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Charles G. Finney
(29/08/1792 - 16/8/1875)




A HISTORY OF OBERLIN COLLEGE

ITS FOUNDATION THROUGH THE CIVIL WAR
by
Robert Samuel Fletcher


BOOK 1: THE SHADOW OF A MAN

Chap  1: Yankee Invasion -- Chap 2: Apparition on the Mohawk -- Chap 3: The Rochester Revival -- Chap 4: Finney on Broadway -- Chap 5: The Manual Labor Schools -- Chap 6: Cincinnati -- Chap 7: John Jay Shipherd -- Chap 8: Elyria -- Chap 9: A Grand Scheme -- Chap 10: Oberlin Colony -- Chap 11: Oberlin Institute -- Chap 12: Immediate Emancipation -- Chap 13: The Test of Academic Freedom -- Chap 14: The Guarantee of Academic Freedom -- Chap 15: Boom Times at Oberlin -- Chap 16: New Leaders for Old

BOOK 2: OBERLINISM

Chap 17: God's College -- Chap 18: Hotbed of Abolitionism -- Chap 19: Toward an Anti-Slavery Church -- Chap 20: The Campaign Against the War -- Chap 21: Female Reformers -- Chap 22: "Physiological Reform" -- Chap 23: The Whole Man -- Chap 24: Joint Education of the Sexes -- Chap 25: Free Soil and the Underground -- Chap 26: Higher Law -- Chap 27: The Propaganda

BOOK 3: THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE

Chap 28: The Devil and the World -- Chap 29: Oberlinizing England -- Chap 30: Mahan -- Chap 31: Hard Times and the Endowment

BOOK 4: LEARNING AND LABOR

Chap 32: The Students--Pious and Prudent -- Chap 33: The Students--The Oppressed Race -- Chap 34: Going West to College -- Chap 35: Oberlin Village -- Chap 36: Village Society -- Chap 37: "Plain & Holesome" -- Chap 38: The Student Budget -- Chap 39: Manual and Domestic Labor -- Chap 40: The College Farm -- Chap 41: In Loco Parentis -- Chap 42: The Collegiate Department -- Chap 43: From Prep to Theolog -- Chap 44: Early to Bed -- Chap 45: Literary Societies -- Chap 46: Music in Oberlin -- Chap 47: "Diverting Influences" -- Chap 48: Commencment

BOOK 5: WAR AND TRANSITION

Chapter 49: Company C -- Chap 50: Fight for Freedom -- Chap: 51: Fulfillment and Conformity












CHAPTER I

YANKEE INVASION

THIS is a story about Yankees. It is not a story of Boston, but of men and women from Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and Vermont who went to live in New York and Ohio. The early annals of Oberlin College are a part of the history of the mighty outpouring of New Englanders over the nation and the world which took place in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries--an outpouring comparable to that of the Northmen in the tenth and eleventh centuries or, more exactly, to that of the Scots in later times.

In those days all Americans saw a vision in the West: fertile acres to be had almost for the asking, mighty rivers waiting to carry a fabulous commerce, sites for teeming cities. Scarce a man but felt the urge to "go west and grow up with the country." "The Valley of the Mississippi is a portion of our country which is arresting the attention not only of our own inhabitants, but also those of foreign lands," wrote the editor of an Emigrants' Guide published in 1832. "Such are its admirable facilities for trade ,... --such the variety and fertility of its soil ,... --the genial nature of its climate,--the rapidity with which its population is increasing,--and the influence which it is undoubtedly about to wield.... as to render the West an object of the deepest interest to every American patriot. Nor can the Christian be inattentive to the inceptive character and forming manners of a part of our country whose influence will soon be felt to be favourable, or disastrous, to an extent corresponding with its mighty energies, to the cause of religion."

Many Christian workers, in Connecticut in particular, had already come to appreciate the great significance of the West and had an even grander dream. They would make through it a new nation and a new world. As a new society was built up in western America let it be thoroughly Christianized and purified of evil in order that from it might be spread to all the rest of the Earth the millennial order foretold in Scripture. The American Home Missionary Society founded in 1826 by Absalom Peters, the American Education Society led by Elias Cornelius, whose purpose was to educate young men for the evangelization of the West, and the American Sunday School Union were all Protestant Christian agencies (dominated by Congregationalists and Presbyterians) devoted to this task. Pious theological students looked to the New West as the greatest field of effort then open and many of them went out to preach and to found western schools where other workers should be trained. Out of the activities of these and other home missionaries grew most of the early colleges of the West.

The hill-country Yankee farmers marched into central and western New York and on to Connecticut's Western Reserve in Ohio and into other areas south and west of the Great Lakes, regions which had escaped the first settlers from the South and the Middle States who followed the Wilderness Trail, the Ohio River, and the Cumberland Road. Yankee merchants, craftsmen, teachers and ministers went with the farmers--and beyond. Peddlers and traders from Connecticut invaded all parts of the West and the South. New England furnished more than her share of the nation's teachers, and ministers trained at Yale spread Yankee culture through congregations and colleges everywhere. Calvinist Princeton was not without influence in the middle regions and the South, but cold, Unitarian Harvard made little appeal to the inhabitants of "the provinces." Yale was puritanical and moralistic, more conservative theologically than Harvard but infinitely more dynamic, and sponsoring an aggressive religious individualism against Princeton's dour authoritarian dogmatism. Yale was the great Mother of Colleges in the nineteenth century because her sons were impressed with a great sense of individual spiritual and moral responsibility and motivated by a deep personal devotion to the cause of cultural, ethical, Christian missions. Dartmouth, Williams, Middlebury, and Hamilton in New York were offsprings and satellites, soon to be joined by others farther west.

The story of Oberlin begins in the rich Mohawk Valley, which by the third decade of the nineteenth century had been pretty thoroughly annexed to Yankeedom.

 













CHAPTER II

APPARITION ON THE MOHAWK

WEST from Washington County on the borders of Vermont through the Troy, Albany and Cohoes area and more especially in the upper valley of the Mohawk around Utica, Whitesboro and Rome in Oneida County, the New Englanders overlaid the earlier strata of Dutch and Germans. They had come from Vermont and Berkshire County, Massachusetts, but mostly from the Land of Steady Habits. They brought with them traditions of industry and economy and an earnest and practical piety. Their ministers and schoolmasters were steeped in the optimistic theology of Yale, aggressive missionaries of a prospective moral and religious renaissance. They reaped much of the profit that came from improvements in transportation and industrial development in the first and second generations of the nineteenth century. Certainly they were to a large extent responsible for the canals and turnpikes and the factories which brought prosperity to the region. Textile factories began operation at various points where power was available in the period of the Embargo and the War of 1812, or soon after, at Oriskany, Utica, Whitesboro, Ballston Spa, Albany, Troy, and New Lebanon. The digging of the Erie Canal was started in 1817, and the boom produced along the route by the funds expended for construction furnished something of a foretaste of the prosperity which resulted from its operation.

Most of the settlers were Congregationalists, but many from Connecticut were accustomed to the semi-Presbyterian polity established there in Colonial times. In agreements reached in 1801, "The Plan of Union," and 1808, "The Accommodation Plan," they sank their differences with regard to church government in favor of cooperative action in the new country. This would bring together not only all the New Englanders of the Finger Lakes, St. Lawrence and Mohawk areas but also the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who had pushed up the Susquehanna from Pennsylvania. As the scheme worked out the individual Yankee churches might organize on the Congregational or Presbyterian plan, but almost all became associated with the presbyteries, synods and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Perhaps even Congregationalists believed that an authoritative ecclesiastical system was preferable where society was in the formative stage and there might be many irregular and heretical preachers or other religious leaders who would require disciplining. But the tradition of Congregational church independence, though dormant, was not entirely forgotten, and proved useful as a refuge for minority elements at a later day.

The Year of Our Lord 1825 was a memorable one in the Mohawk Valley. Governor Clinton and his party carried their keg of Erie water along the ditch to Albany--the Great Western Canal was open! General Lafayette, travelling in the opposite direction, was feted, toasted and orated to at all the up-and-coming towns while cannon roared and militia and independent companies deployed in resplendent uniforms. But to many the greatest sensation was the appearance on the scene of a young exattorney who called the merchant from his ledger, the housewife from the hearth, the farmer from his plow, the politician from the hustings, the lawyer from the courtroom, and the student from his classes to consider the things that are eternal and shall not pass away.

Charles G. Finney was apparently destined for greatness by every personal quality and physical attribute. Handsome in a virile way, he was six feet and two inches tall, with a bold forehead, remarkable, hypnotic, frightening eyes, and an expressive and sympathetic mouth which partially compensated for the fierceness of his glance and the harshness of his keen and assertive nose and chin. Finney was magnetic, dynamic, arresting; and when he threw his tremendous energy, his keen intellect, his unmatched courage into a campaign to stir up a live and aggessive Christianity among church members and bring into the fold the unchurched sinners, the receptive New York Yankees were stirred to a high pitch of religious fervor. There were some who opposed him, though many turned to him as to a new Paul; none, however, could ignore him.

Charles Grandison Finney was born in Warren, Connecticut, on August 29, 1792, the seventh son of Sylvester Finney, a revolutionary soldier and member of an early Massachusetts family. When he was about two years old his parents moved to Oneida County in central New York. Here Finney grew up, receiving the usual common-school education available in the country schools of the time. In 1808 the family moved again--this time to Henderson, a town near Sackett's Harbor in Jefferson County, where he undertook to teach a rural school--with outstanding success, legend says. After four years of teaching, he returned to Warren in Connecticut to continue his studies preparatory to entering Yale College. His course of study at Warren included several books of Virgil, Cicero's orations, the "Greek testament so far as to pass the usual examination before Presbytery & so much Hebrew as to be able to satisfy myself of the meaning of a text taken." Discouraged from going on to Yale by his instructor, he went to New Jersey to teach for two years, after which he returned to central New York where, at the town of Adams, in 1818, he entered the office of Judge Benjamin Wright to study law. Under the guidance of Wright he read enough Blackstone to gain admission to the bar and entered upon a promising legal career.

Up to this time he had never taken any particular interest in religion, because, he declared in later years, of the dearth of churches and educated pastors in the region where he was brought up. At Warren he had listened to the sermons of a trained minister, however, without being particularly stimulated thereby. At Adams he entered the congregation of the Presbyterian minister, George W. Gale, and became the director of the church choir. Nevertheless, he continued in his critical, indeed scornful, attitude toward Christianity. "On one occasion," he later wrote in his Memoirs, "while I was in one of the prayer-meetings, I was asked if I did not desire that they should pray for me. I told them, no; Because I did not see that God answered their prayers." He must, indeed, have been a trial to good Mr. Gale.

