Chapter 7: The Civil War Era
Four years of tragic warfare between the Union and the Confederacy, the culmination of prolonged and embittered sectional strife, had many-sided repercussions upon the U. of R., imposing fresh trials and tribulations. Recurrent North-South crises had shaken student apathy concerning national affairs and stimulated a sense of patriotic commitment; inasmuch as almost all the undergraduates were Northerners, discussions on the stakes of the bitter controversy deepened allegiance to the fundamental principle of national unity.
With the outbreak of fighting in April of 1861, undergraduate ranks dwindled,falling from about 165 to 108 by 1865. For lack of students many respected colleges closed their doors, a fate Rochester, happily, escaped. Except for Professor Quinby, a professional soldier, the faculty role in the war effort centered on interpretation of the conflict for city audiences and in keeping public morale steady in the dark periods of the struggle for the Union forces. Wartime conditions drastically disturbed the undergraduate way of life, as it had evolved in the 1850's, and disciplinary problems turned more serious. Visions of substantial growth on the Prince Street Campus were disrupted, and financial embarrassments, intensified by war-born inflation, increased the burden resting on the broad shoulders of the President. Naturally enough, the University and its response to the war reflected currents that were abroad in the city of Rochester. 1
As "cold war" tensions sharpened in the late 1850's, University leaders shared actively in shaping public attitudes in the Genesee community. Anderson had adopted a moderate, almost a neutralist posture on the North-South controversy and abhorred extremism on either side; yet (at a mass indignation meeting in May of 1856) he denounced with "Periclean eloquence" the savage assault of Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina upon Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, which put him out of commission for three years. It was fair to ask what had become of vaunted Southern chivalry? "Blood has been shed," the man from Maine thundered, "in the sacred precincts of the Senate Chamber." No question ever arose as to where the basic sympathies of the chief executive and his professors lay, and, patriots and lovers of liberty that they were, they freely expressed support for the aims of the newly born Republican party. But Anderson was unwilling to accept the theory that armed strife could not be avoided, and he frankly advocated the appeasement of the South, a term not then regarded as a naughty epithet.
On October 25, 1858, the foremost national opponent of the "Slave Power," Senator William H. Seward, with one eye cocked on the upcoming presidential election, made a historic "irrepressible conflict" speech in Corinthian Hall--the most celebrated political utterance by a public personality in the Genesee city. In unrestrained accents he contrasted the slave and free patterns of society and condemned Negro bondage as cruel and inhuman; yet there is no evidence that the University professors understood the implications of Seward's radicalism any better than Rochester journalism. The inclination to write the Senator off as "an enthusiast inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity" found expression on the pages of the Delphic Oracle, as the Republican nominating convention of 1860 impended. A colloquy contrasting the college-trained and cultured New Yorker with the self-educated, homespun "rail-splitter" of Illinois read:
Lincoln: Let well enough alone.
Seward: Suffer a healthy sufficiency to remain in solitude.
Lincoln: "Don't count your chickens before they are hatched."
Seward: Enumerate not your adolescent pullets ere they cease to be oviform.
Lincoln: None is so deaf as those that won't hear.
Seward: No persons are so obtuse in their auricular apprehension equal to those who repudiate vocal incomes by adverse inclination.
And on to the climax,
Lincoln: "Tis a wise child that knows its own father."
Seward: That juvenile individual is indeed sage who possesses authentic information with respect to the identity of his paternal derivative.
After the Republican party picked Lincoln as standard-bearer, seventy students under the leadership of Albion W. Tourgée of Ohio, a recent convert to the abolitionist cause and one of the most colorful of all Rochester alumni of national prominence, organized a costumed marching club of "Wide-Awakes." By taking part in political rallies and torchlight parades, the club wished to sway voter sentiments toward the man from Illinois; drill exercises in charge of Tourgée were conducted in the cellar of the University building. When President Anderson learned of what was afoot he stormed into the assembly place and sternly upbraided the student leaders; next morning in chapel he vigorously condemned popular agitations on the ground that they fanned the flames of national disunity, and he ordered the "Wide-Awakes" to disband. Militant undergraduates, however, threatened to withdraw from college, so Anderson relented sufficiently to allow the organization to continue; but it was forbidden to use the name of the University. Students of voting age who did not live in Rochester somehow managed to cast ballots in the election of 1860. Lincoln carried the city by a slight majority, though winning fewer than two-fifths of the votes in the country as a whole.
Defiant Southern threats of secession, which many a Northern politician had confidently dismissed as mere verbiage, swiftly turned into reality. The men of the Delphic literary society staged a series of debates on "Force should be used to coerce the seceding states," "The government ought to acknowledge the independence of the Southern Confederacy," and "Opposition to Secession is inconsistent with the spirit of Republican Institutions." In the early morning of February 18, 1861, students united with townsfolk in greeting Lincoln at the railway station en route to Washington and then quietly returned to their daily pursuits.2
Bombardment of Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, by the forces of the Southern Confederacy unloosed the bloody fratricidal struggle. President Lincoln replied three days later by asking 75,000 men to volunteer for three months military service. The Rochester press, important sections of which had viewed with horror an appeal to arms to halt the extension of slavery, responded to the Southern challenge with a unanimous chorus of patriotic fervor, and optimistically prophesied that fighting would not last long. Army recruits paraded in the city streets, whose houses were beflagged with the national colors.
For Anderson the issues now involved more than hostility to the "Slave Power;" the very existence of the Union was at stake, the American democratic experiment which guaranteed religious and political freedoms to all had to be defended. To save the Union he was prepared to see a million lives sacrificed, and he declared that he would "lead the young men before me to the field of conflict s readily as to the classroom." At a monster Rochester rally, the former apostle of conciliation aligned himself with the fiercest of warhawks, declaring that the Rubicon had been crossed and that it was war to the knife. "Seldom have nobler words on a nobler occasion been more nobly spoken," an undergraduate remembered. The war and its implications served as the themes of Anderson's celebrated talks in chapel; there and at community mass meetings throughout the era of conflict the President said he detected the hand of the Almighty in the awesome events that unfolded.
On the other hand, he begged students not to be swept by emotionalism into the volunteer army; many, however, enlisted, and the President observed that the students would go to a man if needed. "The old Hotel, that venerable pile will be deserted," predicted the Interpres, "except, perhaps, by the theologians, to whom we leave the care and keeping of its classic halls."
