THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
BY WILFRED SHAW
General Secretary of the Alumni Association and Editor of The Michigan Alumnus
Illustrated by Photographs and Four Etchings by the Author
NEW YORK HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE 1920
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE, INC.
THE QUINN & BODEN COMPANY RAHWAY, N.J.
To MY WIFE
It has not been the purpose of the author to write a history of the University of Michigan. Several predecessors in this field have done their work so well that another book entirely historical in character might seem superfluous. Rather it is the aim of this volume to furnish a survey—sketching broadly the development of the University, and dwelling upon incidents and personalities that contribute movement to the narrative.
Those familiar with the history of the University will recognize the sources of much that appears in the following pages. The author must acknowledge an especial debt to Professor Ten Brook's "History of State Universities," and the two histories of the University, written by Elizabeth Farrand, '87m, and Professor Burke E. Hinsdale. Much of the material in the early chapters is based directly upon Professor Hinsdale's painstaking and authoritative work. Other works which have been consulted are Judge Cooley's "History of Michigan," Professor C.K. Adams' "Historical Sketch," published by the University in 1876, Professor A.C. McLaughlin's "History of Higher Education in Michigan" (Contributions to American Educational History, Number II, Bureau of Education, 1891), the reports of the Fiftieth and Seventy-fifth Anniversaries and Dr. Angell's Quarter Centennial Celebration, and Dr. Angell's "Reminiscences." The files of The Michigan Alumnus and the Michiganensian, the records of the Regents' meetings and the calendars of the University have likewise proved extremely valuable. For the material in certain chapters, "The Michigan Book," published in 1898, by Edwin H. Humphrey, '97, an article entitled "The University of Michigan and the Training of Her Students for the War," by Professor Arthur L. Cross, in the Michigan History Magazine, for January, 1920, and Andrew D. White's "Autobiography" have been freely consulted.
It is unfortunate that our information concerning the earliest days of the University is comparatively meager. The collections of old newspapers and other original sources in the University Library have been utilized, but these are not as extensive as they should be. Undoubtedly not a little material in the form of letters and diaries is still to be found among the papers of the earliest officers of the University and the graduates of the '40's and '50's. The writer would appreciate any information regarding such documents.
Acknowledgment is also due to the many friends who have offered suggestions and helpful criticism. Especially is grateful recognition due to Professor F.N. Scott, Judge V.H. Lane, President Emeritus Harry B. Hutchins, Dr. G. Carl Huber, Dean John R. Effinger, Professor Evans Holbrook, Professor Arthur L. Cross and the late Professor Isaac N. Demmon; their encouragement and counsel have been invaluable.
An apparent inconsistency in references to the major divisions of the University may be noted by some readers. These are sometimes referred to as "Departments" and sometimes as "Schools" or "Colleges," as the case may be. This arises from the fact that the official nomenclature was changed about ten years ago. In general the author has referred to these divisions as "Departments" in discussing the period before 1910.
I INTRODUCTION 1
II THE FOUNDATION OF THE UNIVERSITY 7
III THE UNIVERSITY'S EARLY DAYS 23
IV THE FIRST ADMINISTRATIONS 45
V PRESIDENT ANGELL AND PRESIDENT HUTCHINS 64
VI LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND THE ARTS 91
VII THE PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES 121
VIII A STATE UNIVERSITY AS A CENTER OF LEARNING 145
IX STUDENT LIFE 172
X FRATERNITIES AND STUDENT ACTIVITIES 207
XI ATHLETICS 233
XII TOWN AND CAMPUS 268
XIII THE UNIVERSITY IN WAR TIMES 298
XIV THE ALUMNI OF THE UNIVERSITY 324
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
UNIVERSITY HALL. Etching Frontispiece
THE CATHOLEPISTEMIAD, OR UNIVERSITY, OF MICHIGANIA. 8 A photograph of the original outline in Judge Woodward's Handwriting, now in the University Library
FOUR FOUNDERS OF THE UNIVERSITY. Stevens T. Mason (1812-1843), John D. Pierce (1797-1882), Zina Pitcher (1797-1872), Samuel Denton (1803-1860) 14
THE CAMPUS IN 1855 24
TWO OF THE UNIVERSITY'S OLDEST BUILDINGS: The President's House. The only one of the original four professors' houses still remaining 30 The Old Medical Building. Torn down in 1914 30
FOUR MEMBERS OF THE EARLY FACULTY. George Palmer Williams (1802-1881), Andrew Ten Brook (1814-1899), Abram Sager (1810-1877), Thomas McIntyre Cooley (1824-1898) 34
HENRY PHILIP TAPPAN, LL.D. (1805-1881). The first President of the University, 1852-1863 56
ERASTUS OTIS HAVEN, LL.D. (1820-1881). President of the University, 1863-1869 57
HENRY SIMMONS FRIEZE (1817-1889). Professor of Latin, 1854-1889. Acting President of the University, 1869-1871, 1880-1882 57
THE TWO MAIN BUILDINGS OF THE UNIVERSITY ABOUT 1860 60
ALUMNI MEMORIAL HALL. Etching 68
JAMES BURRILL ANGELL, LL.D. (1829-1916). President of the University, 1871-1909 76
HARRY BURNS HUTCHINS, LL.D. President of the University, 1909-1920 86
MARION LEROY BURTON, LL.D. President of the University of Michigan, 1920- 90
A GENERAL VIEW OF THE FRONT OF THE CAMPUS. Showing University Hall, including the Old North Wing, with the Law Building in the background 94
THE UNIVERSITY OBSERVATORY 110
HILL AUDITORIUM 110
THE CHEMISTRY BUILDING 111
THE NATURAL SCIENCE BUILDING 111
THE NEW LIBRARY 118
THE ENGINEERING BUILDING 124
THE MEDICAL BUILDING 124
PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE OLD HOSPITALS 130
THE NEW HOSPITAL BUILDING 130
THE LAW BUILDING 131
THE ENGINEERING QUADRANGLE. Etching 140
THE DENTAL BUILDING 144
THE HOMEOPATHIC HOSPITAL AND CHILDREN'S WARD 144
THE INTERIOR OF HILL AUDITORIUM 152
THE INTERIOR OF THE MAIN READING ROOM IN THE NEW LIBRARY 153
THE MICHIGAN UNION. Etching 186
THE DOORWAY OF THE MARTHA COOK BUILDING 192
LANE HALL. The University Y.M.C.A. Building 196
NEWBERRY HALL. The University Y.W.C.A. Building 196
NEWBERRY RESIDENCE FOR WOMEN 197
BARBOUR GYMNASIUM FOR WOMEN 197
THE TUG OF WAR ACROSS THE HURON. The Freshman losing in the Annual Freshman-Sophomore contests 208
FOUR SOCIETY HOUSES. Psi Upsilon, Sigma Phi, Phi Delta Theta, Collegiate Sorosis 209
WATERMAN GYMNASIUM FOR MEN 236
FERRY FIELD FROM THE NEW STAND, showing the gates and the Club House 248
A VIEW OF ANN ARBOR. Across the Valley of the Huron. The Hospital Buildings, with the University Beyond 272
ALONG THE HURON. A Glimpse of Ann Arbor's Park System 280
THE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS IN THE SEVENTIES 286
THE CAMPUS ELMS 287
THE CAPTAINS OF THE THREE STUDENT COMPANIES IN 1861. Charles Kendall Adams, '61, Captain of the University Guards; Isaac H. Elliott, '61, Captain of the Chancellor Greys; Albert Nye, '62, Captain of the Ellsworth Zouaves. 300
THE STUDENTS' ARMY TRAINING CORPS. Drawn up before the Michigan Union (fall of 1918) 312
ONE OF THE FOURTEEN-INCH NAVAL GUNS IN FRANCE. Whose crews were largely composed of the Michigan Naval Volunteers. 313
THE CONCOURSE OR GENERAL LOBBY IN THE MICHIGAN UNION 336
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
One early June day some fourscore years ago, it was 1837 to be precise, a party of distinguished visitors arrived in what was then the little backwoods community of Ann Arbor. The interest of the loiterers at the country tavern and the corner grocery was no doubt aroused by their coming, for Ann Arbor we may suppose was not different from other small places; and this curiosity could hardly have been lessened by the fact that the newcomers were all men who figured prominently in the affairs of the State, which had been admitted to the Union only four months before. Whatever the speculation aroused by the personnel of the party, however, the business that called them to Ann Arbor caused little comment, if we are to judge from contemporary reports. Yet this unpretentious gathering of notables was charged with the inauguration of what was to become one of the most significant developments in the history of American education,—the establishment and successful maintenance of a University by the people of a State.