In these early years he seems to have been an all-round good-fellow: he sang well; he danced with grace and enthusiasm; he was passionately devoted to his 'cello; he excelled in all sorts of sports; he was a prime favorite with the younger group generally. The sources are conflicting with regard to his morals, but they were certainly not worse than those of the average, unconverted, spritely youths of the time and region. With his charming personality, oratorical powers and legal training, he seemed assured of a brilliant political career.

But in 1821 he became interested in the study of Mosaic law and bought a Bible to be used as a work of reference in this connection. In the autumn of that year his study of the Bible, working upon what Gale had taught him, his Puritan heritage, and his own spiritual sensitiveness heightened by a knowledge of the prayers of Lydia Andrews, his future wife, finally brought about his conversion. For three days he wrestled with the angel, agonized by the deepest conviction of sin and tortured by fears for his soul's welfare. Finally, while sitting by the fire in his office, he "received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost." "... The Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul," he later wrote. "I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings; and it seemed to me, as these waves passed over me, that they literally moved my hair like a passing breeze." It was great news for the little town of Adams: Finney, the gay, brilliant, care-free young attorney had abandoned his profession, his promising political future, his whole former life, for the service of God. When a client came to his office to consult him, he dismissed him abruptly: "Deacon B----, I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause, and cannot plead yours." The people of the community gathered at the church at a special evening service to see if it was really true. Finney, previously silent and cynical, prayed and preached, and a revival was begun in which many others were converted.

Finney never doubted that he was divinely called to preach the Gospel and, from the day of his conversion, seems never to have considered any other career. He pursued his theological studies under the direction of the Reverend Mr. Gale and was licensed by the presbytery in the spring of 1824 and ordained in the following July. On March 17, 1824, he was commissioned by the Female Missionary Society of the Western District of New York to preach in the schoolhouses in the backwoods of Jefferson County north of Watertown. There he found immorality, deism and atheism. He met the hostility of the community with the arrogant denunciations of a Jeremiah. At one schoolhouse meeting in a notoriously iniquitous and irreligious village he preached on the text: "Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city." Appearing before another audience in a similar settlement, he fiayed them with a sermon from the text: "Ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell?" It is a marvel that he escaped being lynched then and there. Eyes blazing, drawn up to his full height, he shook his finger under their very noses and told them, in the voice of a judge sentencing a convicted murderer, that, assuredly, each and every one of them would some day scorch in the flames of Hell. Then, having aroused his hearers, he would suddenly change his tone from condemnation to pleading and thus bring them to a conviction of their sins, so that sometimes whole congregations fell on their knees or prostrate on the floor, where they remained all night and had to be carried away in the morning in time to make room for the school children! Many of the most hardened sinners were converted and a religious and moral revolution resulted, the good effects of which were evident years later.

Soon echoes of Finney's mighty blows began to come out of the forest and he was invited into the pulpits of towns in the canal belt, especially in Oneida County. In September, 1825, Finney began his campaign in that region at the town of Western, a few miles north of Rome where Mr. Gale was living in retirement at that time. There his success was repeated. "Christians were humbled for their past unfaithfulness," wrote Gale. "Sinners began to enquire what they must do. Convictions and conversions multiplied and spread through the town. In some instances whole households were converted." One of these households was that of George Brayton, the leading merchant of the place. A son, Milton, became an outstanding worker for religious and benevolent causes in Utica. One hundred and forty persons were said to have been converted altogether. From Western, Finney was invited to the important canal town of Rome by the Rev. Moses Gillett, pastor of the Presbyterian Church there.--Rome fell. At the end of the first inquiry meeting held in that place the participants "gave vent to their feelings in sobs and groans." Meetings were held daily for five weeks. "All classes of people were affected," reported Mr. Gillett. "Four lawyers, four physicians, all the merchants who were not professors before, and men of the first respectability in the place, are hopeful converts."

At Utica, too, Finney's "plain and pungent and faithful preaching was attended with evident and wonderful success." According to the minister of the First Presbyterian Church, S.C. Aikin, the resulting revival "made 'new creatures' of gamblers and drunkards, and swearers and Sabbath-breakers, and brought the self-righteous pharisee, the deluded skeptic, deist, and universalist, to abandon their dreams of happiness and heaven, without a holy heart, and to fly for cleansing to the blood of the Lamb." Finney also led successful awakenings in Auburn to the west and Troy to the east. At the meeting of the Oneida Presbytery in Utica in February, 1826, Finney was present on invitation and heard a report on revivals expressing "joy and gratitude" that such numbers of "men of sound sense and strong minds" had been "brought as little children to the feet of Jesus."

Certainly one of the most notable characteristics of Finney's revivals was that so many "men of sound sense and strong minds" --professed Christians or "unbelievers" previously--found in these revivals an inspiration to Christian living and labor. Among these were several lawyers: Judge Jonas Platt of utica and his son Zephaniah, the Honorable Zebulon Rudd Shipherd of Troy and Granville (a former Congressman), and Theodore Spencer of Auburn. Judge Platt was one of the most prominent men of the region; he had been a Federalist member of Congress, a general in the militia and justice of the New York Supreme Court. Spencer gave up the law for the ministry after his conversion. The Rev. John Monteith, co-founder of the University of Michigan, and professor in Hamilton College at Clinton near Utica after 1821, became an enthusiastic Finney man. Captain Charles Stuart, a retired British army officer was a Utica school teacher;--Horatio Seymour was one of his pupils. He had turned to the ministry before Finney's arrival, studied privately with Monteith for a few months and was licensed to preach in May, 1825. He became a devoted member of Finney's revival band, sometimes called the "Holy Band." In Utica, Finney converted Stuart's protege, Theodore Weld, later the brilliant pleader of causes, perhaps the "strongest mind" of all. Strong-minded too was Asa Mahan, who graduated from Hamilton in 1824 and was licensed by the Oneida Presbytery in May, 1827--another complete Finney man. The Rev. John Frost of the church at Whitesboro was one of the evangelist's earliest supporters. You may still read the epitaph on his tombstone: "In his life and death no less than in his public ministrations he illustrated the force and beauty of the precepts of the Bible." At Auburn were the Revs. Dirck C. Lansing and Josiah Hopkins. Mr. Lansing labored powerfully as one of Finney's lieutenants in the revival cause at Auburn and later in Utica and New York City. Josiah Hopkins who succeeded Lansing as pastor at Auburn had taught divinity to John Jay Shipherd, the later founder of Oberlin College. S.C. Aikin, Noah Coe, Moses Gillett, N. S. S. Beman, Herman Norton, Luther Myrick and, of course, George W. Gale were other ministers of the Oneida Presbytery who worked enthusiastically in the Finney revivals.

In 1817 Charles Hastings opened a bookstore at Utica and soon after established a circulating library. In the early twenties he and his brother, Thomas Hastings, like Finney, natives of Litchfield County, Connecticut, founded the Western Recorder. This periodical was the chief organ of the Presbyterian-Congregational churches of central New York. Under the editorship of Thomas Hastings it effectively publicized and editorially defended the Finney revivals. Among the agents of the Recorder listed in the number dated February 24, 1829, were Z. R. Shipherd of Granville, George Brayton of Western, John Frost of Whitesboro, and Joab Seeley of Ogdensburgh, the latter a convert of Finney's earliest revival in the north of the state.

Thomas Hastings was also a music teacher and a collector and composer of sacred music. In lecture tours and through the columns of the Recorder he labored for the establishment of musical societies "so organized as to call forth the piety, as well as the musical talent of the country." The climax of his work in upstate New York came with the founding of the New York State Central Musical Society in Utica in August, 1831. Hastings keynoted the organization meeting in an address in which he emphasized the need that music teachers should be "pious and competent" and pointed out that "revivals of religion had been attendants on singing school." The Rev. D.C. Lansing became president of the society; Samuel C. Aikin was first vice-president; Milton Brayton was treasurer and Hastings, naturally, was corresponding secretary. In 1829 Hastings, in an editorial, commented favorably on the work of Lowell Mason in Boston. But in the following year he wrote a scathing review of a hymn book prepared by the Rev. Joshua Leavitt of New York City, secretary of the Seamen's Friend Society: "We are truly sorry that any minister of the gospel . . . should have associated his name with such a wretched publication as this." The review and the influence of Finney resulted in his later removal to New York City where he supervised the music at several leading churches.

As Finney aroused the enthusiasm and admiration of many, he likewise stirred many to bitter opposition. While a convert like Theodore Weld believed him the greatest of all preachers, others saw in him the chief enemy of true religion. "Brother Platt," wrote Weld to a fellow convert in 1829, "I am persuaded neither you nor I have ever duly estimated the preaching of that modern Paul . . . for my own part, when I make a plain estimate of Mr. F.[inney] as a preacher in comparison with any other--within my knowledge--he rises above them to an overshadowing height ...." Even his opponents admitted that "as an awakening preacher, he certainly possessed talents of a high order," but considered him all the more dangerous because of his ability. What part of the opposition was due to jealousy and what part to honest conservatism it is impossible to determine.

Ministers, New England evangelists and laymen were irritated by his provoking directness. They found his voice too penetrating and arresting, his remarkable, hypnotic eyes too magnetic, and his dramatic and realistic description of Hell's torments too disturbing. They opposed his stinging denunciations of individuals and institutions. They objected to his singling out particular persons as the objects of condemnation or prayer. Particularly did they decry all groaning and weeping in prayer, the institution of the praying or holy band of lay assistants and of the anxious seat at the front of the church for the hopeful inquirers, and the participation of females in "promiscuous" prayer meetings. These were the much-debated "new measures."

Most of the New York ministers were favorable to Finney, but President Henry Davis of Hamilton College was alarmed by "certain prominent features" of the Oneida Revival from the beginning, or so he later declared. And the Rev. William R. Weeks of Paris Hill, an extreme "Hopkinsian" Calvinist, made a slashing attack on Finney in his Pastoral Letter of 1827. He criticized the new-measures men for "Trying to make people angry," "The affectation of familiarity with God in prayer," allowing "Female prayer and exhortation," "Loud groaning, speaking out, or falling down, in time of public or social worship," etc. The Oneida Presbytery stood by Finney and denied that the revivals were accompanied by irregularity or disorder and "Resolved Unanimously, That the patience and forbearance manifested by Mr. Finney under reproach, in not rendering evil for evil, has increased the confidence of Presbytery in his piety and judgment." Very favorable, too, to Finney was the pamphlet entitled A Narrative of the Revival of Religion in the County of Oneida, etc., written by the Rev. John Frost and other friendly ministers and published in Utica in 1826.

