Crosby and Nichols, 1863), 245.



Street, Commemorative Discourse, 12.


New Hampshire the situation was contentious enough that in 1791 the legislature enacted a local option law. Individual towns could now decide for themselves "whether to enact religious taxes, how to regulate their collection, and how to provide for exemptions."15 By 1819, however, fully half the towns in the state, Exeter among them, had declined to exercise the local option of disestablishing their churches. Matters stood this way until 1819, when the Democratic-Republicans won control of the legislature, they passed a Toleration Act which ended the practice entirely.16 Phillips Exeter Academy was a Federalist stronghold. Of the trustees, John Taylor Gilman, Samuel Tenney, Jeremiah Smith, and Oliver Peabody were all part of the "Exeter Junto," a group identified by David Hackett Fischer as "a little clique of conservative gentlemen, united by temperament, principle, and state patronage."17 All three displayed a distrust for excessive democracy, though Gilman appears to have done so with more attention to integrity and principle than did Peabody.18 Unlike many "Old Federalists" identified by Fischer, however, Gilman and Peabody appear to have been

15 Leonard W. Levy, The Establishment Clause: Religion and the First Amendment (New York: Macmillan, 1986), 39. 16 17

Ibid., 40-41. Religious tests for officeholding in the state did not end until 1876.

David Hackett Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism: The Federalist Party in the Era of Jeffersonian Democracy (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 229-231, 233-234. To this list, Fischer might have added the names of Paine Wingate, a trustee for two decades until his retirement in 1809; and John Pickering, a founding trustee. See Clifford K. Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College, Vol. XIV, 1756-1760 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1968), 533-548; and Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College, Vol. XV, 1761-1765 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1970), 91-96. According to Fischer, "If John Taylor Gilman personifies the virtues of the old school, Oliver Peabody represents its vices." Peabody was apparently less than scrupulous as to the distinction between private and public funds, at times placing "state funds at the disposal of the `wise and good' for purposes of private speculation." This raises the possibility that Peabody deployed state funds for the benefit of PEA. See Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism, 229-230.



men of fundamental religious faith. Judge Smith was representative of a younger generation of Federalists whose evangelical enthusiasm set them apart from "Old Federalists" who had initially carved out opposition to the party of Jefferson.19 He had been appointed to the bench by John Adams and a decade later went on to play an important role in resisting Democratic-Republican encroachment on another of his favorite educational institutions, Dartmouth College. When they tried to rewrite the charter of Dartmouth College in what was essentially a hostile takeover, he had formulated many of the legal arguments which Exeter alumnus Daniel Webster had employed in pursuing the case to the case to the Supreme Court. There, Justice John Marshall had invoked the sanctity of contracts doctrine and decided in favor of the college.20 PEA Instructor Hosea Hildreth was also appalled at the disestablishment. Fearing that it marked the end of organized religion in the nation, over the next few years he delivered several discourses "in the hope of contributing something toward strengthening what remains of religious institutions in the State."21 His choice of Scripture for one of his speeches, from the third chapter of John's apocalyptic book of the Revelation, was telling: "Strengthen things that remain, that are ready to die." Hildreth and Federalists like him saw in disestablishment the end of law and prosperity, maintaining that "morality grounded on evangelical principles, is the only

19 20

Ibid., 48.

Irving H. Bartlett, Daniel Webster (New York: W.W. Norton, 1978), 76-77; Garraty and Carnes, eds., American National Biography, s.v. "Smith, Jeremiah" by Francis N. Stiles. Smith retired from the bench in 1820 and became President of a branch of the Bank of the United States in Exeter. He also served as the Academy's Treasurer from 1828-1842. Levy, The Establishment Clause, 39-40, calls him a Unitarian, though he gets Smith's first name wrong, calling him "Jedidiah." Hosea Hildreth, Two Discourses to Townsmen (Exeter, NH: J.B. Williams, 1824), 3. Town of Exeter Historical Society.



proper foundation of obedience to the laws" and that "temporal prosperity of towns, is intimately connected with their moral and religious welfare." With disestablishment would come a decline in "habits of industry and sobriety," "regular observation of the Sabbath," and a decline in moral instruction in schools. The result would be ­ Hildreth was not prone to gentle rhetoric ­ "moral desolation."22 In his second address, he elaborated:

I believe these churches have been the means of preserving among us, more than all other means, a sense of God's providence and of a world to come; of holding up, in a multitude of honourable examples, a standard of Christian character, which had been, and still is, of invaluable benefit to the community. I believe, if these churches are forsaken, and finally become extinct, that no regular institutions of religion will soon be established in their place; and that the name, as well as the influence of Christianity, will be in danger of disappearing from the land.23

The discourses are a good reminder that in the fluid religious and political arrangements of the day, theological liberalism did not necessarily translate into support for disestablishment. The corridor connecting the Calvinist and Federalist wings of the castle remained strong even as the Unitarians were renovating a portion of the Calvinist section of it.24 One implication of this is that while theological issues were in the process of making Phillips Exeter into quite a different place than Phillips Andover, the two were

Ibid., 6, 8-9, 14. The same volume contains "Extracts from Dr. Dana's Election Sermon, 1823," in which Dana echoes the same sentiments.

23 24


Ibid., 18.

Alan Heimert, Religion and the American Mind: From the Great Awakening to the Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), 535, calls the Calvinist-Federalist connection "a commonplace of history." However, he notes that some Calvinists who distrusted the untrammeled economic rhetoric of the Federalists as too temporal aligned themselves with Jefferson's party. Jedidiah Morse of Andover is one whom he calls "a rabid Federalist." See also Phillips, Jedidiah Morse and New England Congregationalism, 4; James M. Banner, Jr., To the Hartford Convention: The Federalists and the Origins of Party Politics in Massachusetts, 1798-1815 (New York: Knopf, 1970), 148-67, 197-215; Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism, 253.


quite similar in their devotion to the Federalist party. Henry May has noted that opposition to Jeffersonian deism ­ which implied a critique of egalitarian politics and the French Revolution as well as an endorsement of conspiracy theories ­ formed a powerful bond between Old Calvinists, Hopkinsians, incipient Unitarians, and Presbyterians, one which gave them a common front and helped ameliorate their theological differences.25 As we have seen, Old Calvinist and Phillips Andover board member Jedidiah Morse led the charge. When May writes that "no group joined the Morse crusade more enthusiastically than the authorities of American colleges," he might have added the young academies at Andover, Exeter, and, as we shall see, Lawrenceville as well.26 Hildreth's tone also affords a window into the sense of crisis that the Act of Toleration heightened among both the faculty at Exeter Academy and the Associated Brethren of Second Church. Certainly things at PEA seemed to have slipped a bit. Formal instruction of religion had lapsed under Abbot, and there were no courses in religious instruction offered in the curriculum.27 (The difference stands in stark contrast to Phillips Andover, which at the same time was undergoing the scrutiny of the Select Committee and beginning the tenure of Principal Adams.) Student reminiscences of the era centered around the "cultivated society" of literary readings, toasts, and mingling with prestigious

David Hackett Fischer's interpretation is somewhat more nuanced, maintaining that the alignments were more the product of self-interest: those who felt they had something to gain from closer relationship between church and state tended to be Federalists, whereas those who feared that continued establishment of churches would facilitate the spread of "Arminianism, Unitarianism, or worse"; Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism, 224. Henry F. May, The Enlightenment in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 269273; quote on 269.

27 26


Broadsheet entitled "Phillips Exeter Academy," 1818, in Catalogue files, PEA Archives.


people; religion is rarely mentioned.28 At the same time, Second Church still needed a minister and was now faced with the loss of town tax revenues. Given the overlap of Academy trustees with Second Church, it is not surprising that they sought a single solution to both problems. In 1818, they made a joint appointment to a Reverend Isaac Hurd, who was to teach theology to the Phillips Exeter students and also devote himself to preaching at Second Church. Lengthy negotiations had preceded the final arrangements. In late 1816, Second Church had made an offer to Hurd, who had been filling the pulpit, to remain as the "settled" minister at a salary of $650 per year.29 Hurd rejected the offer, though whether he did so because of the low salary or a vague description of duties later became the subject of heated dispute.30 However, at the request of Abbot, Peabody and Gilman ­ the Academy Principal and two trustees ­ he remained in the pulpit on a temporary basis while the negotiations continued. The following April, Second Church proposed a joint appointment: might the Academy employ Hurd as Theological Instructor and allow him to preach at Second Church on Sundays (and perhaps undertake some other pastoral duties as well)? Jeremiah Smith and Nathaniel Gilman were appointed to approach the Academy with the idea.31 The proposition made a good deal of sense from the point of

"Autobiography of Nathaniel Whitman," 28 April 1882, Bourne Scrapbook, 10-11. Whitman was a student at the Academy in 1809-1810.

29 30 31


"First Report of the Committee of the New Parish," [1839]. Town of Exeter Historical Society. "Soule's Reply to Hurd," 51-55. "First Report of the Committee of the New Parish."


view of Second Church, as approximately a third of the congregation each Sunday consisted of students and faculty from the Academy.32 The following month, the Academy trustees authorized a subcommittee, consisting of Principal Abbot and Trustees Oliver Peabody and Samuel Dana, to consider the matter.33 Dana's presence is particularly intriguing in the matter, for he was what one critic later termed "an advanced Calvinist."34 The men reported back, probably in June. Their objections to the proposal centered on the nature of the job of a boarding school instructor (in this respect their assessment is timeless) as well as the more practical objection that the Academy could not afford a full-time appointment:

Of the existing Instructors of the Academy, the duties are so various and exhausting, that to expect of them an ample and systematic course of instruction in religion, would be obviously unreasonable. For, in the present state of our funds, is it practicable to furnish a complete salary, to an additional officer, of the requisite qualifications, who should be wholly devoted to this object[?].

The Trustee Committee then offered a compromise:

If, however, by contributing a partial support to a gentleman of respectable talents..., we might secure a portion of his time and labors adequate to the religious instruction of the seminary, an important benefit would, in our opinion, be gained."35

The fact that a joint appointment was eventually approved by both parties is not at all surprising as much of the correspondence on both sides is in Benjamin Abbot's



33 34

"Second Report of the Committee of the New Parish," [1839]. Town of Exeter Historical "First Report of the Committee of the New Parish."

Fuess, An Old New England School, 126. Fuess goes on to add that Dana "was to be a thorn in the side of all progressive theologians for many years to come." Undated MSS signed Daniel Dana and Jacob Abbot, Theological Instructors papers, PEA Archives. The First and Second Reports of the New Parish indicate this document was written after Hurd had been retained. Hereafter referred to as "J. Abbot ­ Dana Report of 1819."



handwriting. It is more than likely that he was playing a complex game, working both the Second Church elders and the PEA trustees in order to secure the position. If so, the strategy worked and in June 1817, the Trustees appointed Hurd to the position of Theological Instructor at a salary of $250, the first such position since Joseph Buckminster had departed the Academy two decades before.36 Second Church committed to paying an additional $300, plus interest on a $2500 bond raised by some of the members, for a total salary of $700 per annum. Hurd accepted in September 1817.37 He was to preach each Sunday and engage in other unspecified duties. At least a few of the Academy trustees appear to have realized how undefined the situation was and sought some clarity. At roughly the same time Hurd accepted the position, a Trustee committee ­ this one consisting of Dana and Jacob Abbot (no relation to the Principal), drew up a job description:

Of the duties of this new Officer, the Committee do not apprehend it within their province to give a particular recommendation. We would simply suggest, by way of general outline, that, in our opinion, he should be expected to deliver a course of Lectures, somewhat systematic, and at the same time evangelical, plain and practical, on the principal topics of theology ­ that these Lectures (after due time previously allowed for preparation) should be ordinarily delivered once in a fortnight ­ and that in addition to these, moral and religious instruction of a more familiar character should be communicated to the students, either in a body, or in more distinct degrees, at least as often as once in every week.38

Soon after, Abbot and Dana sought to further clarify the job description. For whatever factors, they pleaded that a specific list of duties could be compiled only "with some difficulty" and that it would be "better to leave some points undetermined, than to

36 37 38

"First Report of the Committee of the New Parish." Ibid. "J. Abbot ­ Dana Report of 1819."


descend to a detail of particulars so minute, as might prove, in practice, rather an embarrassment." They did, however, reiterate their proposal of a fortnightly lecture series, with particular attention "being had to the doctrines specified in the Constitution of the Seminary." They also proposed that the Theological Instructor administer "catechitical instruction" to the Academy students (using either "some approved scriptural catechism already published; or, if convenient, shall prepare a scheme of questions of his own"). The lack of a specific recommendation and the suggestion that Hurd might come up with his own questions is likely an indication of their Unitarian leanings (in contrast to Andover, for instance, there was no mandated use of Doddridge's). But all this only addressed the formal aspects of the job. The final substantive recommendation proposed that the Theological Instructor

shall embrace such opportunities as may offer, to address the students in a familiar and affectionate style, upon the beauty, obligations and advantages of personal religion, and youthful virtues. He shall recommend to them the perusal of such books as, in his opinion, may most conduce to their moral and spiritual benefit. And by every practical method he shall endeavor to excite and cherish serious impression, to guard them against the temptations and ideas to which youth are most exposed, and to engage them to an immediate and cordial devotion to their God and Savior.39

For whatever reasons, however, these recommendations were never acted upon by PEA Trustees, and there the matter rested.40 Isaac Hurd had graduated from Harvard in 1806, a year after Henry Ware had been appointed to the Hollis Chair. After further study at Divinity Hall at the University of Edinburgh, he had pastored a Unitarian church in Lynn, Massachusetts. That and his


Undated, unsigned MSS, Exeter Trustee Records, Theological Instructors file, PEA Archives. The content and tone of the document matches that of the J. Abbot ­ Dana report of 1819 and is almost certainly a follow-up to the Subcommittee's earlier and more general assessment of the situation.


"Soule's Reply to Hurd," 15, 31.


Harvard degree seemed a sure indication of his theology.41 Certainly the trustees of the Academy and the elders of Second Church thought that they were getting a Unitarian, for nowhere in the written record was any reservation raised about the candidate (instead, he was described as "a man of angelic prudence").42 Hurd's appointment appeared to confirm the direction that both Exeter and Second Church had chosen to take, embracing Unitarianism and deserting their Congregational roots. However, the best laid plans of academy trustees and church elders were confounded by Isaac Hurd when he returned to the Orthodox fold.43 If Hurd ever penned an apologia for his actions, it has not survived. But whatever the reason, his turn back to orthodox Congregationalism is instructive. The Unitarian controversy in New England was not a linear process of neat progression from orthodoxy to liberalism, but one occupied by flesh-and-blood men and women who were engaged in a generation-long (or more) process of thinking and rethinking their theological suppositions and who were often possessed of considerable self-doubt as they went about this task. Sometimes their thinking turned on ideals alone as they wrestled with the meaning of the printed word and in prayer, but it also could depend on the actions of kin or friends, on job or social prospects, or on any number of factors above and beyond the content of the ideas themselves. Perhaps in the end the metaphor of an earthquake is not the best description of the theological changes in this era. Abrupt breaks and cataclysmic events did indeed occur ­ witness the Ware controversy ­ but so did far more gradual

41 42 43

Street, Commemorative Discourse, 12-13. Ibid., 12. Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 194; Street, Commemorative Discourse, 13.


changes. The shape of the land seemed to be determined at least as much by the gradual erosion of the soil, worn away by any number of flooding streams, each overflowing its banks at different places and at different times, and each intermingling with the others in different ways. Isaac Hurd affords one example of a clergyman who, having cautiously moved toward Unitarianism, swung back again as he considered its precepts. The image of the dogmatic New England minister, wrapped in his black robes and high certainty, must surely be revised in the mind's eye. At least for some clergy, vacillation and doubt characterized their passage through the theological questions of the age. Phillips Exeter Academy reflected this uncertainty on an institutional level for the next twenty years. Hurd's decision did not result in his dismissal. Instead, for the next two decades, the Academy experienced a theological Peace of Amiens. The Unitarian headmaster, Benjamin Abbot, put up with the Congregationalist Theological Instructor. The Theological Instructor, however, produced at least one alumnus, Francis Bowen, who went on to become a prominent Unitarian.44 An orthodox Calvinist, Daniel Dana, joined the Board. Dana was a pastor from Newburyport, Massachusetts, who was also on the Board at the more conservative Phillips Andover at the time, yet he worked alongside Unitarian trustees such as Peabody and Gilman.45 Perhaps the Academy's institutional ambivalence is best seen in a trustee who joined the board well after Hurd's appointment. In 1837, Senator Daniel Webster, perhaps the most famed orator in America, came onto

44 45

Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 309-310. Street, Commemorative Discourse, 14; Fuess, An Old New England School, 126.


the Board, remaining for a decade and a half.46 While a student at PEA, Webster had been strongly influenced by Joseph Stevens Buckminster who, as noted, was in the early stages of formulating his Unitarianism while serving as the Academy's only previous theological Instructor.47 Despite this influence, when it came time to join a church after leaving Exeter, Webster had chosen not a Unitarian Church but a Congregational one. Yet he doesn't appear to have been a Calvinist. The statement of belief to which he had fixed his name had been much like Hildreth's creed for Second Church: specific on the sovereignty of God, divinity of Christ and authority of Scripture, but silent on points such as man's depravity, exclusiveness of Congregational polity, damnation, or conversion.48 Webster may well capture in microcosm the Academy's position by the 1830s, residing in a theological gray area between a form of liberal Congregationalism and Unitarianism. Certainly there was considerable distance between it and Old Calvinist Andover, though not so great to preclude Rev. Dana from sitting on both boards.49 Surprisingly, the period was one largely free of theological controversy. Isaac Hurd had a great deal to do with this. He must have realized how tenuous his position was, for he seems to have played his politics well and, according to the chronicler of


1957), 58.


Myron R. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter (Exeter, NH: The Phillips Exeter Academy,

John H. Morison, The Teacher: A Commemorative Sermon Preached in the Second Congregational Church of Exeter, N.H. (Boston: George H. Ellis, 1879), 7. Baxter, One and Inseparable, 26-27, 78-79. Webster and his wife also owned a pew at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Boston. Rev. George E. Street, "Educational Forces in New Hampshire," Bourne Scrapbook, 63. It is quite possible that the theological shift was a decision driven by market considerations as Exeter sought to position itself as non-sectarian in order to appeal to a wider constituency, but there is evidence neither to support or refute such a claim.

49 48


Second Parish, "shunned controversy."50 If we are to believe the words of a later partisan, he avoided public controversy and was effective in healing divisions among "persons who had not spoken to each other for years." At least some liked his preaching.51 He married locally, thus insinuating himself into the intricate kinship relationships of a New England town.52 He was frequently ill, which may have engendered sympathy (though in the long run it also gave his opponents cause to have him removed).53 Perhaps most importantly, he helped Second Church to prosper. Membership grew by about 150 congregants, to the point where the means were available to erect a new building in 1823.54 The Academy donated the land for the new structure, an indication that towngown relations were healthy.55 From the point of view of the Exeter students, the school's requirements continued to broadly reflect the Christianity of the Academy. Candidates for admission had to furnish evidence of good moral character, studious habits, and good capacities for improvement."56 The daily schedule featured prayers held in the Latin recital room

50 51 52 53 54

Street, Commemorative Discourse, 15. Ibid., 15; "Letter to the Reverend Doctor Daniel Dana," New Parish records. Street, Commemorative Discourse, 16. "Soule's Reply," passim.

[n.a.], Historical Sketch of the Second Parish, Exeter, N.H., Together With The Creed, List of Members, Etc. (Exeter, NH: News-Letter Press, 1875), 7. Town of Exeter Historical Society.

55 56

A.J. Hoyt, "Of Vital Interest to Exeter," Bourne scrapbook, 43.

Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, for the Academical Year 1836-7 (Exeter, NH: John C. Gerrish, 1837), 9. Statements of faith, often used by Christian academies today, are rare if not absent entirely from nineteenth-century American schools. This is likely a function of the fact that the schools were drawing from a social class and region which, when combined, made Protestant faith a near certainty on the part of the self-selected pool of applicants, thus rendering a statement of faith superfluous.


(Principal Abbot's classroom) each morning and evening on both weekdays and Sundays.57 On Sundays the boys were required to attend the services at Second Church. Like Andover, the Academy "laws" were fairly detailed, designed to minimize infractions such as whispering, late returns from vacation, stone-throwing, or theft of fruit from local orchards. The language was also far more colorful than the bland technocratic prose of most rulebooks and policy manuals of today's schools. Sabbath behavior was circumscribed, as the boys were admonished to proceed to Church (twice a day) "without scuffling, noise or tumult" and to "likewise carefully abstain from all noisy levity and amusement" on Sunday evenings. Civility to townspeople was defined as an "indispensable duty." Card-playing was forbidden, as was any "gaming, profaneness, indecency in language," all of which were "highly criminal in their nature and pernicious in their consequences."58 On the surface, these facets appear no different than that of Andover under John Adams in the same years, and it is worth asking how precisely Exeter was different. One important area lay in the guest speakers that the boys heard. Henry Ware, Jr., a cardcarrying Unitarian, was a frequent speaker.59 A former Exeter master, James Walker, the Alfred Professor of Moral Thought at Harvard (and its future President), also spoke frequently. Walker's Harvard association alone sets Exeter apart from Andover during this period ­ recall Samuel Taylor's curriculum, intentionally designed to thwart boys

Gilman 1833 student account; [no author], "The Old School, By a Member of the Class of 1835," PEA Bulletin, Vol. IX, No. 3 (Oct. 1913), 24. "The Old School," 25; "Laws of the Phillips Exeter Academy," reprinted in Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy, 324-28.

59 58


Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," 246.


who might wish to prepare for the Unitarian college. President Walker "became a leader of the liberal movement in New England theology and was instrumental in giving it an explicitly Unitarian identity."60 He was especially critical of revival "means", a view which alone which would have made him persona non grata at Andover.61 Henry Ware, Jr., was also on campus from time to time. Since his brief stint in helping to fill the pulpit of Second Church in 1816, Ware had gone on to pastor Boston's Second Church (Cotton Mather's former church) and then to join his father on the faculty at Harvard, becoming Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pulpit Eloquence at the new Harvard Divinity School. As with Walker, there was no question but that Exeter boys were hearing a fervent defender of Unitarianism whenever Ware spoke to them.62 On the conservative side, and again illustrating how unsettled matters were during the era, Nathan Lord, President of the more conservative Dartmouth, also appeared on campus. On the basis of somewhat limited evidence, student sentiment appears to have supported the emergent Unitarianism. Then as now, teenagers who soberly reflect on first principles are exceedingly rare, but one letter home exists:

You close your letter from a few remarks on...Doctrine. So important do I esteem this subject that I think no one ought, in his youth, to settle his religious opinion for life. I'm not indeed A Unitarian nor indeed can I reject this doctrine, sanctioned by many learned names, without careful consideration. Nor indeed can I, without equally careful examination, give my assent to the doctrine, which declared that before the foundation of the world a certain number, capable of increase or dimunition were elected to be effectually called and saved, and that all others, even infants ere they have committed one sinful act, ere they have the

Garraty and Carnes, American National Biography, s.v. "James Walker" by Daniel Walker Howe; Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 313-14.

61 62 60

Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 15.

Ibid., 14-15, 314-15. Ware is sometimes thought of as a Transcendentalist, but this is likely because Emerson was his assistant pastor at Second Church. However, Ware was considerably more conservative than Emerson.


least discernment of good or evil, are from Eternity sentenced to everlasting punishment.63

The tenuous truce was unlikely to last, however, and ultimately collapsed in 1838 when Abbot announced his retirement. He had begun to slow down some years before, and had even attempted to retire in 1832, but the trustees had lessened his teaching load and, in the last two years, had authorized the appointment of an additional instructor to take up the slack. However, these moves only delayed the inevitable. A retirement dinner was held on August 23, 1838. It was a Balshazzar's feast for orthodox Congregationalism at Phillips Exeter Academy. No fewer than eleven commemorative addresses were offered in honor of the schoolmaster, including glowing tributes by Daniel Webster and Edward Everett. Rhapsodically described by a later commentator as "a high festival of the heart," Abbot was presented with an enormous silver vase, his portrait unveiled, and a scholarship established in his name.64 Just as David Tappan's address at Samuel Phillips's funeral in 1802 had offered an unwitting glimpse of things to come, it was fitting that one of the speakers at Abbot's celebration was Henry Ware, Jr.65 Few at the gathering knew that the Medes and Persians were not only at the door, but some of them were speaking from the podium.66 On the previous day, a rump group of the Board of Trustees had met and voted to dismiss Hurd from his position as

63 64

Henry French to "Friend Chapman", 28 April 1832. Student Reminiscences file, PEA Archives.

Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," 250-252, describes the dinner; Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy, 29, details the prior efforts the trustees made to prolong Abbot's tenure..

65 66

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 29. The allusion is to the events recounted in the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel in the bible.


Theological Instructor at the Academy. Only four of the trustees ­ Jeremiah Smith, Samuel Hale, Daniel Webster, and Charles Burroughs ­ were present. They did so in the absence of the most theologically conservative of them, Dr. Daniel Dana, who was ill.67 The fact that they met at night lends credence to the idea that this was a cabal, meeting in secret to achieve purposes which they knew could not be gained in a meeting of the whole Board.68 Just why they determined to wait nine months before notifying Hurd is unclear. Gideon Soule, Abbot's successor, later wrote that this was to give Second Church time to come up with alternative resources to support Hurd, but the fact that the Academy never informed the Parish of this would appear to belie such a claim.69 At any rate, the following May, Soule, in his role as clerk to the Board, gave Hurd a letter which informed him of the decision. The decision involved considerable stakes for both Phillips Exeter Academy and Second Church in town. For the Academy, it instantly became a test of strength for the new headmaster. Gideon Soule was a graduate of Exeter from the class of 1815. He had returned to the Academy after college at Bowdoin to teach for a year, and then had made a foray into the citadels of conservative Calvinism, spending a year at Andover Seminary (why he left is open to speculation), and teaching under John Adams for a year at Phillips

[Gideon Soule], "Answer of the controversy between Mr. Hurd, the Parish and the Trustees of the P.E. Academy," 5. MSS in Theological Instructor Papers, PEA Archives. The manuscript is not signed but is clearly in Soule's hand. Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," 242, says that Dana upheld the decision. Whether he did so because he agreed with it or felt that his hand had been forced is unclear.

68 69


Hoyt, "The Phillips Family and Phillips Exeter Academy," 242. Soule's Reply, 77.


Andover. He had then joined the Exeter faculty for good in 1822.70 In place of the venerated Abbot, he must have been aware of the need to get out from under his predecessor's long shadow. The fact that Abbot had sponsored the original hiring of Hurd and tolerated his presence for so many years placed the burden of proof squarely on Soule. He was faced with a fight against tradition, an undesirable battle for any incoming headmaster. There was also the complicating factor of relationships and church brotherhood, for he was also was a Deacon in Second Church.71 The stakes were even higher for Second Church. Despite Hurd's success in growing the congregation, they were still not supporting his entire salary; the arrangement with the Academy was not simply convenient but necessary. If the parish couldn't support on its own, then they couldn't keep a settled minister, and a parish without a settled minister was more than likely to lose members. The Church had been through this once before, after Rogers's death in 1785, and the memories likely lingered. The parish did have some leverage in the matter, however, for the unique arrangements under which students lived might work to Second Church's advantage. Exeter had followed Andover's lead in having its boys board with families in the town (with the same provision that Christian worship be maintained in the host home. This could work to Second Church's advantage, for Soule and the Academy might well need some of its members to board their students.

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 40-42, has biographical information on Soule. Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 43, notes that he spent a brief period as a student at Andover Seminary. "Historical Sketches of Exeter: The Old Deacons," Bourne scrapbook, PEA Archives. The article says Soule held the office for more than fifty years. "He was a man highly esteemed by the church, although his Academic duties so occupied his time that he had little opportunity to mingle in society."




In two lengthy protests, a "Committee of the New Parish" made known the views of the church. The first was a reasoned, deliberative document in which they raised the issue of the mutual commitment agreed upon by the Church and Academy in the original arrangement of 1817. Second Church maintained that because three of the seven Academy trustees on the board of 1817 had been members of the church, there was a de facto compact in place such that any replacement of Hurd would require mutual agreement. Furthermore, Hurd's duties with the Church were the more significant part of his work. "From a full view of all the facts and circumstances of the case your committee have unavoidably come to the full conviction," they wrote, "that, when Mr. Hurd was settled there was a full and cordial understanding between the Trustees and the Parish and Mr. Hurd that his parochial services were the main and principal object of the arrangement."72 Hurd also wrote a lengthy remonstrance to the trustees, intended for their meeting in August 1839, the first following his dismissal. He reiterated Second Church's position that neither party having sole power to abrogate the original agreement. Hurd argued that the school would now retain the benefits of his preaching (for presumably the Academy could still require students to attend Church locally in the town each Sunday) yet without having to pay his salary. Hurd then proceeded to other arguments absent in the Committee of New Parish's complaint. In the face of the public silence of the Board and the failure of its letter of dismissal to provide reasons for the action, Hurd was proactive and addressed the issues that were in all likelihood quite literally the talk of the town. Clearly his discharge of his duties and the original lack of definition as to their precise


"First Report of the Committee of the New Parish," 1839.


nature was in the air, and the 1817 trustee inaction on this issue now came home to roost.73 Hurd seized on this, complaining that "no specification of rules and duties, pertaining to the office of Theological Instructor, has ever been adopted by the Board, or been communicated to me."74 Apparently the Abbot-Dana letter of 1819 with its proposed job-description was not public, for Hurd resorted to an argument from silence. Did not the absence of a job description, he asked,

render it quite evident, that the simple appointment of Theological Instructor, with distinct and specific duties was not in fact the principal object of the Trustees? ­ that the matter being so far arranged, that I was to become the stated preacher to the students and the Parish, their main end accomplished, and they were not particularly anxious that any thing further should be done?75

He was getting to the heart of the matter, for the issue, of course, was whether or not "any thing further" was actually needed. In the emerging credo of the Unitarians, creeds and catechisms were unnecessary, peripheral to the greater work of personal betterment. William Ellery Channing had scathingly dismissed them some years ago: "A catechism is a skeleton, a dead letter, a petrification. Wanting life, it can give none. A cold abstraction, it cannot but make religion repulsive to pupils whose age demands that truth should be embodied, set before their eyes, bound up with real life."76 Rectitude, in other words, was more important than doctrine. However, for the Congregationalists, whether Hopkinsian or Old Calvinist, catechisms were foundational to the development

73 74

"Soule's Reply to Hurd," 31.

Isaac Hurd, "To the Trustees of Phillips Exeter Academy," 16 Sept. 1839. Copy in PEA Archives, Bourne scrapbook.

75 76


William E. Channing, "The Sunday School," in Works, vol. 4, p. 364; quoted in Ahlstrom and Carey, An American Reformation, 177.


of mature Christians. It may not be overstating the case to say that the Westminster Catechism ­ "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever." ­was, far more than the famed Mayflower Compact, the foundational document of New England. Hurd had clearly engaged in catechizing the students, and defended the practice as both sensible and as fulfillment of John Phillips's ideal for the school:

Other services I have viewed .... so far as they may have been suggested, in the general outline, as intended to give what might be considered an academic form to the religious exercises of the Sabbath, to bring them more particularly within the venerable Founder's design to furnish the means of religious instruction to the students, and thus obviously to justify any appropriation for this purpose.

The issues were now joined and clearly they were not merely about either money or work ethic. The historic legacy of John Phillips and the spiritual purpose of the Academy were now in play in the dispute. The trustees did not respond after their August session, but waited until their meeting the following November. The rebuttal to both Hurd and Second Church reads like a legal document and may well have been penned with litigation in mind. The trustees gave no quarter in the dispute, flatly denying the points raised by Second Church. The two positions ­ Minister of the New Parish and Theological Instructor of the Academy--were and always had been separate, and there was never "any contract or engagement binding in law, equity or good conscience or honor." The Church and Academy "were not joint contractors, but entirely separate and distinct." There had been no de facto agreement based on appointments of elders of Second Church to the Academy board of trustees. Just because the arrangement had continued for many years was no reason it couldn't stop at any time.


Then they turned over new ground. Hurd, the trustees maintained, was not doing much work for the Academy, yet Exeter was paying $250 of his $700 salary (it had not changed since 1817). A job description had in fact existed: "These duties were as definite and specific as those of the Principal or any other instructor in the Academy" and included "academical duties" but not "parochial or pastoral duties" within the school. Yet the Trustees, writing in the third person, "believe from the best evidence they have been able to obtain that 49 parts in 50 have not been performed." Therefore, Hurd "has entirely forfeited all claim to payment as an instructor in the Academy by his great neglect to perform the duties of his office." In short, Second Church, rather than being upset at the Academy's reasonable and prudent decision, should have been grateful that for two decades they had obtained the services of a full-time minister while paying only slightly more than two-thirds the cost. The Trustees also denied Second Church's request to publish the correspondence conducted thus far (though Soule had already informed Peter Chadwick of Second Church in October that this would be out of the question).77 At this point emotions began running considerably warmer. In stark contrast to their initial plea, Second Church's second remonstrance was direct, charged, and raised the temperature of the debate considerably. The tone of the first had been one of a reasoned disagreement among thoughtful friends. The second plea was far more adversarial, going so far as to accuse the Academy of unethical conduct. Hurd had been hired "for the benefit of the students [of PEA] and Parish," an arrangement to which

Undated MSS, Theological Instructors papers, PEA Archives. The document signed by Soule as "Clerk of the Board." The context makes it clear that it came in response to the "First Report of the Committee of the New Parish." Hereafter referred to as "PEA Trustees' Response"; Gideon Soule to Peter Chadwick, 10 October 1839, Theological Instructors Papers, PEA Archives.



"...the Trustees are bound in equity, good conscience and honor."78 Furthermore, the arrangement had nevertheless been of considerable benefit to the Academy and its faculty, as "10 or 12 of them have made open profession of religion and joined Mr. Hurd's church."79 (The fact that the Committee of Second Church thought the Academy faculty needed evangelizing would not have gone unnoticed. The accusation now implied that the Academy was interfering with the work of the Kingdom.) Second Church also sought to invoke Principal Abbot's name in the fray, maintaining that since he had never acted on the matter of Hurd, he must have supported the arrangement. Finally, a veritable conspiracy theory raised its head when Second Church's writer, who had been permitted to review the Trustee records, noted that a lengthy part of the minutes for 1819 had obviously been erased.80 This "Second Report" then moved to an even more incendiary point. The original arrangement, they said, was never designed to have Hurd do much work for the Academy, again raising the issue of the lack of a job description. Rather, the agreement had amounted to nothing more than a legal subterfuge "instituted for the express purpose of enabling the Trustees [of PEA] legally to contribute towards the support of a Gospel minister in the Parish. " Since Second Church had never released Hurd from any duties (effectively retaining him in a full-time capacity), he must therefore not have been expected to pick up any at the Academy. In other words, the Exeter trustees had knowingly shirked their fiduciary duty to the Academy and diverted funds for the use of

78 79 80

"Second Report of the Committee of the New Parish." Ibid. Ibid.


their local church. (Two members of the Board, the Committee maintained, had protested the arrangement on these grounds, but to no avail.) The language was blunt: the PEA trustees, they wrote, were engaged in "more hypocrisy in high places than we could have believed."81 To underline their point ­ or, rather, to publicize it ­ they proceeded to publish all correspondence to date ("for use of its members," ran the disclaimer), including Hurd's remonstrance of August 1839. By now the entire town was likely preoccupied with the controversy. Rumors flew. The Trustees had mismanaged the Academy funds. They had purposely destroyed Hurd's health. Soule's popularity, and perhaps even his sexual preferences, were been called into question: he was "not in very good odour with men or boys," complained an angry parishioner to Samuel Dana. (With the rumors of financial problems in mind, the same person also suggested the Academy's Treasurer consult a phrenologist to see if the new principal's head contained a conscience, "before their funds are any farther diminished.)82 The publication of the correspondence dearly provoked the new Principal. Gideon Soule's dander was now up. Not only were he and the Academy being exposed to public embarrassment, but the firing of Hurd was quickly becoming a public test of wills that could make or break his tenure as principal of the school. He proceeded to compose a document of almost eighty handwritten pages, "Answer of the controversy between Mr. Hurd, the Parish and the Trustees of the P.E. Academy," which was more than likely intended for publication.

81 82

Ibid. "Anonymous letter to Dana."


The point which Soule made most frequently was that the Reverend Mr. Hurd simply wasn't working hard enough. He did not mince his words. Hurd has "never been hardy enough to deny that if his office and duties were what the record makes them, his neglect was altogether unprecedented ­ almost total."83 He had given only two theological lectures a year on average.84 Soule flatly denied Hurd's point that his duties had been undefined, stating that Hurd knew from the start that the job included more than Sunday preaching. Furthermore, this and not salary was why Hurd had turned down the trustees' initial offer in 1816, a point which implied that Hurd's lack of work ethic had been in play from the very beginning.85 There is some limited evidence that Soule had a reasonable point. A student at the Academy in 1833, William Gilman Perry, later wrote that "In the old catalogues appears the name of Rev. Isaac Hurd, `Theological Instructor,' but while I was a student he only came in once or twice and gave a lecture."86 Soule conceded that this was probably due to Hurd's "ill health," but there is no compassion in his assessment. Hurd, he wrote tersely, "had turned the office into a sinecure."87 Hurd's remonstrance had particularly galled Soule, and he began furiously underlining nouns as he wrote. The published remonstrance was filled with facts that were "loosely put together....; what are intended to be taken as facts are often merely insinuations, and conclusions are in almost every instance unwarranted from the

83 84 85 86

Soule's Reply," 7. Ibid., 41. Ibid., 13.

William Gilman Perry, "In the Thirties," Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy, Vol. III, No. 1 (March 1907), 27. Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 194, repeats the assertion.


"Soule's Reply," 3, 9.


premises"; it was on a "sandy foundation composed of his recollections, conjectures, surmises, unwarranted inferences, extraneous matters, and the supposed declarations of individual Trustees.... Which better prove Mr. H's distress for arguments than anything else."88 Despite the strident tone of the document, Soule did give ground in some other areas. He did acknowledge that financial pressures had played a role in the decision to let Hurd go, conceding that "...for several years the Trustees had been made acquainted with the true state of the funds, and had become aware that the establishment was too large, and the expenditures likely to exceed the income and so retrenchment might soon become necessary."89 (This was a view certainly shared by the townspeople.)90 He also yielded on Hurd's point that the Trustees of 1817 may indeed have been diverting money to Second Church. However, he followed the logic to the opposite conclusion. If indeed the "Trustees could not lawfully charge the funds with duties not strictly academical; and that joining with the Parish in his settlement and pledging themselves for a considerable portion of his salary might subject them to the charge of breach of trust", then such a practice should be ended at once. The decision to dismiss Hurd thus marked a restoration of fiscal responsibility.91 Soule was playing his politics well in the document. As the newly-appointed principal, he could not afford to antagonize the board of trustees which had appointed

88 89 90 91

Ibid., 11, 21, 41. Ibid., 7. "Anonymous letter to Dana." "Soule's Reply," 37.


him. In particular, he would have to be careful of Samuel Dana, one of the remaining 1817 board members and theologically the most conservative. The unsigned letters written to Dana offer an indication that the Newburyport minister was becoming a focal point for conservative dissent, whether due to adherence to tradition or to Calvinism (if indeed the two could be separated). Soule would have to make sure that Dana was either wooed to support the decision ­ Professor Hoyt says that he was ­ or isolated. Soule did go so far as to say that "[t]he act of 1817 [of hiring Hurd] has been to be sure from the beginning a most unfortunate one" and that the Trustees hired Hurd "much against their will" ­ a statement surely not true. But this is as far as he would go in ascribing fault to the Academy.92 As a result, he did not effectively dispose of the evident contradiction: if Hurd was so incompetent, why had it taken twenty years to address the situation? Anxious to establish that the pattern of Hurd's incompetence was longstanding, Soule admitted that the Board had known about the situation for some time but had failed to take any action. Hurd's lack of work was widely known. "The public," he claimed, "complained of neglect of duty in this department."93 He then defended the Board's long inaction as a product of prosperous times, implicitly conceding that the current financial needs of the school had played a role in the decision.94 He noted that while there had been an inquiry into Mr. Hurd's performance in 1831, it had been derailed due to the illness and subsequent deaths of two trustees, and because the ever-compassionate Abbot had

92 93 94

Ibid., 71. Ibid., 59. Ibid., 3.


prevented the inquiry, citing "Mr. H's want of health as an apology for the nonperformance of his required duties."95 However, consistency was not to stand in Soule's way. Elsewhere in the document, he maintained that the problem had gone undetected for many years since "the examinations of the students did not commonly embrace this branch of instruction." In other words, there was no external measure of Hurd's performance in the same way that college-entrance exams showed the faculty successes and shortcomings in, say, Latin or Greek. The issue obviously could not be both widely-known and undetected. Ultimately Soule simply resorted to ad hominem arguments. "Mr H is a difficult man to deal with," he wrote, perhaps rehearsing arguments for the townspeople. "He is both sensitive and dignified. If not accosted in the most respectful terms, and especially if the arguments of his opponents press hard upon him, his dignity and self respect are sure to take the alarm..."96 Soule also took on his fellow parishioners at Second Church, which could not have been a very peaceful place to worship in that year:

It will be seen that in this review little notice is taken of the attempts at argument by the Persons representing the Parish embracing one or two volunteers and one of the ablest in the garb of an old woman; the costume by the way would not have been unfitting to the others. These allies of Mr. H, a thing that often happens[,] have done the cause more harm than good. Their zeal outruns their discretion. Having no knowledge of the merits of the controversy they have given prominence to some of Mr. H's weakest arguments and by their awkward attempts at _____ [illegible; publicizing?] them have made that ridiculous which before was only weak and inconclusive.97

95 96 97

Ibid., 3-4, 61. Ibid., 47. Ibid., 78-69.


In the end, though, the quality of arguments did not matter nearly as much as sheer administrative power, and Hurd had little recourse except to accede to the wishes of the Academy and go his way. The Academy appears to have made no formal announcement of the change. For all intents and purposes, the only institutional indication of Hurd's dismissal occurred in the school's catalogue, where the notation that "A course of Theological Instruction is given to the Students of the Academy" was quietly dropped.98 Isaac Hurd continued as minister of Second Church for another 12 years, retiring in 1851. That he had persuaded his flock of the wisdom of orthodox Congregationalism was evident from the choice of his successor, who came from Andover Seminary.99 Incredibly, his parishioners continued to include Gideon Soule and Benjamin Abbot's widow, perhaps an indication that PEA wasn't cutting all ties with its Calvinist constituency, or perhaps a testimony to the power of the ability of kinship networks to override theological disagreements. A testimonial at his retirement expressed the Parish's appreciation: "you have chastened our youthful follies with the reproof of a holy example and taught our age lessons of faith and wisdom."100 In his response, Hurd may have gotten in one last swipe. "I rejoice in the evidence furnished by this munificent act of your kindness that you are still `united together and to your Pastor.' My prayer for you will ever be that that Christian love which binds together all the sincere followers of

Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, for the Academical Year 1836-7, 12; Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, for the Academical Year 1838-9 (Exeter, NH: John C. Gerrish, 1839), 12. Both in PEA Archives.



Street, "Historical Sketch," 7. MSS dated 19 February 1851 in New Parish Records, Town of Exeter Historical Society.



Christ may animate each of your hearts..."101 One wonders if Hurd reserved other wishes for those not as united to their Pastor as he might have desired. In the end, a number of factors had contributed to Hurd's dismissal. There is no question that he contributed to his own demise. He did little, was ill often, and generally was not pulling his weight amidst the myriad responsibilities and long hours of a boarding school master. Financial pressures also played a role, though it is impossible to tell whether the situation was serious or whether the pinch was simply used by Soule and the Board to justify their actions. What is certain is that discussion of financial pressures disappeared almost immediately after the controversy. Either Soule dealt with the problems expeditiously or else they had been raised only as a subterfuge to justify Hurd's dismissal. But the fact of the matter is that that far more was at stake than a simple personnel issue. The Hurd affair proved to be a watershed in the religious life of Phillips Exeter. It ended a twenty-year truce between Congregationalist and Unitarian forces in the Academy, decisively tilting the balance of power toward the latter and shaping the course of the Academy for the remainder of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. The controversy marked Exeter's turn away from the extended influence of George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, away from revival measures and evangelical faith, and away from the Congregational vision of John Phillips. In 1819, the conservatives had been a significant force in the Academy. Dana was still evidently a considerable influence on the Board, penning the proposed job description and working closely with

Isaac Hurd to "my respected and beloved Parishioners," 22 February 1851, New Parish Records, Town of Exeter Historical Society.



Abbot in securing the appointment. Abbot had also supported Hurd, not only in 1819 but in tolerating his shortcomings for the rest of his tenure as headmaster. Disestablishment of churches had lent their efforts an urgency which was difficult for the progressive Unitarians to resist, and so they were forced to bide their time. By 1838, however, the Academy had changed markedly. For one, the internal dynamics of the Board of Trustees had clearly changed. New and more religiously liberal trustees such as Daniel Webster had joined the Board. Dana's silence throughout the Hurd controversy speaks volumes about a shift in influence away from the Congregationalists. Whatever opposition he may have represented failed to coalesce into any kind of meaningful bloc. Principal Abbot's departure also clearly paved the way for change as well. For two decades, he had presided over the uneasy truce between Unitarians and Congregationalists, a situation which seems to have suited him. If nothing else, the sheer timing of Hurd's firing, conducted at the meeting the night before his retirement dinner, lends credence to the idea that the Unitarians were only waiting for his departure before making their move. Gideon Soule's role was pivotal both in upholding the decision to fire Hurd, particularly in the face of significant public opposition in the town of Exeter. As the new principal of the Academy, he had likely wished to step out of Abbot's shadow and shape the school to his own ends. As a committed Unitarian and deacon of Second Church, those ends could be attained by dismissing Hurd and turning the Academy decisively toward Unitarianism.102 Soule may also have wished to shape the office of the principal itself by taking on the task of theological instruction himself. This was a task most


Morison, The Teacher, passim.


college Presidents ­ and Adams and Taylor at Andover ­ took upon themselves. Indeed, the right and duty of imparting spiritual wisdom was a defining characteristic of the principals and presidents of nineteenth-century educational institutions at both the academy and collegiate level; for Soule to delegate it involved abrogating an important source of authority within the Academy.103 This was evidently in his mind when he wrote in the Reply to Hurd:

...that as to practical religious instruction to the students, the founders had made ample provisions in requiring from the Principal and the other instructors, the constant and daily inculcation of the tender minds of the youth sent here to acquire the elements of knowledge, the principles of piety, virtue and pure morals: and there is no reason to doubt that these duties had been and would continue to be faithfully performed.104

In fact, religious instruction at Exeter would change decisively under Soule. No longer would it be "catechitical" and use the Westminster Confession or Doddridge. Instead, it would be conducted along the broader moral values of New England Unitarian piety. The shift involved was more than just one of content, but had to do with the expectations as to just what an education would do in the person doing the learning. Calvinist education had been predicated on the belief that right thinking was a prerequisite to right action. Learning proper doctrine was therefore a means to character formation, for wrong thinking would inevitably and inexorably produce bad character. An Old Calvinist clergyman, Samuel Worcester, had put it this way: "the moral and social virtues are to be represented as genuine in the sight of Heaven, only when they

103 104

Marsden, The Soul of the American University, 51. "Soule's Reply," 9.


spring from a heart renewed by divine grace, and purified by the faith of the gospel."105 Unitarians did not empty the content, but content of value no longer resided solely in the old creeds. For the locus of improvement was shifting. To Calvinists, it was external, only available from God through Christ. Unitarians relocated it internally: right thinking, developed through rigorous study, was a key to self-improvement. Rectitude therefore assumed a higher place than doctrine; self-improvement aimed at cultivation of goodness by natural means would be emphasized over self-abasement as a means of triggering supernatural repentance; a belief in rationalism replaced the mystery and wonder of trying to comprehend the revelation of God.106 The Unitarian loss of faith in the ability of creeds to communicate age-old truths transformed Phillips Exeter Academy. The firing of Hurd in 1838 marked the last step in the disestablishment of Calvinism at Exeter, no less than the 1819 Act of Disestablishment had removed the Congregational Church from its privileged status in the state of New Hampshire.107

Joseph W. Phillips, Jedidiah Morse and New England Congregationalism (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1983), 142.

106 107


Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 103-104.

Hurd's firing may also afford a window into broader changes in two significant areas in nineteenth-century New England. The first is that of the office of minister. Donald Scott, From Office to Profession, has noted that in the 1800s, the rise of theological seminaries such as Andover and Harvard, coupled with broader social changes, worked to preserve the ministers' proprietary sense of cultural authority, "but their identity as ministers was now informed far more strongly by their sense of belonging to a professional community than by a sense of their place in the status system of the local community." (64) Certainly it may be deduced that Hurd lacked significant status in either the town community of Exeter, NH, or within the smaller community of Exeter Academy. The second area concerns that of Unitarian activity and cultural dominance. Frederic Cople Jaher and Anthony Mann have both suggested that Unitarians founded elite institutions in order to perpetuate their cultural dominance (or, as Jaher calls it, "patriarchal hegemony.") Mann cites four examples: the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, and the Humane Society of Massachusetts. In the case of Phillips Andover and Phillips Exeter, the burden of this study is that it would be incorrect to either downplay the role of religious faith in the enterprise or to assign it a more subversive role as an agent of social control. It is instructive, however, to think about the two academies as expressions of elite dominance. Seen in this light, Sam Phillips's Andover looks to be something of a countercultural institution, dominated by Congregationalists


The years of Gideon Soule's tenure as Principal (1838-1873) were almost identical to those of Samuel Taylor at Andover, who came to office in the same year but died while going to recitations two years before Soule's retirement. Chronological overlap, however, was about the extent of the similarities, for the two presided over two schools which had become fundamentally different from each other. Where Taylor saw in his boys only sin in need of redemption, Soule had an abiding faith in his charges' ability to do good. The lengthy list of rules and regulations in the Commons of Taylor's Andover stand in stark contrast to Soule's one rule of thumb: "there are no rules until they are broken."108 His eulogizer noted that under Soule, "the government of the Academy was never obtrusive. It was as gentle and as unvarying as a law of Nature. Its decrees executed themselves without noise."109 The Unitarian academy expected that boys would behave like gentlemen if it was expected of them. The Old Calvinist academy saw good behavior as something which needed to be instilled. (One of the most practical evidences of this divergence is that while Andover boys studied under the watchful eye of the masters in a study hall, Exeter boys were permitted to study in their rooms.)110 Exeter's philosophy formed expectation and not license, though, for Soule was

who refuse to succumb to the cultural offensive mounted by Unitarians. Exeter, on the other hand, seems something of a late victory in the Unitarian Brahmin crusade. See Anthony Mann, "Unitarian Voluntary Societies and the Revision of Elite Authority in Boston, 1780-1820," in David K. Adams and Cornelius A. Van Minnen, eds., Religious and Secular Reform in America: Ideas, Beliefs, and Social Change (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 51-76; Frederic Cople Jaher, "The Boston Brahmins in the Age of Industrial Capitalism," in Frederic Cople Jaher, The Age of Industrialism in America: Essays in Social Structure and Cultural Values (New York: Free Press, 1968).

108 109 110

Marr, The Old New England Academies, 121. Morton, The Teacher, 18.

"The Exeter Spirit," The Phillips Exeter Literary Monthly, X:10 (October 1895), page 11. Soule implemented this at Exeter in the 1850s.


apparently capable of great indignation when his expectations were not met. A former student once recounted that the only time he ever saw Soule angry was when the Principal discovered that a boy had been lying to him.111 The centrality of Unitarianism at PEA is also evident in the person of Joseph G. Hoyt, a professor of mathematics at the school from 1841-1858. He wrote extensively on a wide array of topics and was possessed of a fertile mind and an inclination for educational reform. It was his plan, adopted by the Academy in 1854, which divided the student body into three classes, termed Upper, Middle, and Lower.112 An Exeter trustee described him as a "pre-eminently a religious man" who "had too large a sympathy and too comprehensive a fellowship to be sectarian, and [who] was always glad to recognize the Divine Master's image in the disciple of whatever name or form."113 There was a decidedly non-evangelical bent to him, though, reflected in the language Hoyt used to refer to a God who was somewhat far removed: "Infinite Father", "the Supreme Good", "the Infinite One", and the "Great Exemplar."114 Yet clearly he was operating within a Christian framework, defending the study of classical languages as necessary in order to "understand the Christian Scriptures, in all their exactness and intensity of meaning."115

111 112 113

Ibid., 15; Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 51. Bell, Familiar Sketches, 82.

A[ndrew] P. Peabody, "Preface," in Hoyt, Miscellaneous Writings, v. The volume, published after Hoyt's death, was favorably reviewed in the North American Review, 203 (April 1864), 602-604).

114 115

Hoyt, Miscellaneous Writings, 58, 82, 86.

Hoyt, "An Inaugural Address: The Relation of Culture and Knowledge in a University Education," in Miscellaneous Writings, 28.


School life reflected these tenets as well. Students in the 1850s were "required to be constant and punctual at public worship on the Sabbath, at such church as their parents or guardians prefer" ­ a nonsectarian degree of choice virtually unheard-of in the academies of the nineteenth century.116 As in all student bodies, social affinity played a significant role in the students' choices: one student wrote home and informed his parents that "all the rough boys went to the U.[nitarian] Church." But he later reassured his grandparents that this had only occurred "last year" and that his own attendance at the church was quite satisfactory."117 Another reported with some remorse that he and his friends "fell into disgrace" when a visiting minister "detected us in reading magazines instead of listening to his eloquence."118 As with students since time immemorial, a Sunday off was always appreciated. A student of 1862, G.L. Barton, rejoiced at the minister's misfortune: "Sunday afternoon and I not at church ­ What means it? For once heaven has seen fit to bless poor students and the minister is sick."119 One of the most intriguing incidents from the period concerns an effort by several students to plant an Episcopal parish in the town of Exeter. They managed to secure the financial support of a Boston parish priest, who agreed to conduct services one Sunday a month and secure a priest for two other Sundays. (In an ironic twist, the student chronicler of these development noted that one of the priests who aided in the efforts was Rev. Henry Coit, the founding headmaster of St. Paul's School.) The effort is all the more

116 117

Catalogue, 1854-55, 12.

Willie M. Barnard to "Emma", Sept. 15, 1871; Willie M. Barnard to "Grandpa and Grandma", Sept. 19, 1871. PEA Archives, student reminiscences papers.

118 119

Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 243. G.L. Barton to his parents, October 5, 1862. PEA Archives, student reminiscences file.


astonishing for the fact that it worked, and an Episcopal parish was established in the town as a result of these efforts.120 However, it was not accomplished with the blessing of Gideon Soule. One of the students, Frederick Thompson, recorded the headmaster's reaction to the efforts of these upstart adolescent missionaries:

I wish you could have been present when Watters, Movious, Rawle and myself went to ask the Doctor's permission to attend the services; well to say that the Old Gentleman was mad is to draw it mild.... [W]hen he took up the sword of righteousness he took it. It seemed as if those big eyebrows of his were many fold more sharp than usual and much longer, and be proceeded to jump on to us for being such fools to think that we ... could start the Episcopal Church in Exeter where it was not needed or wanted."121

During the week the Unitarian religious life was evident in the Academy as well. As at Andover, the school day opened and closed with prayers and a sermon by the principal, though the content and tone were doubtless far different.122 Agencies of the evangelical empire began to appear, consistent with a strong vein of social activism and moral benevolence running through Unitarianism. Unlike Andover, their efforts were absent of revival impulses, a key difference.123 A chapter of the Christian Fraternity was founded in 1856. Its attendance was thin, averaging eight students per meeting in its opening year and climbing to 17 by 1870. The Academy endorsed the existence of the Fraternity on campus by commemorating its anniversary each year.124




See "Christ Church, Exeter, N.H.: The Church at an Educational Centre," photocopy in PEA

Rev. Frederick Thompson to Mr. Soule [identified as Gideon Soule's grandson], 29 July 1917. Soule papers, PEA Archives.

122 123 124

Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 58. Howe, The Unitarian Conscience, 236-269.

Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 250-51. Cunningham was President of the organization as a student at PEA in 1882 (when the attendance at each meeting, he says, climbed to 50). The origins of are


The campaign against alcohol also made its way onto the Exeter campus with the establishment of the Temperance Society in 1840. The appeal made to the students was offered along generic moral lines rather than explicitly evangelical ones: forego alcohol and others will, too. "Moral power," noted one speaker, "is the chief instrument of the benevolent associations, and there is no moral power more effective than the force of example." Andover students were likely being told that the power of the Gospel was necessary to rid the world of drink; Exeter students were being admonished to become "exhibitions of these advantages, of their elevating and improving tendency" and so "exert a silent and unobtrusive, but highly beneficial and powerful influence."125 Whatever one might think of the efficacy of this, Exeter students could be under no doubt that at least one powerful example existed on their campus, for Gideon Soule was an ardent teetotaler. However minimal the rules might be, he is reputed to have commented that "Whoever crosses the threshold of a saloon crosses the threshold of the Academy for the last time."126 (The Trustees supported this position in a resolution in 1855.)127 Such a fate befell one unfortunate student, though later delight in telling the story may have made up for it:

The old Doctor was constitutionally opposed to drinking. One day, a classmate of mine, whom I will call Smith, got gloriously drunk. The Doctor called him up, and made him detail the course of the spree, which included a visit to the three or four groggeries of the village, and the absorption of four or five glasses of ale,

discussed in a general manner in "The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Christian Fraternity," Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy II:3 (Sept. 1906), 13-14. Henry French, An Address Delivered Before the Students of Phillips Exeter Academy, at a Regular Meeting of Their Temperance Society, May 2, 1840 (Exeter, NH: F. Grant, 1840), 22.

126 127 125

Cunningham, Familiar Sketches, 51. Ibid.


three glasses of wine, and a horn or two of whiskey. In holy horror, as Smith ended the enumeration, the Doctor held up his hands, saying, `Why, Smith, if I at my age had drunk that much, I should have been carried home on a stretcher.' `Possible,' said the imperturbable Smith, `some heads are constitutionally weak to spiritual influences.' The Doctor smote off Smith's academic head that instant, and he went home on the evening train."128

********** In 1839, Exeter took a decisive step away from Trinitarian Protestant Christianity. As a result, by the time Gideon Soule and Samuel Taylor left office in the early 1870s, Exeter had redefined the religious life of the school to a more peripheral role than it occupied at Andover. Perhaps the clearest sign of this was evident in the formal teaching of religion at the Academy. In the wake of Hurd's firing, what little formal instruction had existed largely disappeared.129 No effort to hire an instructor in religion was made again until the hiring of Frederick J. Libby in 1912.130 In this respect, Phillips Exeter was years ahead of the other boarding schools of the era. The transformation of its mission and purpose from that of preserving and furthering traditional Calvinist Congregationalism to a more Unitarian, humanistic creed anticipated the later experience of the other schools in this study. In disestablishing orthodox Protestantism and substituting a non-sectarian set of Christian values based on a more optimistic view of the nature of human beings, the school consciously and decisively turned away from the path pursued by Andover during the same period. It was

128 129

Ibid., 247.

Until 1837 the Academy Catalogue noted that "A course of Theological Instruction is given to the Students of the Academy." The phrase was removed in the 1839 edition. A Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Phillips Exeter Academy, New-Hampshire, for the Academical Year 1836-7, 12; A Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Phillips Exeter Academy, New-Hampshire, for the Academical Year 1838-9 (Exeter, NH: John C. Gerrish, 1939), 12; PEA Archives.


Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 157.


a pattern that would be repeated between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the end of the Great War in Europe in 1918 by Episcopal schools such Groton and St. Paul's, Presbyterian Lawrenceville, and even amidst the revival fires of Mount Hermon. In this respect, Phillips Exeter was what economists would term a "leading indicator," as over the next century and a half developments in the religious life of PEA proved to be harbingers of things to come at the other five schools. Yet there were significant questions which went unanswered in a shift largely unexamined and, after 1839, uncontested. The primary issue was whether the new religion of morality that Exeter inaugurated, and which the other schools would eventually adopt, was sufficient to hold the schools and their communities together. Would low-demand Unitarianism be able to compel high moral standards? For the generation preceding the Civil War, the answer was in the affirmative, for there is no indication that daily life at Exeter was significantly different from what it had been before the firing of Hurd. However, what could hardly have been anticipated was the transformation of other facets of the of the school, notably its academic mission, in the wake of profound intellectual and cultural changes following the Civil War. In the wake of those changes, the efficacy of Soule's approach ­ "there are no rules until they are broken" ­ to provide a coherent set of moral norms and behavioral standards would be sorely tested.



Congregationalists were not the only ones who were engaged in the arduous task of establishing Protestant boarding schools in the early Republic. Also within the Reformed tradition but lying farther south geographically, a group of Presbyterians went about establishing a school in New Jersey. Just as the peculiarities of New England Congregationalism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries shaped the kinds of schools which emerged at Andover and Exeter, the fortunes and beliefs of Presbyterianism determined much of the character of Lawrenceville School.1 The Presbyterians and the Congregationalists who went about establishing these three schools can be thought of as theological first cousins, having developed out of the turmoil surrounding Martin Luther's break with the Roman Catholic Church on the European continent in 1517 and Henry VIII's subsequent establishment of the Anglican Church in England. Though many of their core beliefs were similar, the most noteworthy of which is their attachment to various forms of Calvinism, there were a number of salient differences. These differences would to varying degrees influence the

Lawrenceville was not the only Presbyterian academy. See William Weston and Dale Soden, "The American Presbyterian College," in Duncan S. Ferguson and William J. Weston, Called to Teach: The Vocation of the Presbyterian Educator (Louisville, KY: Geneva Press, 2003), 62. [the article itself is on pages 61-73]



development of Lawrenceville School along somewhat different lines from its northern counterparts. In terms of church governance, the Presbyterian movement which had emerged in Scotland in the seventeenth century stood in the middle ground between the decentralization of the Congregational model and the centralized, hierarchical model of the Church of England (which the latter had inherited from the Roman Catholics). Like the Congregationalists, local congregations were run by elders (and not, as in the Episcopal church, the rector who was accountable to a bishop) organized into a session. Unlike the Congregationalists, however, the session of each congregation was accountable to the larger denomination, first to the local unit called a presbytery (thus "Presbyterian") and ultimately to the whole, which gathered periodically in General Assembly to consider matters of common interest.2 Possessing as it did (and does) the authority to make decisions binding upon the entire denomination, the General Assembly afforded an arena for conflict. This was quite unlike the Congregational polity, whose decentralized nature, as we have seen, frequently isolated opponents from each other. Congregationalists therefore fought each other where they could get at each other, with the result that individual parishes frequently became battlegrounds, as did schools. At least through a substantial part of the nineteenth century, however, the Presbyterians engaged their issues in the General Assembly, and the schools were somewhat more peaceable as a result.

This division and dispersion of ecclesiastical authority has sometimes been compared to the United States political system of federalism, though historians of the denomination caution that this point alone hardly makes the Presbyterians the quintessential American denomination. Randall Balmer and John R. Fitzmier, The Presbyterians (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993), 15-16, 38-39; Lefferts A. Loetscher, A Brief History of the Presbyterians, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978), 77-78.



The second important way in which American Presbyterians differed from their northern Congregational cousins lay in their ethnic makeup, as they were predominantly from Scotland. Scots, however, were not all alike, and two significantly different groups eventually adhered to the Presbyterian faith. One group, known to history as the ScotsIrish, began leaving Scotland in the seventeenth century. They did so largely to seek freedom to be Presbyterian, but Ireland and not America was their original New England. There they developed a brand of Presbyterianism that was more evangelical than the mother church of Scotland, characterized by prayer meetings and communion services that lasted for days on end and a far greater emphasis on lay leadership in the church.3 In Ulster they also encountered both intransigent Catholic Irish and crushing rents imposed by the British who owned the land.4 Both factors were known to be absent in America, and so began the third largest emigration to America of the colonial era (after the English and the involuntary Africans). It was a phenomenon which took place in a series of pulses rather than a continuous stream, increasing according to periodic downturns in the Irish economy.5 Arriving in America now doubly-hyphenated as Scots-Irish-Americans, they found the Middle Colonies and the South to be congenial homes. While they preferred

James Horn, "English Speaking Protestants," in Mary Kupiec Cayton, Elliott J. Gorn, and Peter W. Williams, eds., Encyclopedia of American Social History (New York: Scribner's, 1993), 687-88. Bernard Bailyn, The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction (New York: Knopf, 1986), 29-32; Marilyn J. Westerkamp, Triumph of the Laity: Scots-Irish Piety and the Great Awakening, 1625-1760 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 43-73. Roger Daniels, Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 77-78.

5 4



"the best poor man's country" of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, many moved from there further south into the Virginia and Carolina backcountry.6 The second group originated from the Scottish mainland but bypassed Ireland in their migrations. These migrants tended to be more prosperous, with a far higher proportion of merchants, traders, and professionals than most incoming groups, a factor which immigration historians have cited in explaining one of their most distinctive characteristics: they brought with them a high degree of concern for education.7 The result, therefore, was the transplanting in America of a Protestant denomination with an intellectually rigorous faith (akin in this respect to both the New England Congregationalists and the Dutch Reformed Church in New York and New Jersey), led by ministers whose personalities and intellects were said to be "well-tipped with steel."8 It was not long before the ministers began poking at one another, for in the 1720s and 1730s the Great Awakening engulfed the church. Like the Congregationalists, Presbyterians split along New Light and Old Light lines. "Old Side" Presbyterians, as they came to be called, were the antirevival party, who looked to Europe for spiritual wisdom. "New Side" Presbyterians not only favored the revivals but saw American Presbyterianism as the source of saving, warm-hearted religion. Unlike the experience of the Congregationalists, these sentiments produced a formal denominational split as the New Side Presbyterians were forced from the synod in 1741.9

James T. Lemon, The Best Poor Man's Country: A Geographical Study of Early Southeastern Pennsylvania (New York: Norton, 1972); Horn, "English-Speaking Immigrants," 688.

7 8 9


Daniels, Coming to America, 83-84. Lemon, The Best Poor Man's Country, 21. Balmer and Fitzmier, The Presbyterians, 27-30.


Though the denominational split proved temporary ­ the two sides were reunited reconciled in a 1758 Plan of Union ­ it had a number of lasting effects. So far as the history of Lawrenceville School is concerned, the most significant was the action taken by the New Side Presbyterians to counter the anti-revival stances of Harvard and Yale and to meet its own need for clergy. In 1746, a group led by a New Side minister named John Dickenson founded the College of New Jersey, a school which eventually evolved into Princeton University. With the political assistance of the royal governor of New Jersey, Jonathan Belcher, the college survived its tenuous early years. Its pro-revival leanings were evident in the selection of Jonathan Edwards as its president in 1758, but he failed to survive a smallpox inoculation and died only weeks into office.10 The Presbyterian Church passed the remainder of the eighteenth century without further division, subsumed as were all the churches in the business of political revolution. But these twin legacies of the Great Awakening ­ the development of a lasting split along revival and antirevival lines within the Presbyterian denomination and the establishment of Princeton as a New Side school ­ ultimately exerted a significant influence on the development of a Presbyterian academy nine miles south of Princeton early in the following century. The village in which it was founded was indelicately named Maidenhead, and so it was initially called Maidenhead Academy. Relatively little is known of the founder of the school, Isaac Van Arsdale Brown, for in 1887 a fire

George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 493-94; Balmer and Fitzmier, The Presbyterians, 30-32; Sidney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1972), 268.



destroyed his house and papers.11 He was a graduate of Princeton who arrived in the New Jersey town of Maidenhead sometime after his ordination in 1807 to pastor the Presbyterian Church at an annual salary of $600.12 It was a church which two generations earlier had hosted George Whitefield on one occasion, a small but inconclusive clue as to the parish's leanings in the New Side ­ Old Side debate.13 The impetus for his decision to start a school appears to have been eminently practical: one of the elders of his church had five sons to educate and another had four.14 It is possible that Brown needed income as well, as his salary of $600 did not favorably compare with the $650 that Isaac Hurd was to reject from Second Church in Exeter, New Hampshire less than a decade later. The school, named for the village, opened in 1810. An advertisement appeared in the Trenton True American outlined the essentials:

The Public are informed that this Seminary is under the immediate government and instruction of the Rev. Isaac V. Brown, who was sometime Tutor of the College at Princeton, who is experienced in the management of youth, and who engages carefully to conduct the education and to guard the morals of all who may be committed to his care....

A. R. Evans to Samuel S. Duryee, 8 November 1968, LS Archives; S. R. Slaymaker, Five Miles Away: The Story of the Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, NJ: Lawrenceville School, 1985), 111; T. Dean Swift, "An American Schoolmaster: James Cameron Mackenzie, His Life and Work", section entitled "The Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial High School," p. 10, draft mss. [no date], copy in LS Archives. Swift taught at the school in the 1890s. The manuscript was never published, but was clearly relied on quite heavily by Slaymaker in compiling his history of the school. Roland J. Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 1810-1935 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1935), 9; Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 19-20.

13 14 12


Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 5, 9.

"Dr. Hamill's Address," in Addresses Delivered in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, at the SeventyThird Annual Commencement of the High School, June 28, 1883. By The Retiring Principal, Rev. Samuel M. Hamill, D.D., and Christopher Stuart Patterson, of Philadelphia, An Alumnus of the Class of 1856 (Trenton, NJ: Fitzgeorge and Stuckert, n.d. [1883]), 9. Pamphlet in Hamill Papers, LS Archives..


