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ly, in Preaching revolutied by political tuce but a fewy
eighty, and was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Locke, pastor of the church in Sherburne. He held the office but a few years, and these few were disturbed by political turmoils—precursors of the approaching revolutionary struggle. He resigned suddenly, in December, 1773 ; and in July of the next year, Rev. Samuel Langdon, of Portsmouth, N. H., was appointed his successor.
The halls of the college had been previously occupied by the provincial legislature, in order that it might be removed from the presence of the British troops, which were quartered in Boston; but in 1775, Cambridge became the head quarters of the American army, and the college buildings were turned into barracks for the soldiers. It was here, July 2, 1775, that Gen. Washington first took the command of the assembled forces of New England. In the autumn of this year, the college was temporarily removed to Concord; but in the summer of the next year, when the British troops had evacuated Boston, the students gladly returned to Cambridge.
The principal difficulty which the college had to encounter, during the remainder of the war, was with its treasurer, who was no less a personage than the Hon. John Hancock. His political engagements and long absences (being president of Congress) rendered it impossible that he should discharge the duties of treasurer; and for some unexplained reason, he refused either to resign his office, or to settle his accounts. The probability is, that he was pressed rather unduly on the subject, as he thought, at first; and to show his resentment, was willing that the college should be subjected to some inconvenience afterwards. His accounts were not finally adjusted, until after his death.
In the constitution of Massachusetts, which was adopted in 1780, the interests of the college were duly regarded, and its existence and rights were firmly established. In August of the same year, President Langdon unexpectedly resigned his office. That he was a Calvinist, in principle, is evident from his “Summary of Christian Faith and Practice," which was published in 1768. He seems not to have had the faculty of making himself respected by his students, and wisely determined to retire from a situation which was both burthensome to himself, and disagreeable to them.
The next president of Harvard College was the Rev. Joseph Willard, minister of Beverly. He was inaugurated in Decem
ber, 1781, and continued in office till his death, in 1804. He was a man of great personal dignity, and of high literary attainments. He was thought by many to be an Arminian. He did not insist on some theological points so fully as most of his predecessors; still, if he used words and phrases in their customary acceptation, his principles were decidedly evangelical, The professors of divinity, during his presidency, were the younger Wigglesworth, and the late Dr. Tappan - both Trinitarian and Calvinistic. Among the other professors were Dr. Eliphalet Pearson, and Rev. Samuel Williams, afterwards the historian of Vermont. Until 1784, the senior and junior classes were required to recite, once a week, from Wollebius's Compendium Theologiæ, a text book of the old Calvinistic school. When this was laid aside, Doddridge's Lectures were substituted in its place.
CHANGE OF RELIGIOUS CHARACTER. UNITARIANISM.
President Webber, the successor of Willard, and Dr. Ware, the successor of Dr. Tappan in the professorship of divinity, came into office nearly at the same time; and from that time, the religious character of Harvard University underwent an almost total change. Almost immediately upon their appointment, Rev. Dr. Pearson, a Calvinist of the old school, who had officiated as president after the death of Willard, resigned his place; stating in his communication, that during a connection of twenty years, it had been his endeavor to exalt the literary, moral and religious state of the seminary; but as“ events, during the last year, had so deeply affected his mind, beclouded the prospect, spread such a gloom over the university, and compelled him to take such a view of its internal state, and external relations, of its radical and constitutional maladies, as to exclude the hope of rendering any essential service to the interests of religion, by continuing his relation to it;" he therefore requested an acceptance of his resignation. p. 287.
During the presidency of Webber, the religious concerns of the college were chiefly under the direction of Dr. Ware; and the opportunity was improved to create and extend an influence in favor of “the new doctrine.” Unitarian sentiments were strongly inculcated; Unitarian ministers and lawyers were raised up and sent forth ; Unitarian professors and tutors were
SECOND SERIES, Vol. VII. NO. 11.
appointed ; and a system of measures was put in operation, to advance the cause of Unitarianism, make it popular, and give it currency and favor. Still, however, the name was not avowed, and the existence of the thing, at times, was scarcely admitted.
President Webber died suddenly, July 17, 1810; and on the fourteenth of Noveinber of the same year, President Kirkland was inaugurated. He commenced his administration, by attending a ball on the same evening, “given by the students.” Dr. Kirkland had, at this time, made no open profession of Unitarian sentiments; and I have good authority for saying that he owed his elevation to the concealment which he had practised. In a letter from Rev. Francis Parkman to a friend in England, dated Feb. 20, 1812, we have the following candid and explicit avowal. “You say that Dr. Kirkland is a professed Unitarian, and mention him, as if his election to the presidency of Cambridge University were a decisive proof of the prevalence of your sentiments among us. Dr. Kirkland was formerly one of the ministers of Boston, and whatever his particular friends may think of his opinions, he never preached these sentiments ;” i. e. Unitarian. “Nay, I may venture to say, that had Dr. Kirkland been an acknowledged defender of Unitarianism, he would not have been elected to that place." "Had a decided Unitarian been elected, I really believe that the number of the students would have been diminished."*
To this statement of the grounds on which President Kirkland came into office, I need add nothing. His elevation was clearly an imposition on the public; for as Dr. Parkman well observes: “ Had Dr. Kirkland been,” at the time, “ an acknowledged defender of Unitarianism, he would not have been elected to that place."