There were some, however, particularly in New England, who preferred to believe Mr. Weeks; among these were the revivalists Asahel Nettleton and Lyman Beecher. "They are driving us back into barbarism under the delusion of a new era," declared Nettleton in a letter to John Frost. Reverend Henry Ware, the scholarly Unitarian product of Harvard and Andover, who was a few years later to superintend the publication of a life of Jean Frederic Oberlin, was shocked at what he heard and saw of "the notorious Finney" on a visit to central New York in 1826. "The great leader is either a crazy man or an impostor," he wrote from Utica. And again: "He has talents, unquestionable talents, but no heart. He feels no more than a mill-stone . . . he is acting a cold, calculating part .... His tones of voice, his violent, coarse, unfeeling utterance, his abject groanings, his writhing of his body as if in agony, all testify that he is a hypocrite, and yet I try not to be uncharitable."

Finney ardently defended his methods. When immortal souls were at stake he insisted that one should not be too nice about the means utilized for their salvation. A certain amount of excitement he believed to be absolutely necessary to get most people to act. It should be the aim of the pastor and the evangelist, said Finney, not to please men but to warn them in a most direct and impressive way of the imminent danger of their damnation. In July of 1827 the New England conservatives met Finney and his western, new-measures men at a convention at New Lebanon, N.Y., in an effort to iron out their differences. In this they did not succeed in any large way nor was either faction persuaded of its errors. The chief result seems to have been to attract more attention to Finney and his great success as a revivalist."

 













CHAPTER III

THE ROCHESTER REVIVAL

THE Yankees pushed on through the Finger Lakes country from central to western New York. One of the towns to profit most by the building of the Great Western Canal was Rochester. Its flour mills were already important at the time of the second war with England, grinding wheat from the rich Genesee Valley with the power of the falls of the Genesee River. But the cost of transportation of the flour ate up much of the profit until the canal, passing over the river at Rochester on the famous stone aqueduct, gave easy access to the markets of the world. In 1827 four new mills were built and seven more before 1835. In 1815 Rochester had had a little over 300 population; in 1830 it had nine thousand. This booming community provided a sounding board for various public figures. The actor Edmund Kean condescended to favor the inhabitants with a performance of "The Iron Chest"; the editor-politician Thurlow Weed began in Rochester his climb to political power, and Sam Patch chose the falls of the Genesee for his most spectacular and last leap in 1829. Rochester would be satisfled with nothing less than the ultimate in the way of preaching.

The Presbyterians were already well established among the New Englanders in Rochester. The original First Presbyterian Church, located west of the river and just north of the canal on the site of the present city hall, was under the pastorate of the Rev. Joseph Penney. In addition there was the Second (or "Brick") Presbyterian Church and the Third Presbyterian Church on the east side, both founded soon after the opening of the canal. The Rev. Joel Parker, a graduate of Hamilton, where he was a classmate of Asa Mahan in 1824, and just out of Auburn Theological Seminary, had established the latter society in 1827, and it had thriven under his aggressive leadership. As early as the fall of 1829, Josiah Bissell, an eider of this church, had invited Finney to Rochester, challenging him with an account of the sin existing among the "canawlers." In the early summer of 1830 Parker, a thorough new-measures man, went to New York City to take the pastorate of the First Free Presbyterian Church which had been built up by Finney's preaching.

In September Finney arrived in Rochester to supply the pulpit of Parker's Third Church and "revive" the congregations of all three Presbyterian societies. The pulpit of the Second Church was vacated soon after he appeared. Rev. Mr. Penney of the First Church gave him every encouragement. The way was opened for Finney to boom religion in the Genesee boom town.

Finney fulfilled all expectations. Henry Brewster Stanton, a young orator and politician, a reporter on Thurlow Weed's Monroe Telegraph, went to hear him. Late in life his recollection of the occasion was still clear. "It was in the afternoon," he wrote. "A tall, grave-looking man, dressed in an unclerical suit of gray, ascended the pulpit. Light hair covered his forehead; his eyes were of a sparkling blue, and his pose and movement dignified. I listened. It did not sound like preaching, but like a lawyer arguing a case before a court and jury .... The discourse was a chain of logic, brightened by felicity of illustration and enforced by urgent appeals from a voice of great compass and melody. Finney was a sensation. At one of the early meetings held in the old First Church building every seat was taken and hundreds stood in the aisles. The structure began to give way; the walls spread and a scantling fell through the plaster of the ceiling. The congregation stampeded and trampled some in the crowd that stood about the doors. A few even jumped out of the windows into the filthy water of the canal. The accident seems rather to have stimulated the excitement than otherwise. Robert L. Stanton, who was in the panic, was converted and, along with a hundred others, including his sister and his brother, Henry Brewster Stanton, joined the First Church early in January.

It was on the very day following the stampede that the Rev. John Jay Shipherd, who was to be the founder of Oberlin, arrived in Rochester on a canal boat from the East. He was a son of the Hon. Zebulon R. Shipherd, the Troy lawyer who had been a member of Finney's praying band, and was on his way to the Connecticut Western Reserve where he hoped to perform useful service as a home missionary. He and his wife and two sons and a school-teacher friend stayed over the week-end in Rochester in order not to profane the Sabbath by travelling on Sunday. It was a great opportunity, too, for him to renew his zeal and consecration in the warmth of Finney's presence. Shipherd preached in the Second Church in the morning, heard the great evangelist in the evening, and enjoyed "some agreeable private intercourse with him." Though it undoubtedly had great attractions for him, the young missionary refused Finney's invitation to stay in Rochester and help. On Monday he took a canal boat west, happy in the benediction of his idol and in the knowledge that the "work of God" in Rochester was moving on with such power.

From September 10, 1830, to March 6, 1831, Finney preached 98 sermons and attended un-numbered "anxious meetings." The work was effectively publicized through the Rochester Observer, a periodical established some three years previous especially to disseminate information about revivals, missionary work and the "operations of Societies for the spread of the Gospel and the promotion of benevolent objects." Reports in the Observer were quoted in the Western Recorder and the New York Evangelist and other religious papers of the northern states. At the end of four weeks of Finney's preaching the Observer reported: "On the Sabbath no place of worship is large enough to contain the multitude that assembles.... Such a revival, perhaps, was never experienced where less disorder was witnessed, or less open opposition manifested." Every issue contained some new details or favorable comments. "We have never known a revival more general among all classes," wrote a participant in November. "The youth, and those who are preparing for, and those who have just entered upon, the great theatre of life--the student, the mechanic, the professional man, and the politician--those who were seeking for, and those who were in the possession of office and worldly honors, have been arrested by the spirit of God, and a new song has been put in their mouths." In December the revival continued "with unabated interest and power," though Finney showed signs of physical breakdown from over-exertion. But he kept up the furious pace through January and February. A final great effort was made in late February and early March, an effort in which the evangelist was assisted by nine other ministers from various western New York communities. Among these were the Rev. William Wisner, who had been conducting successful revivals in his church at Ithaca during the winter, and Asa Mahan, now pastor at the nearby canal town of Pittsford. Developments at Rochester had attracted so much attention by this time that hundreds came from a considerable distance and the church buildings were taxed to capacity. Sometimes it was necessary to hold simultaneous meetings, and on one occasion Finney preached the same sermon on successive nights to capacity crowds in the Third and Second churches respectively. "Enquiry meetings," held during the morning business hours, overflowed with "anxious sinners." .... "It did seem," reported the Rochester Observer, "that the heavens were dropping down righteousness over our heads." Originally planned as a four days' meeting, it was continued "with unabated zeal" throughout the fifth day after which, "as the snow was rapidly melting .... friends from a distance were admonished to improve what remained to return home." For some time thereafter, however, local residents came together in two religious services every day. Near the end of a long life of conservative, "old-school" Presbyterianism, Robert L. Stanton remembered that "all Rochester was moved that winter .... The atmosphere . . . seemed to be affected. You could not go upon the streets, and hear any conversations, except on religion."

Converts poured into the churches. As has been noted, a hundred joined the First Church at one time in January, 1831. About the same number altogether were added to the Second ("Brick") Church by profession of faith. Mr. Wisner accepted a call to be settled over this congregation and carried on the work thus begun by Finney with great success until 1835. Altogether, in the four and a half years of his pastorate 372 new converts were admitted. The Third Church admitted 158 converts in 1831. Mr. Finney had more trouble finding the right man for this pulpit. Asa Mahan was seriously considered, but he went to Cincinnati. The place was offered to Fayette Shipherd, but he felt bound to stay with his parents in their advancing age since brother John Jay had left for "the valley." For some time the church suffered from brief pastorates or got along with "supplies." The churches in neighboring towns like Henrietta anf Pittsford also received a considerable accession of newly converted Christians. Two new "free" Presbyterian churches were in Rochester as a direct result of the revival: the Free Presbyterian Church and the Bethel Free Church. The former fell into dissension and lasted only from 1832 to 1838, but the latter, under the lay leadership of such able and enthusiastic Finney men as George A. Avery and Michael B. Bateham, into the Rochester Central Presbyterian Church and was later chiefly instrumental in securing Finney's services for the revivals of 1842 and 1857.

The influence of Finney's success at Rochester was felt in many other communities. Letters poured in upon the evangelist in ever increasing volume begging for his services. "Am pulled many ways," he wrote to Gale. "Don't know where to go." Theodore J. Keep, the son of the Rev. John Keep of Homer, came to Rochester to hear the great evangelist. He had just left Yale because of his participation in the great Conic Sections Rebellion, when the sophomore class refused to recite Conic Sections unless they could have their textbooks open. He had not yet found "spiritual peace" and decided to go to Rochester, hoping that the great Finney would help him. Sometime in December he appeared in the "flour city," "rather tall ,... light hair, wears glasses & a very red plaid cloak." Soon he was writing home that he "hoped he had passed from death to life" and Mr. and Mrs. Keep were said to be "much overcome with the intelligence." In March, the Rev. Mr. Keep and the congregation of the Homer Presbyterian Church were urging Finney to come among them. He did not come, but John Keep and his son Theodore were added to the ranks of the Finney men.

John Keep was a native of western Massachusetts, the seventh of nine children of a poor farmer. He entered Yale College in 1798 and "passed regularly, without interruption through the four years' course of study," waiting on table part time in the dining hall to pay his way. After studying theology privately for some time he was ordained in 1805 and preached for the next sixteen years in the Scotch-Irish town of Blandford, Massachusetts. He seems always to have been actively interested in Christian benevolence. Keep was one of the founders and charter members of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He was a trustee of Hamilton College and for a time "President of the Board of Commissioners" of Auburn Theological Seminary. In Homer (1821-33) he was a dominant influence in the councils of the local Cortland Academy. From 1831 to his dismissal in 1833 he was overtly and enthusiastically aligned with the "new-measures" cause. "I am now among the older Ministers," he wrote in the latter year. "But I will learn from my younger Brethren, and rejoice when they stretch forward beyond me in winning souls to Christ--the farther, the better.... I verily believe that the Holy Spirit is with them [the new-measures men], and that their number will increase."