Thus met for their first session the Regents of the future University of Michigan. Unfortunately we do not know the particulars of this meeting; not even in what country lawyer's office or public hall it was held; still less are we able to profit from any of the illuminating details or personal comments a modern observer would have given us. Our knowledge of the character of the men, and the official report of what they did, is all we have to reveal the spirit in which they set themselves to their task.
Of the nineteen members of the Board at that time eleven were present at this first session, which lasted three days. Included among the number, as ex-officio members, were the boy Governor of the State, Stevens T. Mason, then only twenty-five years old, the Lieutenant-Governor, Edward Mundy, and the Chancellor of the State, Elon Farnsworth; while among the members by appointment were Michigan's first Congressman and author of the law under which the University was to be organized, General Isaac E. Crary, and two well-known Detroit physicians, Dr. Zina Pitcher, afterward to be known as the founder of the Medical School, and Dr. Samuel Denton, destined to be a professor in the same Department.
Their first action was the appointment of a committee to select the forty acres offered as an inducement to bring the University to Ann Arbor. Measures were then taken for the organization of the institution; the Legislature was petitioned to give the Board the power to appoint a Chancellor; four professorships were established until more were needed; salaries were limited to not less than $1,200 or more than $2,000; and a Librarian was appointed for a library not yet in existence.
Thus the University began its career. The men who were responsible for it in its early years were, for the most part, lawyers and politicians, lacking even the actual experience in educational matters which the clergymen of that time were supposed to have; but there is evidence of an idealism and confidence in the future on their part which must explain the eventual success of the University,—a vision which enabled it to become the model for all succeeding state institutions.
The task before this Board and its immediate successors was not an easy one. They saw, in their mind's eye, a university with thousands of students, forming the cap-stone of a great educational system which was to rest on the little log schoolhouses which were so rapidly rising in the wilderness about them. Their immediate resources, however, proved almost ridiculously inadequate, while their best efforts were often nullified by the selfishness and lack of foresight of many of their contemporaries. Land set aside for the University by the Government was sold for a song to satisfy speculators. An elaborate building program had, perforce, to be abandoned and even the simple buildings erected were criticized as extravagant. The Faculty was far from being a harmonious little family, and dissensions arose between the students and teachers over the establishment of fraternities; while the jealousy of rival religious denominations and the lack of a strong executive multiplied the difficulties which made the first years of the University far from happy.
Nevertheless the University came through it all, not unscathed, but sufficiently strong and vigorous, and with great possibilities for the future in the rising fortunes of the Commonwealth, which gradually came to take a great pride in this child of its first years. To the State, no less than to the Regents and Faculty, belongs the credit of Michigan's great achievement in American educational history,—the first proof that a university, maintained by the people of a state as part of its educational system, could be made a practical success.
The idea of a state university, or rather a state educational system, was not in itself strikingly new; in fact two interesting experiments in Detroit had preceded the University. But none of the original thirteen colonies, or the new states so rapidly being carved out of the lands brought in by the addition of the Northwest Territory, had been able to make really practical that provision in the Ordinance of 1787 which, from its place above the stage in University Hall, has sunk into the consciousness of so many student generations of the University of Michigan.
Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
The actual success of the University was Michigan's first great contribution to the Nation. The inauguration of practical laboratory work in science, as well as the speedy organization of Medical and Engineering Departments, was the second step. This led to a new relationship between education and practical life; others besides candidates for the ministry began to come in greater numbers to seek degrees. Hardly less revolutionary in the third place was Dr. Tappan's effort to make Michigan a real University,—the introduction of true graduate study which, though not immediately successful, made Michigan once more a pioneer among American schools. Again, the establishment of the chemical laboratory, the introduction of co-education, and the creation of a Department of Education, bringing with it a correlation of the University with the high schools of the State, are all matters now so generally taken for granted that it is somewhat difficult nowadays to give the University proper credit for leading the way.
In recent years other state universities have overtaken Michigan in their development. Some states are supporting their universities even more liberally than Michigan. Many have gone so far as to do away with student fees, an item which has a large place in Michigan's annual income. Whether this is entirely desirable is perhaps a question. One of the University's greatest assets is the interest and support of her former students. They have shown less of the spirit which is more or less inevitable in all state institutions,—a feeling that once they have received their educational bargain, their responsibility to the institution ceases. The loyalty of Michigan's alumni body may arise in some part from the very fact that the education given has not been entirely free, as well as through a justifiable pride in the prestige and academic traditions which the years have brought.
Other universities also have developed further means of maintaining friendly relations with the people of their states, through affiliating the state agricultural colleges with the university and offering elaborate programs of extension courses. In this direction Michigan has made haste slowly, for there is danger to true academic ideals in such a course. The result has been that there is no instruction given in the University that cannot be considered of proper academic character under present-day standards.
Our university system has progressed so far and so fast, however, that the educators of the first half of the nineteenth century would find little they could recognize in the wide range of human knowledge included in our modern university curricula. When the University was founded, the schools of America were really closer to the great universities of the Middle Ages than to those of the present day. The comparatively brief period covered by the life of the University of Michigan has seen a greater change in educational ideals and practices than anything which took place during the preceding thousand years, for we have added to their heritage all the great developments of the past century in science and the arts.
Michigan has done her part in this transition from the old to the new; and in carrying on her work she has acquired a life of her own, an academic atmosphere, and a characteristic student life which have a peculiar interest to all Michigan men and women. To chronicle in brief the main events in Michigan's history; to suggest their significance; to picture the life of the students and Faculties; and to set forth the University's real measure of success, in order that all who are interested in the University may know her and understand her ideals and traditions, is the aim of the following chapters.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE UNIVERSITY
The history of the University of Michigan might properly be said to begin in 1817. It is true that the University seal proclaims 1837 as the year of its birth, but the present institution is only a successor of two previous incarnations in Detroit, which were its direct predecessors. The State Supreme Court, in fact, held in 1856 that the corporate existence of the University began with the Act of the 26th of August, 1817, and has been continuous throughout all the subsequent changes of the organic law.
It would be difficult, however, to recognize the present University in that curiosity of educational history established by the Act of 1817 under the sonorous title of the "Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania." This institution, in effect designed to be a university, was to be composed of thirteen didaxiim, or professorships, of such branches as Catholepistemia or Universal Science, Anthropoglossica or Literature, Physiosophica or Natural Philosophy, Polemitactica or Military Science, and Ennoeica or Intellectual Sciences, which embraced all the Epistimiim or "Sciences relative to the minds of animals, to the human mind, to spiritual existences, to the Deity, and to religion." It is worthy of note also that Chemistry, Medicine, and Political Economy were provided for under the names of Chymia, Iatrica, and Oeconomica. This scheme, which was prepared by Augustus B. Woodward, Presiding Judge of the territorial Supreme Court, went further than this provision for the University, however, for it contemplated as well a complete state educational system, with subordinate colleges, academies, schools, libraries, museums, athenaeums, botanical gardens, laboratories and "other useful literary and scientific Institutions consonant with the laws of the United States and of Michigan." These the President and the Didactors were to provide for, as well as for Directors, Visitors, Curators, Librarians, Instructors and "Instructrixes" throughout the various counties, cities, towns, townships, or other geographical divisions of Michigan.
To support this grand scheme, the public taxes were to be increased fifteen percent, and a provision, which seems strangely unacademic to the college community of a century later, was made for four successive lotteries from which the Catholepistemiad might retain fifteen percent of the prizes for its own use. Two of these lotteries apparently were drawn.
The institution which arose in the shade of this immense growth of pseudo-classical verbiage was a very modest undertaking indeed and developed little beyond the primary school and classical academy first established. These were housed in a little building in Detroit, twenty-four by fifty feet, on the west side of Bates Street near Congress, afterward occupied by one of the branches of the University. Scarcely more ambitious was the faculty of two men, the Rev. John Monteith, a Presbyterian clergyman who was President and seven-fold didactor, and Father Gabriel Richard, a Catholic priest who was Vice-President and incumbent of the other six didaxiim.
Absurd as was the terminology and ridiculous as were its vast pretensions in view of the little French-Canadian community it served, nevertheless, the educational scheme which the act outlined was of great significance in the future development of education in the State. It was one of the first plans in America for a complete educational program to be supported by the people of a state. Its sources were to be found, undoubtedly, in the strong influence of French thought on contemporary American life, for this scheme was but a copy of the highly centralized organization of state instruction which Napoleon gave to France in the Imperial University of 1806-08. As Professor Hinsdale says, "the ponderous name belonged to organized public education." Four years later, another act established in Detroit "an University for the purpose of educating youth" as the successor of the Catholepistemiad, with little change in the broad and liberal outline of the plan save in two particulars,—a change from classical to English nomenclature and the substitution of a Board of Trustees for the self-governing President and Didactors of the earlier scheme.
