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Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White

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and the general social life which they promote; of
the ``commons'' and ``combination rooms,'' which give a
still closer relation between those most directly concerned
in university work; of the quadrangles, which give a sense
of scholarly seclusion, even in the midst of crowded cities;
and of all the surroundings which give a dignity befitting
these vast establishments. Still more marked progress in
my ideas was made during my attendance at the Sorbonne
and the Collge de France. In those institutions, during
the years 1853-1854, I became acquainted with the French
university-lecture system, with its clearness, breadth,
wealth of illustration, and its hold upon large audiences
of students; and I was seized with the desire to transfer
something like it to our own country. My castles in the
air were now reared more loftily and broadly; for they
began to include laboratories, museums, and even galleries
of art.

Even St. Petersburg, during my attachship in 1854-
1855, contributed to these airy structures. In my diary
for that period, I find it jotted down that I observed and
studied at various times the Michael Palace in that city as
a very suitable structure for a university. Twenty years
afterward, when I visited, as minister of the United
States, the Grand Duchess Catherine, the aunt of the
Emperor Alexander III, in that same palace, and mentioned
to her my old admiration for it, she gave me a most
interesting account of the building of it, and of the laying
out of the beautiful park about it by her father, the old
Grand Duke Michael, and agreed with me that it would
be a noble home for an institution of learning.

My student life at Berlin, during the year following,
further intensified my desire to do something for university
education in the United States. There I saw my ideal
of a university not only realized, but extended and glorified--
with renowned professors, with ample lecture-halls,
with everything possible in the way of illustrative
materials, with laboratories, museums, and a concourse of
youth from all parts of the world.

I have already spoken, in the chapter on my professorship
at the University of Michigan, regarding the influence
on my ideas of its president, Henry Philip Tappan, and
of the whole work in that institution. Though many good
things may be justly said for the University of Virginia,
the real beginning of a university in the United States, in
the modern sense, was made by Dr. Tappan and his
colleagues at Ann Arbor. Its only defects seemed to me that
it included no technical side, and did not yet admit
women. As to the first of these defects, the State had
separated the agricultural college from the university,
placing it in what, at that period, was a remote swamp
near the State Capitol, and had as yet done nothing toward
providing for other technical branches. As to the second,
though a few of us favored the admission of women, President
Tappan opposed it; and, probably, in view of the
condition of the university and of public opinion at that
time, his opposition was wise.

Recalled to Syracuse after five years in Michigan, my
old desire to see a university rising in the State of New
York was stronger than ever. Michigan had shown me
some of my ideals made real; why might not our own
much greater commonwealth be similarly blessed?

The first thing was to devise a plan for a suitable
faculty. As I felt that this must not demand too large an
outlay, I drew up a scheme providing for a few resident
teachers supported by endowments, and for a body of nonresident
professors or lecturers supported by fees. These
lecturers were to be chosen from the most eminent professors
in the existing colleges and from the best men then
in the public-lecture field; and my confidant in the matter
was George William Curtis, who entered into it heartily,
and who afterward, in his speech at my inauguration as
president of Cornell, referred to it in a way which touched
me deeply.[5]

[5] See Mr. Curtis's speech, September 8, 1868, published
by the university.

The next thing was to decide upon a site. It must
naturally be in the central part of the State; and, rather
curiously, that which I then most coveted, frequently
visited, walked about, and inspected was the rising ground
southeast of Syracuse since selected by the Methodists
for their institution which takes its name from that city.

My next effort was to make a beginning of an endowment,
and for this purpose I sought to convert Gerrit Smith.
He was, for those days, enormously wealthy. His property,
which was estimated at from two to three millions
of dollars, he used munificently; and his dear friend and
mine, Samuel Joseph May, had told me that it was not too
much to hope that Mr. Smith might do something for the
improvement of higher instruction. To him, therefore, I
wrote, proposing that if he would contribute an equal sum
to a university at Syracuse, I would give to it one half of
my own property. In his answer he gave reasons why he
could not join in the plan, and my scheme seemed no
nearer reality than my former air-castles. It seemed,
indeed, to have faded away like

``The baseless fabric of a vision''

and to have left

``Not a wrack behind''--

when all its main features were made real in a way and by
means utterly unexpected; for now began the train of
events which led to my acquaintance, friendship, and close
alliance with the man through whom my plans became a
reality, larger and better than any ever seen in my dreams
--Ezra Cornell.