Perhaps more important than the enlistment of the Keeps was the organization in Rochester of a phalanx of active revival Christians, mostly business or professional men and youths. Though Josiah Bissell, Jr., died within two months of the close of the revival his leadership did not die with him. He had been associated with all of the first three Rochester Presbyterian churches. He had financed the construction of the places of worship of the Second and Third societies and to the latter had promised "a half of his biscuit as long as he had one." He was especially devoted to the cause of Sabbath Schools and Sabbath observance, and was one of the first vice-presidents of the "Grand Union For Promoting the Observance of the Christian Sabbath" along with Arthur Tappan, Francis Scott Key and Lyman Beecher. His "Pioneer" stage-line was known throughout the nation because its coaches never moved on Sunday and the drivers' morals were supposed to be supervised. Bissell had been primarily responsible for bringing Finney to Rochester and acted the part of manager and host. Everard Peck was a printer, book-binder, publisher, bookstore proprietor and paper manufacturer from Connecticut. He was a leading member of the First Presbyterian Church and the first secretary of the Monroe County Temperance Society. He belongs in the list not only because he was a leading Christian and friend of the revivals and benevolent causes but because his young son was guided by the influence of these days through the Oneida Institute and Bowdoin College to a professorship in a later time in Oberlin College. Samuel D. Porter, also a book-dealer, associated with Peck, was converted from deism by Finney and became an important worker for benevolent causes. Then there was Levi Burnell, "Druggist, at the sign of the alligator, No. 4 Carroll st." Already in 1829 he was secretary of the "Young Men's Mission Society of Rochester. Of course, there were the Stantons, Henry Brewster and Robert L., and their brother-in-law, George A. Avery, and his brother, Courtland Avery. The Averys were merchants; George dealt in "Groceries, Ship-Chandlery, Paints, Oils, Window Glass, etc." Both were devoted adherents of the new movement. The young Englishman Michael B. Bateham may not yet have arrived in Rochester at the time of the Revival of 1830-31, but became a complete "Finneyite" just the same when he appeared sometime before 1834 and opened his seed store and nursery--"The Rochester Seed Store and Horticultural Repository." He later became editor of the New Genesee Farmer and, after that, of the Ohio Cultivator. When the Bethel Free Church was built on the bank of the canal next to the Washington Street Bridge (at a location convenient for boatmen and canal-boat passengers), among the leading contributors were Samuel D. Porter, George A. Avery, M. B. Bateham, Aristarchus Champion (a benevolent business man like Bissell) and Everard Peck. Here were more soldiers to fight the battles of the Lord!

 













CHAPTER IV

FINNEY ON BROAD WAY

FINNEY'S reputation as a revivalist spread throughout the North, and calls for his aid poured in from ministers and pious laymen in all quarters. Two voices were particularly loud and insistent: that from Ohio--"the Valley of the Mississippi"--"in a forming state ready to receive any impress which may be given it," and that from New York City, the growing metropolis, the sink of iniquity, "the headquarters of Satan."

Even in the early nineteenth century there were two "frontiers," two fields of economic opportunity, the free lands of the West and the emerging cities. The Yankees flooded out into central and western New York, the Western Reserve and beyond, but many, too, merchants; shipmasters, clerks, lawyers, bankers, went to New York City and helped to win for it the primacy in trade and commerce. From the time when, soon after 1800, Joseph Howland, a Mayflower descendant, laid the foundations of the great Howland New York shipping interest to the fifties, when Captain Rowland H. Macy of Nantucket started his store and James Talcott came from Connecticut to establish his dry commission business, the invasion was practically continuous and rather disconcerting to the native Knickerbockers. Now these Yankee magnates in New York's business world were some whose New England consciences were troubled the by sin of the city and who felt the call to do something about it. Prominent among these were Anson G. Phelps, David Low Dodge, William E. Dodge, Arthur Tappan and his brother Lewis. Phelps and David L. Dodge were among the earlier arrivals. The former had a Horatio Alger rise from poor orphan to New York's leading importer of metals. Both had come to the city from Connecticut before the second war with England. Dodge was a dry goods merchant, known to history as a worker in the peace cause, the founder (in 1815) of the New York Peace Society, the first of the modern peace organizations. William E. Dodge, his son, married Melissa, daughter of Anson G. Phelps, and left his father's store to join his father-in-law in the firm of Phelps, Dodge & Co. and lay the foundation of the great Dodge fortune. The younger Dodge was at one time president of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York. All three established during their lives reputations for great piety and benevolence and gave their money and services to various ecclesiastical, missionary and social causes. The Tappans, natives of Northampton, Massachusetts, and later arrivals, are better known for their various religious and reform activities than for their success as leading silk jobbers.

In 1826, Judge Jonas Platt of utica and his two children, Helen and Zephaniah, went to the great city to live, and joined the Brick Presbyterian Church on Beekman Street. Their pastor was the conservative Rev. Cardiner Spring; Anson G. Phelps was a leading member. The Platts brought to New York enthusiastically favorable accounts of Finney's work to supplement the contradictory reports in the press. In mid-June, 1826, Zephaniah Platt wrote to Finney: "If I know any thing of the human heart I am ready to say that some of our N.Y. churches are in readiness for your preaching."

The Platts persuaded Phelps and the Dodges that Finney was just the man to stir Gotham from the lethargy of religious indifference and sin. They pointed out that he was young and handsome, had a penetrating and arresting voice and manner, and used a vernacular which had not been desiccated by years in the rarefied atmosphere of a theological seminary. But there was opposition among the clergy, particularly from the Rev. Gardiner Spring, himself. So, shortly after the New Lebanon "debate," Phelps invited Finney to a conference in New York at which leading church workers and ministers could meet him and come under the influence of his personal charm. Lansing, Aikin, Beman, Theodore Weld and Zebulon R. Shipherd participated, along with Zephaniah Platt, the Dodges, Phelps and certain city ministers, including undoubtedly Spring and the eccentric and radical Samuel H. Cox, pastor of the Laight Street Church which the Dodges attended. The meetings, lasting for several days, took place in December, 1827, at Phelps's downtown home. (He had not yet moved to his "country seat" between 30th and 31st streets.) "I shall never forget those days," W. E. Dodge later wrote. "Such prayers I never heard before. These men had all come from the influence of the recent wonderful revivals, and were all filled with the spirit." Finney left New York for Reading, but he was followed by letters pleading with him to come back and preach. The eider Dodge begged him to stop in the city on his return north. At least four ministers were ready, he said, to welcome him. Phelps wrote: "... We Shall Expect to See you In our Stupid, Poluted [sic] and Perishing City."

The invitations continued. Finney went on to new triumphs at Philadelphia. In June, 1828, David Dodge congratulated him on the birth of a daughter (Helen, later wife of Jacob D. Cox). "Wm. is married to Miss Phelps." As soon as Mrs. Finney was able to travel Finney must come back to New York. Phelps and Platt wrote in a similar vein in July. The next month Arthur Tappan first appeared in the picture as an advocate of Finney's supplying Cox's pulpit during his absence. In August, 1818, Finney accepted the invitation and preached for the first time in New York in the old Laight Street Church "with the entire approbation and satisfaction" of the congregation.

But it was not until the autumn of 1829 that Finney had an opportunity to lead a real revival in New York--again "under the management" of A. G. Phelps. This time he preached in the city for nearly a year, moving the services from smaller to larger auditoriums as his reputation grew. Many were converted and the Union Presbyterian Church was formed in October, 1829. This was the first of the several Free Presbyterian Churches established in New York, Boston, Rochester and elsewhere by Finney's followers. In them seats were free and transients and the poor were welcomed at every service. These churches took an irritatingly "Congregationalistic," independent attitude toward presbytery. They were strongholds of aggressive revivalism, reformism and organized philanthropy. Finney's work in the city was so notable that the Synod of New York passed a resolution taking official cognizance of it. "The past year, to many of our churches," ran the statement, "has been a year of the right hand of the Most High. Jehovah has gone forth in the chariot of his gospel, and triumphed gloriously over many of the enemies of tile cross."

It was at this time that the Tappans supplanted Phelps in the leadership of the Finney cohorts in the city. They led in the coagulation of the converts into Free Presbyterian churches. Zephaniah Platt financed the New York Evangelist, the organ of Finney and his associates in the city, when it was established under the editorship of N. A. Saxton in the spring of 1830, but the Tappans took it over the next year and gave the editorship to the Rev. Joshua Leavitt. Leavitt was another Connecticut Yankee who had first come to New York in 1828 as agent of the American Seamen's Friend Society. He had been infected with the liberalism current at Yale where he had studied divinity two years. Before going to Yale he had been a practicing attorney, a background which must have helped to draw him to Finney. The Evangelist was a most important factor, to the end of Leavitt's editorship (1837), in formulating and disseminating the religious and moral ideas of the "radical" group.

Having stimulated this powerful impulse in the metropolis, in late August or early September, 1830, Finney departed for Rochester.

* * * *

It was in 1829-30 that a certain burly young Irishman, who is an important figure in this story, came within the evangelist's orbit. John Morgan was born near Cork and was brought to this country at an early age. He was living in Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, with his apparently widowed mother, "an illiterate woman" of "remarkable piety," when the Congregational Church of that place made up a subscription to send him through the local academy. He completed his preparatory work in 1822 and entered Williams College, where he became a classmate and lifelong friend of Mark Hopkins. Upon graduation in 1826 he went to New York City to teach in a girls' school. Finney's preaching deeply stirred his somewhat easygoing nature. In the summer of 1831 he removed, with his young Vermont bride, to Utica, the heart of the Finney country. There he was taken under the care of the Oneida Presbytery "with a view to being licensed to preach the gospel." After an examination by a committee of Finneyite ministers he was received as a licentiate, becoming associated in that rank with Capt. Charles Stuart and Charles H. Weld, Theodore Weld's brother.

* * * *

Early in 1831 Lewis Tappan began to write to Finney begging him to come back to New York: "I do not think a powerful revival will take place here unless you do come .... The ministers here do not use the necessary means and will not. Depend upon it a blow must be struck in this city, heavier than anything we have had yet, or the revival will linger, and finally go out." But the evangelist hesitated. The revival in Rochester was proceeding with almost unprecedented success; urgent calls for his services were coming in from New England, from various points in upstate New York and from Ohio. The known opposition on the part of many New York City clergymen troubled him. His convert and lieutenant, Theodore Weld, had always favored delay in approaching the large population centers. As early as 1827 he had written: "Don't be in too great haste to get hold of the cities .... Kindle back fires, Back Fires, BACK FIRES far and wide. Let them stretch over the interior; the while you are engaged there the cities are preparing fast--when ripe--at the favorable nick of time--give the word--rally your forces and in the twinkling of an eye make a plunge--and they are a wreck."