[Footnote 1: No one of the old states had what we would now call a State University, although two or three states had institutions that bore that name, while several of the states had voted money or wild lands to promote higher education; nor had any of the new states, aided by the bounty of Congress, established such an institution that was worthy of the name, University.—Hinsdale, History of the University of Michigan, p. 16.]
Michigan at this time was on the far edge of civilization; it was not even organized as a territory until the year 1805. In 1800 the total population was only 3,757, while in 1817 it could not have been more than 7,000. The inhabitants of Detroit only numbered 1,442 in 1820. Aside from the Indians, who for many years were to be a not inconsiderable portion of the population, the early inhabitants were all French settlers whose main business was fur trading. With the first years of the nineteenth century, however, there came a constantly increasing stream of "Bostonians," as the men from the East were called. They were not welcomed at first, although their enterprise and education were to transform Michigan within a surprisingly short period into one of the most progressive of the new states. Nevertheless this growth was at first slow and it was not until Michigan became a state in 1837 that the rapid increase in settlers from New York and New England changed so completely the character of the people that it became in a few years a predominantly agricultural, instead of a primitive fur-trading community. The rapidity of this movement towards the West, once begun, was most fortunate, as the settlers from the older states in the East were enabled to put into effect immediately their own training in the schools of New York and New England for the benefit of their children. This is one of the underlying causes of Michigan's success; whereas other states, whose settlement began earlier, failed through the lowering of the standards of education inevitable in the hard life of the generation succeeding the first pioneers.
The initial public support of education in Michigan, as in all of the new states west of the Alleghenies, came from the important provision made by the Federal Government in 1785 for a system of surveys of the public lands. These had eventually been deeded to the Government by the different states as the only practicable settlement of conflicting claims which at one time promised to disrupt the new confederation. Their acquisition by the nation and their eventual division and admission to the Union as states contributed not a little to the strengthening of the central authority at a time when it was a vital necessity. The first survey of these lands provided, as is well known, for division into townships six miles square, to be again sub-divided into thirty-six lots one mile square called sections. The provision of this ordinance of particular interest in this connection is the following: "There shall be reserved the lot Number 16 of every township for the maintenance of public schools within the said township."
In the Ordinance of 1787, providing for the administration of the Northwest Territory, we have only the familiar general declaration that: "Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged," but an ordinance adopted ten days later provided that in addition to the school lot in every township: "Not more than two complete townships are to be given perpetually for the purposes of a University, to be laid off by the purchaser or purchasers as near the center as may be, so that the same shall be of good land to be applied to the intended object by the Legislature of the State." This was the fundamental action which made possible the foundation of the University of Michigan almost at the same time that the State was admitted to the Union.
For the most part the story of the land grants under this provision is an unfortunate one of speculation, misappropriations, and sale by venal Legislatures, whose only excuse was probably their inexperience and lack of vision; and the natural desire of the people to benefit at once from the endowment these lands represented. Michigan had her troubles in common with the other new states, but she did manage to acquire enough from these lands eventually to give the University needed support in her very lean early years. Their history, therefore, is not without interest. When Indiana territory was divided by Congress in 1804 into the three districts corresponding to the present states of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, one township was reserved in each for a seminary of learning. This, in Michigan, was increased in 1826 to two townships, which might be located by sections in any of the districts surveyed. Even more important was a measure approved by Congress in 1836 which permitted the State to control the selection, administration, and even eventual sale of these sections with no reference to the limits of the Congressional townships, thus permitting their consolidation into one state fund. This precedent has been followed by all the states entering the Union since 1837.
The plan of making a state trust of the public lands was a good one—on paper. But with the rapidly growing population, envious eyes were soon cast on these tracts by immigrants, many of whom settled on these sections as squatters, to make endless trouble in the future with their conflicting claims. The first lands definitely set aside were selected by the Trustees of the old University of Detroit in 1827 within the limits of what is now the city of Toledo. The selection could not have been better, consisting in all of some 960 acres, but most unfortunately the best part was exchanged in 1830, on the representation of land-sharks, for poorer land and the land thus received was sold four years later for $5,000. The remainder was disposed of fifteen years later for about $19 an acre, bringing to the University a total of some $17,000 for land which eventually came to be worth, literally, millions. Meanwhile other tracts were being located in all the counties of the State then organized. Soon after Michigan became a state, the Superintendent of Public Instruction made an inventory of these which showed that at $15 an acre they would bring a fund of $691,200 and an annual income to the University of $48,384. At $20, which he thought might easily represent their value, they would bring an annual income of $64,912. The first sale justified his optimism, as the price averaged $22.85 an acre, though only one-fourth of the purchase money was paid in cash. But the people of the State soon began to murmur; they were not interested in continuing these big reservations of choice land for an object so remote as a university. The Superintendent of Public Instruction, moreover, found himself involved in all kinds of trouble with the purchasers. The matter finally came up to the Legislature under the guise of a bill for the relief of certain settlers on university and other state lands, which would have thrown these sections on the market at a nominal price and insured the squatters permanent tenure. The bill was a short-sighted and vicious one and was promptly vetoed by the young Governor, Stevens T. Mason, because he felt these lands were given to the State as a sacred trust. In this courageous action he performed one of the greatest of his many services to the University.
But the Legislature had a different idea as to the sacredness of the trust. Various measures were passed, lengthening the time of deferred payment, successively lowering the minimum price at which the lands were to be sold and eventually in 1841 making the minimum price of $12 retroactive. Under this measure, $35,651 were actually returned or credited to purchasers. When the lands were all sold the average price realized was not quite $12 an acre, resulting in a fund of some $547,000 from which the University now derives an annual income of $38,433.44. While this amount is by no means as large as was hoped for in those early days, this income, if it had been available in the first years, would have helped the struggling institution materially.
To most of us this dissipation of what might have been, with more careful and conservative management, a magnificent endowment seems almost a tragedy. But there is another side. Michigan was far more fortunate in her disposal of these public lands than any of her contemporaries and obtained more than twice the amount realized from any other state lands in the Northwest. For example, Wisconsin only realized $150,000 from her 72 sections, while others fared worse instead of better. Michigan is regarded in this respect as a model, instead of a horrible example. Then, too, the early sale of the land was imperative if the University was to live. The income from this source was almost its sole support except the exceedingly slender student fees. We must conclude, therefore, that the Government grants performed their function; thanks to them we still have a University and still receive a respectable income from the fund which represents their sale.
The Constitution prepared for the prospective State by the Convention of 1835 provided for a University and authorized its immediate establishment upon the adoption of the Constitution. This provision was the result of the joint labors of two men whose memory will always be held in honor by the University;—John D. Pierce, a graduate of Brown University and a missionary in the service of the Presbyterian Church, who was then about forty years old, and General Isaac Edwin Crary, a graduate of Trinity College, Connecticut (1827), who, with his bride, made his home with Pierce in the tiny backwoods settlement of Marshall. They were both men of unusual caliber and were interested vitally in the affairs of the territory, particularly educational questions. Many are the discussions these two must have held, to which a stray copy of a translation of M. Victor Cousin's report on "The State of Public Instruction in Prussia," made to the French ministry of Public Instruction, which fell into the hands of Pierce, certainly contributed not a little. Here was the account of a state system of public instruction which was under successful operation. These men were familiar with the previous experiments in the Michigan of territorial days and with the efforts in other states in this direction, but nowhere could they find the practical help they needed. The few colleges in the country were practically all privately endowed institutions, having no organic connection with the secondary schools, to say nothing of the rare public high schools. Thus the orderly and consistent development of a state school system in Prussia had a peculiar appeal to these pioneers who were already considering the outline of the educational system in the State of Michigan to be.