Mr. Brown has already commenced and proposes to continue the business of boarding and lodging youth from a distance in his own family.15

The town's name proved politically incorrect for the era, and so when it was renamed Lawrenceville after a hero of the War of 1812, Brown followed suit and renamed his academy the Lawrenceville School.16 The Presbyterian influence in the founding of Lawrenceville marked it as a distinctly different enterprise from those of Samuel and John Phillips farther north. This was in fact the decisive element in determining the character of the school for its first full century of existence. More specifically, Isaac van Arsdale Brown was an Old School Presbyterian. This group consisted of those who after the reunion of the denomination in 1758 and the disruptions of the revolutionary era had gradually shifted to a more conservative stance, defined primarily by a strict adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith. In particular, Old School Presbyterians emphasized two ideas. First, they held to a high view of the church, with a strong view of its primacy as the single most important institution in society. Among other things, this concept informed their beliefs about religious revival, which they believed should benefit the church first and then the wider social order. Second, they put great stock in doctrinal purity, which they regarded as supremely important.17

[No author], "The Early History of the School," 2. Undated mss. in LS Archives. The school archivists believe that it was produced in the 1920s or 1930s during Mather Abbot's tenure as headmaster.

16 17


"The Early History of the School," 3; see also Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 24-25.

Kathryn T. Long, The Revival of 1857-58: Interpreting an American Religious Awakening (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 102; Daniel G. Reid et al, eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), s.v. "Old School Presbyterians" by J. R. Fitzmier,


The Old School Presbyterians were a somewhat countercultural group, opposed to many of the more populist emphases of American Protestantism of the early nineteenth century. They were elitist not egalitarian, hierarchical not democratic, scholarly not antiintellectual, and, at least early in the century, less given to forging transdenominational links than many other Protestant groups in the Early Republic. By the first decade of the nineteenth century, they had also become the more conservative of the two wings of Presbyterianism, distrustful of the emergent Second Great Awakening. Numerically stronger than the New School Presbyterians, they had a strong presence in the American South, but if they can be said to have had an intellectual center, it was at the College of New Jersey. Princeton was the primary institution for the furtherance of the Presbyterian faith in America, and it was dominated by the Old School wing of the denomination.18 By any sober evaluation of the matter, however, the undertaking at Princeton was not going well by the first decade of the nineteenth century. Simply put, the College was not succeeding in its primary mission of educating ministers for the Presbyterian Church. The numbers had begun to decline during the American Revolution, such that by 1802 only 13% of the students became ministers, and even some of those moved on to other Reformed churches.19 In the highly cerebral world of Old School Presbyterianism, results were invariably traced back to ideas, with the result that the efficacy of the theological teachings of the College's President, Samuel Stanhope Smith, was increasingly questioned. A student rebellion in 1807 brought the crisis to a head. As Mark Noll has

Reid, ed., "Old School Presbyterians"; for the definitive account of populist Protestantism of the era, see Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989). Mark A. Noll, Princeton and the Republic, 1768-1822: The Search for a Christian Enlightenment in the Era of Samuel Stanhope Smith (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 171-72.

19 18


noted in his perceptive history of Smith's tenure, "the Princeton worldview" was one in which "sound principles encouraged virtue and order, fallacious beliefs led to vice and disorder," and there was little if any room for a theology of civil disobedience.20 As a result, a new board of trustees came to power, dominated by clergymen and willing to adapt the mission of Princeton, in Noll's words, to "the particularistic, denominational, and voluntaristic currents rapidly gaining ascendancy among the country's educational and religious elite."21 The result was what Noll has called "a root-and-branch reform" of Princeton as well as the formulation of what he has identified as a broader three-pronged strategy to reverse the declining fortunes of ministerial preparation. First, its proponents determined to lobby the Presbyterian General Assembly to promote Princeton as a place for ministerial preparation. Second, they successfully established a separate professor of theology at the College to ensure the proper teaching of the faith. Third, they embarked on the establishment of a separate school to prepare ministers, and in 1812 founded Princeton Theological Seminary.22 To this tripartite strategy a fourth element might well be added. A conclusive answer as to whether or not the founding of Lawrenceville School in 1807 was a conscious component of the broader strategy probably lies in the ashes of the 1877 fire which destroyed Hamill's papers. But the School's identification with Old School

20 21

Ibid., 236.

Ibid., 242; see also Mark A. Noll, "The Princeton Trustees of 1807: New Men and New Directions," The Princeton University Library Chronicle, Vol. XLI, No. 3 (Spring 1980), 224. [the article itself is on pp. 208-230]


Ibid., 172, 270.


Presbyterianism, its relationship with the College of Princeton, its eventual (and even closer) ties to Princeton Seminary, and its announced purposes of preparing ministers for the Presbyterian Church, all provide circumstantial evidence that the establishment of Lawrenceville was a "bottom-up" counterpart to the creation of the Theological Seminary. Some additional strong circumstantial evidence for this exists in the form of a letter written by Isaac van Arsdale Brown while he was a student at Princeton in 1802. "The friends of the college are now anxious to extend its patronage by all fair means," he wrote to a friend in Savannah, Georgia. He lamented the decline in "the southern interest" at Princeton, concluding with a request that his friend "do something to restore to us the attention of Savannah and the surrounding towns and country." Much was at stake in this, for "Cambridge is full of contagion and Yale overrun with numbers."23 The ability of Princeton College to produce ministerial candidates for the Seminary would be ensured in part by the establishment of a preparatory pool from which it might draw students who were good Presbyterians. The academies at Andover and Exeter were already into their fourth decades when Lawrenceville was founded. The Presbyterian school at Lawrenceville differed in several respects from the very beginning. From its start, Lawrenceville was the most theologically homogenous of the three. Brown also appears to have been more of an innovator than either Eliphalet Pearson or Samuel Abbott, implementing graded education with different classes in different rooms.24 He also put into place a program of

Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1746-1896 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946), 178.



"The Early History of the School," 3.


physical training (above and beyond Samuel Phillips's desire that his boys learn to swim), a curricular development which earned him the opposition of a local Presbyterian minister.25 The school calendar was similar to that of Andover and Exeter in that it was determined by agrarian needs rather than the rhythms of the church year, with two fivemonth terms broken by vacations in April and September, likely for planting and harvest.26 However, Brown departed from Samuel Taylor's prohibition against observing Christmas at Andover, celebrating the holiday at Lawrenceville.27 As at Andover and Exeter, the days were circumscribed by the rituals of Christian piety. Prayers were said prior to breakfast each morning at 6:30am, a shorter grace was offered at each meal, and truly lengthy offerings reserved for special occasions.28 Some boys did not respond. One found Brown's prayers and sermons to be "often fatiguingly long and uninteresting."29 Most students, however, saw a definable Christian component to the school. One boy, James Brainerd Taylor, not only experienced the Christian piety of the place but was also affected by the rising romanticism of the age. He wrote of his experience in 1819:

The school which I attend consists of twenty-five scholars, of whom five, including myself, are preparing for the ministry; the rest are wild, giddy-headed boys. I am pleasantly situated in an agreeable family, and have two room-mates, of whom one is a pious, humble Christian, and I think as suitable a companion

25 26

Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 34-35.

"The Early History of the School," 3. The document notes that a school catalogue was not published until 1836, one of the reasons ascertaining information about the academy's early history is so difficult.


1909, 31.


Alfred A. Woodhull, "Lawrenceville in the Early Fifties," The Lawrenceville Alumni Bulletin,

Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 15-17; Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 29; "Lawrenceville Academy, Order of Exercises," 27 September 1822. Brochure for a special convocation, LS Archives.


Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 28.


for me as could be found.... Yesterday morning, early, I walked into the fields, and found a refreshing time for my soul. A view of the works of creation, and the echo of various pleasant sounds, broke on the ear and warmed my heart.30

A Sabbatharianism which was perhaps even stricter at Lawrenceville than at Andover or Exeter also characterized the small Academy. As at all the boarding schools, the boys were required to attend church services. Brown also devoted himself to local efforts to enforce the Sabbath law against travel on Sundays on the road which ran through the town. Such an association is unsurprising for a minister of that era, for blue laws preserved a cultural information monopoly for clergy of the era, ensuring their dominance from the pulpit for at least one day a week. During the first third of the nineteenth century, Presbyterians and Congregationalists led the opposition to any weakening of the institution and so it is not at all surprising to see Brown involved on a local level.31 This commitment to Sabbatharianism became a hallmark of Lawrenceville School and one which it deployed to attract students: an 1830 advertisement in the Trenton Federalist informed prospective parents that "Their [the boys'] Sabbaths are spent in religious duties and studies."32 True to the emerging practice of academy headmasters ­ and faithful to the Presbyterian tradition of instruction ­ Brown employed Sunday's to "examine" the boys personally on their studies, which typically involved "five or six chapters in the Bible," according to one young man.33

J.B. Taylor to friend, 23 January 1820, cited in Mulford, History of Lawrenceville, 15. Only the first half of the quote is in Mulford's book. The remainder is in quoted in original draft of Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 16, typescript in LS Archives; hereafter referred to as "Mulford draft." Richard R. John, "Taking Sabbatharianism Seriously: The Postal System, The Sabbath, and the Transformation of American Political Culture," Journal of the Early Republic 10 (Winter 1990), 517-567.

32 33 31


Trenton Federalist, 2 October 1830; quoted in "The Early History," 4. D.D. Phillips to parents, 31 December 1824; quoted in Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 29-30.


Insofar as instruction was concerned, Brown was faithful to his promise that "the morals of youth will be strictly guarded and religious instruction faithfully given."34 The first was unalterably bound up with the second in the Old School Presbyterian mind, for right ideas were inextricably linked to right conduct.35 The school's curriculum offered Sacred History, Moral and Natural Philosophy, Sacred Music, and (surely a redundant phrase) "religious instructions."36 The latter likely involved a commitment to a body of doctrine, perhaps in the form of the Westminster Catechism. The course was listed in a school catalogue of 1837, just as Exeter was headed into the Hurd controversy. The Unitarian disdain for creeds might have come to Exeter, but at Lawrenceville boys learned their doctrine.37 The linchpin in all this was the school's commitment to Old School Presbyterianism. Accordingly, Brown was careful to forge links to the wider denomination. He continued to serve as the pastor of the local Presbyterian Church, and its Session may have had some say in the governance of his school.38 He worked with another pastor, George S. Woodhull (a trustee at Princeton), to produce a volume of edited sermons whose purpose, he wrote, was "to spread the knowledge of divine truth; to

New York Observer, 7 October 1837. "News Clippings, Lawrenceville Articles, Early Years" file, LS Archives.

35 36 37


Noll, Princeton and the Early Republic, 201. Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 34.

Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial High School between Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey (Trenton: J. Justice, 1837), 3-5, pamphlet in LS Archives. Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 5, is surely off the mark when he asserts that Lawrenceville marked a break from the religiouslybased education of the colonial era. A.P. Mershon suggests this in his, "More Narrative Notes," 1886. Typescript of manuscript in LS Archives.



concentrate the exertions of many in holding forth the word of life in a plain, forcible and engaging manner; to give (if possible) some check to the progress of iniquity; and to stir up professing Christians to diligence and fidelity."39 Most tellingly, he sat on the board of trustees of Princeton College from 1816 until his departure from Lawrenceville in 1837, and also held a seat on the Seminary's Board of Incorporators beginning in 1822.40 This link between Brown and the Seminary affords the clearest evidence of the precise theological tenets of Brown's school, just as the Phillips Andover link to Andover Seminary illumines the school of Adams and Taylor.41 Brown used this connection to market Lawrenceville as the relationship defined the public face of the young academy. In an 1837 school catalogue, "the Professors of Princeton Seminary" and "the President and Professors of Princeton College" are listed en masse as references.42 Anyone sending their sons to Lawrenceville would know what they were getting. Starting in the 1820s, Brown did forge links to the wider transdenominational agencies of the Early Republic. A Bible Society was started as a subsidiary of the

George S. Woodhull and Isaac v. Brown, eds., The New Jersey Preacher: or, Sermons on Plain & Practical Subjects, Vol. I (Trenton: D. Fenton, and New Brunswick: Charles D. Green, 1813), 5 (unfortunately, none of the sermons in this edited volume were by Brown himself); Mark A. Noll, "The Princeton Trustees of 1807," 225. Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 17; William K. Selden, The Legacy of John C. Green (privately printed, no date), 16. Pamphlet in the Green Foundation Papers, LS Archives. Even after he retired from Lawrenceville, Brown continued to be active in the affairs of Princeton, weighing in against proposals for cruciform architecture and an organ for the new chapel in 1847; Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1746-1896, 240-41.

41 42 40


Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 30.

Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial High School, Between Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey (Trenton: J. Justice and Son, 1837), 8. School catalogue collection, LS Archives. Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 34, makes too much of an 1829 advertisement that the school placed in local newspapers. He reads a commitment to undertake religious instruction "not under the influence of a sectarian spirit, but with a liberal view...of leading youth to correct habits and sound morals" as a departure from the school's founding Presbyterianism. Such a view overlooks the century-long connections with Princeton and the presence only of ordained Presbyterian ministers as headmasters of the school.


American Bible Society in 1821.43 A Temperance Society was established in 1832, just five years after the one at Andover and almost a full decade prior to the establishment of Exeter's chapter. But these links serve only to further highlight the Old School Presbyterian nature of Lawrenceville. There is no evidence that either the Bible Society or the Temperance Society engaged in activities outside the school. This lack of activity reflected the Old School Presbyterian belief that reform occurred to the benefit of the church and not the society, and that it was best accomplished in the lives of individuals rather than focusing on broader social ills. Lawrenceville's agencies therefore, though bearing the same names as those of Andover and Exeter, were far more institutionally privatized, removed from the "public" (i.e. off campus) sphere. The Temperance Society, for instance, exacted a pledge from its 69 members (an impressively high proportion of the student body of 80 boys) "to abstain from the use of all kinds of ardent spirits, and by all possible means, to discourage the use of them by others," but there is no evidence of efforts to affect alcohol consumption in the local area.44 This contrast to the more publicminded agencies of Andover is also evident in the agencies which did not have a presence at Lawrenceville: neither a Missions Society nor an Anti-Slavery society appears at the New Jersey school. The absence of the latter almost certainly reflects Lawrenceville's stronger southern constituency, and may have even been an important point in formulating the general principle of working only through the church. But the

S.M. Hamill, "C.C. High School Semi Centennial Historical Paper, Read in the church at Lawrenceville, N.J. in the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 27th, 1860," 15, typescript of manuscript in Hamill Papers, LS Archives; Alfred Woodhull, "Lawrenceville in the Early Fifties," 30; Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 33. Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 16, gives the date as 1822. "Mulford draft," 34, contains the Temperance Society's Constitution, which is not in his book; Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 16, gives the number of students; Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 33, 35.




broader point is that the school's Old School Presbyterianism had forged a more privatized definition of "reform," thereby restricting the role that the faith was expected to play in the public square.45 In what James Morehead has called "the divided conscience of antebellum Protestantism," Lawrenceville was firmly on the opposite side from Andover.46 By all accounts the academy prospered, such that by 1832 Brown was forced to resign the pastorate of Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church and to hire additional faculty for the school, now called Lawrenceville High School. He also sought administrative help and hired Alexander Hamilton Phillips to serve as co-principal. Old School Presbyterian ties played a role in his hiring as Phillips ­ who is said to have been related to Samuel and John Phillips ­ was a graduate of Princeton Seminary. By 1834, Brown had bowed out entirely and given the school over to Phillips.47 In his brief tenure as head, Phillips continued the Presbyterian mission of the school. Though a graduate of the Seminary, he had been licensed to preach but was never ordained ­ an intentional move, perhaps, in light of how exhausting Brown's dual duties as both pastor and headmaster must have been.48 During his brief tenure at Lawrenceville, the institutions of evangelical religion were maintained, including formal "religious instruction," maintenance of the Sabbath, required church attendance, and

45 46

Long, The Revival of 1857-58, 94.

James Moorhead, "Social Reform and the Divided Conscience of Antebellum Protestantism," Church History 48:4 (Dec. 1979), 416. Andover's situation in this regard is discussed in chapter 5.

47 48

Mulford, History of Lawrenceville School, 25; "The Early History of the School," 5. Brown was only 51 years old when he retired as headmaster.


morning and evening worship.49 But by far the most significant decision that Phillips made came in 1837 when he sold the school to Samuel Hamill.50 He stayed on to help with the transition and then departed for Texas, where he eventually served out his life as a ruling elder of a Presbyterian church and was active in the founding of the American Bible Society.51 Samuel Hamill had come to Lawrenceville to teach along with his brother Hugh, with a modest salary and the understanding that he would have to cut his own firewood.52 Of the two brothers, Hugh Hamill had the more advanced degrees but Samuel Hamill had the greater gifts. Their educations alone should establish that the transition was in ownership only and did not represent a shift in the Presbyterian mission of the school. The brothers' lineage hints at this: their father had emigrated to America from Ireland, thus likely marking him as Scots-Irish, the predominant ethnic base of the Old School wing of the denomination.53 Hugh Hamill had graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1830 and also studied at Yale. He was ordained in 1832 as an itinerant minister ("stated supply" in the parlance of the day) in New York and Maryland.54 Samuel Hamill had

49 50 51

Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 57. "Early History of the School," 6; Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 59.

[no author], "Sketch of the Life of the Honorable Alexander Hamilton Phillips," [no date]. Pamphlet in LS Archives; Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 28. "Early History of the School," 5. Hugh Hamill is listed as "Joint Principal" in school catalogues for the period, but Samuel Hamill was the sole proprietor of the school and its guiding force. See SemiCentennial Catalogue of the Classical and Commercial High School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey (Trenton: Murphy and Bechtel, 1860), 40. LS Archives. Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, VII, 39; cited in "Samuel M. Hamill, D.D.," typescript of manuscript by unidentified author in Hamill Papers, LS Archives.

54 53 52

Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 40; Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 60.


attended Jefferson College, a Presbyterian School in western Pennsylvania, graduated, and less than five weeks later found himself facing his first class at Lawrenceville School. Hamill later recalled that he accepted the position reluctantly, daunted by Phillips's request that he make a two-year commitment to the profession, and did so only after "prayerful consideration."55 No one familiar with the novice year of teaching will be surprised that Hamill later described it as "one of the most laborious years of my life."56 But God must have spoken decisively in his prayers, for he remained at Lawrenceville for a half century, shaping the school to Old School Presbyterian ends. A meticulous man who kept track of every penny he spent and every letter he wrote, Hamill was the Lawrenceville School through the middle half of the nineteenth century.57 Just as John Adams, Benjamin Abbott, Samuel Taylor and Gideon Soule all dominated their schools, so Samuel Hamill shaped his. In the process, however, he developed a number of emphases and practices in the school which differentiated it from its two northern Congregationalist and Unitarian counterparts. These included his own theological beliefs; the further strengthening of institutional ties to both the college and seminary at Princeton; the practice of the faith, especially the manner in which communion was administered; and the day-to-day spiritual life of the students.

55 56

[Samuel M. Hamill], "Dr. Hamill's Address," in Seventy-Third Commencement Addresses, 5.

Ibid. Despite his lack of formal theological study, Samuel Hamill was eventually ordained by both the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia and the Presbytery of New Brunswick, both in recognition of his skill as a preacher. Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, 2nd series, Vol. 11 (1890): 29-38; cited in "Samuel M. Hamill, D.D.," typescript of manuscript by unidentified author, Hamill Papers, LS Archives. Hamill kept a ledger of "List of Letters Written" with three columns headed "when", "to whom" and "where." In it he also wrote down his expenses and recorded an exhaustive "Catalogue of Books taken to Jefferson College." Hamill Papers, College Years, LS Archives.



Where Adams, Abbot, Taylor, and Soule were not given to introspection (at least in writing), Hamill committed many of his reflections to paper. Among those were the historical beliefs of orthodox Presbyterianism. He brought to his tenure at Lawrenceville a belief in original sin, that the boys under his charge were inevitably inclined toward doing wrong. In a paper which survives from his college years, he defined human nature as possessing "that expanded benevolence which is one of the noblest features of our nature." However much that nature might aspire to good, though, it was inevitably and incorrigibly focused away from God: "Yet we must admit that there is a selflove which is entirely consistent with the most expansive benevolence."58 Hamill also believed in the Reform doctrine of natural revelation, the idea that God revealed himself generally in nature long before fully revealing himself in the person of Jesus Christ. In another paper in college, Hamill waxed ecstatic on the subject:

When we contemplate the magnitude of this our Earth[,] the almost unbounded variety of minerals and vegetables which are found in and upon it and the innumerable number[,] remarkable beauty, structure, variety of species of the animals which inhabit it, and when we extend our ideas still further in the Firmament of Heaven, the beauty and order which they sustain with regard to each other; the regularity with which the Planets revolve around the Sun and in their respective axises, we are lost in wonder and led to conclude, not that the[y] sprang into existence by chance, but that the[y] were created and are sustained by a Being of Infinite Power and unequaled [sic] wisdom.59

Hamill's God was not the removed deity of European romanticists nor of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the American transcendentalists. He was a God fully engaged in the affairs of humankind and in his divine sovereignty fully in control over both good and

Samuel M. Hamill, undated manuscript probably from his years at Jefferson College. Hamill papers, LS Archives. Samuel M. Hamill, "There is a God," undated manuscript probably from his years at Jefferson College. Hamill papers, LS Archives.




evil. There was no such thing as an event with a purely "natural" explanation. Everything from smallpox to presidential assassinations was under the sovereignty of God.60 In the wake of Lincoln's death in 1865, he reminded the Lawrenceville students of this principle:

The inscrutable Providence which allowed our late beloved President, to be stricken down by the ruthless hand of the assassin, is one of those remarkable instances where God has asserted His control and made Himself known, in a manner that has led men to pause in amazement and stand in awe of Him. He has taught the nation and the world a lesson which the memory of man will never forget.61

Hamill worked by personal instruction and example to impress his Presbyterianism upon the students. He reserved to himself the task of teaching the course in Moral Science, the same headmaster's prerogative exercised by Soule at Exeter and Taylor at Andover.62 He raised his children in the church, and in her adult life his daughter Maude was able to write and tell him of her attendance at church every night for a week.63 A constant stream of letters informed him of the work of the Lord in seminaries, Bible societies, evangelical agencies, and Presbyterian churches across both the region and the nation. Hamill reinforced Lawrenceville's link to Presbyterian evangelicalism by tying it closely to the churches of the surrounding area and to the college and the seminary at

60 61

Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 79.

President Lincoln, A Faithful Son: An Address Delivered Before the High School at Lawrenceville, N.J., by Samuel M. Hamill, D.D., June 1st, 1865 (Trenton: Murphy and Bechtel, 1865), 3. Pamphlet in Hamill Papers, LS Archives. T. Dean Swift, "An American Schoolmaster: James Cameron Mackenzie, His Life and Work", section entitled "The Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial High School," p. 6, draft mss. [no date], copy in LS Archives.

63 62

Maude Hamill [daughter] to Samuel M. Hamill, 9 January 1873. Hamill Papers, LS Archives.


Princeton. He preached frequently in local Presbyterian pulpits.64 The connections to both the college and seminary were numerous, but the latter was particularly important since it was so central to the fortunes of Old School Presbyterianism in America. Hamill occupied the near-obligatory place on the Princeton Seminary Board of Trustees, thus placing him on contact with Old School theologians. One of the most prominent of these was A.A. Hodge. In 1841, Hamill hired Hodge, whose father Charles was the preeminent theologian of the first half of the century, to teach at Lawrenceville. Hodge remained only for a year or two before he left to attend the Seminary, but after his graduation and appointment to its faculty, he was a frequent speaker at Lawrenceville and also served on its board of trustees.65 His ongoing relationship with Hamill and his frequent presence on the Lawrenceville campus, together with his stature thereafter in defining conservative, Old School Presbyterianism through the Gilded Age, pinpoints Lawrenceville's position in the theological universe.66 Under Hamill, James McCosh was also a frequent visitor to the Lawrenceville campus. After a first career as a pastor in Scotland, McCosh had emigrated to the United States after a successful lecture tour in 1866 in order to take on the Presidency of Princeton College.67 McCosh's presence on campus as a frequent speaker to the

George Hale to Samuel M. Hamill, 5 October 1871; anonymous to Samuel M. Hamill, 10 August 1866. Hamill Papers, LS Archives. "Ben Ely is Dismissed from Lawrenceville (1843): From the Manuscript Autobiography of Ben Ezra Stiles Ely," 1843, typescript of manuscript in Student Papers, Early Years, LS Archives. John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), s.v. "Hodge, Archibald Alexander" by James M. Moorhead; Balmer and Fitzmeier, The Presbyterians, 171-72. J. David Hoeveler, Jr., James McCosh and the Scottish Intellectual Tradition: From Glasgow to Princeton (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 224-229, details the lecture tour and process by which McCosh was named the new President.

67 66 65



Lawrenceville boys ensured that they would be hearing one of the foremost conservative theologians in the nation on a regular basis.68 McCosh was one of the first thinkers to try and reconcile Darwinism and the orthodox Reform faith, deploying the Scottish Common Sense realist philosophy to argue that evolution and revealed religion were in no way incompatible.69 Though there is no way to measure just how Lawrenceville boys took to this message, at the very least the institutional connection served both schools well. Princeton professors upheld theological orthodoxy at Lawrenceville, and Lawrenceville boys attended Princeton in significant numbers.70 In addition to institutional relationships, the practice of communion at Lawrenceville marked the school as a distinctively Presbyterian institution. Hamill had a high view of God, once reminding his students "how careful we should be in our prayers, in speaking of the Heavenly Father; we should pause before uttering that sacred name; it is an awful thing to approach Jehovah, but we should come to him meekly and with simplicity."71 Communion bridged this gap between the natural and the supernatural, making God accessible to anyone, faculty and student alike. As such, it was not an event to be taken lightly. Hamill was careful to announce each communion service in advance in order to give his charges time to prepare for it. Indeed, the service was not seen as a single event, but as the centerpiece of a "communion season," a distinctly Presbyterian

68 69 70

Duryee, "Recollections of Lawrenceville School," 8. Balmer and Fitzmeier, The Presbyterians, 187-88; Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1746-1896, 311-12.

Duryee, "Recollections of Lawrenceville School," 8. Duryee estimated that by 1868 about twothirds of Lawrenceville graduates were matriculating to college or university, most of whom were attending Princeton.


Lawrenceville YMCA notebook, minutes for 9 February 1870. LS Archives.


way of going about the sacrament which had developed in Scotland.72 It was an opportunity for rededication of oneself to God, for fellowship with other believers, and for self-reflection and examination. Student organizations responded to the announcement of upcoming services by increasing the frequency of prayer meetings during the week prior to the celebration.73 Hamill also impressed upon the boys the need for self-examination and self-reflection in that week, at one point recommending a list of some dozen items that they might pray for.74 Old School Presbyterian theology required that communicants had to be professors of the faith, but Hamill also hoped the impending service would serve to attract boys into the faith. In this respect the "communion season" functioned in place of revivals at Andover. This, too, reflected Old School principles, for these Presbyterians were extremely distrustful of revival "measures" as artificial and ephemeral, unable to produce the deep conviction of faith that a genuine engagement with God, through communion, would produce. Samuel Taylor might expect conversion to occur in a prayer meeting or during communion, but Hamill was more likely to regard conversion as a prerequisite to either. A letter to Hamill from a former student which survives from 1851 indicates just how powerful this experience could be:

I would have written to you before this, but I thought I would wait until the communion season was over and let you know the joyful news all at once. Two of your pupils, (Tom and myself) seated ourselves with many other followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, around the Lord's table and celebrated his dying love. It was indeed a solem [sic] but a very interesting occasion to see one and an other come out from the world and publicly confess their faith in Christ. Here is a question which often comes up in my mind. Why did not God cut me off while in the midst of my sins and consign me to the world of woe and

72 73 74

See Westerkamp, Triumph of the Laity, 29-34, 162-63. Lawrenceville YMCA notebook, minutes for 10 March 1869. LS Archives. Lawrenceville YMCA notebook, minutes for 19 January 1870. LS Archives.


misery. But now I thank and praise him with my whole heart, that he has spared my life until the time that I united with the church. What a happy thing it is to be on the Lord's side.75

In his retirement valedictory in 1883, Hamill recalled the conversion of another student which had taken place in his study:

More than thirty years ago a boy of more ordinary culture and mental power became very insubordinate, and we were obliged for the good of the school to dismiss him. Just before parting with him I invited him to my study and knealt down and prayed with him. This broke him down. He left. In the city of Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, at the meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, a gentleman came and took me by the hand, in the midst of a crowd, and whispered in my ear, `I have never forgotten that prayer you made with me in your study just before I left Lawrenceville. It was the turning point of my life.' We were both too full for utterance, and adjourned our interview to a more convenient place and time. I found the inconsiderate boy an able and successful minister of the Gospel.76

The daily and weekly rhythms of the school also reflected the Protestant Christianity of the school. The school day opened and closed with prayer.77 They were not brief perfunctory services, recalled one alumnus:

Morning and evening prayers were somewhat protracted. On winter mornings we met by lamplight, read aloud in turn from a verse in the Bible, a hymn was sung and prayer followed. These exercises were in turn presided over by Doctors Samuel and Hugh Hamill and four under teachers. On one evening a week there was a church service held in the Oratory, at which the teachers in turn made addresses. If a boy, at morning prayers, in reading from the scripture, mispronounced a word he was corrected and made to reread the verse. This way I heard the entire Bible read more than once by my schoolmates.78

D.W. Stewart to S.M. Hamill, 9 April 1851; quoted Mulford draft, 98, LS Archives. See also Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 67-68.

76 77 78


"Dr. Hamill's Address," in Seventy-Third Commencement Addresses, 6. 1860 Catalogue, 43. Duryee, "Recollections of Lawrenceville School," 2.


Prayer meetings among the boys were usually held twice a week, on Sunday and a weekday. The Sunday meeting was well-attended, the Tuesday meeting less so. In 1862, there was some sentiment to cut back to one meeting per week, but after two weeks' consideration the students voted to reinstate it.79 Hamill liked to tell parents that the grounds were almost deserted when the meetings were in session.80 These meetings also reflected Hamill's desire that faculty be involved in the spiritual lives of the students, as he would ask instructors to take on the task of leading the prayer meeting. This was not only to the benefit of the boys, but to the spiritual authority of the masters as well. "When a Teacher has been with us sometime we call on him to conduct morning prayer and sometimes evening prayer," he noted. "This tends to strengthen his hands and add to his authority, although the duty properly belongs to ourselves."81 Sundays were kept in what one student later described as "the old Presbyterian way." The boys attended two-hour services at a local Presbyterian church in the town of Lawrenceville, where the minister duly inculcated in them the Westminster Catechism. A "protracted" Sunday school was held in the afternoon, and boys were forbidden to leave the school grounds on that day so as to better facilitate their assigned memorizations of Scripture. An evening service closed the day.82 Even discipline reflected the earnest desire of the Hamills that their boys

YMCA notebook, minutes for 25 June 1862; 12 November 1862; 26 November 1862; 13 March 1867. LS Archives.

80 81 82


H.B. Fox to S.M. Hamill, 18 March 1868. Hamill Papers, LS Archives. Cited "Mulford draft," 208.

Duryee, "Recollections of Lawrenceville School," 6; Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 54, 65, 67; Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 54, 56.


learn the faith: students guilty of committing infractions on a Sunday might have to memorize a passage of Scripture to atone for their oversight.83 Under Hamill, the curriculum appears to have changed little from that formulated by Isaac Brown. The school offered both classical and commercial courses whereby a student could prepare either for college (Princeton) or for a career in business. There were courses in Latin, Greek, history, and mathematics ­ the staples of the classical education ­ supplemented by commercial curriculum offerings in geography, orthography, botany, vocal music and physiology. Catechitical instruction was present in the course "Evidences of Christianity." As Brown had done, Hamill taught Moral Philosophy, the centerpiece of the classroom work. Formal worship complimented the learning as students received a grade for attendance at chapel.84 For Old School Presbyterians, however, there was no such thing as merely theoretical knowledge. Rather, what one learned inevitably shaped who one was; all knowledge was therefore essentially moral. Hamill arrived at this position in college. Man, he wrote (in a paper of some banality), was naturally ambitious to master his world. This was not necessarily a good thing, for man's inherent sinfulness ultimately sullied everything he undertook, limiting his accomplishments and alienating him from God. But this same ambition, Hamill noted, was also "the lever which wants but a fulcrum to raise Earth to heaven, man to [from?] his primeval state." Knowledge was therefore not only the means for progress, but it was ultimately connected to spiritual salvation, leading

Ely, "Ben Ely is Dismissed." The penalty for weekday infractions was to memorize a secular piece of work. Alfred Woodhull, "Lawrenceville in the Early Fifties," 19. "Classical and Commercial High School, Lawrenceville, NJ, Sessional Report, Scholarship and Conduct of Hanford N. Lockwood", 31 March 1871, LS Archives.




men to "the eternal throne." Not only would it satisfy the unholy ambition of man, but properly channeled it would be a civilizing influence for all humankind as well as "a rich song of enjoyment" for individuals.85 Though incomplete and somewhat amateurish, the essay is revealing. Its epistemological assumptions in regarding truth as a coherent whole are consistent with Old School Presbyterian thought. Truth was unitary and not fragmentary. No part of the world was divorced from the agency of God, so knowledge of any aspect of creation afforded a window onto the Creator. Some knowledge afforded a better view than others ­ the Bible, for instance, had been divinely revealed ­ but no knowledge was of such a nature that it was separate and "other" in this regard. The implications of this way of thinking for education were, of course, considerable. The most significant was the conclusion that what one learned was intimately connected to who one was. Knowledge formed the character of a person, who in turn acted upon the world and made it a better place. There was no higher purpose for which education could possibly function: "The fundamental purposes for which the school now exists," wrote one alumnus of the class of 1870, " to so enlighten, guide and discipline the minds and wills of boys in their impressionable years that afterwards, they, using aright larger opportunities, develop into honorable and useful men."86 Another alumnus who had been a student in the 1850's put it this way:

Here [at Lawrenceville], ever since Dr. Hamill has been at the head of the school, it has been its doctrine, and its practice: first, that education does not consist in


S.M. Hamill, "Importance of The Acquisition of Knowledge," manuscript in Hamill Papers, Early Years. LS Archives. [Joseph Rankin Duryee], "Recollections of Lawrenceville School 1866 ­ 1870." Typescript of undated manuscript in LS Archives.



the mere acquisition of facts, but that it means the harmonious development of the intellectual faculties; and second, that any such development is insufficient and one-sided, if it be not supplemented by thorough moral training; and, third, that that moral training can not be given by the inculcation of any system of abstract morality, however pure its ethical principles may be, but that it can only be effectual, when based upon the patient and faithful teaching of the religion of Christ. In other words, the aim and end of Lawrenceville training is to send forth into the world young men, who shall made the nearest possible approximation to that highest human ideal, the educated Christian gentleman.87

Because of the overt and intimately spiritual nature of knowledge and instruction, Hamill also appears to have operated out of the firm conviction that such principles could only be passed on by those familiar with them, for one could not impart what he did not possess. Four of the eight members of the "Board of Instructors" in 1860 were clergymen.88 In an address to the American Association for the Advancement of Education in 1854, he laid out his philosophy:

Let the heart be cultivated. Our ultimate appeal must be here. It may be done by the teacher's example. He should be a living example of the power of selfgovernment. The heart may be cultivated by frequent appeals to conscience. And the conscience may be kept alive by bringing the young into contact with the truth. Let them hear the Sacred Scriptures read by the teacher.89

Implicit in this was the idea that all instructors were to believe what they taught ­ in other words, that they should be committed Presbyterians. This practice of Hamill's, which his successors appear to have continued at least until the 1920s, was crucial to the maintenance of the Presbyterian mission and purpose of the school, forming a powerful

"Address by Christopher Stuart Patterson, An Alumnus of the Class of 1856," in 1873 Addresses, 15. "Order of Examinations of the Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial High School, From March 25th to 31st, 1846," flyer in LS Archives; 1860 Catalogue, 41-42; "Classical and Commercial High School, Lawrenceville, NJ, Sessional Report, Scholarship and Conduct of Hanford N. Lockwood," 31 March 1871, LS Archives; Semi-Centennial Catalogue of the Classical and Commercial High School, 40. The American Journal of Education, Vol. I (American Association of the Advancement of Education: Washington, D.C., 1854), 218; cited in Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 49.

89 88



bulwark against the forces of secularization as the century progressed. Exeter, it will be recalled, discarded orthodox Congregationalism when John Phillips appointed a headmaster, Benjamin Abbot, to whom orthodox Congregationalism was not important. Samuel Hamill's preference for Presbyterians ­ personal preference during his tenure, codified in the school's governance after 1883 ­ was a key reason that Lawrenceville remained a Presbyterian institution into the following century. There was one final component to the goals of Lawrenceville. Boys who attended the school came away firmly imbued with the core values of the nineteenth-century "domestic Protestantism." Constructed around its concept of the family, this ideology prized nurturing, sentimentality, and bourgeois family life. Its altar was the hearth, though instruction was seen as more important than worship.90 Over time, Lawrenceville's publications increasingly emphasized these values. Despite the all-male nature of the school, the 1837 catalogue devoted a full section to the subject of "maternal attentions," assuring parents that the boys, particularly the younger ones, would receive instruction in "their persons, dress and manners which are of so much importance to youth in the absence of their parents."91 The 1860 catalogue described the collective daily worship "observed by the whole school, who constitute one family."92 At the end of his career, Hamill reflected that "We have thrown as much of the family influence, and the

Colleen McDannell, The Christian Home in Victorian America, 1840-1900 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1986), 93, 106-07.

91 92


1837 Catalogue, 4. 1860 Catalogue, 43.


amenities of social life into [the life of the school] as the numerous household would allow."93 Hamill also continued and strengthened Lawrenceville's ties to the benevolent organizations of the antebellum era which Isaac Van Arsdale Brown had begun. He served on the Board of Managers for a local insane asylum and worked with the Mercer County Bible Society. The Bible Society distributed Bibles among "28 families destitute of a copy of the sacred scriptures," noted the Society's Secretary. "A majority of them are colored families, and some of them unable to read, but still they might have the Bible read to them if it is found in their dwellings," he noted optimistically.94 His wife also made donations to a local relief fund.95 By far the most active of these organizations on campus in the Hamill years were the Temperance Society and the YMCA. The Temperance Society at Lawrenceville had been founded under Brown, but the new headmaster needed no persuasion on this point. In a paper which survives from his days at Jefferson College, his enthusiasm for his subject was considerably stronger than the quality of his prose: the present day ­ when so much light is brilliantly beaming of the community on the subject of Temperance, no one can come on the stage of ... life and be an indifferent spectator of the advancement of this cause. There is no neutral ground. By the ravages of intemperance the very existence of our government has been threatened. Its blighting influence has been felt in every corner of the land. It has affected our halls of legislation and seats of justice. Will you not then come

93 94

"Dr. Hamill's Address," in 1883 Addresses, 7.

Alfred Woodhull, "Lawrenceville in the Early Fifties," 30; the quote is from Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 64n8. "Notice of the Quarterly Meeting of the Board of Managers of the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum," 1865; an illegibly-signed letter to S.M. Hamill, 12 June 1864; Relief Fund for Disabled Ministers and the Widows and Orphans of Deceased Ministers to Mrs. S.M. Hamill, 10 August 1866. All in LS Archives.



forward and join in the general effort to stay the ravages of this flood of liquid poison which threatens to overwhelm us. So you love your country and will you not lend your hand to save it from destruction... or will you look on indifferently...96

At Lawrenceville, the record that Hamill kept of his personal finances indicate that at least early in his tenure, he himself was not a teetotaler but paid for "cakes and beer" on occasion.97 This is consistent with the early years of the temperance movement, whose advocates often backed literal temperance ­ that is, moderation ­ rather than abstention in use of alcoholic beverages.98 However, his attempts to inculcate these principles in young men evidently ran up against the adolescent inability to see shades of gray, and Hamill eventually moved to a position of advocating total abstinence, admonishing his charges with the Biblical passage "Touch not, taste not, handle not."99 By the early 1850s, boys who agreed with this signed a pledge not to imbibe.100 The pledge was reinforced by participation in the meetings of the Temperance Society (personally overseen by the headmaster), which were occurring regularly by 1843 and likely some years before that. The students listened to guest speakers, read newspaper accounts of the deleterious effects of drink, and passed resolutions ("Resolved, that we have observed with great satisfaction the efforts made by the friends of Temperance in different parts of the country, to revive the interest in the Temperance cause, and that the


Samuel M. Hamill, untitled and undated mss. in Hamill Papers, Early Years, LS Archives. The second and third ellipses are in the original; the original punctuation has been preserved.

97 98

Financial ledger, Hamill Papers, Early Years, LS Archives.

See James H. Timberlake, Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900-1920 (New York: Athenuem, 1970), and Ian Tyrrell, Sobering Up: From Temperance to Prohibition in Antebellum America, 1800-1860 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979).


Temperance Society notebook, minutes for 22 February 1881. LS Archives. Alfred Woodhull, "Lawrenceville in the Early Fifties," 30-31.



example of Senators, representatives in congress in taking a leading part in this cause, is very encouraging and sets an example worthy of our imitation."). By 1870, 50 students had joined the organization.101 Though Lawrenceville may have resembled Exeter in that the Temperance Society was a presence on its campus, the temperance arguments that Lawrenceville boys were exposed to were quite different that the emphasis on moral uplift which characterized the chapter at the Unitarian School. Both Exeter and Lawrenceville boys were indeed reminded of the dangers of alcohol, admonished of the dangers of social sipping as the first step onto the slippery slope to disaster. But the arguments at Lawrenceville were tied to Biblical truth rather than experience. "Now the Bible describes the path that we are to pursue," wrote the group's secretary, "and distinctly states that an inebriate can not inherit the kingdom of our Lord."102 At Exeter, drinking was unwise; at Lawrenceville, it was wrong, even evil. The YMCA was the later of the two agencies to develop at Lawrenceville, and its admission onto the campus affords a window into the dynamics underlying the slowlychanging world of Old School Presbyterians. By all indications at mid-century, the YMCA should have failed Lawrenceville's test of orthodoxy. It was a classic revival agency of the Second Great Awakening, and the Old School Presbyterian fear that the "new means" of the revivals would produce false or ephemeral growth in the church has already been noted. Such views ran the obvious risk of isolating the Old School

Temperance Society notebook, minutes for various undated meetings, and minutes for 5 February 1856; February 1859; 22 February 1860; 4 February 1870. Whether record-keeping or actual convening was sporadic is impossible to tell. LS Archives.



Undated, untitled manuscript inserted in the 1878 YMCA notebook, LS Archives.


Presbyterians within their denomination as they focused their energies on building the church (as they defined it) and converting individuals through communion services and the long-term practice of piety. Had this trend continued, it is probable that as an Old School academy, Lawrenceville would have trod the same path as Phillips Andover had under Samuel Taylor, more concerned with maintaining its own hedges than with work in the public park. But a funny thing happened on the way to insularity. The nationwide revival of 1857-58 intruded in such a way as to change the Presbyterian school at Lawrenceville, and turned it toward a broader vision. The Revival began in a series of mass meetings in New York City, in itself geographically proximate to Lawrenceville, and quickly spread to major urban centers throughout the east and into the Midwest. It was largely a middle-class event centered in the churches in urban business districts, and is reputed to have originated in lower Manhattan, just minutes' walk from Wall Street. Many of the participants at the time believed that it was caused by the panic of 1857, which had shattered the financial lives of many of those who responded favorably to the noon prayer meetings which anchored the revival; some also saw a relationship to Northern antislavery sentiment and the turmoil surrounding "Bleeding Kansas." Whatever its specific causes, there was no mistaking the significant role played by the Young Men's Christian Association. The young parachurch group had helped popularize the prayer-meeting format and applied a high level of organization to the meetings, an innovative approach if only for its twin recognition that revival was at least in part a form of modern entertainment and that it


could be rationalized as well. In this respect, the YMCA helped cause the revival, whose energies in turn fueled its own phenomenal growth as a revival agency.103 Aside from the evident conversions which occurred, other results of the revival were more limited. The "impending crisis" of the nation's sectional split continued unabated as Bleeding Kansas and the Lincoln-Douglas debates over the spread of slavery proceeded even in the midst of the revival.104 While the revival can hardly be said to have caused the sectional split, it also failed to ameliorate the crisis. But a key point insofar as Lawrenceville School is concerned is evident in Kathryn Long's perceptive history of the event, in which she notes that it "marked a public triumph of socially conservative revivalism" which in essence repudiated the social-reform model of revivals which had played such an important role in fueling the abolitionist movement. Long's analysis is succinct: this was due to the fact that the primary focus of the revival was on personal piety and community evangelism, rather than national salvation and social reform. In other words, the more conservative wing of evangelicalism's divided conscience had prevailed over its New England counterpart as personal piety won out over "political praying."105

Long, The Revival of 1857-58, 13-15, 127-28. On the YMCA and the noon prayer-meetings, see also James F. Findlay, Jr., Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist, 1837-1899 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 112-116. See also David I. Macleod, Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners, 1870-1920 (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), and for a view of the YMCA's impact on an entirely different class of Americans, Thomas Winter, Making Men, Making Class: The YMCA and Workingmen, 1877-1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

104 105


See David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976). Long, The Revival of 1857-58, 94-95.


This was the kind of religious revival that the Old School Presbyterians at Lawrenceville could embrace. The emphasis on prayer meetings, on sustained appeals to come to Christ, the eschewing of new and suspect "means" of promoting conversion ­ Hamill and Brown had been at this staid form of revival for a half century prior to 1857. In effect, the Revival of 1857-58 therefore served to tame the revival energies of the Second Great Awakening, creating a domesticated form acceptable to the conservative social wing of American Protestantism. In the process the YMCA had emerged as a palatable revival agency which was well suited to the Old School theology of conversion. Not surprisingly, a chapter of the organization was established on the Lawrenceville campus during what its student historian later described as "an unusual degree of religious interest in this institution" in 1859.106 As "quite a number" of conversions occurred in 1859-60, the inaugural members drew up a constitution which opened membership to "any person who is a professing Christian for more than three weeks" as well as to "any one who is not a professor if he takes a deep interest in divine things." Its announced purpose was "to cultivate a love for God among ourselves; to promote a religious feeling among our companions and to acquaint ourselves with the best modes of doing good." The founders adopted a motto, "watch and pray."107 It generally attracted the faithful, though occasionally someone "who was not a professing Christian" would join.108 Though the headmaster was present at most of the meetings, it was clearly a student-run organization, and Hamill seems to

106 107 108

"Historical Essay," 1879, YMCA notebook, LS Archives. "Constitution of the YMCA," LS Archives. "Historical Essay," 1879, YMCA notebook, LS Archives.


have purposely kept a low profile.109 The emphasis on personal piety was evident from the very start. Though the topic of the inaugural meeting was "the good of others," the starting point was invariably that of the individual. "Our influence in this world is for good, whether our influence is for the happiness of all, on whom our influence extended by our good example, or the eternal misery to all who have followed our bad example," noted the chapter's Secretary.110 Such individualism could also be intensely introspective:

One of the best ways of promoting personal piety is to read the bible continually for the reason that before anyone is led to embrace the salvation by Jesus Christ must ­ needs [to] ­ read the Bible, or hear it read, and that by reading, a troubled soul often finds peace, trusting in the promises and mercies of God. A guide to our feet, and a lamp to our path. And the fact the Bible is the only book that can revive our perishing souls and fill our hearts with joy with its precious promises, that God will not leave us nor forsake us, and as the way to holiness is first made plain by the bible, so any one who is desirous to become holier every day must make the Bible his companion.111

Other topics through the first year of the organization included "Quench not the Spirit," "The Importance of Distributing the Bible," "The Importance of Reflection," "The Christian's Hope," "How can a revival of religion be brought about in this institution?", "the Holy Sacrament," "Death," "Faith," and "The office of conscience" ­ all indications that the fruits of this revival on the campus of the Lawrenceville School mirrored that of the nationwide experience, centered as they were on the individual and not on the society as a whole.

YMCA notebook, minutes of various meetings, 1859-60, and "Historical Essay," 1879. At one meeting, the Secretary noted, with only the level of temerity that an adolescent can summon, that "Rev. S.M. Hamill gave satisfactory reasons for his absence from the previous meeting, and some of those preceding it." YMCA notebook, minutes for meeting of 30 November 1859, LS Archives.

110 111


YMCA notebook, minutes of 8 June 1859. LS Archives. YMCA notebook, minutes of 22 June 1859. LS Archives.


But the fact of the matter remained that the admission of the YMCA to the Lawrenceville campus marked a broadening of the school, mirroring the Old School Presbyterian embrace of the larger revival which signified a new openness to transdenominational efforts. In this respect, Lawrenceville was moving in the opposite direction from Phillips Andover during the same period. As we have seen, Andover was a school steeped in the social reform tradition of American revivals, a heritage which had brought about the earliest development of an anti-slavery society in an American boarding school. By the time of the Revival of 1857, however, Samuel Taylor was squandering that heritage and making his school into an increasingly reactive and isolated institution, walling off the world in his efforts to resist change. Theological fear had overwhelmed social conscience. Farther South, however, Presbyterian Lawrenceville, tied to a conservative view of revival and a distrust of the antebellum ethos of Protestantbased social reform ­ that school reacted to the Revival of 1857 by embracing a transdenominational agency and signaling its willingness to join the mainstream of Protestant America, albeit on its own relatively conservative terms. The Great Revival during Hamill's tenure moved Lawrenceville into the mainstream of Protestant America. The Great Reaction under Taylor removed Andover from it. The admission of the YMCA also proved significant for both the YMCA and for the other schools in this study. Lawrenceville was but the first of the schools to admit the Y, and the organization would eventually have a presence on all six of the campuses. In fact, over the next half-century, the YMCA became the single most important expression of student religious faith at the schools. This boarding school experience in turn served as the seedbed for the YMCA's entry into collegiate campus ministry. Prior to the revival, it


had had a limited presence at some colleges, notably the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan. But the success of the organization at Lawrenceville in part laid the base for its mass expansion onto college campuses beginning in the late 1870s. From 40 campus chapters in 1887, by 1900 the YMCA had 559 chapters involving almost 32,000 college students.112 By the early 1870s, then, as Samuel Taylor and Gideon Soule passed from the scene at Andover and Exeter, Samuel Hamill had built a strong school by a combination of theological consistency, effective administration, and a willingness to innovate on a small scale. He appears to have effectively managed the school's finances, at least until the 1870's, keeping costs and therefore tuition low. He also took advantage of the fact that the town of Lawrenceville was not large enough to support its own public high school and admitted local students, thereby building the enrollment (and the revenue) of the school. By mid-century enrollment topped 100 and remained there even in times of economic distress. As a result, he was able to expand the school, purchasing 70 acres of land in 1846 and adding an additional story to the school building three years later.113 Lawrenceville alumni came to include a number of clergymen and missionaries as well as generals, businessmen and politicians.114 The keystone in all this, however, was the school's clear sense of what it was about. When parents sent their sons to Lawrenceville, regardless of their own

David P. Setran, "Student Religious Life in the `Era of Secularization:' The Intercollegiate YMCA, 1877-1940," History of Higher Education Annual, forthcoming. I am grateful to Prof. Setran for providing me with a copy of his manuscript.

113 114


"The Early History of the School," 6.

Hamill, "C.C. High School Semi Centennial Historical Paper," 12-14; Alfred Woodhull, "Lawrenceville in the Early Fifties," 27; Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 83-84.


denominational inclinations, they knew that they were getting a commitment to Old School Presbyterianism, a promise to inculcate the faith in their sons as best the school could, and a likely ticket to Presbyterian Princeton.115 One parent was practically breathless with praise, writing to Hamill: "Praise be to him, and grateful thanks to you[,] my dear Sir, for your continuing efforts, God is answering my Prayers through your labours, in you Sir I recognize his appointed Servant to prepare these young Hearts for a life of usefulness and one of Glory to God...."116 Another parent wrote in 1868 to express appreciation for the conversion of his son, noting that "while we have ever been pleased with the school and its influences, we are glad that we placed Gilbert in it and while with acquiring knowledge he has found what is better the `pearl of great price.'"117 Such comments, however, became fewer and fewer as the decade waned. It is not altogether clear precisely when the energies unleashed by the Revival of 1857-58 ran their course, nor are the sources of the school's troubles beginning in about 1870. Whether the Civil War had cost the school its southern constituency or whether Hamill was simply wearying after more than forty years as head of the school, there is no doubt that the school entered a troublesome period in its history. Certainly the student members of the YMCA sensed that something was awry. Their concern was evident in the topic for discussion in their meeting of October 27, 1869: "How can we make our meetings most pleasant, in addition would it not make them more pleasant, by prayer for a revival of

The YMCA "Historical Essay" for 1879 noted students who were "of the Presbyterians, Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, Reformed, Lutheran, and Congregational churches."

116 117


H.B. Fox to S.M. Hamill, 18 March 1868. Hamill Papers, LS Archives.

G. Molleson to S.M. Hamill, 11 March 1868. Hamill Papers, LS Archives. The gender of the letter-writer is unclear.


religion."118 Attendance fell, from 43 at a representative meeting in 1870 to only 13 members in 1876 and just eight two years later.119 The Tuesday evening prayer meeting was discontinued, and even the Secretary noted that "the interest in religious things faded in a good measure from our School and we saw but little fruit of our labors."120 Hamill began speaking up in meetings, lecturing his charges on the need to "speak boldly for the Lord with faith."121 By 1880, the author of the YMCA's annual "Historical Essay" plumbed the depth of the declension: "There has at times been considerable religious interest in the school, and many have expressed the wish of being Christians, but we have only been permitted to see one of our companions brave enough to `stand up for Jesus', nevertheless we frequently thank Providence that we have the means of bringing him to the Saviour." Straining for a more positive assessment, the most he could say was that "the meetings have been very pleasant and instructive."122 Faculty morale was suffering as well. The number of students declined precipitously. There were complaints about the students' lack of ability ­ an age-old lament of teachers, no doubt, but one largely absent in the life of Lawrenceville prior to this time.123 Faculty also appear to have enforced rules inconsistently, as students failed

118 119

YMCA notebook, minutes for meeting of 27 October 1869. LS Archives.

YMCA notebook, minutes for meetings of March 1872; 13 December 1876; 20 March 1878. LS Archives. "Historical Essay," 1870, YMCA notebook, LS Archives. The author of the "Historical Essay" for 1871 is even more discouraged: "The days and weeks rolled on and the interest seemed in a great measure to die out, and so it has continued."

121 122 123 120

YMCA notebook, minutes for meeting of 9 February 1870. LS Archives. "Historical Essay," 1880, YMCA notebook, LS Archives. "Minute Book of Faculty," minutes for meeting of 31 January 1881, notebook in LS Archives.


to dress properly for the prayers which still opened and closed each day and left the formal meals early.124 One instructor even went so far as to leave Lawrenceville and start a school of his own, taking a number of Lawrenceville boys with him.125 Hamill himself was getting old and was visibly less patient with the foibles of teenage boys. At one point, he became a literal Bible-thumper, striking a student named J. Sturgis McCord with his copy of the Scriptures after McCord had played a prank on another boy.126 By the 1880s, the increasingly moribund life of the school had reached crisis proportions. A commencement speaker in 1883 pronounced that it was a school whose "end and object" was "to send forth the boys who are educated here, in the closest possible approximation to that highest type of humanity ­ the educated Christian gentlemen."127 However, it was increasingly evident that the typical Lawrenceville graduate was increasingly likely to be neither educated nor Christian nor very much of a gentleman. They were also not likely to be numerous: the following year, the school awarded only two diplomas.128 The school's unusual response to a drinking incident in 1880 may well shed light on all these related problems. In October, at least four students traveled into Trenton on a Saturday night, consumed a fair amount of beer and brandy at the American House bar, and were apprehended upon their return to campus. The incident is hardly noteworthy in and of itself, for student consumption of alcohol is a

124 125 126

"Minute Book of Faculty," minutes for meeting of 29 January 1883. Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 137.

The incident is recounted in the Lawrenceville Alumni Bulletin, 1911; quoted in Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 80.

127 128

Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 110. Ibid., 177.


constant component of boarding school life, regardless of century. What is illuminating was the school's response: two boys were suspended for a period of time (the record does not say for how long) and a third was permitted to remain on campus, placed on probation. (The fate of the fourth is not mentioned.)129 The incident stands in stark contrast to the more prosperous academies at Andover and Exeter, where Taylor's and Soule's hard stances against alcohol were known through the student body and remarked upon for years afterward. While it is entirely possible that different theological conceptions of grace, mercy, and forgiveness lay at the heart of Hamill's response, it seems more likely that the explanation behind his leniency was starkly financial: he couldn't afford to lose the tuition revenue. Faculty morale, school finances, and student behavior would all be at risk in such an environment ­ to say nothing of impending bankruptcy in a school which was still privately owned by the headmaster. Hamill's financial needs coincided neatly with two other developments. The first was the death of John Cleve Green, a Presbyterian layman whose long interest in Lawrenceville dated back to his days as a student under Isaac van Arsdale Brown. Green had been the vice president of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and a member of the University Place Presbyterian Church. His brother was a longtime member of the Princeton Seminary Board of Trustees, serving for more than forty years and donating generously to the institution.130 John Green was a wealthy man, having made perhaps as

129 130

"Minute Book of Faculty," minutes for meeting of 8 October 1880.

Selden, The Legacy of John C. Green, 14; Swift, "An American Schoolmaster: James Cameron Mackenzie, His Life and Work", section entitled "The Green Family of New Jersey," p. 13, draft mss. [no date], copy in LS Archives; Slaymaker, Five Miles Away, 24. Green's church in New York was also referred to as First Presbyterian Church on University Place.


much as five million dollars in railroads, and had also taken an interest in Princeton.131 He was a progressive Presbyterian who had been favorably inclined toward funding increased emphasis on the natural sciences in the Princeton curriculum.132 The stage for the second development was at nearby Princeton. In the early 1870s, Princeton President McCosh had begun publicly lamenting the state of secondary education, commenting on "the great deficiency of feeding schools throughout the region which supplies the great body of our students, the middle states from the Atlantic to the Mississippi." His motives were not entirely altruistic: McCosh's interest in developing boarding schools had a very great deal to do with a desire to counter Harvard and Yale's monopoly in the New England boarding school market.133 But McCosh's Presbyterian convictions also played a role: in too many cases, he told the trustees, "the boy destined for Princeton goes to a New England college, where the religion of his father's household is entirely ignored."134 Whatever the mixture of self-interest, Presbyterian faith, stewardship, and marketing, in 1873 the trustees of the College authorized funds to finance a prep school for Princeton which would be under their supervisory control. An abortive attempt was made to found a school in the town of Princeton directly under the

Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 87; Selden, The Legacy of John C. Green, 1213. Pamphlet in LS Archives.

132 133


Hoeveler, James McCosh and the Scottish Intellectual Tradition, 282.

Ibid., 301-305. Paul C. Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service: Religious Ideals and Educational Practice, 1868-1928 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 73, notes that McCosh also lobbied the state government to improve New Jersey's public school system.


Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service, 73.


college's control, but it ultimately failed.135 At John C. Green's death six years later, three of those trustees ­ Caleb Smith Green, Jr., Charles Ewing Green, and John T. Nixon ­ also became legatees of the Green fortune. They would have been well aware of Lawrenceville School's financial distress, for one of their fellow trustees was Samuel Hamill. (There was even a personal connection, as Hamill's wife was a cousin of John C. Green.) All in all, the financial needs of Samuel Hamill's school and McCosh's educational vision for Princeton, together with Lawrenceville's geographical proximity to Princeton and its Presbyterian identity ­ not to mention the sudden availability of the funds from Green's estate ­ converged in one happy confluence to save the Lawrenceville School.136 Historians of Lawrenceville have seen Hamill's sale of the school (the precise sum remains a mystery, though Kemeny puts it at "more than a million dollars") and the establishment of the Green Foundation as the emergence of a "new" Lawrenceville and a decisive watershed in the history of the institution.137 Certainly this is true insofar as the

Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1746-1896, 314, says the trustees authorized $30,000; Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service, 73, says that the gift to Princeton for this purpose was $100,000. It is not clear whether this represents conflicting information or whether the trustees simply declined to spend the full amount donated. The Princeton Preparatory School, as it was called, closed its doors in 1880. One trustee, John I. Blair, founded another school, Blair Presbyterian Academy, which still survives today. Selden, The Legacy of John C. Green, 38-39. Hoeveler, James McCosh and the Scottish Intellectual Tradition, 304-05, sees Princeton's involvement in the affairs of Lawrenceville as part of a broader strategy on the part of McCosh to revitalize the college, but errs in seeing this as a new development in the history of both schools. The connection was certainly strengthened by McCosh, but Princeton's relationship with Lawrenceville was hardly new in the 1870s. Mulford, 87-89, and Slaymaker use the idea as an organizing principle for their accounts, a conclusion echoed in James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York: Scribner's, 1970), 198. Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service, 74, is well-documented, but the footnote fails to make clear as to the source of the million dollar figure.

137 136



legal basis of the school is concerned.138 Until now, Lawrenceville had been a proprietary school, owned by and operated for the financial profit of Samuel and Hugh Hamill.139 Henceforth, it was to be run as a non-profit organization under the direction of the Green Foundation. (The school also received a new charter from the state of New Jersey in 1882.)140 Though the bottom line continued to be important, the board was now free to devote all of the school's resources to its betterment, rather than keeping an eye on the financial fortunes of a few individuals. The legal and financial change, however, should not mask the essential continuity of the arrangement. The motive for Green's legatees was to preserve the Presbyterian mission of Lawrenceville as a means to the larger end of strengthening the college of Princeton. The wording of the Trusts of the John C. Green Foundation, the governing document of the school, was quite clear on this point: "It is intended and directed that the said Lawrenceville School shall be kept under distinctly Presbyterian control and management" ­ and though the wineskins might be new, the wine was decidedly not. Hamill continued as headmaster for four more years, and little appears to have changed

The "Green Foundation" actually refers to the residuary legatees of John C. Green's will, and they legally owned all the property except for the 1895 Edith Chapel, which had been given to the Trustees. Under the terms of the Foundation, their fiduciary responsibility was to use the property for anything they thought Green would have approved of. With the death in 1897 of the last of the legatees, Charles Ewing Green, his wife ­ who was now the proud owner of a New Jersey prep school ­ deeded the property to the Trustees for one dollar. Thus it was not until this event in 1897 that the Trustees legally owned the property, technically for a purchase price of one dollar. Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 117. Green's bequest is reprinted in T. Dean Swift, "An American Schoolmaster", in the section entitled "The Green Estate", draft mss. [no date], copy in LS Archives. In a privately-owned school, it is not entirely clear as to why there had been a board of trustees under Brown and Phillips. Both of the school histories are silent on the matter. W.J.R. Johnston, "From the New York `Tribune'", 14, reprinted by Lawrenceville School [1898]. LS Archives; Swift, "An American Schoolmaster", section entitled "The Green Estate," p. 14, draft mss. [no date], copy in LS Archives.

140 139



during that time.141 A new board of trustees was constituted, strongly connected to Princeton. It included Rev. Charles A. Aiken (a professor at the Seminary) and William A. Sloane (who taught at the college), the three Seminary trustees who were also Foundation men, and Hamill.142 Not only were all of the members of the board Presbyterian (of the Old School variety, as the connection to Princeton made plain), but the Green Foundation Trust was explicit in its mandate that the school leadership and faculty must continue to be Presbyterian as well:

...the grant and gift hereinabove made are therefore hereby declared to be upon the further trust that no one shall be deemed to be eligible or shall be appointed to the Head Mastership of the Lawrenceville School who is not a Presbyterian, in full and cordial sympathy and accord with the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Teaching is rapidly becoming a distinct profession, and it is not deemed wise or expedient to limit the selection of the Head Master to the ministry, but the Trustees are to be free to appoint a layman to the office, subject, however, to the aforesaid limitation, to be sacredly observed and kept. And, further, it is declared that only those shall be eligible as Masters who accept the evangelical doctrines of the Christian Church.143

If not as lengthy, this was almost as specific as Samuel Phillips's 1778 Constitution at Andover, and far more so than John Phillips's Deed of Gift at Exeter in 1783. Exeter's Deed, as we have seen, was noteworthy for what it omitted, and that ambiguity, coupled with John Phillips's lack of concern for theological doctrine, made

Swift, "An American Schoolmaster: James Cameron Mackenzie, His Life and Work", section entitled "The Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial High School," p. 10, draft mss. [no date], copy in LS Archives. In 1887, the Board broadened this criterion to include those who were Congregationalist or Dutch Reformed, but the change does not appear to have affected the school. Minutes of Trustee meeting, 1 Feb. 1887, "Trustees Minutes" folder, LS Archives; Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service, 262n61. Mulford, History of Lawrenceville School, 184, original draft mss. in LS Archives, errs in assigning Sloane to the Seminary faculty. "Trusts of the John C. Green Foundation," in Acts of Incorporation and By-Laws of The Lawrenceville School," 1885, pp. 19-20, pamphlet in LS Archives. The Trusts were reprinted approximately every three years.

143 142



possible a significant shift in religious mission of the school. Samuel Phillips's Andover Constitution had been more specific, and his school was dominated by men such as Eliphalet Pearson and Jedidiah Morse who were possessed of greater theological conviction than John Phillips and Benjamin Abbott at Exeter. Andover thus held to its original purpose through its founding decades, but at a high price. The academy under Samuel Taylor had found that Congregationalism would not be a constraining influence to liberalization, as the lesson of Exeter all too boldly displayed. Andover's only choice was to hunker down in the storm cellar and try to ride out the tempest, a deadened and stultified institution. The Green Foundation's Trust attempted to avoid both of these patterns. Its language stood closer to that of Andover than to Exeter in that it was significantly more proscriptive, explicitly tying the school's leadership to the denomination of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Like Andover, it also allowed for the appointment of laymen on the faculty, but for different reasons. This provision at Andover, it will be recalled, had been made in order to avoid theological contention between the Old Calvinists and the Hopkinsians. Lawrenceville, however, had no such theological divisions within either its board of trustees or its school community ­ the Old School / New School schism had been healed in a reunion of northern Presbyterians in 1869 ­ and so could afford to cast a somewhat wider net. Not only could laymen be hired on the faculty, but specific requirements were avoided in favor of a broader, transdenominational requirement that Lawrenceville masters simply ascribe to "the evangelical doctrines of the Christian church." This was an eminently practical measure which took into account the fact that the teaching profession itself was changing and was


no longer dominated by clergy. Too strict a denominational requirement for the faculty might well prove impossible to fulfill. In fact, the Green Foundation was trying to avoid the treacherous theological shoals on either side of a narrow channel, continuing the successful efforts of Brown and Hamill which had seen the school through three-quarters of a century. The true north for successful navigation was the school's Presbyterianism, and the legatees of the Green foundation were determined to hold the course.144 McCosh was ecstatic at his end of the bargain: "The magnificent endowment at Lawrenceville is the most important contribution that has been given our college of late years," he reported to the Princeton trustees in 1884, and two years later was able to note the entry of fully 20 Lawrenceville boys into the college.145 Resolution of Lawrenceville's problems took somewhat more time. Enrollment had to be beefed up, and financial issues would plague the school for some years. But the Green Foundation's infusion of cash allowed it to survive a significant financial crisis which could have put its mission and purpose at risk. Lawrenceville weathered that crisis because its stronger denominational connections served it much better than had the Congregationalism of either Andover or Exeter. The Presbyterian connection and the legal reorganization of 1879 allowed the school to meet its financial exigencies while still retaining its institutional raison d'etre.

They did so be becoming far more immersed in the day-to-day management of the school than a contemporary board would normally be. The trustees routinely disposed of items pertaining to hiring, where masters should live, salary levels, and reversing disciplinary decisions of the headmaster. "Trustees Minutes" folder, 1885, LS Archives. Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1746-1896, 314-15. McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 205, uses the same quotation but says McCosh wrote this in 1886.




Hamill's retirement four years later in 1883 was accompanied by great pomp as alumni, clergy, judges, a United States Senator, and others came to Lawrenceville to recognize his accomplishments. In his address to the gathering, he reviewed the history of the school and its accomplishments, evincing satisfaction with both its past achievements and its future prospects. Presbyterianism appeared secure, both in the legal terms of the Green Foundation and in the men to whom the legacy had been entrusted. "[T]he prospects of the institution under its new regime are bright, and under the faithful labors of those who shall come in they are increasingly so," he said in the peroration, but characteristically noted that such an assessment was limited as "human calculation."146 The school that Samuel Hamill built more closely resembled that of Andover early in the century under John Adams than it did either Exeter or the later Andover under Taylor. Lawrenceville was able to operate in a freer and more open manner than Taylor's reactive institution, sure that its connections to the Old School Presbyterians would hold it to its mission and purpose. Accounts of the spiritual life of Lawrenceville in Hamill's heyday are more vibrant, and the transdenominational connections to the evangelical empire seem to have provided the same sense of innovation and vitality that they had for Andover in the 1830s. Andover had been unable to resist forces of secularization without stultifying. Exeter had been unable to do so without discarding its theological heritage. Lawrenceville, however, had discovered a via media, and had established that it was possible to construct a Protestant boarding school in Christian education in nineteenth-century America which would remain true to the historic norms of the Reform faith. Just whether it could do so amidst the intellectual changes that were


"Dr. Hamill's Address," 10, in Seventy-Third Commencement Addresses.


sweeping the nation during the Gilded age, however, would be the vital question which confronted Hamill's successors.