From Rochester Finney went to Buffalo and then to New England: Providence, where a firm friendship with Josiah and W. C. Chapin was cemented, and Boston, itself, where he reached a temporary understanding with Lyman Beecher.

Few men have been so sought-after. Each mail brought news of ripening fields awaiting his sickle. The call from the West grew louder, that from the metropolis more insistent. In the spring of 1832, Asa Mahan and Theodore Weld bombarded him from Cincinnati; the Tappans moved heaven and earth to bring him to New York. "Lord send thy servant Finney here," prayed Weld in Cincinnati. But Weld, said Lewis Tappan, knows little of New York and "thinks the centre of the World is where he acts." New York City, Tappan declared, was the key to the soul of the nation: "Do what may be done elsewhere, and leave this city the headquarters of Satan, and the nation is not saved. It is truly wonderful what mighty influence New York has throughout the country. The South, and especially the West, look to this city for moral impulse. 20 thousand strangers here upon an average all the time carry to every part of the Union the views and feelings formed while here. A blow struck here reverberates to the extremities of the republic." He admitted the importance of the Great Valley but declared that "very soon Railroads will bring all the business men to this city twice a year." "It is the opinion of all the EIders of the Free Pres[byterian] Churches that this city is the place for you to preach & that now is the time. May God give you wisdom & grace to make a decision."

Turning a deaf ear for the time being to the supplications from beyond the Alleghenies, Finney came again to New York City in the late spring of 1832. Lewis Tappan, with the aid of his brother, Arthur Tappan, William Green, Jr., and other pious business men, took over the Chatham Street Theater and remodeled this stronghold of the Devil (all theaters were) into a revival hall in which two thousand persons could be seated. The renamed Chatham Street Chapel was dedicated April 23, 1832, at half past five in the morning in order not to conflict with business hours. Two Sundays later Finney preached two sermons and administered the Lord's Supper in it. Immediately after, he began a series of revival sermons which attracted large crowds and produced many converts despite the cholera panic.

His preaching by this date seems to have undergone a considerable change; from this period there are no more accounts of the falling of the "slain" or similar "exercises" among his hearers. Perhaps it was partly the effect of his sojourn in Boston in the previous winter; perhaps it was the product of association with Phelps, the Tappans and other gentlemen of New York, perhaps only an evidence of greater maturity. It is quite clear anyway that the character of Finney's appeals had been transformed, not in essentials, it is true, but in tone. "I do not mean .... that you have essentially changed your manner or stile [sic] of preaching but... you reason more than formerly," wrote a colleague in March. Another took him to task a few weeks later: "I fear that the peculiar circumstances in which you have been placed have led you rather to a discussion . . . of abstract theological subjects than to those soul-stirring appeals to the heart and the conscience by which you once brought so many sinners to the feet of Jesus." Of course, he never did lose his power to stir the emotions of a great audience, as is abundantly testified by witnesses of his sermons of later years, but he never seems again to have gone to such great lengths in "breaking down" sinners.

A more refined, more "cultured," more intellectual Finney was emerging--the Finney of New York City--and of Oberlin.

To assist in the work in the city Finney brought down from upstate a whole company of his followers: the Reverends Joel Parker, D.C. Lansing, Herman Norton and John Ingersoll, father of the great agnostic. Not least important was Thomas Hastings whom he brought to New York from Utica to introduce his ideas of church music as a form of worship. Apparently Hastings took direct charge of the singing at the Chatham Street Chapel (and later at the Broadway Tabernacle) and supervised the music at some dozen churches.

But, from the time that he began to preach at the Chapel, Finney was in poor health. In the summer he fell victim to the cholera and was for some time unable to appear in the pulpit. A year later he was still a sick man. Finally in the winter of 1833-34 his friends prevailed upon him to take a vacation in some distant land in the hope that the sea voyage would help him. He sailed on January 20, 1834, in a small brig, the Padang, bound for Smyrna. The voyage was one of the most unhappy periods of his life. His stateroom was oppressively tiny and the little brig was badly knocked about by storms during the journey of sixty-eight days to Malta. There, and in Sicily, he spent some weeks, but did not continue to Syria and Palestine as he had considered doing, but sailed for Boston from Messina, arriving at the former port July 18. In the autumn of 1834 his health was rather worse than better. He returned to his labors in the Chatham Street Chapel with misgivings--seriously considering giving up preaching altogether. He even sat for his portrait "on condition that Br. Green shall give it to my family in case I should be taken away."

A prospect of greater and greater influence was opening up in New York. Plans were under way for the great Broadway Tabernacle especially designed for Finney's use. Isaac M. Dimond seems to have been chiefly responsible for the building of the Tabernacle. He was yet another Connecticut Yankee, since 1830 a successful manufacturer of jewelry in the city. Construction began in the spring of 1835 and, a year later, in the completed edifice, Mr. Finney was installed as pastor of the Broadway Tabernacle Congregational Church.

Printed propaganda for the cause was distributed by the "Revival Tract Society," whose committee on publication included, at different times, Finney, William Green, Jr., Lewis Tappan, D.C. Lansing, Joel Parker, and Joshua Leaviii, among others. At the beginning of December, 1834, Leavitt began the publication in the New York Evangelist of Finney's twenty-two Friday lectures on revivals of religion--reprinted in book form a few months later and in successive editions throughout many years, one of the most influential religious publications of the period. Further to spread the revival spirit it was planned that the new Tabernacle should contain a classroom under the choir where Finney could prepare enthusiastic converts for the practice of the "new measures" in the ministry.

 













CHAPTER V

THE MANUAL LABOR SCHOOLS

EVERYWHERE Finney appealed successfully to the young men: young lawyers, young business men, young farmers, young teachers and students. Many of them abandoned their former occupations and proposed to enter the ministry. The prospect of spending four years in the usual college course plus two or three years at a theological seminary daunted them. Some were already in their late twenties or early thirties and they were impatient to be about the Lord's business. Most did not have the financial resources from which to pay the cost of such an extended preparation; others were in poor health. Besides, did the traditional dose of Latin and Greek and Mathematics really in any practical way prepare for the ministry? Did the average college lay sufficient emphasis on piety and morality? Finney, himself, had intentionally avoided attending a college, and all emulated Finney.

New departures in revivals had broken the crust of indifference and formalism in the churches; new departures in education, especially designed to meet the needs of the current situation, furnished the logical solution of the problem. The Finney men were bold; they were already known as innovators; they feared conservatism more than experiment, if they feared the latter at all. Success in the churches evoked confidence, and the spirit of aggressive reform swept into other fields.

Rev. George W. Gale, while at Western, took several young converts into his home to teach them the arts and divinity as he had taught Finney, following a practice common both before and since the establishment of the first theological seminaries. The unusual feature was that these young men paid Gale for instruction, books and board, not in cash but by working on his farm for a certain number of hours each day. This was in 1826. Gale always considered himself the originator of the system of "manual labor with study," and there is no evidence to show that he knew at the time of similar prior or contemporaneous experiments in this country or by Fellenberg in Switzerland. Perhaps this is a case of simultaneous, independent invention.

By 1827, Gale was prepared to apply the combination of manual labor and study on a large scale. At Rome, on February 14, 1827, when the new-measures men were conveniently aslembled for the annual meeting of the Oneida Presbytery, Gale presented to them his scheme for a manual labor school. The Oneida Academy was formally organized March 1, 1827. In the first announcement of the school, made public on that occasion, it was declared that its "primary object" was "to educate young men who have ultimately in view the gospel ministry." It was expressly provided that the instructors were to be required "to inculcatge the truths of the Christian religion, as well as the principles of science." The students were to support themselves and the school and benefit their health by three to four hours of mechanical or agricultural labor daily. In April a hundred-acre farm was purchased at Whitesboro, a few miles from Utica, and instruction and farming began in May.

The Reverend George W. Gale and the Reverend John Frost were, from the beginning, the leading spirits in the enterprise and were naturally appointed the first agents to secure funds. Mr. Gale and Mr. Pelatiah Rawson became the first instructors. In September Gale was able to write to Finney, "Our School is prosperous. We had an examination last month, much to the satisfaction of the Trustees. Our crops are promising. We have an excellent class of young men and they make as good progress in their studies as any class I ever saw." Toward the end of the year the faculty turned in their official report to the trustees. In this it was stated that, "The labour performed by the Students has been, upon an average, three and a half hours a day. This is the only compensation which has been received for board and washing .... About forty acres of land have been cultivated--two for a garden, and the remainder for corn, potatoes, etc. Twenty acres have been mown. Between forty and fifty acres of wood have been chopped, fifty barrels of cider have been made, and other work necessary on the farm .... The income of the farm . . . has exceeded the expenses of boarding the students, keeping of stock, hire in the house, and the hire of a labourer for a year, about $150. It is, therefore, an ascertained fact, that a student may defray the expenses of his board, by three and a half hours of labour, and without interfering with his studies." Twenty-seven students were in attendance during the first term, and twenty-three of these were active Christians and intended, for the most part, to enter the ministry. In June, 1828, the Oneida Presbytery took official favorable notice of the school: "Whereas the Oneida Academy promises to be a great blessing to the church .... Resolved unanimously that it be recommended to the congregations under our care to contribute liberally to the funds of this infant and interesting institution."

The second year of the enterprise was a discouraging one, as it was a season of excessive rain and part of the crops were destroyed by the overflowing of the river. Considerable progress was made, however, in 1829, 1830 and 1831. An additional farmhouse was secured and a considerable expansion in enrollment thus made possible. A barn and a cow stable were built and a two-story shop, fifty by thirty feet, where the students could make boxes when there was no farm work to do. The student Society of Inquiry established a reading room where its members could read periodicals, gratuitously supplied by their publishers: the New York Evangelist, the Western Recorder, the Rochester Observer, the Sunday School Journal, the Home Missionary, the Journal of Health, the African Repository, etc. A "Friend" in New York donated some five thousand volumes for a library. G. P. Judd, one of Finney's early converts, sent curiosities from the Sandwich Islands for a "cabinet."

In June, 1829, a petition was sent to the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York requesting incorporation. The charter, promptly granted to the school under the name of the Oneida Institute of Science and Industry, entitled it to a share in the state "literature fund." The first public "exhibition" was held in the Presbyterian Church in Whitesboro in August "in the presence of a crowded audience." There were ten speakers. "Among the number was a young Seneca chief, . . . who spoke in his own native dialect. This, together with the Latin and Greek orations, was of course unintelligible to the majority of the audience "The Western Recorder thought it "highly creditable."