EZRA CORNELL--1864-1874

On the first day of the year 1864, taking my seat for
the first time in the State Senate at Albany, I found
among my associates a tall, spare man, apparently very
reserved and austere, and soon learned his name--Ezra

Though his chair was near mine, there was at first little
intercourse between us, and there seemed small chance of
more. He was steadily occupied, and seemed to have no
desire for new acquaintances. He was, perhaps, the oldest
man in the Senate; I, the youngest: he was a man of
business; I was fresh from a university professorship:
and, upon the announcement of committees, our paths
seemed separated entirely; for he was made chairman of
the committee on agriculture, while to me fell the
chairmanship of the committee on education.

Yet it was this last difference which drew us together;
for among the first things referred to my committee was a
bill to incorporate a public library which he proposed to
found in Ithaca.

On reading this bill I was struck, not merely by his
gift of one hundred thousand dollars to his townsmen,
but even more by a certain breadth and largeness in his
way of making it. The most striking sign of this was his
mode of forming a board of trustees; for, instead of the
usual effort to tie up the organization forever in some sect,
party, or clique, he had named the best men of his town--
his political opponents as well as his friends; and had
added to them the pastors of all the principal churches,
Catholic and Protestant. This breadth of mind, even
more than his munificence, drew me to him. We met several
times, discussed his bill, and finally I reported it
substantially as introduced, and supported it until it
became a law.

Our next relations were not, at first, so pleasant. The
great Land Grant of 1862, from the General Government
to the State, for industrial and technical education, had
been turned over, at a previous session of the legislature,
to an institution called the People's College, in
Schuyler County; but the Agricultural College, twenty
miles distant from it, was seeking to take away from it
a portion of this endowment; and among the trustees of
this Agricultural College was Mr. Cornell, who now
introduced a bill to divide the fund between the two

On this I at once took ground against him, declaring
that the fund ought to be kept together at some one
institution; that on no account should it be divided; that the
policy for higher education in the State of New York
should be concentration; that we had already suffered
sufficiently from scattering our resources; that there were
already over twenty colleges in the State, and not one of
them doing anything which could justly be called university

Mr. Cornell's first effort was to have his bill referred,
not to my committee, but to his; here I resisted him, and,
as a solution of the difficulty, it was finally referred to a
joint committee made up of both. On this double-headed
committee I deliberately thwarted his purpose throughout
the entire session, delaying action and preventing any
report upon his bill.

Most men would have been vexed by this; but he took
my course calmly, and even kindly. He never expostulated,
and always listened attentively to my arguments
against his view; meanwhile I omitted no opportunity to
make these arguments as strong as possible, and especially
to impress upon him the importance of keeping the fund

After the close of the session, during the following
summer, as it had become evident that the trustees of the
People's College had no intention of raising the additional
endowment and providing the equipment required by the
act which gave them the land grant, there was great danger
that the whole fund might be lost to the State by the
lapsing of the time allowed in the congressional act for
its acceptance. Just at this period Mr. Cornell invited me
to attend a meeting of the State Agricultural Society, of
which he was the president, at Rochester; and, when the
meeting had assembled, he quietly proposed to remove the
difficulty I had raised, by drawing a new bill giving the
State Agricultural College half of the fund, and by inserting
a clause requiring the college to provide an additional
sum of three hundred thousand dollars. This sum he
pledged himself to give, and, as the comptroller of the
State had estimated the value of the land grant at six
hundred thousand dollars, Mr. Cornell supposed that this
would obviate my objection, since the fund of the Agricultural
College would thus be made equal to the whole original
land-grant fund as estimated, which would be equivalent
to keeping the whole fund together.

The entire audience applauded, as well they might: it
was a noble proposal. But, much to the disgust of the
meeting, I persisted in my refusal to sanction any bill
dividing the fund, declared myself now more opposed to
such a division than ever; but promised that if Mr. Cornell
and his friends would ask for the WHOLE grant--keeping
it together, and adding his three hundred thousand dollars,
as proposed--I would support such a bill with all my

I was led to make this proposal by a course of
circumstances which might, perhaps, be called ``providential.''
For some years I had been dreaming of a university; had
looked into the questions involved, at home and abroad;
had approached sundry wealthy and influential men on the
subject; but had obtained no encouragement, until this
strange and unexpected combination of circumstances--a
great land grant, the use of which was to be determined
largely by the committee of which I was chairman, and
this noble pledge by Mr. Cornell.