West Pointer Quinby raised the Thirteenth Regiment of New York Infantry and assumed charge as a Colonel. On May 10, 1861, in the midst of rain, dramatic patriotic ceremonies took place at the University building. A liberty pole, fetched by an undergraduate from his father's woodlot, was set in place on the edge of the sidewalk; another student, who was handy with a sewing machine, made a large and beautiful flag out of material paid for by his fellows. Anderson offered a prayer and gave a spirited patriotic address on the flag as a symbol of national unity; undergraduates sang the Star Spangled Banner and shouted hosannas as the flag was hoisted up the pole. Kendrick remarked briefly on the fateful challenge, and then the crowd swarmed into the chapel where a student handed the grim-visaged Quinby a sword on which was inscribed, "Ne quid detrimenti res publica capiat" ("that the Republic may suffer no harm"). The Colonel expressed gratitude for the gift and promised to use it well; next day he entrained for Elmira to take command of his regiment. Undergraduates, enrolled in the "Quinby Reserves," engaged in drill in preparation "for intelligent military service" whenever required.
A delegation of Rochesterians journeyed to Elmira, watched Quinby's soldiers drilling, and presented the "Rochester Regiment" with the national colors; Anderson, ill, could not attend, but an address he had written was read out.
It rang with stirring Napoleonic phrases: "Our government has been assailed by foul and unnatural treason... long suffering patience has ceased to be a virtue... you go forth to execute God's revenge... in this holy war....
Soldiers of the Rochester regiment! I adjure you to bring back these colors with honor... though riddled by shot--though torn to shreds in the awful agony of the charge--bring back these sacred memorials of... faith in your courage, your patriotism, and your honor."
Quinby's troops, incidentally, rendered a good account of themselves at the first Battle of Bull Run in which heavy losses were suffered; friction and bickering with his superiors soon led Quinby to resign the colonelcy, and he was assigned other military duties; through private channels, Anderson, prompted perhaps by Quinby, exerted pressure in Washington to secure the promotion of the West Pointer. When in 1864 he returned to the recitation hall, the Interpres welcomed him back from "the bloody strife, to engage again in the scarcely less strife of overcoming the antagonism between Sophomores and Mathematics."
Aflame with war spirit, Anderson wished he too could raise an armed company. "His natural and most congenial post, " writes a biographer who knew him well, "would have been at the head of an army." Instead, however, the President turned into "a professional agitator...in the pulpit, on the platform, in the street, wherever I could get anybody's ear." He even ventured to recommend to Chancellor Ira Harris, successor of Seward as United States Senator, how Union naval and army contingents should be applied to crush the rebellion.
To the trustees in his annual report of 1861, Anderson indicated that a classroom substitute for Quinby had been obtained and suggested as a reward to the Colonel for special services rendered to the college that his eldest son should be given a tuition free scholarship. War fervor was not pronounced during the Commencement season; and the sobering impact of battle casualties and the realization that the harsh duel would be long and hard were yet to come. In a business-as-usual mood, the Judson Society convened for its customary sermon and the literary societies presented a humorous poet and as orator a distinguished divine, who expounded the theme of "American Nationality as developed in the conflict with State Sovereignty." The Constitution, it was insisted, held supremacy over the individual states and secession was repudiated as an absurd political heresy.
In front of the University structure on Prince Street presently given the name Anderson Hall, a flag-raising ceremony was conducted and inside the alumni foregathered for the annual dinner. Kendrick at his excellent best evoked gales of laughter with a witty speech and the president-designate of Vassar College, Milo P. Jewett, remarked upon the new venture in higher education for women at Poughkeepsie and forecast that Rochester alumni would one day seek admission for their daughters to the institution. "The food for the body and the mind," commented a reporter, "was abundant and both sorts appeared to be relished... "
Sobriety marked Anderson's message to the 1861 graduating class, the last to go forth from the downtown University building. It was called "The Issues of the Civil War;" though the foundations of civil society seemed to be melting into lava, he reminded the audience that strong and influential nations recurrently underwent "a baptism of fire and blood." Doctrines of states' rights were roundly flayed; the Hamiltonian philosophy of national solidarity handsomely extolled. "We were willing," declared the President, "to yield any thing but our honor and our Constitution" to preserve the Union. On the field of battle, the armies of the North were contending, he explained, for "all that magnificent heritage of Almighty Grace which makes up Christian civilization..." And he directed attention to the current, ongoing process of national consolidation among the Italians and the Germans. Unity in the American Republic, he repeated, must be maintained even "though it involve the sacrifice of a whole generation on the bloody altar of war." Graduates of 1861 were adjured to do their patriotic duty; two members of the class, the nephew of Mrs. Anderson, William W. Gilbert, for one, were already with the armed forces. Two men of 1861 who were to become prominent in the Rochester saga chose timely topics for their Commencement speeches: Charles A. Dewey (son of Chester), "The Formation of the Constitution," and Otis H. Robinson, "The Influence of American Patriotism on Foreign Nations."
Shortly thereafter, Anderson gave a public lecture on "Lessons Taught by the Rebellion," in which he reviewed the events leading up to the war and emphatically rebuked the Southern leadership for deviation from strict adherence to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. When discouraging news came from the battlefields, he begged young Rochesterians at a patriotic rally to "Go into the armies and fight, and God will take care of the cause of freedom;" he singled out for a special appeal Irish and German newcomers to the city. 3
By his fervent and sustained advocacy of the Union cause, Anderson heightened his personal standing and that of the institution he personified in the Rochester community. And he was ably seconded by Professor Cutting, who blended reading of the Declaration of Independence to public audiences with patriotic exhortations. "Broad as is the territory of the Republic, it is not broad enough for the foot of a rebel..." he exclaimed. Cutting also composed editorials for the Daily Democrat stressing the elements of right versus wrong in the crusade to eliminate Negro bondage. The high tone of the writing provoked a rival paper to tag the Democrat as "the Sorbonne", and to taunt it as the mouthpiece of the University; outright opponents, styled "Copperheads," spewed their venom upon Cutting.