Students and instructors maintained a strenuous schedule. "The hour of rising and going into the field, by common consent, has been four o'clock A.M. in the summer months." Rising time, meal time, class hours and study periods were signalled by the blowing of a horn. The day was always begun with devotions. There were some classes at five, an hour before breakfast! Diet was frugal: "We have griddle cakes and molasses once a week," wrote one student, "rice and molasses once--hasty-pudding once, and a baked bread-pudding once. These we have in the morning. Twice in the week we have codfish and potatoes for dinner. For the remainder we have bread and butter and bread and milk." At each meal one student was appointed to read aloud while the others ate. "We are now reading the life of Thomas Spencer. No time is lost. Frequently we pass resolutions and transact important business at the table, while we are all eating as fast as we can." There was regular weekly drill in "declamation" and all students participated in formal debates on Thursday nights. All exercises were compulsory, including manual labor. "The plough, the hoe, the spade, the shovel, the axe, and the scythe, fall into the same hands that Virgil, Cicero, and the sages of Greece--Blair, Paley, Brown, Euclid, and Legendre, have occupied." Theodore Weld, who attended as a student but who acted as agent, was "monitor of the milking class," getting up extra early every morning to supervise the milking of thirty cows and "get the milk off in wagons to Utica by daybreak."

But piety and high moral purpose were even more central considerations than manual labor. The Society of Inquiry kept alive the student enthusiasm for missions. The revival atmosphere was constantly maintained. Some of the students walked miles to neighboring communities each week to teach Sunday Schools. In 1830, from their savings from labor at five cents an hour, they contributed two hundred dollars "for the establishment of Sabbath schools in the valley of the Mississippi." In the "Narrative of the State of Religion" presented at the meeting of the Oneida Presbytery in February, 1831, it was noted that, "The Oneida Institute, in Whitesboro, has shared largely in the favour of the Lord," and that, of the sixty students, "most . . . have given satisfactory evidence of conversion to God."

Of course, the new-measures men played a large role in sponsoring and financing the school. Finneyite ministers who supported the enterprise included, besides Gale and Frost, Samuel C. Aikin, Noah Coe, Luther Myrick, D. C. Lansing, N. S. S. Beman and S. H. Cox. George Brayton of Western gave $250.00; Finney's father-in-law gave a thousand feet of hemlock lumber; Charles and Thomas Hastings contributed cash and favorable publicity through the column of the Western Recorder, Josiah Bissell, Jr., of Rochester, was the largest donor. In 1828 Frost went to New York City where he presented the cause of the manual labor institution to the city liberals. Judge Jonas Platt introduced him and reported favorably on a personal visit to the school farm. Anson G. Phelps promised a hundred dollars. Platt, S. H. Cox, Phelps and Gardiner Spring signed a commendatory testimonial.

But expenditures for buildings and equipment had outrun donations. There was a mortgage of two thousand dollars, and the total debt was nearer five thousand dollars by the end of 1830. The students were growing restless because theological instruction had not yet begun. Gale met the crisis by calling the Rev. Nathaniel Beman from Troy to teach theology and taking Weld away from his studies and his milking class to appeal for funds to the converts of the revivals. Weld had considerable success. "He is a lovely young man," wrote Mrs. Finney's sister who heard him at Adams, "and a wonderful man, and bids fair to be a very useful man in the world and in the church." In December Gale sent Weld to Rochester to tap the philanthropic resources being developed in the revival there. "You know that you among others advised me to the establishment of this Institution," wrote Gale to Finney, "and I had reason to expect your cooperation so far as it was within your power." The subscriptions secured on the Genesee brought Gale and Oneida new hope. Late in January, 1831, following Weld's return to Whitesboro, Gale wrote again: "The Lord has given Brother Weld and this Institution great favor among the people at Rochester .... Monroe [county] . . . has given an impulse to a system of education that is to introduce the millennium .... Little did we think when talking over this subject what was to grow out of the little experiment . . . in Western." But Beman did not come, and students began to look to other institutions where final preparation for the ministry could be secured.

Now, Hamilton College at Clinton, like Whitesboro only a iew miles out of Utica, was greatly disturbed by these developments. President Henry Davis was pretty tough-minded and lhere might have been trouble anyway, but the fact that he opposed the revivals and that several of the trustees of the College were new-measures ministers (Frost, Lansing, Aikin, and Coe) certainly complicated the situation. President Davis, himself, believed that Finney's friends were primarily responsible for the difficulties. "Some believe .... " he later wrote, "that he ['Mr. Frost] and the other members of the board who are of the new school, have been hoping that Oneida Academy would be benefited by the prostration of Hamilton College."

Rev. John Monteith, one of the professors in the College, was a follower of Finney and an advocate of more practical education and had assisted Gale and Frost in the establishment of the Oneida Academy. Davis suspected him, naturally, of being responsible for student unrest and of being allied with the "reformers" among the trustees. According to Davis, when the revival began in Utica one Hamilton College senior prayed for the president "as an old gray-headed sinner, leading his scholars down to hell!" and in chapel Monteith prayed: "Thou knowest, 0 Lord, that the faculty of Hamilton College have sinned in high places; and we pray thee, 0 Lord, if they are obstacles to thy work, that thou wouldst remove them out of thy way." There was an effort among the trustees to get Davis to resign and when he refused a plan was introduced by Gerrit Smith, the philanthropist-reformer of Peterboro, for the trustees to take most of the executive power out of the president's hands. The plan failed of adoption, but the College tottered; many students left in mid-course to continue their studies elsewhere.

In 1829 Monteith left Hamilton for Pennsylvania where he established the Manual Labor Academy of Pennsylvania on a fifty-acre farm at Germantown. By the end of 1830 this school was declared to be prosperous except for pecuniary difficulties, with 23 pupils and 3 officers including the principal, an assistant teacher and a farmer. The students were required to labor four hours a day by which means they "more or less defrayed their own expenses, and established their health, invigorated their constitutions."

When Weld went to Rochester in December and January, 1830-31, to collect funds for the Oneida Institute, he presented the cause of manual labor-with-study in persuasive terms. Perhaps he overdid it, for Rochester new-measures men decided to have a manual labor school to educate their own young hopefuls. The Reverend Gilbert Morgan, a graduate of Union College and Princeton Theological Seminary, at the time teacher of a school at Johnstown, New York, and a member of the Albany Presbytery, was secured to direct it. In April, 1831, Morgan visited the Oneida Institute to study the operation of the manual labor system there, preparatory to introducing it at Rochester. He reached Rochester in the latter part of that month and opened the Rochester Institute of Practical Education in May. In mid-July, the Rev. William Wisner, acting as "President of the Board of Directors," issued the first circular announcing the etablishment, principles, plan and purpose of the school: "The Rochester Institute of Practical Education was organized in May last .... Its students exceed forty, collected from four denominations of Christians, all equally privileged. It owes its origin to the late revivals of religion in the western part of the state. Many young men of piety and talents were anxious to prepare for the gospel ministry, and to support themselves by manual labor rather than burthen the church." The aims of the school were declared to be "to secure to its members vigor of health, and strength of bodily constitution, to cherish the proper moral and religious habits, and to develop their minds in a direction adapted to their high destination, and to gird the sterner and nobler energies of the soul to the power of great accomplishment." The students, like their brothers at Whitesboro, rose at four, spent a half hour in devotions, and labored at least three hours a day. Instead of making boxes they, appropriately, made flour barrels. As at the beginning of Jefferson's IJniversity of Virginia the students drew up their own rules and elected their own officers of enforcement. The success of this plan of student government was dependent, it was believed, upon the labor system. "Manual labor with moral truth does in fact elevate the character and call forth the energies of the soul. Idle, vicious and ignorant young men, surrounded by temptations, are incapable of self-government."

The first public examinations of the Institute were held in January, 1832. It was incorporated by the legislature in April following, but the financial support received was wholly inadequate. In April also, Morgan announced the abandonment of the Institute and the founding of the Rochester Seminary of General Education. Though apparently manual labor was given up, the emphasis on piety and "a course of study preparatory to the sacred ministry" continued in the Seminary.

Gale and many of the other pious Yankees were persuaded that manual labor was to be the central practical feature of the coming American, Christian program of education. In 1830 Gale wrote: "Depend on it, Brother Finney, none of us have estimated the importance of this System of Education. It will be to the moral world what the lever of Archimedes, could he have found a fulcrum, would have been to the natural. In July, 1831, Lewis Tappan, Gale, and others founded the Society for Promoting Manual Labor in Literary Institutions, and later in the same year persuaded Theodore Weld, a living, breathing and eloquently speaking exhibit of the results of manual labor-with-study, to accept the general agency. In 1832 he travelled over 4500 miles, nearly 2,000 on horseback or afoot, delivering over two hundred lectures on manual labor and temperance. His journeys were not unaccompanied by adventures. In Connecticut the stage in which he was travelling overturned, and in Ohio near Columbus it was carried away by the water at a ford. In the latter case he barely escaped drowning and believed that his recovery from the exposure was attributable to his temperate habits and a physique strengthened by manual labor. In May, Gale received a letter from Weld postmarked Danville, Kentucky. "He is not recovered from his disaster," wrote Gale to Finney, "thinks it doubtful if he ever does ....from what he says I judge that he speaks often, and with great effect both for the temperance and manual labor causes. He is a marvellous man in many respects! In Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama he spoke once or twice each day on manual labor, temperance and female education. He observed the evils of slavery and discussed them privately with James G. Birney and William T. Allan in Huntsville, Alabama, and Marius Robinson, a student at the University of Nashville. In November Weld was back in New York City delivering an address "on the salutory influence of regular exercise upon the human system" in the Chatham Street Chapel. In the following winter he prepared at his desk in the office of the New York Evangelist the first and last report of the Society for Promoting Manual Labor in Literary Institutions. This document contains the most elaborate formal printed statement of the case for the manual labor schools.

Weld had also been commissioned to find a site for a great national manual labor institution where training for the western ministry could be provided for poor but earnest young men who had dedicated their lives to the home missionary cause in the "vast valley of the Mississippi." Such an institution would undoubtedly attract many of Weld's associates who had been in the failure to establish theological instruction at the Oneida Institute. Cincinnati was the logical location. Cincinnati was the focal center of population and commerce in the Ohio valley.

 













CHAPTER VI

CINCINNATI

By 1830 many conservative, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians were beginning to suspect that by absorbing so many New Englanders into the Presbyterian fold through the Plan of Union they had settled the Goths at the Gates of Rome. Yankee graduates of Yale, of Williams, of Hamilton and "alumni" of the Finney revivals were enabled by the Plan to infiltrate into the Presbyterian churches anywhere--in New York, in the Middle States, and in the West. The fundamental Calvinist doctrines of the divine sufficiency, predestination and the total depravity of man were threatened. The New Englanders accepted these doctrines in principle but acted in practice much like Methodists, insisting on "human ability" (with the help of divine grace, of course) to accept Christ and even perhaps to live a positively good life. This point of view was associated in the New Englanders' logic with active revivalism. Why appeal, said they, to a man to accept Christ if that man lacked the power of decision?