Yet for some months nothing seemed to come of our
conference. At the assembling of the legislature in the
following year, it was more evident than ever that the
trustees of the People's College intended to do nothing.
During the previous session they had promised through
their agents to supply the endowment required by their
charter; but, though this charter obliged them, as a condition
of taking the grant, to have an estate of two hundred
acres, buildings for the accommodation of two hundred
students, and a faculty of not less than six professors, with
a sufficient library and other apparatus, yet our committee,
on again taking up the subject, found hardly the faintest
pretense of complying with these conditions. Moreover,
their charter required that their property should be
free from all encumbrance; and yet the so-called donor of
it, Mr. Charles Cook, could not be induced to cancel a
small mortgage which he held upon it. Still worse, before
the legislature had been in session many days, it was found
that his agent had introduced a bill to relieve the People 's
College of all conditions, and to give it, without any pledge
whatever, the whole land grant, amounting to very nearly
a million of acres.

But even worse than this was another difficulty. In
addition to the strong lobby sent by Mr. Cook to Albany in
behalf of the People's College, there came representatives
of nearly all the smaller denominational colleges in the
State, men eminent and influential, clamoring for a division
of the fund among their various institutions, though
the fragment which would have fallen to each would not
have sufficed to endow even a single professorship.

While all this was uncertain, and the fund seemed
likely to be utterly frittered away, I was one day going
down from the State Capitol, when Mr. Cornell joined me
and began conversation. He was, as usual, austere and
reserved in appearance; but I had already found that
below this appearance there was a warm heart and noble
purpose. No observant associate could fail to notice that
the only measures in the legislature which he cared for
were those proposing some substantial good to the State
or nation, and that he despised all political wrangling and
partizan jugglery.

On this occasion, after some little general talk, he quietly
said, ``I have about half a million dollars more than my
family will need: what is the best thing I can do with it
for the State?'' I answered: `` Mr. Cornell, the two things
most worthy of aid in any country are charity and education;
but, in our country, the charities appeal to everybody.
Any one can understand the importance of them,
and the worthy poor or unfortunate are sure to be taken
care of. As to education, the lower grades will always be
cared for in the public schools by the State; but the
institutions of the highest grade, without which the lower can
never be thoroughly good, can be appreciated by only a
few. The policy of our State is to leave this part of the
system to individuals; it seems to me, then, that if you
have half a million to give, the best thing you can do with
it is to establish or strengthen some institution for higher
instruction.'' I then went on to show him the need of a
larger institution for such instruction than the State then
had; that such a college or university worthy of the State
would require far more in the way of faculty and equipment
than most men supposed; that the time had come
when scientific and technical education must be provided
for in such an institution; and that education in history
and literature should be the bloom of the whole growth.

He listened attentively, but said little. The matter
seemed to end there; but not long afterward he came to me
and said: ``I agree with you that the land-grant fund
ought to be kept together, and that there should be a new
institution fitted to the present needs of the State and the
country. I am ready to pledge to such an institution a site
and five hundred thousand dollars as an addition to the
land-grant endowment, instead of three hundred thousand,
as I proposed at Rochester.''

As may well be imagined, I hailed this proposal
joyfully, and soon sketched out a bill embodying his purpose
so far as education was concerned. But here I wish to say
that, while Mr. Cornell urged Ithaca as the site of the
proposed institution, he never showed any wish to give his
own name to it. The suggestion to that effect was mine.
He at first doubted the policy of it; but, on my insisting
that it was in accordance with time-honored American
usage, as shown by the names of Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth,
Amherst, Bowdoin, Brown, Williams, and the like, he yielded.

We now held frequent conferences as to the leading
features of the institution to be created. In these I was
more and more impressed by his sagacity and largeness
of view; and, when the sketch of the bill was fully
developed,--its financial features by him, and its educational
features by me,--it was put into shape by Charles J. Folger
of Geneva, then chairman of the judiciary committee of
the Senate, afterward chief judge of the Court of Appeals,
and finally Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.
The provision forbidding any sectarian or partizan
predominance in the board of trustees or faculty was proposed
by me, heartily acquiesced in by Mr. Cornell, and put into
shape by Judge Folger. The State-scholarship feature
and the system of alumni representation on the board of
trustees were also accepted by Mr. Cornell at my suggestion.