As the war dragged on the desirability of setting up army training units at the colleges of New York State came under consideration. To an inquiry from the State Regents concerning a corps of that character, the Rochester authorities responded affirmatively, and indicated (as advised by Quinby) that rifles, officers, a drill hall, models of fortifications and the like, and specific instruction in military subjects would be required. If artillery officers as well as infantry were to be trained, two cannon on caissons, harness for horses, and money to hire three or four horses would be needed. It was estimated that a hundred to a hundred and fifty men could be trained annually at a cost of $15,000; if for a year after graduation they were given instruction at Rochester comparable to that at West Point, a further appropriation of $4,600 would have to be provided. A plan to prepare undergraduates as military officers, which had, interesting parallelisms with the Students' Army Training Corps of the First World War, was never actually put into practice at Rochester, and other colleges that tried the experiment pronounced it an unhappy experience. 4
Toward the end of 1862, a New York and New England group of religious leaders asked Anderson whether he would go, to the British Isles and in private conversations and public addresses try to keep the London government from aiding the Confederate insurgents. Nothing came of the scheme, but Anderson during his trip abroad in 1863, to which reference has earlier been made, worked in Great Britain to counteract Southern sympathies; English ignorance of New World institutions, he found, was "worthy of a Comanche Indian."
When the tide of battle had unmistakably turned to the Northern side, the President spoke out strongly against a spirit of revenge toward the South. "We must prepare ourselves soon to leave the judgment seat and sit on the mercy seat," he said. His fears that conscription in February, 1865, would further reduce the depleted student body turned out to be groundless, for the fighting soon ended.
On Sunday, April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, and among those present was a young man destined to write his name large in Rochester annals--William Carey Morey. "...The cavalry were forming for a charge," he set down in his diary, "when a flag of truce came to our lines from Gen. Lee.... The firing ceased and was succeeded by the most enthusiastic cheering.... When the result was known to be 'unconditional surrender,' went... to the house where the conference [with General Ulysses S. Grant] was held; saw Gen. Lee as he left the house, mount his horse and ride back to his dilapidated army." 5
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln evoked a sense of grief unequalled again until the murder of President John F. Kennedy nearly a century later. Rochesterians, students among them, joined in a great memorial service for the late President and stood in solemn ranks at the railway station as his corpse was borne westward. Anderson delivered a memorable speech to the University community on Lincoln the man.
In a survey of the direct impact of the war upon the college, Anderson said he had imagined in 1861 that it would be necessary to suspend instruction, but in fact teaching had been carried on without interruption, though amidst mounting problems of discipline; if students were punished for misbehavior they resigned from the college. Wartime conditions naturally fostered restlessness among the undergraduates, most of whom were only boys, and secondary schools lost pupils to the fighting services who might one day have enrolled for higher education. Costs of operation, moreover, had moved upward and gifts that the University hoped to obtain, the President reported, had passed instead to the Theological Seminary. Nevertheless, he was grateful to the Almighty that the college had escaped financial collapse and had continued to function.
No significant alterations were effected during the war in the curriculum, but the time had come to employ an additional teacher in manners and morals and a second professor to impart instruction in modern languages. Beyond that, Anderson recommended the establishment of a school at the post-baccalaureate level in the physical sciences, and the provision of scholarships which would attract a nucleus of students around which an authentic university could be developed. 6
The records are incomplete, but of the 198 living Rochester graduates and former students at least eighty-five entered the armed forces; probably one out of every twelve undergraduates enlisted. So far as is known only one Rochester man wore the Confederate gray, all the rest the Union blue. "Many of our fellow students... have changed the cloister for the camp. Some have returned wearing the insignia of noble scars, some are filling patriot graves," commented the undergraduate publication in 1863. "Turn to the 'Roll of Honor' and see the array of talent gone forth to battle from this young institution, and you will ask no more decisive proof of patriotism... "
The names of ten Union victims of war wounds or disease--seven alumni, three undergraduates--were inscribed on a marble memorial tablet placed by alumni at the Commencement of 1866 in Anderson Hall chapel; when the tablet broke it was replaced by a bronze plaque now (1968) hanging in the Todd Union on the River Campus. Half a century after the war, Professor John R. Slater made it a practice to read the list of the Civil War dead at annual Memorial Day exercises. 7
Anderson strongly condemned extreme Republican radicals, who wished to treat the fallen Southern foe harshly and without any semblance of Christian charity; he accepted an assignment as principal speaker at a Rochester mass meeting to collect money to help starving and destitute Southerners. And he manifested a lively interest in the welfare of the emancipated Negroes, asserting that they would have to generate greater "militancy before they will get justice..." 8
Inescapably, conditions generated by the war aggravated budgetary difficulties; income from students dropped off, prices increased in an inflationary spiral, professors and janitor sought (and obtained) salary advances. On an average, the annual deficit of the war period stood at $2,000. Appeals were issued to delinquent subscribers to the original University fund to liquidate their obligations and trustees gave small sums each year to balance finances. Hiram Sibley, Rochester financier, impressed with the work that Anderson had accomplished, sent him a cheque "as an act of simple justice" to piece out his "altogether inadequate compensation." From Rochester sources, $20,000 was secured in 1862 to purchase the Ward cabinet of minerals, considered below.
Professor Cutting convinced Anderson that the time was ripe to strike for a substantial sum in new capital, and he believed that Hiram Sibley was prepared to pay a large share of the cost of a fireproof structure to contain the library and the Ward collection; in the spring of 1864, Anderson inaugurated a drive for $100,000. Trustees, he complained, offered an abundance of advice but little cash, and in moods of depression he more than once thought of resigning the presidency. How much he wished that the University had a financial angel who would do what Matthew Vassar was doing so handsomely for the women's college at Poughkeepsie. When University agents employed to solicit financial support failed to produce results, Anderson and Cutting formed a sort of fund-raising team which concentrated on comfortably fixed Baptists of New York state. By the summer of 1865 they were able to report that $100,000 had been pledged (about four-fifths were actually paid), but only a very small part of the money was subscribed by Rochesterians. 9
Curiously--and rather inexplicably, Rochester neglected to try to better its financial status by reason of what is known as the Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862. In that measure the federal government promised to every state 30,000 acres of the public domain for each Senator and Congressman to endow higher instruction in agriculture and the mechanic arts. The allotment to New York state approached a million acres and as matters worked out all of the Morrill acreage assigned to New York went to the emerging Cornell University. At the time it was estimated that the land would yield an income of about $35,000 and that its sale value was about $600,000; actually, the land, the last of which was not sold until 1938, netted Cornell nearly $5,000,000. Notwithstanding assertions to the contrary, there is no evidence that Rochester ever sought to acquire any of the Morrill Act land, though other struggling, church-connected New York colleges tried to do so. Perhaps Anderson and the corporation reasoned that if the acreage were divided among many colleges, none would obtain very much, and in any case, the income would scarcely be sufficient to establish and maintain schools of agriculture and mechanical arts. Affluent Ezra Cornell, a leading backer of the Cornell University project, silenced opposition from Genesee College at Lima, a Methodist foundation, by a gift of $25,000.
