3. The Logic of Harvard, of Yale

Alma Mater/2014
January 29, 2014
Lecture # 3

Response to call for comments – 1 point bonus – 15
Several relating to lecture on European universities  (Rebeka/Sarah/Jenny/Abby0
Several on specific documentary readings – NEFFruits   (Patrick/Andrew) — Robert Keayne’s will (Jocelyn)
A couple on upcoming readings – RH’s “The Great Retrogression” [Richard Leong]
A couple in response to comments/queries
Emma Guida on Bologna — > Patrick Galarza response and link on its global ranking
One suggestion for new title for “Classics” bibliography (Conor)


Everyone can make comment in comment box
“Authors” can make Postings —
3. Why Harvard?, Why Yale?      [or, Know Thy Protestants!]

Roanoke in 1580s/Jamestown 1607 —  Virginians in place 86 years (1607-1693) before getting around to founding a college;
No towns in Va; SCarolinians to England…Southerners
New Yorkers  1609 – as Dutch  — took  almost 130 years (1624-1754 to do so?
Philadelphia – founded in 1680s – Not until 1750s (Quakers not early into higher education)

Pilgrims in Plymouth – subsistence separatists—Bradford a wonderful writer but not a college man; successive governors barely literate…

Harvard established in 7th year of English settlement in Mass. Bay – 1636 – Charter from General Court – legitimacy??
Boston booming from immigration surge as situation worsened in England and the word got out about Mass. Bay

NE’s First Fruits  (1643) –published in England as a fund-raising pitch
higher education  the  6th highest priority
carried safe across the seas; builded our houses; provided for our livelihood; reared places for God’s worship; settled the civil government à

Mass. Bay conceived of by its leaders as a temporary exile – an “errand into the wilderness” – by distressed, threatened and dislocated  religious dissenters of a high intellectual caliber – if temporarily under a legal cloud. Many never fully unpacked.

“Puritans” – Englishmen dissatisfied with the limited extent to which the Church of England departed from  the rituals and theology of Catholicism/Arminianism/Sacramentalism/Priest-ridden;
C of E’s  failure to embrace the sterner Calvinist tenets about the sovereignty of God and matters of church structure; its pressure on dissenters to conform

Arminianism – Arminius a Dutch theologian in early 1600s – For Puritans a heretical view that gives to the sinner some agency in achieving salvation by accepting God’s sovereignty or some agency in meriting damnation by refusing it. Arminians accused of following a “Gospel /Covenant of Works” as opposed to “Gospel /Covenant of Grace.” Public authorities susceptible to/favor  these doctrines as enhancing the public’s submission to authority.

Predestinarianism – Belief that one’s eternal condition (“saved/elect ” or “damned”) fixed and unresponsive to human efforts to secure salvation (or merit damnation). Stress on God’s sovereignty; the damned condition of mankind;  Stress on the conclusiveness of the Adamic fall; little room for notions of free will   — John Calvin/Puritans/Presbyterians/Congregationalists

Antinomianism – Belief that the “saved” are exempt from laws that obtain for the “non-saved” – those who are either damned or have not been personally assured of their saved status by some divine signal (conversion/Born again/visitation of the Holy Spirit….)


Congregationalism – Locates authority in the ordering of a church in its lay members; very decentralized with each church pretty much able to prescribe its practices, choose its minister, accept or reject political authorities.

Presbyterianism – Provided for some supa-parish authority in setting church practices (Westminster Confession); licensing of acceptable candidates for ministry….

Puritanism in large part a product of the Reformed universities – Oxford and Cambridge, but especially the latter, and even more especially, Cambridge’s Emmanuel College (founded 1587)
Emmanuel (29) — John Cotton/Thomas Shepard/Thomas Hooker/John Harvard
Trinity (150  – John Winthrop/Hugh Peters/Nathaniel Eaton

Cambridge in 1623 – 3000 students; not surpassed for two centuries
English colleges governed by the property-holding tutors/fellows/faculty

Mass. General Court in 1636 – 15 of 43 were graduates of Oxbridge
Mass. Bay had 100 Cambridge grads; of whom, 43 Emmanuel and Trinity graduates

                                           University Graduates in New England, 1660






Other English universities





All university men


85% of the University men were ministers

12,000 population – 6,000 males/2,500 over age of 18/ 1 in 10 with university degrees!

Problem # 1 – Initial surplus — An over-educated population given the tasks before them; stockpile ministers as backups to main man;  find churches for these would-be ministers churches – disperse to new towns  in parish-size clusters .  Would-be ministers needing to gain acceptance of the congregation to have a job….[John Cotton/John Wheelwright]

Problem #2
– Replacement prospects – Could NE Puritans rely on English universities to produce their kind of religious  leaders?? Wanted neither C of E types who stayed in England
Nor would-be ministers lacking formal education and official sanction [case in point: Anne Hutchinson]

Hypothetical Solution: Surplus of ministers return to England during “Puritan Revolution” of 1640s as welcomed resisters to the tyranny now displaced and beheaded – Charles I/ William Laud
Lots do return – Hugh Peter, likely author of New Englands First Fruits (1643)

The idea for a college came from the colony’s political and religious leadership – a public undertaking of magistrates (Governor Winthrop) and settled   clergy  (John Wilson in Boston; Thomas Shepard in NewTown/Cambridge)

Initially, College to be governed by overseers from the clergy and political positions until faculty in numbers…;

College to be publicly financed by tolls collected on the Charlestown ferry – and contributions from towns (“college corn”); and fund-raising in England [Hugh Peters, New Englands First Fruits (1643)]