General Crary became the chairman of the Committee on Education in the Constitutional Convention and upon him devolved the immediate task of drafting the educational article. He had, no doubt, Cousin's report at hand as well as the advantage of the advice of Pierce. The result was the most progressive and far-seeing provision for public instruction in any state constitution up to that time; yet a measure that appealed to the good sense and practical wisdom of the people of the State. In brief it provided that the Governor, with the Legislature, should "encourage, by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, scientifical, and agricultural improvement" and that, in particular, there should be appointed a Superintendent of Public Instruction, an officer then unknown to any of the states; that there should be created a perpetual and inviolable public fund from the sale of lands for the support of public schools; and that provision should be made for libraries as well, one at least in each township, to be supported from money paid for exemption from military service and from fines collected for any breach of the penal law. The section concerning the University was as follows:
The Legislature shall take measures for the protection, improvement, or other disposition of such lands as have been or may hereafter be reserved or granted by the United States, to this state, for the support of a University, and the funds accruing from the rents or sale of such lands, or from any other source, for the purpose aforesaid, shall be and remain a permanent fund for the support of said University, with such branches as the public convenience may hereafter demand for the promotion of literature, the arts and sciences, and as may be authorized by the terms of such grant. And it shall be the duty of the Legislature, as soon as may be, to provide effectual means for the improvement and permanent security of the funds of said University.
This constitution went into effect as soon as Michigan became a state on the 26th of January, 1837, though Pierce, afterwards known affectionately in University circles as "Father Pierce," had already been serving as the Superintendent of Public Instruction since the previous July. Upon him fell the important task of preparing a system for the organization of common schools, together with a university and its branches. The system he devised has become a landmark in educational progress throughout the world, as is shown by the numerous foreign delegations which have visited the University in recent years for the purpose of studying our educational system. As for the plans outlined by Pierce, which were quickly approved by the Legislature in March, 1837, we can best quote President Angell when he said fifty years later: "Our means have not yet enabled us to execute in all particulars the comprehensive plan which was framed by Mr. Pierce."
There was no precedent in America for the task set him. Eight of the new states, it is true, had accepted federal grants of land but had failed in the trust thus imposed, and the feeble schools they supported offered no more guidance than Michigan's two experiments in Detroit. The field was practically virgin soil, actually as well as metaphorically; the problem was the effective organization of a university on the basis of the land given by the Government to the State for this purpose.
The answer was the Organic Act of the University of Michigan approved March 18, 1837. In essentials it provided for a Board of Regents with a Chancellor who should be ex-officio President. Of the Regents twelve were to be nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, while the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, the Judges of the Supreme Court, and the Chancellor of the State were to be members ex-officio. The University was to consist of a Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts, a Department of Law, and a Department of Medicine. The professorships were specified and it is significant that, in addition to the usual branches taught in those days, such as Ancient and Modern Languages, Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, and Natural Theology, provision was also made for professorships in Chemistry, Geology, Botany, Fine Arts, and Civil Engineering and Architecture. A limiting clause, however, was incorporated in this ambitious scheme, which provided that only so many professorships should be filled at first as the needs of the institution warranted. While the immediate government of the University was to be entrusted to the respective Faculties, the Regents had final authority in the regulation of courses and the selection of textbooks, and were empowered to remove any professor, tutor, or other officer, when in their judgment the interests of the University required it. The fees were to be $10 for residents of the State. A Board of Visitors was also to be appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to make a personal examination of the University and report to him their observations and recommendations. It was also provided that such branches of the University were to be established in different parts of the State as might from time to time be authorized by the Legislature. These branches, however, were not to confer degrees, though they were to have Departments of Agriculture in connection and also an "institution for the education of females in the higher branches of knowledge, whenever suitable buildings should be provided for them." The funds for these branches were to be appropriated from the University Fund in sums proportionate to the number of scholars.
Shortly after the first meeting of the Board of Regents in 1837, the Legislature, following some of their suggestions, modified the University Act in certain particulars; abolishing the Chancellorship of the Board of Regents and making the Governor the President of that body, at the same time directing the Regents to elect a Chancellor of the University who should not be a member of the Board. This act also gave the Regents power to assign the duties of vacant professorships to any professor already appointed and to establish branches in the different counties without further legislative authority. The Board was also authorized to purchase philosophical apparatus, a library, and a cabinet of natural history.
These were the essential provisions for the University. With so novel a scheme the Regents and the Legislature naturally had to proceed on a more or less cut and try method, but those at all familiar with the organization of the present institution will recognize familiar features in this first plan. One of the practical problems which faced those who held the fate of the University in their charge was the question as to where students, sufficiently trained in the higher branches, were to be found in a state which numbered, all told, not more than 100,000 souls, scattered for the most part in little frontier settlements. This explains the provisions for the branches, which were to be in effect the high schools from which the University was to draw its students. For a time this was the actual development; but after the branches were discontinued, high schools, supported by the various towns of the State, came into existence and were eventually bound to the University through the admission of their students by certificate. Thus the same end was accomplished and at less expense.
When one considers the actual situation in Michigan at that time, the program outlined by this act seems extraordinarily ambitious if not actually ridiculous. The hard and primitive life of those days is almost inconceivable now, and yet the change has come well within the lifetime of the oldest inhabitants of many thriving cities of the State. The secret lay in the extraordinary increase of the population. Settlers came in so rapidly that, where in 1834 there were but 87,278 inhabitants, there were over 212,267 in 1840, and it was precisely this growth, evidences of which were on every hand, that encouraged those educational pioneers to aim high. The result has justified their optimism; though there were to be many years of small things and limited means before the fulfillment of this early vision. As Professor Hinsdale wisely says in his History: "A large scheme would do no harm provided no attempt were made at once to realize it, and it might in time be well filled out; while a small plan, in case of large growth, would require reconstruction from the foundation." The result has amply proved the worth of the venture.
As has been seen, the University was to be but a part of a complete state system. As a corollary in the minds of its sponsors private institutions were to be discouraged. Superintendent Pierce even queried whether it would not be wise to forbid them altogether. That proving entirely impracticable, the alternative was to make the University and the branches so good that private schools could not meet their competition. He first endeavored to prevent the chartering of private colleges; later he sought to deny them the privilege of conferring degrees. In this he asked the advice of Eastern educators, among them President Wayland, of Brown, who wrote him, "By a great number of small and badly appointed colleges you will increase the nominally educated men, but you will decrease the power of education because it will be little else but the name."
In spite of this support his efforts, however, were not effective and in 1839 the Legislature in the name of freedom and opposition to monopoly passed an Act to incorporate the Trustees of Marshall College, in Pierce's own home town. By 1850 several such charters were granted and in 1855 the degree conferring power was given these institutions. It is doubtless true that at least some of the opposition with which the University had to contend during her early years may be traced to this first policy, which aroused the sectarian spirit behind the smaller colleges and it was important to that extent; but far more significant was the alternative of concentrating all the energies of the State in the one great institution. Events have proved this the wise course. We have had the example of less wise counsel in neighboring commonwealths where the state universities have suffered from a multiplication of small schools and have only recently been able to acquire their full stature as true universities.
The establishment of the branches, which preceded the opening of the University by several years, and their quick discontinuance, is an interesting episode connected with the University's early years. They formed the necessary preparatory schools for the coming University, and furnished the first instruction under its auspices in the new State. By the end of 1838 five branches with 161 students had been established with the "decided approbation and support of the inhabitants." For some years these academies flourished in a modest way, though they never enrolled more than 400 students in any one year. But this effort, which originally aimed to cover every county in the State, soon arrived at the place which might have been foreseen from the beginning. The branches began not only to overshadow the parent institution but actually to eat up all of the University's resources. The necessary action followed quickly when the University began to demand all the available income; in 1842 the Regents gave notice that the appropriations for the branches would be reduced and by 1846 all support was definitely withdrawn.
This was practically the end of these schools, though some of them managed to maintain a precarious existence for a few years. They had, however, served a useful purpose. Without the students they trained it is difficult to imagine where the first classes to graduate would have received the preparation which enabled the University to maintain collegiate, instead of preparatory, courses,—the rock upon which so many institutions stumbled. Then, too, they accustomed the people of the State to the idea of schools affiliated with the University and prepared the way for the local high schools which within a short time came to serve the same purposes as had the branches. Finally they performed a valuable service in the preparation of teachers for the common schools. The $35,000 spent by the Regents on these branches was therefore far from wasted. Rather it was one of the series of fortunate measures, somewhat blindly entered upon, which served the University well; but it is equally true that the abandonment of the policy came only in the nick of time, for the Regents were already in serious financial difficulties.
With all of these favorable influences, the horoscope of the University was at least propitious. The people of the State were familiar with the idea of a state educational system; the immigrants from the East were for the most part homogeneous and of a progressive spirit; it was believed that an adequate income for the educational program was assured from the sale of state lands; provision had been made for the proper preparation of matriculates in the University; and above all, wise and far-sighted men had devised a scheme of organization which showed familiarity with the best there was in educational development at that time. We can now take up the story of the University itself.