Not only did Rochester get nothing, but it did not attempt to obtain compensation, so to speak, or seek to prevent the vast Morrill acreage from passing to the embryonic institution at Ithaca. Anderson, it is true, matched the heads of other denominational colleges in New York State in condemning the non-sectarian posture which the founders of Cornell adopted, and in criticizing the inadequate attention given there to farming and the mechanic arts. The Rochester President moreover, resented the curricular emphases favored at Cornell and the competition for students this beneficiary of largesse from the federal and state governments gave to privately financed colleges.
The Rochester authorities, in conjunction with their counterparts in sister New York institutions, vainly urged adoption of a bill which provided that the income from the Morrill grant should go to Cornell only if annually approved by the legislature in Albany. Certain newspapers in Rochester, moreover, charged that Ezra Cornell was fattening his personal pocketbook while disposing of the land grant; but the wealthiest Rochesterian, Hiram Sibley, manifested confidence in the integrity of Ezra Cornell, his business partner, by increasing his gifts to Cornell University. 10
Probably the most persuasive call Anderson ever received to leave Rochester came in the spring of 1867 from Brown University, a century-old institution, recognized as the leading Baptist-connected college, and fairly well fixed financially; with house included the presidential compensation amounted to $4,500 a year. Heavy pressure was applied on Anderson to give a prompt answer to the invitation and piles of letters and telegraph messages implored him to accept; far fewer communications begged him to remain at the Rochester post. The President hesitated to come to a decision. He had strong attachments to Rochester, friendships that he valued very greatly, and he felt no God-given summons to leave; he wondered, too, whether a man who had not received a baccalaureate degree at Brown could ever gain the confidence of alumni and faculty at Providence. It was suggested in Rochester trustee circles that the surest way of holding the President would be to promise to build an executive mansion and to enlarge institutional financial resources.
At a general meeting of Rochester well-wishers of the University on April 20, 1867, the services of Anderson and the needs of the U. of R. were outlined by Professors Cutting and Kendrick, Lewis Henry Morgan, and W. N. Sage. Sage placed the total wealth of the University at $280,000, property included, and estimated the annual deficit at $2,700. It seemed to be the sense of the meeting that if $200,000 were obtained for facilities and endowment, Anderson could be persuaded to remain; a citizen's committee set about raising money, a target of $30,000 being set for the Genesee community itself. Nearly a hundred donors some of them New York City Baptists, subscribed slightly in excess of $31,000.
Yet Anderson "after prayerful consideration" rejected the Brown invitation. "I felt that those who had invested in me when I was comparatively worthless," he told an alumni gathering, "had a right to the benefit of any rise in the stock." After expressing gratitude for "the spirit of generous... self-sacrifice" shown in Anderson's decision against going to Brown and raising his salary to $4,000, the trustees debated whether to erect a presidential home on the campus lot reserved for that purpose or to procure a suitable residence to elsewhere. In the end, a ten year old house and an adjoining three and a half acre lot belonging to John I. Van Zandt across Prince Street from the University were purchased in April, 1868, at a cost of $19,000, renovated, and furnished. It remained the home of University presidents into 1932, and thereafter it was used as a women's cooperative dormitory until it was torn down. 11
While the cannon of war were still roaring the University made an important addition to its equipment by acquiring a famous collection of minerals and fossils from Henry A. Ward. A native Rochesterian, and after 1861 a member of the University faculty, as professor of natural sciences, Ward had spent six years and traveled 100,000 miles in gathering these materials. He offered them to the University for $20,000, well below cost, and in 1862, as has been noted, public spirited Rochesterians provided the necessary funds. Some 40,000 specimens, handsomely mounted, were believed to form the largest and finest geological museum in the world outside of Paris; they were installed on the third floor of Anderson Hall and to the collection Hiram Sibley contributed a gigantic extinct sloth or megatherium. The museum threatened to attract more visitors than Anderson felt desirable; a stuffed gorilla in particular drew crowds of curious young ladies. Ward angrily protested that the museum quarters were too small and too badly lighted to show the collections to best 'advantage;' he envisaged the expansion of the University into a leading center of scientific investigation, equipped with the best museum in America.
Take it as a whole, the Ward collection was as much the pride of the city of Rochester as of the University, but no provision was made for new accessions or indeed for proper care of this valuable treasure and teaching resource. Small sums were obtained during the war era to fit out a lecture room for chemistry and to equip it with basic apparatus. Except for small purchases of books, including volumes bought by Anderson during his trip to Europe, the library languished during the Civil War. 12
For a time it looked as though a second educational building might be erected on the University campus. The Theological Seminary, which rented rooms in the abandoned University building downtown, toyed with the idea of buying it, but eventually decided that wholly new facilities would be preferable. Negotiations were opened up with the University for a site on the campus, as indeed had been contemplated in the Boody deed of 1853; evidently the discussions took on a rough quality, for the irritated Anderson wrote, "it is a sad thing to be obliged to do business with holy people. These gentlemen represent such a sacred cause that ordinary courtesy or justice is not to be expected of them." The University authorities were not only willing but eager to lease a parcel of ground to the Seminary in perpetuity, but they would not give a full, unrestricted title; squabbling between the two institutions, which had been gathering for years because of rivalry for funds from Baptist patronage, soared to new highs. In 1866, the Seminary decided that geographical separation of college and school would counteract the widespread assumption that the two were in reality organically one and united; so arrangements were made to acquire a distinct campus for theology at the southeast corner of East Avenue and Alexander Street. 13
The Civil War entailed a sharp, nearly fatal, decline in University student personnel. In 1864, only nineteen new men entered, the smallest class ever, and the youngest in average age. A mere 108 names stood on the books in 1865 and that year only six men graduated, but returning veterans who originally belonged to the class brought the roll to twenty-eight eventually. The bottom was touched in 1867 with only a hundred students in attendance, and thereafter a fairly steady rise was registered. In the war years standards of admission and classroom college performance were relaxed, and college morale slumped. The boyish immaturity of so many of the undergraduates, along with the shortage of sedate sober youths preparing for the pulpit, was reflected in disorderly classrooms; infuriated Professor Richardson on one occasion grabbed an unruly student by the scruff of his neck and hurled him bodily from the recitation room. News of the troubles caused by restless underclassmen reached Quinby at the war front, and he wrote the President, "... say to them [that their indiscipline] adds greatly to the load of anxiety which now whelms me."