Of the measures taken to promote Unitarianism in college, during the presidency of Dr. Kirkland, suffice it to say, that all possible means were used. Periodicals were established; books in great numbers and variety were patronized and published; large sums of money were, in one way or another, expended ; Unitarian officers were appointed; and the work of innovation was carried on, till the whole concern was revolutionized. That I do not overstate here, will be evident from the following testimony of a distinguished alumnus, given some dozen years ago.
* London Monthly Repository, Vol. VII. p. 201.
6 Since 1805,” says he, “the period of the election of Dr. Ware to the professorship of divinity in Harvard College, few young men, even of the most devout and faithful parents, have been able to recover from the shock which their early religious education there sustained ;-a melancholy interval, when surveyed in its results by the eye of Christian benevolence, during which Unitarianism has ingulfed, in its dark flood, nearly all the sons of Harvard.” “ This,” continues the writer, “I consider myself bound to testify before the world, that the influence there exerted against sound religious sentiments, and vital godliness, is like a sweeping flood. To the unfortified minds of youth, it is resis'less. I am acquainted with no situation where, in my view (and I speak from sad experience), a principle ofevangelical piety, and faith in the doctrines of the cross, would be less likely to be obtained, or, if possessed, would be placed in circumstances of greater peril."*
ALTERATIONS IN THE BOARD OF OVERSEERS.
For the purpose of promoting and perpetuating Unitarianism in Harvard College, repeated alterations have been attempted in the board of overseers. By the constitution of 1780, this board was organized and established, much as it had been under the provincial government. It was to consist, thenceforth, of " the governor, lieutenant governor, counsellors and senators of the commonwealth, with the president of the college for the time being, and the ministers of the congregational churches in the towns of Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester.” In the year 1810, the legislature took it upon them to annul this provision of the constitution, and to organize the board of overseers in a very different manner. Thenceforward, it was to consist of “ the governor, lieutenant governor, and council, the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the president of the college for the time being, with fifteen ministers of Congregational churches, and fifteen laymen, all inhabitants within the state, to be elected as provided in the act.” This law is understood to have originated with certain leading members of the corporation, and was highly acceptable to the Unitarian friends of the college. As before constituted, the board might come under an evangelical influence. No one could tell, from year to year, who a majority of the board of overseers might be. But, as
* Philadelphia Church Register, May 31, 1828.
constituted by the legislative act, according to which most of the members were elective, and to be elected by the bourd itself, if a controlling Unitarian influence could be secured at the first, it might certainly be perpetuated.
It was soon found, however, that this act was not acceptable to a large portion of the people of the commonwealth. Some thought it a direct violation of the constitution. Others regarded it as a disfranchisement of the senate, and of the six towns. Accordingly, in 1812 the act was repealed, and it was ordered that the board should“ be constituted in the same way and manner, and should be composed of the same persons, and no other, that it would have been had the same act never been passed.”
It was while the board remained on its original constitutional foundation, according to this repealing act, that an event of some importance occurred, which President Quincy has wholly omitted, and which we would respectfully recommend to his notice, should his history go to another edition.
“In the year 1811, Rev. Dr. Griffin was installed pastor of the Parkstreet church in Boston; and on the repeal of the law of 1810, and the restoration of the ancient board of overseers, he became a member, as a matter of course. No notice, however, was taken of him, nor was he apprized of the time and place of any meeting of the board. At the commencement in 1813, by the advice of friends, he went and took his seat with the overseers. On taking his seat, he addressed himself to Governor Strong, who then presided, stating that he had not received notice of the meeting, but presumed he had a right to take a seat. Governor Strong replied unhesitatingly in the affirmative. The secretary rose, as if to apologize, and said that he had not received orders to invite Dr. Griffin. The Hon. Josiah Quincy then arose, and made a motion for a committee, to examine ‘Dr. Griffin's pretensions' to a right to a seat in that body. Governor Strong turned to Dr. Griffin, and asked him if he had any objections to the appointment of such a committee. Dr. Griffin replied, that he had no particular objections, but såw not why such a committee should be appointed in his case, more than in the case of any other gentleman who took his seat there. Dr. Kirkland remarked, that it would do no hurt to appoint such a committee; and accordingly a committee was appointed, consisting of the Hon. Josiah Quincy, chairman, Rev. Dr. Porter of Roxbury, and Rev. Dr. Morse of Charlestown. The committee met at the house of Mr. Quincy, and heard Dr. Griffin's statement. The only shadow of a pretence to question his right was, that he had once been settled over a Presbyterian church; though he was originally settled over a Congregational church, and had, since his dismissal from the Presbyterian church, filled the office of professor in a Congregational theological seminary, and was now the pastor