Prime movers – John Winthrop/John Wilson/Thomas Shepard/Hugh Peters

Not involved: The Hutchinson crew (Anne/Williams/Wheelwright/Roger Williams/Quakers
Anne’s trial for criticizing the religious and  governmental leadershipa simultaneous event

Anne Hutchinson’s threat to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities:
Outspoken woman and mother; husband an active merchant  and not willing/able to cork it…
Holding critiques after the minister’s sermons – for wives and mothers
Had herself a minister – newly arrived and unchurched  John Wheelwright – and a possible ally, John Cotton

Roger Williams – Had subversive views about the claims of Indians to the land; also leaning away from infant baptism; a “Separationist” with respect to England; very much a church-rights guy (Salem church ousted him when Gen’l Court bribed the town leaders)

1642 governance arrangement  – Governance by 6 neighboring ministers and 6 magistrates, plus president, gov’r, lt. gov’r
1650 – Most governance power shifts to the 7-person Harvard Corporation – President/Treasurer/5 Fellows (expected to be chosen from among the teachers)
Overseers the ministerial and public officials à later chosen by alums

1716 – Fellows elected who were not teachers  à teachers who were not Fellows//break with English pattern – external governance that typifies university governance (Columbia charter  of 1810 – no faculty on Board of Trustees0

Public Function of Harvard
To prepare young men for the clergy??  50% of 17th C graduates into ministry
Or for public responsibilities more broadly?

To contain the crazies? Anne Hutchinson/Antinomiamism/Baptists/Quakers….

To  avoid the slide into barbarism? Half of university graduates return to England in 1640s….
Literacy declines in 2nd and 3rd generations – “Creolean degeneracy”

Commencement speaker in 1670s;

[If no Harvard] The ruling class would have been subjected to mechanics, cobblers,
and tailors; the gentry would have been overwhelmed by lewd fellows of the baser
sort, the sewage of Rome, the dregs of an illiterate plebe which judgeth much from
emotion, little from truth; we should have been… no flashing sparklets of honor;
the laws would not have been made by senatus consulta, nor would we have had rights,
honors, or magisterial ordinances worthy of preservation, but plebiscites, appeals
to base passions, and revolutionary rumblings, if these our fathers had not founded the


Commercial character of Boston à merchants more accepting of Anglicanism (1684 – King’s Chapel);
Harvard and Cambridge more accommodating of Arminianism/Brattle Street Church
Fewer graduates into ministry; Increase and Cotton Mather badmouthing the institution for backsliding

Giving to Harvard a form of redemptive behavior for shifty merchants? (Robert Keayne’s Will)
Accumulating Evidence of Harvard Backsliding:
Henry Dunster’s defection into Baptist fold in 1657
Brief experiment with “Indian College” 1655-1665 – Puritans not proselytizers
Admission of Anglicans from Boston’s mercantile elite
Discomfort of Leverett and the Brattles with Increase Mather’s presidency in 1690s
Discomfort with Cotton Mather’s piling on during the Salem witch scare; Increase Mather’s tardiness
Boston  churches of an Arminian caste – [William] Brattle Street Church (1699)—Benjamin Colman
Decline in % of Harvard graduates into the ministry

The View from Connecticut

1701 — 10 Connecticut ministers (9 of them Harvard graduates) secure charter for a “collegiate school” as an alternative to sending their young men to distant and religiously suspect Cambridge

Collegiate School within his Majesties Colony of Connecticut wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts & Sciences who thorough the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church & Civil State.

Early locale shifts – Saybrook/Wethersfield/  until Elihu Yale (an East India nabob/Anglican) gift in 1718 secured by Cotton Mather for school in New Haven

1708 – Saybrook Platform – Ct. churches depart from Congregationalist pattern of individual churches having full autonomy in selecting their ministers; Ct. ministers to be pre-approved by county-wide association/synod  of ministers and laymen à Presbyterianism

Governance: Yale Corporation – ( members; self-perpetuating; all ministers into 1880s?

Financing: Yale gift not substantial; reliant of colonial legislature for periodic grants  in 1820s

Public Function:

Yale’s colonial future to be representative/champion of Presbyterian orthodoxy way – “Old Light/Side” as opposed to:

1. Creeping Anglicanism/rationalism on the right (2nd Rector Timothy Cutler’s defection in 1722; joined by tutor Samuel Johnson); Johnson a close student of Newton, Locke, Anglican theologians; leading Anglican in Ct. from his base in Stratford.

2. Revivalist enthusiasms on the left in the persons of “New Light” evangelists, some their own graduates:  Jonathan Edwards (1720);  James Davenport ( 1737); Eleazar Wheelock (1733)
others: William and Gilbert Tennent; George Whitefield; Eleazar Wheelock

Rev. John Clap – 4th rector/1st president – 1740 – 1766 – Pugnacious champion of Old Light religion against revivalism  until well into his presidency when he comes to see rationalism/Anglicanism more of a threat. Forced out of presidency by student rioting and legislative inquiries


If Puritan Harvard’s  (1636) descent into Arminianism (Unitarianism next) begot Presbyterian Yale (1701), Yale’s adherence to “Old Light”  Presbyterianism in opposition to the rise of revivalistic Protestantism of a multi-denominational character (“New Lights”) directly begot Princeton (1746), and indirectly and somewhat later the revivalist-focused   Brown (1766), Rutgers (1768)  and Dartmouth (1769). Meanwhile,  Princeton’s establishment as a pioneering  New Light college in a neighboring province begot  a more immediate response from the ecclesiastical right in the forms  of the anti-revivalist  and Anglican King’s College (1754) and the Anglican/Old Light Presbyterian  College of Philadelphia (1755)

Denominational competition and the absence of strong traditions of a governmentally aligned  established church assured proliferation and competition , while precluding  consolidation and uniformity

Last updated: January  26,  2014

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