THE UNIVERSITY'S EARLY DAYS
There were several candidates among the towns of the State for the honor of having the University. Detroit, Monroe, and Marshall were mentioned, but an offer of forty acres of land by the Ann Arbor Land Company, previously offered unsuccessfully as a site for the state capitol, proved the most attractive bid, and the Legislature voted in favor of Ann Arbor in an act signed by the Governor, March 20, 1837. The town was then fourteen years old and boasted some 2,000 inhabitants, who supported four churches, two newspapers, two banks, seventeen drygoods stores, eleven lawyers, nine doctors, and eight mills and manufacturing plants, including a good-sized plow factory. Nevertheless it was in essentials a frontier community. There are those still living who remember the Indians who came in to town to trade,—presumably at those seventeen drygoods stores. Transportation was primitive, the first railroad did not come until 1839; while great tracts of uninhabited land lay on every side.
Of the twelve Regents by appointment who were members of the first Board, six had been members of the Constitutional Convention, two were physicians, and four were lawyers; seven had received collegiate degrees, while one, Henry R. Schoolcraft, was the best authority of that time on the American Indian. General Crary appears to have been the only one who had previously concerned himself with educational matters, so it is small wonder that some impracticable measures were taken.
To those of us who look back now with the advantage of "hind-sight," the mistakes of the first Board are obvious. Two tracts of land were considered as possible sites for the University. The choice fell upon the wrong one, and we now have the present Campus, undistinguished by any natural advantages, instead of the commanding location on the hills overlooking the Huron, recommended by the committee appointed at the first session. We do not know now why the change was made, though there must have been some little discussion, as it was only made by a vote of 6 to 5. We can only imagine now how much more beautiful and impressive the buildings of the future University might have been, lining the brows of the hills overlooking the Huron Valley, rather than spreading over the flat rough clearing of the Rumsey farm that by that time had lost the attraction which the original forest trees must once have given it. For many years the present Campus remained what it was originally, a bit of farm land, where wheat was grown on the unoccupied portions and where the families of the four professors who lived on the Campus gathered peaches from the old farm orchard.
At their first meeting the Regents undertook the preliminary steps towards the appointment of a Faculty, though a resolution asking for a change in the University Act, giving them power to elect and prescribe the duties of a Chancellor of the University, suggests that they were uncertain of their powers in this matter. Four prospective professorships were established and though the report of the committee on the matter was not adopted as presented, the assignment of the subjects is suggestive; they included a Professor of Mental Philosophy, whose field was to comprise Moral Philosophy, Natural Theology, Rhetoric, Oratory, Logic, and the History of All Religions; a Professor of Mathematics, to have also in charge Civil Engineering and Architecture; a Professor of Languages, to have in charge the Roman and Greek languages; and a Professor of Law. This action came four years before the actual appointment of Professors of Languages and Mathematics and twenty-two years before a Professor of Law was needed. A librarian, the Rev. Henry Colclazer, was also appointed, the first officer of the University chosen, though he did not assume his duties or his munificent salary of $100 a year until 1841. The question of the organization of the branches, which became the perennial subject of discussion at all the early meetings of the Board, also came up at this time through the authorization of a Committee on Branches, and a request that the Superintendent of Public Instruction furnish an "outline of a plan of the University."
From this time on meetings of the Regents were held with fair regularity, either in Ann Arbor or, more usually, in the capitol city, which at that time was Detroit. Occasional difficulties in obtaining a quorum are discernible, however, in the reports of the early meetings. The trip on horseback or stage from Detroit to Ann Arbor during the first two years was not always easy or convenient, while there was little to arouse enthusiasm in the slow development of the Campus. The question of a library and scientific apparatus interested the Board from the first meeting and among their early purchases was a collection of minerals made by one Baron Lederer which consisted of 2,600 specimens, purchased in January, 1838, for $4,000. In July of the same year, Dr. Asa Gray was made a Professor of Botany and Zooelogy, the first professor to be appointed. He was contemplating a trip to Europe and was entrusted by the Regents with $5,000 for the purchase of a library. This charge he performed to the great satisfaction of the Regents, sending back a collection of 3,700 volumes in all the branches ordinarily taught at that time, including many books unobtainable in America. This task ended Professor Gray's connection with Michigan. Practically all his long and distinguished career was spent as a professor in Harvard University. Another purchase of this period, probably the first acquisition for the library, which seems curiously extravagant for the officers of an "incipient" University, was Audubon's "Birds of America." At the present time it is worth many times the $970 paid for it then, but one wonders, in view of the extreme slenderness of the resources of the University, just what was the idea which led to its purchase. It was in any case an evidence of the interest of the Board in practical scientific studies and their sympathy with what was then the progressive movement in education.
Meanwhile the Regents were making haste slowly in erecting the University buildings. In accordance with the "grand design" of the University Act, a New Haven architect was commissioned to prepare what proved to be, according to Superintendent Pierce, "a truly magnificent design." The Governor and the Board of Regents approved this plan but the Superintendent of Public Instruction, with a better sense of realities, refused his assent. He maintained that a university did not consist of fine buildings, "but in the number and ability of its Professors, and in its other appointments, as libraries, cabinets, and works of art." So this scheme which would have cost five hundred thousand dollars, or twice the amount of what had at that time been realized from the University lands, was abandoned, apparently to the great disappointment of the citizens of Ann Arbor, who showed their disapproval by a public indignation meeting.
The plan finally adopted had at least the merit of modesty and some degree of serviceability. It called for the erection of six buildings, two to serve as dormitories and class rooms and four as professors' houses, all on the Campus. The first of the dormitories was completed in 1841, at a cost of about $16,000; while the four professors' houses, which were ready at the same time, cost $30,850. The dormitory, which was the first University building, is now the north wing of University Hall. It was a gaunt, bleak structure in those days, one hundred and ten by forty feet, whose stark outlines were softened nowhere by trees and shrubbery. The original plan called for sixty-four bedrooms and thirty-two studies, but the necessity of including a chapel and a recitation room on the first and second floors, the library on the third, and a museum on the fourth, severely limited the space for the students' rooms. In 1843 the building was named Mason Hall, in honor of the late Governor who had just died, but the name was long forgotten until revived in 1914, when a tablet was placed by the D.A.R. on the building, which has since been called by that name. Contemporary opinion is reflected in a description of this building in the Michigan State Journal of August 10, 1841, where we read: "More classical models or a more beautiful finish cannot be imagined. They honor the architect, while they beautify the village." From this one cannot but suspect that journalistic exaggeration is not entirely a latter-day fault, although the opinion of Governor Barry seems to have been somewhat the same when he charged the Regents with "vast expenditures" for "large and commodious buildings, which ... will doubtless at some future period be wanted for occupation and use."
As a matter of fact the Governor's strictures were not entirely unjustified, as the four professors' houses proved a continual source of annoyance and expense, while the wisdom of erecting a building to be used largely as a dormitory when students could easily have lived in the town, as they do nowadays, was doubtful. Governor Barry is reported to have said in 1842 that "as the State had the buildings and had no other use for them, it was probably best to continue the school." That was in the period of the lowest ebb of the University's fortunes which followed soon after its doors were opened, and, as Professor Ten Brook remarked, it showed that the balance of the scale between suspending and going forward may have been turned in favor of the University by the bare fact of having these architectural preparations. The second and corresponding building was not erected until 1849 at the cost of about $13,000. A few months later the Medical Building was completed.
The affairs of the University were in a critical state by 1843. The sale of the state lands had resulted in no such sum as had been expected; the branches had been eating up what little income there was; while an unfortunate bit of financiering on the part of the Regents in 1838, involving a loan of $100,000 from the State for the immediate completion of the necessary buildings and the establishment of the branches, only added to the difficulties. The history of this loan is a complicated one which does not need to be detailed here. The expense incurred in establishing the branches, the purchases for the library and mineral collections, and the erection of the buildings practically exhausted it. When it was made the Regents supposed that the income from the state lands would more than cover the interest, but this proved a vain hope. Practically every bit of the University's income was needed for this purpose. The situation was only saved in 1844 by the Legislature permitting the Regents to apply depreciated treasury notes and other state scrip received for the sale of University lands at a fixed valuation in the payment of this debt, as well as accepting some property in Detroit. This relieved the situation so that soon after that time the Regents were able to report that the disbursements were less than the receipts. For several years the State exacted interest for this loan and in 1850 deducted $100,000 from the University fund held by the State. Three years later, however, the Legislature directed that the interest upon the whole amount of the lands sold be paid to the University. This was done by successive Legislatures until in 1877 the $100,000 was finally returned to the University fund through an adjustment of the accounting system of the State. Whether the return of this $100,000 constitutes a gift to the University by the State is still a matter of discussion. Professor Ten Brook, in his "History of American State Universities," written, however, in 1875, before the final adjustment was made, maintained that the University had already paid this debt, while Professor Hinsdale, in his later "History of the University," more properly insisted that actually the University never repaid the debt, and that this $100,000 was eventually made a gift and thus became the first direct state support of the University of Michigan.