CHAPTER VI ST. PAUL'S, 1856 ­ 1895

By the middle of the nineteenth century, three boarding schools which would ultimately dominate the American educational landscape had been founded, all with explicitly Protestant purposes. One, Phillips Andover, had held to its Congregational heritage but was ossifying, choosing to respond to changes within American Protestantism by adopting a bunker mentality which for the most part precluded change. A second school, Phillips Exeter, had also been founded as a Congregationalist institution, but had discarded that faith for a Unitarianism that it deemed to be more culturally amenable to the intellectual changes in New England and the nation. The third school, Lawrenceville, had successfully navigated between the extremes of the first two to create a Presbyterian institution which was at once intellectually and spiritually vibrant, while at the same time holding to the historical norms of American Protestantism. American Episcopalians also engaged in the business of school-building during the nineteenth century. Not content to allow Reformed denominations to dominate this enterprise, the Episcopal Church in America established several boarding schools in New England during the nineteenth century, two of which emerged as the most prominent. The first, St. Paul's, was founded just outside Concord, New Hampshire, in 1856. The second,


Groton, was established a generation later in Groton, Massachusetts, in 1883.1 The Episcopalian nature of both schools gave them a great deal in common and makes them more similar to each other than to the other schools in this study. But there were nevertheless significant differences between the two. These differences had something to do with some finer theological divisions within the Episcopalian Church at the time, but were also rooted in the different decades in which each was founded, and in the nature of their founding headmasters (and, to a lesser extent, their boards of trustees). As such, the history of the two schools affords a window into the fortunes of the Episcopal Church in the nineteenth century. Robert Bruce Mullin has posed the existence of an "Episcopal high church synthesis" which defined the fortunes of the church through the first half of the century, and which declined with extraordinary rapidity thereafter.2 The emergence of St. Paul's and Groton as two different types of Episcopal schools offers a case in point and sheds some light on the fragmentation that the church underwent in the years following the Civil War. Internal factors do not alone suffice to explain these differences. In the years following the Civil War, rising floodwaters of intellectual and cultural change broke through the levee constructed by a predominantly Protestant America in the first half of the century.3 Those waters would reshape the American intellectual and religious

Earlier the denomination had founded other schools farther south: The Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1839, and St. James School in Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1842. See John White, Chronicles of the Episcopal High School in Virginia, 1839-1989 (Dublin, NH: William L. Baughan, 1989). There is at present no institutional history of St. James. Robert Bruce Mullin, Episcopal Vision / American Reality: High Church Theology and Social Thought in Evangelical America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), xii. The statement pertains to the cultural hegemony exercised by Protestants before the Civil War, and is not designed to ignore the growing American religious pluralism during the period.

3 2



landscape. St. Paul's, founded while the dike was largely intact, was therefore a significantly different school than Groton, which had to craft its mission and purpose under far different circumstances. The school at Concord may be viewed as the last boarding school founded in what might be termed the "anteDarwin" period of American cultural and intellectual history, and it remained that way for many years. Ultimately, however, the floodwaters lapped up against the school and its headmaster, Henry A. Coit, forcing the school to consider how best to adjust to the modern age. St. Paul's School was founded in 1856 as an Episcopalian Church school. The direct connection to the Episcopal Church in itself sets it significantly apart from Andover, Exeter and Lawrenceville, which were all founded by laymen with denominational connections. St. Paul's, however, was a denominational school, actively supported by the Episcopal Church in America and founded for the express purpose of furthering its ministry. As such, it was something of a "mission school," for though Episcopalians had deep roots in the region extending well back into the colonial period, the religious life of New England continued to be dominated by churches of Reform Protestantism and their offshoots. Episcopalians, of course, possessed considerable differences in worship and creed, to say nothing of a significantly different history. However, the two also had some close affinities. Both were generally opposed to emotionalism in worship. Both looked to a non-itinerant, college-educated ministry with scholarly, quiet, and logical sermons each Sunday, though they placed different emphasis on the importance of the sermon as a means of delivering the grace of God to the


listener.4 Most significantly, both valued education and recognized its importance in training ministers. Episcopalians were therefore as well-suited to New England as any denomination, and it therefore should come as no surprise that the Church founded several boarding schools in the region.5 To describe St. Paul's as "Episcopal," however, is to miss some finer points, for the Episcopal Church in mid-nineteenth-century America had several distinct divisions. Thus St. Paul's, like Andover, Exeter, and Lawrenceville, reflected the outlook and biases of a distinct wing within its denomination. The pertinent fault lines within the Episcopal Church appeared in the 1830s and 1840s, somewhat later than those within the Congregationalist church which had so significantly shaped Andover and Exeter, or those within the Presbyterian Church which had affected Lawrenceville. Beginning in 1833 in England under the impetus of John Henry Newman, John Keble, and E.B. Pusey, the Tractarian Movement of that era played a significant role in shaping the mid-century Episcopal Church. Variously known as the High Church movement, the Oxford Movement, or Puseyism, it was deeply rooted in English Anglicanism and politics, but quickly made its way to an America which was never quite able to forget its English roots.6 The movement contained three emphases. First, they viewed the principle of


1993), 69.


David L. Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press,

These included St. Mark's School in Southborough, Massachusetts (founded in 1865); St. George's in Newport, Rhode Island (1896); Middlesex in Concord, Massachusetts (1901); and Kent School in Kent, Connecticut (1906). On St. Mark's, see Edward Tuck Hall, Saint Mark's School: A Centennial History (Lynchburg, VT: Stinehour Press, 1967). Daniel G. Reid et al, eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), s.v. "Tractarianism" by R.B. Mullin; William H. Katerberg, Modernity and the Dilemma of North American Anglican Identities, 1880-1950 (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001), 13-15; Alan C. Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of Reformed Episcopalians (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994), 7.



apostolic succession in an almost Catholic light, with a concomitant higher view of the clergy than the Reformed denominations, a view one historian of the movement has labeled the "apostolic paradigm."7 Second, they emphasized the doctrine of baptismal generation. In this view, baptism is not merely a symbolic event of admission into a covenant relationship, but is seen far more literally as something which actually changes the believer from a state of guilt and sin to rebirth and regeneration. This was a more literal view than that of Reformed churches, a literalism which was mirrored in their view of another sacrament, communion. This was the third area emphasized by the Tractarians, who believed in the "real presence" of God and Christ during communion.8 In practical terms, these beliefs determined the how the Tractarians viewed Christian growth and nurture: baptism and communion, as administered by a parish clergyman, were the crucial events in the life of a believer. The Tractarians saw themselves as restorationists who were seeking to recover a lost past, essentially trying to pole-vault back over the Reformation to claim the preReformation English Church as its primary model. Ultimately, they critiqued everything about the existing Episcopal church from church architecture to liturgics to the very vestments worn of the priests.9 In essence, the movement challenged the nineteenthcentury belief that Episcopalians were simply another form of Protestants, and thereby became increasingly known as "ritualists" or "Anglo-Catholics" by the 1860s and

Paul Avis, Anglicanism and the Christian Church: Theological Resources in Historical Perspective (Edinburgh: T.T. Clark, 1989), 163; quoted in Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom, 7.

8 9


Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church, 103-104. Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom, 56.


1870s.10 Poles apart from the Tractarians were evangelical Episcopal clergy descended from an older group known as Hobartians, after an early nineteenth-century bishop. This evangelical group represented the traditional end of the spectrum, though the assaults of their rivals led increasingly to a sense that they were, in the words of one cleric, "standing against the whirlwind."11 Sharply at odds with the Anglo-Catholics and yet unwilling to countenance the "new means" of the revivals of the Second Great Awakening (for many of the same reasons as the Old School Presbyterians at Lawrenceville), the evangelicals had initially made common cause with traditional High Church Episcopalians, an alliance based more of shared ideas of church order than on either doctrine or liturgical views.12 Such an alliance borne of expediency, however, proved unable to weather the arrival of German religious liberalism in the 1870s. With its emphasis on rationality and views that the assumptions and techniques of the natural sciences had to be reconciled with the Biblical worldview, German liberalism did much to create yet another group in the American Episcopal Church. This "Broad Church" movement was marked both by its willingness to incorporate German scholarship into its view of the Bible (and, as we shall see, Darwinian evolution) as well as a reaction to what its adherents decried as the narrowness of its rivals on either side. Broad Churchmen decried both the superstition of the Oxfordians and the biblical literalism of the evangelicals, displaying a concomitant willingness to tolerate a somewhat wider range of theological views and church

10 11

Ibid., Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church, 109-110.

Diana Hochstedt Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind: Evangelical Episcopalians in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Oxford, 1995).


Ibid., 137.


practices.13 But it also was possessed of a distinctively different attitude than its brethren on either side. At opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of doctrine, the evangelicals and Tractarians nevertheless shared a common reaction against modernity, and were seeking to maintain the recent past (evangelicals) or reclaim a lost one (Tractarians). The Broad Church movement, however, was comfortable with modernity, believing that the Church could, and must, be adapted to the changing cultural circumstances in which it ministered.14 Locating St. Paul's at its founding in 1856 in this theological spectrum presents some challenges. There are some early evidences of evangelical leanings, particularly in the early preaching of its founding headmaster, Henry Coit. At the time, German liberalism was not yet a factor. Bishop Carleton Chase of New Hampshire, who sat on the founding board of trustees, clearly distrusted the Anglo-Catholics, once describing a "Romanist" friend as possessed of "a soft head," a condition he attributed to the man's theological stance.15 However, St. Paul's was not an evangelical institution. An early faculty member called the school's stance "a moderate and reasoned highchurchmanship."16 Bishop Chase also held the evangelical wing of the church at arm's length. But in a letter to an early critic he also made clear where he thought the school stood with regard to the "low church" or revival group:

Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church, 117-120, surveys the Broad Church movement; see also Katerberg, Modernity and the Dilemma of North American Anglican Identities, 12; and Reid et al, eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America, s.v. "Broad Church," by R. Webber. Katerberg, Modernity and the Dilemma of North American Anglican Identities, 8; Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom, 269.

15 16 14


Bishop Carleton Chase to George Shattuck, 10 March 1856. SPS Archives. James Carter Knox, Henry Augustus Coit (London: Longman's, 1915), 94.


If you suppose, my dear friend, that St. Paul's School with Bp. Southgate, H.M. Parker, W.F. Otis, I.F. Redfield, (G.C. Shattuck being a patron & Donor) and Bp. Chase [here the writer referred to himself in the third person] among its authorities, will obtain favor with, and can expect any countenance from, the Low-Church party you are much mistaken. They of that party now think themselves sure of mounting to ascendancy. Nevertheless, I would give them no occasion to speak evil, or to think evil in their hearts. But you may rely on it, Bp. Eastburn will never be a friend of St. Paul's School... And if he but frown (and who can do it more expressively?) you low-church laity will not lift a finger for us. But while my opinion of him and of those who sympathize with him would not, if I could help it, affect my actions towards them, it would affect my expectations very decidedly. ­ My Christian brother, let it be our great care to act in the faith and fear of God and in the love of Christ.17

St. Paul's was therefore old even as it was created, a traditional Episcopalian institution even as the Episcopalian Church in America was undergoing significant change and internal division. The school contained traditional High Church beliefs in the value of liturgy, the authority of the Church, and church governance, as well as elements of antebellum evangelicalism such as a high view of the Bible or an appreciation for the importance of conversion. The one tempered the other as the belief in the value of the Church liturgy gave Episcopalians at St. Paul's a distrust of evangelical revivals, just as the Old School Presbyterians at Lawrenceville held them at arm's length. So too, evangelicalism held the High Church tendencies in check, and there was little sympathy for Anglo-Catholicism at St. Paul's. The school's primary donor was a Boston medical doctor, George C. Shattuck. An enigmatic figure, Shattuck was a converted Congregationalist whose arrival at the Episcopalian faith shortly after his marriage had been a decidedly emotional experience. He became fervently active in the work of the Church, serving as warden of Church of the Advent in Boston ­ an influential parish which would influence the development of


Bishop Carleton Chase to anonymous, 14 Dec. 1855. SPS Archives.


both St. Paul's and Groton ­ and supporting a wide range of philanthropic activities.18 These endeavors, though, were to further the ministry of the Episcopal Church The document that he drew up in making his initial donation to St. Paul's was every bit as prescriptive as that of John Phillips's had been in establishing Phillips Exeter ­ mandating, for instance, that should the school ever fail to "be in conformity with the doctrine[,] discipline and worship of the Church, the property would revert back" to Shattuck or his heirs.19 Shattuck made subsequent bequests to the school on a near-annual basis, one as large as $200,000.20 To ensure in perpetuity the Episcopalian nature of the school, both Shattuck's Deed of Gift and the By-Laws of the Corporation which established the school required that the trustees and rector (the term used as St. Paul's for the headmaster) must be communicants of the Episcopalian Church, though they were permitted to be laymen.21 In addition to Bishop Chase, two other Episcopal rectors sat on its founding board of trustees. (Temporal powers were not neglected: the New Hampshire secretary of state and the chief justices of both the Vermont and New Hampshire supreme courts were also on

James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York: Scribner's, 1970), 137-143; Arthur Stanwood Pier, St. Paul' School, 1855-1934 (New York: Scribner's, 1934), 9-13. s "Deed of Gift," in Shattuck notebook, "Copies of documents dealing with deeds and benefactions by the Founder and families." Notebook in SPS Archives. The school campus was also donated by Shattuck. It had been his family's summer home. Pier, 80.

20 21 19


McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 160.

"Deed of Gift," in Shattuck notebook, "Copies of documents"; "Records of St. Paul's School, Sept. 5, 1855 to June 22, 1880," 19, 21, notebook in SPS Archives.


the founding board.)22 Shortly after the School's founding, the New Hampshire diocese of the Church gave its approval:

Resolved, That this Convention while thus recognizing said School as an Institution which promises great good to the cause of religion and the Church, in our Diocese and elsewhere, desires to express its deep and grateful sense of obligation to the benevolent hearts and liberal hand of him to whom, under the providence and grace of God, we are indebted for this inestimable benefit -- and fervently expresses the hope and prayer that its future administration may be such as shall fully and happily accomplish its noble purposes which moved the mind of the excellent founder.23

The men who came to St. Paul's therefore did so with a wider vision for the work of the Church than simply that which occurred on the campus itself. Coit conducted funerals in the area and remained involved in diocesan affairs throughout his tenure.24 For many years, St. Paul's faculty served mission churches in nearby towns of Dunbarton and Hopkinton.25 The school actively supported the work of a nearby Episcopal orphanage. This strong connection to the ministry of the Episcopal Church in the local area, along with the presence of the Church's leadership on the school board of trustees, was a decisive influence in the School's long-term development. Ties to the Episcopal Church anchored St. Paul's to its mission and purpose, and in some ways sheltered it from the storms of change that both Andover and Exeter had found so difficult to weather. For in a

Pier, St. Paul' School, 13; James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Survey s (New York: Scribner's, 1970. "Record of St. Paul's School," Trustee minutes, 15 Sept. 1858. Notebook kept by Henry Coit, SPS Archives. James P. Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster (Dr. Henry A. Coit) By An Old Saint Paul' Boy (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1906), 172-75; "The Rural Record of St. Paul's School," entry s by Rev. Francis Chase for 16 March 1858. Notebook kept by various members of the SPS faculty, SPS Archives.

25 24 23



August Heckscher, St. Paul' The Life of a New England School (New York: Scribner's, 1980), s:


sense, decisions at Andover and Exeter which involved consideration of the schools' mission and purpose were difficult and wrenching precisely because change was possible, the decentralized authority of the Congregational denomination being what it was. At St. Paul's, however, anguish was mitigated by the absence of choice. The school was, and would be, an Episcopal school, and throughout its life change would occur within the context of the Episcopal Church and not by leaving it. The identification of St. Paul's as an Episcopal school suggests a corollary influence of Anglophilia in its formation. Such a conclusion has some apparent merit. The schools held strong appeal for an emerging American upper class. They were rooted in an Anglican religion indigenous to England. Their headmasters often exhibited a preoccupation with English headmasters such as Arnold of Rugby, and implemented similar structural adaptations as the use of "forms" instead of grades. Even the vocabulary has similarities, as in the identification of student leaders as "prefects." To assign too great a weight to these similarities, however, is to miss the essential point. However enamored the founders of St. Paul's may have been with things English, they recognized that they were setting out to do something that was distinctively unEnglish. Coit himself put it bluntly: "We cannot have Rugby, or Eton, or Harrow here, if we would."26 The mouthpiece of the Episcopal Church, The Churchman, maintained that American boarding schools were far more open-minded and progressive than their English counterparts.27 James McLachlan's conclusion that St. Paul's (and Groton as

Henry A. Coit, "The American Boys' School ­ What It Should Be," The Forum, September 1891, reprinted in Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 193. "A Great American Schoolmaster," in The Churchman [1895], reprinted in Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 258-260. Such opinions were not limited to St. Paul's: alumni of Groton, also




well) was essentially an American institution is an apt one, though it requires qualification.28 The school was more than simply an expression of American nationalism. At the bottom line, St. Paul's was founded as a school to further the work and ministry of the Episcopal Church in America. The enterprise would be led by Henry A. Coit. In undertaking the search for a head, the trustees had sought "a man who shall combine in himself the character of a gentleman, a scholar and a Christian ­ and to this shall add aptness in teaching and whose daily life, in his most familiar intercourse with boys shall be the most effectual admonition to the indolent and wayward."29 Their initial assessment of Coit was that he was too young, but he was offered the position when their first choice turned down the position.30 Besides youth, Coit brought to the position a thoroughgoing Episcopalian upbringing (by an Episcopalian minister), with a mix of influences prior to his arrival at St. Paul's in 1856. While he held the Pope and Roman Catholicism in high respect for the rest of his life,31 he had also been deeply influenced by the curious mix of Anglo-

prone to being cast as a proto-English school, maintained that it was "not an imitation of English schools, exotic in the American scene" because its headmaster, Endicott Peabody, "disapproved strongly of many features of the English schools." Walter Hichman, "My Groton Years," in Views From the Circle: SeventyFive Years of Groton School (Groton, MA: The Trustees of Groton School, 1960), 157.

28 29 30

McLachlan, 150-157. Samuel H. Huntington to George Shattuck, 2 Feb. 1855. Shattuck papers, SPS Archives.

Carleton Chase to George Shattuck, 6 Oct. 1855; Roger S. Howard to N.E. Marble and N.B. Baker, 19 Sept. 1855, Shattuck papers, SPS Archives; Heckscher, 11-13. Pier, St. Paul' School, 78, recounts an incident which occurred on one of Coit's several trips to s Europe, where he saw Pope IX's cavalcade pass by in Rome. Coit " the great annoyance of his completely Protestant brother-in-law, who was w/ him at the time, knelt in the street to receive the Papal blessing."



Catholicism and evangelicalism of Bishop William Augustus Muhlenberg.32 Muhlenberg had founded one of the earliest Episcopal schools in America, the Flushing Institute on Long Island, and one of his early students had been Henry Augustus Coit.33 The school did not endure, however, so Muhlenberg moved to Manhattan as rector of the Church of the Holy Communion. There he emerged as a force for traditionalism in the church, known for his public and strident opposition to the Tractarians, his benevolent activities, and his interest in transdenominational Protestant cooperation.34 He described himself as an "Evangelical Catholic,"35 effectively appropriating two powerful strains of the Episcopalian heritage to mark out a position that was both distinctively Episcopalian as well as sympathetic to the revivals of the Second Great Awakening. Coit was deeply influenced by Muhlenberg ­ the Bishop's picture hung on the wall of the main schoolroom at St. Paul's throughout Coit's tenure36­ in two particular ways. First this blend of traditional High Church Episcopalianism with evangelicalism informed much of his early ministry. And second, he would appear to have inherited Muhlenberg's dislike

32 obituary of Coit from the Horae Scholasticae, 8 March 1895, reprinted in Knox, Henry Augustus Coit, 139-40; Pier, St. Paul' School, 3-5. McLachlan's assessment is that Coit's views emerged s from the Second Great Awakening, but in an "extremely muted form." McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 106.

A nineteenth-century historian of the Episcopal Church went so far as to credit Muhlenberg with the establishment of a prototype: it was Muhlenberg "who first started and made successful, with the success which has been the fruitful germ of all its rich after-growth, the church school." Charles C. Tiffany, A History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (New York, 1895), 259; also quoted in Mark Denis Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World" (Ed.D. dissertation The University of Virginia, 1995), 36.

34 35


Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind, 140.

E. Clowes Chorley, Men and Movements in the Episcopal Church (New York: Scribner's, 1948), 257.



Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, xix; McLachlan, American Boarding Schools,


of internecine warfare within the church as distracting from the Church's essential mission to society. Throughout his ministry at St. Paul's, Coit avoided involvement in broader Episcopalian politics, preferring to practice his antebellum version of the faith without regard to denominational politics.37 Coit's High Church sympathies were most evident in the manner in which he regarded the sacraments.38 He believed that the "the Holy Eucharist ... [was] a real action wherein Christ's true presence is exhibited on earth."39 Those taking communion would "receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, that is, the strength and power of Jesus to cleanse their sinful bodies by His Body, and to wash their souls through His most precious blood."40 His vocabulary was also High Church as he referred to "the Catholic faith" of the school and insisting that "Catholic theology, which is the same thing as the teaching of the Apostles, and the Faith of the Gospel, admits of no divorce between Apostolic order and Evangelic truth."41 Episcopal truth was God's truth. While he could perhaps have admitted that God would admit members of other denominations into his kingdom, Coit's traditional Episcopalianism afforded eternal advantages. He is said to have responded to a student's request to attend the local Presbyterian church with the

Coit's isolation was not, perhaps, a strategy with which Muhlenberg would have approved. On the latter's views on internecine denominational conflict, see Mullin, Episcopal Vision / American Reality, 181-182. See also Alvin W. Skardon, William Augustus Muhlenberg: Church Leader in the Cities (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971), 91-92.

38 39


Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 105-106.

Henry Augustus Coit, "The Zeal of Thine House," sermon delivered at SPS, 29 Oct. 1884, in School Sermons (New York: Moffatt, Yard and Co., 1909), 332.

40 41

Coit, "Moral Strength," sermon delivered at SPS 15 Dec. 1878, in School Sermons, 37. Coit, "Stable and Strong," sermon delivered at SPS 21 Dec. 1890, in School Sermons, 346.


admonition, "Do not forget, my child, that in the life to come the Presbyterians will not be upon the same plane as the Episcopalians."42 But amidst this High Churchmanship, many elements of Coit's preaching were nearly evangelical in nature. The core of the Gospel was the saving grace of Jesus Christ, an absolute certainty as Coit expounded it. Sam Taylor would have been pressed to make a more orthodox profession of faith, though he likely would not have appealed to the language of church creeds in expressing it:

There are many questions which the scoffing spirit of the age stirs up, which are settled and are not open to debate, and to which we need not attend. Such are the great fundamental facts of the Gospel: that our Lord Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, `God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God;' that "for us men and fore our salvation" He lived and suffered and died, and rose again, and ascended into Heaven, where `He ever liveth to make intercession for us," and from whence He sent His Holy Spirit, the Third Person in the Ever-Blessed Trinity, the `Lord and Giver of Life,' to abide with His Church, `to guide it into all truth, and to bring all things to remembrance, whatsoever He hath said'; and that the books of the Holy Bible are His Revealed Word, His other witness, in which He speaks, and to which we are bound to `take heed, as unto a Light that shineth in a dark place.' All this may be regarded as settled, as foundation truth, to be built upon and lived by, and not to be reopened, and discussed, and gainsaid.... [They are] God's truths, God's facts, indisputable, irrefragable, and be of good cheer and know that they will win the day....Reason and conscience, true wisdom and understanding, the experience of life, the unerring instincts of the heart, all will adjust themselves to sustain and verify your convictions. The facts of Revelation have a wonderful correspondence to the facts of our human nature and environment, and they alone present the key to unlock the mysteries of life and time and eternity.43

Nevertheless, there were elements of the evangelicalism of a Taylor or Adams that Coit held at arm's length. For one thing, he had a distrust of evangelical views of conversion. As with so many Broad Church Episcopalians (and even more definitively

Alumni Horae, Vol. 11, No. 2 (July 1931), 63-64. The anecdote is repeated in Cleveland Amory, The Proper Bostonians (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1947), 107. Coit, "Overcoming the World," sermon delivered at SPS 22 May 1892, 191-92, in School Sermons, 346.




with the Anglo-Catholics), Coit saw abundant spiritual growth more as the product of the daily morning dew of constant devotion than by the periodic summer thunderstorms of conversion and recommitment so lauded by evangelicals.44 Conversion, Coit explained, was "a state, or condition, not a momentary feeling." Though the Holy Spirit might choose to turn someone toward God with great suddenness, "even that first turning is only the beginning of the conversion, which must be kept up all a person's life, and can only be made really effective, if carried forward day by day..."45 The means of grace were therefore constant and ongoing rather than eventful and dramatic: daily prayers, regular reading of the Scriptures, weekly Sacred Studies classes (conducted by the Rector on Sundays), confirmation classes, the Sunday morning sermon (delivered by the Rector), and a weekly communicants' class each Saturday.46 Coit had no sympathy with the fear of Episcopal evangelicals that repetitiveness would lead to formalism.47 Quite the opposite: liturgy was of greater efficacy than learned doctrine in producing conversion and Christian nurture.48 Indeed, to Coit there was a mystical element to the faith which came close to making fruitless any effort to systematize it. This was reflected in his teaching of Sacred Studies, which a James C. Knox, an alumnus of the school and longtime faculty member, described as "not particularly systematic or dogmatic." (Oral examinations, administered twice a year, replaced all written work.) Coit's faith, wrote

44 45 46

Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind, 13. Coit, "Conversion," sermon delivered at SPS 29 Sept. 1889, in School Sermons, 291.

Knox, Henry Augustus Coit, 95; Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 109-110; Coit, "My Soul Hangeth Upon Thee," sermon delivered at SPS 16 June 1889, in School Sermons, 227.

47 48

Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind, 32-33. Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 111.


Knox, "seemed of the kind that had got beyond the evidential stage and was wholly absorbed in the contemplation of its object."49 Coit also evidently held evangelicalism at arm's length in some other respects as well. He did not appear to put much faith in the ability of itinerant ministers to appeal to his students in ways that he could not, and so did all the preaching at St. Paul's (except when he delegated a service to a member of the faculty). He also does not appear to have shared the evangelical predilection for extemporaneous prayer. Both such "innovations," as they were called at the time, risked disorder and irrationality. Services at St. Paul's were ritualistic and formal, classical Episcopalian.50 Coit did share common ground with the evangelicals in his view of human nature, one so common to all nineteenth-century churchmen. As far as he was concerned, the only way that sinful people could be good was through Jesus Christ, the only possible source of "moral strength." A man was capable of a good or right action only if it "grows out of his union with his Lord and Master." Putting it even more bluntly, he wrote, "there can be no such moral strength as is effectual in the struggle with human indifference and weakness without a firm faith in and a constant dependence upon Divine grace. And no one can really lay hold of the grace, which flows down upon men in the Sacraments and ordinances of the Catholic Church, without embracing and holding fast the faith which the Church holds, which was `once delivered to the saints.'"51

49 50 51

Knox, Henry Augustus Coit, 96-98. Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind, 34-37, 40. Coit, "Moral Strength," sermon delivered at SPS 15 Dec. 1878, in School Sermons, 45.


Coit also shared with evangelicals a high view of the Scriptures. Even after the arrival of German higher criticism in America after 1870, Coit held to the view that the Bible was "God's most Holy and undefiled Word" and demanded that Episcopal priests "impose a limit on your private judgment and speculations in these sacred precincts."52 He assailed any attempt to reduce the authority of the book, once telling his listeners in a sermon that the prodigal son's problem was that he

has taken up with some form of plausible error. He has discovered that the Scriptures are found unworthy of credence. There is no logical foundation for the Gospel history. It is full of legendary accretions. Therefore, there is no Saviour, no Precious Blood poured freely out to cleanse him from his sins, no intercession, and no Intercessor. Everything is uncertain and unprovable.53

James Conover, who married Coit's daughter and penned a hagiographic biography of the rector, thought that his father-in-law "was in perfect sympathy with all investigation from historical and textual grounds; but he had nothing but scorn and misgiving for the result of `higher criticism.'... Coit often quoted Moody: `It is all useless, and is only an effort to eliminate the supernatural and to destroy faith.'"54 This high view of the Bible also had wider epistemological implications, as Coit shared Samuel Hamill's view of the coherency of truth. "The great laws, as we call them," he once told his listeners, "of mathematics and physics, by which this universe lives and moves, belong to His thought, of which we get a partial glimpse, and He possesses the whole. All true knowledge implies God. So all true knowledge is His, and we may glorify Him in its pursuits, and

Coit, "Stable and Strong," sermon delivered at SPS 21 Dec. 1890, in School Sermons, 348; see also, "Ideals," sermon delivered at SPS 14 June 1891, in School Sermons, 250

53 54


Knox, Henry Augustus Coit, 111. Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 45.


fulfil [sic] thereby the end of our creation."55 Indeed, the High Church Episcopalian and the Old School Presbyterian had much in common, Clearly these views would influence the kind of education that was offered at St. Paul's. Those views also embraced a high level of concern for the ills of the wider society. Particularly after 1870 ­ perhaps the initial effort of founding St. Paul's was so great as to submerge this concern initially ­ he exhorted his boys to involve themselves in the problems of the industrial age. The effective Christian, he told them, "must in any place, where his lot is cast, be ready to do his part, wisely and earnestly, in advancing the education of the young, in directing and purifying the current of public opinion, in seeking, to the best of his ability, to introduce into the society, of which he forms a part, that leaven of the Gospel, which is moulding and transforming his own inner life." In so doing, they would "improve society by spreading the Gospel."56 St. Paul's boys were to put this into practice in a number of ways throughout his rectorship. In light of Coit's mix of evangelical and High Church practices and beliefs, he would appear to have been just as deserving of the label "Evangelical Catholic" as his mentor, Bishop Muhlenberg. In fact, Henry A. Coit did tend to look back more than forward. Though he lived to the edge of the twentieth century, Coit was decidedly a man of the nineteenth ­ and its first half at that ­ and he attempted to shape St. Paul's in that mould. Though the Episcopalian conception of the slow and steady work of God set him apart in a fundamental manner, many of his views were much closer to those of his




Coit, "Which Passeth Knowledge," sermon delivered at SPS 17 Sept. 1893, in School Sermons, Coit, "Fishers of Men," sermon delivered at SPS 20 Sept. 1874, in School Sermons, 268, 269.


predecessors and contemporaries ­ headmasters such as Eliphalet Pearson, Samuel Hamill, John Adams, Sam Taylor ­ than they were to the men who would follow him at both St. Paul's and the other boarding schools. He was the last of his kind, largely unconcerned with theological modernism, the Social Gospel, or higher criticism, and untroubled by worries that the Gospel was insufficient to meet the needs of an industrialized, increasingly wealthy society. To Henry Coit, the old-fashioned gospel was a solid foundation on which to build a school. The school he built reflected these beliefs. Coit hired only Episcopalian faculty, using denominational adherence to cement the school's mission in the same way that Hamill was using Presbyterian faculty to help keep Lawrenceville in the Presbyterian fold. (This lack of concern for the denominational allegiances of the faculty, it will be recalled, had played a decisive role in transforming Exeter a half century before.) But Coit went a step further, showing a pronounced preference for clergy. Of the eight faculty listed in the school's first decade, only one was a layman. Rev. Francis Chase, the Bishop's son, emerged as Coit's right hand man, serving as his chief assistant for five years.57 The experience of one instructor either offers a commentary on the relationship between love and theological conviction in the era, or else hints at the High Church inclinations of the faculty: when he left the school after 14 years, Percival Padgett met a Roman Catholic, converted, and married her. Coit also leaned toward theological conservatives, hiring faculty from Yale and Trinity.58

Pier, St. Paul' School, 47, 43. It was Chase who began keeping "The Rural Record," a s notebook which constitutes an institutional diary for the school into which various masters made entries well into the next century.



Ibid., 193.


Coit's preferences for the colleges to which he sent his charges also highlight the Episcopalian nature of the school. Like John Adams and Samuel Taylor at Andover, he distrusted the Unitarianism of Harvard College, despite the fact that Shattuck and some of the other founders had attended it. The school's first historian, Arthur Pier, hints that a personality conflict with Harvard President Charles Eliot later contributed to Coit's disdain for Cambridge.59 Coit preferred to send his boys to Trinity, the Episcopal college in Hartford, Connecticut. The connection was strengthened when the former president of Trinity came on the board at St. Paul's.60 The Episcopal nature of the school was most evident, of course, in the religious life of St. Paul's. This was apparent in material terms as the school's earliest fundraising efforts were devoted to a school chapel. (Students and faculty made the trip into Concord for services in the first years of the school.) In September 1857, the board authorized construction of a chapel, which was opened the following June.61 Not all remained well with the chapel, though. With the rapid early growth of the school, the entire community could no longer fit into it. The school engaged in a stopgap measure by moving and rebuilding it in 1868, but even this proved insufficient.62 As a result, in 1882 the Alumni Association ­ the closest thing to a development office possessed by most schools ­

Pier, St. Paul' School, 97; Heckscher, St. Paul' 57. Heckscher, 106, also notes that Coit's s s, dinner table occasionally featured remonstrances against Unitarian excesses. Eliot in fact did not become President of Harvard until 1869, but it likely contributed to Coit's antagonism toward Cambridge. John A. Garraty and Mark E. Carnes, American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), s.v. "Eliot, Charles William," by Philo A. Hutcheson.

60 61


Pier, St. Paul' School, 96; Heckscher, St. Paul' 78. s s,

Board of Trustees resolution in "Records of St. Paul's," notebook in SPS Archives, entry for 17 Sept. 1857; "The Rural Record," entries for 16 Sept. 1857 and 29 June 1858; Heckscher, St. Paul' 33. s,


Pier, St. Paul' School, 71-72. s


voted to raise $100,000 for a new chapel. The project proved divisive, however. Eventually the cost was scaled back and the new chapel opened in 1886. The design was by the famed architect Henry Vaughan, whose predilection for Gothic architecture may have reflected his own high church sympathies.63 To Coit, however, it remained "the bond and center" of the life of the school.64 A resolution by the board of trustees clarified its use in rather definitive terms:

The Chapel of St. Paul is consecrated accordingly, and thereby separated henceforth from all unhallowed, worldly, and common uses, and dedicated to the worship and service of Almighty God for reading and preaching His holy word, for celebrating His holy Sacraments, for offering to His glorious Majesty the Sacrifices of Prayer...and Thanksgiving, for blessing His people in His Name, and for the performance of all other Holy offices, agreeable to the terms of the Case and of Grace and Salvation in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and according to the provisions of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, its Ministry, Doctrines, Liturgy, Rites and Usage, be testimony whereof, we have affixed our Seal and Signature..."65

Though the school's daily schedule was not particular to Episcopalians, its rhythms reflected the overarching belief that constancy of devotion and practice would produce spiritual growth. "Prayers" began each school day before a 6:00 a.m. breakfast. After a full regimen of classes, outdoor activities, meals and evening study hours, the day ended with the entire school gathering in Coit's study for the reading of a chapter or two from the Bible, each student reading several verses in turn. Coit gave a brief homily each Thursday evening, admonishing the boys against bullying and use of slang, exhorting

63 64

Pier, St. Paul' School, 206-207; Heckscher, St. Paul' 104. s s, Coit, "The Zeal of Thine House," sermon delivered at SPS 29 Oct. 1889, in School Sermons,



"Copies of documents dealing with deeds and benefactions by the Founder & families," 37-38, notebook in Shattuck Papers, SPS Archives; on the Chapel, see also "Chapel for St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire," American Architect and Building News 27 (March 15,1890) and "St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H.," American Architect and Building News 31 (February 21, 1891), copies in SPS Archives.


them to "the outdoor life," and so on.66 The Saturday night singing of the hymn, "Great God, to Thee my Evening Song," evolved into a school tradition. Sundays were positively exhausting, variously reflecting the imperatives of Episcopalianism, a broader evangelical commitment to Sabbatharianism, and the cultural conviction that boys shouldn't be left on their own for too long. Voluntary communion started the marathon at 7:30am, following by the saying of Morning Prayer at 9:00. A one-hour service with a sermon by the headmaster was held at 11:30. A rare free period of time followed, but with restricted activities: for instance, only books of suitable nature (drawn from a "Sunday Library" on campus) could be read. Sunday dinner at 1:00 was followed by a one-hour afternoon service at 3:15, the sermon delivered by one of the clerical members of the faculty. After that, the younger boys went to classrooms to recite their Sacred Studies lessons while the upper two forms were to use the time to prepare for their recitations with Coit the following morning. Sunday evening was devoted to writing letters or reading (again only from the "Sunday library") and ended with the saying of the Lord's Prayer and the singing of either of two hymns: "The Day is Past and Gone" or "Saviour, Source of Every Blessing."67 The construction of the school-year calendar came to reflect more temporal concerns. In its first year, St. Paul's remained in session during Holy Week. However, it eventually conformed to a more secular calendar (also followed by Andover and Exeter)

Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 67-83; Horae Scholasticae, 8 March 1895, reprinted in Knox, Henry Augustus Coit, 146-47. "The Rural Record," entry for 2 June 1857; Horae Scholasticae, Dec. 1874; Coit, "True Immortality," sermon delivered at SPS 3 April 1881, in School Sermons, 122-23; Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 66-67; Pier, St. Paul' School, 127-128, 166; Knox, Henry Augustus Coit, 113-119. s The assertion by Knox, Henry Augustus Coit, 115, that Coit "was no Sabbatarian" would appear to warrant scrutiny.




whose vacations in April and October were more attuned to the rhythms of an agrarian society than to the Episcopal church year.68 Coit disagreed with the decision to allow students to be away during the most important week of the church calendar ­ what better time to minister the Gospel to the boys in his charge? ­ and protested the change to Shattuck, but to no avail.69 Christmas was celebrated, with only a half-day of classes on Christmas eve.70 Of course, St. Paul's Day was a holiday.71 Secular holidays and events were also honored. One year, July 4 was celebrated with "a grand cricket match" (the ironic "mix of Anglophilia and American nationalism" duly noted by Chase in "The Rural Record").72 In 1857, the boys were given a half-day holiday at the news of the successful laying of the transatlantic cable.73 The curriculum that Coit fashioned was generically Protestant, with the exception of the Sacred Studies course. In this area, if not others, Coit was something of a reactionary, rejecting the idea of "useful knowledge" ­ that is, "algebra or history or the [foreign] languages" ­ as sufficient in and of itself. To Henry Coit, merely knowing something was pointless. Rather, like Hamill at Lawrenceville, Coit believed that students must master "the knowledge and life of the One Perfect Moral Being ­ Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." That knowledge had to be played out in life; knowledge of the

68 69 70

"The Rural Record," entry for 10 April 1857. Henry A. Coit to George Shattuck, 12 Feb. 1863. Shattuck papers, SPS Archives. "The Rural Record," entries for 14 May 1857 and 25 Dec. 1857; Pier, St. Paul' School, 6, 15, s "The Rural Record," entry for 25 Jan. 1858. "The Rural Record," entry for 22 June 1857. "The Rural Record," entry for 6 Aug. 1858.


71 72 73


Holy was a critical means by which faith translated into action. Knowledge of the Bible and of the life of Christ could give a man "a map of the road [on] which he is going, which will keep him in the right way if he uses it." But, quoting an English (and Episcopal) headmaster, Thomas Arnold, Coit explained the true goal of education:

`...[T]o give a man a Christian education is to make him love God as well as to know Him, to make him have faith in Christ as well as to have been taught the facts that He died for our sins and rose again. Mere lessons will not do this. But the lessons reinforced by the example and tone of masters and caretakers will be the first step, will contribute to carry on the work begun by pious parents in Christian homes, will be at least that planting and watering, to which in many cases, and in spite of evil and counteracting influences, we may believe and hope that God will give the increase.' It was our conviction, then, as now, after years of experience and trial, that the higher the moral and spiritual tone of the place, the fuller and more thorough will be the intellectual development; that the religious instinct, so far from enfeebling and relaxing the general teaching and mental discipline, only strengthens and vitalizes them, presents an unfailing motive for strenuous exertion, and blesses the whole work with that illumination which, along with every other good and perfect gift, comes down from above.74

This idea that divine wisdom and intellectual learning were inextricably linked was also the theme of Bishop Chase's sermon in the inaugural service of the chapel in 1858. But in Henry Coit's view of the world, if one had to choose, the former was clearly preferable.75

Coit, "True Immortality," sermon delivered at SPS 3 April 1881, in School Sermons, 120-121. The headmaster whom Coit was quoting was Thomas Arnold of Rugby School. This passage should not be taken to impute wider influence to Arnold than he actually had. McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 152-54, effectively dismantles the notion that Arnold was a significant influence in America, a conviction shared in the present study. Theologically, Arnold was deeply influenced by the Romanticism of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge was, among other things, an Anglican who had despaired over the moribund nature of the Church in his lifetime, and who had come to the conclusion that the only way to revitalize it was through state intervention in order to effect national unity of parish and nation, a view that he set forth in a book entitled On the Constitution of the Church and State According to the Idea of Each. Arnold took upon himself the task of popularizing these views in Victorian England; as Alan Guelzo has commented, "following Coleridge's ideas to the nethermost, [he] frankly declared that only Parliament was a capable engine of reform and redirection for the church." For this to occur, the Church itself must reform, and so Arnold became an articulate proponent of the simultaneous liberalization of the Church and Christianization of the nation. Few ideas could have been more foreign to Henry Coit's views of either the Church or of its relationship to the state. Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom, 115-116.



"The Rural Record," entry for 20 Jan. 1859.


"If the moral nature is dwarfed and tainted," he once remarked in a sermon, "you impair the mental processes."76 Sacred Studies ­ a distinctly Episcopalian term ­ therefore occupied a central place in Coit's curriculum. It was required of all boys in each year at the school. The early grades used a volume entitled Beaven's Help to Catechising, studying "Collects and Gospels" and "Church Catechism." The Fifth and Sixth Forms were personally instructed by Coit in "Collects," "Instruction in the prayer Book" and "Scripture History."77 The exams were oral, administered twice a year by a two-man examining board, Coit and Bishop Chase ­ an experience understandably described by SPS graduates as daunting.78 The work consisted largely of memorization, which Coit described as "the essential factor in scholastic success."79 This emphasis on memorization was at the core of Coit's conservative educational philosophy and suffused the rest of the curriculum as well. Latin and Greek were taught along with mathematics, "the best and only basis of a sound education."80 Coit thought these to be "the two great means of mental discipline, as much so now as in the days of Bacon." 81 The overall educational philosophy was indeed consistent with that philosopher's theories of learning, relying as it did on the accumulation of vast amounts

76 77 78

Coit, "True Immortality," sermon delivered at SPS 3 April 1881, in School Sermons, 124-125. 1871 Statement of St. Paul' School, pamphlet in SPS Archives. s

"The Rural Record," entries for 8 Oct. 1857 and 26 June 1866; Pier, St. Paul' School, 98-99; s Heckscher, St. Paul' 103; Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 43. s,

79 80 81

Coit, "The American Boys' School ­ What It Should Be," 199. Horae Scholasticae, 8 March 1895, p. 8. Coit, "The American Boys' School ­ What It Should Be," 201.


of (traditional) information. "No boy will be less fitted for scientific research, will be a less able electrician or civil engineer, because he is a good Latin scholar and well trained in the reasoning processes of plane geometry," Coit wrote toward the end of his life.82 Indeed, he resisted just about all attempts to modernize the curriculum, despite rising pressures to do so. (The one concession to modernity appeared in 1880 when German was introduced.)83 Coit, his son-in-law later recounted, "had come from about a thousand years ago."84 Construction, spiritual life, scheduling, curriculum ­ just about every area of St. Paul's to some extent or another reflected the school's commitment to an Episcopal education. A final cord which bound the school to its Episcopalian mission was that provided by the visitors to St. Paul's' campus. The most renowned was Phillips Brooks, rector of Boston's Church of the Advent, one of the premier Episcopal parishes in the country.85 Brooks would also contribute substantially to the establishment of Groton in the 1880's. A Broad Churchman, he was more valuable to Coit for his considerable stature as an Episcopal minister than for any ecclesiastical-political point that was being made by having him speak at the school. Other visitors included Rev. John Kerfoot, an Episcopal rector who had been responsible for Shattuck's conversion and whose efforts in establishing the College of St. James (later St. James School) in Maryland had

82 83 84 85

Ibid. Pier, St. Paul' School, 188. s Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 31. Pier, St. Paul' School, 168. s


influenced Coit and St. Paul's.86 Other visitors included the dean of the Theological Seminary of New York, the rector of Grace Church in Cleveland, a bishop who was a missionary to China, and Henry Coit's brother, J.H. Coit.87 (One visitor of note decidedly did not bind the school to the wider Episcopalian world. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, was a local resident who in her old age would be driven through the school grounds so as to absorb the "vitalism" of the boys.)88 The incipient school grew significantly in its first two decades, and there was a general absence of conflict and difficulty, such that the school historian chose to entitle his account of the period "In Arcadia."89 However, several developments beginning in about 1870 indicate a significant shift in the role and scope of the spiritual mission of St. Paul's. To a certain extent this is masked by the apparent continuity of the period, for Coit continued as rector of the school until 1895. Nevertheless, some key student organizations, as well as Coit himself, appear to have moved away from some of the evangelical emphases of the early years at the school. In the Missionary Society and the St. Paul's Guild, two student organizations overtly concerned with spiritual life, and in the preaching of Coit himself, the old-time religion's emphasis on right relationship with




"The Rural Record," entry for 19 Sept. 1859; McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 132,

Minutes of the Missionary Society, St. Paul's School, entry for "the fifth meeting of the year 1877-1878." Notebook in SPS Archives; Horae Scholasticae, Vol. LXXXIX, no. 5; "The Rural Record," entry for 15 Aug. 1858. Roger S. Drury, Drury and St. Paul' The Scars of a Schoolmaster (Boston: Little, Brown, s: 1964), 103. The one other arena in which those at St. Paul's encountered other forms of the Protestant faith occurred in periodic trips that the school made to a Shaker community in the nearby town of Canterbury. The visits appear to have been purely for recreation and not for any overtly spiritual purpose. "The Rural Record," entries for 25 May 1857 and 2 Jan. 1858; Pier, St. Paul's School, 28-29; Heckscher, St. Paul' 31. s,

89 88

Heckscher, St. Paul' 21-48. s,


God was succeeded by increased weight given to morality and behavior. The idea of being a Christian was certainly still present, particularly in the sermons that the boys heard Coit preach each Sunday, but more and more they also heard and read messages concerning right behavior. In the same way, the passion and emotion of Coit's earlier years was increasingly replaced by appeals to logic and practicality. In the 1870's, morality seems to have been replacing piety at St. Paul's School. The experience of the Missionary Society offers a case study of the transition. Organized in the fifth year of the school, the Society took as its motto non nobis, sed alias ("not for us but for others").90 The constitution of the organization bound its members "to do all in their power, actively, by word and deed, to extend to others of their fellow-beings the same blessings to the Church and of the Gospel which they enjoy themselves, to obtain and communicate information in regard to the Great Missions of the Church of England and our own Church, and this to seek and obtain that blessing in the Psalm ­ `They shall prosper that love Thee.'"91 Coit took a personal interest in it and made it the most important student organization in the early years, appointing the top students in the school to its leadership positions.92 From its inception, the Society served a number of functions on campus, all of which furthered evangelical notions of religious piety. The predominant one concerned the biweekly meetings on Sunday evenings to promote an interest in overseas missions. In this respect, St. Paul's was in step with much of the rest of Protestant America, which

90 91 92

Pier, St. Paul' School, 57. s Horae Scholasticae, Vol. I, No. 9 (November 1863), 1. Heckscher, St. Paul' 36-37; Pier, St. Paul' School, 295 s, s


was collectively engaged in an outburst of overseas ministry on nearly every continent in the world. The topics ranged from the mundane ("The Sepoy Rebellion") to the adventurous ("capture of a Greek slave ship and conversion of the Hottentots") to the exotic ("Human Sacrifices in India").93 Other meetings were more mundane, covering "The Spirit of Missions", "life of `The Ragged Children' in Germany," the missions of the Church in Japan, and a description of "the Syrians at the present day."94 As in all the boarding schools during this era, the Missionary Society served as St. Paul's students' first introduction to multiculturalism, and was virtually the only place within or without the formal curriculum that students heard about the peoples of continents ­ "the wild places of the earth" ­ other than Europe or North America.95 Suffused with assumptions of cultural and racial superiority, the Missionary Society and its meetings were more or less typical of the work of the Protestant churches as a whole. Upon its inception, the Society began publishing the Horae Scholasticae, the school's first student publication, in an effort to raise funds for missions work.96 Other financial endeavors included urging their members to keep chickens and donate the proceeds from the sale of eggs to missions work, shoveling snow off a frozen pond and then charging a fee for skating, and operating a store on campus.97 Proceeds from athletic

93 94

Minutes of the Missionary Society, entries for 17 April 1874, 20 Feb. 1876, and 19 Nov. 1876.

Horae Scholasticae, Dec. 1974; Minutes of the Missionary Society, entries for 4 Oct. 1874 and 11 Oct. 1874. Notebook in SPS Archives. "What is the Missionary Society?" Horae Scholasticae, Oct. 6, 1890; quoted in the 100th anniversary issue.

96 97 95

Horae Scholasticae, Vol. I, No. 1 (1 June 1860), 1.

Horae Scholasticae, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Dec. 1868); "What is the Missionary Society?" Horae Scholasticae, Oct. 6, 1890; quoted in the 100th anniversary issue; Pier, St. Paul' School, 57, 134. s


items as well as lemons and lemonade (sold in the springtime) were turned over to the Diocesan and General Missionary Boards of the Church.98 An entire year's proceeds could be substantial, amounting to $811 in 1868.99 Funds were also used to support a local orphanage (conducted under the auspices of the diocese) which by 1874 was housing 23 children. Coit and Bishop Niles sat on the orphanage's board, and the children worshiped each Sunday with the boys of St. Paul's.100 However admirable these efforts may have been, the society underwent a significant change on several fronts beginning in 1873. That year a dispute began over the election to membership of a student named Perley. Whether it centered around issues of character and spirituality or sheer popularity is not known, but it is certain that all discussion of missions disappears from the minutes for several meetings. Members were fined for "disorder" and the minutes increasingly reflect a degree of sheer pettiness as the Society began to assume the worst characteristics of a small-town social club. Ultimately the officers, surely with Coit's endorsement, decided to cut back its meetings from semimonthly to monthly. More troubling still was the 1875 decision to limit membership to 25. Though Conover attributes this to an effort to ensure the prestige of the Society, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that it had become a social clique.101

98 99

Pier, St. Paul' School, 295-296. s Horae Scholasticae, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Dec. 1868.

Horae Scholaticae, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Feb. 1875), 1. Hecksher, St. Paul' 53-54, offers the s, astonishing conclusion that this outreach represented the "dark side of St. Paul's" because both the poor of the orphanage and the rich boys in the school were under "the same moral order", and "the restrictions placed on the inmates were not essentially different from those on the students." Minutes of the Missionary Society, entries for 19 Sept. 1873, 26 Oct. 1873, 9 Nov. 1873, 24 Jan. 1874, 8 Feb. 1874, 8 March 1874, 26 April 1874, and 18 Oct. 1874; Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 139.




As the Missionary Society changed, so did the Horae. In a representative issue in 1874, news about world missions had disappeared, replaced by articles on such subjects as "Character." That essay was essentially a lengthy parade of platitudes ­ "A habit of work makes a steady, reliable character, for we see that a man who diligently works on every little thing he puts his hand to until he has finished it in a satisfactory way, will do so again, and is thoroughly trustworthy" ­ but its essential message of right behavior couldn't have been clearer.102 Shortly afterwards, an issue published at Christmas contained a long essay on the physical layout of the Chapel, but avoided all mention of the faith or personal piety which had earlier characterized spiritual conversation at the school.103 By the end of the decade, even mention of religious buildings had become quite rare, succeeded instead by travelogues ("Three Days in Milan"), international comparisons ("Englishmen in American Eyes", "Americans in English Books"), school news and commentary ("The Athletic Fields", "Meeting of the Library Association), philosophical musings ("Is the Pen Mightier Than the Sword?"), poetry ("The Whippoorwill"), theater reviews (Gilbert and Sullivan productions were particularly popular), and athletic results. This last subject assumed a greater and greater proportion of the writing as the Horae covered crew, cricket (particularly what seems to have been an evolving annual match against Harvard), track, and baseball. An anniversary issue of the magazine in 1882 made no mention of religion whatsoever.104 By 1892, its stated

102 103 104

Horae Scholasticae, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Oct. 1874). Horae Scholasticae, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Dec. 1874). Horae Scholasticae, 1870s issues and Vol. XV, No. 9 (1 June 1882).


objective was to "encourage literary work."105 Concerns with athletics, character, proper use of leisure time, and mastery of the right kind of knowledge, had all eclipsed the earlier emphasis on piety.106 The development of the St. Paul's Guild mirrored that of the Missionary Society. The Guild was originally an outgrowth of the Shaker Brotherhood, the fundraising arm of the Missionary Society, named in jest by the boys because they "shook money out of people."107 It came to function as the service arm of the Society, managing the "Sunday library" of approved Sabbath readings, preparing the chapel for services, and helping at the school infirmary. Its motto, adopted from the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians, announced its goal: "to help on right and good things" at the school.108 Like the Missionary Society, though, by the 1880's the Guild's focus had shifted significantly. It now had a Natural History Committee which collected stones, eggs, and the like. The Flag Committee oversaw the raising and lowering of the American flag at the proper times. Its literary purpose had broadened to include readings from works such as Dickens's Pickwick Papers. And, like the Missionary Society, a very great deal of energy seems to have been devoted to the issue of new members and the process by

105 106

Horae Scholasticae, Vol. XXII, No. 10 (19 June 1892), 234.

The rise of a formal athletic requirement might well be regarded as the end of the idea, inspired by Transcendentalism, that simply being outside was a worthwhile afternoon exercise. The Protestant faith of the schools, hitched as it was to the rising productivity of industrializing America, demanded that its leisure activity be more productive. See McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 171, and R. Lawrence Moore, Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture (New York: Oxford, 1994), chapter 4.

107 108

Horae Scholasticae, Vol. 3 No. 2 (Feb. 1868); Pier, St. Paul' School, 66. s

St. Paul's School Guild and of the Council Minutes, 21 Feb. 1879 ­ 18 June 1888. Notebook in St. Paul's Guild papers, SPS Archives. Pier, St. Paul' School, 296. The Biblical reference is to Phil. 4:8s 9.


which they should be admitted.109 Thus by 1880, both the Guild and the Missionary Society had become less and less concerned with the ideals of Christian service and the propagation of the Gospel, and more with inculcating St. Paul's students with the tasks and pleasures which constituted the proper leisure of the Gilded Age's upper-class. In September 1884, the Committee on Visiting the Sick and Poor was discontinued as it "seemed unable to be of any use last year."110 The changes in the Missionary Society and the St. Paul's Guild had to be of immense concern to the Rector. Their focus on more secular, less religious arenas of life was reflected in a significant shift in Coit's preaching as well as in other talks he delivered, from awards ceremonies to the informal gatherings in his study on Thursday evenings. The shift displayed a rising disenchantment with the behavior of the students, and in reading his sermons one can almost hear the timbre of his voice rising in response over the years. The result was a shift in emphasis, perhaps even unrecognized by Coit himself, from piety to morality. Hints of his old near-evangelical emphases remained, as when he told his listeners that "the Faith alone supplies the basis, motive, and inspiration of duty; that without it there is no absolute standard of moral conduct; and that with it, abiding in the heart, and made through the Holy Sacraments and other channels of grace our new and true life, no one can be alone and forsaken...."111 But overall his preaching grew increasingly more reactive toward the end of his life as he displayed a growing


April 1884.

110 111

St. Paul's School Guild and of the Council Minutes, 21 Feb. 1879 ­ 18 June 1888, entry for 11 Ibid., entry for 12 Sept. 1884. Coit, "Overcoming the World," sermon delivered at SPS 22 May 1892, in School Sermons,



petulance toward all things modern ­ at growing trends in Biblical higher criticism, at his students' tendency to consume alcohol, at "skeptics or atheists or schismatics."112 His sermons increasingly focused on the behavior of his boys, the poor development of which he traced to deleterious trends in the wider society. He gave full vent to these views in an article published in 1891 in the Forum, an influential magazine of the day. His primary target was "the widespreading imperfection of our homelife, the tremendous disorganizing force of early self-indulgence, and the inversion of the true objects of life..." He identified what appeared to be an odd villain: those parents who had determined "that their sons should have no stint of sweets and other gratifications of the palate, and that their pockets should be well lined with spending money...." However, candy in and of itself was beside the point as the heart of the matter was the failure to teach delayed gratification. "Never let it be forgotten," Coit warned, "that there can be no manliness worth the name until the boy learns to say a strong `no' to himself and his own propensities, as well as to the lawless solicitations of self-indulgent, unprincipled companions." Coit did not limit his impatience with such small pleasures to the students, but also chided his faculty for poor "management of the voice" in their use of "[d]rawling, muttering, [and] habitual colloquialisms."113 No detail was too insignificant

Ibid., passim; Coit, "The American Boys' School ­ What It Should Be," 210 and passim. The reference to "schismatics" is interesting, for it occurred nearly 20 years after the only major split within the Episcopal Church of the United States, when the Reformed Episcopal Church left to form a separate denomination. Coit was silent on that split at the time; it is difficult to know precisely what or who he had in mind when he used the phrase in the Forum article. See Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom, passim.



Henry A. Coit, "The American Boys' School," 209, 198, 204-205.


in this battle: Pier reports that he harped on the need to wear black shoes to chapel services.114 This disenchantment transformed Coit's preaching. By 1880 or so, as St. Paul's boys gave their ear to the rector's sermon each Sunday morning at 11:00, they were increasingly likely to hear an extended admonition on the subject of obedience. He constantly reminded them that faith was the product of obeying God and his dictates. "Obedience," he told them, "is an act of strength, not of weakness."115 It was closely related to the concept of "Duty", which could be "learned only by obeying." And further,

By obeying man and the ordinances of man first we come to obey God. And no natural obstinacy or pride or self-will can possibly be a substitute for that steadfast firmness which comes of habitual obedience, doing what we are told to do, or what is given us to do, and keeping from what is forbidden us, no matter how strong our inclination or how powerful the pleading of self-love.... For he who has learned to put duty uppermost..., is unconsciously following Him Who said, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." And this steady, undeviating performance of duty is therefore a message of the Lord. It is a daily strength to the many who need example and influence to fortify their wavering convictions It is a daily reproach and warning to those whose ways are shifty and uncertain, and whose life's work therefore is becoming real and fruitless.... Simply to obey ­ to obey man for the Lord's sake, to do what is only your duty to do, may seem of little account; but so doing, you have been His messenger, and the Crown of Life is His acceptance...."116

Coit grew increasingly concerned at what St. Paul's boys would do when away from school. By the final decade of his rectorship, his speech on Prize Night, the last night before summer vacation, was increasingly likely to contain a variation on the following:

114 115 116

Pier, St. Paul' 118-119. s, Coit, "Conversion," sermon delivered at SPS 29 Sept.1889, in School Sermons, 290. Coit, "My Messenger," sermon delivered at SPS 12 Dec. 1886, in School Sermons, 28.


Now you are all going for a period of rest; some will be traveling; and some will be running loose, I fear, in various summer resorts. I pray that every St. Paul's boy will remember that he is a gentleman; that he will not forget what we have tried to set before you here; that he will spend his holidays in healthy outdoor sport and helpful reading, in some recreation of mind and body that will fit him for the renewal of work in September. This school does not stand for such stuff as is found in ____'s books; this school does not stand for the hotel manners popular at the seaside; this school does not stand for turning night into day, not for morning hours lolling in bed, nor for the desecration of the Lord's Day now becoming so common.117

As a result, in the final years of his ministry Henry Coit responded to the secularization of student organizations by increasingly harnessing the Protestant faith of St. Paul's to other ends. The evangelical preaching of faith unto salvation was increasingly muted and was replaced with a gospel which had ancillary advantages, ones which were increasingly cast as the overall goal of St. Paul's. Primary among these was the creation of the Christian gentleman. The goal of the school's disciplinary system, he wrote in the 1891 Forum article, was to "deal with all the boys as if they were or were meant to be gentlemen." The overall goal of the school was less to produce Christians or Episcopalians than it was to develop good character. This was of greater worth than either material possession ("acquirements," he called them) or fame ("goodness is greatness," he wrote). To Coit, "[t]he training of the conscience" had become "the highest part of education."118 This could occur by reading the Bible, which was "full of the sweet lessons of Christian courtesy," he told the boys one Sunday. "It sets forth the character of

117 118

Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 25-26. Coit, "The American Boys' School ­ What It Should Be," 206, 209.


the gentleman.... What finer gentleman than Abraham?.... A God's gentleman."119 Closely related to this was the furtherance of the Protestant Victorian home. Coit preached on this constantly, lauding "the sweet intercourse and refining influences of a Christian home."120 Besides embracing theological error, Coit also informed his listeners that the prodigal son had

cast off restraint, the restraint of love and duty, of home and conscience.... To use a late phrase, he has wearied of the stagnation of comfort, the quiet order, the loving care of his father's house.... He chafes at his mother's gentle remonstrances and his father's firm refusals.... The peace and plenty of his good home, the innocent enjoyments, the sunshine of parental love, the opportunities for training in every good, useful, noble pursuit have no value in his eyes.121

Of particular potency in resisting the temptation to do wrong was "the thought of a loving mother," which Coit preached almost as fervently as "the remembered hymn or verse of Holy Scripture."122 If a Christian was a gentleman who loved family, that made him manly as well, a third element in the kind of believer Henry Coit hoped to produce. Coit's goal was to produce men who would be spiritually, intellectually, and physically strong, an objective which fully embraced the tenets of the muscular Christianity movement of the Gilded Age. The ideal Christian was a balanced individual, giving attention to "mental and social

Coit, "Christian Courtesy," sermon delivered at SPS 14 Jan. 1894, in School Sermons, 52-53. McLachlan maintains that the kind of gentleman that Coit's St. Paul's produced was educated and honorable, but parochial and insular, ill-equipped for public service in a wider world. McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 185.

120 121 122


Coit, "The Heavenly Race," sermon delivered at SPS 25 Jan. 1891, in School Sermons, 76. Coit, "The Prodigal Son," sermon delivered at SPS 6 March 1892, in School Sermons, 89-90. Coit, "The Lord is on My Side," sermon delivered at SPS 25 Jan. 1885, in School Sermons, 72.


discipline" as well as "worship." But the prerequisite was manliness, without which little else followed "We want first to make men," he wrote in explaining the school's goals, "For men should be manly, and while a puny, delicate man may have the truest manliness and a burly, self-indulgent animal of the same genus have little or none, a sound healthy body in a boy goes far to insure his manliness and freedom from the tendency to abnormal pernicious vice. Great care will be taken, therefore, to encourage and cultivate such exercises as are instrumental in producing a sound body."123 In Coit's view, the very process of education depended on this, for only with the development of manliness would intellectual endeavor be possible:

The body is to be trained to be the obedient, capable, ready servant of secular reason, and the will instructed and ruled by that moral sense within us which is the medium of Divine communications and influences to the whole meaning. To express in one word the ideal of all physical training ­ manliness is the aim which conveys to us an idea of the desirable result of a plain and ordered way of living, of the hardening and maturing of bodily powers by proper, well-directed exercise. A pampered, indulged body produces the opposite effect, in the stupid, overfed, effeminate face and form, in the growing inability to deny the appetites anything which they crave.... An exaggerated devotion to games and bodily feats produces a similar result. The mind is sacrificed to the muscles. Vacant eyes and senseless looks and an abject dread of mental exertion are poorly compensated for by five minutes' cheering of some thoughtless, gaping crowd. A man can well dispense with beauty; but strength and serviceableness of body God has put within the reach of far the larger number.124

Coit pointed to Old Testament figures who possessed these qualities: the secret of Moses' success, for instance, was the possession of "manliness" which produced "mental and social discipline."125 Yet Coit's manliness was also suffused with a compassion which was almost feminine in its application. In preaching about the Apostle Paul, Coit

123 124 125

Coit, "The American Boys' School ­ What It Should Be," 194-195. Coit, "Ideals," sermon delivered at SPS 14 June 1891, in School Sermons, 246, 248. Ibid., 246.


cited his manly character, but then equated them with virtues that Victorians of his time would have assigned to women: "great tenderness..., the instinctive protection of the weak and helpless and a power of sympathy."126 To further all this, he implemented required athletics in the afternoons, and is said to have preferred cricket over baseball since the former was so boring to watch that everyone would want to play.127 All this was part of a piece. Though the rural location of the school may have marked a symbolic effort of antebellum High Churchmen to separate from the wider culture, there were limits to which they, and Coit, could hold that culture at bay. The adoption of required athletics and the overall emphasis on manliness and muscular Christianity reflected powerful currents in Gilded Age society, currents which could eddy and swirl even into such isolated backwaters as Concord, New Hampshire. Anthony Rotundo has identified the rise of "a vogue of physical culture" which swept the country during this period, centering on such endeavors as cycling, gymnastics, skating, and body-building, and St. Paul's could not remain isolated from such developments. In retrospect, the groundwork was being laid for the development of interscholastic and intercollegiate athletic competition ­ centering on football but also embracing track, baseball, and crew ­ which swept the country beginning about 1890.128 Apologists for

126 127

Coit, "The Heavenly Race," sermon delivered at SPS 25 Jan. 1891, in School Sermons, 74-75.

Pier, St. Paul' School, 82-83; 146-147; "The Rural Record," entry for 7 May 1858; Coit, "The s American Boys' School," in Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 195-197. The school team traveled far afield in its efforts to find matches, at one point developing an annual match against a club in Hoboken, New Jersey; The New York Times, 23 June 1883, p. 2. The results of the match were reported the following day: The New York Times, "Scholars at the Bat," 24 June 1883, p. 2; St. Paul's' devotion to the sport is also noted in Charles Blancke, "Cricket in America," Harper's Weekly Vol. XXV, No. 1814 (26 Sept. 1891), 732. E. Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York: Basic Books, 1993) 223, 240-246. Rotundo, incidentally, teaches at one of the schools in this study, Phillips Andover Academy.



athletics and the ideal of masculine competition waxed ecstatic about its benefits. Involvement in sports could further the development of "the fighting virtues": "coolness, steadiness of nerve, quickness of apprehension, endurance against hunger... fatigue and physical distress, and ­ above all ­ courage."129 It was an antidote to vice, particularly such transgressions such as masturbation ­ Coit's "abnormal, pernicious vice." It could build individual character which was ultimately the key to national and international power.130 In short, by the turn of the century the proponents of athletics were assigning to it many of the virtues and desired results that had been, in a previous era, reserved for religion. It was not, however, a choice between two distinct alternatives. Henry Coit preached a Muscular Christianity in which athletic ability, manliness, character, and Christian faith existed alongside one another in so thorough a blend as to defy separating any of these virtues from the others. Christians were by definition manly athletes with strong character; athletes were Christians, and so forth. It was an ideology which blended the existing concept of the Victorian "gentleman" with a fervent belief in the value of sport. In this amalgamation, the gymnasium was practically co-equal with the chapel in producing strong moral character, and virility a measure of Christian faith. The rural location of schools such as St. Paul's also contributed to this development, as proponents of Muscular Christianity derided the "demoralizing home life" of cities and the

129 130

Ibid., 241.

Ibid, 240-241. This was of particular concern to Endicott Peabody at Groton. See Frank Kintrea, "`Old Peabo' and the School," American Heritage Vol. 31 No. 6 (November / December 1980), 98, 100.


advantages of clean air and green grass in the production of "sturdy, clean, effective manhood." Coit himself called his goal one of instilling "high-bred manliness."131 The new emphasis on athletics and on muscular Christianity was but one facet of the transformation of Henry Coit. The overall result was that by the 1880s, the idea that dependence on Christ makes men good had receded from Coit's preaching, replaced by an increasing emphasis on individually-produced character and moral behavior. The exhortation to "trust Christ and you will become good men" was in effect simplified to "be good." Coit called obedience "the essence of Christian duty, of all duty, whether to God or man."132 To be "pure in heart" was no longer to be made pure by Christ, but to develop one's own moral goodness.133 Character was to be developed in the same manner as athletic prowess (and vice versa), through repetitive exercise.134 It was also a short step from treating this as the individual goal of one's spiritual growth to that of the mission and purpose of the school. Coit's "ideal of a school" he now defined as "a place of discipline, where young and old alike learn to value the priceless opportunities of time and training, to direct impulses and energies so as to produce some lasting fruit, and to put themselves in touch with the great minds of the past, and those of the present who are using their powers for the welfare of their fellow men"135 Rather than nurture the faith,

Quoted in Clifford Putney, Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880-1920 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 106. The other phrases in the sentence are from a contemporary educational critic, Lawrence Hull.

132 133 134


Coit, "Conversion," sermon delivered at SPS 29 Sept. 1889, in School Sermons, 293. Coit, "The Pure in Heart," sermon delivered at SPS 15 June 1884, in School Sermons, 241.

See Gail Bederman, Manliness & Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 11.