Cheating ran rampant. "The most common offense consisted in holding a small English testament inside of the large Greek testament which we read," an undergraduate remembered. Student diaries and letters speak of an "old-fashioned college bust" (whatever that may have been), and of Washington Birthday sprees featuring, toasts in ale and cider, followed by raucous serenades at outlandish hours--accompanied at times by fireworks--either of "Prexy" or a "Prof." and time and again, Anderson was vexed by satirical "mock schemes" put out by undergraduate jesters and irregularities in relations with the fair sex were not unknown. An undergraduate, writing his fiancee that he would come to the marriage bed as pure as his wife, continued, "I am almost an anomaly in this regard..."
A screed called "The Rochester Creed" appeared in 1863.
It is the Rochester creed, sir,
Never to run to seed, sir,
But ever to take good heed, sir,
To drive dull care away...
We think it perfectly right, sir,
On every Saturday night, sir,
To get most merrily light, sir,
To drive dull care away...
To mark the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, the college community united in 1864 in planting an English royal oak, the gift of the thriving Rochester nursery firm of Ellwanger and Barry. Speeches by Anderson and Kendrick were made as the little tree was set into the earth just west and of Anderson Hall, and for generations thereafter, classes met beneath the leafy boughs to hear readings of the works of the bard. The Shakespeare oak, and a mate set out fifty years later, were still erect and vigorous in the 1960's.
Pre-war standards of undergraduate behavior were not restored for many months after Appomattox."Every time I am absent," Anderson complained in 1867, "the college gets in a perfect snarl...Just as soon as I am away they begin to act out what is in them. I hope Lent will soon come," he went on, "so I can get some work out of the Episcopalian students. They seem now to be holding a sort of carnival of fiddling and dancing...." Stringent faculty regulations in the autumn of 1867 prescribed prompt beginning of recitations, calling of the roll immediately, followed by assignment of the lesson for the next day. 14
To encourage excellence in public speaking, Isaac Davis, of Worcester, Massachusetts set up (1864) a fund of $1,000 to purchase medals to be awarded to Seniors whose graduating speeches were best in thought, composition, and delivery. And three years later, John P. Stoddard transferred to the University the royalties on a series of mathematical textbooks he had written, part of the income to be applied to the purchase of a gold medal for the Senior most proficient in physics and mathematics and the surplus to be accumulated to endow a Stoddard chair in mathematics. Either at the donor's request or because the trustees felt legally incompetent to handle the royalty agreement it was soon returned to Stoddard, who then provided $100 annually for the prize. 15
Due to the drop in enrollment and to the competition of the secret fraternities, which were exclusive, smaller, and afforded more enjoyment, the Pithonian and Delphic societies ceased to exist soon after the war; presumably their book collections were transferred to the college library. A substitute Debating (or Cutting) Society survived for only a short time and a similar fate befell a "Band of Hope" formed to promote singing and an appreciation of good music. To the roster of secret societies Theta Delta Chi, was added in 1867; a delegation from the Hobart charge of that fraternity initiated eleven Rochester men, mostly of the class of 1867, though the leading spirit appears to have been Willis S. Paine, 1868. 16 The fraternity became inactive in 1880, but was revived twelve years later.
In the stead of the Judson Society, a college Christian Association, reputedly the third in the United States, was organized in 1862 and had a continuous existence thereafter, though the name was several times changed; in the early years meetings were held twice weekly for prayers and talks on religious and missionary subjects. A large percentage of the undergraduates joined up, and the Rochester society was pointed to as a model for other colleges to copy. Spasmodic references are made in the literature of the war period to an Orpheus Glee Club (1863), to Senior and Junior Glee Clubs, and to the Whisper Boat Club. The organization of a University Baseball Club in 1867, a game veterans had learned to play in the army, faintly heralded a new era in undergraduate sports.
That same year, the annual Interpres appeared for the first time in the format of a magazine instead of an unwieldy newspaper. College colors of magenta and white were adopted, "emblematic of our courage and fidelity," and a poet composed what seems to have been the first Rochester song, sung to the tune of "E Pluribus Unum." One of the three stanzas read:
A song for old Rochester joyfully sing,
Light hearts and glad voices unite,
Till her classic brown walls with loud echoes ring,
And all sorrow and troubles take flight.
A song for her banner that floats on the air
With its colors so spotless and bright;
The emblem of courage and purity fair,
The flag of Magenta and White. 17
War or no war, Commencement ceremonies proceeded pretty much in keeping with established custom. The Sunday sermon was preached to the college Christian Association after 1864, in place of the defunct Judson Society, and in 1867 orations in Greek and Latin disappeared from the graduation program. In July of 1863 with the thunder of the guns at Gettysburg echoing across the nation, the usual Sophomore prize debate was staged in Corinthian Hall and the dying literary societies presented a speaker on "Pantheism." The graduates of 1863, more enterprising than some, varied a tradition of preceding classes by voting to give a silver cup to the first daughter born to a classmate--not the first son as previously. And they planted their class tree in earth brought to the campus, whereas their immediate predecessors had set trees in soil excavated to build Anderson Hall, and they had grown none too well, if indeed they survived at all.