The whole history of the early finances of the University is one of great expectations and of small resources not always judiciously used. The sums expended upon the branches were not spent in vain, for they provided the scholastic foundation of the University in its first years. Nor is the erection of University buildings to be criticized, except as to their impractical character. This defect the experience of a few years was to show, for one of the first acts of Dr. Tappan, when he became President in 1852, was to end the use of the two University buildings as dormitories; while the professors' houses, with the exception of the one reserved as the President's residence, were eventually used for general University purposes and at one time were even let as boarding houses.
In September, 1841, the University first opened its doors with a Faculty of two. The first Professor appointed to assume active duties was the Rev. George Palmer Williams, formerly the head of the Pontiac branch, who was elected in July, 1841, as Professor of Languages. In August, the Rev. Joseph Whiting was elected Professor of Languages, and Professor Williams was transferred to the Professorship of Mathematics, and, later, of Natural Philosophy. Strictly speaking these two were not the first professors in the University, as Asa Gray had received his appointment as Professor of Botany in July, 1838, and Dr. Douglass Houghton had been elected Professor of Chemistry, Zooelogy, and Mineralogy in October, 1839. Though both of these distinguished men rendered services to the University, one in the selection of the library, and the other in contributions to the scientific collections, neither ever met any classes.
The grand total of the students who ventured to try the educational facilities offered when the University at last got down to business was exactly six: Judson D. Collins, Lyndon Township; Merchant H. Goodrich, Ann Arbor; Lyman D. Norris, Ypsilanti; George E. Parmalee, Ann Arbor; George W. Pray, Superior; and William B. Wesson, Detroit. By the time this class was graduated in 1845, the number had increased to twelve. The mental fare set before this little company consisted of the traditional classical curriculum, which differed not at all from the ordinary college course of those days in spite of the progressive spirit of the founders. For the Freshmen, Livy, Xenophon, and algebra occupied the first term. Horace, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Roman antiquities, more algebra, geometry and botany, the second term; while Horace, Homer, geometry, mensuration, and the application of algebra to geometry completed the year. More Greek and Latin and higher mathematics were scheduled for the second year, while science in the shape of lectures in zooelogy and chemistry and two courses in intellectual and moral science, represented by Abercrombie's "Intellectual Powers" and Paley's "Natural Theology," were added to their classical and mathematical studies during the third year. Geology and calculus were introduced the fourth year, as well as courses in philosophy, moral science, psychology, logic, economics, and political science. No modern languages, medieval or modern history, or laboratory courses in science, save what practical demonstrations could be made from the cabinet of minerals, were offered, to say nothing of engineering, architecture, law, or medicine. The traditions of centuries were still too strong and the institution too weak.
Upon this modest foundation the curriculum slowly grew; new professorships were added from time to time as they became imperatively necessary, so that little by little opportunities developed for the leaven of the new spirit in education to work. In 1843 the Rev. Edward Thomson, afterwards President of Ohio Wesleyan University, was appointed Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy. He only stayed one year; and was succeeded by the Rev. Andrew Ten Brook, in after years Librarian and historian of the University. In 1842, Abram Sager, M.D., afterwards a member of the Medical Faculty, was made Professor of Zooelogy and Botany, while Silas H. Douglas, M.D., who was later to organize the Chemical Laboratory, came in 1844 as an assistant to the absent Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Houghton. The chair of Logic, Rhetoric, and History was filled the next year by the Rev. Daniel D. Whedon; while the chair of Greek and Latin, left vacant by the death of Dr. Whiting about this time, was filled by the Rev. John H. Agnew. In 1846, a Professor of Modern Languages, Louis Fasquelle, LL.D., was appointed and became one of the most distinguished members of that early group.
These were the men who cast their lot with the very precarious fortunes of the new University. The first two resident members of the Faculty, who came to the University from the branches, suffered a considerable diminution of their salary, as the scale outlined at the first Regents' Meeting was more than halved; they received annually but five hundred dollars and the rent of their houses. In fact it was not for many years that the $2,000 maximum salary first established was reached. Even these salaries were not certain in the dark days of 1842 and 1843, when the Regents felt it their duty to make known to the Faculty the University's financial difficulties. The University owes not a little, surely, to these men who signified their willingness to stick by the institution and to endure privations and hardships as long as there was hope.
Life for the students in those days was also no bed of academic ease, though it was perhaps no harder than the home life to which they were accustomed. One study with the two adjoining bedrooms was assigned to two students who were expected to care for their own rooms and sweep the dirt into the halls for Pat Kelly, the "Professor of Dust and Ashes," as well as to cut their own wood at the woodpile behind the building and carry it in, sometimes up three flights of stairs. Chapel exercises were held from 5:30 to 6:30 in the morning and at 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon, according to the time of year, and were compulsory. Tradition has it that the efforts of the official monitors were supplemented by the janitor, whose duty it was to ring a bell, borrowed from the Michigan Central Railroad, and who aroused more than one delinquent by shouting, "Did yez hear the bell?", a commentary either on the bell or on Pat Kelly's voice. To a student of modern days the greatest hardship would appear in the first recitation of the day before breakfast following chapel exercises. Three classes were held daily except on Saturday, when there was only one recitation and an exercise in elocution.
On Sunday the students were obliged to attend service in some one of the churches, and monitors, sometimes not overzealous, were on hand to see that they attended. The expenses are given as from $80 to $100 a year, with an entrance fee of $10 and an annual tax of $7.50 for the use of the room and janitor's services. Students were allowed to leave the Campus for their meals but were expected to be on hand from morning prayers to 7:30 A.M., from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon, from 2:00 to 5:00 P.M. and from 7:00 or 8:00 to 9:00 P.M., after which no student was permitted to leave the Campus. The question of illumination was a serious one in those days, and these periods varied somewhat with the length of daylight. The cost of candles for early recitations and chapel exercises was borne by the students.
The number of students increased each year up to 1847-48, when there were 89 enrolled. After that time, the withdrawal of University support from the branches and their gradual abandonment began to show its effect in the enrolment, which dropped to 57 in 1851-52. Twenty-three students were graduated with the class of 1849, while there were only nine in 1852. The struggling little towns of the State found enough difficulty for the time in supporting primary schools. The branches, however, had proved their necessity, and it was not long before the rise of the Union schools began to provide a stream of students which has flowed to the University uninterruptedly since that time.
There was another and probably more immediate reason for the falling off in attendance. This was the great struggle between the Faculty and the students over the establishment of Greek-letter societies, a contest which became so bitter that not only the town but the State Legislature was involved. A large number of students were expelled, and eventually the whole relationship between students and Faculty was placed upon a different basis. The trouble began in the spring of 1846, when some student depredations were traced to a small log house situated in the depths of what was then known as the Black Forest, the deep wood which extended far east of the Campus. This building, which probably stood somewhere on the present site of the Forest Hill Cemetery, was discovered to be the headquarters of the Chi Psi fraternity, the first chapter house built by any American college fraternity. When the faculty investigator sought entrance to this building, he found his way barred by resolute fratres. This led to the ultimate disclosure of the fact that two fraternities, Chi Psi and Beta Theta Pi, had been established in the University for at least a year, in direct violation of a regulation known as Rule 20, apparently in force for some time, which provided that:
No student shall be or become a member of any society connected with the University which has not first submitted its Constitution to the Faculty and received their approval.
The students involved, however, were willing enough to give lists of their members, relying upon their numbers and their affiliation with similar organizations in other colleges to avoid any unpleasant consequences. The Faculty thought otherwise; though as events proved their authority was not too well defined. Meanwhile another society, Alpha Delta Phi, had submitted a constitution to the Faculty for approval; but owing to the press of other matters it was not considered and the chapter was organized with no action by the authorities. The greater number of the students in the University thus became members of the three Greek-letter fraternities.
The Faculty was disturbed, but apparently did not take the matter too seriously at first and decided to allow the societies to continue, merely exacting pledges from all new students to join no society without approval by the Faculty; thus providing as they thought, for an early demise of the fraternities. It did not work out that way, however. The chapter of Alpha Delta Phi held that their society existed at least by sufferance of the Faculty, and proceeded to initiate members, a fact that was not discovered until March, 1847. Then followed a series of suspensions and re-admissions of students who had promised not to join these societies. Not only were they obliged to resign their membership, but the original members of Alpha Delta Phi were compelled formally to submit to re-admission to the University, pledging themselves not to consent to the initiation of any members of the University in the society in opposition to Rule 20. The matter rested here until the following November, when the society presented a second constitution, which was received by the Faculty with the announcement that they had no authority to legalize the society. This reply was answered by the students with a plea that if the Faculty had no authority to legalize their fraternity then they had no authority to forbid it. Later another fraternity asked for re-admission with similar results.