The first settlements in the New West were in Kentucky and the Ohio valley; the first settlers came chiefly from the Middle and Southern States. Their Presbyterian ministers got their inspiration from orthodox Princeton and they founded orthodox Presbyterian colleges: Transylvania (Kentucky), Jefferson (in western Pennsylvania), Miami and Centre. Cincinnati's first Presbyterian minister, James Kemper, came from Virginia by way of the upper Tennessee valley to Kentucky through Cumberland Gap and then crossed north of the Ohio, a route followed by those of his parishioners who didn't float down from Pittsburgh. Also a Virginian was the dynamic Joshua Lacy who came over from Kentucky to assume the pastorate of the First Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati in 1808. Twenty years later, when Cincinnati was definitely established as the business center and cultural metropolis of the West, Wilson was the dominant ecclesiastical figure of the community. He was the natural leader in the defense against Yankee heresy.

In the 1830's the invasion reached Cincinnati itself. The pseudo-Calvinists from the northeast were aggressive; and they were organized through the American Home Missionary Society; the American Education Society and the American Tract Society; they were backed by Yankee money from New York as well as New England and they were inspired by the Finney revivals.

First to face the redoubtable Wilson in the Cincinnati arena was the Rev. Amos Blanchard, a licensed preacher from Vermont. He was an outspoken advocate of the liberal point of view, a representative of the American Home Missionary Society. Ordained by the Presbytery of Cincinnati in Wilson's absence, the latter charged him with heresy and called for the revocation of the ordination. Blanchard accused Wilson of slander. Their differences were superficially adjusted in time for Wilson to concentrate his fire on another invader.

In the spring of 1831 twenty "new-school" members of Wilson's First Presbyterian Church seceded. On April 9, 1831, they organized the Sixth Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati and, in June, called the Rev. Asa Mahan of Pittsford, N. Y., to be their pastor. Among the charter members were Amos Blanchard and Mary Blanchard, Franklin Y. Vail and Catharine M. Vail, William S. Merrell, William Holyoke and John Melindy. Blanchard's position has been made sufficiently clear. Vail had come to the West from Connecticut as Secretary of the Western Agency of the American Education Society, a new-school organization for the assistance of young men preparing for the ministry. It was he who presented the call from the Sixth Church to Mahan at the annual meeting of the Presbyterian Assembly at Philadelphia. William Holyoke, one of the first three elders of the church, a coachmaker by trade, later became a leading abolitionist. His name often appears associated with that of John Melindy in religious and reform activities. William S. Merrell, a former resident of Oneida County, New York, had been a classmate of Mahan's at Hamilton College. After graduation he had taught school for a while in Cincinnati and then in the South; in 1830 he returned to that city and opened a drugstore.

Asa Mahan was known throughout his life as a bitter controversialist. He was usually in hot water. Before being licensed by the Oneida Presbytery on May 30, 1827, he had confessed to having circulated gossip and agreed to contradict it. He preached at Pittsford, near Rochester, from November, 1829, to March, 1831, and was there associated with Finney's Rochester revival. As a result of that revival the membership of his church increased considerably. However, when he was being considered for the pulpit of the Third Presbyterian Church of Rochester, though Josiah Bissell declared that he was "anointed of God," there were some reports of dissension at Pittsford due to his disputatious nature. But there was no doubt of his enthusiasm for Finney revivalism and his belief in "human responsibility." When Vail extended to him the call from the Sixth Church he promptly accepted and preached his first sermon in Cincinnati to some fifty hearers on August 25, 1831, in the dilapidated Second-fioor auditorium of the old "College Hall" on Walnut Street.

A clash between Wilson and Mahan was inevitable. Mahan was as aggressive as Wilson, another pseudo-Presbyterian of the yankee tradition, and the champion of the seceders from Wilson's own church. In sermons, in charges before the presbytery, and in editorials in his personal organ, the Standard, Wilson blasted at Mahan. In particular Mahan was accused of saying that he had never adopted the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church and never would. Considering Mahan's combative nature and his theology, it is more than likely that this charge had some basis in fact. Anyway, a special committee of the presbytery, made up mostly of hostile conservatives, was appointed to investigate. On the other hand, William Holyoke and an associate, representing the Sixth Church, lodged charges against Wilson of "unchristian conduct" in slandering Mahan in the press. Eventually the charges and counter-charges were appealed to the synod, where a settlement was made.

Blanchard, Vail, Mahan and their associates, having prepared the ground and sown the seeds, called for Finney to come and reap the harvest. Amos Blanchard wrote from Cincinnati, on the first day of 1831, using "the language of the Macedonfan Cry 'Come over and help us'." He pictured the "Porkopolis" as a city of about 28,000 people "now increasing in wealth and numbers beyond a parallel in the history of any other city" and situated "in the heart, almost, of a country containing more than 4,000,000 of inhabitants, and capable of sustaining more than 100,000,000." There Finney would find, he declared, a great deal to be done: "The whole number of attendants in the 4 Presbyterian churches does not exceed 3,000. There may possibly be as many more in all the other evangelical churches. Six thousand subtracted from 18,000 leaves 22,000 who either do not attend anywhere, or only where damnable error is preached There in this city a very large Roman Catholic cathedral, a Jew Synagogue, a Swedenborgian Church, 1 Unitarian, one Universalist, one Campbellite Baptist, and one Christian or New Light Society. The regular attendants at these poisonous fountains may possibly be 3 or 4,000 .... Besides these nominal Christians, we have a large number of Infidels, Owenites, Atheists, and Fanny Wright men, who with open mouth and daring front, lift high the arm, and rant out aloud their blasphemies against God." Even within the Presbyterian churches Blanchard found "a state of spiritual torpor." "Worldlymindedness exists to a great extent among the eldership, some going so far as to keep their pork houses open on the Sabbath where hogs are cut up for the market on Sunday .... When I look over the empty pews of our churches my soul is distressed and I am often led to exclaim 'O Lord how long?'" "O do take this matter into serious & prayerful consideration," he continued. "I have faith to full assurance that a wide and effectual door of usefulness is opened here for you--a door such as would have rejoiced the heart of Paul .... Do not disregard the cry of dying millions who are rushing dark and unholy into the gates of eternity .... Do not wait till Satan has made this city the high place of Belial--a brimming mountain of sin, which will hereafter send its torrents of spiritual death over these fair and fertile regions." In the following summer nine other ministers, including the Rev. Franklin Y. Vail, joined with Blanchard to petition the evangelist to come to Cinncinnati. Blanchard's invitation was certainly peculiarly adapted to appeal to Finney's fighting spirit and must have done much to strengthen his interest in "the dying millions" of the Great Valley.

Early in 1832 Mahan, having done, himself, some pioneer work for more aggressive Christianity, led in an even more insistent supplication. Twelve ministers, fifteen leading laymen and Theodore Weld, then lecturing in the Valley, signed the petition of February, 1832. Mahan wrote the petition and led the list of signers, among whom were Blanchard, Vail, Rev. David Root of the Second Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati, Rev. Thomas Brainerd of the Fourth Church, Rev. D.C. Blood of Cleves, Gideon Blackburn, president of Centre College--a southern liberal, Rev. Thomas Cole of New Richmond, and Rev. L. D. Howell, teacher in the "Literary Department" of Lane Seminary. Among the lay signers were William Holyoke and D. W. Fairbank of Mahan's church, J. C. Tunis, J. H. Groesbeck, Robert Boal and Dr. James Warren. Mahan and Weld reenforced the invitation by direct, personal appeals. "Sure I am," wrote Mahan, "that among the numerous calls which reach you from different parts of the country none are so loud as that which calls you to this city .... God has raised you up for the great valley and it must have your labors." Weld seconded him strongly: "You never can move this vast valley by working the lever in Boston, New York or Philadelphia .... Cincinnati is the spot for you to begin by all means.... Besides, here is to be the battle field of the world, here Satan's seat is. A mighty effort must be made to dislodge him soon or the West is un-done." Arthur Tappan and his brother and other associates in New York and Philadelphia were willing to finance Finney for an invasion of the West, but the Tappans much preferred that he should make his headquarters in New York City. Finney went to New York City. As second choice Cincinnati took Lyman Beecher.

* * * * *

The Western Presbyterians felt that they should have their own theological seminary, where Western and Eastern young men could be prepared in the West for service at the West. The Rev. James Kemper, an educational pioneer in Kentucky and Ohio, and the Rev. Joshua L. Wilson were leading sponsors of the scheme and naturally thought that Cincinnati would be the appropriate location. Despite their efforts, the logic of the situation and the promise of a gift of land by Kemper and his sons, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church eslablished their Western Theological Seminary at Alleghenytown, across the river from Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati's disappointment was great but short-lived, for Yankee money did what the Presbyterian Assembly had been unwilling to do. New Orleans, like New York and Cincinnati and most other prosperous American cities, had its colony of New England-born merchants, lawyers, teachers and ministers. Ebenezer Lane and a brother, natives of Maine, were commission merchants in this great Southern port. Like the Dodges, Phelpses and Tappans in New York their consciences directed them to do something for religion and morals with the profits they made. In October, 1828, they offered $4,000.00 to found in Cincinnati a manual labor institution "to prepare indigent young men for the ministry." One of the apparent advantages of "manual labor-with-study" was that it impressed practically-minded business men favorably.

To supervise the establishment of the school the "Ohio Board of Education" was organized, its membership being made up of Presbyterian ministers and laymen, Wilson being president and Dr. James Warren, corresponding secretary. Elnathan Kemper, one of James Kemper's sons and a convert to liberal doctrines, gave land in Walnut Hills for a site for the seminary in the name of the Kemper family. The charter of Lane Seminary was granted February 11, 1829. The Rev. George C. Beckwith, born in New York, but then preaching in Lowell, Massachusetts, was appointed to a professorship in April, accepted in August, and arrived in Cincinnati in the following November. He "had 3 or 4 students during the winter, spent the summer following at the East" and resigned in August, 1830.

The Lanes insisted on the manual labor system but some members of the board opposed this experiment. Wilson and David Root prepared a report favorable to manual labor early in 1829. President Robert Hamilton Bishop of Miami University, also a Lane trustee, opposed. The following year an elaborate and favorable report on manual labor as practiced at the Oneida Institute, at Monteith's school at Germantown, at Maryville, Tennessee, and elsewhere, was presented to the Executive Committee of the Board. In July, 1830, Beckwith visited the Oneida Institute and wrote back to Cincinnati that manual labor worked well and that the farmers and mechanics of the the neighborhood approved of it. In January, 1831, G. W. Gale of Oneida recommended a steward to supervise the seminary farm at Walnut Hills; in February the trustees made the appointment. But in the winter of 1830-31, Lane Seminary was in a state of suspended animation. There were no teachers and apparently only two students, Amos Dresser and Horace Bushnell, who had come out from the Oneida Institute and had been given special permission by the trustees to occupy rooms in the lonesome seminary building.

