Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When Size Matters

In 1804 John Wheelock, the son of the founder of Dartmouth College, Eleazar Wheelock, and the second President of the College, got into a snit over control of the local Congregational Church. While the details of this disagreement are important, they are far too complex to cover here. Suffice to say that after ten years of wrangling, Wheelock attempted to enlist the Trustees of the College in this fight. The Trustees, suspecting that they were being asked to act beyond their authority, declined. The resulting battle between Wheelock and the Trustees ended with John Wheelock, a Whig, asking William Plumber, the Federalist Governor of New Hampshire, to remove the College from the control of the Trustees and make it a State institution. The Trustees, and most of the faculty, refused to recognize the State’s authority and took the issue to court. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, where Daniel Webster famously argued for the College and won, setting an important and enduring legal precedent.

In the mean time, two institutions of higher education existed side-by-side on the Hanover Plain. On one side was Dartmouth College and on the other was the state run Dartmouth University. Here are the catalogs for the two institutions and the difference between them needs no further comment.

Ask for Mss 817509 and Mss 817509.1 to see the two catalogs. For more information on the Dartmouth College case, see: Will to Resist; the Dartmouth College Case, by Richard Morin (DC History KF 4258 .D3 M65 c.2).

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