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occurred before he was born, so that he was wholly dependent on information from others. I give his account in full.
“The design of founding a College in the Colony of Connecticut, was first concerted by the ministers; among which the Rev. Mr. Pierpont of New Haven, Mr. Andrew of Milford, and Mr. Russel of Branford, were the most forward and active. They had sundry meetings and consultations, and received several proposals or schemes relating to the constitution and regulation of such a College. The first plan was very formal and minute, drawn up by some gentlemen in imitation of the Protestant Colleges and Universities in France, founded by their general Synods. In which it was proposed that a college should be erected by a general Synod of the consociated Churches in the Colony of Connecticut. To be under the government of a President and ten inspectors or Trustees, any seven of them to be a quorum. That the Synod should nominate the first President and Inspectors, and should have some kind of influence in all future elections, so far as should be necessary, to preserve orthodoxy in the Governors. That the Synod should agree upon a confession of faith to be consented to by the President, Inspectors and Tutors. That the College should be called the School of the Church. And that the Churches should contribute to its support, &c.
"There was no public motion for the calling of a formal Synod, for that purpose, till three years after; but in the meantime, in the lesser Conventions of Ministers in Associations and councils, and in private conversation, ten of the principal ministers in the Colony, were nominated and agreed upon by a general consent both of the ministers and people, to stand as Trustees or Undertakers to found, erect and govern a College, viz., the Rev. Messrs.
James Noves, of Stonington,
Timothy Woodbridge, of Hartford,
Joseph Webb, of Fairfield. “The ministers so nominated met at New Haven and formed themselves into a Body or Society, to consist of eleven ministers, including a Rector, and agreed to found a College in the Colony of Connecticut; which they did at their next meeting at Branford, in the following manner, viz., each member brought a number of books and presented them to the Body; and laying them on the table, said these words, or to this effect; ' I give these books for the founding a college in the Colony.' Then the Trustees as a body took possession of them and appointed the Rev. Mr. Russel of Branford to be the keeper of the Library, which then consisted of about 40 volumes in Folio. Soon after they received sundry other donations both of books and money, which laid a good foundation. This library with its additions was kept at Branford, in a room set apart for the purpose near three years, and then it was carried to Killingworth.
“But afterwards some began to doubt whether they were fully vested with a legal capacity to hold lands, and whether private donations and contributions would yield a sufficiency to carry on so great a design; it was therefore proposed to make application to the Hon. the General Assembly of the Colony for some assistance; and to ask for a charter. The expediency of this proposal was debated at several meetings; and lry arguments were used on both sides; and some of the ablest lawyers both in, and out of the Government, were consulted upon it. After mature consideration, they concluded that it was safe and best to have a charter, notwithstanding any change of the Government which might possibly happen; and wrote to the Hon. Judge Sewall, and Mr. Secretary Addington of Boston, to prepare a draught of a charter, to be presented to the next Assembly.
“Whereupon a large number of ministers and others drew up and signed a petition to the Hon. the General Assembly, representing, that from a sincere regard to, and zeal for, upholding the Protestant religion, by a succession of learned and orthodox men, they had proposed that a Collegiate School should be erected in this Colony, wherein youth should be instructed in all parts of learning, to qualify them for public employments in Church and Civil State; and that they had nominated ten ministers to be Trustees, Partners, or Undertakers for the founding, endowing and ordering, the said school, viz., the Rev. Mr. Noyes, Mr. Israel Chauncy, and the rest before mentioned. And privilege might be granted to the said undertakers for that end.
"And in order to facilitate the design, James Fitch of Norwich, Esq., one of the Council, soon after the assembly met, made a formal donation under his hand, predicated upon the great pains and charge which the ministers had been at in getting up a Collegiate School; and therefore in order to encourage a work, so pleasing to God, and beneficial to posterity, he gave a tract of land in Killingly, of about 600 acres; and all the glass and nails which should be necessary to build a College House and Hall; and promised to give a more ample conveyance of the land as soon as it should be surveyed.