Meanwhile these organizations were maintaining themselves. Letters to the Presidents of six Eastern colleges brought replies most unfavorable to the fraternities and seemed to indicate to the Faculty that elsewhere the fraternities were under a strict ban. The students, however, knew that the facts were otherwise and that fraternities were flourishing in most of the institutions where they had been established. Finally in December, 1849, a list of members of the Chi Psi fraternity, which included the names of many new students, was found in a University catalogue. The defense set up by the chapter was that they were not members of a society "in the University of Michigan" but "in Ann Arbor," that they did not meet on University grounds, and that they had admitted three members who were not students. One of these members was, in fact, a member of the Board of Regents. The society, therefore, was not connected with the University and did not consist of students. This defense was considered only an evasion and on the last day of the term in 1849 the Faculty announced that the members of Chi Psi and Alpha Delta Phi, whose names had in the meantime been made public, must cease their connection with the University, unless they renounced their connection with their fraternities. Of the members of these two societies seven withdrew their membership; the others were expelled. The members of Beta Theta Pi were not expelled until September, 1850, apparently because the constitution had not yet been signed, to the disgust of one member of the Faculty, who considered this excuse only a legalistic quibble. Some of the students expelled went to other institutions, some eventually returned to the University, while others ended their college days.
This action naturally caused an uproar; neither the Faculty nor the Regents were unanimous in approval of these measures; while the citizens of Ann Arbor held an indignation meeting and appointed a committee to ask the Legislature for a change in the administration of the University. The Faculty prepared a report to the Regents stating their case strongly and even bitterly, characterizing the whole history of these three societies as "a detail of obliquities," and their "extended affiliations as a great irresponsible authority, a monster power, which lays its hand upon every College Faculty in our country"; they were also fearful of the "debauchery, drunkenness, pugilism, and duelling, ... and the despotic power of disorder and ravagism, rife among their German prototypes." This report was signed by all the Faculty, though the opinion was not unanimous, nor had all the actions of individual members been consistent.
The Regents also made a report sustaining the Faculty, and both were submitted to the Legislature, accompanied by a reply made by the seven reinstated students, who denied the charges. They even maintained that Rule 20 was a dead letter and that one of the Professors, when consulted at the time one of the fraternities was founded, did not disapprove, or quote this law. A memorial was also submitted by fifteen "neutral" students sustaining the Faculty and suggesting that the threatened legislation, which was advocated by the committee of Ann Arbor citizens, was the greatest obstacle to harmony. Unfortunately this legislative action was just what seemed inevitable for some time. The Ann Arbor citizens represented that the University was failing, and that the only way to save it was by an entire change in its organic law, the appointment of a new Faculty, and the recognition of that natural right of man—to form secret societies if he so elects.
Their case before the Legislature, however, had been weakened by the action of two students who had circulated a week or so in advance a garbled and caricatured form of the Faculty report, which had been submitted honorably to the students to enable them to make a reply if they so desired. This undoubtedly prejudiced the student case when the truth became known, and the net result was no action by the Legislature on any of the memorials. With the withdrawal of the bill, the Faculty and the Regents were left to handle the question as seemed best to them. In the meantime, however, the opposition to the suppression of the societies had become so widespread and aggressive that one by one the fraternities were "conditionally" reinstated in October, 1850.
While the upshot of all this hostility was, superficially, only a return to the status quo, the students had won their point. The germ of the trouble probably lay in the difference between the paternalistic attitude of the Faculty, traditional in all colleges of the time, and the beginning of a new and progressive spirit in University life. The students had been brought up in an atmosphere which developed individuality and self-reliance and they resented a meticulous regulation of their lives and doubtless contrasted it unfavorably with what they knew of European Universities. The whole fraternity struggle of 1848-50 may then be regarded, in part at least, as a successful effort on the students' part to ensure a different and more liberal policy toward student life and affairs on the part of the authorities.
Not the least of the troubles this contest brought to the University was the revelation of its weakness, not only the plainly evident lack of harmony within the Faculty, but also the practical demonstration it furnished of the Faculty's lack of real power. The reasons for this go back once more to the act establishing the University, which allowed the Regents to delegate to the Faculties only such authority as they saw fit, in practice not any too much, for the Regents maintained apparently a close and personal supervision over the University. This was shown by the habit of some members of the Board, notably Major Kearsley of Detroit, of conducting final oral examinations at the end of the term. Major Kearsley, a veteran of the War of 1812, was something of a martinet and prided himself upon his learning; so he usually gave the students a very hard time. He was soon dubbed "Major Tormentum" from majora tormenta, the name given big guns, or cannon, in a Latin "Life of Washington" then used in the classes. His visits finally ceased after the students found out how to deal with him and came loaded with "grape and canister," as one member of the class of '48 put it, to return his heavy fire.
From its earliest days the University insisted upon maintaining a non-sectarian character, but this did not imply any lack of religious training or supervision,—quite the contrary, as has been suggested. The scarcity of representatives of the cloth on the first Board of Regents did not pass unremarked, and it was but a short time before several clergymen, one a Catholic priest, became members of the governing body, to offset the preponderance of lawyers and politicians and to furnish the Board the benefits of their presumably wider experience in educational matters. Every effort was made, however, to keep a proper balance among the different persuasions, and all the Protestant churches came to feel that they had almost a vested right to representation, as the long list of "Reverends" in the first Faculty list shows. Professor Williams was an Episcopalian; Dr. Whedon, a Methodist; Professor Agnew, a Presbyterian; and Professor Ten Brook, a Baptist. Whenever a vacancy occurred, the question of religious affiliations was at least as important in the ultimate selection of the candidates, as any qualifications in the subject to be taught. This situation naturally led to a certain degree of rivalry, partisanship, and lack of co-operation in the Faculty.
To this the lack of a Chancellor during those earlier years only added further confusion. From the first the Regents had proposed the appointment of such an officer, but in the absence of any clear notion of their authority and his precise duties the matter was allowed to lapse, until the financial difficulties of the early years after the University opened made it clearly obvious that such an officer would be something of a luxury. The matter was settled by making each professor in turn President, or Principal, for one year, a practice which continued until the appointment of President, or Chancellor, Tappan in 1852. This alternation in office was approved as eminently democratic and as following the practice of the German Universities, the ideal of the time. In a report submitted by the Board of Visitors in 1850, the plan was commended and it was even urged that the monarchical feature of a Chancellor should be struck out of the Organic Law, and the system then in force thereby fixed for all time.
Nevertheless the plan was none too successful in application. There was too much opportunity for jealousy and too little central authority. This is shown plainly in the contest which arose over the hours of teaching as the numbers in the University grew. The emphasis in the curriculum upon the classics has been noted. This threw the burden of almost the whole course of study upon Professor Agnew after the services of a single tutor were dispensed with in 1846. Professors Whedon and Ten Brook were therefore called upon to assist him, which they did unwillingly, Professor Whedon finally refusing to hear further classes in Greek.
The trouble grew and finally resulted in the resignation of Professor Ten Brook in 1851, because of the opposition of three other members of the Faculty. In after years he came to consider this action a mistake; particularly as he had the respect and friendship of the Board of Regents, who brought about the downfall of his opponents within six months. This began in an action against Professor Whedon, who had for some time aroused opposition by his pronounced anti-slavery views. As a result of this feeling, on December 31, 1851, at the last session of the Board of Regents by appointment before a new Board elected under the new State Constitution was to take its place, a resolution was introduced requesting the removal of the Rev. D.D. Whedon for the reason that he had—
not only publicly preached, but otherwise openly advocated the doctrine called "the higher law," a doctrine which is unauthorized by the Bible, at war with the principles, precepts and examples of Christ and his Apostles, subversive alike of civil government, civil society, and the legal rights of individual citizens, and in effect constitutes, in the opinion of this Board, a species of moral treason against the Government.