Sometime during the Civil War era (or possibly just before it), "Clara, the Bone," took her place in class day proceedings. Seniors transferred this female skeleton, origin unknown, to juniors with becoming solemnity, song, and speechmaking--an observance maintained with interruptions until 1900; apparently, the men of 1864 started the custom of handing a ceremonial horn to the incoming Seniors. The class day program had now grown into a major Commencement event: an address, a poem, a class history and prophecy, group singing, burial of a jug near the spot where the class tree was planted, and, just before dispersal, each man took a whiff from a class pipe. As usual, the graduation day procession in 1863 assembled near the former University building downtown (three, years later the more convenient Second Baptist Church became the meeting place) and paraded to Corinthian Hall. Since Anderson was in Europe, Professor Kendrick took charge and he had also to improvise the address to the graduates because Governor Horatio Seymour of New York, who was booked to speak, felt obliged to cancel in view of the popular commotion caused by the thrust of Lee's Confederate armies into Pennsylvania; an alumni dinner and the University reception were held as usual. Beginning in 1867, the alumni diners listened to an address and a poem such as had customarily been presented by the literary societies before their demise.
By that point the alumni organization had attained considerable strength and usefulness. An attempt was made to keep accurate vital statistics from 1861 onward; an alumnus was assigned the responsibility of recording the increase in population "caused"--stricken out in the records in favor of "effected" --by the graduates. In 1864, the constitution was overhauled and the association renamed "the Alumni of the U. of R; " it was decided that officers should be elected annually, except for a historian who should hold office for ten years--unfortunately, the wearers of this toga failed to perform their duties adequately. Small annual dues were levied and informative obituaries, on deceased alumni were incorporated in the proceedings. At the Commencement meeting of 1867, after Anderson had turned down the call to Brown University, the alumni lifted their glasses to "Our Tried and Faithful President--sufficiently young to be wooed [by Brown] too old and true to forsake his first love." 18
Of the men who graduated in the years of the Civil War, three of the class of 1862--Grove K. Gilbert, Elias H. Johnson, and Albion W. Tourgée--and two of the next class--Merritt Gally and Thomas W. Goodspeed--attained recognition in the Dictionary of American Biography. Gilbert, who was twice elected President of the Geological Society of America and served a term as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ranked at the very top of his profession; soon after graduation at the age of nineteen, he spent an invaluable apprenticeship in Ward's Natural Science Establishment in Rochester and then engaged in geological surveys in the West, becoming eventually the chief of the United States Geological Survey. Apart from geological reports and maps that he prepared, Gilbert is credited with more than a hundred and fifty learned papers and the list of academic and scientific honors and prizes bestowed upon him is long.
An influential Baptist churchman and religious thinker, Johnson obtained his professional training at the Rochester Theological Seminary. Though plagued by ill-health, he wrote numerous articles and books on theological themes, particularly while holding a professorial chair at the Crozer Theological Seminary at Chester, Pennsylvania. Johnson was noted, too, as a composer of music and the editor of a widely used hymn book. Tourgée was a man very much out of the ordinary, best known for crusading activities in the South in the Reconstruction years, which furnished materials for a row of novels and a vast amount of journalistic writing. As an undergraduate he displayed traits that were to mark him in maturity: pride, ambition, impetuosity, a penchant for humanitarian idealism. He openly clashed with his University teachers and warmly praised those brothers in Psi Upsilon, who "dared to oppose the views of even the Omniscient Faculty itself."
A staunch partisan of the Lincoln variety of Republicanism, Tourgée enlisted in the regiment raised in 1861 by Professor Quinby and at the first Battle of Bull Run sustained a spinal injury from which he never fully recovered. Nevertheless, he returned to the firing line, was captured, imprisoned, exchanged, and went into the fight a third time. After the war Tourgée established himself in Greensboro, North Carolina. Lawyer and business speculator, politician and judge, he was a radical champion of the emancipated Negro, and energetically fought racism and discrimination in their every manifestation. This carpetbagger of carpetbaggers waged a strenuous battle with the Ku Klux Klan, aspects of which he shared with President Anderson in letters. Returning to New York state in 1879, Tourgée composed sensational novels on his experiences in the Southland, tinged with a romantic flavor and without notable literary distinction, A Fool's Errand, Bricks without Straw, and others. "My race owes much to the courage and helpful work of Judge Tourgée," declared the Negro leader Booker T. Washington, "which we shall not forget."
Gally, 1863, who worked his way through the University as a clerk in a hat store, won laurels as an inventor, which kept him busily occupied throughout a full life. First and last, he was granted over fifty patents, the most important of them, perhaps, for a press to improve job printing; his Alma Mater recognized his eminence with an honorary doctorate in science. His classmate, Goodspeed, moved from the pulpit into educational statesmanship in connection with the first and the second University of Chicago; of the four Rochester graduates who were instrumental in winning the financial backing of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. for the reborn Chicago institution, Goodspeed was unquestionably the most influential. 19
Another outstanding man of the class of 1863 was Rossiter Johnson, son-in-law of Professor Kendrick and for many years prominent in New York City literary society. As an editor, he directed the production of many anthologies, reference works, and condensed versions of literary classics; a native of Rochester, his Phaeton Rogers is a delightful portrait of school-boy ways and interests in his home community. Johnson regarded Joseph O'Connor, recently emigrated from Ireland, as the ablest person in the class; distinguished as a newspaper columnist, O'Connor specialized in commentary on current literary and historical works, expressing opinions with candor and grace; he preferred to eschew partisan politics. "His pen is like the Damascene blade, polished and beautiful... a menace to evil, and a swift and sure protection to the right," a Buffalo newspaper remarked. Noted as a poet, O'Connor was also an outspoken feminist and fought hard and long to secure the admission of women to the University on an equal footing with men; his daughter Evelyn, 1903, was among the first women to matriculate. Finally, German-born, Carl T. Kreyer, 1863, prepared at Rochester for a missionary career in China, but shortly after arriving in the Celestial Empire he abandoned evangelism for employment with the Manchu government. Appointed head of the official translating department, he supervised the translation of western books, especially volumes with bearing on national defense, into Chinese; subsequently, he acted as secretary to Chinese diplomatic representatives in various capitals of Europe. 20
Sereno E. Payne and Truman J. Backus represent the class of 1864 in the Dictionary of American Biography. A lawyer by profession, Payne played an active role in Republican party affairs in Auburn, New York, and from 1882 until his death in 1914, except for one term, he served as a Congressman. He gained a "reputation as one of the most faithful, conscientious, and hardworking" public men in Washington, though his supreme ambition to be chosen Speaker of the House failed of realization. Payne identified himself with the wing of the Republican party that believed in high tariff protectionism for industry, but he was not at all an extremist on this issue which for a generation dominated the domestic politics of the United States. His name was attached to the Payne-Aldrich Tariff of 1909, which in the version that Payne piloted through the House provided for a modest reduction in duties on imports, but the Senate edition of the bill increased rates, and in its essentials the Senate measure was enacted into law. The Payne-Aldrich Tariff fanned the flames of political discontent, culminating in the crucial "Bull Moose" schism of 1912.
