The Future Of The American College -- By: Joseph Leonard Daniels

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 058:232 (Oct 1901)
Article: The Future Of The American College
Author: Joseph Leonard Daniels


The Future Of The American College1

Rev. Joseph Leonard Daniels

The American college is one of the richest fruits of American civilization; for it must rank among the five notable contributions which this country has made to the permanent progress of the world. These are the Christian college, the public school, the self-supporting church, the formal separation of church and state, and the most complex and yet harmonious system of representative government. It properly heads this list both historically and logically; for, while the compact in the Mayflower was the germ of the American Constitution, while the legislatures of Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies antedated the founding of Harvard, while the college has gradually been transformed in the two hundred and fifty years of its history, it has, none the less, been a vital factor in this nation’s life. For it has from the first trained the men who have formed public opinion and have been the leaders in church and state. This was the one reason affirmed for the founding of a college—to train the preachers and teachers for the coming generations. “Without a nursery for such men,” said Cotton Mather, “the churches of New England would have been less than the business of one age, and soon have come to nothing.” Pilgrim and Puritan alike believed in Christian education. As early as October, 1636, Massachusetts voted four hundred pounds for a college. Almost simultaneously with this was founded the public

school: in Boston in 1635, at Hartford in 1637, at New Haven in 1642.

In 1646 Massachusetts required every community of fifty families to maintain such a school; and a community of one hundred families, a grammar school. Connecticut adopted this law in 1650. Thus Harvard and these grammar schools as feeders, were the educational system of New England for more than half a century. Then arose Yale, and Dartmouth, and Williams, and that galaxy of Christian colleges that to-day numbers almost five hundred.

That these institutions originated in America is not claimed. They were at first but the reproduction of Cambridge and Oxford. They bear the distinctive marks of their English parentage. In their later development they have incorporated many features of the German universities. And yet they have not copied either England or Germany. As a rule, they have not been dependent on the government, except for their charters. They have not recognized titles and classes and social distinctions. They have been independent in their government, democratic in spirit, progressive in method, religious in aim, and patriotic in every national crisis. They have been both the reflex of a free...

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