“The petition being presented to the Hon. Assembly, they appeared very ready to encourage such a laudable and pious design, and accordingly established the Act or Charter drawn up by Mr. Secretary Addington, with some small additions and alterations, which are as follows.”
(Then comes the Charter.) The main fact here set forth, of the prominence of the ministers in starting the College, cannot be questioned. They were the natural leaders in such a movement, and some of them had long cherished the hope of having a college in Connecticut. As the time drew near when their project was likely to succeed, they took preliminary steps. But there is probably exaggeration in the alleged frequency of their meetings, definiteness of their plans, and formality of their proceedings, before the charter was granted. In these particulars, President Clap's account in his published work is not supported by the contempo
rary documents, nor even by his own earlier narrative. much, as he here represents, had been going on during the space of three years before the charter was granted, we might reasonably expect to find some confirmation of it in the documents which have come down to us.
But the correspondence about the charter, so far as it has been preserved, appears to relate to an enterprise of which no definite beginning had yet been made. So also the record of the first meeting of the Trustees at Saybrook, after the granting of the charter, contains nothing from which could be inferred any previous formal meetings of the same men, as described by President Clap. Moreover, it declares that a collegiate school "is hereby erected and formed;" an expression which President Clap elsewhere says is equivalent to "founded." There is no intimation here, where we would expect to find it, that there had been an earlier foundation which was now legalized and continued. President Clap himself in his manuscript gives an account which is much simpler than the published one. After speaking of the inconvenience experienced by the people of Connecticut in sending their sons to a college in far-off Cambridge, he says;—“they formed a design of founding a college in this Colony. This design was at first concerted by the ministers in conjunction with some principal gentlemen of the Civil authority. And they nominated and chose ten ministers to stand as Trustees, Partners, or Undertakers, to carry on the laudable design. But inasmuch as they could not so advantageously proceed without some countenance and assistance from the Civil lawyers, both in and out of the Colony, they wrote to the Ilon. Judge Sewall and Mr. Secretary Addington of Boston, to desire them to draw a draught of an Act or charter to be past by the General Assembly. Things being thus prepared, a large number of ministers, and others presented a inemorial to the General Assembly representing that from a sincere regard'" &c. (Here the thread of the narrative is taken up as before quoted from the published work.)
This account is highly important, for it probably contains all the essential facts about the pre-charter period which President Clap had at the time he wrote. If he had already received from the founders, or from other contemporaries, or from authentic documents, the account of the donation which he published in 1766, we may say with confidence that he would have made some mention of it here among the "things being thus prepared." The fact that there is no mention of it here, and little trace of it elsewhere, does not prove that no act was performed before the granting of the charter which could afterward be considered as the starting point of the college, but it does indicate that such an act was not nearly so elaborate and conspicuous in the eyes of the founders, or of President Clap himself in 1747, as it appeared to him to be in 1766 when he published his book.
The published account of the donation represents the ministers as assembling in a house in Branford, and laying on a table forty large volumes, accompanying the act with the repetition of a formal statement of its purpose. These details fit well into President Clap's elaborate published account of proceedings before the charter; but when viewed in other connections they appear improbable. We doubtless have a reference to this donation of books in Mr. Noyes' letter to Mr. Pierpont written in 1701, already referred to. After speaking of his brother, he says, “I do hereby desire and empower him to give out of my books at his house my full proportion, and in nothing would I be behindhand in so public a good, and shall take all . opportunities to promote it.” The first part of this somewhat awkward sentence points to an agreement between certain persons to give each a certain quota of books, the actual presentation to be made at their convenience. This agrees with the absence of pre-charter formalities indicated by the documents including President Clap's manuscript, and is more likely to be a correct version than the one so picturesquely set forth in his published work.
With regard to that version, it is an interesting question, how he came to adopt it. In the first draft of his history, written in 1747, as we have seen, he makes no mention of a donation of books before the charter was granted. But somewhat later in