As professor of English at the young Vassar College, Backus helped to mold the character of that pioneering institution for women and also made contributions of enduring significance to English literature. After turning down at least one university presidency, he accepted the headship of the Packer Collegiate Institute for women in Brooklyn and for a quarter of a century proved himself an exceptionally competent administrator. Active in civic affairs, Backus was an indefatigable--and witty--exponent of equality of rights for women.
More typical of the Rochester students of the period, no doubt, was John H. Brooking, 1864, a Canadian farm lad who drifted to Rochester, friendless and without money, in quest of an education. It took him six years to run the college course, for he had to drop out from time to time to earn money; in the classroom he excelled in languages, classical and living, and he cultivated critical tastes in art and music. Excessive study undermined his constitution and thwarted plans to become a professor of languages; to regain his health Brooking traveled to California, where he was befriended by U. of R. alumni. Dying in 1867, he was buried at Santa Clara beside Edwin H. Pancost, 1862; these men were probably the very first alumni of the University to reside in a state that one day would boast more Rochester graduates than any other except New York.
Uniquely distinguished in the class of 1864 was Charles Forbes, the first of four generations of the family to win degrees at the University. Upon graduation, Forbes studied medicine at Columbia University and subsequently became a college teacher of science and an inventor. He devised pieces of apparatus for laboratories and individual cups for the communion service, first used (1894) in the Central Presbyterian Church of Rochester and quickly imitated all over the United States. His son, James B. Forbes, 1899, a Chicago businessman, had three sons who obtained baccalaureates at Rochester: Thomas R., 1933, presently (1968) professor of anatomy and associate dean at Yale Medical School (his wife, Helen F. Allen Forbes, obtained a master's degree in 1933 at the Eastman School of Music), James B. Jr., 1934, a business executive, and John V., 1939, a professional historian. Completing the list, Thomas R. Forbes, Jr., graduated in 1959, so that the house of Forbes almost spans the entire life of the University.
Two Rochester physicians of high repute belonged to the class of 1861: Charles A. Dewey, son of Professor Chester Dewey and a generous benefactor of the University Medical School, and William S. Ely, a University trustee for nine years.
Milton G. Potter, 1864, taught anatomy and served as dean of the medical school at the University of Buffalo. After making his mark as a civic and business leader in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Moreau S. Crosby, 1863, was elected lieutenant governor of the state. His classmate, Charles C. Puffer, after a remarkably diversified career, helped to organize the Pfaudler Company of Rochester and served as its chief executive officer. Outstanding in financial circles of Cincinnati and Buffalo was George F. Davis, 1864. For forty-six years, John H. Deane, 1866, served on the Rochester trustee board and, when prosperous, made liberal gifts to the endowment and for other college purposes. 21
Sometimes referred to as the inventor of the automobile, George B. Selden, non-graduate in the class of 1865, interrupted three years of study at the University by service in the Civil War as a cavalryman. A born experimentalist (as well as a patent attorney), he set himself to building an engine using liquid and gaseous fuels instead of steam, and in 1877 invented a light-weight three cylinder gasoline compression engine. Two years later Selden brought out a "road locomotive;" his application for a patent on the engine, several times amended, was not, however, granted until 1895. Presently, nearly all motor-car manufacturers in the United States were paying royalties for the use of the Selden patent. When the Ford Motor Company refused to pay, the Selden interests in 1903 brought suit in a famous trial that dragged on for eight years and accumulated testimony equivalent to fifty good-sized books; in the end, the verdict of the courts went against the Selden claim and the royalties stopped. The disappointed inventor turned to designing a rotary gasoline engine, which he was never able to perfect. 22
For the high proportion of its member's who attained national distinction, the class of 1867 ranks just behind the men of 1858. James B. Perkins acquired in college, which he entered at the age of fifteen, a life-long interest in the classics and in historical research; after gaining recognition as a Rochester barrister, Perkins turned to writing on French history and institutions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His works, lucid in style and balanced in judgment, enjoyed extensive circulation, though they did not at every point satisfy the demands of the most critical scholarship. Elected to Congress in 1900, Perkins was periodically reelected until his death ten years later, and in the national capital he was known as a progressive, independent in his opinions and fearless in expressing them. He reached the important chairmanship of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and belongs among the founders of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Cast in a different mold was Robert S. MacArthur, one of the most important and respected Baptist divines of his generation. Coming to the University from Canada (the homeland of several distinguished alumni), MacArthur built Calvary Baptist Church in New York City into a great metropolitan institution. Traditionalist in theology, he was noted for eloquent evangelistic preaching and ardent promotion of Baptist interests at home and abroad, and he wrote over a score of books of sermons and popular lectures. James M. Sterrett started and finished his career as a Protestant Episcopalian clergyman, but in between he served as a university professor of philosophy and in his teaching and publications he stressed an idealistic approach to philosophy in contrast to the pragmatism so widely prevalent in professional American philosophical circles of the time.
After participating in the Civil War, George H. Fox resumed work at the University, went on to obtain a degree in medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and rounded off his training by study in Vienna and other celebrated European medical centers. A specialist in dermatology, Fox advanced to the very top of his profession, his Reminiscences (1926) contain a delightful account of his undergraduate years--and of very much more. 23
Footnotes to Chapter 7
- See, Blake McKelvey, Rochester, the Flower City (Cambridge, Mass., 1949), esp. pp. 58-60 and Chapter III.
- Olsen, op. cit., pp. 12-14. Margaret Butterfield, "The University and the Civil War, " URLB, XVII (1961), 1-25. Kendrick, op. cit., pp. 286-289; William L. Leonard, 1862, to Rush Rhees, Apr. 27, 1910. Rhees Papers. Delphic Oracle, X (1860). Diary of Truman Jay Backus, 1864, Feb 18, 1861. Rhees Library Archives.