I refer to these things especially because they show one
striking characteristic of the man--namely, his readiness
to be advised largely by others in matters which he felt
to be outside his own province, and his willingness to give
the largest measure of confidence when he gave any
confidence at all.

On the other hand, the whole provision for the endowment,
the part relating to the land grant, and, above all,
the supplementary legislation allowing him to make a
contract with the State for ``locating'' the lands, were
thought out entirely by himself; and in all these matters he
showed, not only a public spirit far beyond that displayed
by any other benefactor of education in his time, but a
foresight which seemed to me then, and seems to me now,
almost miraculous. He alone, of all men in the United
States, was able to foresee what might be done by an
individual to develop the land-grant fund, and he alone
was willing to make the great personal sacrifice thereby

But, while he thus left the general educational features
to me, he uttered, during one of our conversations, words
which showed that he had arrived at the true conception
of a university. He expressed the hope that in the proposed
institution every student might find instruction in
whatever study interested him. Hence came the legend
now surrounding his medallion portrait upon the university
seal: ``I would found an institution where any person
can find instruction in any study.''

The introduction of this new bill into the legislature
was a signal for war. Nearly all the denominational
colleges girded themselves for the fray, and sent their agents
to fight us at Albany; they also stirred up the secular
press, without distinction of party, in the regions where
they were situated, and the religious organs of their various
sects in the great cities.

At the center of the movement against us was the
People's College; it had rallied in force and won over the
chairman of the educational committee in the Assembly,
so that under various pretexts he delayed considering the
bill. Worst of all, there appeared against us, late in the
session, a professor from the Genesee College--a man of
high character and great ability; and he did his work most
vigorously. He brought the whole force of his sect to
bear upon the legislature, and insisted that every other
college in the State had received something from the public
funds, while his had received none.

As a first result came a proposal from some of his
associates that twenty-five thousand dollars of the land-grant
fund be paid to Genesee College; but this the friends of
the Cornell bill resisted, on the ground that, if the fund
were broken into in one case, it would be in others.

It was next proposed that Mr. Cornell should agree to
give twenty-five thousand dollars to Genesee College on
the passage of the bill. This Mr. Cornell utterly refused,
saying that not for the passage of any bill would he make
any private offer or have any private understanding; that
every condition must be put into the bill, where all men
could see it; and that he would then accept or reject it as
he might think best. The result was that our opponents
forced into the bill a clause requiring him to give twenty-
five thousand dollars to Genesee College, before he could
be allowed to give five hundred thousand dollars to the
proposed university; and the friends of the bill, not feeling
strong enough to resist this clause, and not being
willing to see the enterprise wrecked for the want of it,
allowed it to go unopposed. The whole matter was vexatious
to the last degree. A man of less firmness and
earnestness, thus treated, would have thrown up his
munificent purpose in disgust; but Mr. Cornell quietly

Yet the troubles of the proposed university had only
begun. Mr. Charles Cook, who, during his senatorship,
had secured the United States land grant of 1862 for the
People's College, was a man of great force, a born leader
of men, anxious to build up his part of the State, and
especially the town from which he came, though he had no
special desire to put any considerable part of his own
wealth into a public institution. He had seen the opportunities
afforded by the land grant, had captured it, and was
now determined to fight for it. The struggle became
bitter. His emissaries, including the members of the Senate
and Assembly from his part of the State, made common
cause with the sectarian colleges, and with various
corporations and persons who, having bills of their own
in the legislature, were ready to exchange services and