St. Paul's would enforce the law. Others saw this shift as well: a resolution passed by the Groton School trustees honoring him noted that to Coit, "[F]aith was linked to duty, mental culture to spiritual development, and physical strength to moral courage."136 It was a significant shift, but not yet an absolute one. The remnants of Coit's early "Evangelical Catholicism" did not disappear entirely. In the same Forum article, Coit could still define "the raison d'être [of] the ideal school" as "Christian Him who is its Author and Finisher."137 He still maintained that the measure of his school should be whether or not "the Ancient Faith of Christendom in all its fullness should here be taught, defended, believed, and lived, and that all that men call beauty in literature and art and science and morals should be measured and valued by that standard of perfect moral beauty set before us in the holy Gospels."138 The "moral sense within us" was still "meant to be taken hold of, indwelt and ruled by the Holy Spirit of God."139 In death, the Groton trustees saluted him as "a strong Churchman of deep evangelical piety."140 Nevertheless, Coit's emphasis, and the core of St. Paul's School, had shifted perceptibly since he had assumed its leadership in 1856. The Christian faith was now in service to

Coit, "The Standard of Moral Beauty," sermon delivered at SPS 3 April 1892, in School Sermons, 138-140.

136 137


Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 269.

Coit, "The American Boys' School ­ What It Should Be," in Conover, Memories of a Great Schoolmaster, 212.

138 139 140

Coit, "Ideals," sermon delivered at SPS 14 June 1891, in School Sermons, 247. Ibid., 249.

Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, p. 116. Notebook in Groton School Archives.


additional ideals ­ not necessarily incompatible and not yet entirely separate ­ such as Victorian propriety, muscular Christianity, and the moral development of character. This emphasis on moral behavior, on the development of character, and on an adherence to a defined moral code, was not simply the product of too many years in boarding school, a loss of idealism suffered by so many who spend their lives dealing with the foibles of adolescent boys. In fact, Henry Coit's shift was part of a larger series of developments experienced by all six of the schools in this study during the generation following the Civil War. His tenure as headmaster from 1855-1895 represents a bridge between two eras and two different types of expression of American Protestantism within the schools. Within his professional lifetime, Protestantism in American boarding schools underwent a significant transformation.141 Coit had begun his ministry at St. Paul's in the extended shadow of the Second Great Awakening. When St. Paul's was founded in 1856, the Protestant faith which he preached had held broad authority in the national culture, including its schools. Whether at the elementary, secondary, or college level, it was widely accepted that education, whether in private academies or the incipient public school system, would be Protestant in nature. To be sure, religious and cultural "outsiders" existed, but before 1870 they made few serious attempts to challenge the outlook and assumptions of the Protestants who arbitrated the public square and generally controlled its institutions.142 In this respect, Phillips Andover, Lawrenceville, and St. Paul's, though physically isolated in

Lawrence Henry Fuller, "Education for Leadership: The Emergence of the College Preparatory School" (Ph.D. dissertation Johns Hopkins University, 1974), 66-109, surveys the emergence of an ideal to create what he calls "bourgeois servants of the republic." See R. Lawrence Moore, Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 19-21, 201.

142 141


their rural locations, were very much a part of the cultural mainstream of Protestant America. Self-conscious Protestant Christian institutions, they defined their mission and purpose in these terms, cast largely in the language of the evangelicalism of the antebellum era. (The Unitarianism of Phillips Exeter, as we have seen, proved an exception to this pattern.) Andover and Lawrenceville were more evangelical than St. Paul's, but there were undeniable evangelical elements even in the High Church Episcopalianism which defined the latter. Evangelical Protestantism called people to follow Christ, with the belief that such a commitment would produce human beings capable of engaging in good behavior. An emphasis on behavior in and of itself was hardly absent ­ no headmaster of a school for boys could ever afford to ignore that element entirely ­ but the first and foremost call was to faith, seen as the necessary prerequisite to character. St. Paul's was founded in the waning afternoon of this belief. As Coit's rectorship proceeded through four decades, significant changes in American culture placed new demands on American boarding schools, which in turn altered the role and practice of Protestant Christianity in those schools. By 1880 or so, the compatibility of the evangelical Protestant faith which had lain at the heart of the schools' mission and purpose was being called into question, one raised by a variety of forces which were reshaping the manner in which Protestant Americans thought both about their faith and about the culture in which they lived. For Andover, Lawrenceville, and St. Paul's, this would result in a transformation of the role that Protestantism played in their institutions. For the schools which were yet to be founded, Groton and Mount Hermon, their mission and purpose would be defined, and the faith practiced, quite differently from those


schools of the antebellum era. Exeter, the early harbinger of these changes, simply waited for the rest of the schools to catch up. The change which most drastically altered the role of Protestantism in these boarding schools was the emergence of the modern university. Antebellum colleges in America had resembled the boarding schools in this study in that they were essentially religious institutions, denominationally affiliated and charged with the formation and regulation of the morals of their students.143 However, during the generation beginning in the 1870s, visionaries such as Daniel Coit Gilman of Johns Hopkins, Andrew Dickson White of Cornell, and Charles Eliot of Harvard sought to adapt American colleges to the demands of a industrializing and increasingly material society. Unanimity as to what form this should take proved elusive, however, as three competing visions of higher education emerged during this period. A first group, led by Gilman and influenced by educational reforms in Germany, advocated the development of institutions devoted to pure research. A second group, led by Eliot and White, sought to make higher education synonymous with service to the republic. A third group emerged somewhat later, best exemplified by Woodrow Wilson at Princeton early in the twentieth century, who sought shape universities to the advancement of "liberal culture."144 Therefore in the period between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the Great War in Europe, the emerging universities became contested ground as reformers sought to shape them

George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 79-84. See Paul C. Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service: Religious Ideals and Educational Practice, 1868-1928 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 127-172.




according to their own views. To some extent or another, each of these models would affect the boarding schools which prepared their students. A central question in the transformation was whether or not the traditional Protestantism which had historically informed these institutions was still compatible with the imperatives of the new order. The idea that a university education should equip its students for participation in the burgeoning industrialization of America, and perhaps offer service to the broader ideals of the republic as well, took hold. Reformers shaped an entirely new curriculum to service this end, a task which entailed refashioning the very idea of just what "knowing" something meant. If traditional Protestantism could be brought into support of these changes, then the historical reasons for the existence of American higher education need not be disturbed in the process. But the antebellum Protestantism did not "fit" at a number of points, and so the university leaders had to make a choice as to its fortunes. The two points at which the "fit" was increasingly problematic were that of science and of new German theories of biblical criticism.145 The flashpoint was, of course, Darwinism, which Paul Carter has aptly called "the ape in the tree of knowledge."146 Darwin's theory of biological evolution did not initially pose a problem for university epistemology, at least not for the first generation after he published Origin of Species in 1859. Protestant popularizers who accepted Darwin were able to persuade the public that there was in fact no final conflict between Christian faith and scientific

Martin E. Marty, Modern American Religion, Volume I: The Irony of It All, 1893-1919 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 32. Paul A. Carter, The Spiritual Crisis of the Gilded Age (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1971), chapter 2.




belief.147 But two larger issues were at stake. The first was the uncertainty that it sowed in regard to the biblical worldview. After reading Darwin, a number of things in the Bible which had always been considered settled were now open to question. In particular, the accuracy of the Genesis account of creation was no longer certain, nor was the precise role of God in that creation. The second issue lay in the naturalism inherent ­ though never explicitly stated ­ in Darwin's theory, a view which implied that divine action was peripheral, or perhaps even absent, in the process. Darwin was but one part of a broader shift in cultural authority to the natural sciences as they became what Louis Menard has called "the dominant discourse in American life."148 In combination with historicism, it struck particularly hard at the veracity of the Bible itself.149 In addition, "science" became increasingly defined in such a way as to make the exercise of Christian faith at best peripheral and at worst in conflict with its basic premises. Now, however, employing as it did empiricism as its reigning methodology, and increasingly inclined toward a positivist view of the world, the result was what George Marsden has called "a methodological secularization" which "a priori excluded considerations of faith."150 These changes did not take place quickly, and the late-nineteenth-century views of knowledge had more of an air of a "probabilistic

See Ferenc Morton Szasz, The Divided Mind of Protestant America (University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1982), chapter 1; Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2001), 120-128. Menand, The Metaphysical Club, 81; David E. Shi, Facing Facts: Realism and American Thought and Culture, 1850-1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 66-67; Szasz, The Divided Mind of Protestant America, passim. George M. Marsden, "The Collapse of American Evangelical Academia," in Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff, eds., Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), 221. [full article is pp. 219-264]

150 149 148 147

Marsden, The Soul of the American University, 131, 164.


revolution" rather than widespread certainty.151 But it was increasingly evident that perhaps science might have to be kept in one compartment and religion in another.152 Belief in its assumptions and premises was becoming increasingly easy; the exercise of faith, more difficult. (Henry Adams, for instance, maintained that he was a Darwinist because it was "easier than not.")153 As science assumed this greater cultural authority, what remained up in the air for a very long time was the question of which of the two would dictate the answers to questions of morality. As a result, what Paul Jerome Croce has called a "culture of uncertainty" reigned for the better part of a generation.154 A pillar of antebellum authority, the Bible, was also increasingly called into question. In their "higher criticism" of the Bible, German theologians posed the possibility that the Bible was the product of historical forces rather than divine inspiration, opening the possibility that amidst its valid pronouncements it also contained errors and additions penned after the fact ­ in other words, whether it was the word of God or whether it simply contained the word of God.155 The former view allowed for little questioning, assuming that the Bible had been divinely inspired from its initial recording, and had been handed down virtually unchanged since the inception of

Paul Jerome Croce, "From History of Science to Intellectual History: The Probabilistic Revolution and the Chance-Filled Universe of William James," Intellectual History Newsletter, vol. 13 (1991), 19-32; Paul Jerome Croce, Science and Religion in the Era of William James, Vol. I: Eclipse of Certainty, 1820-1880 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), passim and 225-231.

152 153


George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University, 118.

Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961 [1918], 225.

154 155

Croce, Science and Religion in the Era of William James, 16.

George M. Marsden, "Everyone's Own Interpreter? The Bible, Science and Authority in MidNineteenth-Century America," in Nathan O. Hatch and Mark A. Noll, eds., The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History (New York: Oxford, 1982), 87-88.


Christianity in the first century A.D. In this view, the reader was akin to someone in a reputable jewelry shop, sure of finding something of quality no matter what gem he examined. German higher criticism, however, postulated that the Scriptures were not quite so pristine and that perhaps they had undergone transformation and even denigration in the eighteen centuries since Christ. And not only did the Bible change, but changes in the culture around it might render certain passages, previously useable in formulating moral behavior, irrelevant. If that was the case, then the task of the intelligent reader was to ascertain which material was reliable for moral conduct and which was no longer so. The jewelry-store was now a mine: while precious gems could still be found, one had to extract it from a great deal of material worth considerably less. In addition to these two intellectual developments, several issues related to the industrialization of the country also affected the schools. The first was the attendant urbanization of the nation, by all measures the most spectacular in the history of the world.156 Sparked by unprecedented immigration into the country, the growth of urban America increased an ambivalence about cities that had existed practically since the dawn of the Republic. Cities were the epicenters of modernity. On the one hand, they were places of progress and productivity, with telephones, streetcars and interurban rail connections, daily newspapers, vending machines, streetlights, an unprecedented array of consumer goods, and thousands upon thousands of jobs available in its factories.157 But cities were also places of vice and crime, of immigrants who spoke strange languages,

Walter T. K. Nugent, Structures of American Social History (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1981), 95. See Thomas J. Schlereth, Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life, 1876-1915 (HarperPerennial, 1991), 33-86, 141-167, and passim.




and of municipal corruption at such a level as to appear to threaten the very nature of the democratic process itself. While an adult might be able to navigate the resulting ambivalence in order to earn his living, cities were perhaps not the best place for children, especially if one was wealthy enough to send a son away to school. The safe country locations of the boarding schools thus held an added appeal as the cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia grew by leaps and bounds. The second corollary issue was that of wealth. In overseeing the process of industrialization, there was a fantastic amount of money to be made on the part of those who succeeded, and the number of those who succeeded was growing steadily. By 1892, there were more than 4000 millionaires in the United States, the majority of whom lived within reasonable travel of the New England boarding schools. That number, considerable by the standards of the past, would nearly double by 1914, and positively skyrocket in the 1920s.158 But it came at a price, as Protestants had to adjust long-held notions about the morality of money in the life of the believer: responsibility to the poor, whether there was such thing as "too much" money, and the extent to which the possession of great wealth conferred a responsibility for the society as a whole. Wealthy Protestants of the Gilded Age were therefore thrown into a genuine quandary as they were confronted simultaneously with the possible loss of their cultural dominance as well as with the perplexing question of whether or not their newfound wealth was acceptable

Frederic Cople Jaher, "The Gilded Elite: American Multimillionaires, 1865 to the Present," in W.D. Rubenstein, Wealth and the Wealthy in the Modern World (London: Croom Helm, 1980), 195-96, 237. [the whole article is on pages 189-276]



in the eyes of God.159 Coit's successor, Samuel F. Drury, is said to have reported a conversation between Charles Eliot and Viscount James Bryce in which both agreed that "the chief evil of riches, the major anxiety, was the thought that the inheritors would be hurt by them," and Theodore Roosevelt, who sent his sons to Groton, thought that school best served to minister to "the men and women who at this moment find their most typical expression at Newport."160 By any available measure, the St. Paul's was a wealthy school. Its tuition levels, coupled with the absence of a substantial scholarship fund, provide de facto evidence that the school was geared toward the wealthy. Annual cost to attend the school was $600 a year in 1895, the year of Coit's death, some three times the yearly national per capita income.161 These issues would pose significant challenges to American boarding schools. The course charted by colleges and universities would have a profound impact on the boarding schools which prepped their students. To cite but one example, Theodore Sizer has concluded that Darwinism provided the primary external "push" in changing curriculum in secondary schools by the turn of the century.162 For privately funded

T. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (New York: Pantheon, 1981), chapter 1. Woodrow Wilson, speaking to an audience at Lawrenceville in 1909, put it even more bluntly: "I am sorry for the lad who is going to inherit money." Edward N. Saveth, "Education of an Elite," History of Education Quarterly 28:3 (Fall 1978), 372. [full article is on pages 367-386] St. Paul' School Statement, 1895; Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to s 1970, Part I (Washington, D.C.: United States Bureau of the Census, 1975), Table F1-5, p. 224. The fact that St. Paul's was an Episcopal school only reinforces the observation that the manner in which the Episcopal Church embraced the Social Gospel during this era was to choose to minister to the very rich in American society; see Kit and Frederica Konolige, The Power of Their Glory: America's Ruling Class, the Episcopalians (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), 81-94, 140-171. Theodore Sizer, Secondary Schools at the Turn of the Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 9-12.

162 161 160



schools, this would have been true if for no other reason that for purely market considerations: the schools would be unable to attract students if they were unable to prepare them adequately for university study. But there were more fundamental forces at work. The fact of the matter is that the headmasters were also personally linked to the university presidents and members of their faculties. Lawrenceville headmasters conferred with Princeton presidents at board meetings, Groton headmasters corresponded with Harvard presidents, Andover seminary faculty sat on the board of trustees of Phillips Andover, and year after year college presidents and professors manned the pulpits and graduation platforms of the schools. The changing assumptions about the nature of knowledge and the role of faith could therefore travel quite freely within this boarding school circle. Together with university professors and presidents, boarding school men were breathing the same intellectual air, reworking assumptions, and conversing about the role that Protestant faith would play as their schools served the emergent universities. Thus for the boarding schools, the universities' crisis of Protestant faith was also their crisis. The key question was not whether St. Paul's, Lawrenceville, Andover, and Exeter would continue to be "Christian" institutions, but rather what was meant by the term and how it would be put into practice. The matter of definition was crucial to formulating an answer to this, and there was more than one historical model from which the schools could choose (even presuming they thought a change from the status quo to be necessary).163 The first involved the idea that an institution should be monolithically

Gary Scott Smith, Seeds of Secularization: Calvinism, Culture, and Pluralism in America, 1870-1915 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 49-52.



Christian, with all activity under the sway of the faith, in the same manner in which the Church had dominated and pervaded medieval society.164 This, of course, was the way the schools had conducted themselves until now, and the salient question was whether or not it could continue. A second model was that of a separate-sphere approach, with religion and faith regarded seen as a private matter, adequate to inform individual moral life but irrelevant to the wider social economy. While this arrangement had the advantage of convenience, its disavowal of the application of faith in public behavior would be summarily rejected by the schools. To embrace this would also have marked a disavowal of the historic basis on which the schools had been constructed, that their students should go on to a life of "usefulness." A third model, though, emerged as compelling. The schools could embrace both religion and science as co-equal moral authorities. Certain accommodations would have to be made: in the area of curriculum, insofar as the epistemological imperatives of the rising authority of science were concerned. This would, of course, necessitate a revision of the imperatives of the evangelical Protestant faith on which the schools had by and large been founded. It would be a compromise with modernity, one which would involve the tacit recognition that Protestant evangelical faith no longer had the sole authority to adjudicate cultural questions of right and wrong, but that these other imperatives should ­ and by necessity, must ­ also be taken into consideration. In the process, a key assumption of evangelical Christianity would be under particular pressure, that of the sinful nature of human beings. As we have seen, this

The Gilded Age was rife with fascination of the medieval period. See Lears, No Place of Grace, passim.



presumption about human nature had informed the schools since their beginnings (though Exeter had abandoned it), and framed much of the pietistic religious life of the schools. Conversion presupposed something to convert from, presumably a lesser condition than to be in right relationship in Jesus Christ. This assumption of human sin didn't fit well with the new order, however, particularly insofar as developing ideas about scientific progress and human possibility were concerned. In other words, the piety of devotion to Christ, presupposing as it did a fallen human nature, might not be as suitable as the development of "character" ­ a more positive and optimistic task, and one more compatible with rising faith in the ideal of human progress. Traditional Protestantism presupposed that being good was possible only by belief in God; unbelievers lacked the necessary transformative power of the Holy Spirit to be good. Gideon Soule's Exeter, however, had reversed the equation: being good, however defined, was more important than belief in God. There were those in traditional Protestant denominations who were already at work in changing the faith to accommodate the new age. Perhaps the one with the greatest implications for education was a Congregationalist minister named Horace Bushnell in Connecticut. Bushnell proposed that children were not inherently sinful, but were imbued with both good and bad impulses at birth, and that it was possible for the former to win "qualified sovereignty" over the latter if a good upbringing ­ or boarding school education ­ was brought to bear in the process.165 The adoption of the Gilded Age compromise with modernity decisively changed the Protestant faith at Andover, Lawrenceville, and St. Paul's, while significantly

Robert Bruce Mullin, The Puritan as Yankee: A Life of Horace Bushnell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 108-111, 117-120.



affecting the manner in which Groton and Mount Hermon were founded. It also codified the earlier changes at Exeter. The essence of the bargain was an arrangement in which evangelical elements of historic American Protestantism were jettisoned, and the Protestant faith retooled to allow the schools to continue to service both the universities and the wider republic. This involved a shift in the belief in the nature of human beings as sinful young men in need of conversion were replaced by malleable young men in need of development. It would also pose a dilemma about curriculum that would force a wholesale revision of the accepted canon of knowledge, and one of the questions that would be raised in the process was whether or not academic excellence was still dependent on Protestant faith. The combination of these two developments would eventually, after a very long process, bring into question the role of Protestant faith in the schools. For the essence of the Gilded age compromise with modernity was that Protestant faith was helpful in developing character, but no longer necessary. It could inform the educated mind, but was no longer regarded as essential for true knowledge as learning and research replaced enlightenment. As a result, Protestant faith would be moved from the center of the equation, a necessary element in the education and moral development of young men, to more of a desired option.166 The question which lay far down the road ­ perhaps even over the horizon for those grappling with all this at the time ­ was this: if faith and

The faith of the school, however, was neither transitory nor new. Heckscher organizes his history of the school around the fire and epidemic of 1878. Before were "the founding," "in arcadia" and "vintage years"; after came "the age of faith." He sees the school's commitment to the Episcopal faith as "a solution, or a compromise" to the problem of having so many wealthy students enter the school in the 1880s and 1890s. But while 1878 is a good watershed in the growth of the school, as fundraising in the wake of the fire enabled much building, it hardly marked the beginning of the school's Protestant commitment nearly so much as its continuation under more prosperous and less trying circumstances. In this respect, the era was more one of fulfillment than compromise. Heckscher, St. Paul' 91-95 and passim. s,



goodness were no longer shackled together as integral parts of one another, was faith itself unnecessary? It should be evident by now that St. Paul's under Henry Coit bridged these two worlds, aptly described by Matthew Arnold as "one dead, / The other powerless to be born."167 What Henry May has called "the massive walls of nineteenth century" were still very much intact, but "many different kinds of people [were] cheerfully laying dynamite in the hidden cracks."168 The qualities of the old era ­ Coit's evangelicalism, the zeal with which he taught Sacred Studies, the Missionary Society's emphasis on evangelism, and the belief in the need of sinful human beings for reconciliation with God through Christ ­ were all under pressure by the time of Coit's death in 1895. Talk of piety and conversion sounded increasingly as though it were from a different era as the emphasis on morality and character grew more pronounced. The call for conversion was increasingly replaced by the exhortation to do good. The increasing tension between confidence and doubt illuminated a growing crisis of faith, a critical period in American religion, in Victorian America.169

Quoted in Donald H. Meyer, "The Victorian Crisis of Faith," American Quarterly 27:5 (Fall 1975), 587. [entire article is pp. 585-603] Henry F. May, The End of American Innocence: A Study of the First Years of Our Own Time, 1912-1917 (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1959), ix. Meyer, "The Victorian Crisis of Faith," 583-603; Arthur Meier Schlesinger, "A Critical Period in American Religion," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society LXIV (October 1932): 523547.

169 168




The school of 24 boys and three faculty masters begun in Groton, Massachusetts, in 1884 was the first of the schools to be founded under the terms of the Gilded Age accommodation with modernity.1 Groton School was essentially the creation of one man, its headmaster, Endicott Peabody. "The Rector" held sway over the school for 56 years until his retirement in 1940. During the first part of his tenure, from 1884 until the end of the Great War in Europe in 1918, he crafted Groton into a school reflecting the characteristics of early modernist Protestantism: a greater concern for morality over piety (though piety was hardly absent), an emphasis on character-building and service to the Republic, a de-emphasized evangelical component to the Christian faith, and an easy comfort with the wealth of the American upper class. As Peabody and Groton attempted to recast the role of Protestantism in an American boarding school, however, it became evident that such a transformation would not necessarily go easily. The problems did not arise as a result of overt resistance from guardians of the old order, for as a newly-created school, there were no such evangelical sentinels in place. But the process of implementing the Gilded Age accommodation with modernity at Groton proved to be

William Amory Gardiner, "Fifteen Years of Groton," in The Church Militant, Vol. III, No. 3 (April 1900), 3-10.



fraught with ambiguities. In retrospect, the pure evangelicalism of antebellum schools such as Andover and Lawrenceville had proved to be fairly coherent, holding the schools' mission and purpose with relatively little conflict. At Groton, however, even despite the power of Endicott Peabody's personality, competing and sometimes contradictory visions would emerge practically from the start of Groton school in 1884. Perhaps no headmaster in the history of the schools has ever loomed so large over his peers. Endicott Peabody virtually defined what it meant to be a boarding school headmaster from the Victorian Age through the onset of the Second World War.2 He left indelible memories on his students: one recalled his "square countenance, a mostly bald head, and a Roman nose dominated by gray eyes which were capable of the sternest, glassiest stare that I have ever beheld."3 Another wrote that "he must have been exactly like God, or God must have been exactly like him."4 Like George Shattuck who had funded the start of St. Paul's, Peabody was a New Englander by birth and a Unitarian by upbringing.5 However, he encountered the Episcopalian faith while an undergraduate at

No novel has done more to define the ideal of the boarding school headmaster than Louis Auchincloss's The Rector of Justin. Auchincloss is a graduate of Groton and so the novel's protagonist, Francis Prescott, is widely believed to have been modeled on Endicott Peabody. This is repeated, among other places, in David V. Hicks, "Elite Boarding Schools," The American Scholar (Autumn 1996), 529. However, Auchincloss maintained that he modeled Francis Prescott on Judge Learned Hand and not Peabody. Louis Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974), 3541.

3 4


Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital, 37.

Bayard Schlieffeln [class of 1921] interview, 3, Groton Oral History Project, GS Archives. Auchincloss recounted Peabody's rebuke of an erring graduate, saying, "I can forgive you, but I wonder if God can." The graduate responded: "If you can forgive me, sir, I am sure God can." Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital, 40. The amalgamation does not appear to have bothered Peabody. Richard Irons, who was hired to teach at Groton late in Peabody's career, recalled that in his interview Peabody had asked him what his Church affiliation was. Irons replied that "my mother was an Episcopalian, but my father was a Unitarian, and I think I've really been brought up Unitarian." Irons then recalled: "And he said with a smile, Well, so



Trinity College in England and found it attractive because it held a place for emotion and wonder as well as reason.6 To say that he was converted is true enough, though Peabody never viewed it in an evangelical sense; in fact, he distrusted the evangelical wing of the Church because of what he saw as its anti-intellectual posture. Indeed, his regard for the life of the mind was acute, such that when he decided to enter the Episcopal ministry, it was at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the intellectual center of the Broad Church movement, itself the intellectual wing of the Episcopal Church.7 Peabody's preparation as a prep school headmaster took an unpredictable turn in 1882 when he forsook his formal education in dusty tomes for a mission stint in the dusty streets of Tombstone, Arizona. There in the town of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, he witnessed first hand the strident individualism and vigilante justice of the early frontier, holding services in the local courthouse until the church was completed. As part of his ministry, he also started a Sunday School program and organized a baseball team.8 The position was never intended to be permanent, though, and there is no indication that Peabody sought to make it so. He returned to Boston, completed his studies in 1883, and at the age of twenty-five, determined to start a school in the rural town of Groton, which

was I, you can live that down in time." Richard Irons, interview [n.d.], Groton Oral History Project, 25, typescript in GS Archives.. Frank D. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton: A Portrait (Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press, 1967 [1944]), 13, 33, 36. David L. Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press, 1993), 118. Endicott Peabody to anonymous, cited in Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 45-48, 52. He later recalled that "my achievements in Tombstone were slight and for the most part commonplace." Endicott Peabody to Frank D. Ashburn, 24 Nov. 1933, EP Papers, GS Archives.

8 7 6


at the time lacked an Episcopal church.9 In this respect, as in so many others, Groton School resembled St. Paul's as an Episcopal mission enterprise in New England.10 Both institutions emerged out of the Broad Church movement of the Episcopal Church. But there were differences in kind between the two schools, differences rooted both in the theologies of their founding rectors as well as a generational difference that separated the two. However muted Henry Coit's evangelicalism had been, it was an undeniable element in his thought and preaching. As we have seen, the early St. Paul's marked a transition from a muted evangelicalism (or, perhaps more accurately, a contested Broad Church identification) to a distinctively Broad Church school. Peabody had no sympathy for the Anglo-Catholics, writing a friend in 1882, "I may like them as men ­ but I do not see things as they can see them and never shall."11 But neither was there much sympathy for evangelicalism. This was due more to a practical streak ­ one of Peabody's dominant traits ­ than to theological conviction: he simply thought Broad Church Episcopalianism worked better than evangelicalism.12 Peabody's reaction to an

Endicott Peabody to Julius Atwood, 10 May, 1883, Peabody Papers, GS Archives; Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 65-66. Peabody also undertook a brief foray into banking during this time, but determined that the career was not for him. His connections within the industry was to benefit Groton considerably through the years, though, as his father had been a partner with Junius Morgan, founder of the firm which eventually came to be called J. P. Morgan and Company. See Mark Denis Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World" (Ed.D. dissertation, The University of Virginia, 1995), 60-61, 64. Much later, Peabody said that one of the reasons for the founding of Groton was because the two existing Episcopal Schools in New England ­ St. Paul's and St. Mark's ­ were both fully enrolled; Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian," 88. There was a geographic distinction between the two schools as well: Groton tended to draw its students from New York, St. Paul's from Boston. James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York: Scribner's, 1970), 268; conversation with Doug Brown, GS Archivist, summer 2001. Quoted in Desjardins, 67. Peabody's views on this were also evident in his remark, delivered in an Easter Sunday sermon, that two festivals ­ Christmas and Easter ­ were quite enough for the church calendar. Endicott Peabody, sermon at Groton School, 25 April 1886, Peabody papers, GS Archives. Louis Auchincloss described Peabody as "simple, straightforward, literal, and always sincere." Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital, 26.

12 11 10



1888 proposal before the Church's General Convention offers a glimpse into this mindset, for his opposition was based not so much on ideals as the simple conviction that "...unless some change can be effected the church will suffer sadly." Proponents of the proposal were out of date with the times, "most high and dry and medieval and unAmerican."13 This pragmatism also informed his lack of sympathy for the Anglo-Catholic movement, whose "extreme radicalism" he thought infeasible, unsuited for effective ministry in places such as, say, Tombstone, Arizona.14 For Peabody, the "broad church brotherhood" was more appealing because "it could easily accomplish much in Boston or New York or any of our cities."15 For the Rector, utility was of greater import than adherence to age-old doctrines, uselessness a greater sin than error. It was a foundational principle of Peabody's school as well. In this respect, Peabody ­ as did the entire institutions of both Groton and St. Paul's ­ reflected a larger trend in the Episcopal church in America. The late nineteenth century marked the final departure of a significant evangelical presence within the church, a process which anticipated developments in other mainline churches by several decades. Coit spent forty years as rector of St. Paul's and personally embodied this as he moved from an early sympathy to evangelicalism, fired by the example of William Augustus Muhlenburg, to a modernism which de-emphasized the evangelical emphasis on piety and held behavior, morals, and character as its chief values. Peabody, however, represented a younger generation of Episcopalian clergy to whom evangelicalism was

13 14

Endicott Peabody to Atwood, 27 April 1888, Peabody papers, GS Archives.

Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 57, 112; also quoted in McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York: Scribner's, 1970), 249.


Endicott Peabody to Bishop Atwood, 11 March 1883, Peabody papers, GS Archives.


rapidly becoming an ideal of the past with little in either doctrine or practice to commend itself to the Gilded Age.16 As a result, evangelicalism was not so much expelled from Groton as it was simply omitted. St. Paul's had been founded when the issue of an evangelical presence in the Episcopal church was still up for grabs, and Coit's early blending of evangelicalism and Broad Church Episcopalianism reflected many of the ambiguities of a transitional era. However, by the time of Groton's founding in 1884 the issue was virtually settled. In this respect, Peabody and his school stand as a kind of negative example of the fate of evangelicalism within the Episcopal church. One historian of the movement, Diana Butler, has attributed the decline of Episcopal evangelicals to their failure to develop institutions which would preserve their voice, thus transforming them into "the outside Episcopal tradition."17 One can only wonder how evangelicals might have fared in the Episcopal church had they been able to establish schools such as Groton and St. Paul's. But a funny thing happened on the way to modernism in these two American Episcopalian boarding schools. Though the evangelicalism of the early nineteenth century had never penetrated to the core of the Episcopal church in America, some of its elements had nevertheless informed the manner in which American Episcopalians had thought about and practiced their faith for a number of decades. Try as they might, Broad Churchmen in the Gilded Age were unable to excise all remnants of evangelical thought and piety from their faith. Residual evangelical beliefs ­ particularly embracing a high

Gillis J. Harp, "`We cannot spare you': Phillips Brooks's Break with the Evangelical Party, 1859-1873," Church History 68:4 (Dec. 1999), 952-953. Diana Hochstedt Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind: Evangelical Episcopalians in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Oxford, 1995), 229.




view of the Bible ­ existed alongside the turn to Protestant modernism, blended in an admixture of appreciation for the role of emotion, mystery and wonder in Christian worship.18 That such a mindset would be fraught with ambiguity and inconsistency should come as no surprise. Endicott Peabody tried to gloss over these potential tensions by avoiding specific definition. Groton, he wrote long after the fact, was founded because there were so few "Church Schools" in New England. He defined this in the broadest of terms:

[This] meant a religious community where there should be opportunities for preaching to boys and instruction in what was called Sacred Studies; but where above all other features of the life there should be opportunities for worship, and that in accordance with the spirit and method of the Episcopal Church.... The result of this they hoped would be the creation of a spiritual atmosphere which would have a conscious or unconscious effect upon all who entered into the life of the School."19

The Rector was equally vague in his definition of just what "the Chapel" consisted of at Groton. "Precisely what that is I do not know," he explained years later, "but there it is, standing for the finest ideals; for everything that is true, beautiful, and of good report; and giving that divine spark enabling us to try our best `to live to the glory of God and the good cheer or our fellow men.'"20 Even after almost a half century of running the school, he would still protest that it "could hardly be termed `ecclesiastical,' that would seem to imply more formality than has been characteristic."21

18 19 20 21

Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church, 117. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 72. Ibid., 76. Endicott Peabody to Frank D. Ashburn, 24 Nov. 1933.


Like so many of his contemporary headmasters, Peabody was something of a moderate modernist. Remnants of evangelical thought remained, perhaps most apparent in Peabody's view of the Bible. On the one hand, his training at Episcopal Theological School in the 1880s had taught him a disdain for those who were "nervously orthodox" and an appreciation for some of his professors who could combine "conservative devotion to consecrated Christian truth with an open eye and receptive mind for new thought and the best methods of theological teaching."22 For many, this line of thinking was the seedbed for the flowering of a more critical view of the Scriptures. Nevertheless, he retained a fairly high view of the Bible throughout his life, citing it as the key to "the simply straightforward preaching of the Gospel to the hearts and consciences of men."23 While some liberalization may have taken place over time, it was modest. Late in his career, a longtime member of the Groton faculty and one of Peabody's two right-hand men, Sherrard Billings, said he engaged in "the old-fashioned type of religion, that is the type that believed in the Bible and a pretty literal interpretation of the Bible..."24 But in the end one searches his sermons in vain for any sign of a commitment to the Biblical higher criticism so characteristic of Protestant modernism, though any affinity for the fundamentalist belief in inerrancy, which emerged and was codified by theological conservatives during Peabody's tenure at Groton, is also missing.

22 23

Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 40-41.

Endicott Peabody to Atwood, 16 May 1896, Peabody papers, GS Archives; Endicott Peabody to anonymous, 23 March 1895, quoted in Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 113. Sherrard Billings interview [1931 or 1932], typescript in GS Archives; also quoted in Frank D. Ashburn, Fifty Years On: Groton School, 1884-1934 (New York: privately printed, 1934), 88.



While his rhetoric about the Bible hinted at the traditional, Peabody nevertheless avoided any evangelical-like attempts to codify and rationalize his defense of either the Bible or his Christianity. Instead, he cultivated a mystical side to his faith which regarded intellectual defense as, if not quite superfluous, nevertheless somewhat beside the point. "I am not sure I like boys to think too much," Peabody is alleged to have said, and his biographer (and former student) Frank D. Ashburn called him "a believer rather than an inquirer."25 This tendency was partly due to his assessment of his own limitations. "I only wish I had studied and read more intelligently all through my life," he wrote his friend and lifelong confidant, Bishop Julius Atwood, "and that I had thus prepared myself to teach better and to influence men more wisely and more deeply."26 A part of it also again reflected Peabody's practical streak. "It won't do to develope [sic] the intellectual side [of faith] too exclusively," he once wrote to Atwood, since those who did so ran the risk of "hav[ing] far more to say about philosophy and truth than about saving souls, and the plain Gospel does not seem to appeal to them."27 In the end, Peabody was convinced that the mind of man would inevitably fail in any concerted attempt to explain the ways of God. This conviction, among other things, limited his faith in science. "Science has made vast strides in these last years," he told his boys one Sunday. "Science has reached now a position where instead of declaring to men there is no God, they say there is a God and

Cleveland Amory, The Proper Bostonians (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1947), 88; Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 43; Frank Ashburn interview [n.d.], 15, Groton Oral History Project, GS Archives. Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital, 38, also comments on this characteristic of Peabody, as does James Magregor Burns in his biography of Peabody's most renowned student, Franklin Roosevelt: "Peabody believed in religion, character, athletics, and scholarship, seemingly in that order." Burns, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (New York: Harcourt, 1956), 12.

26 27


Endicott Peabody to Julius Atwood, 29 Nov. 1897, Peabody papers, GS Archives. Endicott Peabody to Bishop Atwood, 8 Nov. 1896, Peabody papers, GS Archives.


He is alive and He is near and in the world ­ but Science has nothing to tell us of our own distinct immortal Existence. What comfort is there in that?"28 Peabody's faith was one which lost itself in the wonder and mystery of the gospel. When he celebrated communion, he seemed oblivious to individuals, subsumed by the enormity of his appointed task.29 Henry Coit's faith had moved from evangelicalism to modernism. Endicott Peabody's is better characterized as a moderately liberal Protestantism that couldn't quite shake its evangelical heritage. It also embraced many of the assumptions of Anglo-Saxon mission and superiority common to so many white Protestants of his social class and Americans of his era. His philanthropy touched on the issue of race as he donated funds to Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute, and later touted Washington, together with Theodore Roosevelt, as one of the two finest Americans alive.30 He also held an abiding belief in the greatness of the United States and in its responsibility to engage the "great questions of the nations" so that "Anglo Saxon ideas should predominate in the world."31 Victory in the Spanish-American War, he thought in 1898, would mean that the country "shall have done a fine thing for the advancement of civilization and Christianity," and the two were probably co-equal in his mind.32 He equated immigrants

28 29 30

Endicott Peabody sermon at Groton School, 25 April 1886, Peabody papers, GS Archives. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 85-86.

Booker T. Washington to EP, 5 May 1898; McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 292-93; Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 210.

31 32

Endicott Peabody to Atwood, 18 June 1898, Peabody papers, GS Archives. Endicott Peabody to Atwood, 30 April 1898, Peabody papers, GS Archives.


with infidelity and becoming an American with righteousness.33 There were also limits to his social conscience when it came to the pressing domestic questions of the day. "Strikes and lockouts and quarrels," he told his boys one Sunday, were caused by "the wrong basis on which their relations have been conducted. The selfishness which has been in too many cases the motive of all enterprise must be converted [and] must be touched by Christ and changed to love."34 Capitalism, he believed, "was not organically evil or unworkable, but rather a good economic system suffering from... unchristian practices."35 In this area, Peabody reflected the views of his day, and Henry May has noted that "nowhere did religious writers display more unanimity than in their discussions of wages and labor.36 But there was indeed some truth to Arthur Mann's acerbic charge that all Peabody asked was that his boys take up the "gentleman's burden."37 Groton School reflected Peabody's mix of beliefs from its very beginning. Its most explicit tie to modernist Protestantism was the involvement of Phillips Brooks in the early years of the school. Brooks, rector of Trinity Church in Boston, is best known as the author of the Christmas hymn, "O Little Town of Bethlehem."38 A large man ­ one

33 34 35 36

Endicott Peabody sermon, Groton School, 12 Dec. 1886, Peabody Papers, GS Archives. Endicott Peabody sermon, Groton School, 25 April 1886, Peabody papers, GS Archives. quoted in Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 110.

Henry F. May, Protestant Churches and Industrial America (New York: Octagon Books, 1949, repr. 1963), 55. Arthur Mann, Yankee Reformers in the Urban Age: Social Reform in Boston, 1880-1900 (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 102-125; also cited in McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 288. George W. Martin summed it up in Harper's: "He was determined to be a liberal ­ if it killed him. And so, of course, he was not a liberal, he was only determined." Cited in Amory, The Proper Bostonians, 323.

38 37

Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 113.


student later remembered "his vast benevolent bulk" ­ he was also Samuel Phillips's great-grandson, but the relationship would appear to offer conclusive proof that theology is not genetically transmitted.39 Brooks was a low-church Episcopalian modernist whose romantic views of the Divine ("God" was far too specific a term) harkened back to both the Transcendentalist movements and the European romantics such as Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Tennyson.40 To him, intuition and emotion were better tools with which to apprehend spiritual matters than intellect, and so his was a faith in which sense and sensibility trumped rational thought. William Lawrence said that Brooks's faith "transcended the limitations of language and leaped into the realm of the imagination, which shot its rays of hope up into invisible realms, which inspired by suggestion rather than demonstrated by logic."41 Brooks's influence on Peabody was significant. Peabody had known the older man much of his life, turning to him for career counsel after he'd returned from England.42 Peabody found Brooks's romantic theology appealing, particularly the recognition that cognitive faith had limits. At his request, Brooks sat on the first board of trustees at Groton as its president, and was a frequent preacher at the school through the

Ellery Sedgwick, "Three Men of Groton," in Views from the Circle: Seventy-Five Years of Groton School (Groton, MA: Trustees of Groton School, 1955), 20; John Woolverton, The Education of Phillips Brooks (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 12-15. Woolverton is a graduate of Groton.

40 41


Woolverton, The Education of Phillips Brooks, 46.

William Lawrence, Life of Phillips Brooks (New York: Harmer and Brothers, 1930), 38; see also William Lawrence, Phillips Brooks: A Study (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1903), 9-10. See also Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind, 231, and Harp, "`We cannot spare you': Phillips Brooks's Break with the Evangelical Party, 1859-1873," 931. Brooks accomplished his break from orthodox Episcopalianism despite being trained at Virginia Theological Seminary by a New Testament professor named Joseph Packard, whose degrees from Phillips Andover, Bowdoin College, and Andover Seminary marked him as a conservative theologian. See Woolverton, The Education of Phillips Brooks, 71.


Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 36-37, 39.


first decade of the school's life.43 His sermons, usually delivered extemporaneously, offered what John Woolverton has called a "bland religion of reassurance" which was immensely popular.44 Brooks's influence on the school did not cease with his death in 1893, as he in turn strongly influenced William Lawrence, who succeeded Brooks as both Bishop of Massachusetts and president of the Groton board.45 Lawrence, too, was convinced that the Broad Church movement was saving Christianity for the modern age. Groton was part of a larger work in which the "Christian faith must be expressed with fresh thought, enthusiasm and confidence if the next generations are to remain Christian."46 Legal requirements also bound Groton to the Episcopal Church, but it was these kinds of personal relationships which anchored the school in the Broad Church camp. The school's by-laws required the headmaster to be an ordained clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church.47 The members of the founding board of trustees all appear to have been centrist Episcopalians, including Brooks and Lawrence, as were the numerous figures prominent in the Broad Church movement who appeared periodically

Endicott Peabody to Atwood, 1 Nov. 1883, 15 April 1884, and 28 Feb. 1885, Peabody papers, GS Archives. Phillips Brooks to EP, 7 Jan. 1888, Select File correspondence, GS Archives; Bayard Schlieffeln [class of 1921] interview, 3; Woolverton, The Education of Phillips Brooks, 6-7. One of Brooks's extant sermons is written out in longhand in the GS Archives. "The Fifty-Sixth Prize Day," The Groton School Quarterly, Vol. XIII, No. 3 (June 1940), 10, 13; Daniel G. Reid et al, eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), s.v. "Brooks, Phillips" by C.G. Fry. Elizabeth T. McGraw and Frances Sydnor, "Christian Education in the Diocese of Massachusetts," in Mark J. Duffy, ed., The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts 1784-1984: A Mission to Remember, Proclaim, and Fulfill (Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 1984), 95. Groton School Copy of Records, Vol. I, 1884-1915, 11. Peabody was a deacon at the time of his appointment as Rector and was ordained later.

47 46 45 44



on Groton's campus, usually to preach in chapel: William R. Huntington, rector of Grace Church, New York; Peabody's former professor at Episcopal Theological School, Alexander Viets Griswold Allen; Bishop Thomas March Clark of Rhode Island; and Bishop Horatio C. Potter of New York, whose clash with Episcopal evangelicals a decade before had publicly and indelibly marked him as a Broad Churchman.48 Peabody's close friend Julius Atwood (later Bishop of Ohio), also came once a year, an event which occasioned a sermon which a student later described as "long-winded, and the school settled into a somewhat somnolent condition whenever he appeared in the pulpit."49 Given the strength of the institutional and relational ties, as well as Peabody's own personal convictions, Groton's commitment to Broad Church Episcopalianism should have afforded a coherent vision for the school, one which could be implemented with relatively little difficulty. However, it proved to be problematic at a number of points. Whatever else the evangelical vision for Andover and Lawrenceville had done for the schools, it had proven to be coherent to the point of simplicity: craft the school to stir young men to follow Christ, and send them to colleges wherein they would be "fitted" to pursue the same goal. There were relatively few internal tensions and contradictions within such a consistent vision, though as we have seen there was hardly an absence of pitfalls along the way. At Groton, however, the Gilded Age accommodation with

Holmes, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church, 117; Alan C. Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of Reformed Episcopalians (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994), 70-74, 129-34; see also Butler, Standing Against the Whirlwind, 185, who cites Potter as the object of the fire of some Evangelical Episcopalians who were increasingly enamored of premillennialism during this period. Gordon Knox Bell, class of 1888, mss. in Groton School Historical file, GS Archives. This may have been true of Peabody's own efforts as well: Louis Auchincloss noted that is sermons were "poorly organized and lacking in spark" but "nonetheless...had a certain force which they owed to their delivery." A Writer's Capital, 39.




modernity and embrace of Protestant modernism proved to be fraught with internal contradictions and tensions. Doubtless Peabody was correct when, after the school had become a going enterprise, he wrote that "The aim of Groton is the aim which every Christian school has had ever since Christian schools began to be founded."50 But the means by which this was to be attained ­ and indeed, the very definition of the "aims" involved ­ were changing rapidly in the modern era. The Gilded Age accommodation with modernity was not nearly as precise as the evangelical vision had been, and the demands of the modern age placed new demands on Protestant boarding schools. Practically from the start, Peabody and the board and faculty of Groton had to grapple with competing visions which emerged in response to these imperatives. The Episcopal mission of the school ­ broadly defined, as we have seen ­ was clearly first and foremost.51 Peabody hoped that the school would be a place in which boys would become Episcopalians, and would in adulthood serve the Church. Louis Auchincloss, who graduated from the school in the 1930s, said that Peabody "was essentially a simple man with one gigantic preoccupation: his mission to prepare boys to receive Christ."52 To achieve this, he engaged in what might be termed sacramental evangelism in attempting to get the boys to their first communion.53 The goal helps to define the essential differences between Groton and St. Paul's on the one hand and the


1900), 3.


Endicott Peabody, "The Aim of Groton School," in The Church Militant, Vol. III, No. 3 (April

McLachlan, in a moment of uncharacteristic petulance, calls Groton "an almost oppressively Christian school." American Boarding Schools, 268.

52 53

Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital, 38. Endicott Peabody to Atwood, 28 Feb. 1885, Peabody papers, GS Archives.


schools of the Reform faith such as Andover. Whereas the latter sought to convert their students, the Episcopalians sought to nurture them into the faith. In this respect, the Episcopalian approach represented an effort to implement the theories of spiritual nurture championed by Horace Bushnell.54 But in at least one respect, Peabody resembled the Old School Presbyterians at Lawrenceville. Like them, he believed that any attempts at conversion had to be handled extremely carefully, for he shared their conviction that one of the great enemies of deeply-rooted faith was excessive emotion. Commitment to the Episcopal Church was not like an evangelical revival:

The question of religion in a boys' boarding school presents a peculiarly difficult problem, partly because the community is so close a one, and partly because its members are so young. In such a place religious excitement easily spreads, so that school-masters, more than other people, have to be on guard against mere feeling, and have to distinguish true emotions from false. If the school is a Church institution, and it its tone is good, boys will want to come to Confirmation early, indeed the trouble will be to keep them back until they have reached the discreet years upon which the Prayer Book insists.55

It was thus a process which had to be managed very carefully. In the third year of the school, Peabody recorded a Confirmation Service in which six Groton boys as well as four parishioners from the town of Groton had "come forward," but that "several of my youngsters were kept back until next year."56 As time went on, however, Peabody and his faculty became more aggressive in urging the younger boys to come forward, a posture

54 55

McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 160, 134.

S. Warren Sturgis, "The Religious and Missionary Work at Groton", in The Church Militant, Vol. III, No. 3 (April 1900), 6.


Endicott Peabody to Atwood, 26 March 1887, Peabody papers, GS Archives.


he later said he regretted.57 Sherrard Billings, who taught at the school most of Peabody's tenure, recalled at the end of his career that "[i]n the old days we were inclined to have a boy wait until he understood more what the sermon means. Now we are inclined to have boys confirmed if they want to be rather early and to acquire church habits of coming to Communion etc while they are still at school. Naturally it isn't often that a boy leaves Groton who has not been confirmed."58 Peabody hoped that those confirmands would eventually move on to the highest form of Christian service, that of joining the clergy of the Episcopal church. Groton boys, however, never responded to this in quite the numbers he hoped: an account dating from the 1920s notes that Peabody's pride over graduates who did enter the ministry was altogether out of proportion to their numbers.59 The allure of business and the opportunity to make money in the fantastic boom of the era were evident to all, and as early as the third year of the school, Peabody took the time from the pulpit to denounce the "eager greed for money which has been growing upon the country during the last twenty years" which "has fixed itself with terrible grip upon the rising generation so that they are unwilling to contribute toward anything which is not material and are anxious only to

Garrison Norton interview, Groton Oral History Project, 10-11, typescript in GS Archives. Norton was a student at the school from 1914-1919. Also, Mary and Jack Crocker interview, Groton Oral History Project, 25, typescript in GS Archives.

58 59


Billings interview.

Interview with Melville E. ("Ned") Stone, 14 Sept. 1983, Groton Oral History Project, 21, typescript in GS Archives. Stone maintained that there was only one such alumnus, but 11 are listed in the 1929 school Address Book and 18 a decade later; see 1929 Address Book, 52, and "Notes on the Distribution of Groton Alumni Among the Various Professions,, Compiled from [the] 1937 Address Book," typescript in GS Archives. One alumnus who did enter the ministry recalled Peabody's constant encouragement of his endeavors; see Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 154.


secure places which shall bring them luxury and ease and wealth."60 He also linked present wealth to an obligation to help others. "The finest outcome of a man's financial success," he told the boys, is "that it makes it easily possible for his children to give themselves to the service of others without being hampered by the limitations or fear of poverty."61 The centrality of the Episcopal mission made the construction of a school chapel a matter of the highest urgency in the first decades of the school. In the first years, the students and faculty traveled into the town of Groton, variously worshiping in the local high school, a small one-room schoolhouse, and the Town Hall itself.62 By 1887, however, money had been raised to erect a small chapel on the campus which opened in December of that year and was consecrated (Phillips Brooks preaching) the following February.63 The experience almost directly mirrored that of St. Paul's thirty years before, for the school quickly outgrew the building's capacity of 150 as local townspeople were invited to the services as the school sought to serve the wider endeavor to the community.

60 61

Endicott Peabody sermon at Groton, 12 Dec. 1886, Peabody papers, GS Archives.

Endicott Peabody, "How Hardly Shall They That Have Riches Enter into the Kingdom of God," sermon delivered at Groton School, 1930. Peabody papers, GS Archives; quoted in Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 98. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 79; Billings interview; Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, pp. 15-16, 42; notebook in GS Archives; William Amory Gardiner, "Fifteen Years of Groton," in The Church Militant, Vol. III, No. 3 (April 1900), 6; James Geddes, "Memories of an Old-time Master," The Groton School Quarterly, Vol. XIII, No. 3 (June 1940), 36. Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, pp. 35, 38, 42, 43.

63 62


The school then constructed a second one in 1900, designed by the same architect, Henry Vaughan, who had built the first one, and the second chapel at St. Paul's as well.64 The design of the $75,000 structure ­ twenty-five times the price of the first chapel ­ was the subject of considerable dispute within the Groton's board of trustees. The donor, William Amory Gardner, was a member of the faculty who together with Peabody and Billings formed a triumvirate which dominated Groton for 46 years.65 He stipulated control of the choice of the architect, the disposition of the old chapel, and even "negative control " over such details as "the location of windows, brasses, etc., kind of pews, etc."66 The design which resulted was more than beside the point. Though similar in style to the 1886 chapel at St. Paul's school, Groton's was of an even greater scale. The soaring Gothic architecture of the building offered a definitive statement as to the school's place in the Episcopal church, and of Protestant faith in this New England boarding school. There would be no austere Federal-style building here nor a simple New England meetinghouse, both of which too greatly evoked the republican simplicity of the earlier era's evangelical faith. The contrast to the Puritan simplicity of Exeter's Second Church couldn't have been greater. The Medieval aura of the building offered stunning visual testimony that the Protestant faith was being redefined at this boarding school. For

With the erection of the second chapel, the first was donated to the Groton Roman Catholic parish, to which it was moved. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 89; Endicott Peabody report to trustees, Headmaster's Reports, 1899-1921, pp. 3, 43, notebook in GS Archives. Dejardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 78. The three comprised the entire faculty at the school's opening in 1884. Gardner was (obviously) an independently wealthy man, an orphan raised by an aunt and uncle in classic Boston Brahmin luxury. See Frank Kintrea, "`Old Peabo' and the School," American Heritage Vol. 31 No. 6 (November / December 1980), 102-103. William Amory Gardner to EP, Headmaster's Reports, 1899-1921, p. 2, notebook in GS Archives. The trustees approved the gift and the project in January 1899. Groton School Copy of Records, Vol. I, 1884-1915, pp. 148-49, notebook in GS Archives.

66 65



both St. Paul's and Groton, Henry Vaughan's chapels were architectural declarations of independence, assertions of a new era in boarding school religion.67 Such buildings, as Alan Guelzo has observed, constituted an expression of antimodernism which "provided a bridge over which reluctant conservatives could cross into a mass-industrial society without having to immerse themselves in the fiery brook of secularism that rolled beneath it."68 However much Groton might aspire to further the kingdom of heaven, however, a more temporal realm also beckoned. The announcement that the board crafted in February 1884 to announce the new school made clear that furtherance of the Episcopal Church wasn't the only task of Groton. In fact, it wasn't even the first one mentioned:

It is our purpose to open a School for Boys, next autumn, at Groton, Massachusetts. Especial attention will be paid to preparing boys for college, but the object of the School will be not the less to provide a thorough education for those who are to enter at once upon the active work of life. Every endeavor will be made to cultivate manly, Christian character, having regard to moral and physical as well as intellectual development.69

Groton was thus to be a place which furthered the prospects and fortunes of the Episcopal church in New England, but it was also to prepare boys for either college or business ("the active work of life"), and in the process would develop Christian character. The purposes of the school reiterated these missions. The "declaration of Trust" issued by the board of trustees proposed that the School would exist "for the general education of

Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 90; Gillis Harp makes much the same observation about the Romanesque design of Phillips' Brooks's Trinity Church when it was rebuilt after a fire in 1871. Harp, "'We cannot spare you': Phillips Brooks's Break with the Evangelical Party," 947. See also Woolverton, The Education of Phillips Brooks, 46.

68 69


Guelzo, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom, 271. Groton School Copy of Records, Vol. I, 1884-1915, pp. 1 and 1½, notebook in GS Archives.


boys and young men and their preparation for college; having especial regard to the cultivation of manly Christian character, and to moral and physical as well as intellectual development; the religious teaching therein being in accordance with that of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America...." 70 Peabody wrote Atwood that "[t]hese should be component parts of the education of one who was preparing for service in the world."71 The "end [of the school] is life," he later wrote, "the unity of the life of the individual in games, in work and in religious development; on the unity of life between the masters and boys; this one continuous influence is brought to bear upon the boy in the formation of his character."72 At the end of their tenure at the school, Bishop Lawrence recalled that

in his [Peabody's] system of religious life and training, the boy is thought of as an organic whole. His habits of life, thought and faith are all intertwined like living tissue. This means, as a graduate wrote me, that `studies, games, holidays, personal relationships, and the choice of a future career are all included among the activities that Christ cares about, and if these are considered within the sphere of religion, their quality is made different.'73

At the bottom line, the fundamental purposes of Groton were subtly different than that of any of the other of the established schools. Gone was the traditional pietistic Christianity of a Samuel Hamill, a Samuel Taylor, or even a Henry Coit. Peabody espoused a more generic set of Christian ideals, merged with standards of the Victorian

70 71 72 73

"Declaration of Trust," Groton School Copy of Records, Vol. I, 1884-1915, 7-8. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 72. Endicott Peabody, "The Aim of Groton School," 3.

William Lawrence, "The Rector's Spiritual Leadership," The Groton School Quarterly, Vol. XIII, No. 3 (June 1940), 23.


gentleman and service to the nation.74 This was couched in a broad language of behavior, character, duty, service, moral uplift, and faith, all intermixed in a generic Protestant mash ­ in effect, Henry Coit's accommodation with modernity with a heavy dose of Jeffersonian republican virtue.75 Peabody was content to define his work as one of "bringing boys into contact with high ideals of life and helping them to see the vast possibilities of their country which they can help to make actuals [sic]."76 Confirmation classes, he hoped, should "issue in the right kind of life."77 Even the very campus layout was to contribute to the "comprehensiveness of the life of the boys":

The quadrangle represents to them the all-round man with learning and physical strength and home life and spiritual truth coming as a matter of course into his expanding nature. The chapel, when it is finished, will be the most beautiful of all the buildings and will dominate the group, as it is intended that the spiritual life shall dominate the development of the boy's character.78

The core value was obedience. To Peabody, this lay at the root of character development, which in turn was the product of religious faith. In a sermon shortly before the school opened, he explained it this way: "For if I know that God is and that He cares for me so completely that I am always safe in His hands, then I am bound to do what He bids me to do.... [L]asting morality can [only] be based on the True God." Later in the message he was even more succinct: "there is no religion without morality."79 Religion

See McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 242-298, for an analysis of Peabody and the ideal of the Progressive gentleman. Edward N. Saveth, "Education of an Elite," History of Education Quarterly 28:3 (Fall 1978), 373. [full article is on pages 367-386]

76 77 78 79 75


Peabody to Atwood, 23 June 1890, Peabody papers, GS Archives. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 76. Endicott Peabody, "The Aim of Groton School," 3. Endicott Peabody, sermon on Deut. 6:16-17, 1883, Peabody papers, sermons, GS Archives.


was the course of all morality ­ "real character" was by nature Christian ­ but in Peabody's theology, religion was impossible without good behavior.80 Faith and morality were conflated into one coherent whole. This would have appalled Peabody's brethren of Reform views, for the clear presumption was that faith in Christ was no longer a necessary prerequisite to righteousness. This conflation also gave rise to an expansive view of the work of God in the world, and of the role of Groton boys in furthering that work. If all moral actions were a reflection or manifestation of faith in God, then there was no area of life in which God's work did not go on. Almost any action was therefore by definition sacred. The work of God for a Groton boy was in fact the work of the entire world: "You were placed [in this world] by God and it is His work which you have to do in it," Peabody told the boys one year. "It is that which sanctifies all of life, that which does away with the difference which men falsely make between the religious and the secular. When you are working or playing or doing anything that your conscience tells you is right, it is God's work ­ you must do it enthusiastically and well...."81 "Duty and religion" were synonymous at Groton School. Not surprisingly, therefore, Peabody was constantly assessing the behavior of his boys, for that ­ and not mere religious profession or even numbers of boys present at the communion table or in confirmation classes ­ was the only true measure of how the work of God was proceeding in what he once called "the fields of Elysium."82 (With less

80 81 82

Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 70. Peabody sermon delivered at Groton, 8 January 1887, Peabody papers, sermons, GS Archives. Peabody to Atwood, 12 Oct. 1888, Peabody papers, GS Archives.


praise, one alumnus called it "an absurdly pure place.")83 He constantly mentioned the level of the boys' behavior in his reports to the trustees, measuring whether or not it had lived up to his expectations. "Their conduct has been excellent and... as a consequence, the moral tone of the School is of a high order," he wrote in the school's first year, but by 1887-88 he merely noted that "the moral tone of the boys be improving."84 He admitted that he became "a bit despondent" whenever he "discovered manifestations of evil in the school."85 This expansive definition of the Sacred grew to include the school's growing athletic program. In contrast to Henry Coit, who preferred cricket, Peabody approved the creation of teams in both baseball and football.86 Faculty masters participated along with the boys, and the Rector himself played well into his mid-thirties.87 The playing fields were prime arenas for the development of moral character, so long as "professionalism" didn't intrude:

Closely connected with the moral comes the physical development of the boy, and athletics are an important factor in the life of a School.... Not only are athletics useful in the development of the physical man. They minister also to the mind ­ that is a partial offset to the routine drill and super-organization of our sports which tends to take form them the element of recreation.... They also, these athletics, may be a school for sportsmanship.... At a school certainly, and if it were possible at college, the coaches in the various branches of athletic should be the teachers. That is another quality we desire in our masters. They should be

"Then Were the Disciples Glad When They Saw the Lord," Peabody sermon delivered at Groton, 3 April 1904, Peabody papers, sermons, GS Archives; Ashburn oral history interview, 15. Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, pp. 17, 36, 45.

85 86 84


Peabody to Atwood, 12 Oct. 1888, Peabody papers, GS Archives.

Lewis Perry, "Endicott Peabody: The Headmaster," The Groton School Quarterly, Vol. XIII, No. 3 (June 1940), 21.


McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 275-76.


not only scholars and teachers of the intellect and spirit, but also instructors in physical activities. This keeps out the spirit of professionalism and helps to maintain a sense of balance in values.88

By the middle of the school's first decade, Peabody was able to report to the board that the athletic program was "particularly successful" despite the fact that there was "some danger of the boys becoming absorbed in these sports to the detriment of their studies." The program "keeps the boys' minds and bodies active and healthy and inspires enthusiasm and energy which show themselves through the whole of life."89 Eventually, athletics came to assume the highest status at Groton. "To run a school on a high plane of morality without athletics," he declared fatly, "would be a practical impossibility."90 Catechism and creeds, pitching and blocking, sacred studies and confirmation, were all part of a piece. Muscular Christianity had arrived at Groton just as it had at St. Paul's.91 As the school grew, Peabody was also able to identify another spiritual benefit to a healthy athletic program: it would improve the life of the colleges by producing morally sound matriculates.92 Peabody spent much of his ministry at Groton fretting over the moral conditions of the undergraduate experience, and joined John Adams, Sam Taylor, and Henry Coit in a long line of headmasters particularly worried about Harvard. Initially, he was concerned about Groton's reputation at Harvard ­ aside from George

88 89

Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 76.

minutes for the Board of Trustees meeting of 4 June 1889, Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, p. 57.

90 91

Kintrea, "'Old Peabo' and the School,"98.

Two studies further analyze Peabody and Muscular Christianity: Clifford Putney, Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880-1920 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 106-108; Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 208-248.


Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 126.


Rublee, Groton's first graduate, the school's first students to matriculate there had not done well ­ but soon the paternalist headmaster became even more concerned about the laissez-faire attitudes toward student life in Cambridge, a situation for which he blamed Harvard President Charles Eliot.93 He lamented its "spiritual atmosphere" which he said lacked "enthusiasm" and lacked "aid from the president or older men."94 Whereas Samuel Phillips had worried about Harvard's doctrine, Endicott Peabody lamented its license. Harvard, he maintained, supplied greater freedom than either Yale or Princeton, and its students were therefore more likely to get into trouble.95 The stakes were therefore very high indeed, for Harvard could undermine the very purposes of Groton by undoing all Peabody's good work with a boy.96 Peabody also disliked the mechanistic aspects of the university and thought that "something ought to be done for Harvard of a more personal character" than simply tweaking the administrative structure.97 The university practically became an adjunct field of ministry for Peabody as he frequently traveled to

Peabody voiced these concerns to the board as early as 1891; see the minutes for the board of trustees meeting, 8 June 1891, in Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, 75. On Eliot, see Peabody to Atwood, 18 Nov. 1892; Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 109. See also Kintrea, "`Old Peabo' and the School," 104. Eliot returned the favor, informing one disappointed father that "You need not be wholly inconsolable that your son has no chance to get into Groton. Mr. Peabody is a good and attractive person; but the school is the resort only of rich men's sons, and has a way of making all its boys members of the Protestant Episcopal Church without regard to the faith of their fathers. Now, you have no right by racial descent or experience of life to belong to that church; and I therefore imagine that you will easily reconcile yourself to the impossibility of sending your son to Groton." Charles W. Eliot to Jens I. Westengard, 24 February 1911, Eliot Papers, PEA Archives.

94 95 96


Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 270. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 118; McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 265-66.

Student letter to Endicott Peabody, 23 Jan. 1905, Peabody papers, GS Archives; Peabody to Atwood, 18 Nov. 1892 and 29 Nov. 1897; Peabody to Samuel Drury [headmaster of St. Paul's], 20 April 1913; Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 109.


Peabody to Atwood, 13 July 1887, Peabody papers, GS Archives.


Cambridge to speak with his boys about "the temptations of college life" and to urge them to attend services so as to "make the Chapel the center of the University."98 By the turn of the century he was also elected to the Board of Preachers and spoke there regularly.99 "I am determined to raise that a worthier place," he wrote to Atwood. Its "fleshliness and aimlessness of men seems terrible at times ­ doesn't it? ­ one hardly understands it until he finds all the beginnings of it in himself."100 Unitarian Harvard had posed a century-long challenge to the Protestant boarding school headmasters. Adams and Taylor at Andover had attempted to reform it by boycotting it. Abbott and Soule at Exeter had embraced it. Peabody would render unto it salvation by sending the sons of Groton to Cambridge, and then visiting them there on a regular basis. Harvard was only a specific manifestation of a wider problem. Peabody was ever apprehensive that Groton's work of cultivating moral character might be undermined by the overarching pressure of college preparation and admissions. For instance, he often took exception to the label "preparatory school" as it implied that schools such as Groton "were planned with a view to `getting' boys into college, and their highest attainment was securing a certain number of honors in the entrance examination."101 To Peabody, that was secondary to the real work of his school.


131, 134.


Peabody to Atwood, 17 Oct. 1897, Peabody papers, GS Archives; Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, Endicott Peabody report to the Trustees, 1899, Headmaster's Reports file, Peabody papers, GS Peabody to Atwood, 24 Oct. 1887, Peabody papers, GS Archives. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 73.


100 101


This pressure from the colleges and universities also affected the curriculum of secondary schools, forces to which Groton was hardly immune. Peabody's views on the subject were not sophisticated, and he did not try to match peers such as Cecil Bancroft at Andover or James Cameron Mackenzie at Lawrenceville in this area.102 (A former student bluntly assessed him as "definitely... not an intellectual."103) Rather, to the Rector pedagogy was simply a blend of impartation of information and incarnational theology. "Teaching," he often said, "is fundamentally the imparting of truth through personality."104 Nevertheless, he modernized the curriculum gradually, changes which, as at St. Paul's, did not work to the advantage of the Sacred Studies courses. In Groton's first decade, the school offered a classical curriculum with French and German as modern language options; the only sciences were a two-year sequence in geography and an optional year of physics. Sacred Studies comprised a study of the Church Collects, the Catechism, and the Old Testament in the lower school ­ described by one alumnus as "a more serious proposition than any other" ­ while upper school boys were treated to Greek.105 Change, however, came gradually. Peabody began raising money for a "scientific department" in 1896 or 1897.106 By 1906, he was beginning to bring curricular

102 103

Their roles will be considered in subsequent chapters.

Interview with Arnold Whitridge [class of 1909, trustee 1928-31], Groton Oral History project, 4, GS Archives. Ashburn recalled that "It is doubtful that Peabody himself know any more about the theories of pedagogy than the man in the moon." Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 69. Interview with T. J. Edward Pulling [faculty 1920-22, 1924-28], Groton Oral History project, 25, GS Archives.

105 106 104

Geddes, "Memories of an Old-time Master," 38; Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 102.

Peabody to Atwood, 28 Jan. 1897, Peabody papers, GS Archives. Ashburn recalled that the curriculum was modernized "by a group of young turks" who "introduced some science and a good deal of history that wasn't there before." Ashburn oral history interview, 8.


reform to the attention of his faculty ­ or perhaps they were successful in their efforts to get him to consider the issue.107 By 1913, pressure (primarily from alumni) to reform the curriculum had grown to the extent that an external consultant was brought in to assess the curriculum.108 Just as at St. Paul's, these pressures worked to reduce the amount of time devoted to Sacred Studies, and the course was relegated to an hour on Sundays (in the morning for the upper school and at 4:15 in the afternoon for the younger boys).109 Not only was there less time given over to the course, but the Progressive educational emphasis on practical application also took its toll. In order to "have feeling appear in conduct, to connect religion in life," the instructor ­ it was no longer Peabody ­ felt that the teaching of the faith should be "made as simple as possible."110 Courses in such areas as cabinet-making also appear to have been introduced into the curriculum without much regard for their impact on the religious mission of the school.111 For its first thirty-five years Groton School straddled the twentieth century both chronologically and ideologically. The Protestant religious mission existed alongside the starkly mechanistic task of preparation for college. Peabody exhorted the faculty to

Endicott Peabody, untitled typescript, 17 Sept. 1906, p. 2, Peabody Addresses to Faculty file, GS Archives. Desjardins gives good coverage to the causes and processes of the evaluation, which was conducted by an educational expert named Abraham Flexner. See "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 298-320. Peabody to Samuel Drury [headmaster of St. Paul's], 9 April 1913, Peabody papers, Drury correspondence, GS Archives.