At the beginning, conservatives and radicals, Virginians and Yankees, appear to have teamed up effectively in behalf of the seminary. But before 1831 the leadership had passed from Wilson and his local supporters to the Eastern men. On September 20, 1830, the Board met at Franklin Vail's house, appointed him agent, apparently at his own suggestion, and directed him to seek advice and money in the East where Beckwith had failed. Wilson consented though he expressed a lack of confidence in the outcome. Vail hastened away, "there being no time to be lost," and he later wrote, "if the Institution was to be secured in the hands of the New School Men." Vail's friends in the Eastern cities suggested that if Lyman Beecher could be secured to head Lane Seminary money would undoubtedly follow. The trustees accepted the recommendation enthusiastically and on October 22 It unanimously appointed Beecher "President of Lane Seminary and Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology." True, Beecher was preaching in a Congregational church at Boston, but Vail expressed confidence, in a letter to Dr. Warren, that there would be "no difficulty in having the Dr. Presbyterianized."

The funds did follow the nomination, as had been hoped. Arthur Tappan, one of Finney's good angels, agreed to give the income from $20,000 to the support of the school if Beecher accepted. Oliver Eastman, who was Vail's successor as agent, obtained thousands more in subscriptions, but everything depended on Beecher, and Beecher hesitated. His congregation in Boston wanted him to stay, and opposition developed in Cincinnati.

Finney and Beecher had apparently buried the hatchet. In August, 1831, Beecher wrote to Finney: "... You and I are, as much, perhaps even more, one than almost any two men whom God has been pleased to render conspicuous in his church." After all, they both believed in "human ability" and the efficacy of revivals. In the following winter Beecher welcomed Finney when he went to Boston. In February, 1832, Dirck C. Lansing wrote to Finney asking him to intercede with Beecher in behalf of Lane Seminary, his acceptance of the appointment being "of vital importance to the cause of truth and revivals there." Perhaps conservatives in the East informed Wilson of this rapprochement. Certainly his suspicions of Beecher were aroused. On November 8, 1831, Asa Mahan, the arch-radical in the West, was appointed a trustee of Lane Seminary. Nine days later Wilson submitted his resignation as president and member of the Board. In his letter of resignation he denounced the election of Mahan and the appointment of Beecher. "Dr. B. is not a Presbyterian--nor can he honestly become so without a great change in his theological opinions." It seemed to him to be "the full determination of the Majority . . . to render the Lane Seminary entirely subservient to the New School Theology."

Beecher had been deeply interested in the opportunity from the beginning. "I have thought seriously of going over to Cincinnati .... " he wrote earlier to a daughter, "to spend the remnant of my days in that great conflict .... If we gain the West, all is safe: if we lose it, all is lost." He had, he said, "a feeling as if the great battle is to be fought in the Valley of the Mississippi." Another official invitation was extended to him in January, 1832, and in June he accepted. On October 19 Oliver Eastman, now financial agent, wrote from Philadelphia: "The Dr. and his family left here today in an extra stage for Wheeling. His wife, sister, and six children are with him, nine souls. Should he be prospered on his way he will be with you on Saturday of next week [8 days] or early the week after. I rejoice that he is on his way." Indeed, all the friends of Lane Seminary must have drawn a sigh of relief. It was now two years since the appointment was first made. Beecher had been "Presbyterianized" by being admitted to Finney's Third Presbytery in New York City, and an effort of the Rev. Gardiner Spring to get the Synod of New York to revoke this action had failed. On December 26, 1832, Beecher and Professor Thomas J. Biggs were inaugurated together. In January, 1833, Arthur Tappan authorized Vail to draw on him for Beecher's salary.

But Lane had had students even before it had a regular faculty. In 1831, when the Rev. Lewis D. Howell, a student at Auburn Seminary at the time of Finney's revival there, was interim teacher of the Literary Department, there were fifty young men attending the seminary. Amos Dresser was the only New Yorker among them, but this was not to last long. Three Oneida students went west to teach country schools in the winter of 1831-32. George Whipple and J. L. Tracy went to Kentucky; Calvin Waterbury got a school at Newark on the Licking River in Ohio. When in the spring Waterbury talked too much temperance, the inhabitants threatened to ride him out of town on a rail. He prudently climbed aboard a raft and floated down to Cincinnati. There, he and Dresser were soon joined by two other Oneidas, Sereno W. Streeter and Edward Weed, and by Henry Brewster Stanton from Rochester. Theodore Weld stopped at Cincinnati twice on his manual labor lecture tour--in February and March, 1832, and in the following September. On the earlier visit he delivered several lectures and supported the call to Finney to come west. Lane, he concluded, would do as a manual labor theological school if Beecher would come. The Oneidas need look no farther. It was worthy of the support of the Tappans and their friends and of the manual labor society. Weld adopted the seminary as his own and told the trustees what appointments to make. In Weld's absence the other New York-Yankee students managed the school through Asa Mahan.

When Beecher and Biggs were inaugurated in December, 1832, the enrollment of students had increased to ninety. But the invasion from the East had just begun. Stanton returned to Rochester in the spring of 1833, promising to bring back others from his home town if "the advantages of instruction-room accommodations, etc." were made "vastly superior to those of last summer." "I shall probably visit Oneida Institute about the 10th of April," he added, "where I shall find others whose eyes are turned westward. As many of these brethren will go down the Allegheny either in Rafts or Skiffs during the high water, you will see the importance of giving me an immediate reply to this." Early in June, Stanton and Weld and six other young Finneyites arrived in Cincinnati, having completed their journey down the river from Rochester and Oneida. They were promptly admitted to the seminary on the recommendation of two other "Oneidas" already in attendance. The tempo of the seminary was sharply stepped up, its real head now being on the ground. "Weld is here & we are glad," wrote Professor Biggs to Vail on July 2.

Lane became definitely a school for educating young Yinkees in the West. Of the forty members of the first theological class listed in the General Catalogue of 1881 the antecedents of thirty-seven are known, and thirty-one of these were Yankees from New England or upstate New York. Lane was Oneida moved west. In 1834, or before, twenty-four former students at Oneida Inslitute were enrolled in the literary or theological departmerits at Lane. Eight students, including Henry B. Stanton and his two brothers, came from Rochester and vicinity. Several of these had studied at the Rochester Institute of Science and Industry. Two Yale men came to Lane. John Tappan Pierce graduated from Harvard in 1831 and came to Lane from the Princeton Theological Seminary where he had spent but eight months. Thomas Williamson, George G. Porter, and Josiah Porter from South Carolina, William T. Allan from Alabama and James A. Thome from Kentucky certainly found themselves in a nest of Yankees. Marius R. Robinson was a graduate of the University of Nashville, Tennessee; Huntington Lyman had spent some time in Louisiana; Andrew Benton had been an agent of the American Bible Society in Missouri, but the first two were born in New York and the last in Connecticut. It must have been something of a shock to the real Southerners when on May 28, 1833, James Bradley, "a man of colour" was admitted to the Literary Department?

Of course, it was necessary to expand the faculty. Calvin E. Stowe left Dartmouth for a Lane professorship on condition that $500.00 of his salary should be paid in advance. George Whipple, one of the Oneidas, abandoned his school in Kentucky to study theology and teach elementary courses at the seminary. In mid-summer of 1833 John Morgan arrived to teach in the Literary Department. He had been recommended for the appointment by Professor Chester Dewey, active anti-slavery worker of the Williams College faculty, by Joshua Leavitt, editor of the New York Evangelist, and by Finney, himself. "I have had considerable contact with Mr. Morgan," wrote Finney, "& so far as I am qualified to judge, I most cordially concur with the sentiments expressed above by Mr. Leavitt." Morgan became the one member of the faculty closest to the liberal, Yankee, Finneyite group of students, their trusted adviser and confidant. Weld wrote of him in June, 1834: "I know of no man whose views on all prudential matters are more thoroughly judicious and whose comprehensive grasp of difficult subjects in all their relations is more perfect." Morgan played the same role in the faculty that Mahan did among the trustees.

The students at Lane took the initiative in the affairs of the seminary and practiced piety mixed with practicality in the Oneida manner. In March of 1833 thirty-two students, including apparently all the Oneida Institute "alumni" then present, petitioned against the serving of that harmful and expensive drink, coffee, at the boarding house. In August another student committee went so far as to recommend the diet which they believed was "necessary for the promotion of health and success in their studies." Manual labor was elaborately organized. The work on the farm was in charge of a board of monitors and a student monitor-general, Samuel Wells, formerly of Oneida. The printing shop was supervised by a committee of students made up of James Steele, formerly of the Rochester Institute; R. L. Stanton, an "Oneida," and Marius R. Robinson. Elaborate rules were drawn up for the "Printing Department." The student printers printed Webster's Spelling Book and "Dr. Eberel's Treatise on the Diseases of Children." Alexander McKellar, a skilled cabinet-maker, and others made furniture in the mechanical department. The Society of Inquiry Concerning Missions was very active, and many students taught Sunday Schools in Cincinnati or nearby.

 

 













CHAPTER VII

JOHN JAY SHIPHERD

IT WAS in 1819 that John Jay Shipherd, then but seventeen years old, "determined to lay aside his books and attend to his soul's salvation." He was spending a vacation from Pawlet Academy at the home of his parents in Washington County, New York, when his horse stumbled and threw him. He was unconscious for some time as a result of the fall and, when he came to, determined to seek salvation for fear another accident might precipitate him unprepared into the other world. He returned home and--"For two weeks," as his wife later wrote, "he was under the most pungent convictions of sin, so much so that for two days he shut himself in his room almost in despair. In this state of agony he felt that he must be lost, and yielded himself up to his fate. The Lord mercifully revealed himself to his mind, and he had great peace and joy." From this date Shipherd was never without a deep consciousness of sin. In a letter written to his brother in the same year he speaks of the debt of gratitude he owes to his parents, "which might be paid did I but possess a right heart. Ohl that I possessed it and was grateful to my parents and my God for the innumerable blessings which I have enjoyed and am still enjoying; but alas! my wicked and deceitful heart will not permit; gratitude cannot flow from a heart so vile as myne; no, she is too pure, there is no mansion fit for her habitation." When he returned to school he had definitely decided to prepare for the ministry. "He set his standard high and resolved on a finished education. His ambition prompted him to become no ordinary scholar; his logic was, the more he knew the more good he could do, if sanctified."

Zebulon Rudd Shipherd, his father, was a distinguished lawyer and Federalist politician. Educated at Bennington Academy and in a private law office, he served as a member of Congress fro