The coalition of all these forces against the Cornell
University bill soon became very formidable, and the
committee on education in the Assembly, to which the bill had
been referred, seemed more and more controlled by them.
Our only hope now was to enlighten the great body of the
senators and assemblymen. To this end Mr. Cornell invited
them by squads, sometimes to his rooms at Congress
Hall, sometimes to mine at the Delavan House. There he
laid before them his general proposal and the financial
side of the plan, while I dwelt upon the need of a university
in the true sense of the word; upon the opportunity
now offered by this great fund; upon the necessity of
keeping it together; upon the need of large means to carry
out any scheme of technical and general education such
as was contemplated by the congressional act of 1862;
showed the proofs that the People's College would and
could do nothing to meet this want; that division of the
fund among the existing colleges was simply the annihilation
of it; and, in general, did my best to enlighten the
reason and arouse the patriotism of the members on the
subject of a worthy university in our State. These points
and others were finally embodied in my speech before the
Senate, and this having been published in the ``Albany
Journal,'' Mr. Cornell provided for its circulation broadcast
over the State and thus aroused public opinion.

In this way we won to our support several strong
friends in both Houses, among them some men of great
natural force of character who had never enjoyed the
privilege of much early education, but who were none the
less anxious that those who came after them should have
the best opportunities. Of these I may name especially
Senators Cook of Saratoga and Ames of Oswego. Men
of high education and culture also aided us, especially
Mr. Andrews, Mr. Havens, and, finally, Judge Folger in
the Senate, with Mr. Lord and Mr. Weaver in the Assembly.

While we were thus laboring with the legislature as a
whole, serious work had to be done with the Assembly
committee; and Mr. Cornell employed a very eminent
lawyer to present his case, while Mr. Cook employed one
no less noted to take the opposite side. The session of
the committee was held in the Assembly chamber, and there
was a large attendance of spectators; but, unfortunately,
the lawyer employed by Mr. Cornell having taken little
pains with the case, his speech was cold, labored, perfunctory,
and fell flat. The speech on the other side was much
more effective; it was thin and demagogical, but the
speaker knew well the best tricks for catching the average
man. He indulged in eloquent tirades against the Cornell
bill as a ``monopoly,'' a ``wild project,'' a ``selfish
scheme,'' a ``job,'' a ``grab,'' and the like; denounced Mr.
Cornell as ``seeking to erect a monument to himself'';
hinted that he was ``planning to rob the State''; and,
before he had finished, had pictured Mr. Cornell as a
swindler and the rest of us as dupes or knaves.

I can never forget the quiet dignity with which Mr.
Cornell took this abuse. Mrs. Cornell sat at his right, I
at his left. In one of the worst tirades against him, he
turned to me and said quietly, and without the slightest
anger or excitement: ``If I could think of any other way
in which half a million of dollars would do as much good
to the State, I would give the legislature no more trouble.''
Shortly afterward, when the invective was again especially
bitter, he turned to me and said: ``I am not sure
but that it would be a good thing for me to give the half
a million to old Harvard College in Massachusetts, to
educate the descendants of the men who hanged my forefathers.''

There was more than his usual quaint humor in this
--there was that deep reverence which he always bore
toward his Quaker ancestry, and which seemed to have
become part of him. I admired Mr. Cornell on many
occasions, but never more than during that hour when he
sat, without the slightest anger, mildly taking the abuse of
that prostituted pettifogger, the indifference of the
committee, and the laughter of the audience. It was a scene
for a painter, and I trust that some day it will be fitly
perpetuated for the university.

This struggle being ended, the Assembly committee
could not be induced to report the bill. It was easy, after
such a speech, for its members to pose as protectors of
the State against a swindler and a monopoly; the chairman,
who, shortly after the close of the session, was
mysteriously given a position in the New York custom-house,
made pretext after pretext without reporting, until it became
evident that we must have a struggle in the Assembly
and drag the bill out of the committee in spite of him.
To do this required a two-thirds vote. All our friends
were set to work, and some pains taken to scare the
corporations which had allied themselves with the enemy, in
regard to the fate of their own bills, by making them
stand that, unless they stopped their interested
opposition to the university bill in the House, a feeling
would be created in the Senate very unfortunate for them.
In this way their clutch upon sundry members of the
Assembly was somewhat relaxed, and these were allowed
to vote according to their consciences.