110 111 109 108


S. Warren Sturgis, "The Religious and Missionary Work at Groton", 6.

Ellery Sedgwick to Endicott Peabody, "Random Notes on Groton School," [n.d.], typescript in Peabody papers, GS Archives. An accompanying typescript is probably Peabody's draft of a response in which he defends the curricular accommodations: "We have tried to profit from the experiments of the Progressive Education laying stress upon the importance of interesting pupils in their work."


engage in lay ministry with the students in such a way as to "bring the boy to the knowledge of Christ."112 Sacred studies and Greek were taught to students who had just emerged from a physics class, and who likely saw the three as more or less equally important. Exhortations to enter the Episcopal ministry or engage in a life of service to the nation were made to boys whose fathers likely hoped they would aspire to a career in business. Some of these tensions existed only in incipient form: curricular concerns for college-bound students, for instance, would not place their fullest pressure on courses in religion until the second half of the twentieth century. Yet the competing visions needed at least some preliminary papering-over, for some kind of common ground for these disparate goals had to be found in order to hold the school community together. One means by which Peabody sought to do this was by crafting Groton into one big Victorian household. The ideal of the family was a compelling one in an era which still stigmatized divorce and single-parenting. Groton boys generally came from well-todo and middle-class families ­ "men of the Mugwump type...financially secure though not necessarily very rich," McLachlan calls them.113 They would find an institutional concept of in loco parentis to be familiar and compelling. The bourgeois "Victorian" family was a cultural given for the slice of American (and British) society that identified with the British monarch and with all things genteel and proper in the world. Groton's identification with this powerful ideal signified stability and predictability for its upperclass parents. Peabody held a deeply-rooted conviction that just as a family came together once a day, so should the school. It did so twice each day, beginning with a brief chapel

112 113

Peabody 1906 address to faculty, 16. McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 260.


service in the morning and ending with "roll call" in the main school room each evening. (The latter is still continued at Groton to this day, though the ritual begins the day rather than ends it.) At the meeting held after study hours were over, evening prayers were read, the rector read a brief passage from the New Testament, and recited two or three collects.114 He then said goodnight personally to each and every one of the boys, a custom which made an enormous impression over time.115 Such daily rituals were reenforced by seasonal ones: for instance, Peabody annually read Dickens' A Christmas Carol to the entire student body during the holiday season.116 To Peabody, the notion of family was inextricably bound up in the mission of Groton as a Christian school. Ashburn summed up his sentiments on this crucial matter:

A good family was religious to his mind. Further, the importance of the family in the whole human scheme of things is paramount. Where family life was wholesome and happy he believed that all would be well with the church and state; where family life was false or untrue or cheap all human institutions failed. Therefore it was the most natural thing in the world for him to think of his school as being simply a large family. To him the words in loco parentis meant just that.117

In Peabody's mind, the connection was unalterably clear. Good families were religious and moral; where "the moral standard" was declining, "the home" must be suffering, and vice versa.118

114 115 116 117 118

Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 96-97. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 71. Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 145. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 71. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 26.


Properly extended, the metaphor meant that Peabody would function as the father to the entire school. He was convinced that the success of Groton depended in large measure on his own ability to personify all the high ideals that he hoped to inculcate in his boys. Example was of greater value than instruction, both in and out of the classroom. Right conduct would occur not because he preached to them ­ Coit's style ­ but because he lived with them. The conduct of the boys, Peabody wrote, "depends in large measure upon the atmosphere of the place, and this in turn upon the spiritual ideas and ideals for which the Headmaster is perhaps chiefly responsible. If the religious life is sincere, then the thought and conversation and life of the boy is likely to be wholesome."119 That being the case, just as the father ruled the Victorian family, so also ultimate authority for Groton School must reside with the Rector. Before the first decade was out, Peabody informed the board of trustees about this in no uncertain terms. One must read between the lines of his communiqué, but it is evident that some sort of proposal was afoot to share Peabody's authority with an "executive committee." Peabody, however, would brook no limits to his authority. Just as sole authority over the Victorian family resided in the father, so the headmaster must run Groton School, and must do so in a personal manner akin to that of a family. "The relationship of persons toward the Head Master must be a personal one: it is to him naturally, inasmuch as he has the responsibility, that the servants, the boys, the matron and the masters look for decisions


Ibid., 75.


upon all questions that arise." What was at stake was nothing less than "the personality which I take to be the essential principle of the School."120 The logical extension of this principle was that Peabody could accomplish this better than many of the parents who sent him their sons. Indeed, Peabody was the first of the boarding school headmasters to lament the state of the home and the lax manner in which some parents raised their sons, a theme which would emerge with greater importance as the twentieth century matured. In one of his reports to the board, he lamented the fact that "The mid-summer holidays bring serious troubles. Many parents are injudicious or indifferent and the boys run wild. The first term of each year is devoted to getting the boys back to the point at which they were when they left us." He recommended that the board consider just how they might "devise some methods for greater cooperation between the parents and ourselves."121 Presumably that would not involve any change in the manner in which Peabody ran his family. The philosophy of Groton as a large family decisively shaped the school. Before the school was less than two decades old, faculty masters habitually referred to members of the school community as "the brethren."122 It also fueled Peabody's conviction that the school should not be allowed to grow too large. In 1891, when the construction of a new building, Hundred House, was being contemplated, Peabody criticized its initial design as too big:

Minutes of board of trustees meeting for 7 Dec. 1891, Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, p. 81. Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, 50-51. George D. Marvin [master at Groton], "Some Impressions of Groton," in The Church Militant, Vol. III, No. 3 (April 1900), 10; Endicott Peabody, 1906 address to faculty, passim.

122 121



In so large a building it is not altogether easy to keep prominent the main idea of the house. The idea is that it constitutes the School home. It is the house of the Head master, where live not simply his own immediate family but the Masters, boys and servants, all uniting to constitute one household. It is not a dormitory, a place where boys sleep and board; it is a home where they live. The parlor private dining room and apartments of the Head Master's family are somewhat more peculiarly their own; just as the assistant Masters' rooms constitute their private studies: but the whole establishment is the Head Master's house and all together form one family. I lay stress upon this for two reasons. First, because so large a house is likely to be regarded as institutional and not domestic, and therefore the personal idea might be in danger of being lost: Second, because it has been in my mind during these last few weeks, when I have been considering the question of the establishment of an Executive Committee: the chief objection of such a committee is that it would interfere with the home idea, if another than the Head Master of the house may have authority. He is no longer the Head of the house, it is no longer a home.123

How big was too big? He told the board,

We can retain the family aspect of the school with 100 boys. With our 85 scholars this year there has been quite as homelike a feeling, as close an intimacy between Masters and boys as existed in the first year of our history. The organization of the new house with its dormitories of not more than 78 boys and a master in charge of such, the position of the older boys' studies in relation to the Head Master's apartments, the school room through which the Masters and Mrs. Peabody naturally pass in going to and from the dining room, all combine to bring us together naturally and more frequently than in the old house.124

Nor should excessive decentralization occur. When fraternities were proposed for the school ­ an innovation adopted at Andover ­ Peabody vetoed the idea, saying, "We are a small community and it has seemed better not to break it up into artificial groups."125 If the rector was to be the father and the masters an extension of his authority, the student prefects would play the role of wiser elder brothers. Peabody looked to their

Minutes of board of trustees meeting for 7 Dec. 1891, Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, 80. The original punctuation is preserved in the quote. See also Kintrea, "`Old Peabo' and the School,"102. Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, p. 83.

125 124


Endicott Peabody to Alfred Stearns, 5 April 1912, Stearns papers, PAA Archives.


leadership each year to determine "both discipline and morals" in the school, thus working "in eliminating the ordinary evils of school life.126 So, too, just as a family must stick together, so Peabody admonished his boys to be loyal. "There is no worse crime than unfaithfulness," he bluntly told them one Sunday morning.127 The idea of school as family gave great strength to Groton, but there were also perils to the concept. For some years, the school applied the principle to its admissions policy. One didn't need to apply to enter a family: Groton boys were admitted to the school by virtue of communication between the father and Peabody. This occurred when they were born ­ some said even before that as parents attempted to register a child in utero ­ and thus by 1906 the school was full for the next 12 years.128 That year, the board determined to set aside 14 places per year on a competitive basis, reserving four of those slots for boys further south than the Potomac River or further west than Chicago. A final component of the Gilded Age accommodation with modernity, it will be recalled, involved the problematic issue of the parachurch evangelical agencies. As they had been constituted at Andover and Lawrenceville, and even in the early years of St. Paul's and Exeter, these groups were holdovers from the old order and thereby constituted a threat to the goal of reducing the importance of evangelical piety and its attendant emphasis on emotional conversions. They also constituted a problem for those Progressives who would reform society as a whole. The core issue was once again the

126 127 128

Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 75; Endicott Peabody, "The Aim of Groton School," 4. Endicott Peabody, sermon on Deut. 6:16-17, Peabody papers, GS Archives.

Endicott Peabody report to the trustees, Dec. 1906, Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915; Charles Coolidge [class of 1913], typescript in Groton School Historical file, page 9, GS Archives.


evangelical view of human nature. The two most predominant agencies on antebellum boarding school campuses, those devoted to temperance and to missions, regarded sin in an Augustinian fashion, locating it in the breast of the individual. Alcohol was thus a problem because of what it did to individuals, who were then a problem because of what they did to other people. The agencies focused on the conversion of the individual, which, if successful in enough instances, would ultimately transform the society. However, by the turn of the century, a great many Christians ­ as well as a great many more secular Progressives ­ had concluded that it was not individual human beings which constituted the problem, but society as a whole. In this view, social problems were less the product of individual shortcomings than they were of misguided social engineering. Conversely, individual people were not bad because their nature was sinful but because their environment was bad. Sociologist Edward A. Ross wrote in Sin and Society ­ the title alone is telling ­ that "sin evolves along with society.... Our social organization has developed to a stage where the old righteousness is not enough." A prison reformer named Richard Dugdale flatly declared that "the environment has more influence than the heredity." 129 Part theology and part sociology, this view located sin in the wider society, bringing many Christians of the era to preach what became known as the Social Gospel. These assumptions pervaded Groton. Evil lay in the wider society outside Groton and not within it. The School, recalled one alumnus, "was sacred; it was a temple designed to keep boys unspotted from the world until such time as they should have

Quoted in Eric F. Goldman, Rendezvous With Destiny: A History of Modern American Reform (New York: Vintage Books, 1952, 1956), 91, 93.



developed the moral strength to cope triumphantly with that world."130 In not a single sermon did Peabody ever mention original sin or excoriate his boys for the deficiencies of their own nature.131 However, he did not share the radical critique of society espoused by the more liberal advocates of the Social Gospel. Peabody's version was more muted, a gospel of morality, social uplift, and service which accepted the existing order of things, engaging in ministry partly for what it would do for the recipients, but at least as much for how it would transform his own boys. Clearly if this were the case, then organizations such as the Missionary Society could not function at Groton as they had at Andover under Samuel Taylor or John Adams. There, the agencies had served to tie Phillips Academy to transdenominational evangelicalism, precisely the ties that Peabody was trying to avoid. Instead, Peabody went about the business of retooling the agencies for modernity, refitting them for ministry to society as a whole rather than to its sinful individuals. "Society" was broken down into two entities, domestic and foreign.132 The most far-flung repository of social deficiency was overseas. In this respect, the Missionary Society at Groton functioned in the same manner as at St. Paul's, educating the boys about cultures in Asia and Africa in

130 131

Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital, 38.

Perhaps the closest he came was in trying to persuade his faculty to give attention to the physical appearance of the boys. "A slovenly appearance," he informed them, was the surface manifestation of "an inward and spiritual untidiness." Endicott Peabody, 1906 address to faculty, 7. It is interesting to note that the Social Gospel arrived at Groton in its full-blown form only after the death of Phillips Brooks in 1893. Brooks, who was known for his emphasis on "personal religion" and almost never gave his attention to the shortcomings of the wider society, was likely a restraining influence on this emerging emphasis. See May, Protestant Churches and Industrial America, 64. This is succinctly stated in the minutes for the meeting of 23 Sept. 1911, but pervades the overall record. Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, p. 180.



an effort to spur Christian work there.133 Rarely were specific plans put into place ­ "missions trips" remained a thing of the future for Protestant youth ministries. "Domestic missions" comprised the second, and greater, area for work. Just as St. Paul's had done, Groton's earliest initiatives involved planting and supplying churches in its local area. The establishment of the school had been a mission in itself, for before that the closest Episcopal church to Groton was in Fitchburg, 14 miles away.134 The Missionary Society also supported a parish in the nearby town of Ayer, supplying a minister (an ordained member of the Groton faculty) as well as "two other Masters and boys for the Sunday School."135 As early as 1888, one of the faculty masters had also begun a Sunday School on the Groton campus, more for the benefit of the surrounding neighborhood than for the boys at the school (presumably the Sacred Studies courses met their needs).136 By 1904, the Missionary Society had taken this on. This ministry to the local area also extended to the creation of a boys' club for local teenagers who would be permitted to use the school's gymnasium in the evening.137 By 1900, Groton was coordinating a Sunday School in the town of East Shirley, "a flourishing mission" at Forge Village, a ministry at a place referred to only as the Boston Road Schoolhouse, and

Peabody to Atwood, 29 Nov. 1897, Peabody papers, GS Archives; Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 131.

134 135


Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 187n17. Peabody report to the board of trustees, no date, Groton School Copy of Records, Vol. I, 1884-

1915, 96.


The minutes of the meeting of 30 Sept. 1906 note that the Sunday School had been going on "for eighteen years." Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 130-131. Minutes of the meeting of 22 Sept. 1912, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 192-193.



work at the Boys' Clubs in both Boston and Cambridge.138 Several other parishes were added in the next few years. Magazine circulation also came under the Society's purview as they attempted to raise the cultural level of "families in the neighborhood."139 As boys (and churches, for that matter) are prone to do, the Missionary Society kept close track of numbers, recording attendance generally around 20 or so.140 Many of these efforts consisted simply of social functions, which the Society's secretary noted were "of great benefit in that they attracted together many people who, not knowing each other, could not otherwise have a chance to become acquainted."141 The Society also engaged in some limited attempts at moral reform, specifically "to discourage the Saturday evening dances which have proved so demoralizing to the girls of the Bible class in the past."142A later endeavor that did not go so well occurred in the town of Groton itself. The school attempted to begin a "Forum" at which prominent citizens of the town would be invited to hear a prominent speaker. The endeavor collapsed when participation of the local chapter of the KKK became an issue.143

S. Warren Sturgis, "The Religious and Missionary Work at Groton," 7; minutes of the meeting of 22 Feb. 1903, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, p. 39. Minutes of the meeting of 28 Oct. 1906, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, p. 134.

140 139




Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 9, 13, notebook in GS

Minutes of the meeting of 11 Oct. 1903 and 19 June 1904, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 49, 51, 85. There is no record as to the extent of success on this matter. Minutes of the meeting of 30 Sept. 1906, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, p. 130-131.

143 142

Billings 1931(?) interview, Groton School History file.


The boys of the Missionary Society also raised money for people in need. One "subscription" of ten dollars was voted for a woman in Clinton who, the secretary of the Society noted approvingly, "was most deserving." The Society also appropriated funds one October for fuel for one woman, to pay the funeral expenses of another, and to fund typing lessons for a third who hoped to enter the workforce with this new skill.144 The Society responded favorably to a request from "some Kentucky mountaineers" asking for one cent a day for the education of their children.145 In all cases, the recipients were carefully scrutinized for an appropriate work ethic or degree of helplessness which would warrant the assistance. In one case, the secretary recorded the request of "a young man from Pepperell, who was out of work and clothes" who "promised to brace up, saying that he knew of a job he might get if he could dress decently." The Society "sent him a suit of clothes and a pair of shoes, taken from the old clothes file. The risk proved worth while," for the man subsequently wrote to the Society telling of the "good work" he was now engaged in.146 The range of activities away from campus grew to impressive proportions during the first decade of the new century. There was some involvement at a local prison, and the Society financially supported an enterprise called Sailor's Haven in Boston.147 The

144 145

Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 27, 95.

minutes for the meeting of 11 Dec. 1904, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, p. 103. minutes of the meeting of 23 Feb. 1905, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 105-107. Minutes of the meetings of 23 Nov. 1902 and 17 April 1904, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 31, 83.

147 146


Society was also involved in a settlement house known as South End House in Boston.148 Its members voted to send funds to a military chaplain in order to fund his "gramophone and stereopticon," by which he hoped to lure his soldiers away from temptation.149 By 1913, they were giving English lessons to about 20 Russian immigrants in the Forge Village area, aided by two faculty masters.150 They also hosted individuals of some prominence. Jabob Riis, the famed Dutch photographer who had introduced this generation of Americans to the concept of domestic poverty with his 1891 book, How the Other Half Lives, spoke to the society.151 By 1910, the Society had also come to see its own venue as a proper arena for improvement. In the first meeting of the school year, the faculty sponsor of the organization informed the boys that "the work included the work among ourselves as well as outside, and was not necessarily confined to the heathen. It was a great chance to make the school a kinder place." Specific initiatives included "keeping in touch" with two Groton employees (presumably support staff) "who are in grief on account of deaths in their families." The Society also provided an annual Christmas tree and party for the school, an undertaking applauded by Peabody as it "gave pleasure to the school servants and made them feel that they were not forgotten." There was no grand philosophy or

minutes of the meeting of 16 Feb. 1907, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 151. minutes of the meeting of 16 April 1905, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 111-112. Minutes of the meeting of 22 Sept. 1912, 8 Feb. 1913 and 15 March 1913, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 192-193, 204-05. minutes of the meeting of 8 Dec. 1907, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 19011915, p. 149. Riis frequented many of the boarding school campuses during this period.

151 150 149



theological reason offered for this: the Society's Secretary simply noted that "the idea of this entertainment is simply to have a social gathering."152 Such an endeavor would further the construction of the right kind of environment for Groton boys, which in turn would make the school a more effective place. By 1919, Peabody would tell the faculty that their efforts with "the younger boys" at Groton could be counted successful if they "yielded to the environment."153 However admirable the range of efforts, there were limits to the gospel of social service at Groton, attitudes and prejudices which would not be overcome. In 1910, the Society hosted a Mr. Chisholm from the Tuskegee Institute, who "spoke on the beginnings of Tuskegee, of its equipment, methods, and results." There followed what the secretary termed "an animated discussion as to how much the Society should subscribe" to Tuskegee. One can only wonder precisely just what animated the discussion, but the fact is that there were no black students at Groton, and would not be until 1952.154 The Society voted to donate $10; the typist had been given $25.155 Several years later, they were even less generous. When Booker T. Washington himself wrote asking for assistance for a school in Tennessee, the Missionary Society voted to send "some old

Minutes of the meetings of 11 Oct. 1903, 15 Nov. 1903, 23 Jan. 1905, and 9 Oct. 1910, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 49, 51, 59, 105, 107, 174, 187. Endicott Peabody, "To Masters," 1919, typescript in Peabody papers, Addresses to Faculty file, GS Archives.

154 153




Doug Brown [Groton School archivist] to author, 23 August 2003. Letter in personal

Peabody supplemented the amount with an unspecified addition from his own pocket, not an isolated incident. One Groton alumnus recalled playing a football game against a Boston club with a black player. When he used a number of racial epithets during the game, Peabody hauled him into his study and put an end to it in no uncertain terms. Stone, interview, 10.


clothes."156 Practice of the gospel of social service also failed to transcend religious bias. Peabody limited the number of Jews in the school to about "two to the hundred," in order to avoid public criticism, he said, and the first Jewish student didn't graduate until 1927.157 Groton and its gentle efforts to reform the society around it remained limited by the racial and religious biases and assumptions of the day. The gospel of social service at Groton also had limited impact on the school's treatment of wealth. (It is hardly surprising that Christian Socialism found other more fertile fields.)158 The roots of this lay deep in Groton's early years. As a young headmaster, Peabody "deliberately went out to get the sons of prominent men ... [and] the sons of wealthy men," though he later described the policy as "one of the great mistakes I made as Headmaster."159 In this respect (as in virtually all other matters), he had full support from the chairman of the board of trustees, Bishop Lawrence, who had

minutes of "the fourth meeting of the year", 1911-12, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, p. 182. Samuel Drury to Endicott Peabody, 19 Nov. 1914, Peabody papers, GS Archives; Stone interview, 19. Auchincloss, A Writer's Capital, 39, says Peabody even distrusted Jews who had converted and were interested in Groton because of the possibility that their interest sprang merely from "social ambition." One such man was C. Douglas Dillon, the future Secretary of Treasury under John F. Kennedy, whose father was Jewish but whose family had converted to Episcopalianism before his entry to Groton. Dillon was in fact confirmed in the Episcopal church while a student at Groton in 1925. Doug Brown to author, 4 February 2004, letter in personal possession. Marc Desjardins makes a compelling case for Peabody's admiration for the political theory of Charles Kingsley's Christian Socialist movement in England. He maintains that Peabody was "tremendously influenced" by Kingsley's call for the "best men" to serve the nation, and quotes a passage from Peabody's 1944 "Personal Recollections" citing Kingsley's use of Hosea 6:6 as an inspiration to his own sense of social justice. Aside from these passages, however, a sustained pattern of commitment to Christian socialist politics is absent in Peabody's life, either in his writings or his actions. Though the Rector might have been personally inspired by Kingsley, he does not appear to have translated that into a program of political beliefs. Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 106-110; quotes on 108. His vote for Herbert Hoover in the election of 1932 is perhaps the clearest indication of the limitations of his liberalism. However, he eventually did offer public support to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal ­ much to the horror of his predominantly upper-class alumni ­ though whether out of political conviction or school pride is difficult to say. See Kintrea, "'Old Peabo' and the School,"105.

159 158 157 156

Garrison Norton interview, 11.


once devised a mathematical equation which measured the correlation between a man's wealth and the working of God's grace in his life.160 Phillips Brooks also approved: the romantic Episcopalian always made a distinction between the existence of wealth a gift of God) and its misuse (a relatively rare phenomenon, to judge by the number of his attacks on the sin).161 While this posture worked to the indisputable financial benefit of the School, it also produced attitudes and policies which demonstrated the limits of the gospel of social service.162 Little in the way of financial assistance was made available to students of lesser means. When in 1889 a donor offered the school a choice between using the $5000 sum "for the benefit of poor scholars" or deploying it for the New Schoolhouse, it was devoted to the latter.163 An experiment of distributing financial aid for "parents of the boys [who] were in need" was abandoned because it "has not resulted in raising the standard of the scholarship of the School," and "competitive scholarships" based on merit were substituted.164 Peabody also rejected a proposed workjob program, later a staple of boarding school efforts to teach their students the merits of performing menial tasks.165 This belief that only the deserving poor deserved charity also extended to institutions. By 1919, Peabody felt that Groton was carrying too much of the ongoing

160 161 162

Robert H. Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967), 41. May, Protestant Churches and Industrial America, 65.

For the role that philanthropy played in alleviating the guilt felt by so many Gilded Age millionaires, see Frederic Cople Jaher, "The Gilded Elite: American Multimillionaires, 1865 to the Present," in W.D. Rubenstein, Wealth and the Wealthy in the Modern World (London: Croom Helm, 1980), 263-266 and passim. [the whole article is pages 189-276] Minutes of the Board of Trustees meeting for 4 June 1889, Volume I: Copy of the Records of the Trustees of Groton School from February, 1884, through June, 1915, p. 54.

164 165 163

Groton School Copy of Records, Vol. I, 1884-1915, 208. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton, 100.


costs of the church in Ayer, and wrote to the bishop enquiring what might be done about the problem. Not only was it one of cost, he assured the bishop, but "only a few [parishioners] are very interested in the welfare of the church and ready to work for it."166 Groton School would minister to a sinful society, but in a sense that society, just as with individuals, must prove itself worthy. Both within and without, the Protestantism of the school perpetuated the class and social order.167 No external agency presented a greater challenge to Peabody than the evangelical Young Men's Christian Association. The YMCA was an urban ministry which had been founded in London in 1844 and quickly made its way across the ocean to Boston. A classic example of the transdenominational (and transatlantic) parachurch organization which fueled the powerful engine of antebellum evangelicalism, the YMCA emphasized individual sin and personal conversion as the problem and antidote of modern problems. As such, it would appear to have been antithetical to the modernist pursuit of the kingdom of God at Groton. The YMCA's emphasis on prayer meetings conducted by laymen outside of church services was an evangelical concept that did not square with either the Social Gospel or with Peabody's (relatively) High Church beliefs in the role of the clergy in leading worship. The training in personal evangelism, with its attendant

166 167

Endicott Peabody to Rt. Rev. Bishop Babcock, 23 July 1919, Peabody papers, GS Archives.

Peabody himself lived well. In 1911, the Board voted him a salary of $6000 plus "house, heat, light, wages of cook, two housemaids, parlor maid, laundress, one-half wages of stable boy Tommy, and all household expenses such as meat, groceries, etc." Groton School Copy of Records, Vol. I, 1884-1915, p. 246. In light of all this, it may be too much to claim, as Desjardins does, that Peabody saw himself as "a self-appointed reformer of the wealthy" bent on deploying Groton and the Social Gospel as "the saving grace of the patrician establishment." See Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 165-170, quote on 165.


belief that evil lay in the hearts of human beings, was also at variance with Peabody's growing conviction that such disorders were better addressed in the larger society. Despite these differences, there was a key factor which made it impossible for Peabody to ignore the association entirely. The two most prominent Christian leaders to be involved in its work after the Civil War, Dwight L. Moody and the YMCA's leader, John L. Mott, both had a significant presence on New England boarding school campuses.168 Mott was an invited speaker at Phillips Exeter (though it is significant that he never was invited to Groton), and Moody was instrumental in the founding of Mount Hermon (see chapter 10). Furthermore, Moody's school had started the summer conferences at Northfield which were the touchstone of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, a parachurch organization with enormous appeal to secondary school students of the era. In other words, the YMCA was not simply an external organization trying to make inroads at Groton. Rather, it reflected an effective means of attracting young men into Christian work, as well as the tight network of boarding school kinship which was increasingly binding the New England schools to one another. Peabody therefore took a middle course, admitting the YMCA to Groton in a tamed form which muted the evangelical nature of the Association, thereby making it palatable to the modernist faith which Peabody was implementing at the school. He made personal donations to the Association and appeared to be on congenial terms with its

See Charles Howard Hopkins, History of the YMCA in North America (New York: Association Press, 1951) and John R. Mott, 1865-1955 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979); Daniel G. Reid et al, eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), s.v. "Mott, John Raleigh" by R. E. Pierson, and "Young Men's Christian Association" by C.V. Anderson.



regional officers.169 He also attended the Northfield Conferences on occasion, but refused it a full-fledged endorsement, merely reporting back to the Missionary Society in noncommital fashion that he had had "an interesting and enjoyable week."170 At the same time, YMCA speakers do not appear in the list of guest speakers at Groton's Sunday chapel services, nor do they appear in the minutes of the Missionary Society. A more obvious incident in 1912 illustrated the relationship between the two. That year, the Association's President, David Porter, proposed that Groton's Missionary Society formally affiliate itself with the YMCA. It was not a benign proposal. The initiative ­ "scheme" was the telling word employed by the secretary of the Missionary Society ­ would have identified Groton's sole student religious organization with revivalism, evangelism, and a world missions movement, all elements of the older traditional Protestantism. It therefore comes as no surprise that Porter's proposal was rebuffed as the Society voted to reject formal union with the YMCA and instead remain in "friendly affiliation."171 In holding the evangelical agency at arms' length, Peabody could continue to further his moderate form of modernist Protestantism at Groton, untroubled by messages of individual sin and the need for personal redemption. The decision to hold the YMCA at arms' length did not lessen Groton's desire to do something for the growing American cities. The result of this impulse, and the enterprise which best illumines the paternalistic gospel of social service at Groton, was

169 170

J.M. Clinton to Endicott Peabody, 17 Oct. 1918, Peabody papers, GS Archives.

Minutes of the meeting of 29 Sept. 1907, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, p. 144. Minutes for the meetings of 9 Nov. 1912, 7 Dec. 1912, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 200-202.



the establishment of the Groton School Camp. Peabody first presented the idea of a summer camp for urban youth to the Missionary Society in 1892, and it opened at Lake Asquam, New Hampshire, in the summer of 1893. Groton proved to be on the leading edge of a national mania in this respect, as such camps began to proliferate nationally after about 1895; the YMCA alone saw the number of its camps almost double in the first four years of the new century.172 Peabody described simply it as an effort "to extend our field of usefulness."173 Its statement of goals reflected many of the assumptions shared by secular Progressives, advocates of the Social Gospel, and those whom Eric Goldman has called "Reform Darwinists."174 "The regeneration of the world is a knotty problem which has vexed mankind and has given rise to many philosophies," opened the statement. "Modern experience, the practical philosophy of the day, seems to teach that there is no short-cut to salvation and that the raising of mankind is a slow and tedious process which can be accomplished only by persistent work on the individual." As such, the camp would serve as a sort of laboratory for the Gilded Age bargain's new formulation of human nature as it afforded Groton boys the opportunity "to come in contact in terms of equality with the large masses of our countrymen who have had none of the advantages we have had showered upon us" and "to measure ourselves with them to see whether our opportunities have really modified human nature or have simply given us superficial advantages which might be attained by the lowest under certain conditions." The camp


167 to 300.


Putney, Muscular Christianity, 109. From 1901-1905, the number of YMCA camps went from

Endicott Peabody and Acosta Nichols, Jr. ["Manager of the Camp"], "The Groton School Camp," The Groton School Quarterly, Vol. XV, No. 2 (March 1942), 12.


Goldman, Rendezvous With Destiny, 66-81.


would thus be to the benefit of both the "ragged street urchins" and "bootblacks" as it would attempt "to awaken in the individuals with whom we come in contact a recognition of what is good and noble in life." The hopes for transformation were indeed high: The Grotonian informed its readers that it "seems doubtful if they return to their poor, squalid homes after having two weeks of pure healthful country life, they will be recognized by their relatives and former associates."175 But the camp would also redound to the benefit of the Groton students, who in the process might be "taught a lesson in equality which may materially modify their conception of the inborn superiority of the educated and refined."176 Needless to say, these were high aspirations. The camp promised nothing less than to deliver Groton boys from the limits of their upbringings, raise up the lower classes, and further democracy in America. At least initially, the Missionary Society felt a keen sense of duty to aid in the funding of the Camp, not a small endeavor even for boys from homes of wealthy means. Meetings in the early years of the new century were constantly preoccupied with the need to "obtain subscriptions for the camp," and members of the Society were charged with specific fundraising quotas.177 They also took responsibility for staffing the camp, recruiting their fellow students to serve as counselors each summer (and grappling with

175 176

quoted in Desjardins, "A Muscular Christian in a Secular World," 197.

The Groton School Camp, pamphlet [reprinted from the Grotonian (March 1901)], 1-5, G.S. Camp file, GS Archives. Minutes of the meeting of 14 Dec. 1902, 22 Feb. 1903, and 22 March 1903, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, pp. 33, 39, 41, are just a few representative examples. The quotas are mentioned in the meeting of 14 June 1903, pp. 45, 47.



their failure to follow through on their commitments to do so).178 The daily schedule of the camp reflected the activities of the Missionary Society, oriented toward social activities and healthy play ­ boating and swimming, crew, baseball games, fireworks (presumably used on Independence Day), and the like ­ with little in the way of formal religious content. In fact, the only clue in the surviving records of the camp as to its religious nature is the presence of line items in the budget marked for the purchase of hymnals.179 As such, the Camp sought to improve the human condition simply by bettering the environment of the "ragged urchins." Even its location on an island reflected this approach, for such isolation was advantageous "not only for its outstanding attraction, but also with a view toward the safekeeping of the boys."180 If the corrupt society which caused humans to be evil could be kept at bay, there would be no end to the "usefulness" of the camp.181 This, and not any connection to an external agency, would be the priority for Groton School. Peabody starkly stated this in a 1904 meeting of the Missionary Society, whose minutes recorded that he "said that the Northfield

Minutes of the meeting of 2 Oct. 1904, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 19011915, p. 95; "Annual Report of the P. R.: Season of 1919," typescript in G.S. Camp file, GS Archives. The "P.R." was the "permanent resident," that is, the faculty member who took on-site charge of the Camp. "Groton School Camp, Report of the Permanent Resident," [September 1939], 6, typescript in G.S. Camp file, GS Archives.

180 181 179


Peabody and Nichols, "The Groton School Camp," 12.

Race, however, was still problematic. In the 1919 annual report of the Permanent Resident, he wrote an assessment of the various sending organizations, all of which he approved except those from a place called Shaw House: "Of these the last mentioned group were all colored boys. These boys were extremely unpleasant to deal with but undoubtedly very needy. They were very easy to handle, but indolent, lazy, and filthy. It was found necessary to segregate them in every way. Their blankets had to be kept separate from the others. The white boys treated them extremely well." "Annual Report of the P[ermanent]. R[esident].: Season of 1919."


Conference was a great inspiration, but that it was vitally important to the welfare of the camp that the Conference should not interfere with the Camp."182 In the three and a half decades between its founding in 1884 and the end of the Great War in Europe in 1918, Groton School grew into one of the most prestigious and financially successful boarding schools in New England. However, during that time the School evolved little. The school at its inception seems to have been fully formed, like Athena emerging from the head of Zeus, in no need of change in the years following birth because it was at it inception already what it would become. The manner in which the Protestant faith was conducted by 1919 was largely the same as it had been in 1884. But the emphasis had shifted. Ultimately the Broad Church Episcopalianism which had clearly marked the school in its inception had by 1919 been subsumed by a more generic version of the Social Gospel, a watered down version of the gospel of social service. This was not an unexpected development, for in many ways Episcopalians of the latenineteenth century were ready-made modernists. So many of the characteristics of the Broad Church movement ­ its affinity for Biblical criticism, its willingness to refine knowledge to accommodate the rising authority of science, and its growing disdain for evangelicalism ­ were forerunners of the modernist Protestantism of the twentieth century. At Groton, the Gilded Age accommodation with modernity seamlessly evolved into a twentieth-century, Progressive Era emphasis on social service and service to the nation. Peabody constructed a school which successfully distanced itself from the older evangelicalism of the nineteenth century, transforming its Protestant faith into a creed

Minutes of the meeting of 19 June 1904, Minutes of the Groton School Missionary Society 1901-1915, p. 89.



deemed more culturally amenable to the demands being placed on prep schools, particularly those increasingly imposed by the colleges and universities. By 1919, the apparent cost of the endeavor had been small, the substitution of a generic modernism in place of the more distinctively Broad Church Episcopalianism which had once characterized the school. The denominational nature of Groton was devalued as Peabody became noticeably less strident on matters Episcopalian. Students commented that there was less pressure to go through Confirmation and to join the Episcopal Church than there once had been.183 Indeed, at Groton becoming an Episcopalian held markedly less importance than being "useful," a concept most easily measured by the extent to which Groton graduates entered lives of public service.184 While the emphasis on public service was more pronounced ­ and, to judge from its graduates, more successful as well ­ at Groton than at the other boarding schools, the change in religious mission was not.185 Groton represented the ideal school for Gilded Age America, an ideal toward which Andover and Lawrenceville were slowly moving. As we shall see, St. Paul's and Lawrenceville also followed, though with some significant variations. But it was Groton which led the way in developing a model for a moderate brand of modernist Protestantism in American boarding schools. In light of this, some

183 184

Garrison Norton interview, 10-12.

"Memoir by Charles Coolidge, class of 1913," 14-16, unpublished paper in Groton School Historical file, GS Archives. Groton's devaluation of its Episcopalianism also anticipated developments several decades in the future as denominational adherence declined significantly in the years following World War II. See Robert Wuthnow, The Restructuring of American Religion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 71-99. Graduates of Groton, as well of other boarding schools, came to dominate the American diplomatic corps to the point where it was referred to as "the family" or "the club." One observer believes this reflected aristocratic attitudes, a belief which drew them into a branch of the American government least susceptible to democratic pressures; see Saveth, "The Education of an Elite," 380.



conclusions of other historians would demand new scrutiny. Some years ago, James McLachlan wrote that St. Paul's was "the classic boarding school of Victorian America ­ an institution which would...serve as the basic model for the private prep school of the Progressive era."186 While in some respects this is warranted, it certainly does not hold in examining the schools' transformation of the Protestant faith. Henry Coit had modified an early tendency toward evangelicalism as St. Paul's edged toward the modern era, but in the end he continued to practice the faith of the nineteenth century. At Groton, Endicott Peabody was the first headmaster to fully implement a revised version of the faith which he deemed would allow Protestantism to function in the changed social and educational environment of the twentieth century. As such, Groton and not St. Paul's provided the model for Andover, Exeter, Lawrenceville, and St. Paul's as they sought to retain their status as "preparatory" schools for Ivy League colleges while at the same time developing and promoting a Protestant moral life in their students.


James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 135.



At the centennial celebration of Phillips Andover in 1878, the board of trustees rededicated the Christian mission of the Academy with a resolution:

The Board of Trustees... place on record their profound sense of the eminent wisdom, the clear foresight, and the large Christian benevolence of its Founders. They remember gratefully the long line of wise and godly men who have presided over the Academy in the office of Principal, and the still larger number of Scholarly and faithful assistants who have labored in the various departments of instruction..... They desire likewise to acknowledge the great goodness of God in bestowing his favor so largely and continually upon the Institution, and in still raising up for it true friends and generous benefactors. And to Him, in whose name the Academy was founded, the Trustees desire to dedicate it anew for the promotion of good learning, for the instruction of youth respecting `the true end and real business of living', and for the upbuilding of his Kingdom throughout the world.1

The timing was ironic. Even as the board passed the resolution, it had made a series of decisions in the previous five years which would eventually result in a fundamental recasting of the role of Protestantism at Andover, and thereby the role of Andover in furthering the fortunes of the Congregational church in New England. The new headmaster whom the board had appointed in 1873 was already reshaping the nature and goals of the Academy, and in so doing transformed both the means and ends of Protestantism at Andover. By the time his successor was named in 1903, the trustees'

Records of the Board of Trustees, meeting of 6 June 1878, notebook in PAA Archives. The entry is in Cecil Bancroft's hand.



resolution of 1878 would look increasingly as if it were from an entirely different era. For indeed it was. The school at Groton crafted by Endicott Peabody was the first of the boarding schools to be founded wholly on the principles of the Gilded Age compromise with modernity. Its experience therefore differed from its older cousins of Exeter, Andover, Lawrenceville, and St. Paul's in that it was able to proceed without regard for the burden of a past history. Together with Bishop William Lawrence and Phillips Brooks, Peabody created a school which by the turn of the century was in full service to the emerging modern university and to a generic Protestantism of moral uplift, service, and duty. As the founding headmaster of the school, Peabody was able to respond to modern imperatives largely without encountering entrenched interests, vested by past practice hardened into tradition with institutional authority and an interest in maintaining the status quo. However, as the existing schools at Andover, Exeter, Lawrenceville, and Concord (St. Paul's) entered the Gilded Age, their ability to implement a reformulated Protestant faith was constrained by the extent to which each had had a historical commitment to traditional Protestantism. Where that commitment had already been transformed, as was the case at Exeter, the transition to modernist Protestantism proceeded largely without resistance. But for those schools with significant elements of traditional Protestantism in their past, particularly Andover and Lawrenceville, the transition proved more problematic. However, the same winds which had shaped the contours of Groton School were blowing throughout the east and shifting the course of all the boarding schools. A powerful triad of forces ­ the emergence of the modern university, the rise of the


authority of science, and the emergence of modernist Protestantism ­ converged to create an ideological and theological perfect storm. Mount Hermon would respond to the tempest by trying to sail upwind in a movement that ran counter to that of the other schools. Exeter, with its benign Unitarianism, was already well-equipped for such a storm; indeed, one can say that Exeter anticipated it and had already adjusted to it. St. Paul's and Lawrenceville would each make their own accommodations in the generation following the passing of Henry Coit and Samuel Hamill. Andover, the oldest of the schools and one of the most orthodox in terms of its commitment to historical Protestantism, would experience a seismic shift in its mission and purpose. Under the leadership of Cecil F.P. Bancroft and Alfred E. Stearns, Phillips Andover Academy decisively transformed its commitment to orthodox Congregationalism, jettisoned its past, and entered the twentieth century an entirely different school. Perhaps nowhere did the burden of the past weigh more heavily than at Phillips Andover. The school was much older than its peers ­ older by a generation than Lawrenceville, by a lifetime than St. Paul's, and by a century than Groton. Its mission and purpose, to further the fortunes of orthodox Congregationalism in New England while preparing young men to go to theologically-conservative Yale, had been set ever since its founding in 1778. That mission and purpose had been cemented through the nineteenth century, first by John Adams, its headmaster from 1810-1833, and then by Samuel Taylor, whose leadership from 1838-1871 hardened the school into a reactive institution devoted to constancy. By Taylor's final decade, Andover had come to fear any change that might lead to the undoing of all that was right and good with its traditional Congregationalist faith.


This stultification was reinforced by the Academy's connection with Andover Seminary. Founded in reaction to Unitarian Harvard, the Seminary stood as a bulwark ­ perhaps the bulwark, some might say ­ of traditional Congregationalism from its founding in 1808 through the end of the Civil War. Academy and Seminary shared the same board of trustees, but at least for the first half-century of the Seminary's life, the board gave clear priority to its fortunes, continually slighting the needs of the Academy. This, it will be recalled, was one reason why Adams and Taylor had been able to exercise such absolute control over the fortunes of the Academy. So long as they were faithful to the terms of Samuel Phillips's Constitution, with the attendant expectation that they paid the Academy's bills, then the specifics were of little concern to the trustees, concerned as they were with the larger issues of the Seminary. Adams and Taylor exercised near-absolute power for other reasons as well, reasons that had to do with broader patterns in American boarding schools. Simply put, nineteenth-century boarding schools were headmaster-centered institutions. The countervailing forces of the twentieth century which were to weaken that office had not yet arisen. The faculties of the schools were small and relatively powerless, as men teaching class loads of eighty and ninety students simply didn't have time or energy to effectively counter the power of the headmasters. The boards of trustees, often consisting of men who lived at some distance from the campus, were willing to allow the heads great latitude, frequently limiting their activities to a modest amount of fundraising. Boarding schools had not yet turned to their alumni for financial support, so that the attendant growth in the power of "old boys" to shape the institution still lay in the future. And for the most part, parents were held at arms' length both by distance and philosophy,


able on occasion to protest specific decisions but generally powerless to affect the overall institution. With so few constituencies able to contest decisions, the manner in which nineteenth-century headmasters exercised power was much more akin to that of a medieval lord than to the elected mayor that they resemble today. Given such influence, the end of a headmaster's tenure ­ whether through death, resignation or, less rarely, dismissal by the board ­ was a critical event in the life of the school, for it afforded a rare opportunity for genuine change. Such change was not inevitable (recall the seamless transition from Isaac Van Arsdale Brown to Samuel Hamill in 1837 at Lawrenceville) but it could occur in dramatic fashion (as when Gideon Soule had been hired at Exeter the following year). The death of Samuel Taylor at Andover in 1871 proved to be of the latter variety, for in the generation that followed the traditional Congregationalist faith that he had sought to uphold at Andover was transformed. For almost a century, Andover had been grounded in an evangelical Protestantism which held to several fixed and certain principles: the fallibility and sinfulness of humankind, the need of all human beings for redemption through Christ, and the central place of the Christian faith in educating young men both for college and for civic participation in the life of the republic. None of these had come under serious scrutiny since Sam Phillips' creation of the Select Committee in 1802. However, in the six decades following Taylor's death, under the guidance of Cecil Bancroft and Alfred Stearns, the role of Protestant faith in the Academy was decisively recast in Andover's own version of the Gilded Age compromise with modernity. Frederic William Tilton succeeded Samuel Taylor as headmaster of Phillips Andover. A young man, he was only 32 at the time of his appointment. Though his two-


year tenure was largely uneventful, he did implement two changes. He began the process of preparing Andover students to attend colleges other than Yale and he implemented the first experiment in teaching modern foreign languages at the Academy.2 Both moves reflected a Protestantism different from that of Taylor. The act of broadening the college destinations of the Academy's graduates implied that students could go to Harvard, a tacit rejection of Taylor's anti-Unitarian stance which had so fired his passion against Cambridge. And the teaching of foreign languages implied that the canon of knowledge was changing, a canon at whose core had lain courses which inculcated the Congregational faith. It marked the first curricular innovation in a process which would no less than revolutionize Andover's curriculum. Both changes proved to be harbingers of things to come. Tilton lacked the personality and skills to run a school, and so was replaced when the trustees awarded the job to Cecil F.P. Bancroft.3 Bancroft was no stranger to Andover hill, having graduated from Andover Seminary in 1867. When he arrived as the Academy's eighth principal in the summer of 1873, he did so because he felt that God was leading him to the position. In his reply to the trustees' offer to become principal, he wrote, "The work at Andover is so great, so conspicuous, and of such a quality that I could not regard myself as equal to it, nor for a moment think of undertaking it without a

"The Curriculum of Phillips Academy," The Phillips Bulletin, VII:3 (April 1913), 13-14; Frederick S. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter: A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover: University Press of New England, 1979), 223.



Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 221.


strong conviction that the Lord was preparing the way before me, and would not withhold the wisdom and strength necessary to the execution of this appointment."4 Bancroft's training at Andover Seminary would prove significant for the life of the Academy, for the Seminary in the late 1860s was in its first stages of theological liberalization. The clearest indication of this would come in 1878 with the election of Egbert Smyth as faculty president and the appointment of his brother, Newman Smyth, to the chair of theology formerly held by Edwards Park, the orthodox Calvinist whose eulogy for Samuel Taylor had paid homage to all things Congregationalist both at Andover and in the world as a whole. Park retired in 1880, but the heirs to his theological traditionalism fought a long-running battle against the "Progressive Orthodoxy" represented by Smyth.5 Bancroft was therefore trained amidst the stirrings of an early battle between conservatives and modernists. This struggle affected Phillips Academy in several ways. In its earliest stages it exposed the Academy's headmaster to the newest ideas of an emerging Protestant modernism. Far more practically, as the struggle became a very public war for the soul of the Seminary, it so distracted the Andover trustees as to give their new headmaster a virtually free hand at the Academy. He would need the free hand as well as his conviction that God had called him to the work, for running Phillips Academy in 1873 promised to be an enormous undertaking. Andover was desperately in need of reform on virtually every front. The

4 5

Cited in Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 227.

Daniel Day Williams, The Andover Liberals: A Study in American Theology (Morningside Heights, NY: King's Crown Press, 1941), 65-67; Gary Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 291; Daniel G. Reid et al, eds., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), s.v. "Parks, Edwards Amasa" by A.C Guelzo, and "Evangelical Liberalism" by M.G. Toulouse.


Academy's budget was not balanced and its debt was growing. Student discipline had deteriorated over the years, a development rooted in disenchantment with Taylor during his final decade. Betting and gambling was widespread, as were the use of profanity and tobacco.6 It is difficult to imagine an Eden in which boarding schools have not been beset by the latter problem, but by all standards the problem appears to have been particularly acute during these years, evoking protest after protest from parents.7 "I pray that God will spare my darling boy from the slavery that tobacco is sure to bring," wrote one anguished parent, and Bancroft agreed, calling it "a frightful cause for disorder."8 Students also engaged in widespread drinking, and some were known to frequent the fleshpots in nearby Lawrence.9 Medical as well as moral ills beset the Academy as three students even died during a single school year.10 These problems extended to the academic life of the school. The curriculum no longer served the students well, and one contemporary estimate was that in any given year fewer than half were adequately "fitted for college."11 Faculty turnover from year to

Claude Moore Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1917), 383. For a representative sampling, see W. Everett to Cecil Bancroft, 7 June 1882; L.R.F. Griffin to Bancroft, 24 July 1882 and 9 Aug. 1882; E.F. Hawkins to Bancroft, 7 June 1885; E. Howe to Bancroft, 27 Feb. 1890; and R.G. Huling to Bancroft, 7 Dec. 1888. Bancroft papers, PAA Archives. B.H. Burt to Bancroft, 11 Sept. 1879, Bancroft papers, PAA Archives; Bancroft, "Report of the Principal, 1873-74," Bancroft papers, PAA Archives. "Report of the Principal, 1873-74", Bancroft papers, PAA Archives; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 228.

10 11 9 8 7


Cecil F.P. Bancroft, "Report of the Principal," 19 June 1882, Bancroft papers, PAA Archives. Charles Hammond, New England Academies and Classical Schools (Boston: Wright and Potter,

1877), 28.


year was extremely high.12 This is not surprising given the behavior of the students, but the inability to retain good instructors was also rooted in some simple mathematics: in the year of Taylor's death, a faculty of only eight was expected to instruct and manage a student body of 228. Two years later enrollment had increased to 252 without any additional faculty hires.13 Salaries were also low, at least by comparison to Lawrenceville ­ and this in the same period, it will be recalled, in which Lawrenceville's own financial problems resulted in the sale to the Green Foundation.14 Word of all these problems was also out on the street, putting the Academy's market at risk. A Boston newspaper summed up as tactfully as possible:

We do not wish to create the impression that Phillips Academy has been in any way falling off in these later years, or that it has remained stationery.... [But] the matter is a relative one. Phillips Academy has been growing, but other institutions to which it stands vitally related, have been growing and changing much more rapidly.15

Just precisely where the blame lay was an open question. Bancroft thought at the root of it was "the insufficiency of the staff of [the] institution" ­ a reasonable conclusion given the faculty-student ratio.16 He also latched onto the advent of streetcars in the town of Andover, which he saw as importing problems and thereby interfering with his early efforts to "maintain a higher standard of self-restraint and moral worthiness."17 The

12 13

Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 228; Fuess, An Old New England School, 341.

"Report of the Principal," 1893, Bancroft papers, PAA Archives; Fuess, An Old New England School, 326, 335.

14 15 16 17

A. C. Perkins to Bancroft, 16 April 1883, Bancroft papers, PAA Archives. Boston Daily Advertiser, 12 February 1878, photocopy in PAA Archives. "Report of the Principal," Bancroft papers, 23 June 1890, PAA Archives. Fuess, An Old New England School, 383.


Academy's system of boarding students in town was also at fault. It was riddled with inconsistencies, with houses run by price-gouging landlords who exercised little oversight over their charges so long as the rent was paid.18 Whatever the causes, the Academy was in crisis. In resolving it, Bancroft was not content merely to address symptoms. College admissions, fundraising, student behavior, and faculty retention were all but surface manifestations of a far deeper problem. In the end, he determined that if the Academy were to survive, it would need to be fundamentally reoriented. At the bottom line, Cecil Bancroft deemed the orthodox Congregationalism of Samuel Phillips, so carefully preserved by John Adams and Samuel Taylor, insufficient to meet the needs of the modern age. Evangelical prayer meetings, revivals, Missionary Society activities, transdenominational agencies ­ whatever the individual merits of any of these, collectively they seemed unable to provide the moral glue to hold together the social order. The history of the Academy during Bancroft's tenure therefore centers on his efforts to implement the terms of the Gilded Age compromise with modernity in order to rescue one of the oldest boarding schools in America. Bancroft moved with prudent speed to correct the Academy's ills. Several smaller cottages were constructed on the campus to supplement the "Commons" in which many of the boys already lived, though development of a full-blown house system awaited the reforms of James Mackenzie at Lawrenceville (see chapter 11).19 Bancroft also took

Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 278-86, surveys the state of the Academy at the time of Bancroft's appointment.



Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 279.


advantage of the school's centennial celebration in 1878 to raise some money. He formed the Academy's first Alumni Association, an innovation which proved so fruitful that the trustees had to petition the state General Court for an increase in the Academy's holding power.20 He also began pressing the board of trustees to increase staffing at the Academy so as to be able to retain faculty with good wages and a reasonable workload.21 But the heart of Bancroft's reforms lay in how he conceived the role of Protestant faith at the Academy. Consistent with what Endicott Peabody was doing at Groton, Andover's treatment of its students began to reflect the emphasis on character-building which was a key component of the Gilded Age boarding schools. The stress which Samuel Taylor and his predecessors had placed on religious piety gradually gave way to an increased emphasis on morality and behavior. Character was deemed more important than faith, probity of greater value than proper doctrine. One of the first areas in which this shift became evident was that of discipline. Bancroft abandoned Taylor's oftendraconian policy of punishing according to infraction, leveling the same penalty for, say, smoking, regardless of the circumstances. Instead, the new headmaster focused on the student, taking into account the miscreant's past record and demonstrating a willingness to vary the penalty according to his particular needs and circumstances.22 Among other

Fuess, An Old New England School, 353, 358. The terms of the charter of 1781 had capped the amount the Academy could legally possess. The 1880 law raised the ceiling to $500,000 in real estate and $1,000,000 in personal property. James Burtchaell has made the point that in an era in which government revenues were largely derived from sources other than taxes, universities attempted to join the church as the only social institution with a claim on household income. Clearly the principle applies to the boarding schools as well. See James Tunstead Burtchaell, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from their Christian Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 820.

21 22


Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 230. Ibid., 304.


things, this had the happy result of ensuring that more students completed their tenure at the Academy without being expelled. (Taylor had expelled fully half of one senior class late in his tenure.)23 Underlying Bancroft's new policy lay a vastly differing conception of the role of God's grace in the lives of believers and in the collective life of the community. To Taylor, grace was available for the forgiveness of an individual's sins ­ and the development of his piety ­ but the potential of unlimited forgiveness for allowing further wrongdoing put at risk the moral order of the community. To Bancroft, however, such forgiveness was an important means to the greater end of character development in the boy. The Academy's earliest historian noted that he preferred "to provide for the student's protection against moral disorder" ­ as opposed to Taylor's belief that the moral order must be produced from sinful students.24 Taylor's idea that the entire community was responsible for, and could suffer from, moral shortcomings hearkened back to Puritan beliefs of the seventeenth century. Bancroft's emphasis on the individual was much more the property of the individualism of the twentieth. While Bancroft was willing to respond to wrongdoing with grace, he also attempted to be more proactive by forming the character of his boys through moral suasion. To try and correct the boys' language, for instance, he wrote a pamphlet entitled, "The Guilt of Profanity." His reasoning further highlights the differences between him and Taylor, for his willingness to appeal both to absolute principles and pragmatic outcomes marked a departure from Taylor's reliance solely on Biblically-based

23 24

Ibid., 197-98. Cited in Fuess, An Old New England School, 384. Punctuation corrected.


arguments. It was a decidedly modern approach. Bancroft's willingness to blend both religious and secular arguments to prove a point (and the attendant creation of often ambiguous boundaries) characterized the means by which he, Peabody, and others sought to uphold traditional moral norms while jettisoning the evangelical language in which they had heretofore been couched. In the pamphlet, Bancroft's began with an appeal to the external and absolute truth of divine law. The argument against profanity derived from the Bible, he wrote, noting that the third commandment which should be "decisive with every man." Internal authority should be compelling as well, for "reason and conscience" should forbid the practice. (Again, there is an emphasis on the individual here that also set Bancroft apart from his predecessors.) However, lest his readers fail to appreciate these arguments, based as they were on standards of absolute truth, Bancroft also resorted to arguments of a more pragmatic nature. Civil order ­ "the usages of good society" ­ forbade profanity, as did the laws of the land. So did a genteel upbringing: "by universal consent the man who uses profane expressions in the presence of cultivated women forfeits the character of a gentleman."25 This blending of religious ideology and practical application affords a window, however small, into Bancroft's broader thinking. He would uphold the traditional moral norms of New England Congregationalism ­ and more broadly, of Victorian piety ­ but with language and appeals to sources of authority which were decidedly "modern."26 Though there are no statistics on the subject of profanity, overall behavior at the

Cecil F.P. Bancroft, The Guilt of Profanity (Bellefonte Press Co., n.d.), passim, pamphlet in PAA Archives.





Academy appears to have gradually improved. In 1875, Bancroft was able to inform the board of trustees that "the discipline during the year has been in many respects better than last," though, perhaps tellingly, "there has [also] been less religious interest."27 A year later, he noted that "the general tone and order of the school has been improved," with relatively few cases of "serious discipline."28 By the year of the centennial celebration, he was able to write that academic "idleness and incompetence" was a far greater problem than "disorder and viciousness." As the memory and legacy of Taylor's 33 years began recede, so did the both rebellious student behavior, provoked by his draconian methods, and religious piety, spurred on by his zeal. Bancroft was not content to rely merely on moral suasion, though, and moved to implement the Gilded Age compromise by changing Academy practices in its core areas of the chapel and the curriculum. Under Taylor, Andover students had attended two services and their Bible recitations each Sunday. The fact that they were required to attend the same services as the Seminary students, listening to sermons pitched to the latter, had grated on them for some time.29 In 1863, even the Society of Inquiry, presumably a loyalist group, twice had offered for public debate the proposition, "Ought collegiate and academic students be compelled to attend religious worship." (The first debate went to the affirmative; the second resulted in a tie.)30 Bancroft didn't wait long to

27 28 29 30

"Report of the Principal, 1875," Bancroft papers, PAA Archives. "Report of the Principal, 1876," Bancroft papers, PAA Archives. Fuess, An Old New England School, 386.

Records of the Society of Inquiry, Andover, Mass., September 1861 - November 1872, notebook in PAA Archives; A. Graham Baldwin, The Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1833-1933 [1933], 10-11, pamphlet in PAA Archives.


address the matter. In his first year as principal, he created a separate afternoon service for the Academy boys.31 He also moved the Biblical studies recitations to a half hour on Monday, asking Academy faculty teach it rather than Seminary professors. He defended the change on the basis that it "secured better instruction, better work on the part of the boys, and made each teacher more specifically a religious teacher."32 However, something was clearly lost in the change to Monday, for the more secular day encouraged use of the time for more secular purposes, and faculty increasingly devoted the time to literature or current events.33 These changes only comprised a halfway house on the way to excising Bible recitation altogether from the program of study. The process by which this was accomplished was complex. Bancroft cast his lot firmly with educational progressives in determining to modernize the curriculum. In this respect, he was fully attuned to the changing demands of university education, and to the revision of the basic canon of knowledge which was occurring in the late nineteenth century. He implemented some changes immediately, introducing courses in 1874 in French, German, chemistry, and physics into the Academy's "Classical" curriculum (that is, the program of study for those preparing for college). History offerings, a subject increasingly required by the colleges, were introduced in the "English" curriculum (those preparing for direct entry into business). After 1880, he began making English courses available to the Classical

Minutes of the meeting of 17 March 1873, Phillips Academy Trustees' Records, Vol. I, 17781878. Bancroft actually implemented a decision already approved by the Board, an indication that the winds of change were blowing even before he arrived on campus.





"Report of the Principal, 1873-74," Trustee Records, PAA Archives; Allis, Youth From Every Fuess, An Old New England School, 385.


students and vice versa, a blurring of the lines which paved the way for the abolition of the English curriculum in 1891 and creation of a single program of study. In order to accommodate these additions, however, something would have to give, and one would have expected that the place of classical languages in the curriculum would have been under considerable pressure. However, Bancroft was acutely aware of the sensibilities of curricular conservatives, and so neither Greek or Latin were dropped entirely from the Classical curriculum. In fact, Greek was expanded from two years to three, and Latin initially made available to the English students before the abolition of that curriculum in 1891. If not the classics, then what? In order to ease the transition from the old curriculum to the new, Bancroft dropped the age-old courses in Mental and Moral Philosophy.34 Aside from the half-hour of Bible recitations with the headmaster on Monday mornings, there would be no formal religious training at Phillips Academy for the first time since its inception. The programmatic changes, however, were secondary to an entirely new approach that Bancroft was trying to implement. For what he was proposing was not merely a change in what was studied, but an adoption of an entirely new way of looking the relationship between learning and spirituality:

The habit of industry, the open mind, the love of order and duty, the satisfactions of personal worth, the appreciation of nature, art, literature, self-sacrifice, goodness, and virtue, the disciplined will, the reverent spirit, ­ these can come into the schools and make them what the colleges have been in so eminent a degree, nurseries of a true and manly honor, world-wide sympathies, graces of thought, feeling, and expression, of dignity, sobriety, and moral earnestness, and


"The Curriculum of Phillips Academy," 10-17.


of a thoughtful, Christian piety. Not what we study, but how: this is the main thing.35

"Not what we study, but how": perhaps no single phrase better sums up the transition from Taylor to Bancroft, and the broader shift that was underway in all the schools. Piety, which Taylor had measured by adherence to creeds and the ability to testify to the work of God in one's life, was no longer the primary goal. In Bancroft's new view, means was more important than content. In fact, explicit religious content sank to near-irrelevance since the attitude of the heart was more important than the content of the mind. Character, and its attendant qualities that Bancroft listed, was now the sole objective, and its development was not dependent on either attendance in church or the study of classical languages. Indeed, haggling over the chapel services was somewhat beside the point. "Religion seems to be an element in life, and not a separate department of it," Bancroft once wrote.36 In fact, if at some point, the principles of a well-formed character (such as "the open mind") actually appeared to clash with the old evangelical religion, then almost by necessity its development must occur outside of the chapel. But it was not just the goals that were different. Bancroft was relying on a far more expansive form of Protestant faith to achieve his ends. He did not see Faith as consisting merely of adherence to creeds and devotion to Jesus, but as a mindset in which one engaged the entire world as the arena of God's revelation. In other words, God was so nearly-always-present ­ "immanent" in the jargon of the day ­ that one could sense the

"The Service Rendered by the Secondary School: Address Delivered by Cecil F.P. Bancroft, Principal of Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.," pamphlet reprinted from the Proceedings of the American Institute of Instruction, at the Annual Meeting, July, 1891, copy in PAA Archives.



Fuess, An Old New England School, 418.


presence of the holy in almost any venue or endeavor.37 Bancroft listed "nature, art, literature, self-sacrifice, goodness, and virtue" as particular areas in which God showed himself to human beings, a view rooted in European romanticism. But the list could have gone on ad infinitum. Old-fashioned piety of devotion to Christ had been best developed in chapel, in Bible classes, in the meetings of the evangelical agencies. But this expansive reformulation of the faith and its goals almost by definition changed the venue, for now all human activities were pertinent to that end, and thus all undertakings were in some sense "religious." Curricular changes were therefore somewhat beside the point. So was sectarianism, and 1876 Bancroft allowed students to attend a local church of their choice, thus in effect "disestablishing" the Congregational church among the increasingly diverse student body.38 When services were held on campus, the content reflected the new emphasis on experiencing the faith rather than learning it. For one thing, the sermons in the new era were considerably shorter.39 Bancroft was also revising the dim view of human nature which had dominated Phillips Academy for a century. Just as Peabody was doing at Groton, he abandoned the evangelical view of man as unalterably sinful and preached a far sunnier doctrine. In 1883, for instance, he told a graduation ceremony at Phillips Exeter ­ whose constituencies had arrived at this conclusion nearly a half-century earlier and were quietly waiting for the rest of the boarding school world to catch up ­ that "If human experience

William R. Hutchison, The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992), 43-44, 75, 79. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 650, 657-61; Claude M. Fuess, Reminiscences of Claude M. Fuess, Columbia Oral History Project, 23 January 1962 (New York: The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 1962), 22-24. Copy in PAA Archives.

39 38


Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 297.


has taught anything, if man in action has displayed the wants and tendencies of his own being, this is manifest: that all his higher interest must be provided for, and the nobler his nature the more he wants." Education must incite "exalted enthusiasm of human good."40 Such opinions marked a decisive break with the Andover's past. The implications were considerable, for in a sense everything from classroom instruction to the rationale for required athletics to the scheduling of the boys' free time on Sunday afternoons hinged on the Academy's view of human nature. The prestigious and widely-read Harper's Weekly understood this. In an 1877 survey of "classical schools," the magazine noted that "The change from the autocratic rule of the master whose name was so long identified with the school means a change both in discipline and in methods of teaching."41 In fact, Bancroft appears to have mirrored parallel developments at Andover Seminary at the same time, where Daniel Day Williams has identified the intertwining of three traditions which made up "the Andover theology": an evangelical Calvinism, a high regard for the ideal of progress, and a romanticism which emphasized the subjective aspect of religious experience and the inherent goodness of human beings.42 With a cagy eye on the internal politics of the matter, Bancroft defended these changes to the board of trustees in traditional terms. Writing in 1879 after taking a tour of some other New England schools (the record is silent as to which ones), he explained that the chapel program still lay at the center of a good school:

Cecil F.P. Bancroft, "Address of Cecil F.P. Bancroft, PhD", Exercises at the Centennial Celebration of the Founding of Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, June 20 and 21, 1883 (Exeter, NH: William B. Morrill, 1884), 36. PAA Archives. [Horace E. Scudder], "A Group of Classical Schools," Harper' New Monthly Magazine, 55 s (Sept. 1877): 570.

42 41


Williams, The Andover Liberals [1941 ed.], 112-113.


[T]he chapel is the center of the school life. The Head Masters think uniformly, and many of the Masters, are clergymen. There is no attempt so far as I can learn to train specially boys as candidates for holy orders, but the Established Church, its ordinances, and credo, are recognized, and honored, and loved, and the religious life is represented and treated as exceeding in dignity and importance the intellectual life. The chapels are central in the affections of old boys, and enriched with memorials of the dead. I may be mistaken but it seems to me that the education was a Christian education, and religion was made paramount and attractive to an extent which we should do well to remember.43

But such rhetoric masked the fundamental transformation that he was trying to effect, for in a sense, the whole school was now chapel, and chapel suffused the school. Teaching, for instance, was a "divine act" because whatever was taught was by nature divine.44 To Bancroft, boundaries between chapel and the rest of the world were artificial and irrelevant. Not only did Bancroft reduce the formal teaching of the Protestant faith at Andover, but he worked with others to effect the same thing on a national scale. Bancroft was an integral part of Nicholas Murray Butler's Committee of Ten.45 The Committee's Report, published in 1894, proved to be a powerful impetus toward the modernization and standardization of secondary school curriculum across the country. By making it clear that prestigious colleges and universities desired some courses ­ modern foreign languages, natural sciences, and history among them ­ and did not desire others such as religion, the Committee of Ten's recommendation marked a significant step toward the creation of a commonly-recognized core of courses on the national level. The teaching of

43 44

"Report of the Principal, 1879," Trustee records, PAA Archives.

"Address delivered before the Massachusetts Classical and High School Teachers Association, Cambridge[, Massachusetts]", 7 April 1894, pamphlet in Bancroft papers, PAA Archives. For a full account of the Committee's deliberations and conclusion, see Theodore R. Sizer, Secondary Schools at The Turn of the Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964).



religion aside, Bancroft's participation in the effort highlights a fundamental difference between him and Taylor. Whereas Taylor had purposefully kept Andover an insular, isolated environment, Bancroft sought to integrate it into a wider educational world ­ or, perhaps, to conform that wider world to the changes he'd already implemented at Phillips Academy. Bancroft was at the forefront of public efforts to defend the Report after its release.46 His support was hardly surprising given his endeavors of the past twenty years. Top-down reform was quite acceptable to him. If the secondary schools could not rationalize themselves, then it was fine for the universities to do so: "The mountain is coming to Mahomet!" he exclaimed delightedly.47 Brushing aside objections that not all secondary school students were preparing for college work, Bancroft proclaimed:

Schools and teachers who for a generation have been pleading and arguing for relief from arbitrary, shifting and diverse requirements will feel that at last their contention has received national attention. Diversity of requirements...has contributed everywhere to the prevailing uncertainty as to what secondary education is, diminished the number of candidates for the higher education, and increased the proportion of candidates who go up hastily and imperfectly prepared."48

Bancroft was not entirely happy with the Report, as there is some evidence that he felt that it placed quality at risk in the march toward standardization.49 But overall, it justified, on a national level and by men of national reputation, precisely what he had

Bancroft himself had not been involved in any of the Conference Reports, but a member of the Academy Faculty, Clifford H. Moore, sat on the Greek Conference, an arrangement that would have been difficult without Bancroft's consent. Committee of Ten, Report, 9. Cecil F. P. Bancroft, "Report of the Committee of Ten: II. From the Point of View of the Endowed Academy," Educational Review, March 1894: 280-285.