- Kendrick, op. cit., pp. 142-148. Interpres, IV (1861), 2. R U&A, May 11, July 7, 8, 10, 11, 1861. Rossiter Johnson to Rush Rhees, Apr. 2, 1917. Rhees Papers. New York World, June 1, 1861. Morey, Papers.... I, 130-138. R U&A, May 22, 23, July 15, 1862.
- M. B. Anderson to ?, Feb. 20, 1862. Sage Papers. R U&A, March 26, 1862.
- Russell D. Hitchcock to M. B. Anderson, Dec. 5, 1862. Anderson Papers, Box IV. Kendrick, op. cit., pp. 148, 153. R DD, November 26,1864. M. B. Anderson to ?, Feb. 16, 28, 1862. Anderson Papers, Box VI. W. C. Morey, "Diary," 119-120,Rhees Library Archives.
- M. B. Anderson, Speech of April 22, 1865. Anderson Papers, Box XV. President's Report, 1864. Ibid., Box XIII. Rosenberger, Rochester, pp. 148-150.
- Hugh A. Smith to Rush Rhees, June 26, 1930; Rhees Papers. Smith reported that eighty-five Rochester men were surely in the armed forces, possibly five more, and at least eight veterans matriculated at the University after the fighting was over. Interpres, 1863, 1865. Rosenberger, Rochester, pp. 163-164.
- RAR, I (1922), no. 1,7. M. B. Anderson to his wife, February 20, 1867. Anderson Papers, Box VI. Kendrick, op. cit., p. 291.
- Hiram Sibley to M. B. Anderson, June 10, 1862. Anderson Papers, Box IV. S. S. Cutting to M. B. Anderson, July 30, Sept. 3, 1863. Ibid. I. F. Quinby to M. B. Anderson, July 30, 1863. Ibid. M. B. Anderson to William Kelly, March 24, 1864. Ibid., Box V. M. B. Anderson to his wife, Apr. 13, 14, 16, May 19, July 3, 29, 1864. Ibid., Box VI.
- Andrew D. White, Autobiography (2 vols., New York, 1905) I, 296-307, 319-320 , 334. Written many years after the events, White's recollections are confused in places or quite erroneous. Carl L. Becker, Cornell University: Founders and the Founding (Ithaca, 1943), pp. 22-43, 63-116, 125-129. Becker repeats some of the White errors. President's Report, 1875, 1883. Anderson Papers, Box XIII. M. B. Anderson to James S. Wadsworth, January 12, 1881. Ibid. Box XII.
- M. B. Anderson to his wife, March 28, April 4, 11, 18, 19, 23, 1867. Anderson Papers, Box VI. Alva Woods to M. B. Anderson, March 30, 1867. Ibid., Box IV. Smith Sheldon to W. N. Sage, April 5, 1867. Sage Papers. W. N. Sage to Smith Sheldon, April 9, 1867. Ibid. R U&A, April 20, 22, 24, May 1, 17, 31, July 9, 26, 1867, April 18, 1868.
- Trustee Records, I, 166. Henry A. Ward to M. B. Anderson, June 9, 1862. Anderson Papers, Box IV. Henry A. Ward to William Kelly, Aug. 2, 1862. Sage Papers. R U&A, Dec. 3, 1862.
- Johnson, op. cit., pp. 70-74, 102. M. B. Anderson to his wife, March 30, 1865. Anderson Papers, Box VI. Executive Committee Minutes, March 28, 1866:
- Interpres XXXVIII (1896),110. Rosenberger, Rochester, p: 159. Olsen, op. cit., p. 10. Memorabilia, Class of 1863. Rhees Library Archives. R U&A, April 23, 1864. M. B. Anderson to his wife, late winter 1866-67, January 25, 1867. Anderson Papers, Box VI. Faculty Minutes, October 7, 1867.
- Trustee Records, I, July 9, 1867, July 7, 1868. Rush Rhees to Mrs. E. W. Stoddard, June 30, Dec. 14, 18, 1914. Rhees Papers.
- R U&A, June 11, Dec. 9, 1867.
- George H. Fox, Interpres, X (1867), 9.
- Alumni Minute Book. Rhees Library Archives. U. of R. Alumni Proceedings, 1865-1875, p. 7.
- DAB, VII (1931), 268 (Gilbert), 118 (Gally), 405 (Goodspeed). Ibid., X (1933), 97 (Johnson). Ibid., XVIII (1936), 603 (Tourgée). Olsen, op. cit., passim. Margaret Toth, "Albion Winegar Tourgée, 1862," URLB, VIII (1953), 57-62. Ibid., XVI (1961), 29. How U. of R. alumni contributed to the establishment of the second University of Chicago is recounted by Richard J. Storr, Harper's University: the Beginnings (Chicago, 1966), pp. 6-35, passim, 105. Between 1861 and 1870, 254 men graduated of whom 69 became ministers, 58 entered business pursuits, 44 were lawyers, 36 educators, and 16 physicians. Bulletin of United States Education, 1912, no. 19, 122.
- Evelyn Yost, "Rossiter Johnson," URLB, XVI (1961), 21-36. Interpres, XXXVII (1895), 37. Campus, XXXIV (October 14, 1908), 4, 5. Rochester History, XXII (1960), no. 2, 17. Campus, XL (October 29,1914), 3. Interpres, LII (1910); this issue of the annual is dedicated to Kreyer.
- DAB, XIV (1934), 330 (Payne) Ibid., I (1928), 472 (Backus). Campus, XL (December 17, 1914,), 1. Ibid., XXXIII, April 27, 1908, 12. U. of R. Alumni Proceedings, 1865-1875, pp. 68-69. Robert B. Pattison to A. J. May, March 18, 1965. R D&C, October 3, 1917. Executive Committee Minutes, VI, 35-37, 45 (Ely). Ibid., IX, 201 (Deane).
- DAB, XVI (1935), 567. George D. Selden, "Horses Hated Rochester Alumnus, Pioneer, Inventor of Automobiles," RAR, XVIII (1940), no. 3, 16-17.
- DAB, XIV (1934), 473 (Perkins). Interpres, XXXVI (1894), 43. Campus, XXXV (March 17, 1910), 2-3. DAB, XI (1933), 552 (MacArthur) Interpres, XXXVI (1894), 39. DAB, XVII (1935), 593 (Sterrett). Albert T. Barrett, 1869, teacher and school administrator, witnessed the fatal shooting of President Lincoln. R D&C, February 12, 1925.