This resolution seems to have expressed the real sentiment of the Regents; but the actual measure passed was a resolution declaring, that in view of the fact that a new Board of Regents was to take charge and appoint a President, it was expedient that the terms of Professors Williams, Whedon, and Agnew terminate at the close of the year. This was an out and out partisan matter, as there was no reason for such action inherent in the change of the governing body, particularly as it did not affect two members of the Faculty who had avoided participation in this family jar. The new Board chose, however, to act upon it and the three resignations were accepted. Professor Williams was later reappointed, as he had apparently taken a minor part in the opposition to Professor Ten Brook. This whole episode was most unfortunate and was brought about by the lack of a strong guiding administrative policy. Professor Ten Brook in his later review generously says of these men: "A stronger body of men of the same number was probably never associated in such an opening enterprise," and again, "We should find that their merits would be magnified and their mistakes diminished by a consideration of the complicated, and till then unknown difficulties with which they had to contend."
With a Chancellor to guide and direct the Faculty and to exert, on occasion, a restraining hand, a large part of these troubles might have been avoided. The Regents had early discovered their dependence upon the whims of the Legislature, particularly in financial matters, while the Superintendent of Public Instruction was given too much authority. In fact, a Committee of the Legislature appointed as early as 1840 stated in its report: "A Board of experienced Regents could manage the funds and machinery of the University better than any Legislature; and the Faculty could manage the business of education—the interior of a College—better than any Regents."
This was becoming recognized; the University's difficulties only emphasized what had become a general opinion. Accordingly the sections of the new Constitution of 1850 relating to the University were thoroughly discussed in the Convention; with the result that certain new provisions were incorporated which gave the University of Michigan a unique standing among state universities. Particularly important were the measures relating to the Board of Regents. In the first place, it was provided that they should be elected by the people, one for each judicial district, and at the same time the judges of each circuit were elected. Ten years later the latter provision was changed so that the number of Regents was definitely fixed at eight; two to be elected every two years at the regular election of the justices of the Supreme Court. In the second place, it was provided that while the Regents should have only general supervision of the University, they should have the direction and control of all expenditures from the University interest fund. These provisions were far-reaching. They made the Board of Regents a constituent part of the State Government, on an equality as regards powers with the Governor, the Legislature, and the Supreme Court.
From the time this action went into effect we may date the larger growth of the University. The selection of the Regents is as far removed from political influence as it is possible to make it under our electoral system, and they are given absolute control of the income of the University and the appropriations of the Legislature, once they are made; provided of course they are used for the purposes designated.
A further provision of the Constitution specified the immediate appointment of a President. The old plan was not considered suitable for an American college. This sentiment was so strong that the Convention was unwilling to leave this matter to the discretion of the Regents and therefore they made action imperative. All that was necessary now was the adaptation of the organic Act of the University to the new Constitution. This was accomplished on April 8, 1851, when a new Act was adopted, in essentials far simpler and more general in its terms than the old one, which left the University free to enter upon the remarkable growth and expansion which began with the administration of President Tappan.
THE FIRST ADMINISTRATIONS
The new University Act had charged the Regents with the duty of electing a President immediately. It was some time, however, before they found the right man, Henry Philip Tappan, LL.D., who was inaugurated as the first President of the University of Michigan on December 22, 1852. Dr. Tappan's name was first suggested by George Bancroft, the historian, who was also considered for the position, but there was some opposition, which seems to have centered about the fact that Dr. Tappan had once consulted a homeopathic physician, and he was not elected until August 12.
President, or as he was often called, Chancellor Tappan was a man of wide culture, of established reputation as a scholar, and an author on philosophical and educational subjects. His personality was magnetic and commanding, but it was combined with a frank and fatherly attitude toward his students which won their immediate and life-long friendship. Born at Rhinebeck on the Hudson, of mixed Dutch and Huguenot ancestry, on April 18, 1805, he came to Michigan in time to give his best years to his new work. Many of his friends may well have been astonished at his acceptance of a post in a tiny college far on the outskirts of a village in the Western wilderness, which carried with it the munificent salary of $1,500, together with a house and an additional $500 for traveling expenses. Yet he came. The principles of the University agreed with the ideals he had received in his long study of European methods and his personal experiences in German schools. He determined to make a real university in the West; he fixed his glance upon the opportunities for future development rather than the bareness and inevitable crudity of pioneer life. For the first time he found his cherished ideas embodied in the provision for a state university; and though he realized they had not been made effective, he believed that in the West, if anywhere, was his opportunity to put them into actual practice, unhampered by the traditions which had grown up everywhere in the East.
The new President, in the first catalogue issued under his administration, let the world know in no uncertain terms what the University was to become as long as his was the guiding hand. He traced the succession of state schools up to and through the University, where, he declared, it was his purpose "to make it possible for every student to study what he pleases, and to any extent he pleases."
Some of his proposed measures must be regarded as prophecies for the future; they could hardly have been taken seriously at the time. They are not all realized even now; but they show the breadth of his conception of a real university. He emphasized openly the correspondence between the Michigan and the German systems of education, and declared that;
It is the cardinal object to make this correspondence as complete as possible. Hence, it is proposed to make the studies here pursued not only introductory to professional studies, and to studies in the higher branches of science and literature, but also to embrace such studies as are more particularly adapted to agriculture, the mechanic arts, and to the industrial arts generally. Accordingly, a distinct scientific course has been added, running parallel to the classical course, extending through the same term of four years, and embracing the same number of classes with the same designations.
These ideas he put into practice at once and Michigan became the first university in the country to introduce practical scientific courses within the regular arts curriculum, and, following Harvard by only a few years, was the second university in the country to break away from the accepted hard and fast course in which the humanities were the beginning and the end of education, acknowledging the claims of science by granting the degree of Bachelor of Science. He was likewise a pioneer in other ways; for the University was the first to recognize the needs of special students who, while not seeking a degree, were anxious to pursue studies in special subjects.
President Tappan was wise enough not to seek the establishment of his grand object at once, but he did announce in that first catalogue that he proposed—
at as early a day as practicable, to open courses of lectures for those who have graduated at this or other institutions, and for those who in other ways have made such preparation as may enable them to attend upon them with advantage.
Here was the germ of a Graduate School, though for many years the lectures were more in evidence in the catalogue of the University than in the class room. He was sufficiently practical to realize that the collegiate course, "with its schoolmaster methods and discipline," of his time must be retained for a period, though he aimed eventually to transfer its work to the high school, gradually swinging the University to "true university methods, free and manly habits of study and investigation." He also aimed to gather about him a Faculty in which every chair was filled by a man of exceptional ability and thorough training, "not a picked up, but a picked out man," to quote Professor Frieze in his Memorial Address on Dr. Tappan.
These are the cardinal principles which guided Michigan's first President throughout his career in the University, and, as ideals, have been a powerful factor in its growth since his time. More apparent to his contemporaries were the immediate benefits of his strong administration. He saw at once the urgent need of more funds for the library and obtained a subscription from Ann Arbor citizens of some $1,515, to which the Regents added $300, resulting in an increase of 1,200 volumes. From that time dates the steady and consistent growth of the University Library. Even more pressing appeared to him the need for an astronomical observatory. From the very day of his inauguration, he made the raising of sufficient funds for this purpose one of his first tasks and so effective were his efforts that the Observatory was opened in 1855; the result of a gift of $15,000 by citizens of Detroit, to which the University had added an appropriation of $7,000. This gave Michigan one of the three well-equipped observatories in the country at that time. The telescope, a thirteen-inch objective, was purchased in this country, but other items of equipment were obtained in Berlin under the advice of Professor Encke, the Director of the Royal Observatory, whose assistant, Dr. Bruennow, came to America as Michigan's first Professor of Astronomy.
It was during Dr. Tappan's administration also that the professional departments, as they were long called, came into their own. The Medical School had been organized since 1849, when the first building was completed at a cost of about $9,000; but the work was only fairly under way when he came. The new department was opened in October, 1850, with ninety matriculates and grew with extraordinary rapidity, so that for the first years the enrolment exceeded that of the Literary Department. When Dr. Tappan left the University in 1863 there were 252 students in the Medical Department and by 1866-67 their number increased to 525, the largest enrolment in the history of the School. The creation of a Law Department was considered at the same time the Medical Department was organized, but lack of resources as well as any enthusiastic support from the legal profession in the State postponed its opening for ten years. The growing number of petitions for its establishment, however, finally led to the opening of the School in 1859 with a Faculty of three, and ninety-two students. Hardly less important was the establishment in 1855 of a course in civil engineering. It was organized in connection with the Department of Physics, however, and did not attain to the dignity of a separate department with its own head for many years. Even so modest a beginning as this for technical courses in the University found precedent in those days only at Harvard. Lack of funds and co-operation from the Legislature seems to have been the only reason which led to the abandonment of plans for the creation of departments of Agriculture and Military Science which were seriously considered at that time.