48 49 47


Bancroft, "Report of the Committee of Ten," 282. Sizer, Secondary Schools at the Turn of the Century, 178.


been doing for twenty years: the modernization of the curriculum of Phillips Academy. A relatively minor, even incidental, aspect of that modernization involved the exclusion of religion from the curriculum, an initiative that the Report ­ and Principal Bancroft ­ fully supported. The faith would be inculcated by the attitude of the institution ­ "not what we study but how" ­ rather than the content of its courses. Thus as Bancroft went about reforming Phillips Academy, the Protestant faith that he practiced and implemented was simply one piece of the puzzle, no less but also no more important than curricular reform, faculty morale, or student discipline. The goal had changed: character development was now primary, evangelical piety discounted. On the surface, this reform changed the role of Protestantism in an ambiguous fashion. Critics could note that to say that Christian faith was no longer the most important element in the school certainly marked a decline from its historically privileged status. However, Bancroft was convinced that the faith had been liberated from its constrictive bonds of chapel and prayer meetings, and could now do its proper work in a wider venue. But at a deeper level, the arrangement papered over one of the cracks in the boarding schools' efforts to construct a porous wall with modernity. Bancroft still maintained that there was a epistemological connection between faith in God and the ability to know ­ "Faith is a far greater help to learning than learning can be to faith," was the way that he put it to a college graduation audience.50 But his arrangement had also opened up the possibility that knowledge and belief could be divorced. In relegating religious instruction to the margins of school curriculum, and in espousing such an expansive definition of "chapel,"

Cecil Bancroft, An Address at the First Commencement of Yankton College, June 8th, 1887 (Yankton, Dakota: Trustees of Yankton College, 1887), 14. PAA Archives.



there was an implicit epistemology in which knowledge might well be acquired without religious faith. If all activities were in a sense religious, perhaps none were. Neither Cecil Bancroft nor his contemporaries took off the wallpaper to explore this crack, and so its implications would not become apparent in the boarding schools ­ or in the wider academic community, for that matter ­ for some years. It remained for a subsequent generation to watch the crack grow into a fissure, ultimately erasing any distinction between what was learned and what was believed. The price that the Academy paid was the selling of its historical commitment to Congregationalism and the attendant wider evangelical Protestantism of the antebellum era. Bancroft publicly defended the benefits of this change. In an 1890 article that he wrote for an educational periodical, he defined "the good academy" as one which "calls out what is best" in its students. "It gives them contact with a great variety of minds; it does far more than to teach the art of learning lessons: the library, the reading room, the dining hall, the compass, the academy paper, the debating societies, prize competitions, the receptions, the Christian organization and prayer meetings." The linchpin came last: "There is no political pulling and bargaining for trustees and teachers. If properly organized there will be no obtrusive sectarianism."51 Whatever else Bancroft had done at Andover, his tenure as headmaster marked the disestablishment of Congregationalism as the driving force at Andover. In a sense, the school's historic bonds to the transdenominational Protestantism of the antebellum era had won out over its equallyhistoric sectarian commitment to Congregationalism. But the object of Andover's allegiance was quite different now, for the generic Protestantism of the Gilded Age was


Cecil F. P. Bancroft, "The Value of the Academy," Education (Nov. 1890), 186-88.


different in a number of crucial respects from the evangelical empire of the antebellum era. Character-building supersede piety, human goodness was favored over human sinfulness, and the experience of faith had replaced doctrinal instruction. Just as at Groton, the existing evangelical agencies at the school presented a potential obstacle to the new vision for the religious life at Andover, and as part of his strategy Bancroft would have to convert the Society of Inquiry to his purposes. This organization was the Academy's oldest, and as we have seen, its founding by Jedidiah Morse made it symbolic of the school's historic commitment to Congregationalism. In the decade prior to Bancroft's arrival at the Academy, the Society had remained true to its founding intent, devoting its meetings to such topics as "The Bible" and dedicating itself to the task of "unit[ing] the Christian element of the school."52 Membership was limited to professing Christians. But two developments in the Society of Inquiry had laid the groundwork for making it more compatible with the Gilded Age compromise with modernity. First, in 1849 the Society had begun operating a library along with the Philomathean Society and the Social Fraternity.53 Second, the Society had been for many years a forum for formal debate, engaging such questions as whether or not a church should "resort to dramatic entertainments, fairs, lotteries, etc to secure funds for the support of the Gospel" and

Minutes of the meeting of 28 June 1860, Constitution and Records of the Society of Inquiry, Sept. 1850-July 1861, notebook on PAA Archives; S[amuel] H. Dana, "Historical Reminiscences of the Society of Inquiry," in Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Exercises of the Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, 10. Pamphlet in PAA Archives. Minutes of the meeting of 16 Oct. 1848 and 28 June 1860, Constitution and Records of the Society of Inquiry, Sept. 1850-July 1861; Dana, "Historical Reminiscences of the Society of Inquiry," 9-10. Dana gives the date as 1848, but the minutes indicate a year earlier.




whether or not the "second advent of Christ" would be "a personal coming."54 Bancroft steered these endeavors toward enterprises which effectively stripped the Society of its evangelical content. In his first year he revised the Society's Constitution to open its membership to anyone, regardless of their Christian commitment.55 Some of the topics had more immediate relevance to Phillips Academy, such as the debate on the question, "That the English course of Phillips Academy prepare a man better for the duties of practical life than the classical course dose."56 The topics that the Society chose to debate took on a more secular turn as the members engaged such issues as divorce, the electoral college, women's suffrage, the two Napoleons, the European settlement in the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, and capital punishment. But a curious development occurred on the way to the jettisoning of the evangelical past. In 1882, toward the end of Bancroft's first decade as headmaster, the Society was the scene of a modest reaction to Bancroft's initiatives. That year, the Society published a formal statement which essentially disavowed the developments of its past decade, affirming that, "Whereas it was the original purpose of the Society to unite the Christian elements of the school, therefore we resolve that it is to the best interests of the Society to restore itself to its original basis."57 Secular debate topics were

Minutes of the meetings of 6 June 1871, Records of the Society of Inquiry, Phillips Academy, December 1872 - September 23, 1879, notebook in PAA Archives. Dana, "Historical Reminiscences of the Society of Inquiry," 10. Always attuned to the politics of the situation, he also increased the frequency of the Society's prayer meetings. One wonders if the spelling, which is preserved in the original, in itself determined the fate of the resolution. Minutes of the meetings of 18 April 1876 and 12 Nov. 1878, Records of the Society of Inquiry, Phillips Academy, December 1872 - September 23, 1879; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 299; Fuess, An Old New England School, 426-27. A. Graham Baldwin, The Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1833-1933 [1933], 13, pamphlet in PAA Archives.

57 56 55



dropped and prayer services reinstituted.58 Meetings began focusing on Biblically-based themes such as "Paul's Bible" and "The Wise Builder."59 A full-fledged revival appeared to be breaking out within the Society as membership doubled in the next four years..60 As the Society celebrated its semicentennial in 1883, attendees heard addresses on "the glory of the gospel of Christ," prayer meetings in the "Old Stone Academy", and conversions by candlelight, all presided over by Professor J.W. Churchill, one of the remaining conservatives at the Seminary. Another speaker surveyed the history of the Society's origins as the Missionary Fraternity, in which he waxed nostalgic for the days in which Andover "contained only twelve unconverted persons in this school" ­ a statistic less noteworthy for its accuracy than for its display of evident longing for an evangelical past.61 For several years, the Society of Inquiry was the scene of a conservative revival of evangelical-style religion at Phillips Andover. Not only was the Society transformed, but a second evangelical agency entered the campus when a chapter of the YMCA was established in 1888. With its link to the burgeoning Student Volunteer Missions movement of revivalism in New England, the YMCA was more reminiscent of an organization that Principal Adams would have allowed on campus in the 1830s than it was of one which originated on Bancroft's watch. The Y offered training in inductive

58 59

Ibid., 9-10; Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 299; Fuess, An Old New England School, 427-28.

Minutes of the meeting of 6 Dec. 1883, Records of the Society of Inquiry, Phillips Academy, Oct. 7, 1879 - May 17, 1885.

60 61

Dana, "Historical Reminiscences of the Society of Inquiry," 11, 16.

Minutes for the meeting of 17 June 1883, Records of the Society of Inquiry, Phillips Academy, Oct. 7, 1879 - May 17, 1885, notebook in PAA Archives.


Bible study, a method of studying the Bible which hearkened back to the assumptions of Scottish Common Sense Realism in presuming that its common truths would be evident to anyone who simply read the text ­ an approach was grounded in significantly different epistemological assumptions than, say, Bancroft's belief in the worth of deductive science courses. The YMCA also imbued students in decidedly evangelical values: topics of the prayer meetings for the 1890-91 school year included "Whole-hearted service of God" (based on Matthew 6:33), "Our Life a Warfare (Ephesians 6:10-11), and "God's Gift to Us in the Bible" (II Peter 1:16-21). The Andover chapters of both the Society of Inquiry and the YMCA also explicitly associated themselves with the Northfield Conferences, the summer meetings at Dwight L. Moody's evangelical school in western Massachusetts.62 The revival of the Society of Inquiry and the introduction of the YMCA raise the question of just what was happening to Bancroft's revolution and the role of conservative Protestantism at Phillips Academy after the new headmaster's first decade. For even as Bancroft attempted to implement modernist Protestantism at the school, evangelical religion proved to be remarkably enduring. Taken as a whole, these developments serve as reminders that institutional reform and shifts in the mission and purpose of a boarding school are not always linear developments. The culture which Bancroft was seeking to reform was deeply rooted in the Academy's past. More than any of the schools in this study (with the possible exception of Lawrenceville), Andover possessed a strong evangelical heritage, and it proved to be a legacy that wasn't lightly or easily discarded.

Hand-Book Presented by the Society of Inquiry and the Young Men' Christian Association of s Phillips Academy, [1890-1891], 1-3, 6-10, 13. Pamphlet in PAA Archives. Moody and the development of Mount Hermon will be considered in chapter 10.



Clearly after Bancroft had reduced the chapel requirement and abolished the formal teaching of the faith, conservative elements within the school would still forge ties to Gilded Age revivalist agencies. The larger picture, however, would indicate that the activities of the Society of Inquiry and the YMCA were nevertheless vestigal, reminders of an evangelical past but little able to affect the larger reforms that Bancroft was implementing. In part, this is because the Society and the Y bought into them. "Make your first aim that of a strong character," advised the 1897-98 Hand-Book jointly issued by the two organizations.63 But in fact, Cecil Bancroft was having his way on a wide range of fronts at Phillips Andover. By the time the YMCA was permitted a place on the campus in 1888, the Academy's purposes had already been decisively shifted to the twin pillars of character development and preparation for all colleges. Two years later, the curriculum was decisively revised with the merger of the Classical and English curricula ­ and with no additional courses in religion. Taken in context, the conservative revival of religion within the Society of Inquiry and the YMCA may be better understood as a walling off of evangelical religion at Andover, sociological museums of antiquated practices still beloved but no longer deemed sensible or pertinent to the real business of the school. In a fairly short time, Cecil Bancroft had decisively shifted the larger purposes of the Academy. While its evangelical past was not lightly forgotten, it could be sequestered in the student organizations, meeting weekly under the watchful eye of the headmaster. The voluntary

Hand-Book Presented by the Society of Inquiry and the Young Men' Christian Association of s Phillips Academy, [1897-98], 4. Booklet in PAA Archives.



organizations offered a place where the old-fashioned gospel could be preached and practiced voluntarily, but the larger purposes of Andover had changed. This was reflected in the content of the chapel services required of the students. Two of the morning chapel services in 1893 featured talks on the Bible. While hardly noteworthy in and of itself, what is curious is the fact that they were sponsored by what Bancroft called "the literary [probably Philomathean] society." No student would have missed the implication that however venerated the Bible might be, it was little more than another form of literature.64 The services were also increasingly likely to be devoted to matters which, if they were termed "religious," marked an expansive definition of the word. While sources of religious passion are many and varied, there is little doubt from the following student account of a chapel service that its nature had changed significantly from evangelical Andover of ages past:

With the last stroke of the bell every one rose to join in the doxology...After reading from the scriptures, a prayer, and a hymn, Dr. Bancroft arose. In an instant all was hushed. "This morning," he began, "we enter upon the one hundred and twenty-fourth year in our history; and I hope we have all come together determined to make it better if possible, as regards scholarship, undergraduate activities, and the moral tone of the school, than those which have gone before....You have a perfect right to be...proud of belonging to the greatest school in America; but see to it that you justify your pride by living up to traditions and by doing all in your power to conserve and increase our just cause for pride...." Now rose up from one of the foremost benches a powerfully built fellow with fine, manly bearing. It was Kurtz, the football captain. Turning about he faced the school. "Fellows," said he, "football season begins this afternoon. Only three men from last year's team are back and we need all the new material we can get.... Now, everyone come out who possibly can....We've got to win from Exeter this year, and the only way to do it is to begin to-day..." No sooner was Kurtz seated than a fellow sitting near him leaped up on his bench and raised his hand. "Now, fellows," he cried, "a long cheer for Captain Kurtz, and get into it! Are you ready? One, two, three-64

[Cecil F.B. Bancroft], "Report of the Principal," 1893. PAA Archives.


"A-ndover! A-ndover! A-ndover! Rah, rah, rah! Rah, rah, rah! A-ndover! A-ndover! A-ndover! Kurtz! Kurtz! Kurtz! Everyone, standing on his feet and straining his lungs had joined in that cheer. It was, I thought, the most inspiring moment I had ever known.65

This reorientation of the Academy's purposes required an explanation to the literate New England public which comprised the primary market of the school, and so Bancroft and his colleagues wrote several articles on Andover through the 1880s and 1890s. In 1885, Edward Coy, a member of the Academy faculty who later became the first headmaster of Hotchkiss, wrote an overview of the school's history which minimized the changes. He reminded his readers that "The solemn injunctions of Judge Phillips have never been forgotten or ignored" ­ a disclaimer which raises the possibility that he thought his target audience believed otherwise. Andover in the 1880s, he wrote, continued to be true to the founding principles of Judge Phillips, for it still held to his belief that "all true culture must include and culminate in religious culture." However, Coy's idea of "religious culture" could not have been more different from Phillips's. Coy saw no continuity between Phillips and his successors, maintaining that "Dr. Adams was an extremist in his interpretation of Judge Phillips's aims" and that Sam Taylor believed "that the ends aimed at by the founders... can be best reached by the unobtrusive presence of a profound moral thoughtfulness pervading the whole life of the school." In other words, Taylor's goals for his students were to "develop an intelligent moral sense." However much "thoughtfulness" and "moral sense" Taylor's evangelical faith might have produced, Coy's reductionism is better understood as a heavy-handed attempt to justify

Ewer Struly, My Three Years at Andover (Boston: Mayhew, 1908), 20-25. Fuess, An Old New England School, 308, identifies the author as Lee J. Perrin, who graduated in 1903.



the present than it was a attempt to accurately depict the past. The gentler more modernist Protestantism had always been at Andover.66 Bancroft also reinterpreted the past to justify his endeavors. He produced an overview of the Academy for a popular educational journal which was noteworthy less for what it said than for what was omitted: his survey of the Academy after 20 years as its head is noteworthy for its near-total lack of mention of the religious purposes of the school.67 Though it must be admitted that headmasters are rarely prone to self-criticism in such documents, Bancroft's reports to the board of trustees evince satisfaction with the changes he'd implemented. Initially he maintained that the changes in the religious services and curriculum had improved the spiritual life of the Academy. The new chapel which had been built in 1878 "was a means of grace" and the "Christian boys have been growing in Christian manhood," he said, though he lamented the lack of a "marked religious movement in the whole school."68 However, the sameness and constancy of the faith in the lives of many of the boys bothered him, as did the failure of "which members who have no very decided Christian character when they come to us" to make any profession of faith.69 In several reports he mentioned that the school year had seen "several hopeful conversions," and reported that the 1883 reorganization of the Society of

Edward Coy, "A History of Phillips Academy Andover," The Phillips Bulletin VI:1 (Oct. 1910), 23, 26. The original article was published in The New Englander in 1885. Cecil F. P. Bancroft, "Historic Secondary Schools: Phillips Academy, " in Education: A Monthly Magazine, XIV:10 (June 1894), 629-632, copy in PAA Archives.

68 69 67


"Report of the Principal," 1878, PAA Archives. "Report of the Principal," 1880, PAA Archives.


Inquiry appears to have had good effect as well. 70 By 1888, he proudly announced, that "the religious life has been more active and pervasive, more controlling than I have ever known before," with meetings of the Society of Inquiry numbering in the hundreds. A ten-day series of talks by an alumnus had also made the chapel services "unusually attractive" and, though "there has been no sense of revival," a number of the boys "have been very active in the religious work since, and have counted themselves with our church or their home church."71 After that, however, mention of religion occurs less and less frequently, often in general platitudes ­ the Academy's religious life was "strong and thoughtful," he told the board in 1891 ­ as curriculum, athletics and finances were of greatest concern.72 In the end, Cecil Bancroft had done nothing less than retool Andover's Protestant faith in preparation for the twentieth century. He had jettisoned the Academy's historic commitment to the Congregationalist denomination as well as its broader transdenominational evangelicalism, in favor of a gentler, less strident version of the faith which emphasized moral development over piety and doctrine. There were a number of ramifications of these changes, the most significant of which were not evident at the time. One of the most immediate results was to revolutionize Andover's relationship with Harvard College. For most of its existence, it will be recalled, Andover had purposely held Harvard at arm's length, perceiving a fundamental incompatibility with the

"Report of the Principal," 1884; "Report of the Principal," 1885; "Report of the Principal," 1887, PAA Archives; "Report of the Principal," 1883, PAA Archives. The quote is also reproduced in Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 288, 300.

71 72


"Report of the Principal," 25 June 1888; Fuess, An Old New England School, 386. "Report of the Principal," 1891 and 1892, PAA Archives.


Unitarianism of Cambridge. The vehemence with which Samuel Taylor had pursued this policy made the centennial celebration seven years after his death all the more noteworthy, for no less a personage than Harvard President Charles W. Eliot ­ "a Unitarian and an idealist," according to one historian who later served as the Academy's headmaster ­ was enlisted to celebrate the occasion.73 Eliot was blunt in his assessment of the situation, telling the celebrants that he had

no peculiar interest in the denomination to which the founders of this academy sought to attach it forever, except that, like all lovers of freedom, I am grateful to it for its resistance to every form of ecclesiasticism and priestcraft, and for all the gallant service it has rendered to the cause of civil, as well as religious, liberty. Before this audience frankness requires me to say further, that there is probably not one of the distinctive tenets of orthodox Congregationalists, not one of the doctrines which characterize them as a sect, which I should personally accept.74

Nevertheless, Eliot found the emergent modernism of Bancroft's Protestant faith more to his liking, telling his listeners that "...I do rejoice that the hundreds of boys who gather here ... come under the influence of a vigorous branch of the Christian church, and receive instruction in their duties and responsibilities which is given with all the weight of sincere conviction and consistent example."75 It was not a speech which would hearten traditionalists, but Eliot and Bancroft were looking to the future and not to the past. Thereafter, increasing numbers of Andover students began to attend Harvard. The curricular changes that Bancroft implemented allowed him to tell the board in 1877 for the first time in the Academy's history that "the programme of studies... covers all the

73 74

Sizer, Secondary Schools at the Turn of the Century, 78.

Centennial Celebration of the Founding of Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.,: Wednesday and Thursday, June 5 and 6, 1878, pamphlet in PAA Archives; also quoted in Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 271.


Centennial Celebration pamphlet.


subjects ­ and amounts ­ required for Harvard College." Always with an eye to his conservative flank, Bancroft was careful to sugarcoat a pill which conservatives would have found bitter, including in the same report news that in the past year "There was a good degree of religious interest in the [illegible] and some of our best men have given pleasing evidence of a renewed life. There has been activity and faithfulness on the part of the Christians and profligate students have been very much discountenanced and restrained."76 Yet there remained considerable ambiguity in the arrangement, for despite the rearranged role of the Protestant faith at Andover, the Academy continued to attract students of fairly traditional Protestant views. As late as 1885, Bancroft would note the strong influence of the Congregationalist tradition, telling the board that "As compared with the patronage at Exeter, it appears that we have a much larger proportion from Presbyterian and Congregationalist families than they, and our quota from Episcopal, Catholic, and other denominations is much less. We have almost no patronage from Methodist, Unitarian, and Universalist families."77 Bancroft's successor, Alfred E. Stearns, expressed his conviction that his predecessor's era had included "a great many more boys [who] came to school... who were accustomed to prayer meeting" ­ in other words, who were comfortable with the evangelical faith which had lain at the heart of the Academy for generations.78 In other words, while a Unitarian such as Eliot could place

76 77 78

"Report of the Principal," 19 June 1877, PAA Archives. "Report of the Principal," 22 June 1885; also quoted in Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 288.

Alfred E. Stearns, "Present Day Claims of Inquiry," Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Exercises of the Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, 23-26, pamphlet in PAA Archives.


his imprimatur on the Academy, students of a more traditional faith could also feel comfortable there as well. Two alumni graduated by the school during Bancroft's tenure particularly highlight the ambiguous results of his reforms and the fluidity of the Gilded Age Protestant faith at Andover. The first, Charles Speer, entered Phillips Academy in 1883, where over the next two years he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Henry L. Stimson, future Secretary of War. He found it demanding, especially Latin; he also found it intensely rewarding, with a vast range of experiences that his upbringing in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, had not afforded him. His religious experience at the Academy, however, was mixed. Like Charles Taft, he remembered chapel attendance and "sermons which we did not understand." But he also remembered the influence of the Seminary and, quite vividly, "the doctrinal strife that raged within and without."79 Bancroft impressed him as a man who always took off his hat in passing students, "as though in recognition of a future President of the United States."80 His exposure to the liberal evangelicalism of the Seminary and of Bancroft, however, was a formative influence in the development of his moderate views and non-judgmental theology.81

W. Reginald Wheeler, A Man Sent From God: A Biography of Robert E. Speer (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1956), 38.

80 81


Ibid., 39.

See Bradley J. Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and Moderates (New York: Oxford, 1991), 184-185. Speer's role in the fortunes of the revivalist Protestantism of Mount Hermon will be considered in chapter 12.


The second alumnus was Charles Sheldon, who graduated in 1879.82 He, too, was strongly impressed by Bancroft, regarding the principal with "a feeling of awe and respect, mingled often with a degree of wholesome fear."83 One of a number of boys on scholarship, Sheldon survived his work of pumping the organ during the Sunday services despite an incident in which he fell asleep and missed the preacher's command to commence the closing hymn.84 Like Speer, Sheldon also attained prominence as a Protestant spokesman in the early twentieth century. His widely popular volume In His Steps was published in 1896 and sold perhaps as many as 25 million copies.85 The volume was in fact the first to widely popularize the question, "What would Jesus Do?", and Shelton's answer offered a bland mix of sentiment and social ethics to a generation of Protestants of numerous theological stripes.86

Timothy Miller, Following In His Steps: A Biography of Charles M. Sheldon (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987), 11-14. Charles M. Sheldon, Charles M. Sheldon: His Life Story (New York: George H. Doran, 1925), 45; Charles Sheldon to C.F.P. Bancroft, 12 May 1891, PAA Archives.

84 Sheldon, Charles M. Sheldon, 47-49. Sheldon's scholarship is an indication of Andover's historically strong commitment to education of all social classes and another respect in which it differed from Groton. 83


Miller, Following In His Steps, 71; The New York Times Magazine, 3 Dec. 1939, n.p. Sheldon papers, PAA Archives; Time, n.d., n.p. photocopy in Sheldon file, PAA Archives; Publishers' Weekly, 2 March 1946, p. 1384, photocopy in Sheldon file, PAA Archives; New York Herald Tribune, 25 February 1946, photocopy in Sheldon file, PAA Archives. At the time, the only book that had sold more copies in its lifetime was Uncle Tom' Cabin, part of which had been written at Andover while Harriet Beecher Stowe's s husband taught at the Seminary. Fuess, Reminiscences, 193. In 1930, Bruce Barton estimated that the book had sold some 23 million copies, though a literary critic, Frank L. Mott, maintained that the figure was closer to six million; see Ferenc Morton Szasz, The Divided Mind of Protestant America, 1880-1930 (University, AL: University of Alabama Press) , 56-57. Ferenc M. Szasz, The Divided Mind of Protestant America (University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1982), 56. See also The Presbyterian, 21 March 1900, n.p., photocopy in Sheldon file, PAA Archives.




While both Speer and Sheldon ultimately were identified with theological modernism, they also displayed elements of a moderate evangelicalism. Together with the enduring numbers of traditional Congregationalists among the students, they illustrate not only the irenic nature of Bancroft's reforms, but the limits of them as well. Perhaps more importantly, they illustrate the enduring nature of evangelicalism at the Academy, and the emergence of a moderate ­ critics might say "tempered" ­ evangelical faith which, though less strident than that of Taylor, still held to long-established norms of Protestant theology. Thus in recasting the role of Protestant faith at Andover, Bancroft had, perhaps intentionally, created a place which tolerated a fairly wide range of theological views. Under his eye, the evangelicalism of Phillips Academy had been tempered, adapting itself to the rise of theological modernism with a live-and-let-liveattitude which allowed both to co-exist side by side in what amounted to a fin-de-siecle era for American Protestantism.87 It could receive the imprimatur of the Unitarian Eliot, accommodate students from its traditional market base, and produce graduates such as Speer and Sheldon.88 Such toleration was admirable, yet there was no mistaking the fact that the Protestant faith was in many ways now walled off from significant portions of the Academy's life, excised from the curriculum and isolated in the Society of Inquiry and the YMCA. Bancroft himself expressed approval of the results, telling the board toward the end of his tenure that he had "renewed confidence in the principles which lie at the

For an analysis of how traditional and early modernist Protestantism co-existed during this period, see Grant Wacker, "The Holy Spirit and the Spirit of the Age in American Protestantism, 18801910," The Journal of American History 71:1 (June 1985), 45-62. The Academy appears to have mirrored developments at the Seminary, where an "evangelical liberalism" developed; see Williams, The Andover Liberals [1941 ed.], 64-83.

88 87


basis of the Academy, and in the remarkable vitality with which them have been sustained amid the changing conditions of the last one hundred and fifteen years."89 However, he must have recognized the ambiguity in what he created, for he also expressed reservations as to whether or not the changes had created too much of a break with the past:

To maintain the standards of proficiency with these large numbers is at once more easy [sic] and more difficult. To maintain the standards of deportments and decorum, of industry and moral tone, require increasing vigilance and assiduity. The multiplication of administrative details resulting from an addition of 300 pupils to the then 200 of 20 years ago is very large. The opportunities to escape immediate supervision are multiplied, and the school is forced to take on certain college features which remove it still farther from the category of boarding schools, family schools, and the like. The tendency at present in the new schools established is to move in the other direction and to make the schools more nearly conventional. But Andover has made a success after another method, and it ought not to break with its traditions, rules, experience and the changed conditions of our society, and of our education make the demand urgent and plain. My present anxiety is to provide for the students protection against moral disorder, and to further the Christian influences of the school and the surrounding community.90

Here was the heart of the matter. The question that hung in the air, to which he never gave a full answer, was whether the Gilded Age compromise with modernity could compel behavior and form community as the antebellum evangelicalism had done. There was no doubt that it was compatible with changing norms of education, with evolving epistemology, and with emergent university imperatives. But the open question ­ for all boarding schools and not just Andover ­ was whether it could do that and still "further the Christian influences of the school and the surrounding community." In the absence of hard evidence, it remained possible that the antebellum religion of the school had simply

89 90

"Report of the Principal," 1893, PAA Archives. "Report of the Principal," 1894, PAA Archives. Punctuation corrected from the original.


worked better. Only in the thirty years after Bancroft's death in 1901 would the answer become fully apparent to a new generation of boarding school headmasters. The first of that generation, Alfred E. Stearns, was appointed principal after a brief interim period following Bancroft's death in 1901. Stearns came from disparate personal heritage: two of his great-grandfathers, Jonathan French and Josiah Stearns, had been on the very first Academy Board, while Cecil Bancroft was his uncle.91 Stearns's policies reflected this mix: he was a conservative reformer who tried to modify the Gilded Age compromise with modernity that Bancroft had initiated in the Academy's religious life. Hardly a revivalist or evangelical, he was not about to restore the Andover of Samuel Taylor or John Adams. But he also recognized that a Protestantism defined as omnipresent ran the risk of being perceived as absent. To Stearns, the Christian faith was more substantive that that. "If we had to give up religion here," he wrote early in his tenure, " I should feel that we had knocked the bottom completely out of all that is of prime interest and concern to me in connection with the responsibilities and opportunities that I have in my job as Headmaster."92 But in some respects, there was no going back. The modernism which Bancroft had unleashed was in some respects irresistible, particularly in its compatibility with the changing role of the faith at the college and university level ­ religion, for instance, would never again reside at the core of a collegepreparatory curriculum ­ that even a large personality such as Stearns could not sail dead into the wind even had he wanted to. But a restoration of sorts could proceed in order to provide a more specific role for the Protestant faith into a more central role at Phillips

91 92

Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 315-316, 348. Ibid., 335-36.


Academy than it had held in the years since 1873. Alfred Stearns presided over a tempered form of Bancroft's reforms which produced a moderate evangelicalism on Andover hill. Stearns's first move was to restore the teaching of the faith to the curriculum. His solution to the problem of time ­ you can't teach everything in a seven-hour class day ­ was novel, blending formal requirements and coursework with voluntary study of the Bible and contemporary issues. Two courses were replaced in order to make room for a course on the Bible. Greek was made optional, disestablishing a classical language which had held a privileged place in the curriculum ever since the founding of the Academy. So was Ancient History, a relatively new course (though a clear symbol of residual attachment to the old canon) which had been slipped into the curriculum during the brief interim between Bancroft and Stearns.93 The teaching of the Bible hardly represented a wholesale restoration of the old regime, for its emphasis was "purely literary in character," in stark contrast to the avowedly evangelistic manner in which Adams and Taylor had taught the book. However, Stearns clearly recognized the element of moral development inherent in the subject, and so supplemented it with voluntary "discussion groups" designed to foment a more personal interaction between the boys and the Scriptures. The newly created Phillips Bulletin informed the Academy constituency that the boys could now "think for themselves on important questions."94 This appeal to volunteerism was successful, such that by 1910 over 200 students were enrolled, a number which remained constant for at least several years. Stearns himself taught one of

93 94

"The Curriculum of Phillips Academy," The Phillips Bulletin VII:3 (April 1913), 16. The Phillips Bulletin I:3 (April 1907), 6; The Phillips Bulletin III:1 (Jan. 1909, 5.


the courses on "The Life of Christ," thus restoring to the office of the headmaster the role of formal religious instruction of the students. Other topics included "The Life of Paul," "Great Missionaries of the Church", "Christ's Ideals", and "Luther's Ideals" ­ the last demonstrating the tenacity with which the Reformed heritage of the Academy endured. One of the textbooks employed was The Principles of Jesus, authored by the alumnus Robert Speer.95 Stearns also enlisted the Society of Inquiry in this effort to supplement the modest amount of required instruction with voluntary religious activity. The Society became the venue for personal application of the coursework, a place which one of its student leaders (in a decidedly evangelical manner) explained afforded "to a student an opportunity to become a Christian."96 In the process, the Society abandoned its age-old practice of hearing invited speakers; its emphasis now was on "free discussion of moral and religious questions by all present."97 This emphasis on voluntary participation served Stearns well as he sought to reform the Sunday chapel services. The idea of compelling students to attend these services was increasingly under fire as colleges abandoned the practice in the first decade of the new century.98 A graduate of Amherst College, Stearns had admitted to the shortcomings of required attendance. "In many institutions the services have been

95 96

The Phillips Bulletin IV:2 (Jan. 1910), 7; The Phillips Bulletin, VI:2 (Jan. 1912), 13.

Charles F. Thwing, "Three Services of the Society of Inquiry," Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Exercises of the Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, [1908], pamphlet in PAA Archives. The Phillips Bulletin I:3 (April 1907), 6. The Phillips Bulletin, VI:2 (Jan. 1912), 14-15, gives attendance figures for the Society's meetings. Daniel Coit Gilman, for instance, had established voluntary chapel services at Johns Hopkins in 1883; see George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford, 1994), 152.

98 97


nothing short of a travesty on religion, and the boys have naturally rebelled," he wrote as a member of an alumni committee. However, "[w]here the services have been kept on a truly spiritual level, I have never been able to find any vigorous opposition on the part of the student body as a whole."99 The key, then, was the nature of the Sunday service. Stearns recognized that Bancroft's retention of the Sunday afternoon service had been the final vestigial gasp of the nineteenth-century's mode of expression of piety, and that it was increasingly regarded as burdensome by the boys. He thus moved quickly to end the practice, replacing the full service with a half-hour Vespers service at 5:15 in the afternoon. The move was immensely popular among the students, for as Stearns told his mother, it gave them "a solid afternoon at their disposal."100 He also began giving the students a role in conducting the services.101 Another way in which Stearns sought to implement a tempered evangelicalism at Andover lay in his strengthening of the Academy's ties with the Northfield Conferences and the YMCA. In many respects this was an easy match, for both organizations were beginning to lessen their evangelical emphases and to embrace a modernist emphasis on social reform which eventually evolved into the Social Gospel, thus mirroring Andover's own experience.102 The mutual affinity was also strengthened by the fact that several Andover alumni (including the Forrest Gump-like Speer) were involved in both


Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 335-36. Alfred E. Stearns to his mother, 25 Sept. 1904, Stearns papers, PAA Archives. Fuess, An Old New England School, 428.

100 101 102

See David P. Setran, "Student Religious Life in the `Era of Secularization:' The Intercollegiate YMCA, 1877-1940," History of Higher Education Annual, forthcoming.


organizations, so Stearns could forge closer ties in the name of school loyalty.103 In order to accomplish this, one of Stearns's first actions after his appointment as headmaster was to reorganize the Society of Inquiry yet again. This time it adopted a formal affiliation with the YMCA, and began a practice of regularly sending delegates to the convention of the Student Volunteer Movement.104 This decision marked a clear disavowal of Bancroft's practice of holding these parachurch organizations at arms' length, and neatly illustrates the relatively conservative nature of the tempered evangelicalism of Stearns. The relationship was strengthened with the 1912 election of Robert Speer to the Academy board of trustees. His status as both an alumnus of the school and a veteran of the Student Volunteer Movement perfectly symbolized both the Academy's and the SVM's embrace of a moderate brand of evangelical Protestantism.105 These changes were accompanied by what had by now become an almost inevitable question, that of justifying the existence of the Seminary as part of Phillips Academy's operations. As we have seen, for much of the nineteenth century the work of the Seminary had assumed greater priority than that of the Academy as the board of trustees allocated the common resources disproportionately to the high calling of ministerial preparation for the Congregational Church. Even as late as 1890, the Seminary had nine professors, two lecturers and a librarian for 48 students, compared

In 1911, E.C. Carter '96 served as the Executive Secretary of the Northfield Conference, while H.H. Tweedy '87 and Robert Speer both taught classes at the conference. The Andover delegation to the Conferences was the school's largest since 1896. The Phillips Bulletin VI:1 (Oct. 1911), 8.

104 105


The Phillips Bulletin I:1 (August 1906), 12.

"The Fall Trustee Meeting," The Phillips Bulletin VI:2 (Jan. 1912), 8; Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy, 181-208.


with the Academy's 12 teachers who were responsible for 360 students.106 But these numbers also displayed the Seminary's fundamental weakness: it was having difficulty attracting students. As Bancroft's reforms grew the Academy, it had become increasingly difficult to justify using Academy tuition revenues to subsidize the declining Seminary. Furthermore, as Bancroft began housing students in Seminary dormitories in his efforts to grapple with the boarding house problem, the Academy was quite literally crowding out the ministerial school.107 But the heart of the problem was neither financial nor logistical. The fact of the matter was that Bancroft's disestablishment of Congregationalism had ended the ideological argument for ties between the two institutions. Once upon a time, the hopedfor career path for an Andover boy would have taken him from the Academy to Yale to Andover Seminary, and thence into a Congregational pulpit. But as Bancroft discounted the school's historic Congregationalism, the two missions became increasingly incompatible. Even the pragmatic argument for the Seminary's presence, that of employing its professors as preachers for the Sunday services, had been ended with Stearns's decision to end the long afternoon service. Daniel Day Williams has also noted that after about 1888, Seminary professors, led by William Jewitt Tucker, grew more radical in their critique of the economic order and social class relations. It grew into an ideology which flirted with socialism. However liberal Bancroft's theology was, this might have been too extreme for a man whose writings display little concern for social

106 107

Allis, Youth From Every Quarter, 298. Fuess, An Old New England School, 508.


work and the wider society. The Seminary was outrunning its more conservative counterpart.108 The trustees therefore determined to remove the Seminary from Andover hill. Ironically enough, it would relocate to Cambridge, close by the Harvard Divinity School whose turn to Unitarianism during the Henry Ware controversy had originally sparked Andover's creation.109 Proponents of the move hoped that the new urban location would attract students. It would also afford more opportunities for Seminary students to engage "witness something of life's darker side" in urban ministry ­ a specious argument in light of the needs local to Andover.110 The split would also allow the Seminary to develop a board of trustees solely devoted to its own ends.111 Bancroft had loosed the forces which led to the split of the two institutions, but Stearns presided over its conclusion. The development illustrates the limits of Stearns's counterrevolution. However much he sought to restore the Protestant faith to a more central role at the Academy, his emphasis on volunteerism was nonsectarian; denominational attachment was no longer a necessary, or even desirable, part of the mission and purpose of Phillips Academy. The Seminary was now an archaic relic of a distant past, symbolic in memory (though no longer in fact) of the Academy's heritage of evangelical religion. To be sure, the financial pressures were real and the Seminary's advocates appeared to be just as interested in an institutional divorce as was the

108 109 110 111

Williams, The Andover Liberals [1941 ed.], 139-149. Ibid., 509-510. The Phillips Bulletin II:3 (April 1908), 1-2. "Theological Seminary to Move to Cambridge," The Phillips Bulletin II:3 (April 1908), 1.


Academy. But in the end it was deemed in the best interests of modernist religion as well as financial accounting to remove the Seminary. However much Stearns might attempt to reverse Bancroft's reforms, he would do so by implementing modernist Protestantism of the twentieth century and not by reviving Congregationalism of the nineteenth.112 Events of such a nature rarely have particular dates attached to them, but the board of trustees formally approved the Seminary's move on March 12, 1908. In addition to effecting the final disestablishment of Congregationalism at Andover, the removal of the Seminary had several practical effects. First, with the purchase of the Seminary buildings, Academy boys could almost all be housed in Academy dormitories, thus approaching a final resolution of the boarding house problem which had so bedeviled Bancroft.113 Second, with the departure of the Seminary professors who had graced the pulpit each Sunday, the Academy church services now began to feature visiting preachers. (Stearns, who had studied at Andover Seminary, also preached on a regular basis.) Those visitors were increasingly likely to come from other boarding schools ­ Sherrod Billings of Groton was among the first and Samuel Dana of

The process of removing the Seminary was legally complex, involving as it did splitting the board of trustees, purchase of the Seminary land, and ultimately revising the charter which had established both institutions. It was estimated at the time that Phillips Academy had to raise some $200,000 to $250,000 to buy out the Seminary land, perhaps doubling what Fuess termed "the school's material equipment." See "Andover Theological Seminary," The Phillips Bulletin I:2 (Jan. 1907), 4-5; The Phillips Bulletin I:3 (April 1907), 6; The Phillips Bulletin II:3 (April 1908), [no page]; The Phillips Bulletin, II:4 (September 1908, 1; Claude M. Fuess, "Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts," The School Review: A Journal of Secondary Education, XXII:2 (Feb. 1914), 74.




Allis, Youth From Every School, 383. The buildings were Bartlet and Phillips (now Foxcroft)


Exeter appeared frequently. Other visitors included President Eliot of Harvard, alumnus Speer, and W.T. Grenfell, a medical missionary.114 This latter development affected all the schools and not just Andover. This kind of pulpit-sharing became increasingly common among all six of the schools: Headmaster James Mackenzie of Lawrenceville visited Exeter, Endicott Peabody of Groton regularly visited St. Paul's and Samuel S. Drury of St. Paul's returned the favor, and Billings and Dana came to Andover.115 The headmasters of the schools were increasingly likely to engage in correspondence with their counterparts on a wide range of policy issues. This cross-fertilization offers an important clue about the nature of the schools in the twentieth century. Throughout the nineteenth century, denominational distinctives been the single most significant factor in marking each institution as separate and distinctive from the others. Andover's Congregationalism was of an entirely different sort than Exeter's commitment to Unitarianism; Lawrenceville's Old School Presbyterian connections were entirely different from both of those; Mount Hermon's transdenominational revivalism, which will be explored in chapter 10, was altogether an entirely different species; even the intradenominational difference between High Church St. Paul's and Broad Church Groton had marked the two Episcopalian schools. However, by the First World War (to choose a somewhat arbitrary date) such differences had dramatically receded as the six schools became increasingly similar. This isomorphism was the product of numerous factors ­ among others, the schools' close ties to an increasingly uniform and

The Phillips Bulletin III:1 (Jan. 1909), 4; The Phillips Bulletin I:2 (Jan. 1907), 10; The Phillips Bulletin I:3 (April 1907), 2-3. James Cameron Mackenzie, speech delivered at Exeter, "On Schools and School Boys", 29 March 1895, 13-15, typescript in Mackenzie Papers, LS Archives; see also various letters in the PeabodyDrury correspondence, GS Archives and SPS Archives.

115 114


homogenous type of university; the development of umbrella organizations such as the College Entrance Examinations Board; the schools' increasing tendency to choose faculty and headmasters who had graduated from the other schools; the launching of the Headmasters' Association in 1895; the increased interaction spurred by the rise of interscholastic athletic competition; and the dominance of a single social class in the student bodies of the schools. The pulpit-sharing that Stearns inaugurated should not be discounted in this list. The pulpit had historically constituted the moral platform of the headmaster, the primary means by which the student body as a whole was instructed in truths considered eternal. The willingness to share that space with outsiders symbolized an institutional openness to outside ideas, religious and otherwise, that had not always characterized the schools. It was an obvious, perhaps even dramatic, indication that the denominational differences which had divided the schools in the nineteenth century were already beginning to matter less in the twentieth.116 Removal of the Seminary and innovations such as the Vespers service, involvement in the Northfield Conferences, and institutional pulpit-sharing were only the first initiatives in Stearns's efforts to reform modernist Protestantism at Andover. In 1913, he reconstituted Sunday Chapel as a formal church. This was inextricably linked to the Seminary's departure, for if that development had disestablished the Academy's historic Congregationalism, the idea of making Sunday Chapel into a duly constituted church constituted an effort to establish modernist Protestantism in its place. The effort

This decline in denominational distinctiveness anticipated developments in American society as a whole. Robert Wuthnow has ably demonstrated that denominational adherence was far greater in the years prior to 1945 than it was afterward; see The Restructuring of American Religion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 71-99.



was ostensibly explained as one of expediency: with the departure of the Seminary, explained the school chaplain, "most of the permanent members of the school community would be left without a church home or church responsibilities." (Just how the presence of the Seminary had made the Phillips Chapel into a church went unexplained.) However, this was not to say that the new Academy Church marked a throwback to the past. Membership was open to any adherent of a Christian denomination and the church's "only creed" was "discipleship to Christ and the purpose to do the will of God as revealed through Him." Membership requirements were as simple as a Billy Sunday altar call: "...Members shall be received by rising with the other members and assenting to a simple declaration of loyalty to Christ and of desire to enter into the fellowship of the Academy church." (One can only imagine the reaction of Eliphalet Pearson or Jedidiah Morse to this lack of doctrinal examination.) The accommodation to modernist religion was yet another indication of the tempered evangelicalism of Andover, one that was willing to coexist with theological modernism even if some core beliefs of the faith had to be muted. That the beliefs were being modified was most evident in the creation of an associate membership in the church which distinguished between belief in the person of Christ and adherence to his ethical teachings, available to "those who were willing to accept the teachings of Christ as the best guide of life." This provision was something of a Halfway Covenant of modernist religion, inviting the participation of those members of the community who deemed the teachings of Christ to be attractive but who were troubled by Jesus of Nazareth's divine claims, supernatural miracles, or other elements of traditional


Christianity. Forty-two years after the death of Samuel Taylor, a form of Unitarianism had found a place on Andover Hill.117 Stearns also broadened participation in the conduct of the services. Students would share in the "offices and responsibilities" as Stearns continued Bancroft's innovation of giving the boys a role in the services. Women could also participate, albeit "through an appropriate organization," and "oversee the Sunday School, missions meetings, and charitable activities." Though hardly a paragon of equality, the provision did mark one of the first instances on record in which all-male Andover created a formal role for women in one of its own organizations.118 To preside over the church and the modification of Andover's historic evangelicalism at Andover, Stearns also created a formal chaplaincy, the first such position in any of the boarding schools in this study. His choice for the position was Rev. Markham W. Stackpole, whom he appointed in the spring of 1907, shortly before the vote to excise the Seminary. Stackpole was a Congregationalist who had done his undergraduate work at Harvard and then obtained a degree from Andover Seminary, thereby embodying in three diplomas the disparate elements of Phillips Academy's religious heritage.119 The creation of a designated office of school minister was an ambiguous development in the history of boarding school religion. In the long term, Stearns ensured an ongoing Protestant presence at Andover by giving it an institutional

M. W. Stackpole, "A School Church at an Academy," Religious Education X:5 (October 1915), 584-587. Stackpole also almost certainly penned an earlier and shorter version of the article for Academy consumption: see The Phillips Bulletin VII:2 (Jan. 1913), 4. Stackpole, "A School Church at an Academy," 584-587. The Phillips Bulletin VII:2 (Jan. 1913), 12-13, described the Church's opening service.

119 118


The Phillips Bulletin I:3 (April 1907), 7-8.


advocate, a position which could (and did) outlast his own tenure as head of school. But the creation of a faculty position specifically dedicated to the school's spiritual life also marked a decisive setback to the idea that religious faith should be integrated into the life of the whole school, and thus continued the bifurcation of academic and spiritual development which had formed the basis of Bancroft's reforms. The establishment of a chaplaincy also ultimately reflected the new era's changing expectations of boarding school faculty, expectations rooted in the late nineteenth century's epistemological revolution and the changed nature of boarding schools. In the antebellum era, it had been assumed that places like Andover or Lawrenceville would prepare many of their graduates for the Christian ministry. It followed logically that trained clergy were considered to be ideal teachers in the schools ­ partly because they embodied the desired outcome, but also due to the practical consideration that the courses at the heart of the "classical" curriculum of the schools ­ Latin, Greek, Moral Philosophy ­ were their specialties. However, with the Gilded Age development of increasingly specialized disciplines such as biology or a modern language, it became less and less likely that a trained minister would be able to instruct in those disciplines. The attendant decline in the cultural role of the clergy, whose authority was being supplanted by the expertise of both natural and social scientists, contributed to a developing irrelevance to the classroom. By the first decade of the new century, therefore, the headmaster of a school was far more likely to hire someone with specific training in a discipline than he was to turn to a clergyman for instruction in courses which were increasingly specialized. Yet at the same time, to many schoolmen ­ Alfred Stearns among them ­ there was still a self-


evident need for ministers on the faculty of a boys boarding school: whatever else a social scientist could do, he was not the obvious choice to guard the moral formation of young men. The question was, of course, how to accommodate a position that was paradoxically seen as increasingly irrelevant and yet still necessary. The creation of a formal office of chaplain was thus offered a way station amidst the changing definition of what it meant to be "educated," while at the same time offering a reminder that moral education was still very much at the heart of the schools' mission and purpose. However, the cost was considerable. With the religion and religious instruction now safeguarded in the chaplaincy, participation in the religious life of the Academy by other members of the faculty was in effect made optional as one of their colleagues was now considered to bear responsibility in that area. Headmasters could proceed in their hiring, giving top priority to expertise and specialization of knowledge over quality of character or religious belief. Modernist religion would thus continue in the boarding schools, but it had been quarantined in the process. The chaplaincy also represented a division of the office of the headmaster, a development which also did not bode well for the future of religious faith in the boarding schools. Previously, all the responsibilities now deemed to be the chaplain's ­ from officiating at religious services to the teaching of the faith to serving as the guardian of the community's moral order ­ had been invested in the headmaster. Two developments in particular began to change this. First, as the schools grew in size during this period, the demands made on the headmaster increased dramatically, such that some of his responsibilities necessarily had to be delegated. The second was the increasing public role of the headmasters. More and more, the opinions of men like Stearns, Peabody of Groton, and Samuel Drury of St. Paul's were being sought


by Americans increasingly worried about their culture, unable to resolve the contradiction between their optimistic belief in progress and democracy and a rising dis-ease that modern culture was fraught with moral peril. Stearns was one of any number of early public intellectuals, "custodians of culture" as Henry May has called them, who were called upon to ensure Americans that their society and culture had the wherewithal to withstand the turbulence which accompanied economic growth and international might.120 If such men were to guard the national culture, oversight over their own students might well have to be handed off to someone else while they were away from campus.121 The creation of a chaplain was one of the first such delegations (although significantly, the rise of athletic directors had preceded it), though the creation of separate officers devoted to discipline, financial management and development, admissions, and college counseling would eventually follow. The long-term implications of this for the role of Protestant faith in boarding schools were significant. Separation of spiritual responsibilities and administrative leadership ended the de facto requirement that the head of school be an adherent of the Protestant faith. So long as the schools more or less adhered to Protestantism ­ whether the revivalistic version being implemented at Mount Hermon or the modernist Protestantism of Alfred Stearns ­ this would not be a factor in their religious life. But the door had been opened to the possibility that the leadership of schools once devoted to the furtherance of the faith might not be an adherent of it.

Henry F. May, The End of American Innocence: A Study of the First Years of Our Own Time, 1912-1917 (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1959), 30-51. "Faculty Notes," The Phillips Bulletin VIII:3 (April 1914), 20, says he was away from campus 18 times for speeches.




Stearns's choice for this post illustrates one of the consequences of his live and let live accommodation of moderate evangelicalism and modernism. Markham Stackpole was clearly a Protestant modernist. In his book The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism, William R. Hutchison has identified three foundational elements of theological modernism. The first was "the conscious, intended adaptation of religious ideas to modern culture." The second was an emphasis on the concept of the immanence of God, the idea that he "is immanent in human culture and revealed through it." The third involved "a belief that human society was moving toward realization... of the Kingdom of God."122 Stackpole fits the bill on all three counts. Elements of the old evangelical faith occasionally surfaced in his sermons ­ as when he told the boys "that you have a personal relation with God and that He has a purpose for you" ­ but they are few and far between.123 He was purposefully modernist, denouncing "the long sermons of the old days, rich with golden philosophy" as overly lengthy, "mere anointments of words for external and temporary application." Better to be brief ­ twenty minutes was his norm in the pulpit ­ and above all, relevant and practical.124 The latter he adhered to with near-sacramental fervor. When he led one of the voluntary discussion groups initiated by Stearns, the topic was along the lines of "Future Occupations ­ Business,

122 123

Hutchison, The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism, 2. M.W. Stackpole, "Religion a Force and Guiding Principle," sermon #216A, 31 Jan. 1909, PAA



The Phillips Bulletin VII:2 (Jan. 1913), 4, PAA Archives. The article is unsigned but is almost certainly by Stackpole.


Engineering, Law, Medicine."125 His sermons might even consisted solely of a lecture on proper means of health and hygiene.126 Fortunately there was more than an emphasis on practicality. Stackpole enshrined the development of character, the central component of the Gilded Age accommodation with modernity, as a central tenet of the Academy's mission. He also furthered the continuing revision of its views on human nature, preaching an optimistic creed of human ability. Stackpole's God was a participant in the life of the believer, but now the latter was decidedly the vital factor. "All sorts of influence, human and Divine, help a lot" in building character, he once noted in a sermon, "but ultimately, the responsibility as architect and builders of one's own character rests upon ourselves. Every man is the architect and builder of his own character."127 Human ability might be God-given, but "unless we save those divine gifts and powers through developing them, they will go away from us."128 Stackpole attributed Jesus's (and by extension, the Christian's) right behavior to an act of will rather than a reliance on divine power. "Now there are many times when all the concentrated power of your will must be turned against some great temptation that comes to you," he told his presumably-rapt listeners. "You will have to summon all the forces of your will to meet that temptation and to resist it. Here is your chance to develop that power of resistance thro' the exercise of that power. By the

125 126

The Phillips Bulletin IV:2 (Jan. 1910), 7; The Phillips Bulletin, VI:2 (Jan. 1912), 13.

[Rev. Markham W.] Stackpole, "Tuberculosis", 24 April 1910, sermon #254, PAA Archives. The subject was not as spurious at it might appear, given the problem that uncleanliness and disease posed at the time.

127 128

M.W. Stackpole, "The Building of Character," sermon #242, 16 January 1910, PAA Archives. M.W. Stackpole, "Salvation," sermon #248, 6 March 1910, PAA Archives.


continual exercise of that power, you will be able to do it."129 An early version of selfhelp theology had arrived at Phillips Academy. A preacher capable of remarkable banality, Stackpole shared the expansive definition of religious action which Bancroft had first introduced to the Academy. "Religion does not merely consist in the singing of hymns or the saying of a prayer or of speaking to someone about the salvation of a soul," he told his listeners. "It may consist of shoveling coal; it may consist of examining a Tuberculosis case..."130 Stackpole's was a religion of moral rectitude and upwardly-aspiring development, of both personal and societal advancement. The "cornerstone of Christianity" was therefore not the death and resurrection of Christ but "the character of Jesus Christ, the life of Jesus Christ."131 Stackpole's Jesus was more ethical than divine. When he was not preaching about hygiene, his sermons focused solely on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and any mention of the death and resurrection of Christ is absent from the considerable collection of his sermons preserved in the Academy's archives. Christ did not die for humankind so much as he "came into the world to save men from moral danger."132 Sin ­ the word never appears in his sermons ­ was not the problem, "bad habits" were.133 The kingdom of heaven was the domain of progress and moral uplift:

129 130

M.W. Stackpole, "The Development of Power", sermon #227, 19 Sept. 1909, PAA Archives. M.W. Stackpole, "Religion a Force and Guiding Principle," sermon #216A, 31 Jan. 1909, PAA M.W. Stackpole, "The Uniqueness of Christ," sermon #220, 28 March 1909, PAA Archives. M.W. Stackpole, "Salvation."


131 132 133

M.W. Stackpole, "The Power of Habit, sermon #232(I), 10 Oct. 1909, PAA Archives; M.W. Stackpole, "Salvation".


You study the life and the teachings of Jesus Christ; you see how He was different in His life from other men, how as a teacher He was different from others and how He lived up to what he taught, and you say[,] "what does this mean"? And you come to the conclusion that here was one who improved the divine gift which was His, so that He deserved to be called a Son of God. You realize that he was a messenger from God, with a special work to do in this world, that is, to help mankind on towards the goal where they might realize that they too, were sons of God.134

For Stackpole, then, the chief virtue among all others was that of striving, whether on the athletic field, in the classroom, or any other endeavor in life.135 An "Easy Street" mentality was to be avoided at all costs.136 National as well as individual greatness, home and church stability, all depended on doing one's best.137 Stackpole also instructed his charges in the concept of the immanence of God.138 Stackpole's God revealed himself in almost every venue of human or natural activity. The most trivial of human actions bespoke a divine influence, as did "all the beauties of the natural world."139 Seen in this light, divine revelation could occur on the most personal of levels.140 Stackpole's modernism was also evident in his treatment of the Bible, and he fully embraced the assumptions and conclusions of German higher

134 135

M.W. Stackpole, "What Does It Mean?", Sermon #215, 6 Dec. 1908, PAA Archives. M.W. Stackpole, "The Importance of the Common Man", 19 Sept. 1909, sermon #228, PAA M. W. Stackpole, "Struggle", 3 October 1909, sermon #231, PAA Archives.


136 137

M.W. Stackpole, "On Being Americans," sermon #237, 21 Nov. 1909; "Honor They Father and Mother", sermon #236, 21 Nov. 1909, PAA Archives.

138 139

Hutchison, The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism, 43-44, 75, 79.

M.W. Stackpole, "Reverence," 29 Nov. 1908 [and on three other dates as well], Sermon #207, PAA Archives; Stackpole, "Religion a Force and Guiding Principle." M.W. Stackpole, "The Voice of God," sermon #233, 17 Oct. 1909, PAA Archives. This was a doctrine which once upon a time had gotten Anne Hutchinson dismissed from Massachusetts by Samuel Phillips's forbears, but which was now enshrined in the pulpit of his school.



criticism. He was blunt in his conviction that the Scriptures were "out of date," at least "as a textbook of scientific information or of completely reliable historical knowledge." The antiquated nature of the book also called into question its reliability regarding "some of the religious conceptions which the older parts of it contain." Once one could "lay aside an attitude of superstitious awe toward the Bible as a book," the "great thoughts of God" would emerge, particularly in the history of great examples.141 The concept of immanence had numerous implications, not the least of which was how a believer regarded other cultures. Simply put, if God was present in virtually everything, then it was difficult to conclude that one culture had primacy over another. Idolatry was therefore an old-fashioned concept ­ Stackpole told his listeners that it was rather "a practice in which there is so much significance and beauty" since it could serve as "an example to us, who so easily allow our ancestors to be forgotten and our family traditions to grow dim."142 To Stackpole, the "test of real worth and quality of [another] religion" was not its doctrinal adherence to Protestant norms, but its effective result in the life of its adherents in terms of the quality of their characters.143 This blend of immanence and pragmatism, combined with the concept of culture itself, would eventually evolve into the idea of cultural relativism, which late in the century would become a central tenet of the post-Protestant Academy. Stackpole also sought to inspire his charges to an ethical program of social reform. In this respect, he was closer to the actual Social Gospel, with its system-wide

141 142

M.W. Stackpole, "Reverence."

Ibid. In suggesting that New Englanders were capable of forgetting their ancestors, one wonders if Stackpole really understood the culture of the region.


Stackpole, "Religion a Force and Guiding Principle."


hope for reform, than to the gentler program of social and moral uplift which characterized Groton and St. Paul's. No social problem was intractable, Stackpole told them, "[i]f only right thinking citizens get together and use the power that our system of government gives to them."144 Visiting speakers such as Jacob Riis reinforced the message, visiting campus frequently to raise awareness of urban problems and to muster support for settlement houses.145 The particular venue that the Academy chose for its work was Lawrence, Massachusetts, a nearby industrial town which had been the scene of a major labor strike by the radical International Workers of the World late in 1911. The causes of the strike were complex, including business attitudes, nativism, the personality of the IWW leader, "Big Bill" Haywood, and sheer economic demographics, but Stackpole had an ideal solution. "It is an acknowledged fact by all parties concerned," he announced in The Bulletin, "that practically all of the riots and the feeling of mistrust among the strikers is due to the illiteracy among the foreign element." Andover boys would combat these ills by teaching "ignorant but ambitious" Lithuanian and Syrian immigrants to read, and instructing them in practical subjects such as "What Makes a Citizen?", "The City of Washington", and "What American Does for Its People." Academy boys also worked in the jail and with the local Boys Club.146 In the broader historical picture of the Academy, the irony of Stackpole's theology was inescapable. His religion of rectitude and character-building, of Jesus as a good example rather than divine sacrifice, and of appreciation for the ubiquitous

144 145 146

M.W. Stackpole, "On Being Americans." The Phillips Bulletin, VI:2 (Jan. 1912), 13.

The Phillips Bulletin V:2 (April 1911), 6-7; The Phillips Bulletin VI:4 (July 1912), 9-10; "Student Work at Lawrence," The Phillips Bulletin VIII:3 (April 1914), 21.


revelation and presence of God ­ all this very much resembled the Unitarianism which had emerged at Exeter more than sixty years before, and which had been so resisted by Calvinists Adams and Taylor. When he preached that "[e]very person is capable of a generous motive," it sounded very much like Gideon Soule or Harlan Amen.147 The sharply divergent paths which Phillips Andover and Phillips Exeter had taken through the nineteenth century were beginning to merge back together again. Under Stackpole and Amen, the two schools had not looked so similar to one another since Samuel and John Phillips had been alive. Stackpole's selection also illustrates the limitations of Stearns's accommodation with modernity. In every respect, his theology appears to have lain well to the left of Stearns, a genuine Protestant modernism as opposed to Stearns's more tempered evangelicalism. As such, his selection as chaplain illustrates the limitations of Stearns's approach. Weary, perhaps, of the litmus-test approach to religious faith which had characterized the pre-Bancroft Academy, moderate evangelicals foreswore doctrinal tests of orthodoxy, an oversight which opened the door to significant religious change in a manner reminiscent of Exeter's experience in hiring Samuel Abbott. In this respect, Andover resembled Harvard of the same era, where, in George Marsden's words, "religion could still be an issue, but old questions of orthodoxy seemed as far away as the Dark Ages."148 At the same time, however, Andover also resembled Yale, where a moderate evangelicalism seemed to thrive.149

147 148 149

M.W. Stackpole, "The Aim of Business," sermon #219, 7 May 1909, PAA Archives. Marsden, The Soul of the American University, 181. Ibid., 17-20.


On balance, by the time of the outbreak of the Great War in Europe, Alfred Stearns had modified the changes implemented by Cecil Bancroft. His policies and practices did not mark a throwback to the evangelicalism of the Taylor era, an expression of Christian piety deemed too difficult to synthesize with the changing expectations for preparatory schools in the twentieth century. Nevertheless, Stearns's Protestantism contained faint echoes of the old evangelicalism. The 1906 Constitution of the reorganized Society of Inquiry, for instance, announced that its chief aim was "To create, maintain, and extend throughout the school life a strong, high, moral sentiment; to bring students into a personal relation with Jesus Christ as Divine Saviour and Friend." But the abiding nature of Bancroft's attempt to replace piety with character-building was evident in the very next sentence, for the Society would also dedicate itself "to build them up in Christian character."150 The Gilded Age accommodation with modernity was now at least co-equal with the older denominational ties and fading antebellum-style pietism. In the process, the Academy's denominational heritage had been sacrificed, and never again would Andover identify itself as a Congregational institution. Amidst such dramatic changes, though, the speaker who commemorated the Society of Inquiry's 75th anniversary could note that "This is still a Christian school." Whether or not it was, as the speaker went on to say, "true to the aim of its founders" involved a highly subjective judgment.151 Both Cecil Bancroft and Alfred Stearns had significantly modified those aims, recasting them in a manner deemed more effective in

A. Graham Baldwin, The Society of Inquiry of Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1833-1933 [1933], 13; also cited in Fuess, An Old New England School, 428.



Dana, "Historical Reminiscences of the Society of Inquiry," 17-18.


the changing religious and educational milieu of modern America. In the end, the differences between the two were fairly slight, and, , as Grant Wacker has explained, were more akin to those of combative siblings than to warring nations. In this respect, Wacker points out, one must remember the father.152 Both Samuel and John Phillips likely would have been troubled at some elements of the Stearns-Stackpole synthesis, failing as they did to emphasize piety and doctrine. On the other hand, some of Bancroft's more extreme measures such as the abandonment of religious instruction had been rolled back in Stearns's gentle counterrevolution. As with all the schools, however, the larger question was one of longevity. The era following the Great War in Europe would demonstrate whether or not the Stearns-Stackpole synthesis could sustain Andover's Protestant mission and purpose through the cultural upheaval of the 1920s.



Wacker, "The Holy Spirit and the Spirit of the Age in American Protestantism, 1880-1910,"



In 1883, Charles Bell, Governor of New Hampshire, found time amidst the duties of his office to publish a history of Phillips Exeter Academy. An amateur historian, his chronicle has little to say about the religious life of the Academy, but he did note that "The directions of the Founder concerning the orthodoxy of the Principal, and the Protestantism of the Trustees and instructors, have been implicitly obeyed, and his personal example of tolerance of theological differences has not been overlooked."1 The key word was, of course, "implicitly," for the more specific terms of John Phillips's Deed of Gift had for all intents and purposes been ignored during Gideon Soule's tenure as Principal. During the Unitarian ascendancy which followed the firing of Isaac Hurd in 1838, the traditional evangelical Protestantism of the founder had been set aside in favor of the more rationally-based faith of Samuel Abbott and Soule. Exeter's experience with traditional Protestantism during this time had served as ­ to use an economic term ­ a leading indicator of the fortunes of Protestantism in American boarding schools. In retrospect, the Unitarian faith which was implemented there beginning in the 1830s looks very much like the Gilded Age compromise with modernity which was introduced by

Charles H. Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire: A Historical Sketch (Exeter, NH: News-Letter Press, 1883), 49.



Henry Coit at St. Paul's and more fully developed by Endicott Peabody at Groton a half century later. As a result, denominationally distinctive Protestantism had given way to a more generic Christian creed. The emphasis on behavior over piety, rectitude as opposed to a reliance on God, an optimistic belief in the possibilities of human nature based on the power of rational inquiry ­ all had all been in place at Exeter long before Coit began tilting towards an emphasis on these values at St. Paul's after about 1870. At Exeter, Bell assured his readers, "The boys who attend the school have been bred in various forms of belief, and no attempt is made to proselyte them to any other."2 In terms of building a school, the evidence would indicate that the Unitarian experiment at Exeter worked during the tenure of Gideon Soule. The school's market evidently approved as enrollment was fairly constant, and the ideology of rectitude was able to compel behavior and glue together the Academy's sense of community. Even natural disaster seemed unable to retard the progress of the school as funds were successfully raised to rebuild the main Academy building after it burned to the ground in 1870.3 When Soule retired in 1873, he bequeathed to his successors a healthy school, and the enrollment of 168 boys the following fall was the highest in the school's history.4 However, the evidence of good fortune proved to be temporary, for in the years following Soule's retirement Exeter's fortunes waned. The history of the Academy for

2 3


The school raised $100,000 for the new building, a considerable sum in light of the fact that its total endowment at the time was only $120,000. The new building, though brick, met the same fate as its predecessor, burning in 1914. Edward C. Echols, ed., The Phillips Exeter Academy: A Pictorial History (Exeter, NH: The Phillips Exeter Academy Press, 1970), 40-43, 82-85; William E. Soule, "The Phillips Exeter Academy from 1895 to 1915," flyer in PEA archives; The Christian Union, III:1 (Jan. 4, 1871), 7. Echols, The Phillips Exeter Academy: A Pictorial History, 47; Myron R. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter (Exeter, NH: The Phillips Exeter Academy, 1957), 58.



the next two decades in fact raised significant questions as to the efficacy of the Unitarian experiment. Student behavior deteriorated drastically, enrollment declined, the curriculum was questioned, the faculty undermined successive headmasters, and the board of trustees abdicated any responsibility for the well-being of the school. In retrospect, the previous period under Abbot and Soule looked increasingly like a golden age; a historian of the Academy termed the era from 1871-1895 "a dark age."5 The anarchy of the period hovered over the school even after the appointment of Harlan Amen as Principal in 1895, and in fact his tenure was essentially a twenty-year endeavor to recast the terms of the Unitarian experiment in such a manner as to ensure the viability of the Academy. Amen's solution to Exeter's problems was to synthesize several disparate Christian strands into the Academy's mission in a Progressive Era experiment in religious ­ or at least Protestant ­ diversity. As a result, three main strands of Protestant religion co-existed at Exeter: Unitarian rationalism, the holdover from the Abbot-Soule synthesis which had dominated PEA since 1838; the Gilded Age accommodation with modernity and its stress on behavior, developed at St. Paul's and refined at Groton; and a resurgent, though somewhat tempered, evangelicalism, similar to that which was taking hold at Andover. At least in terms of pedigree, Soule's immediate successor represented the latter. Albert Cornelius Perkins, who served as Principal from 1873-1883. Perkins was in fact a graduate of the rival Phillips Academy and so had sat under the declining traditional

James Cameron Mackenzie [an Exeter alumnus and headmaster of Lawrenceville], speech delivered at Exeter, "On Schools and School Boys", 29 March 1895. Mackenzie Papers, Lawrenceville School Archives; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 63.



Congregationalism of Samuel Taylor.6 His job was not made easy by the trustees, who voted to allow Soule the use of the Principal's house until he died, thus depriving Perkins of a valuable physical symbol of his office and giving Soule free rein to meddle in the policies of his successor.7 Nevertheless, during the next decade Perkins implemented a number of changes. The curriculum was reformed to include English, history, modern languages, and science.8 The first football game against Andover was played, a school newspaper launched, and athletic teams were formally organized in 1878.9 One area in which Perkins did not innovate, however, was in the religious life of the school, thus preserving Unitarianism as the de facto faith of the institution. Yet he was also a Congregationalist who worshipped at Second Church in town, perhaps indicating that mainline Protestantism still had a hold on PEA. He also continued Soule's practice of administering religious instruction, a policy apparently borne as much to preserve the mark of his authority as headmaster as from religious conviction. Upon his death a eulogizer noted "the beauty of his character, through hidden union with God." It had remained that way throughout his tenure.10 The residual hold of traditional Protestantism was also evident in Perkins' successors, though their experience offered a lesson that neither orthodoxy nor pedigree

Frank H. Cunningham, Familiar Sketches of the Phillips Exeter Academy (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1883), 67; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 58. Andrew P. Peabody, "Phillips Exeter Academy," New Englander and Yale Review, 44:186 (May 1885), 440.

8 9 7


Echols, The Phillips Exeter Academy: A Pictorial History, vii. Ibid., 47, 73; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 59.

[Rev.] George E. Street, "Dr. Albert C. Perkins," Exeter News-Letter, 13 October 1896, photocopy in PEA Archives.



was a predictor of success. The first, Walter Quincy Scott, was an Old School Presbyterian who had been educated at Union Theological Seminary, and had come to Exeter from the pulpit of the Arch Street Church in Philadelphia.11 The second, Charles Everett Fish, was an Andover graduate who had sat under Samuel Taylor's tutelage. Neither man was fitted for the job. Scott was prone to quick decisions, a man frequently wrong but never in doubt, whereas Fish was indecisive and vacillating.12 Neither Principal seemed able to effectively enforce authority on a day to day basis, with the result that student behavior frequently went unregulated until expulsion became necessary.13 On at least one occasion, Scott had to resort to calling in the town police to try and regain control of the student body, and is said to have carried a set of brass knuckles for self-protection.14 Both the age range of the students, from 12 to 30, and the housing arrangements ­ half lived in town, out of the Academy dormitories ­ mitigated efforts at control. For many of the boys, Exeter was but one stop among many in their efforts to acquire an education.15 As at both Lawrenceville and Andover, a poor faculty-student ratio contributed to the deterioration. The numbers ­ 12 faculty and 195 students in 1895 ­ were roughly the


1917), 13.


Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 66; Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy XIII:2 (July

G. A. Wentworth to George A. Plimpton, 29 Dec. 1885, in Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy XXIII:3 (August 1927), 2.

13 14

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 70.

Frank Kintrea, "`Old Peabo' and the School," American Heritage Vol. 31 No. 6 (November / December 1980), 100. Kintrea does not mention Scott by name. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 66-67, 75; Lawrence M. Crosbie, notes on "Exeter in Dr. Amen's Day," unpublished typescript in PEA Archives.



same as at Andover during the era, and with the same results.16 With such a large percentage of the students living in the unregulated boarding houses in town, and so small a faculty to oversee the whole lot, the situation invited trouble. But the problems with the school also lay in the behavior of those faculty. Two men in particular lay at the root of much of Scott and Fish's problems. An instructor in mathematics, George Wentworth ­ nicknamed "the Bull" ­ and Bradbury Longfellow Cilley, instructor in classics, had been hired by Soule and had been given much responsibility for the school under him. The two men in fact had run the school in late 1873 when Soule's ill health had forced him to retire before the end of that year.17 They constituted a powerful Old Guard, rivaled perhaps only by the group that Samuel Drury was to encounter at St. Paul's after 1911. Wentworth was particularly problematic. A brilliant mathematician who authored textbooks still collected in the following century, he was a strident individualist who resented any form of restraint, particularly if it were imposed by a headmaster who was not Gideon Soule. His practice of allowing students whom Scott or Fish had expelled from Exeter to continue attending his classes spoke volumes about his power and his relationship with the two principals.18 In short, the Unitarian synthesis of Abbot and Soule had lost its ability compel behavior. A graduate of the class of 1892 excoriated the practice:

Church at Exeter was not an important issue. We had chapel every morning with no vestige of religious character. It was a method of assembling all the boys at

16 17 18

William E. Soule, "The Phillips Exeter Academy from 1895 to 1915," flyer in PEA archives. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 63.

Ibid., 64-66; Peabody, "Phillips Exeter Academy," 445. I am indebted to John Hartshorne, a mathematician at the University of California at Berkeley, for informing me of the current value of Wentworth's textbooks.


7:40. We had a choir led by Mr. Stetson, whose rasping voice I can still hear, and I can feel the chills up and down my spine caused by its dissonance. Chapel was merely a short period in which to put a few touches on our preparation for our eight o'clock classes. Sunday church was also given up to reading where possible, out of view of the monitors. The Congregational Church was the most popular, for it had old fashioned pews with high sides, like a packing case, where one could read or study in comfort.19

The content of the daily services toward the end of the period began with the intonation, "Who was George Washington?" The response was "First-in-war. First- inpeace. First-in-the-hearts-of-his-countrymen."20 Liturgy and civil religion were well met in the practice, but they evidently had no ability to change the deleterious behavior of either students or faculty in the interests of the community. That, of course, was the larger issue raised by the student mayhem. The shortcomings of Soule's libertarian, lowdemand Unitarianism ­ "There are no rules until they are broken" ­ could not have been more evident. Such an approach could work only so long as a strong-willed, charismatic, man served as Principal of the Academy. It also drew heavily on the cultural capital of antebellum evangelicalism, with students whose norms of behavior were anchored in an older and more conservative era. But the arrangement broke down completely with the departure of Soule and the decline in the quality of the students. It should be noted, however, that the 1870's, however, were not a particularly easy time for any of the existing schools in this study. Andover's "Great Student Rebellion," it will be recalled, had occurred in 1867, and Cecil Bancroft was appointed in 1873 in part to deal with deteriorating student conduct. The general malaise at both Lawrenceville and St. Paul's has also been chronicled. The responses both of student

[R]reminiscences of Vernon M. Imrae, class of 1892, mss. in "Student Letters, 1781-" file, PEA Archives; also quoted in Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 71.

20 19



groups (the YMCA at Lawrenceville, the Missionary Society at St. Paul's) and the boards of trustees of the schools (who had to hire new headmasters with far greater frequency than in the past) indicates that the problems were widespread and systemic. Exeter's problems therefore may not have had so much to do with its Unitarianism as with a larger spiritual crisis of the Gilded Age identified by historian Paul Carter. This broader pattern at the boarding schools in fact provides some evidence in support of Robert Handy's suggestion that the crisis was perhaps more pronounced for people of the upper classes than it was for those of fewer means, whose adaptations of urban revivals and participation in incipient forms of fundamentalism, the holiness movement, and Pentecostalism reveals no such predicament.21 But even if the problems of the period should not be attributed to the Unitarian creed of Abbot and Soule, it was nevertheless logical by 1890 for those at the Academy to question its utility. The crisis of leadership under Scott and Fish ultimately encompassed Exeter's particular brand of Protestantism as the Academy sought to come to grips with the conduct of its students. While its leadership was drawn from traditional Protestant sources, perhaps marking a reaction to the Unitarian past, Exeter's public stance reflected its commitment to character development and the Gilded Age accommodation with modernity. The primary school publication, The Phillips Exeter Literary Monthly, which was begun under Scott, conceded that "a school is fairly to be judged by its fruits," and cited successful college preparation as the primary measure. (Not surprisingly, the role of the Exeter town police went unmentioned.) Also emphasized was "the eternal worth of

Paul A. Carter, The Spiritual Crisis of the Gilded Age (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1971), 2.



character development." The "source of power of educated men lies in the face that they have refined and strengthened their minds and their souls" ­ though the publication was silent as to the means by which the latter was to be built up. True to the Unitarian credo which comprised the core of the school, however, any mention of traditional Protestantism was muted. The publication depicted John Phillips as a doting elder noteworthy merely for his eccentric practice of requiring each boy he had encountered to doff his cap or bow.22 External observers also noted the lack of traditional Protestant content at the Academy. President Eliot of Harvard noted approvingly that PEA was "somewhat less strictly Congregational" than Andover, and some years later compared it favorably to Groton and Endicott Peabody's tendency to "make all boys into Episcopalians."23 Perhaps more than anything else, Eliot's approval signified the reign of a generic Protestantism at Exeter. A final indication of a spiritual crisis at the Academy during this time lies in the initiation of a program of lectures in 1885-86, midway through Scott's brief tenure.24 The besieged principal may well have been engaged in a proactive attempt to change the behavior of his boys, but whatever the motives, Exeter students were treated to a series of addresses by some of the best minds in New England. College presidents, Christian lay workers, and some of the most eminent ministers of the age spoke to them on a wide

"The Exeter Spirit," in The Phillips Exeter Literary Monthly, X:10 (October 1895):11-15; quotes on 14 and 15. Charles W. Eliot to E.S. Tappan, 14 March 1896; Eliot to Jens I. Westengard, 24 February 1911, Eliot papers, PEA Archives. The lectures are collected in Lectures Delivered Before the Students of Phillips Exeter Academy, 1885-1886 by Presidents McCosh, Walker, Bartlett, Robinson, Porter and Carter, and Rev. Drs. Hale and Brooks (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1887).

24 23



range of topics. What they heard was entirely consistent with Exeter's historical Unitarianism, and with the Gilded Age accommodation with modernity, for the speakers made repeated references to character, right behavior, and practical (nonsectarian) application of the Christian faith. Phillips Brooks, whose modernist Protestantism was so influential during Groton's early years, spoke to them on the value of the Bible. Its utility lay not in its dogmas or laws, he informed them, which would rob the faith of its vitality, but in its stories: "Make it a biography, and it is a true book of life." One of those stories, of course, was that of Jesus of Nazareth, whose death and resurrection were secondary to his life ­ "the living, the total life" ­ which was "the world's salvation."25 Another speaker lauded the gospels as "the records of a perfect life wholly consecrated to the development of goodness in other lives."26 Edward Hale, arguably the most prominent New England Unitarian of the era, admonished the students to study the life of Jesus "for balance--for that health which is the balance of training with training, and faculty upon faculty." Such balance, he assured them, "fulfills Christ's whole law."27 It is hardly a comment on the merits of such advice to note that it marked a radical departure from historic Protestantism, but one entirely consistent with Exeter's ideology for the past half century. That traditional Protestantism still had a hold was evident in the fact that many of the speakers chose to defend various facets of the faith such as the veracity of the Bible, the historical evidence for the person of Christ, and the value of Christianity or of faith in

25 26 27

Phillips Brooks, "Biography," in Lectures Delivered, 180, 182. Franklin Carter, "The Sentiment of Reverence," in Lectures Delivered, 124. Edward Hale, "Physical, Mental and Spiritual Exercises," in Lectures Delivered, 13, 14.


God. However, the defensive tone of many of the talks indicates that the speakers themselves knew that they were talking to young men for whom old answers and traditional explanations had lost their ability to compel. Hale pleaded with the students not to "separate your religion from the rest of life, but soak your life in your religion, and your religion in your life, for you ought not to be able to separate the two."28 President E.G. Robinson of Brown University defended Christianity itself as necessary to "the development of every power in [the Christian's] soul in harmony with every other."29 President Noah Porter of Yale implored his listeners to remember that "the Ideal Scholar is responsive to Truth in all her aspects and revelations."30 Even the practice of compelling chapel attendance required defense. Interestingly enough, the apologist, Franklin Carter of Williams College, did so on the basis of the increasing secularization of college courses: chapel, he said, was worth a young man's time "to lift his thought away from the merely secular discipline for a few honor of the Christ whose life and death have made the world so much nobler and sweeter...."31 The third strand of Protestantism, a more traditional expression of the faith, was also evident at the Academy during this era. One of the progenitors appears to have been Mathematics Instructor Wentworth, whose libertine practices were doing so much to

28 29 30

Ibid., 23-24. E. G. Robinson, "Men: Made, Self-Made, and Unmade," in Lectures Delivered, 126.

Noah Porter, "The Ideal Scholar," in Lectures Delivered, 170. This remark, and Porter's talk as a whole, was surprisingly tepid given his growing pietism toward the end of the his career and his strident belief that Christian education and secularism were at war with one another. See George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford, 1994), 22-23.


Carter, "The Sentiment of Reverence," 115-116.


undermine the authority of the principal. In 1885, he wrote George A. Plimpton, one of the Academy's wealthiest and most generous benefactors, soliciting funds in order to establish a Professorship of Christian Doctrine and Bible History. He did not make the request in terms of a re-establishment of traditional Protestantism, but instead sought to appeal to sensibilities about Exeter's place in the transatlantic educational world. "We are very far behind the English schools in this respect," he informed Plimpton. "Pupils in an English school must know all about Bible History. They must know the New Testament so well that on an examination paper when a verse of the New Testament is given they can go right on and give the substance of the chapter." Furthermore, PEA was uniquely situated to reintroduce the subject into its curriculum by virtue of its Principal's theological training. Dr. Scott, Wentworth assured Plimpton, "could profitably devote all the time that he has left from his particular duties as Principal to keeping alive the sound principles of Orthodoxy, and to making the grand truths of the Bible as familiar to the students as the epics of Vergil and Homer."32 Yet though the reasoning was modern, the goal was quite traditional. Wentworth's vision was perhaps exceeded only by his audacity ­ he asked Plimpton for $50,000 ­ for his idea was a fairly radical one considering the trends of the past half century at Exeter. Nothing is known of the fate of the proposal, but it would not be the last time that an attempt was made to reinstitute the teaching of the Bible at the Academy. This resurgence of traditional Protestantism at Exeter was also evident in the activities of the Christian Fraternity. Unlike the other schools, the CF was a decidedly

G. A. Wentworth to George A. Plimpton, 29 Dec. 1885, in Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy XXIII:3 (August 1927), 2.



countercultural group at Exeter, swimming against the tide of student disorder. The Fraternity's secretary summed up this sentiment when he noted that "We are living, as it were, in two little worlds, while here; the one composed of our schoolmates as a whole, the other composed of our Christian schoolmates."33 They found some support from the faculty, but not from the majority of the students: "Latin, Greek, and Mathematics are apparently what our teachers consider the chief end of man," noted the Secretary ruefully, "in this school filled as it is with skepticism."34 However much the Fraternity might desire to change things, however, the malaise which was so evident in the student Christian organizations at Lawrenceville and St. Paul's in the early 1870s also struck the chapter at Exeter. "What shall be done to awaken more interest in our meetings and in the success of the Society?" mused the Secretary after one meeting. He went on to suggest a litany of possibilities:

As has been said, individual purity is the first thing. If we put on the whole armor of God, can we fail to fight worthy of our great commander? Let each day add something to our knowledges of God, add to our love and enthusiasm for his cause. Let us have more agonizing prayer. Do you, my brethren, pray daily for your Society and its mark? If you do not, dare you expect to succeed in redeeming souls?...Where argument, reason, and all things else fail, prayer will support us. Another thing. We must help one another more. We can hardly conceive how much can be gained by a close intimacy of souls. If we knew that one of our number is growing cold, we should go to the rescue.... [F]riends, if we can but live through this period of our life successfully, what a Christian character will we have to battle with the world!35

entry for 30 Jan. 1870, Christian Fraternity Record Book, Jan. 30, 1870 - March 16, 1876, notebook in PEA Archives. The Secretary noted that 17 students were in attendance that evening.

34 35


entry for Dec. 14, 1871, Christian Fraternity Record Book, Jan. 20, 1970 ­ March 16, 1876. Ibid.


The CF President also echoed these mournful sentiments. "Have we lived truly, manfully, Christianity?" he asked the chapter at one meeting. "That question echoes mournfully enough in my soul. I might have so lived as to answer `yes', but I can only respond mournfully[,] `no.' A year ago I cam[e] here a stumbling Christian and have been stumbling ever since."36 Even given the introspection engendered by personal sin which has always marked the Protestantism faith, it is clear that Exeter was not an easy place to be a traditional Christian. Throughout the decade, the Christian Fraternity struggled with sporadic numbers and changing meeting places.37 The CF did undertake several efforts to reverse the malaise. Early in the decade, the members voted to limit the Sunday prayer meetings to just 45 minutes, likely in an effort to attract more attendees.38 Two years after Wentworth's letter to Plimpton, the "Bible Committee" of the CF also petitioned the board of trustees, "asking that the study of the Bible be introduced as a part of the curriculum," even though up until that point it "had not been accepted."39 (There is no record of the board's response.) Finally in the mid-1880s, the organization held a meeting to consider whether or not to affiliate with the YMCA. The move could have helped the CF in gaining both access to guest speakers and the moral support of a larger organization, but in late 1886 the CF voted to table a

36 37

entry for "Spring of '71," Christian Fraternity Record Book, Jan. 20, 1970 ­ March 16, 1876.

entries for 3 Feb. 1870, 20 March, 1874, 27 Sept. 1874, 5 Dec. 1875, Christian Fraternity Record Book, Jan. 30, 1870 ­ March 16, 1876.

38 39

entry for 3 Feb. 1870, Christian Fraternity Record Book, Jan. 30, 1870 ­ March 16, 1876.

entry for 30 October 1887, Christian Fraternity Record Book, Feb. 9, 1896 - April 2, 1905. [The entry for this date does in fact appear in the notebook with the indicated title.] No record of the petition appears in the minutes of the board of trustees, so it was likely rejected without a formal vote. There is no evidence that this development was related to Wentworth's letter to Plimpton, and the math instructor's name never appears in the CF minutes.


motion to affiliate.40 Four years later, a new generation of students in the group reversed that vote and approved a "temporary" affiliation.41 The move appears to have brought an end to the Christian Fraternity's insularity, for thereafter its meetings were far more likely to feature guest speakers, visitors from CF chapters at other schools, and prayer for other schools and colleges.42 Through the 1880s and into the 1890s, therefore, Phillips Exeter was a diverse place, seeking to incorporate and synthesize disparate strands of Protestantism into a coherent whole which would have the ability to address the chaotic student behavior of the period. Perhaps as an extension of the struggle, the Academy also engaged in a public debate over the nature of education. This reflected developments at Andover and Lawrenceville, where Bancroft and James Mackenzie were leading the charge in favor of curriculum reform. Perhaps more than at any of the other schools, however, at Exeter the debate centered around the issue of the relationship between the educational content and the shaping of personal character. The issues were engaged at the Academy's centennial celebration in 1883, where, in the midst of eight speeches commemorating the founding of the school, Gov. Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts and President Eliot of Harvard came to sharp disagreement. It is noteworthy that Eliot, for all his criticism of Andover and St. Paul's as being too sectarian, was the conservative in the conversation. In reply to Butler's plea for technical (i.e. useful) education, Eliot insisted that, though valuable, this

40 41 42

entry for 23 Nov. 1886, Christian Fraternity Record Book [no date], notebook in PEA Archives. entry for 15 May 1890 and passim, Christian Fraternity Record Book. entries for 2 May 1886, 27 January 1887, 15 June 1890, Christian Fraternity Record Book


wasn't the engine which should drive the machine. His reply was a classic formulation of the Gilded Age emphasis on character development:

You must learn the eternal worth of character; you must learn that the ultimate powers of the human race lie in its undying instincts and passions; you must learn that above all material things, is man ­ the thoughtful, passionate and emotional being, the intellectual and religious man. Here lies the source of the power of educated men ­ they have refined and strengthened their minds and their souls. And, believe me, the supreme powers of this universe are not mechanical or material; they are hope and fear and love.43

The speakers in the 1885-86 lecture series also took up the issue. Classical education received a most eloquent defense from Presidents Porter of Yale and McCosh of Princeton. Porter's position, reflecting the moderate evangelicalism which held sway in New Haven, was that there was an inexorable link between rational knowledge and spiritual understanding.44 Geometry and algebra, he told his listeners, "both conceal and reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of nature and enable us to interpret the very thoughts of God."45 McCosh, who had just embarked on his effort to remake Lawrenceville as a feeder school for his own institution, insisted upon a link between the temporal and the holy which involved more than simply character-building. Man, he insisted, "has a moral and spiritual nature, which is to be developed and purified by the contemplation of a holy law, and of a holy God embodying that law, and of a God incarnate with human sympathies inducing us to draw nigh..." Scholarship, therefore, should take place in that context, and those who learn had to do so "until we shall reach the Kingdom of Heaven,

Exercises at the Centennial Celebration of the Founding of Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, June 20 and 21, 1883 (Exeter, 1884), pamphlet in the PEA Archives; portions also quoted in Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 60-61.

44 45


Marsden, The Soul of the American University, 123-133. Porter, "The Ideal Scholar," in Lectures Delivered, 175.


where, I suppose, we shall also be scholars sitting at the feet of the Great Teacher." McCosh linked this conception of knowledge to a defense of the classical curriculum, though he conceded the necessity of studying science. Such an enterprise was to the health of the nation, he told his listeners, for a "highly-educated class" would "diffuse[e] everywhere an elevating influence."46 Yet even in the midst of such a public debate, later recollections and characterizations made it clear that Exeter wasn't living up to these disparate ideals in terms of the quality of student it was producing. In 1895, an Exeter alumnus familiar with the boarding schools took the Academy to the woodshed over the issue. That year, James Mackenzie, headmaster of Lawrenceville, was invited back to his alma mater in 1895 to address the school community. While many of the points that he made were doubtless informed by a desire to defend the policies he'd implemented at his own school, his peroration nevertheless constituted a powerful critique of education at Phillips Exeter during the past two decades.47 He minced few words. Exeter, he said, had "not kept faith with her honored dead" because it was failing to "form the character of young boys as the School may and should." But this was only a symptom of a deeper underlying problem. The root cause lay in its failure to adequately teach the Protestant faith: is all too patent that Exeter fails to quicken & nourish the moral life of her boys as she should. It is but one of many proofs of this that but recently the historic Christian Fraternity, baffled, discouraged, solemnly voted to disband. I know the delicacy & difficulty of this matter.... Yet religion must be taught. The young soul needs its appropriate nourishment & the teacher -- second only to the parent -- can supply this. The college gives expansion & finish, but it is the high privilege of the school to give inspiration, direction & character.... Our boys

James McCosh, "Habit and its Influence in the Training at School," in Lectures Delivered, 1885-, 29-30, 31, 34



Mackenzie's policies will be explored in chapter 11.


between the ages of 13 & 18 are in what Phillips Brooks aptly called the "middle country" & need more than of any other period in life the guidance of wisdom & the things of the Spirit.48

Exeter, he charged, had become "pithless in morals and fruitless in all the highest results of teaching." Principal Fish resigned five days later.49 Harlan Page Amen was appointed to succeed Fish. He was the first Principal who had graduated from the school, having done so in 1875. As such, he would have had personal memories of Soule's final year, and so represented a link to Exeter's past "golden age."50 Once in office, he moved quickly to correct the Academy's course. His first act was to publish an article in the school Bulletin, "The Spirit of the Place," which outlined many of his beliefs about the nature off education and the nature of boys.51 In proposing a program to repair Phillips Exeter, Amen invoked the basic principles and approaches that the incipient Progressive movement was developing in its prescription for the ills of the wider American society. Central to this was a belief in the power of the environment in determining personal behavior. An optimistic creed, the progressives embarked on a nationwide reform movement to clean streets, sanitize slums, inoculate people, and regulate housing, food production, drug use, and medication. But at the heart of their prescription lay a belief that the surroundings of people invariably

48 49

Mackenzie, "On Schools and School Boys." 13-15.

Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911), entry for 30 March 1895, 7-8, notebook in PEA Archives. It is not possible to ascertain whether Fish's intentions were clear to the trustees prior to Mackenzie's speech. The Phillips Exeter Literary Monthly, X:1 (Oct. 1895), 9; "Life at Phillips Exeter," Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy, 1913, 5; Mackenzie "On Schools and School Boys", 15; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 63, called the period from 1873-1895 "the dark ages." Harlan P. Amen, "The Exeter Spirit," The Phillips Exeter Literary Monthly, X:1 (October 1895), 11-15. The piece was reprinted in Harlan P. Amen, "The Spirit of the Place," Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy, March 1913.

51 50


determined their behavior. It lay at the heart of John Altgeld's critique of the penal system, of Jane Addams's Hull House, of Jacob Riis' efforts to publicize the deleterious effects of New York tenements, and at Edward A. Ross's development and refinement of sociology as an academic discipline.52 Amen shared this outlook. The influence of environment was practically everything: it had an awesome, almost mystical, power. Bad environments were the cause of ill in the world. Good environments could turn evil to good, mediocrity to excellence. "It is difficult to overestimate the bracing influence on a boy of good or even mediocre ability," he wrote, "which comes from association with a large number of earnest, manly, and industrious schoolmates."53 It is all to the good that American progressives didn't have the luxury of approaching American society as a whole the way Amen proposed to deal with Exeter. He invoked the words of Thomas Arnold, the English headmaster of Rugby: "`Till a man learn that that [sic] the first, second, and third duty of a schoolmaster is to get rid of unpromising subjects, a great public school will never be what it might be and what it ought to be."54 School tradition has it that he dismissed over 100 boys in his first year as principal, and while the number may have been inflated to dramatize his effectiveness, there is no doubt from the vast collection of his correspondence that he spent much of his

Eric Goldman, Rendezvous With Destiny: A History of Modern American Reform (New York: Vintage Books, 1956 [1952], 90-96.

53 54


Amen, "The Spirit of the Place," 14.

Ibid.; Amen's use of the quote was widely repeated; see for instance Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy X:1 (April 1914), 10, and Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 77. Arnold's influence on Amen affords one of the few examples to buttress the oft-repeated notion that American boarding schools were based primarily on the example of the English ones.


time living up to Arnold's dictum.55 William Henry Hyde, a roommate of Amen's at both Exeter and Harvard who went on to become President of Bowdoin, said that the Principal firmly believed that the school contained "an undesirable element" whose removal would allow "the normal boy [to] develop as he should, without rules and without much guidance from the teacher." 56 The policy, of course, begged the question as to what constituted "normal." Amen believed that this involved "the moral training of a good home," a logical extension of his belief in the efficacy of the environment. To his mind, this was a necessary prerequisite to success at Exeter: those without this "equipment," as he called it, "should enter a school of a different kind."57 At the same time, however, Amen recognized the drawbacks that certain kinds of "good" environments could breed. He identified some two-thirds of the Exeter students as coming from "the richer classes" and noted that "almost all our trouble arises from this class of boys." He also ascribed difficulties in controlling alcohol use to the previous environments of the boys. "In most instances," he told one correspondent, a problem with drinking "arises from the fact that the boys learn to drink before they enter the school."58 However, his willingness to ascribe moral failure to prior environment did not stop him from expelling boys for breaches of standards at Exeter, and the record is rife with instances of dismissal for

A representative sampling includes Harlan P. Amen to J.M. Coburn, 18 March 1903; Amen to A.A. Wolfe, 25 March 1903; Amen to Ralph Whelan, 5 Jan. 1904; Amen to John Higham, 23 Feb. 1904. Amen papers, PEA archives. In a 1903 letter, Amen says he dismissed fifty boys the previous year; in his 1906 report to the board of trustees, Amen put the figure at 140, a figure possibly manufactured for the men who would renew his contract. See Amen to William S. Scott, 23 Feb. 1903, and Amen to W. J. Fessenden, 9 March 1903, Amen papers, PEA Archives; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 87. Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy 1913, 6; Exeter News-Letter, LXXXIII:46 (14 Nov. 1913), copy in Amen papers, PEA Archives.

57 58 56 55

Amen, "The Spirit of the Place," 6-7. Amen to Judge William H. Boyce, 27 Jan. 1904, Amen papers, PEA Archives.


drinking, smoking, poker-playing, academic slothfulness, passing bad checks, and failing to return promptly after the Thanksgiving vacation.59 In addition to dismissing "the vicious and the weak," Amen worked more proactively within the school to change its environment.60 One area of emphasis was the growing interest in interscholastic athletics. Amen latched onto this as a worthwhile outlet for adolescent energies and worked to strengthen the program at the school, and particularly in fostering the rivalry with Andover. Amen's appointment of Harold Ross as director of athletics in 1895 was probably the first such post created at any of the boarding schools.61 Amen also worked the "supply-side" of Exeter's market, advertising for students in an effort to attract a deeper applicant pool, a strategy which would in the long run improve the Academy.62 What is curious about Amen's proposals, particularly in light of the Academy's history, was the conspicuous absence of religious imperatives. Exeter, he wrote, would "combine a social democracy with an intellectual and moral state in which a love of

Amen to Ralph Whelan, 5 Jan. 1904; Amen to Drs. I.W.P. Buchanan and L.L. Rice, 18 Jan. 1904; Amen to Judge William H. Boyce, 27 Jan. 1904; Amen to J. M. Coburn, 18 March 1903; Amen to J.H. Coit [headmaster of St. Paul's School], 5 January 1904; Amen to John Higham, 23 February 1904; Amen to James M. McPherson, 6 Dec. 1906, all in Amen papers, PEA Archives. As the years progressed, Amen relaxed his stance on smoking, allowing the older students to partake since enforcement was impossible. Amen to Judge William H. Boyce, 27 Jan. 1904.

60 61


Amen to W. J. Tucker, 28 January 1903, Amen papers, PEA Archives.

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 88. Andover followed suit two years later as Cecil Bancroft hired Alfred Stearns (who later became the Academy's principal) as athletic director in 1897. Frederick S. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter: A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover: University Press of New England, 1979), 323. See advertisements in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 77, No. 464 (June 1896): 20; and Scribner's Magazine, Vol. 19, No. 6 (June 1896): 21.



honor is the ruling motive."63 The requisite values were hard work and self-reliance ­ "the spirit of work and independence," was how he put it to one inquirer. With these in hand, "the normal boy will develop as he should, without rules and without much guidance from the teacher."64 Amen sought to exact a sense of moral commitment from the students, placing the burden almost wholly on them and not on the school to make their experience at Exeter successful. "A boy must eventually meet his obligation or lose his citizenship in the academic community," he wrote, and was fond of quoting the motto of Winchester School in England: Disce aut discede, "work or walk."65 Once the acute problem of student behavior had begun to recede in the early 1900s, he coupled this with an ongoing emphasis on personal choice and individual freedom (thus reviving Soule's approach), granting the Exeter boys fairly wide latitude in their day to day affairs. Exeter students, for instance, had no formal study halls, but were permitted to prepare their lessons in their rooms. As time went on, Amen also relaxed his views on smoking, giving in to what he saw as inevitable and permitting the boys ­ except for scholarship students ­ to imbibe in the rooms.66 One of the salient characteristics of the school, he repeatedly told correspondents, was "the extent to which [it] governs itself without minute regulations or petty discipline." (One has the impression that there were few penalties

63 64

Amen, "The Spirit of the Place," 6-7.

Amen to William A. Scott, 23 Feb. 1903, Amen papers, PEA Archives; Amen, "The Spirit of the Place," 6-7.

65 66

Amen to Oscar Fay Adams, 9 March 1903, Amen papers, PEA Archives.

Amen to Drs. I.W.P. Buchanan and L.L. Rice, 18 January 1904, Amen papers, PEA archives. Amen retained ambivalent and even inconsistent views on smoking throughout his tenure. While at times he ardently defended his policy of allowing the boys to smoke, at others cited it as "an act which placed a boys' moral sense in peril." Amen to Herbert Barber, 8 February 1904, Amen papers, PEA Archives; Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 164-65.


imposed on students until expulsion was imposed.)67 John Phillips had also sought commitment from the students, to the Puritan God of the late eighteenth century. Amen's altar was altogether different, a golden icon of self-reliance steeped in the incense of hard work. "We believe that the moral and religious influence in the school is sincere and genuine," he told one correspondent. "It is not in any way forced as in many church or strictly denominational schools. We believe greatly in the moral influence of earnest work."68 Though factors such as proper upbringing could influence its development, little more than that was needed; in fact, anything else put the endeavor at risk. In other words, Protestant faith was of potentially greater hindrance than benefit in this area. "Modern liberal Protestantism," Amen wrote, "was probably even more sentimental in its appraisal of the moral realities in than secular idealism...."69 Hardheaded hard work was a far better means to the acquisition of knowledge. Yet while the specific language of traditional Protestantism was missing, Amen's program was hardly entirely secular. In addition to the essential values of the emerging Progressive movement, his ideas also reflected an ideological affinity with the vision that President Charles Eliot of Harvard was preaching for the modern university. Eliot's role on the Committee of Ten as an advocate of curriculum reform has already been noted, but there was far more on his agenda than simply the courses that American secondary students took in preparation for college. Eliot was about the work of refashioning the

Amen to W. J. Tucker, 28 January 1903; Amen to William A. Scott, 23 Feb. 1903; Amen to Oscar Fay Adams, 1903 [9 March 1903], Amen papers, PEA Archives..

68 69


Amen to Judge William H. Boyce, 27 Jan. 1904. Amen, "The Spirit of the Place," 14.


university into a nonsectarian ("undenominational" was his phrase),70 democratic institution, delivered from denominational constraints which he viewed as impediments to its ability to incorporate and serve a society whose religious diversity had expanded significantly by 1900. Eliot's vision was for a broad, generic religion, a philosophical theism based on a loose combination of rationalism ("a catholicity of the mind," was how he termed it), Protestant ethics, and an individualism which reflected a high degree of faith in the ability of people to make right decisions in a well-constructed environment.71 It was a kind of big-tent Unitarianism in which Protestant ethical imperatives were welcome, but Protestant sectarian beliefs considered anathema.72 There were several reason why Charles Eliot's vision couldn't have found a field better suited to his seeds than Phillips Exeter Academy. The belief that individuals learn from mistakes borne of freedom and choice ­ as opposed to instruction borne of doctrine and regulations ­ had been a bedrock principle of PEA ever since Gideon Soule (recall his dictum, "There are no rules until they are broken.") The school's Unitarianism had also informed an institutional hostility to sectarianism, a penchant reinforced by the bruising battle over the firing of Congregationalist Hurd in 1838 and encoded in the local-option choice given the students for their attendance at Sunday chapel. Amen also found in Eliot's appreciation of the growing diversity of American society a solution to the student problems of the 1880s: certainly any group of students might be better than the ones that the Academy currently had. Finally, Eliot's dislike of sectarian teaching in

Paul C. Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service: Religious Ideals and Educational Practice, 1868-1928 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 19.

71 72 70

Ibid. Ibid., 4, 17-57.


the classroom meshed nicely with the absence of religion courses in PEA's curriculum, and with its 1838 disestablishment of Congregationalism at the Academy. In short, Amen embraced Eliot's philosophy as a further accommodation to modernity, a nonsectarian updating of the Unitarian synthesis of Soule and Amen. Indeed, at Exeter the development of academic excellence began to subsume the business of character development which was preoccupying the other boarding schools at the time. There is no question that Amen had to address the issue of student behavior, for the school likely could not have survived conducting business as it had been usual in the 1880s. But the road not taken illustrates the differences between Exeter and a school like Groton, for Amen did not tackle the issue by turning the school into a self-conscious endeavor for character-development the way Peabody had. Instead, he chose to focus on the academic development of Exeter as his top priority, with character development deployed simply as a means to that end. He rarely discussed the concept in his voluminous correspondence, but devoted far more attention to disciplining infractions which interfered with the academic mission of the school ("breaking study hours," cheating in class, etc.).73 To Amen, character was less important than problems such as slothfulness or lack of willpower, the deadliest of sins; Endicott Peabody would have thought the reverse was true. It was a literal works theology, for "work in the best corrective of... bad habits," he told two inquirers.74 Ultimately, Amen fashioned a school in which "the earnestness of the spirit of work in the school has led to a self-reliance and

Amen to W.D. Krenson, 12 Dec. 1906; Amen to S.O. Stubbs, 31 Jan. 1907; Amen to L. B. Morison, 25 Jan. 1907; Amen correspondence, PEA Archives.



Amen to Drs. I.W.P. Buchanan and L.L. Rice, 18 Jan. 1904.


independence on the part of the average Exeter boy which is characteristic of the school."75 While there is no necessary conflict between faith, hard work, and academic excellence, Amen's failure to attempt any synthesis of the two carried with it the implication, shared by Eliot, that sectarian faith was either irrelevant or, worse, could actually serve as a drag in the endeavor of moral advancement. He believed that "church schools" were too soft in maintaining standards, once writing that they were too reluctant to "dispose" of boys once they had been admitted.76 He also confided to a friend that that the New Hampton Literary and Biblical Institute, a small school which lay further upstate in New Hampshire, was "doing good work" despite its name.77 However, Amen reserved such disdain for sectarianism and conservative religion, and not for broader expressions of the Protestant faith. In that respect, he marked a liberal reaction to the theologically conservative Scott and Fish, whose administrations, when placed in the context of their predecessor, Gideon Soule, and their successor, Harlan Amen, appear more and more to be the exception than the rule. The pattern is instructive: the history of Protestant faith in the boarding schools is not always linear, but can ebb and flow with liberal reactions to conservative regimes or vice versa.78 Amen's administration in fact had a great deal more

75 76 77 78

Amen to Oscar Fay Adams, 1903 [3 March 1903], Amen papers, PEA Archives. Amen to F.J. Fessenden, 9 March 1903, Amen correspondence, PEA Archives. Amen to Arthur Everett Small, 21 Jan. 1910, Amen papers, PEA Archives.

For a broad overview of one such example at Dartmouth College, see James Tunstead Burtchaell, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from their Christian Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 8-54.


continuity with Soule, who had left office in 1871, than it did with either of Amen's immediate predecessors. Furthermore, Amen's liberal reaction to Fish and Scott introduced a new element into the history of Exeter. John Phillips had held that faith in Christ was the pre-eminent goal, a necessary prerequisite for "goodness" and without which knowledge was dangerous.79 The Unitarian synthesis initiated by Samuel Abbot and set in place by Gideon Soule shifted the Christian faith from an end to a means, a desirable (but potentially ancillary) part of the process of furthering human endeavors. Scott and Fish had marked a conservative reaction to this, but the effort was cut short by the poor leadership abilities of the two men. Now, Harlan Amen was in effect proposing that hardheaded self-reliance, undertaken in the proper environment, would be of greater efficacy in academic achievement ­ now seen as an end in itself ­ than the overly-sentimental and ineffective values of modern Protestantism. Faith in Christ had moved from necessary to optional to expendable. John Phillips had sought a school which would teach "[t]he necessity of atonement by the blood of Jesus Christ; and of regeneration by the Spirit of God" and "[t]he doctrine of repentance towards God; and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."80 Gideon Soule had written the school's Catalogue to advise applicants that they must simply be of "good moral character." By 1911, Amen had removed the word "moral," so that the requirement was now simply "good character."81 Amen's culmination also reflected a 180-degree turn in the view of human nature. Where Phillips

The phrases are contained in the PEA Constitution, reprinted in Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 187-193; numerous copies are also available in PEA Archives.

80 81 79

Ibid. Bulletin of The Phillips Exeter Academy: Catalogue, 1911-1912, VII:4 (Dec. 1911), 27, 40.


had sought to mitigate the human sin inherent in each Exeter boy, Harlan Amen appealed to "the heroic in his nature" to "keep him in the ways of rectitude."82 The Protestant faith at Exeter therefore came to be practiced in an exceedingly low-key way, reflecting what was by now the dominant Unitarian heritage of the Academy. Edward Hale continued to be a presence at PEA and the Academy's board of trustees continued to hold its meetings at the American Unitarian Society in Boston, a symbolic act which signified Unitarianism's ongoing presence at PEA.83 Daily prayers in the Academy building and required Sunday attendance at a church of the individual student's choice also continued as part of the Academy calendar, residual practices of a lost past but indicative of an enduring presence.84 Implicit in the matter of choice was the idea that sectarian faith was entirely relative, a personal option best left to each individual rather than an institutional conviction. Amen didn't overly concern himself with the subject, either in his personal correspondence or in his efforts to publicize the school.85

Harlan P. Amen, "Discipline in the Academies," New York Evening Post, 22 Sept. 1906, reprinted in Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy II:4 (Dec. 1906), 22; Amen to Mrs. A.A. Wolfe, 25 March 1903, Amen correspondence, PEA Archives. Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 83; entries for 16 Feb. 1895, 20 April 1895, 11 May 1895, 17 June 1895, 20 April 1900, June 18, 1900, 21 June 1915, 26 June 1916, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911) and Trustees' Minutes, Book III (1911-1925), notebooks in PEA Archives. The Academy Constitution was read annually at these meetings, but no record exists of what the trustees or headmaster thought of John Phillips's original document. The 1901-02 Catalogue marked the first time that the school advised its constituency as to the specific denominations available: "Baptist; Congregational; First Parish; Congregational, Phillips Church; Episcopal; Methodist; Roman Catholic; Unitarian." Catalogue of The Phillips Exeter Academy. 1901-02. (The News-Letter Press, 1901, 21. By 1909, a sizeable number were opting for the Catholic church. Faculty Meeting Minutes for 12 October 1909, notebook in PEA Archives. See also Amen to Mr. H. A. Cheney, 5 January 1904, Amen correspondence; Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy VI:4 (Dec. 1910), 31; and Henry David Curwen, ed., Exeter Remembered (Exeter: Phillips Exeter Academy, 1965), 4, 8. Amen's correspondence is preserved in the Academy's archives, an impressive 60-volume set of letterpress pages. Each volume runs to some 1000 pages; in one such volume in 1911, Amen mentioned religion in any form in a grand total of two letters. He also declined to make any mention of religion in his correspondence with a writer intent on publishing an overview of the school. See Amen correspondence, 17

85 84 83



The content of the daily chapel services increasingly reflected these changes. School business such as athletic results and disciplinary measures now predominated rather than spiritual affairs, culminating each term in Amen's practice of announcing at the final service the names of "those who had failed to catch the spirit of the school" and were therefore to be dismissed.86 As a result, daily chapel at Exeter came to foster a sort of civil religion, a prep religion as it were. Even the hymns sung in the services were enlisted in this effort: "The Son of God Goes Forth to War" was regularly sung on the eve of the annual football game against Andover until one year, after nine consecutive losses to their rival, "Onward Christian Soldiers" was substituted.87 The choice of speakers in chapel was also reflected the blend of academic priority, sectarian relativism, and prep religion: college professors (MIT and Harvard were popular), college presidents (Hyde of Bowdoin was a regular), theological school deans (Harvard Divinity School, the Episcopal Theological School), and headmasters of other schools (Drury of St. Paul's and McPherson of Lawrenceville frequently spoke).88 As at Andover, Amen also de-emphasized religion in the academic curriculum, a development which undoubtedly reflected a dualistic worldview which saw sectarian religion as utterly peripheral to intellectual pursuit. He once wrote a parent to express his

June ­ 2 August 1911, Amen papers, PEA Archives; Amen to F.A. Merrill, 4 March 1903; Amen to Oscar Fay Adams, 9 March 1903. Amen papers, PEA Archives. Adams eventually published a chapter on PEA in Some Famous American Schools (Boston: Estes, 1903). Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 78, 80; Amen to unidentified parent, 8 January 1910, Amen papers, PEA Archives. Amos N. Blandon to Myron Williams, 16 November 1954, mss. in "Student Letters, 1781-" file, PEA Archives; also quoted in Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 79. Amen to Charles F.A. Currier, 5 February 1904, Amen correspondence, PEA Archives; Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy, VIII:2 (June 1912), 24; Moses Bradstreet Perkins to Samuel S. Drury, 30 Sept. 1910, Drury Papers, SPS Archives.

88 87 86


agreement that "creeds and dogmas should play no important part in the life of a young man between the age of eighteen and twenty-five. I do not say that they are entirely without [merit?], but I agree with you that the spirit and conduct of a man are of far greater importance. The intellectual formation may wait."89 In his first decade as principal, Exeter developed a separate English curriculum (thus moving toward a dual track program at almost the same time that Andover was merging theirs), and expanded the teaching of modern languages, natural sciences, and mathematics.90 The formal teaching of religion in any form, except for a course in "Sacred Music," continued to be neglected at the Academy as it had been ever since Isaac Hurd's departure in 1838.91 Yet however much the Protestant faith might have been separated from the academic curriculum, this blend of tempered evangelicalism, Unitarianism, and nonsectarianism continued to maintain a significant presence in the rest of the Academy. Religion as a matter of individual choice included more traditional and conservative options such as the Christian Fraternity. Amen had attended the CF meetings as a student at Exeter.92 By 1897, less than two years after his appointment, the CF developed a relationship with the Northfield Conferences and the Student Volunteer Movement, having developed a "Northfield Committee" to facilitate Exeter students' involvement in

89 90

Amen to Mrs. Marion Cushing Stetson, 20 January 1910, Amen papers, PEA Archives.

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 91; Amen to Endicott Peabody, 16 January 1904, Amen papers, PEA Archives; Representative course listings are in the Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy VI:4 (Dec. 1910), 23, 32-36.

92 91

entry for Feb. 9, 1873, Christian Fraternity Record Book, Jan. 20, 1870 ­ March 16, 1876.


the conferences.93 Over the years a number of students attended, a clear indication of the continuing presence of evangelical religious faith among Exeter students. Amen himself endorsed the conferences at Northfield, and even entertained requests to teach courses at the summer conferences.94 He also entertained periodic suggestions from David Porter, head of the YMCA, about potential faculty masters at Exeter.95 On campus, the organization was likely an effective force among the students, meeting twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays and attracting an impressive array of speakers to these meetings.96 The list of visitors parallels that of the Sunday morning chapel program, and it is logical to assume that when they came to campus, they frequently spoke at both venues. The range of theological views reflected the blend of the overall Academy as traditional evangelicals (David Porter and Lewis Dunn, both of the YMCA) were invited as well as speakers from more liberal divinity schools such as Andover, Harvard, and Episcopal Theological. College presidents such as Woodrow Wilson of Princeton also came, affirming both Exeter's status as a top-flight preparatory school and its irenic theological views (and perhaps facilitating Princeton's ongoing efforts to crack the New England boarding school market as a source for its students). Invitations to Journalists from magazines such as Harper's Weekly also lent a more secular tinge.97 Ultimately the

entry for 13 June 1897, Christian Fraternity Record Book, Feb. 9, 1896 ­ April 2, 1905, notebook in PEA Archives. Amen to George B. Courtelyou, 21 June 1911; Amen to Moses Bradstreet Perkins, 24 July [no year], Amen papers, PEA Archives. Amen to David Porter, 24 July [no year]; Amen to David Porter, 8 July [no year], Amen correspondence Amen papers, PEA Archives.

96 95 94


Amen to Judge William H. Boyce, 27 Jan. 1904, Amen papers, PEA Archives.


Christian Fraternity proved so adept in attracting speakers that the main Academy lecture course was cut back.98 But perhaps the greatest evidence that traditional Protestantism continued to maintain a vital presence at Exeter came with the 1900 proposal for the Gordon Bible Fund. Nathaniel Gordon had graduated from Exeter in 1833, and who would therefore been instructed by Samuel Abbot, Gideon Soule, and Isaac Hurd. After attending Dartmouth College and taking up law, he had returned to Exeter where he practiced as an attorney for the remainder of his life and made a fair amount of money. He also served as a senior deacon at the Phillips Church, and for several years served as superintendent of its Sunday School. "Religious zeal," noted the local newspaper upon his death, "was his most prominent characteristic."99 In December 1900, Gordon proposed a donation of $3000 (almost $31,000 in today's terms) to advance the teaching of the Bible at Exeter.100 Gordon's Deed of Gift was explicit in its expressed purpose:

A knowledge of the Bible being the foundation of `virtue and true piety,' in harmony with these expressions of the State of New Hampshire, and of the Founder of the Academy, and, as the Bible, also, is the chief cornerstone of the Republic, and the foundation of all civilized life, a knowledge of which, the Christian world is, today, in obedience to the Savior of mankind, seeking to extend to all nations, at this time, dwelling in darkness, I, Nathaniel Gordon, of Exeter... actuated with a desire to honor God, and to attract the students of the

This represents but a single year's worth of guest speakers. Bulletin of The Phillips Exeter Academy: Catalogue, 1910-1911, VI:4 (Dec. 1910), 60-61. See also Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy III:3 (Sept. 1907), 42-43; Bulletin of The Phillips Exeter Academy: Catalogue, 1911-1912, VII:4 (Dec. 1911), 38-39.

98 99


Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy IV:1 (March 1908), 35.

"Nathaniel Gordon '33," Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy I:4 (December 1905), 32-33. The article notes that the material is "Taken, in part, from the Exeter News-Letter.") Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 50. The financial calculation is based on a comment in Thomas Kessner, Capital City: New York City and the Men Behind America's Rise to Economic Dominance, 1860-1900 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 149.



Phillips Exeter Academy, to the wonderful revelation of Himself and of His will to mankind, in the Bible; if acceptable to the Trustees of the Phillips Exeter Academy,... do give to the said Trustees, the sum of three thousand dollars ($3000)... for the following purposes... 101

Those "purposes" included funding the prizes for a public examination of "who have made the Bible, one of their studies, during the year." Gordon also stipulated "that the teacher of the Bible to the students shall be a devout Christian and a member of a Christian Church, in good standing." An offer of a second gift of $2000 followed with the stipulation that it not be touched until either the year 2001 or until it had grown to $103,000. It was then to be used "for the sole purpose of promoting the study of the Bible, by all the students of the Academy, in order that every student, before he leaves The Phillips Exeter Academy, which was founded for the purpose of `promoting virtue and true piety," ­ may be proficient not only in latin [caps sic], Greek and mathematics, but, also may have learned something from the Bible about the true God, Heaven, Man's origin, eternal life, and Salvation of Souls, by faith in the Lord ­ Jesus Christ." This stipulation in itself would have marked a clear reversal of Amen's academics-first priorities, a concern also reflected in the provisions for the qualifications for the instructor of the course: "a learned Christian man of acknowledged spirituality; humility; earnest piety; and parental character, and proficient in the knowledge of the Bible." Gordon hoped that the instructor would teach only Bible and nothing else except for the Sunday Bible class, a provision which recalled Hurd's work ethic as well as his theology. The teaching was not to be sectarian, but must consist of the simple "`Word of God,' as set forth in the Old and New Testaments." The goal, announced Gordon, was that the



entry for 17 Dec. 1900, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911), 151-52. Notebook in PEA


students learn the Calvinist doctrines set forth in John Phillips's original Deed of Gift which had established Exeter in 1783. Lest anyone be in doubt as to what precisely this constituted, Gordon's deed of gift quoted from Phillips's document at great length.102 The implications of all this were, of course, considerable. Gordon was dangling a considerable sum of money before the Academy, but with strings the size of good-sized ropes attached. In order to meet the stipulations in the gift, PEA would have to reinstitute a formal curriculum requirement in Bible, as well as retaining "Latin, Greek, and mathematics." If nothing else, this provision, and the attendant silence about natural sciences and modern languages, indicate where Gordon stood in the debate over curriculum modernization. But the issue was obviously much greater than that of mere curriculum. Gordon's proposal was essentially primitivist, an attempt to pole-vault back over nearly a full century of the Academy's history to reclaim the original legacy of John Phillips for use in the early twentieth century. The proposal to teach "the simple Word of God" was also telling. The belief that the truths of the Bible were self-evident and available to anyone who chose to try and comprehend them reflected the long influence of the Scottish Common Sense Realist philosophy in America, and was intimately related to the view that religious truth was self-evident to anyone who sought it. It was a view with a long and honored history in America, but one rapidly being subsumed by a Kantian, inductive method of thinking.103 At the bottom line, Gordon's proposal threatened to upset the delicate balance which Amen was crafting, tilting Exeter's

102 103

Ibid., 152-57.

Theodore Dwight Bozeman, Protestants in an Age of Science: The Baconian Ideal and Antebellum American Religious Thought (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), 132-159.


institutional weight in favor of traditional Protestantism at the expense of the nonsectarian accommodation and Unitarian facets of Amen's synthesis. The Gordon proposal could well have resulted in a second Hurd-like battle for the soul of the Academy. Unfortunately, the records of boards of trustees are wretchedly thin sources to trace the fate of such proposals, as they are rarely respositories of reflections on first principles. The trustees responded to Gordon's proposal with a resolution in which they "recognise [sic], in the gift of the Hon. Nathaniel Gordon a purpose in harmony with the objects of our Founder" and voted that it "be gratefully accepted." One tantalizing name then appears as the trustees authorized two men, one of whom was George Wentworth, to convey the trustees' thanks to Gordon and to hammer out "the final form of the deed of gift."104 Wentworth's fundraising efforts, which apparently had come up dry in the 1880s, had struck a gusher a decade and a half later. In this light, the Gordon proposal was not simply an effort to reinstate conservative Protestantism at Exeter ­ though that was doubtless the core of the issue ­ but may have also represented yet another effort in the old mathematician's long-running effort to undermine Principal Amen. What happened afterwards is not entirely clear, but the results would indicate that Amen and the modernists struck back against the Wentworth-Gordon effort to restore the primacy of John Phillips at Exeter. They appear to have done so by attacking the Achilles heel of the proposal, that of requiring attendance in the Bible class. While the teaching of Bible had gone on sporadically at Exeter for many years, it had always been voluntary.

entry for 17 Dec. 1900, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911), 150. The secretary to the board recorded the trustees' actions and then the contents of Gordon's Deed of Gift.



Thus, while the Gordon proposal essentially sought to reclaim one part of the Academy's heritage, it also went against the grain of the New England individualism which so infused Exeter. It is also quite likely that Amen was able to persuade several of the trustees that the proposal represented a threat to his internal authority which could not go unchecked. Whatever the precise machinations, a year later the trustees qualified their initial reception of the gift, resolving

That while the Trustees would welcome the establishing of the class or classes in Bible Study in The Academy, as proposed by Hon. Nathaniel Gordon, they feel that the greatest good would be accomplished if attendance in these classes be made voluntary, and it was Voted: That Mr. Amen be a committee to confer with Mr. Gordon, with power to make arrangements for establishing such voluntary class or classes.105

The fact that Amen subsequently succeeded in delaying consideration of the gift raised the very real possibility that the entire matter might be tabled as too divisive.106 However, the board finally approved the gift in the winter off 1902 and the Gordon Bible Fund was established. But Amen's appeal to volunteerism had worked, and the Sunday Bible Class which was established did not require attendance of any students. Gordon evidently did not suffer this defeat in peace, and the following spring ­ events did not seem to be moving with great rapidity ­ he raised the stakes by proposing yet another gift of $10,000. In doing so, he wrote: "If at any time hereafter...the Trustees should deem it judicious to make the Bible one of the regular studies in the `curriculum' of the Academy studies," then the money should go toward support of the Bible Department or the

105 106

entry for 18 Dec. 1901, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911), 184-85. entry for 15 Feb. 1902, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911), 185.


Sunday Bible class.107 Ultimately, reported the local newspaper, he hoped to build the endowment to the point where it could support a full-time faculty member to teach "the bible, sacred archaeology and kindred subjects, and shall also have general oversight of the school's spiritual and moral life."108 The trustees accepted the gift, though there is no indication one way or the other as to whether or not they assented to its ultimate conditions.109 To teach the class each Sunday, Amen appointed Arthur G. Leacock. The stated goal was preparation for public examinations at the end of each year in knowledge of the Bible, rewarded by Gordon fund prizes of $25, $20, $15, $10, and $5.110 The resiliency of the Christian Fraternity was also evident in the arrangement, for it was under that enduring organization's auspices that the classes were offered.111 Though he presided over a class which was voluntary and which met only once a week, the appointment of Leacock marked the first instance since Isaac Hurd's dismissal in 1838 that Exeter had hired someone to teach Bible. By 1905 the classes were flourishing with fully one-half the student body attending; several in turn taught Sunday school classes at local churches in Exeter. 112 By 1907, the numbers had grown to the point where the boys were divided into sections according to grade; the following year, two additional sections had to be

107 108 109 110 111 112

entry for 15 June 1903, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911), 225-26. Exeter News Letter, 23 Jan. 1903, Bourne Scrapbook, PEA Archives. entry for the next meeting [Jan. 1904?], Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911), 227. Ibid. entry for 18 Feb. 1905, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1894-1911), 275. Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy I:1 (March 1905), 19-20.


created. 113 One result of all this was to attract students to the school-sponsored services for Sunday chapel; by 1911 it was attracting some 250 students a week, a figure also close to half that of the total student body.114 However, both the overall result and the means by which it was achieved was fairly startling. A generous donor, an internal end-run around the headmaster's authority, and voluntary religion had combined to return Bible-teaching to Exeter.115 Though it was not required, essentially disestablished from the formal academic curriculum, evangelical religion clearly persisted at a grass-roots level. The entire affair neatly illustrates one of the core characteristic of the Amen triune synthesis of Protestantism at Exeter. Traditional Protestantism would be separated from the nonsectarian accommodation, yet permitted to co-exist in a mash of antebellum religious faith, Unitarian rectitude, and Gilded Age rationalism. The faith of John Phillips and Isaac Hurd was available as a private option, but the updated Unitarian synthesis of Samuel Abbot and Gideon Soule ­ Harlan Amen's nonsectarian accommodation ­ would inform the academic life of the Academy. Curiously, there is some indication that Amen was dissatisfied with how the delicate equation was balanced as he reached the end of his career, and whether the overall dominance of nonsectarianism and Unitarian rationalism was sufficient to compel moral behavior. These doubts surfaced in his final graduation address in June 1913, in

Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy III:4 (Dec. 1907), 32; Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy IV:4 (Dec. 1908), 34. Entry for 19 October 1912, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1911-1925). The School eventually acquired the Church in 1922. The school's curriculum description said that "the Bible is the main text." Bulletin of The Phillips Exeter Academy: Catalogue, 1913-1914, IX:4 (Dec. 1913), 34.

115 114



which he warned his listeners of the "grave danger of forgetting the eternal verities, which in the struggle with the Philistines have long out-lived things ephemeral, and will forever endure." Though so much of what he had attempted in his tenure was to the contrary, he told them that "One of the finest things which an Academy like this can do for you is to awaken in your soul an endless longing for something adequate outside of yourself ­ an undying sentiment for something great, noble, serviceable to human needs."116 As he looked toward retirement, Amen was also increasingly disenchanted with the characteristics of what he called "the modern boy." In his mind, clearly the generational wheel was turning, and not necessarily for the better. "The home from which the modern boy comes is widely different from that of two generations ago," he wrote to the Academy's constituencies, "and the schools which prepare him for the Academy have changed with the times. Gentler methods must succeed the older, sterner ones."117 His conclusion was likely rooted in his own observation of student behavior, for there are indications that widespread drinking ­ and other problems only darkly hinted at in refined Victorian prose ­ had resurfaced as a problem among Exeter's student body. When Amen sought a more proactive solution, he turned to Robert E. Speer and an associate of John R. Mott, two stalwarts of moderate Protestantism, to address the students on the matter of "temperance and social purity."118 In fact, Amen may well have begun to wonder whether traditional Protestantism was in proper balance with the nonsectarian and Unitarian elements of the triune

116 117 118

Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy IX:2 (July 1913), 49. Harlan P. Amen, "The Spirit of the Place," Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy, 1913, 9. Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy VII:2 (June 1911), 45.


synthesis which he had implemented. In forging that synthesis, he had taken the Gilded Age compromise with modernity farther than any other of the schools prior to 1920, and had in effect conducted an eighteen-year experiment to see whether good behavior could be fostered through the establishment of rationalism in the school's curriculum and a modernized, nonsectarian version of Protestantism, while making traditional Protestantism available on a voluntary basis. But neither he nor the trustees appear to have been enamored of the results. The latter also approved several measures to shore up the practice of traditional Protestantism during this period. For one, mention of a "committee on the religious conditions of the students" appears in the records, indicating that the issue had raised enough concern to merit attention at the highest policymaking level of the school.119 An even more startling development occurred in 1911 when the Sunday Bible course was made a requirement for students of the youngest grade at the Academy.120 And while the existence of a committee can sometimes be counterproductive and a curricular requirement for a single grade illusory, more substantive measures occurred with the creation of the Board of Preachers and the appointment of Frederick Libby. On April 20, 1912, the board of trustees gave tentative approval to a Board of Preachers for Phillips Exeter Academy, "an innovation which will doubtless be permanent, if the test proves satisfactory." The Board was analogous to that which had existed at Harvard for some years, and was essentially a list of visiting ministers who would staff the pulpit at the Academy's services in Second Church. The Bulletin reported

119 120

Entry for 19 October 1912, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1911-1925). Bulletin of The Phillips Exeter Academy: Catalogue, 1911-1912, VII:4 (Dec. 1911), 39.


that the Board would consist of "only clergymen from various denominations, who have proved their ability to interest boys by actual service at colleges and the few schools which have such a system."121 In the first year of the arrangement, Exeter students heard, among others, Headmaster Samuel Drury of St. Paul's; Albert Fitch, President of Andover Theological Seminary; Samuel A. Eliot, President of the American Unitarian Association; the Deans of the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge and of Harvard Divinity School; Andover's chaplain, Markham Stackpole; David Porter of the YMCA; Headmaster Simon McPherson of Lawrenceville; and Bishop Parker of New Hampshire.122 The arrangement strengthened the religious life of the school as more and more PEA students chose to attend services in the Academy chapel rather than in town.123 The establishment of the Board also strengthened voluntary religion at Exeter by shoring up the Christian Fraternity, as many of the speakers stayed on to address the organization's meetings on Sunday evenings.124 As a result, the Bulletin reported that membership was up to 170, an appreciable percentage of the Academy's 572 students.125

121 122

Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy VIII:2 (June 1912), 24.

Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy VIII:4 (June 1912), 38-39; Bulletin of The Phillips Exeter Academy: Catalogue, 1912-1913, VIII:4 (Dec. 1912), 39. The guest preachers also served to strengthen Exeter's ties with other New England boarding schools. The presence of McPherson and Drury was one more indication that the insularity of all of the schools, Exeter included, was giving way to a sense of collective identity. The Bulletin's estimate was one-half; Libby estimated that 3/5 to 2/3 of the boys exercised this option. See Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy IX:1, 2-3; Frederick J. Libby, "Morals and Religion at Exeter," Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy, 1913, 20; Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy VIII:4 (June 1912), 39-40. Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy IX:1, 2-3; William E. Soule, "The Phillips Exeter Academy from 1895 to 1915," flyer in PEA archives. The CF figure is from 1912-1913; the enrollment figure is from the following year.

125 124 123


Its activities were also expanding, something which had something to do with the second development, Amen's appointment of Frederick Libby. Amen appointed Libby in November 1912 to teach German and mathematics. In addition, the Exeter Bulletin announced that he was to occupy "the position of general counselor to the students in religion and moral questions, a new post in the academy." Technically he wasn't a chaplain ­ PEA wouldn't hire its first chaplain until 1953126 ­ but the designation of one person with responsibility for moral and spiritual life mirrored the same development at Andover with Stearns's appointment of Markham Stackpole. The Bulletin reported that "his [Libby's] appointment is in the same line with the institution of Academy preachers; both innovations are designed to quicken and deepen the religious life of the school." The Bulletin also implied that he had another mandate when it noted that "Mr. Libby's influence has been helpful in broadening the scope of the [Christian] Fraternity and bringing it into service in matters outside the Academy." 127 The context was everything. At Groton, the adoption of the gospel of social service had marked an effort to help wall off evangelical religion from the school and was therefore a liberal reform. At Exeter, it served to acknowledge a religious presence at the Academy ­ an innovation, to be sure, but one with decidedly conservative implications. Libby was a man of considerable skill at mobilizing adolescents, for within a few years of his arrival, Exeter students were conducting voluntary Bible classes in the Exeter dormitories which involved about a hundred students, a mid-week Bible class in the town High School, classes in English for local foreigners, a Boy Scout organization in town,

126 127

Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 157. Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy, March 1913, 56-58.


work at a local mission, and a Sunday afternoon YMCA in nearby Portsmouth .128 Meetings of the Fraternity were devoted to presentations by settlement house workers (Jacob Riis made an appearance) and, as tensions rose in Europe, a local pastor made a presentation on "Peace." Its members took note of problems within the school as well as without, starting a "loan fund for needy students" in 1914. They also tied themselves to the wider work of the YMCA by contributing money to support the work of David Porter and Arthur Howe, both of whom were on the Board of Preachers. Like Stackpole at Andover, Libby proved to be an eminently practical man, using a book entitled "Life Problems" for the dormitory meetings, and steering the CF meetings, which were led by the boys, to "subjects of a practical religious nature." 129 In addition to his contributions to religious work at the Academy, Libby also emerged as the first articulate voice that the Academy had seen in many years on behalf of a forceful and proactive role for Protestant faith at PEA. He was unabashed in his belief that the school should play a role in the religious life of a boy ­ in loco dei as well as in loco parentis was how he put it ­ and that it was a key facilitator in helping an adolescent to understand "both the justice and the love of God" as well as helping to "prepare him to appreciate the inflexibility of every law of God."130 Perhaps the crucial element in this, however, was that Libby's Protestantism was entirely compatible with the ideal of academic rigor. "If the class rooms are fundamentally religious and ethical in

128 129


Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy X:1 (April 1914), 53-54; Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy X:2 (July 1914), 51. Frederick J. Libby, "Morals and Religion at Exeter," Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy 1913, 19-20.



tone," he wrote, "the religious life of a school is bound to be at least healthy and sound, though it may lack adequate and worthy modes of expression. If, on the other hand, the spirit and temper of the class rooms be irreligious and unethical, the religious life of the school is likely to be flabby and emotional, however numerous the services on Sunday may be." In Libby's view, Exeter's classrooms clearly met these criteria: "they train while they instruct."131 In redressing the lack of balance in his triune synthesis, Amen had found someone who could readmit considerations of faith into the Exeter classroom. The final indication that a moderate form of traditional Protestantism still had a place at Exeter in the pre-World War I era came in April 1915, when the aging John R. Mott was invited to Exeter for three days to conduct what the Bulletin called "a religious campaign."132 By 1915, Mott was standing astride the emerging fundamentalistmodernist split, maintaining that "there are not two gospels, one social and one individual. There is but one Christ who lived, died, and rose again, and relates Himself to the lives of men."133 Mott was an accomplished speaker, in enormous demand across the country. However, as early as 1900 he had resolved to "narrow down" and, in the words of his biographer, "restrict his campus visitations to the Ivy League, the larger state and private universities, and other prestige or strategic institutions."134 His approach was suitable to Exeter, for his primary appeal from podium or pulpit was to reason and not

131 132 133

Ibid., 19. Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy XI:1 (April 1915), 53. C. Howard Hopkins, John R. Mott, 1865-1955: A Biography (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, Ibid., 220.

1979), 417.



emotion.135 Speaking at both the Exeter Town Hall and at Phillips Church, he delivered four talks, devoting himself to the topics of "Temptation," "Christ's Power to Give Power," "The European War a Lesson in Self-Reliance," and "Religion an Affair of the Will." Once again, the Bulletin lent institutional approval to the message, noting that "These addresses together formed a powerful appeal to the students to accept Christ as the most effective agent for meeting temptation and for gaining personal righteousness and strength."136 Harlan P. Amen died during the school year in 1913. Fittingly enough, perhaps, it was on the Saturday of the football game against Andover, a central annual rite in the civil religion of the Academy.137 The homages paid to him in the ensuing weeks reflected the blend of Unitarian rationalism, nonsectarianism, and moderate traditional Protestantism which he'd constructed at Exeter. The Trustees lauded him for "his ardent zeal for the upbuilding of the material equipment [and] intellectual standing," also noting the "moral tone and spiritual life of the Academy that he'd created."138 A bronze plaque placed in the Academy Building lauded him as "upbuilder of ideals and resources / teacher and leader of teachers / helper of boys to be men / modest, zealous, thorough, righteous" ­ a generically religious memorial notable for its lack of religious imagery or language.139 His old roommate, William DeWitt Hyde, rhapsodically wrote that "In his

135 136 137

Ibid., 222. Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy XI:2 (July 1915), 59.

Amos M. Blandin [class of 1914] to Myron Williams, 16 November 1954, file: student reminiscences, 1781-, PEA Archives.

138 139

entry for 14 Dec. 1913, Trustees Minutes, Book III (1911-1925). Williams, The Story of Phillips Exeter, 84.


prayers all felt his beautiful, deeply religious spirit, his simplicity, and power, free from even the slightest indication of cant and empty formality,­ the voice of one speaking with God." Amen's typical valedictory for a graduating class, Hyde noted, was to tell them to "Go forth from these halls of an ancient, earnest, democratic school to battle bravely for the right, to bring into the world a new era of light, of strength, and of hope."140 These last words were filled with terrible irony. The Progressive Era in which Amen had been Principal of Exeter was one of remarkable optimism, characterized by what Theodore Roosevelt termed "a condition of excitement and irritation in the public mind."141 Indeed, the people of few eras in history have been surer of their ability to reform and perfect the world, and to thus bring it into "a new era of light, of strength, of hope." But even as the storm clouds gathered in Europe which would ultimately destroy that illusion, smaller ones were gathering which threatened to obscure the "new era of light" at Exeter as well. In his final years at Exeter, deteriorating student behavior had caused Harlan Amen to rethink the balance of the three elements in Exeter's religious life. As a result, a moderate form of traditional Protestantism had experienced something of a resurgence of Protestant faith at the Academy. But at the time of his death, it was still unclear as to precisely what the balance would be among the three elements. As Lewis Perry accepted the trustees' offer to succeed Amen, the Protestantism faith at Exeter still occupied an ambiguous and uncertain position in the life of the Academy. Curricular ambiguity, an enduring traditional Protestantism at the grass-roots level, and a modernist

Bulletin of the Phillips Exeter Academy X:1 (April 1914), 10. See also The Phillips Exeter Monthly (Nov. 1913), 34; The Exonian CVII: 16 (15 November 1913).



quoted in Goldman, Rendezvous With Destiny, 145.


gospel of social service now all coexisted at the Academy in an arrangement which was largely undefined, and was perhaps beyond definition. The question which hung in the air was just how to compel behavior in a world whose moral norms were undergoing rapid change. Amen's triune synthesis had succeeded in rescuing an Academy which was, at his appointment in 1895, failing. But the First World War was to unleash powerful forces in the culture which would raise the question as to whether such a Protestant blend would suffice in a new era.


CHAPTER X MOUNT HERMON, 1879 - c. 1935

By the late nineteenth century, several models for Protestant Christianity had been attempted in shaping the mission and purposes of American boarding schools. Evangelical Protestantism in two reformed denominations, the Congregationalists and Presbyterians, had informed the origins of Phillips Exeter, Phillips Andover, and Lawrenceville. While Andover and Lawrenceville had retained their denominational ties and ideological convictions, within two generations after its founding Exeter had shifted, adopting in the 1820s and 1830s a Unitarian model for boarding school education which in many ways proved to be a harbinger for subsequent developments in the other schools. In the second half of the nineteenth century, Episcopalians had also founded boarding schools, though intradenominational differences were reflected in the two somewhat different types at Groton and St. Paul's. After 1870, however, both the Reformed and the Episcopal schools had to varying degrees deemed the antebellum Protestantism to be insufficient to the needs and imperatives of the Gilded Age, and so had made accommodations to modernity which they deemed would make the Protestant mission and purpose more compatible with changing educational imperatives and the rise of the modern university. The central aspect of this accommodation was a de-emphasis on evangelical piety, replaced by the "real work" of character development. These developments did not occur in a uniform fashion, but it is safe to say that by the end of 435

the 1870s, there was at the schools an incipient Protestant movement which might be called "modernist," at least in the sense that it was open to departures from antebellum evangelicalism as a means of negotiating modernity. However, in that year a third model of Protestant education emerged at a sixth school. In 1879, the evangelist Dwight L. Moody, perhaps with more vision than forethought, suggested to Henry Durant, the founder of Wellesley College, that there was need for a girls' Seminary in western Massachusetts, where the public high school system had been slow to develop.1 Durant agreed, purchased almost sixteen acres of land for the school, and it was launched in Moody's home town of Northfield in November 1879.2 Two years later, Moody approached a Boston clockmaker named Hiram Camp and proposed that he provide the money for a boys' counterpart. The result was a $25,000 gift and the establishment of the Mount Hermon School on the opposite shore of the Connecticut River in 1881.3 Founding a school was in itself hardly unique: there was a veritable educational explosion in Massachusetts during the 1880s as the number of schools and students skyrocketed.4 (Groton, as we have seen, was one of the endeavors.) Northfield and Mount

Paul Moody mentions the paucity of public high schools in the area. Paul D. Moody, My Father: An Intimate Portrait of Dwight Moody (Boston: Little, Brown, 1938), 147. Janet Mabie, The Years Beyond: The Story of Northfield, D.L. Moody, and the Schools (The Northfield Bookstore: East Northfield, MA, 1960), 62-67; Burnham Carter, So Much to Learn: The History of Northfield Mount Hermon School in Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary, 1980 (Northfield, MA: Northfield Mount Hermon School, 1976), 23. Thomas Coyle, The Story of Mount Hermon (Mount Hermon, MA: The Mount Hermon Alumni Association, 1906), 7-17; William R. Moody, The Life of Dwight L. Moody (New York: Revell, 1900), 320321, 327; William R. Moody, D.L. Moody (New York: McMillan, 1931; New York: Garland, 1988), 305307, 313-314. The number of institutions "for the superior instruction of women" had risen from 33 in 1870 to 227 in 1880; the number of female students, from 5337 to 25, 780. Overall in the decade, enrollment in

4 3 2



Hermon, however, were unique in several respects. First of all, the schools were not in their inception college preparatory schools. They should be viewed instead as more closely related to the older vocational schools of New England, except that the vocation that Moody had in mind was preparation for urban Christian mission work. As Moody envisioned them, the Mount Hermon boys would be "gap men," "sort of middlemen to stand in the breach; men who will give their time to visiting the homes of the people, hold cottage meetings and meetings in halls and stores... men who will strike night after night, and follow up the work among the people."5 Likewise, Northfield aspired to "help young women of very limited means to get an education.... to help them into lives that will count the most for the cause of Christ."6 According to The Record of Christian Work, Northfield graduates would "meet the demand for trained women, who will devote themselves to distinctly missionary work in some sphere, either at home or abroad; but especially among the poor of great cities."7 Supplementary goals stated in early school publications also included the evangelism of the students and the creation of summer conferences "for mutual encouragement in matters pertaining to the Kingdom of Christ."8 There were several important points of methodology that extended from these lofty goals. The first set Mount Hermon apart from its contemporary boarding schools:

Massachusetts' private academies rose 70%. Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year 1880 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880), CXVII, 140-141. The Record of Christian Work, March 1886: 5; cited in James F. Findlay, Jr., Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist, 1837-1899 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 313. Catalogue of Northfield Seminary for 1912-1913, The Northfield Schools Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 2 (May 1913): 23. Hand-book of the Northfield Seminary and the Mount Hermon School (Mount Hermon, MA: The Schools, 1889), 18. The Hand-book was written by Henry Rankin.

8 7 6 5

Hand-book, 22.


Moody was convinced that the school should admit only older students who would be better able to respond to such a high calling. One of the Schools' earliest chroniclers, an alumnus named Thomas Coyle, noted that Moody "became convinced that lads under sixteen years of age had seldom formed serious purposes in life, and the risk that young boys would turn out badly was great." However, in a telling comment, Coyle also cited another factor: "The principle circumstance, however, which led Mr. Moody to admit those who were older was the flood of applicants who told of their early meager advantages and who longed for a chance to make up their deficiencies."9 Thus in 1886 a minimum age of 16 was set, with no maximum.10 As a result, noted an early faculty member, "Mount Hermon of the `90's was ...probably the only school in America where a man of thirty-five and a boy of sixteen could study grammar side by side."11 A second aspect of the school, however, was more similar to Groton and St. Paul's as Mount Hermon was characterized by a strong emphasis on self-reliance. Though its mission and purpose was specifically geared to poorer students, Moody, like Endicott Peabody, was unalterably opposed to full scholarships and required that every student pay at least part of the tuition. A agricultural work program was established at Mount Hermon, both to foster this self-reliance and also to help defray some of the school's costs; a "domestic" program for the girls at Northfield sought the same ends. But Moody carried this ideal


Coyle, The Story of Mount Hermon, 27.

An 1883 school publication noted that "This school is designed for boys between the ages of eight and twelve years..." Cited in Joseph Robert Curry, "Mount Hermon from 1881 to 1971: An Historical Analysis of a Distinctive American Boarding School" (Ed.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts, 1972). Will Moody recounts the change in D.L. Moody, 314-315. "Dwight L. Moody," by Gaius Glenn Atkins, 1937, p. 331; filed in the Dwight L. Moody Papers, Box 2, Moody papers, LC. Atkins taught history at Mount Hermon for several years before his career at Auburn Theological Seminary.




farther than did either Peabody or Coit in his treatment of the finances of the Schools, refusing to develop an endowment fund in the belief that the institutions must remain dependent on loyal alumni and friends.12 This conviction proved to be a crucial factor in shaping the school, for earlier and to a greater extent than any of the other five schools, Mount Hermon became dependent on alumni for support, with the concurrent result that the alumni acquired a loud voice in its affairs. Finally and most significantly, there was an unavoidable tension established in the schools from the start, one which had to do with the balance between Christian training and Christian education. Where should the primary emphasis lie, on an education which would prepare men and women for a vocation or for college, or on the training of Christian workers? Moody was opposed to education of nonbelievers as a mission of the school, believing that to do so would only put a dangerous weapon in the hands of potentially dangerous men and women. However, his evangelist's heart often led him to admit nonbelievers to the school in the hopes that they might be converted, including at one point a young cousin for whose salvation he hoped.13 In the early years of the schools, however, the overall pattern did establish the primacy of Christian training over and above education. The latter was deemed secondary, a mere means toward the more important end of Christian growth. The inherent tension in attempting to integrate Athens and Jerusalem was one that was never fully resolved during the school's early history. Foundational to the experiment was a curriculum centered on the study of the Bible. Moody was a nineteenth-century literalist who believed deeply in the Scriptures.

12 13

W.R. Moody, D.L. Moody, 320-321. D.L. Moody to [William F.] Lee, November 18, 1882, Moody Papers, LC.


"No doubt of what they were and did ever troubled him," recalled one acquaintance half a century later.14 The curriculum reflected his belief that the Bible was necessary to undergird any effective Christian work, and spanned four years of study. Year one was devoted to "principal doctrines" including "Repentance; Faith, Regeneration; Justification; Assurance; Sanctification; God, his Attributes; Christ, his Character and Mission; the Holy Spirit." The next three years undertook a cover-to-cover study of the Bible, beginning with Genesis, proceeding through the Old Testament, Acts, and the Epistles, and culminating in the fourth year course on the life of Christ.15 Elective courses in "different forms of practical Christian work" were also available to upperclassmen.16 Reflecting the Baconian emphasis on fact-gathering that typified the intellectual life and educational theory of the late nineteenth century, students were expected to master a vast array of detail.17 Standard examination questions included topics such as the various professions of the authors of the Bible, whether or not Jacob had lived to see his grandchildren, how old Abraham was at various events in his life, and so forth. Not all of the knowledge was arcane detail. The utilitarian purposes of the curriculum were evident in exam questions such as, "What verse, to an enquirer who says, `I am too wicked to be saved'?" and "What would you advise a person to do who says he doubts the Bible?"18

G. Glenn Atkins, "Founder's Day Address," February 5, 1937, in The Northfield Alumnae Chronicle, n.d, MBI Archives, File: Northfield Publications Papers.

15 16 17


Hand-book 67-70. Coyle, The Story of Mount Hermon, 65.

See Theodore Dwight Bozeman, Protestants in an Age of Science: The Baconian Ideal and Antebellum American Religious Thought (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), 132-159.


Carter, So Much to Learn, 82-83, reprints the entire examination.


During the school day, students were encouraged to carry their Bibles with them wherever they went for reading in their spare time.19 Daily life at the schools was steeped in revivalist pietism. Chapel was held on a daily basis, with two services, Sunday School, and a prayer meeting on Sundays. Visiting speakers included some of the most prominent conservative Protestants of the day: A.T. Pierson, C.I. Scofield, and, of course, Moody himself. It was an entirely different network of speakers than say, Exeter or St. Paul's, and serves as an additional reminder that Mount Hermon was an entirely different kind of school insofar as its practice of the Protestant faith was concerned. Additional services were held during the week in each dormitory. 20 At the end of each day, Northfield students were provided with a fifteen-minute "Silent Time," designed for meditation and prayer. The fact that it was so fondly remembered by graduates may have much to do with the fact that it was the only time of the day that the women, who boarded in double rooms, could be alone.21 Students at both schools signed "The Pledge," promising, among other things, "to judge not"; "to try to bring at least one soul to Christ each year", and "to be Faithful in study, and in work, and in every known duty."22 Pietistic behavioral norms were also enforced. Moody particularly abhorred smoking, and violation of the prohibition against it was grounds for dismissal from the

Richard Ward Day, A New England Schoolmaster: The Life of Henry Franklin Cutler (Bristol, CT: Hildreth Press, 1950), 98.

20 21


Mabie, The Years Beyond, 106-107; 182-184.

Ibid. Coyle, The Story of Mount Hermon, 61, tells of a thirty-minute period that began each day at Mount Hermon. Carter, So Much to Learn, 47, contains the complete text of the pledges for both Northfield and Mount Hermon.



school.23 Also banned were several other of Moody's foibles: Sunday newspapers, bicycles, and the riding of trolley cars.24 Moody ended interscholastic athletic competition in 1897 ­ the same year that Andover appointed its first full-time director of athletics ­ as too expensive and distracting from the school's main purposes.25 Alcohol was also forbidden, but in this policy the administration may have had more support than, say, Exeter during the same decade: in an 1884 mock election at the school, the students "elected" the Republican Blaine, but the Prohibition party candidate finished well ahead of the Democrat Grover Cleveland.26 The Christian life of the schools was also furthered by the ancillary organizations that became associated with it in its first two decades. The Northfield Summer Conferences actually predated Mount Hermon, beginning in 1880. Drawing as many as 1500 people throughout the summer, the annual Conferences each revolved around specific themes: The General Conference for Christian Workers, the Religious Education Conference, a Students' Conference, and so forth.27 They drew prominent speakers of the emerging fundamentalist movement, including George A. Pentecost, A.J. Gordon, A.L. Dixon, J. Wilbur Chapman, G. Campbell Morgan, R.A. Torrey, J. Hudson Taylor, O.O

23 24 25

Day, A New England Schoolmaster, 190. Day, A New England Schoolmaster, 99; Findlay, Dwight L. Moody, 317.

Coyle, The Story of Mount Hermon, 43-44, 54-55; Frederick S. Allis, Youth From Every Quarter: A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Andover: University Press of New England, 1979), 323. Competition was restored in the early 1930s. Coyle gives the vote count: Prohibition candidate, 40; Republican, 41, out of a total of 91 votes cast. "Imagine the surprise when it was learned that a Democratic was elected [in the actual election]," he notes wryly. See also Mabie, The Years Beyond, 141-142; Carter, So Much to Learn, 52-53.

27 26

Paul Moody, My Father, 152.


Howard, Francis Patton, and numerous others.28 Less conservative, and a source of much subsequent controversy, was the appearance of Henry Drummond a personal friend of Moody. 29 A branch of the Y.M.C.A. was also established at Mount Hermon in 1886, eventually holding national conventions at the schools during the summertime.30 The short-lived Northfield Training School was established alongside the Seminary, reflecting the ambiguity of purpose already inherent in schools that aspired both to Christian training and to excellence in education. Moody himself did not take a day-to-day hand in running the schools. For the first three years, Mount Hermon lacked any administrative structure, with predictable chaos; not until the appointment of Henry Sawyer in 1884 was there effective on-site leadership.31 Northfield also suffered from a lack continuity, going through three headmistresses in its first three years. (They departed for reasons of, respectively, death, poor health, and a dispute over the millennium.)32 Stability arrived at both schools,

Coyle, The Story of Mount Hermon, 51, has the most thorough list. Hand-book, 27-28; Album of Northfield Speakers and Singers, n.d., MBI Archives; Rogers Park (IL) News-Herald, Sept. 15, 1899, in MBI Archives; Moody to Henry Cutler, January 29, 1891, inviting R.A. Torrey; Moody to Cutler, March 9, 1895, inviting C.I. Scofield, Moody Papers, LC. Mabie, The Years Beyond, 145-146 outlines A.T. Pierson's 1896 address, "All shall go, and go to all." For an account of A.J. Gordon at the Conferences, see William R. Moody, D.L. Moody (1930), 327. Dixon and Torrey were cited by fundamentalists in the 1920s as two of the four men (the others were William Bell Riley and James M. Gray) most responsible for "the Fundamentals movement." The Christian Work, n.p., 1924. Photocopy in MBI Archives. Drummond was an "evangelical liberal" whose 1894 book Ascent of Man marked an early effort to reconcile Christianity and evolution. Stanley N. Gundry, Love Them In: The Proclamation Theology of D.L. Moody (Chicago: Moody Press, 1976), 94-95.

30 31 32 29


Carter, So Much to Learn, 45-46; Mabie, The Years Beyond, 145. Curry, "Mount Hermon from 1881 to 1971," 36-38. Carter, So Much to Learn, 74; Mabie, The Years Beyond, 102.


however, with the long tenures of Evelyn S. Hall at the Seminary (1883-1911) and Henry Cutler at the boys school (1891-1931). As a result, there were by the time of Moody's death in 1899 two schools which were, to all appearances, well-established, well-populated, and thriving. However, the schools took with them into the new century the unresolved tension between evangelism and education. To outsiders, it appeared to be in balance. A New York Observer reporter wrote that "many have graduated from [the schools] to go on through the Moody Bible Institute, the Training School, or some of the higher institutions of learning into the ministry, the mission field, and other forms of Christian or professional work."33 A Harvard committee, invited by Cutler and led by Harvard President Charles W. Eliot, had inspected the schools in 1894 and were impressed by the equilibrium that the school had struck between the two. That the Unitarian Eliot would come at all to this evangelical Christian school was remarkable, but that he would actually place his imprimatur on the experiment suggested that the age of miracles was not yet over. In grandiose third-person prose, the Board lauded the school: "They write commending especially the fact that the primarily religious aim of the place has not been allowed to obscure or weaken its scholarly purpose... They believe that the religious life of the school will be strengthened rather than weakened by insistence upon sound scholarly principles of study."34 There were troubling intimations, however, that not all was well in defining the relationship between college preparation and Christian training. An evangelism-first

33 34

New York Observer (August 30, 1900), 269, photocopy in MBI Archives.

Carter, So Much to Learn, 88; Day, A New England Schoolmaster, 105-112, contains a full description of the Harvard Board's visit and its subsequent report.


group had initially assumed leadership of Mount Hermon in the person of Henry Sawyer, supported by Will Moody, Dwight's oldest son. It was perhaps too early to call label this group "fundamentalist," but they were in fact representative of a broad coalition of Protestants who were increasingly resistant to the forces of modernity, including the increasing scientific rationalism of university education. "While the common and even the advanced courses of academic work have all received thorough recognition," wrote Moody in his 1900 biography of his father, "it is the Bible that takes preeminence as the real source of spiritual education."35 Sawyer's emphasis in this direction that caused Henry Rankin, a wealthy gadfly who early on attached himself to the schools at no salary, to write to Moody urging Sawyer's dismissal (though not Will Moody's ­ Rankin's subversion had its limits). Anyone with a commitment to education would have had considerable qualms about Sawyer's leadership: after six years as Principal, he had built a faculty at Mount Hermon of which only eight of the 17 were high school graduates.36 The conflict had broken out into the open as early as 1884, provoked by Sawyer's veto of Rankin's initial draft of a school handbook in which he stated that Mount Hermon's "supreme aim" should be "to provide an academy training, either English or Classical."37 Rankin appealed to Moody, who allowed the dispute to simmer for six years until firing Sawyer in late spring 1890. 38 James F. Findlay has suggested that the education-first

35 36 37

W.R. Moody, The Life of Dwight L. Moody, 333. Day, A New England Schoolmaster, 101. Findlay, Dwight L. Moody, 320. The conflict delayed the publication of the Hand-book until



Rankin wrote Moody: "I feel perfectly certain that first class results can never by any possibility be reached through the management of any very ordinary man. Until the resident manager of the school is a man every inch of him, who thoroughly inspires and commands the highest respect of his assistant workers,


faction had so clearly gained the upper hand by the mid-1880s that Moody, his heart still with evangelism, despaired of the Northfield experiment and, in an attempt to start over and get it right, founded the Bible Institute in Chicago in 1886.39 While it is clear that tensions existed ­ and probably always will in attempts to integrate matters of faith and learning ­ it is not necessary to read the founding of Moody Bible Institute in such reactive terms. It was, rather, an even more logical outgrowth of D.L. Moody's philosophy than Northfield and Mount Hermon were, if only for the fact that it was located in the city that Moody so longed to evangelize. The very location of the Northfield schools was ironic, given their rural location and their aspirations to prepare men and women for urban ministry. Given a chance, Moody, who often seemed to be acting from impulse rather than plan in these matters, jumped at the chance to found yet another institution, this time in the largest city in the midwest.40 It is not necessary to read this development as a repudiation of his endeavor in western Massachusetts, but as the spontaneous seizing of yet another opportunity to evangelize the world. The question of mission, however, was taken out of Moody's hands. With his death in 1899, leadership of the Schools fell to their Boards of Trustees and, more importantly, to the heads of the schools. In this respect, the person of Henry Cutler, appointed by

both for his character and his qualifications, and so equally commands your own respect[,] the school will never be more than half a school. It may be extremely difficult to find this perfect man, but surely God is not likely to send him to you as long as you remain content with anything less than the best he has to send." Day, A New England Schoolmaster, 89-90. James Findlay, "Moody, `Gapmen,' and the Gospel," Church History, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (September 1962), 322-335. See also Findlay, Dwight L. Moody, 320-321. Donald A. Wells agrees, though he admits that the evidence is circumstantial; see his "D.L. Moody and His Schools: An Historical Analysis of an Educational Ministry," (Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University, 1972), 371. "There was always but a short jump from the idea to the operation with my father," recalled Paul Moody years later. My Father, 146.

40 39


Moody to succeed Henry Sawyer at Mount Hermon in early summer 1890, emerged as a pivotal influence. Cutler was in many ways an ideal choice to succeed Moody. Moody had personally influenced him as a young man, and Cutler had been so taken with the evangelist that he taught at Mount Hermon for several years in the mid-1880s after graduating from Amherst.41 The two men were quite unlike, however, for where Moody was effusive, Cutler was the epitome of New England reserve. But both men were theologically irenic, believing that the ideas Christians held were not nearly as important as their actions. Cutler also shared Moody's high view of the Bible, at one point making belief in the book a precondition for admission of students.42 Also like Moody, his theology ­ and, as a result, his preaching and actions ­ tended to emphasize God's love rather than either his judgment or man's sin.43 More negatively, he shared with Moody an inflexibility that occasionally read dissent as opposition. Overall, the result was a Headmaster who was both loved by his students, and who worked extremely well with the Founder in what Cutler's biographer has called "a silent fusion."44 What Cutler did not share with Moody, however, was the Founder's view that evangelism was more important than education. The difference was slight, but did in fact mark a perceptible shift in priorities: where Moody emphasized evangelism over education, Cutler held the two as co-equal, balancing them as much as possible. As a result, competing missions emerged at Mount Hermon under Cutler as the school

"I recognized him at once as a leader and guide," wrote Cutler of Moody. "I have tried to follow him from that time to this as leader and guide as he followed Christ." Day, A New England Schoolmaster, 95. Cutler's childhood and college career are covered in Day, chapters I-III. Day, A New England Schoolmaster, 105. Some ambiguity was evident in Cutler's philosophy in this regard, for he also engaged in periodic evangelistic appeals in chapel.

43 44 42


Ibid., 120. Ibid., 109. The Moody-Cutler letters in the LC display this as well.


increasingly came to emphasize other facets of character development besides Christian training. President Theodore Roosevelt commented on this when he made a visit to the school in September 1902, noting that "They teach here the essentials of good American citizenship, for they teach that a good American boy has got to know how to work with his hands and to work with his head, and to be a straight man also" ­ a comment that the school understandably highlighted in its publications despite its lack of Christian emphasis.45 The shift was also evident in Cutler's affinity for Harvard President Eliot's educational philosophy of allowing the students to choose some of their own elective courses. Cutler also abolished "Bible" as one of the four courses of study that a student could pursue. It was a move calculated to raise the educational standards of the school (the weaker students tended to choose it because the courses were taught by weaker faculty), and was done with Moody's full approval. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that education was gaining at the expense of mastery of the Bible, evangelism, and training in urban ministry. Competing visions ­ the development of character, a civic mission for the development of good citizens, and an educational mission for college preparation ­ were all beginning to place pressure on the school's original mission and purpose of preparing young men and women for urban Christian ministry. Moody's death in 1899 could have placed the schools at serious risk, for they depended heavily on his ability, undergirded by his mailing list of 100,000 people, to raise the tuition that their students of modest means were unable to pay.46 Royalties from

The Year Around Mount Hermon: Announcement of the Spring and Summer Term of Mount Hermon School, Mount Hermon, Mass., May 1-August 20, 1903, no author, p. 1. It would admittedly be asking too much of any school to resist putting such a strong Presidential endorsement in its literature. Coyle, The Story of Mount Hermon, 45, adds that TR then turned and said to the student body, "I like you, for you seem to be made of the right stuff." Fuller, "Education for Leadership," 66-109. This was a fact of life for Mount Hermon which was not to change for many years. In 1917, Cutler was informing the Board of Trustees of the need to rely on alumni "of moderate means. "Special Report to the Trustees of the Northfield Schools, March 1, 1917 (East Northfield, MA: n.p., 1917), n.p.




the sale of the renowned Moody-Sankey hymnal had financed some of the early buildings of the Schools (thus causing Moody to refer to buildings that were "sung up"), but the costs had long surpassed those revenues.47 So, too, the physical plant of the school, now two decades old, was beginning to show signs of deterioration.48 The result was a firstrate financial bind and a proposed solution by the Board of Trustees: raise tuition and abandon the historic mission of the school to "boys of lesser means." Cutler dryly referred to the period as "a testing time."49 To overcome the crisis, the alumni had to be reassured that Northfield and Mount Hermon would remain on their historic track despite Moody's death. W.R. Moody, the evangelist's son, set about doing this. In The Record of Christian Work in 1904, he tackled head-on the question of whether Northfield "is fulfilling the purposes for which it was founded." His conclusion bespoke no doubts: "In all the work at Northfield the object has been to serve the Church of Christ. The founder was a staunch churchman in the sense that he believed always in work within the church itself. In those to whom he bequeathed the responsibility of continuance of the interests, he inculcated those principles which are the governing forces in its administration."50 Still, Will Moody did not mince his words. In another plea, he wrote: "We have come face to face with a crisis which tests the very foundation on which Mount Hermon rests. [Dwight L.] Moody...maintained that the school must always be a place where a poor boy could get an education... If you believe Mr. Moody's plan was a good one... now is the time to bear

47 48

Paul Moody, My Father, 144-145.

Report of the Principal of Mount Hermon Boys School for School Year 1900-1901. MBI Archives. The Report was also published in the Record of Christian Work, Vol. XV, No. 3 (March 1901).

49 50

Report of the Principal...1900-1901, n.p.

W.R. Moody, "Origin and Growth of the Northfield Work," pamphlet reprinted from The Record of Christian Work (1904), MBI Archives.


witness.... Help financially as much as you can." The ensuing donations of $120,000 caused the trustees to reverse their decision.51 They also publicly acknowledged that the donations had averted a change in the school's mission, voting a resolution stating

That the thanks of the Board of Trustees be extended to the old students who so promptly and generously aided the school in the recent financial crisis; not only in averting what seemed to be a necessary change in policy, but also, by their pledges of future support, encouraging the hope that no change of this kind need be made in years to come. 52

The fund drive solved the school's fiscal problems for the time being. But what was noteworthy about the incident was the ease with which financial considerations could change the basic components of the school's historic vision. In this respect it is important to remember, however, that the transdenominational nature of Mount Hermon made it more vulnerable to pressures like this than schools with stronger denominational connections. Shortly before Moody's death, St. Paul's, for instance, had also found itself in a financial bind in the wake of Henry Coit's death in 1895. Its experience in addressing the crisis was entirely different, however. The unequivocal ties to the Episcopal Church ensured that modification of the school's mission and purpose was never entertained as a serious solution. The top-down ecclesiastical structure of the Church, the constant presence of Episcopal bishops as visitors to the campus, and the explicit wording in the school's By-Laws of the Corporation, all ensured that St. Paul's would attempt to solve its financial problems without resorting to a change in its core raison d'etre. The amorphous movement of revivalist Protestantism, however, possessed no such anchor for Mount Hermon. The evangelicalism which Moody represented was a powerful force in late-nineteenth-century America, with deep roots extending back into the Second Great

51 52

Carter, So Much to Learn, 122. Coyle, The Story of Mount Hermon, 71.


Awakening and drawing on a remarkably wide range of theological and social sources. But it lacked structure, possessing neither institutions of authority nor a clearly-defined body of doctrine and governance. As a result, Mount Hermon's reliance on an individual for its success was at once its great strength and its great weakness. While Moody had been alive, he was able to parley the populist, democratic elements of transdenominationalism into significant support for a school whose purpose clearly reflected the priorities of his own Christian ministry. His death, however, made the school vulnerable. Lacking any denominational checks, the board could give serious thought to revising its mission and purpose, and was saved only by the residual support for Moody. Even more than the early-nineteenth century experiences of Andover and Exeter, wed as they were to the weak denominational structures of the Congregational Church, Mount Hermon's experience demonstrated the fragility of the enterprises which lacked significantly strong external authority. There were other indications of the fragility of Moody's original vision that occurred in the decade after his death. The 1912 merger of the oversight of schools under a common Board of Trustees appeared to be simply an administrative move to allow for more efficient bookkeeping and purchasing of supplies. But there were intimations that it also reflected a split between Moody's two sons, a split that not only reflected personality conflict but a theological division as well. Paul was increasingly taken with Protestant theological modernism and resigned from the Board, whereas Will, representing fundamentalism, stayed on. Though he continued to speak regularly in the Chapels of both schools and at the Summer Conferences, Paul Moody remained off of the Board of Trustees until a reconciliation was effected in 1941.53 It would prove to be a fateful resignation.

Carter, So Much to Learn, 134-135. The merger was for corporate efficiency only. The schools remained essentially separate educational entities, each with their own Head, faculty, and, of course student body. Contacts between the two schools below the Board of Trustees level only increased gradually over



Partly as a result of the infusion of funds and even more due to Cutler's leadership, the years between Moody's death and America's entry into World War I were peaceful and prosperous ones for the growing schools. By 1917, the Schools had enrolled more than 15,000 students since their founding, had physical plants and endowment valued at nearly four million dollars, and had, toward the end of the period, some 900 applicants for only 200 openings ­ prosperity by almost any measure.54 Underneath this tranquil landscape, however, lay several fault lines. The primary one was already evident to those within the school, the split between Will and Paul Moody which personified the fundamentalist-modernist division within American Protestantism. For the time being, however, the rift was not public. However, if financial pressures were to build, if theology became at all at issue in the larger Protestant arena and caused the disaffection of the Schools' alumni, if the educational world changed and public high schools continued to thrive ­ any one of these factors would have had a significant effect on Northfield and Mount Hermon. As it was, the combination of all three changed the very nature of the school and caused the institution first to drastically modify, and eventually to jettison entirely, the evangelical Christianity which had formed the heart of its original purpose. The Armistice of November 1918 did not extend to American evangelicalism. In fact, it was almost as if the end of the European war had marked a religious Sarajevo in the United States. Conservative Protestants defined themselves and their ideas from 1910 to 1915 with the publication of The Fundamentals, a massive compendium of sine qua nons of the movement. Two years later, Walter Rauschenbusch had published A Theology

time: the first co-ed Easter service, for example, wasn't held until 1960. The full merger of 1969-1970 resulted in one coeducational school, Northfield Mount Hermon.


1917 Report, n.p.


for the Social Gospel, marking the fullest statement of liberal Christianity to date.55 As we have seen, the other boarding schools in this study identified with the latter camp, adapting their Protestant faith to the modernist creed of emerging Protestant liberalism. At Andover the modernism of Alfred Stearns and Markham Stackpole actually served as a conservative palliative which acted to preserve the Academy's Protestantism which had been drastically modified by Cecil Bancroft. Residual conservative Protestantism also mitigated a disestablishment of Protestantism at Exeter, though hardly in such a manner as to re-establish the antebellum evangelicalism of the Academy's founders. It will become clear in the next two chapters that Lawrenceville and St. Paul's also pursued changes which brought them closer to Protestant modernism. The experience of Mount Hermon, however, proved to be a different experience entirely. Its historical connection to Dwight L. Moody and the urban revivals of the late nineteenth century, coupled with the ongoing allegiance to Moody held by the school's donors, ensured that conservative Protestantism would be stronger here than at any of the other schools of the same era. Among the six schools in 1918, only at Mount Hermon ­ and perhaps to a far lesser extent at Old School Presbyterian Lawrenceville ­ was conservative Protestantism still an option for the school's mission and purpose. But in order for that to remain a real option at the school, they would have to discern some means of synthesizing the nineteenth century view of the Bible, encapsulated in the growing movement to regard it as inerrant, with the school's task of preparing students for college admission. In the period immediately following the end of the war, Mount Hermon held these two visions in uneasy tension. Though the public posture of the Northfield Schools leaned toward the fundamentalists, it attempted to cast its mission and purpose in language that would be acceptable to both sides. This intermediary position


Walter Rauschenbusch, A Theology for the Social Gospel (New York: Abindon Press, 1917).


was fleshed out in a pamphlet produced for the Schools by Will Moody in 1922, entitled "What is the attitude of Northfield to the Fundamentals?"56 It was not a minor question: adherence to (or, depending on one's theological predispositions, opposition toward) "the fundamentals" had become something of a litmus test in the fundamentalist-modernist conflict. The Schools' ability to raise money might hinge on alumni perceptions of its response to this question. Certainly the veterans of D.L. Moody's crusades ­ and of his mailing list ­ would view their first allegiance as fundamentalism. But Coit's vision for education and the prep school imperative would place considerable pressure on that position, just as it had in the years since 1870 at the rest of the schools. The initial public stance of the schools was therefore an attempt to straddle the fence. Affirming a belief in "fundamentals," Will Moody sought to refocus the question on the basic tenets of the faith. It was response worthy of his father: the only true fundamentals on which all Christians could agree were "the deity of Christ and the atoning efficacy of his death." But, he went on to say, there was more to the Christian faith than doctrinal adherence. Rather,

true religion is a living experience or relationship. For this reason the evidence of the Christian faith is to be seen in fruit, namely `love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.' It is noticeable that heresyhunting and bitter denunciation of fellow Christians is not enumerated as a spiritual accomplishment! 57

The supreme fundamental, pleaded Moody, was love. Christ preached love in his ministry; St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. John all emphasized it in their epistles. Therefore, "true fundamentalism is to be measured, not by fervent asservations of staunch adherence to certain dogmas, but by a spirit `which suffereth long and is kind; which envieth not,

56 57

A copy is in the MBI Archives, File: Moody-Northfield Controversy, 1923. W.R. Moody, "What is the attitude of Northfield to the Fundamentals?"


vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,....thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.'"58 It was a Moodyesque argument worthy of his father, reminiscent of his father's wish that the entire conflict could be put on hold for ten years while Christians went about the business of evangelism. But fundamentalists regarded all this as terminological legerdemain. The Northfield Schools were already guilty in their eyes, tried and convicted on counts of both association and behavior. The list of speakers invited to both the Schools and to the Summer Conferences had changed considerably in its composition since the days of Torrey, Scofield, and Chapman. For instance, A.T. Robertson of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was engaged to speak at the General Conference of Christian Workers in the summer of 1924.59 Such an invitation set off alarm bells for theologically astute conservatives: though no theological radical, Robertson's 1922 work, Harmony of the Gospels, questioned the historical accuracy of the gospel narratives (specifically the timing of Jesus's appearances at the various feasts regarded by conservatives as a benchmark in establishing the chronology of the gospels).60 Fundamentalists would also have experienced unease over the appearance of Albert T. Clay, advertised as "Curator of the Babylonian Collection at Yale University"; even had they no knowledge of Clay, the implied endorsement of archaeology and scientific endeavor would have raised eyebrows.

58 59


"The Northfield Schools and Summer Conferences, Calendar, Summer of 1924," promotional pamphlet, MBI Archives. It appears that the Summer Conferences were running somewhat ahead of the Schools in their embrace of moderate Christianity, but in the public eye there would have been little distinction given the close association between the two. William Henry Brackney, The Baptists (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988), 252-253. Robertson is a good example of the moderate Christianity that stood between liberalism and fundamentalism of the 1920s, the same strain the Protestantism that was emerging at the Schools. His book, while discounting some of the specific details of Jesus schedule, had as its aim to make Bible study easier and more accessible to laymen.



Perhaps no man better typified the theological direction that the Northfield Schools and Conferences were headed in the mid-1920s than Robert D. Speer. He had credibility with fundamentalists by virtue of his early identification with the conservative Keswick movement, his subsequent authorship of two of the articles in The Fundamentals, and his position as the senior secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. However, by the mid-1920s he was drifting toward a more theologically inclusive stance, dabbling in ecumenism and befriending liberal Henry Sloane Coffin of Union Theological Seminary.61 As much as Speer had some involvement at Andover (of which, as we have seen, he was an alumnus) and Lawrenceville, he was a pivotal figure in the history of the Northfield Schools. Not only did he speak at two of the 1924 Conferences, but he went on the Board of Trustees and his son, Elliot Speer, succeeded Cutler as Headmaster at Mount Hermon.. But the most egregious outrage to fundamentalists occurred the following year in 1925 with the Summer Conferences' invitation tendered to no less a personage than Harry Emerson Fosdick, to many the personification of the decade's Protestant modernism.62 Fosdick's famous 1922 sermon, "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?" had marked him as a leading liberal. Though the sermon was originally intended as more of a polemic than he would later admit, Fosdick had seized the initiative by arguing for more tolerance and less heresy-hunting within Protestantism. It was much like the stance Will Moody had taken in "What is Northfield's attitude toward the fundamentals?" except that it was far more confrontational.63

Fundamentalists' suspicions would be confirmed five years later when Speer got into a public dispute with conservative icon J. Gresham Machan over the Board of Foreign Missions; see Bradley J. Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and Moderates (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), chapter 8 and especially p. 188. Northfield Schools Bulletin, Vol. XII, No. 12 (March 1925), n.p., MBI Archives, File: Northfield Publications. Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy, 9-10. See also George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 (New York: Oxford

63 62 61


As a result of all these trends, shortly after the end of World War I the incipient moderate Protestantism at Mount Hermon began to come under fire from fundamentalists. A.J. Gordon, A.T. Pierson (whose nephew had attended Mount Hermon), W.J. Erdman and C.I. Scofield were reported among those publicly dissatisfied with the direction of the Conferences by 1921.64 Rumors abounded that Will Moody was behind the drift, and that he had invited Fosdick in order to gain influence from the Rockefellers in order to solve the Schools' financial woes.65 Others saw Robert Speer as the chief villain: Frank Torrey later recalled that

the Northfield Conference, the year I attended (1918), was filled with enthusiasm, but as I recall it the Lord Jesus Christ was not exalted, and the invitation on which I stood was one which urged us as having received blessing of the culture of our land, to give those blessings to those who were less fortunate. I do not recall that the saving of the soul was emphasized. Therefore, I would say that the element of liberalism was already apparent. The speaker was Robert E. Speer.66

Such whisperings could be discounted as long as they remained at a low volume. Indeed, the sources can be dismissed as postmortem laments. Far more serious to the

University Press, 1980), 171-173; Robert M. Miller, Harry Emerson Fosdick: Preacher, Pastor, Prophet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 115-117, discusses the famous sermon. Cutler later wrote that Moody questioned Fosdick closely concerning the essentials of the Christian faith before allowing him to speak. Cutler to William Norton, 2 March, 1926, MBI Archives; cited in Findlay, Dwight L. Moody, 401. Moody Monthly, September 1921; cited in The Christian Work, 19 April 1924, p. 497. For Pierson Curtis's experience in Mount Hermon's Class of 1913, see D. Bruce Lockerbie, The Way They Should Go (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), 61-63. Curtis went on to a 44-year teaching career at The Stony Brook School in New York, a conservative evangelical boarding school. Interview with Harold C. Tallman, 13 August 1959; the anonymous interviewer's typewritten notes are in the MBI Archives. Dr. Frank Torrey to BRD, 8 August 1958. MBI Archives. A 1954 History of the Conferences also pinpointed 1918 as a turning point, noting that the year marked "the end of the early period" for the Northfield Conference for Religious Education (one of the many specific conferences that made up the Summer Conferences). After that, there was "a change in program due to a somewhat changed philosophy" which reflected "developments in the field of Religious Education." None of the speakers cited as ushering in that changed philosophy were fundamentalists. See The Northfield Conference of Religious Education: Fiftieth Anniversary Session, 1954, 7. Pamphlet in MBI Archives.

66 65 64


Schools as they sought to retain the support of their friends and alumni was the storm that broke out in 1923 over the legacy of Dwight L. Moody. The furor was precipitated by an editorial in an organ of Protestant liberalism, The Christian Century, which raised the question, "Where Would Mr. Moody Stand?"67 The piece claimed Moody's legacy for modernism, decrying the "bitterness of spirit" and "intolerance" of the fundamentalists. The specific target was the Moody Bible Institute, increasingly the institutional heart of the fundamentalist movement. While liberals had been attacking MBI since 1917, this new round of debate had more immediacy for the Northfield Schools since the editorial used both the Schools and Summer Conferences as evidence in its favor. It cited Moody's "policy in all his meetings to use men of views opposite to his own" to contrast "the intolerance of the present Institute [i.e. Moody Bible]." The editorial placed Northfield in the liberal camp because of its high educational ideals as well as the ongoing influence of the Moody family: "It is known that while the Northfield schools representing the great evangelist's high ideals in Christian education continue under the direction of members of the Moody family, no member of the Moody family is now connected with the Moody Institute." Moody's catholic treatment of the speaker's platform at the Summer Conferences was also presented as evidence: "He did not agree with Henry Drummond, but he had the good sense to get real science on the Northfield platform rather than to juggle with the mountebanks." As if to clinch the point, the following month Paul Moody wrote a letter to the editor of the Century thanking them for rescuing his father's reputation. He, too, confirmed the link to Northfield, citing it as an example of liberal Christian education.68

67 68

The Christian Century, Vol. XL, No. 28 (12 July 1923, 870-872.

"Moody Becoming 'a Veiled Figure,'" The Christian Century, Vol. XL, No. 31 (2 August 1923): 979-980.


Fundamentalists struck back angrily at the "gross calumny," furious at the fact that a legacy whose possession seemed so self-evident to them could be tampered with by their opponents.69 R.A. Torrey wrote a long rebuttal for MBI's house publication, The Record of Christian Work, which was later printed for circulation in pamphlet form.70 Various other fundamentalist journals entered the fray, while Paul Moody wrote at least one more time to claim his father for liberalism.71 Enough ambiguity suffused the issue to provide each side with evidence to support its position. Fundamentalists could cite Moody's heavy reliance on the Bible, his revivalism, and his doctrinal orthodoxy. Liberals could claim his irenic spirit, his belief in furthering the work of Christ over doctrinal disputes, and his Northfield invitations to such figures as Henry Drummond and Yale's George Adam Smith.72 So far as the history of Moody's schools are concerned, however, the significance of the controversy lies in the fact that the Northfield and Mount Hermon Schools themselves were not much at issue: their shift away from fundamentalism seems to have been assumed by both sides. Indeed, some fundamentalists in the fray were anxious to distance themselves from the

69 70

The Record of Christian Work, October 1923, Photocopy in MBI Archives. R.A. Torrey, "Where Would Moody Stand?" Moody Bible Institute Monthly, December 1923,


71 Eastern Methodist, 19 July 1923; "Mr. Paul D. Moody's Gross Calumny of His Honored Father, D.L. Moody," pamphlet reprinted from The Moody Bible Institute Monthly. Paul Moody defended his position again in a letter to The Christian Work, 12 July 1924, p. 60. See also Rev. W.H. Griffith-Thomas, "Are Liberals Liberal?" The Presbyterian, 14 February 1924; Charles T. Page, "D.L. Moody and George Adam Smith: R.A. Torrey Corroborated," Moody Bible Institute Monthly, February 1926, 233; "D.L. Moody and Henry Drummond," Moody Bible Institute Monthly, March 1926, 307. For an additional defense of Moody for the liberal side, see Rev. Elmer William Powell, "D.L. Moody and the Origin of Fundamentalism," The Christian Work, 19 April 1924, p. 500. The issue was revived fourteen years later at the centenary of Moody's birth in R.I. Campbell, "Moody and His Successors," The Calvin Forum, September 1937; see also Paul Moody's article in Atlantic Monthly, September 1937. In addition, there is an undated, ten-page typewritten manuscript of undetermined authorship in the MBI Archives that was never published. MBI Archives, File: Moody-Northfield Controversy, 1923. Gundry, Love Them In, 200n5, has a full listing of a dozen articles that made up the controversy.

Indeed, Moody's legacy was so elastic that by 1942 even Unitarians were claiming him as one of their own. See The Northfield Press, 18 December 1942, in MBI Archives.



two boarding schools. L.W. Munhall of the Eastern Methodist bluntly wrote that "I am free to say I am confident Mr. Moody, if alive, would not approve of many things said and done at Northfield."73 It is apparent from the interchange that a decisive shift had already taken place at Mount Hermon by 1923, and that the school had adopted a version of moderate Protestantism that fundamentalists found abhorrent. Nevertheless, they fought a rearguard action into the 1930s; the ideological battle having been lost, they focused on behavior. The upcoming centenary of Moody's birth provoked a Presbyterian pastor named Sam McDowell, an 1896 graduate of Mount Hermon, to launch a letter-writing campaign against the Schools for having discarded some of the norms of fundamentalist behavior. Particularly upset by the decision to allow dancing at student social events, he also cited the "stage and theatre" and card-playing prevalent at the school.74 His letters to various Mount Hermon officials are classic fundamentalist texts of the period. While McDowell conceded that perhaps supervised dancing of the sort conducted at Mount Hermon was better than "roadhouse dancing," he was sure that "modern dancing between the sexes is always harmful to high morals and is always detrimental to the spiritual life of those who participate."75 Later letters expounded on this theme, as well as criticizing the school for permitting a smoking room for its faculty. In an archetypal fundamentalist position

Eastern Methodist, 19 July 1923, p. 5. Smith had also spoken at Mount Hermon's 1899 commencement. D.L. Moody to Cutler, April 1899, Moody Papers, LC. McDowell letter to "Classmates," 10 April 1936. McDowell's involvement in the Temperance Movement and Sabbatarianism were cited by a Mount Hermon classmate of his in a "Special Message from Secretary of Mount Hermon's Class [of] '96." The entire McDowell correspondence is in the MBI Archives. Other Sabbath changes, not mentioned by McDowell, include allowing the New York Times on campus in 1932, and the 1933 directive allowing horseshoes and "non-competitive golf." Carter, So Much to Learn, 154.

75 74


McDowell to W.W. Norton, Bible Institute Colportage Association, 26 February 1937.


statement, he summed up his views by pleading that he would "rather be narrow and right than broad and wrong."76 School officials parried such attacks as gently as possible, aware of the need to continue to cultivate conservative alumni support: McDowell had threatened a boycott of alumni events that they had to deter.77 Headmaster Porter stressed the need to innovate and change as the times changed, writing McDowell that "we cannot use the same methods of moral and religious training as our fathers did."78 Frank Duley, a faculty master at Mount Hermon and a classmate of McDowell's, took an even more utilitarian approach. "All dances are very carefully supervised, and the two school orchestras furnish their own music. If these dances were conducted under the conditions present in road houses or city dancing places, the matter would be entirely different. We have not had a scandal in these schools for years, and I cannot see how our dancing could be productive of any." Furthermore, he added, the prohibition against student smoking "is as thorough-going and successfully enforced as it was in your day and mine."79 Mount Hermon officials were careful to provide McDowell recognition to the larger alumni body without mentioning his criticisms, circulating a notice of an award McDowell had received from the Wilkes-Barre American Legion post.80 Hermon did not want the ideology of its conservative alumni, but it could not afford to lose their support either. The schools' shift clearly mirrored changes in the wider Protestant culture as Dwight L. Moody's schools shifted into the liberal camp in the fundamentalist-modernist

76 77 78 79 80

McDowell to Mount Hermon Headmaster David L. Porter, 7 March 1936. McDowell to Classmates, 10 April 1936. Porter to McDowell, 13 July 1936. Duley to McDowell, 12 February 1937. "Special Message from Secretary of Hermon's Class [of] `96."


conflict. That it was a moderate brand of liberalism mattered little to fundamentalists who scoffed at such distinctions. Overall, the development illustrates the reality that boarding schools are not countercultural institutions which can easily withstand the cultural trends in the wider society. Particularly since they tend to be ­ have to be ­ market-driven in order to remain in operation, they often reflect broad developments in American culture and in the subculture of American Protestantism. In the case of the Northfield Schools, the shift to a moderate brand of modernist Protestantism occurred despite the presence of the theologically orthodox Will Moody. Financial need seems to have played a critical role in shifting the schools' mission and purpose, as it certainly affected its goal of educating poor and needy young people for Christian work. In 1923, Will Moody explicitly linked such needs to the schools' historic mission and purpose:

Is Northfield at the present time to change the character of its work? If it is to continue in its original purpose, how is it to keep its door open to this [low] class [of people]? Already present charges have carried the privileges which Northfield offers beyond the reach of the class for which they were originally established, and the problem now confronting us is to devise some means whereby we may again bring the educational privileges within reach of those of limited means.81

If economic conditions in the period after 1918 were not enough, the Depression magnified such pressures many times over. As a result, Mount Hermon was forced to abandon one of the facets that had made it most distinctive since the time of D.L. Moody: its commitment to educating older boys. The average age of its students declined from just over twenty years old in the period from 1894-1902, to eighteen in 1923-1924, to just under 17 in 1937-1938.82 In this respect, the Schools were becoming more like other New England boarding schools, yet another instance of isomorphism that the schools were undergoing.

W.R. Moody, "The Northfield Schools," The Record of Christian Work, Vol. 42, No. 6 (June 1923): 406.

82 81

Curry, "Mount Hermon From 1881 to 1970," 51, 97.


The changing demographics of the student body were inextricably linked to the school's historic mission and purpose of attracting poor boys to train them for urban missions. Wartime financial concerns had prompted Cutler to address this with the board in 1917. Noting the increasing percentage of its student body that came from rural areas, and despairing at the possibility that they might move to cities, Cutler proposed to completely reverse D.L. Moody's urban emphasis. With unconscious irony, he informed the Board: "It is wasteful to seek to make a poor clerk, or even professional man, out of a good prospective farmer, and the need for the latter was never greater than today. Mount Hermon confronts an open door of opportunity to render its contribution to the so-called problem of the rural community, and in so doing, to serve the church and the nation."83 There is no indication of whether the Board acted on this suggestion, but it was clearer than ever that the historic purposes of the school were at the mercy of its finances. The cumulative impact of the financial pressures ultimately proved fatal to the ideal of educating poor boys. Tuition more than doubled between 1916 and 1921, while scholarship aid did not keep up.84 As a result, during the 1930s the Schools made two key concessions. First, Cutler began as early as 1917 to build an endowment, a policy continued by his successor.85 This would have the two fold advantage of helping to defray costs while at the same time reducing dependence on an alumni which was by now clearly more conservative than the institution. D.L. Moody's philosophy of remaining dependent on alumni donations could no longer hold up when those alumni had become, in the eyes of the school, a liability. Second, the School began admitting wealthier students, a development which in the long run may well have contributed to the

83 84 85

1917 Special Report to the Board, n.p. Curry, "Mount Hermon From 1881 to 1970," 104. Special Report to the Trustees of the Northfield Schools, 1917, n.p.


theological changes that the Schools had been undergoing.86 In all probability, the wealthier clientele would be more compatible with the school's shift to modernist Protestantism. Advocates of conservative religion, drawn generally from a lower socioeconomic class, would gradually become less of a factor as the Schools shifted its focus to the traditional upper class clientele of New England boarding schools.87 In the process, however, a moderate brand of modernist Protestantism moved to the core of the schools. One dramatic event underscored the tensions in Mount Hermon's shift. In 1931, Henry Cutler announced that he would retire the following June, thus bringing to an end his 42-year tenure as Headmaster.88 The trustees chose Elliott Speer to replace him. Speer had been the President of the combined Schools' Board of Trustees since 1926 and, as noted, was also the son of Robert D. Speer, the moderate head of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions whose involvement with Mount Hermon had drawn the ire of fundamentalists. As head of the combined Board, Elliott Speer had already been a force in the institutional adoption of theological modernism. Hired in 1926 to "assist" Will Moody and allow him a leave of absence for health reasons, conflict quickly erupted upon Moody's return. The Board appears to have hoped Moody would stay away, but W.R. was not going to end a lifetime association with the Schools by being eased out. The conflict was exacerbated by a vast age difference (Speer was only 28 at the time of his appointment), by institutional heritage (Speer had gone to Phillips Andover Academy under Bancroft, Moody to Mount Hermon under Cutler), and by background (Speer was

86 87

Curry, "Mount Hermon From 1881 to 1970," 99-110.

For an example of the relationship between lower socio-economic class and conservative religion, see Robert Mapes Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).


Day, A New England Schoolmaster, 208.


something of a patrician, while W.R. Moody was essentially a preacher's kid). There were also theological and political differences: Speer was described by a writer for the Boston Herald as "a militant pacifist and an avowed liberal both in politics and religion." These views translated into practical policy changes, offensive to conservatives, as Speer moved to do what Amen had done so many years before at Exeter and began permitting the students to smoke.89 Given so many areas of disjunction, conflict between the two men appears to have been unavoidable. Perhaps Moody hung on in the hopes that the talented Speer would find more challenging work; if so, then the last straw came when Speer turned down the pastorate of New York's Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church (whose pastor, Henry Sloane Coffin, was leaving for Union Seminary).90 As a result, two years of administrative ambiguity ended on February 8, 1929, when Moody asked the Board to accept his resignation:

My resignation is necessary because of my increasing conviction that the present arrangement is thoroughly anomalous in attempting to divide indivisible authority between a Chairman of the Board and a President.... The anomaly had been increased by the differences in age, experience, familiarity with traditions, and outlook of the occupants of the positions.... As an inevitable corollary, I find policies which I cannot endorse or conscientiously support.91

If Moody had hoped to force a showdown to mobilize the support of Cutler and the Board in an attempt to force Speer out, move, he badly miscalculated. After an emotional scene in which Robert Speer called Will his "dear old friend" and Elliott his "trusted son," the Board unanimously accepted his resignation "with regret."92

"Slain Headmaster's Liberal Views Made Him Storm Center at School," Boston Herald CLXXVI: 79 (17 Sept. 1934), 2, copy in PAA Archives; Carter, So Much to Learn, 146. "Moody Resigns His Activities at Northfield," February 11 [1929], [Boston?] Herald, newspaper clipping in MBI Archives.

91 92 90 89

Carter, So Much to Learn, 147. Ibid.


Such are the dramas of generational passings. However, most such theater, particularly in boarding schools, does not end with the murder of the Headmaster. Several years later, on the evening of September 14, 1934, Elliott Speer was shot to death while reading in his study on the campus of Mount Hermon.93 Three years later, Thomas E. Elder, the former Dean of Mount Hermon with whom Speer had repeatedly clashed, was charged with the murder.94 The prosecution (wisely) chose not to base its case on Elder's theology, but on an administrative rivalry with W.W. Norton, the school's Treasurer. When Speer promoted Norton over Elder, they said, Norton responded by assassinating the Headmaster. Elder's alibi held up, however, and he was exonerated; not surprisingly, he also left Mount Hermon. No gun-wielding fundamentalists were ever found.95 Speer's murderer could not halt the triumph of moderate-tolerant Protestantism at the Schools. In an action which could have only been a signal that the moderate Protestantism would move forward in the school, Henry P. VanDusen was chosen to give the eulogy at the slain headmaster's funeral.96 Bible courses, though still required in each of the four Upper School years, had been scaled back to meeting twice a week (as opposed to four times a week for major courses). Chapel had also been reduced, meeting only three times a week.97 Even more significantly, the curriculum reflective of Dwight

"President of Famed School Murdered," Gastonia [North Carolina] Gazette, 15 September 1934, in Elder file, MBI Archives. Claude M. Fuess, Reminiscences of Claude M. Fuess, Columbia Oral History Project, 23 January 1962 (New York: The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 1962), 203, recalled that Speer's clash with Elder was common knowledge "in educational circles" at the time. He attributed the clash to "the fact that Elliott Speer was trying to liberalize Mount Hermon." At least not there. The Gastoma Gazette gave voice to such suspicions that the murder was theologically motivated: "Known as a liberal, [the police] believed Rev. Speer might have been the victim of a religious fanatic." Henry Pitney VanDusen, "In Memory of Elliott Speer," The Northfield Schools Bulletin XLVII: 2 (January 1960), 1-5.

97 96 95 94


"Courses of Study, 1936-1937," Mount Hermon School Bulletin, No. 448 (May 1936), 3, 6.


L. Moody's certainty about the Bible had been revised: the first semester course was now less confidently entitled "Interpretation of Religion."98 School publications now overtly used the language of modernist Protestantism: "It is indeed fortunate in a day when the churches are being challenged to give evidence of their social effectiveness that so many of the alumni are in different vocations interpreting `the Kingdom of God' as inclusive of vocational projects of great social, inter-racial and international significance," announced the Bulletin somewhat breathlessly in 1936.99 The Summer Conferences also changed, abandoning all pretense of inviting conservative Protestants. Its list of speakers was now solely made up of moderates, including Henry Sloane Coffin, Charles Erdman, Robert Speer, and Princeton Seminary President John Timothy Stone.100 A theological moderate, David Porter, was chosen to succeed the murdered Speer. When Northfield required a new head, the Board chose William E. Park, a graduate of liberal Union seminary. Paul Moody's words at Park's installation showed just how far the School had proceeded from the evangelistic education of his father, displaying the same broad definition of spiritual activity which had characterized Cecil Bancroft's views at Andover. "All education which is carried on with reverence, honesty and humility is religious education," announced Moody to the crowd.101 The Schools did not entirely abandon efforts to placate conservative alumni ­ it is worth remembering, for instance, that Sam McDowell's attacks were being carried on in the same period. The strategy was simple: offer something for everyone, whether

98 99

Ibid., 7. Mount Hermon School Bulletin, No. 448 (May 1936), 4.

"Summer Conferences," The Northfield Schools Bulletin, Vol. XXV, No. 1 (January 1937), n.p. The Baptist Watchman-Examiner (2 September 1937), 995-996, has extensive details concerning the 1937 Conference. "The Installation Service of The Reverend William Edgar Park as President of the Northfield Schools," The Northfield Schools Bulletin, vol. XXVIII, no. 11 (November 1940), 8; NMH Archives. Mabie, The Years Beyond, 192-93, misquotes the passage.




fundamentalist, moderate, or liberal. When Will Moody died in 1934, the school Alumni Chronicle noted both his devotional piety and his commitment to prison ministry.102 A 1937 Mount Hermon Alumni Bulletin informed alumni of the "reassuring evidence of contemporaneous religious vitality" in the school, including an Evangelism Council.103 The Alumni Chronicle of 1937 wrote in language amenable to a wide range of Protestants as it extolled the work of the Schools:

What does it all mean to us? Shall we not pause to consider how a humble country youth, who later became a good business man, found himself so in tune with the great spiritual forces of the Universe that he became the greatest power for good in his generation? Untold numbers he brought to the realization of God's presence, and the power of Christ with men. Thousands of students from his schools have gone into social and religious work, or have become a force for good in their own communities.104

Horatio Alger, Harry Emerson Fosdick, and perhaps even R.A. Torrey would have approved. Despite these efforts, by the late 1930s fundamentalists were increasingly wary of embracing the Schools. This was made particularly evident in the centenary celebration of D. L. Moody's birth in 1937. Harry A. Ironside's article, "Thank God for Moody," lauded the Bible Institute, but made no mention of Northfield or Mount Hermon. The Methodist Recorder was likewise silent in its commemoration of Moody's legacy. Even an article explicitly entitled "Christian Institutions Which Moody Founded or Helped"

The Alumnae Chronicle, Vol. IV, No. 2 (November 1933): 7. MBI Archives, File: Northfield Publications. David R. Porter, Headmaster, "Religion Today at Mount Hermon School," The Mount Hermon School Bulletin, No. 453 (April 1937), 1.

104 103


The Alumnae Chronicle, Vol. VII, No. 4 (May 1937), 14. MBI Archives.


omitted any mention of the schools. Even W.R. Moody's biography of his father only discussed the founding of the Schools, with virtually no comment on their legacy.105 The triumph of modernist Protestantism was also evident in the Schools' own view of its past. Revolutionaries invariably reinterpret their history, and Mount Hermon was no exception. The shift to moderate Christianity was accompanied in the mid-1930s by a recasting of Dwight L. Moody to fit the Schools' changes. Gone was the Moody of soul-saving, strong conviction in the Bible, and single-minded evangelism. In his place, Hermonites painted a portrait of a man of another time, a man of extraordinary gifts and some prescience but one who was imprisoned in his era's outmoded assumptions about revivalism and the Bible. G. Glenn Atkins, a moderate mainline theologian who had spent several years on Mount Hermon's faculty before moving on to a career at Auburn Theological Seminary, was one of the first to offer this interpretation, delivering the Founder's Day Address at Mount Hermon in February 1935. Moody, he said:

believed that men and women had souls, that they might be saved or lost; that the issue was eternal destiny; that they could be saved only at the foot of the cross, by faith in Jesus Christ, and that everything else was dust in the balance beside the quest for salvation. He set all this in the frame of his inherited evangelistic faith. He could do nothing else. He believed the Bible from cover to cover.106

W.R. Moody, D.L. Moody, passim. For other conviction by omission, see also Harry A. Ironside, "Thank God for Moody," The Christian, 11 February 1937: 31; F.L. Wiseman, "The Greatest Evangelist of the Nineteenth Century," Methodist Recorder, 4 February 1937: n.p.; "Christian Institutions...," The Christian, 11 February 1937: 15-16. All are in Moody Papers, Box 2, LC. This disavowal has not changed: a recent institutional history of Moody Bible Institute omits any mention of Northfield Mount Hermon as context for MBI's founding. Gene A. Getz, MBI: The Story of Moody Bible Institute, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986 [1969]). G. Glenn Atkins, "Founder's Day Address, February 5. 1935" The Northfield Alumnae Chronicle, [1935?], 6 (italics mine), MBI Archives, File: Northfield Publications Papers.




Atkins also claimed the liberal legacy for Moody as a proto-modernist, continuing the process that The Christian Century had begun in 1923:

He believed that you could not build a saved society out of unsaved men, that everything must begin with the heart. Get the hearts of men right with God and you would begin to get God's world, but never before. There has been nothing since, as there had been nothing before, in human experience to disprove this faith of his; there has been enough since to vindicate it.... His faith was open toward the far horizons, he welcomed to Northfield the tested scholarship of changing times, he had resources for new challenges. I do not think he ever would or ever could have changed or surrendered the essentials of his faith. They were he. He would have opposed the Rock of Ages to the confused currents of modern complexities. But he would have been hospitable to new truth as he was persuaded of its truth... If he lived to be a hundred and were here today, he would belong to our world, he would understand our minds, and his gospel would meet our needs.107

In a similar vein, two years later Atkins claimed that Moody did not belong to "a conservative orthodoxy."108 Paul Moody's biography of his father, published in 1938, is filled with references to and anecdotes of Dwight Moody's love and acceptance of early liberals.109 By 1935, therefore, Northfield and Mount Hermon had abandoned the revivalist emphasis on preparing young men and women for urban ministry in favor of a moderate Protestantism deemed better suited to preparation for college. The shifting fortunes of Protestantism at the Schools was not the product of a liberal conspiracy, with horned modernists plotting in dark basements to subvert fundamentalism. Henry Cutler had, unwittingly, begun the process in with his effort to emphasize the educational mission of

107 108

Ibid., 6, 7, 8.

Gaius Glenn Atkins, "Dwight L. Moody." Moody Papers, LC, Box 2. A handwritten notation on the pamphlet notes that it is a reprinted from "Religion in Life..." and then fades into an illegible scrawl.


Paul Moody, My Father, 96, 145, 156, 163.


Mount Hermon. While that is hardly in itself an occasion for a religious shift, his failure to adequately set in place a philosophy of Christian education, whereby the Schools might pursue both pietism and a college preparatory curriculum, left the tension between faith and learning unresolved and unconnected, thereby opening up the possibility that the latter might proceed without the former. In the wake of Dwight L. Moody's death, fundamentalists also failed to offer a clear-cut program as to how the schools might survive in the absence of its great patron, a situation exacerbated by the financial difficulties which accompanied that development. By defining itself as a theology of reaction, and by embracing a hostility to science which culminated in the wider culture in the celebrated Scopes Trial of 1925, fundamentalism set up a perceived conflict with the educational imperatives of the twentieth century. Absent a coherent theology of Christian education whereby the two might be reconciled, moderate Protestant modernism became the only alternative for those intent both on preserving the Christian mission and purpose of the schools and on creating a high educational standard. The fundamentalists' failure also illumined the inherent weakness of transdenominational movements in America, lacking as they do in structures of authority, in maintaining institutions. In this respect, the Northfield Schools mirrored the broader changes that American Protestantism underwent as it adjusted to a changed culture in the era following World War I. Protestantism was hardly jettisoned from the schools' mission and purpose, but without question it had shifted into a more moderate brand of theological modernism, and by 1930 lay much closer to Andover and Lawrenceville in the manner in which the faith was practiced. Traditional Protestantism had failed to provide a coherent vision for Christian


education in the twentieth century. For Mount Hermon, as for all the schools, the interwar period posed the question of whether modernist Protestantism could do the same.



Throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the experiences of Mount Hermon, Andover, and Exeter offered an array of choices for Protestant Christians of Reformed denominations as to how they might best proceed in addressing the changing imperatives of university education, scientific authority, and their own denominational traditions. By the outbreak of the Great War in Europe, these three schools had come to represent three distinct types of Protestant Christian education. Mount Hermon had attempted to perpetuate transdenominational revivalism in the boarding school world, but had found that doing so without regard to the reality of finances could cripple such ideals and so shifted to a moderate brand of Protestant modernism. Andover experimented with a more liberal approach, but eventually tempered the reforms of Cecil Bancroft for a more restrained modernism under Alfred Stearns. Exeter offered a blended model of its Unitarian creed, the Amen's nonsectarian accommodation to modernity derived from Charles Eliot, and a tempered evangelical faith, each co-existing in a symbiotic relationship designed to further Principal Amen's commitment to academic rigor. Lawrenceville's experience from 1883-1919 reflected many of the trends present in these other schools. However, its historical grounding in the Old School wing of Presbyterianism together with its close ties to both the college of Princeton and the 473

newly-founded Princeton Seminary, combined to make its experience under Samuel Hamill's two successors unlike that of the other schools. Old School Presbyterianism was by far the most insular of the denominational traditions of these boarding schools, lacking in either the transdenominational connections of Mount Hermon or access to the BostonUnitarian axis of New England intellectual and religious life. Even after the sale of the school to the Green Foundation in 1883 and the reorganization of the school, Lawrenceville continued to orient itself to Princeton and to the local presbyteries. Nevertheless, the changes in society and education with which the New England schools had been forced to grapple could not be permanently held off by such denominational wall-building, for even Presbyterians, whose northern and southern wings had reunited as a single denomination in 1869, now had to confront the modern world. In 1886, with some prescience, The Presbyterian informed its readers that one of the battlegrounds would be the denomination's schools: "If we read all the signs aright, there is to be a serious struggle to keep our institutions of learning from becoming paganized, or at least standing in the attitude of neutrality in the contest between error and truth."1 Insofar as Lawrenceville School was concerned, it was a premature judgment by about a decade and a half. After Samuel Hamill's retirement in 1883, the infusion of funds from the Green Foundation and the leadership of his successor, James Cameron Mackenzie, righted the school. Mackenzie also proved to be an educational innovator, and Lawrenceville became a nationally-known school under his leadership. The mission and purpose of the school,

Quoted in Paul C. Kemeny, Princeton in the Nation's Service: Religious Ideals and Educational Practice, 1868-1928 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 33. Though the article in question was entitled "Religion in College," the statement was prescient in terms of Lawrenceville as well.



however, remained centered on Old School Presbyterianism. Mackenzie reinforced this by, among other things, tying the School all the more closely to both the college at Princeton and Princeton Seminary. Ironically, however, that connection to Princeton proved to be his undoing, for he was ousted in 1899 after Princeton politics had spilled over onto the Lawrenceville campus. Under his successor, Simon J. McPherson, the next two decades witnessed a transformation of the role of the Old School Presbyterian Protestant faith at Lawrenceville School. In an abrupt departure from the past, McPherson shed the school's sectarian nature and set in its place a broader, nonsectarian Protestantism, an accommodation to modernity in the same vein as that which Harlan P. Amen had instituted at Exeter. Whereas Mackenzie ­ and Hamill and Brown before him ­ had sought to serve the Presbyterian church, Simon J. McPherson transformed Lawrenceville's purposes into a civic mission designed to serve the American republic. James Mackenzie's commitment to a conservative form of Protestantism likely wasn't the product of his own experience in a boarding school (unless it served as a negative example), having graduated from Phillips Exeter in 1873 as a member of Gideon Soule's last class.2 However, from Exeter he eschewed the traditional path to Harvard and opted instead for the denomination's college in Lafayette, Pennsylvania.3 After that, he took a teaching position at a girls' academy in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he worshipped on Sundays in the Presbyterian church which had been the boyhood parish of

Roland J. Mulford, History of the Lawrenceville School, 1810-1935 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1935), 93; T. Dean Swift, "An American Schoolmaster: James Cameron Mackenzie, His Life and Work", draft mss. [no date], 8ff, LS Archives. On Lafayette during this period, see James Tunstead Burtchaell, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from their Christian Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 127-141; George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University, 301-305, covers developments at the college from 1901-1914.




A.A. Hodge.4 It was this connection which drew him to the attention of McCosh and the legatees of the Green Foundation as they sought to rescue Lawrenceville School's finances in 1883.5 That Mackenzie understood his own role in the arrangement is quite clear from his correspondence with McCosh. "I will do all in my power to get you pupils," he wrote him just before accepting the offer to become the school's fourth headmaster.6 The new headmaster was not all that much different from his predecessor. His theology was Reformed, his sense of history anchored to Martin Luther, and his belief in worship centered on the spoken word. "It was not until the Reformation," he told his listeners in a sermon which summed up his thinking, "that preaching as a part of worship was recovered from its long neglect and again became a prominent part of Christian service."7 The single most important element in Mackenzie's intellectual world, one which informed both his educational philosophy and his faith, was the Reformed belief in the coherence and unity of truth. To Mackenzie, all truth was God's truth, regardless of venue. While others of the era might find the rising authority of science troublesome, Mackenzie viewed all realms of knowledge as having been created by God, and therefore

James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York: Scribner's, 1970), 199.

5 6


Swift, "An American Schoolmaster," xi, 3-4.

J.M. Mackenzie to James McCosh, 5 June 1882; see also James McCosh to J.M. Mackenzie, 17 Dec. 1881, both in LS Archives. McLachlan, American Boarding Schools, 199, concludes that "The Lawrenceville trustees appear to have been almost completely undecided about the exact type of school they were to found." It is the burden of this study that they in fact knew precisely what they wanted ­ an Old School Presbyterian academy which would feed students into the college at Princeton ­ but were less certain as to the precise means by which they might solve the school's problems of enrollment and finances. James Cameron Mackenzie, "O Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness," sermon delivered in Lawrenceville School Chapel, 8 October 1891, Mackenzie papers, LS Archives.



were appropriate subjects for study. His sermons reveal a widely-read man, "learned" in the best Presbyterian sense as he displayed a command of history and literature that was equally at home citing Horace Bushnell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, D. L. Moody, or Tertullian, or ranging from the Roman monk Telemachus to a representative graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, ministering in Arabia.8 The partnership between faith and science (and, for that matter, any branch of knowledge) was both natural and necessary. Knowledge of the natural world was necessary to a healthy faith, for "ignorance is the greatest foe and danger to religion."9 He read the past in this light as well: "Salamanca and... Oxford and Cambridge and Aberdeen" were founded by "Bible men," he told his listeners, who "were holding forth the torch of Science, who were the predecessors of the Bacons and Newtons and Watts." As far as Mackenzie was concerned, the unity of God's truth ensured that nothing could be discovered which would contravene the truth of the Gospel, and therefore one need not fear learning anything. If all knowledge was unitary, all education was therefore by definition Christian. There were several implications of this, as Mackenzie viewed the implications of this in classic Presbyterian terms. The primary object of education and spiritual work, he believed, was the church; good work in that arena would inevitably spill over into the wider society. "[T]he proper work of college" ­ and presumably its feeder schools on the secondary level as well ­ "is to make Christian men of sound culture," he told one

James Cameron Mackenzie, untitled sermon [based on Deuteronomy 29:10] delivered at Lawrenceville, January 1899, Mackenzie papers, LS Archives (hereafter referred to as "Deuteronomy 29:10 sermon"); James Cameron Mackenzie, "The First Thing," baccalaureate sermon delivered at Lawrenceville, 21 June 1896, Mackenzie papers, LS Archives James Cameron Mackenzie, "Baccalaureate Sermon," delivered at Lawrenceville School, June 1, 1890, Mackenzie papers, LS Archives.




audience.10 Graduates would then take the vision of unitary Christian truth into the society and solve its problems. "The menacing alienation of the masses from religion ­ the very masses who cheer the name of Christ ­ is due in large measure to the palpable separation of things secular from things sacred," he told his listeners one Sunday.11 Civil order and public virtue demanded as much. "Was it not Lowell who said that without religion and morals in out Schools, we, even in the United States, would in 100 years skin and eat one another?" For Mackenzie, it was not merely a rhetorical question, as he had expectations for such work which at times bordered on the millennial.12 "A time is coming in the history of our faith," he told another audience,

when all days and all of life shall be sacred, when St. Paul's Chapel and the nearby Cathedral shall be no more sacred than lecture