The Cornell bill was advocated most earnestly in the
House by Mr. Henry B. Lord: in his unpretentious way
he marshaled the university forces, and moved that the bill
be taken from the committee and referred to the Committee
of the Whole. Now came a struggle. Most of the
best men in the Assembly stood by us; but the waverers
--men who feared local pressure, sectarian hostility, or
the opposition of Mr. Cook to measures of their own--
attempted, if not to oppose the Cornell bill, at least to
evade a vote upon it. In order to give them a little tone
and strength, Mr. Cornell went with me to various leading
editors in the city of New York, and we explained
the whole matter to them, securing editorial articles
favorable to the university, the most prominent among these
gentlemen being Horace Greeley of the ``Tribune,'' Eras-
tus Brooks of the ``Express,'' and Manton Marble of the
``World.'' This did much for us, yet when the vote was
taken the old cowardice was again shown; but several of
us stood in the cloak-room and fairly shamed the waverers
back into their places. As a result, to the surprise and
disgust of the chairman of the Assembly committee, the
bill was taken out of his control, and referred to the
Committee of the Whole House.

Another long struggle now ensued, but the bill was
finally passed in the Assembly and came back to the
Senate. There the struggle was renewed, all kinds of
delaying tactics were resorted to, but the bill was finally
carried, and received the signature of Governor Fenton.

Now came a new danger. During their struggle against
the bill, our enemies had been strong enough to force into
it a clause enabling the People's College to retain the land
fund, provided that institution should be shown, within six
months of the passage of the bill, to be in possession of a
sum such as the Board of Regents should declare would
enable it to comply with the conditions on which it had
originally received the grant. The Board of Regents
now reported that the possession of one hundred and
fifty thousand dollars would be sufficient for such a
compliance, and would insure the fund to the People's
College. Naturally we watched, in much uneasy suspense,
during those six months, to see whether Mr. Cook and
the People's College authorities would raise this sum
of money, so small in comparison with that which Mr.
Cornell was willing to give, in order to secure the grant.
But our fears were baseless; and on the fifth day of
September, 1865, the trustees of Cornell University were
assembled for the first time at Ithaca.

Then came to them a revelation of a quality in Mr. Cornell
unknown to most of them before. In one of the petitions
forwarded from Ithaca to the legislature by his
fellow-citizens it had been stated that ``he never did less
than he promised, but generally more.'' So it was found
in this case. He turned over to the trustees, not only the
securities for the five hundred thousand dollars required
by the charter, but also gave two hundred acres of land as
a site. Thus came into being Cornell University.

Yet the services of Mr. Cornell had only begun: he at
once submitted to us a plan for doing what no other citizen
had done for any other State. In the other commonwealths
which had received the land grant, the authorities
had taken the scrip representing the land, sold it at the
market price, and, as the market was thus glutted, had
realized but a small sum; but Mr. Cornell, with that
foresight which was his most striking characteristic, saw
clearly what could be done by using the scrip to take up
land for the institution. To do this he sought aid in various
ways; but no one dared join him, and at last he determined
to bear the whole burden himself. Scrip representing
over seven hundred thousand acres still remained
in the hands of the comptroller. The trustees received Mr.
Cornell's plan for dealing with the scrip somewhat doubtfully,
but the enabling act was passed, by which he was
permitted to ``locate'' this land for the benefit of the
university. So earnest was he in this matter that he was
anxious to take up the entire amount, but here his near
friends interposed: we saw too well what a crushing load
the taxes and other expenses on such a vast tract of land
would become before it could be sold to advantage. Finally
he yielded somewhat: it was agreed that he should take up
five hundred thousand acres, and he now gave himself day
and night to this great part of the enterprise, which was
to provide a proper financial basis for a university such as
we hoped to found.

Meanwhile, at Mr. Cornell's suggestion, I devoted myself
to a more careful plan of the new institution; and, at
the next meeting of the board, presented a ``plan of
organization,'' which sketched out the purpose and
constitution of such a university as seemed needed in a great
commonwealth like ours. Mr. Cornell studied it carefully,
gave it his approval, and a copy of it with marginal notes
in his own hand is still preserved.

I had supposed that this was to end my relations with
Mr. Cornell, so far as the university was concerned. A
multitude of matters seemed to forbid my taking any further
care for it, and a call to another position very attractive
to me drew me away from all thought of connection
with it, save, perhaps, such as was involved in meeting the
trustees once or twice a year.

Mr. Cornell had asked me, from time to time, whether
I could suggest any person for the presidency of the
university. I mentioned various persons, and presented the
arguments in their favor. One day he said to me quietly
that he also had a candidate; I asked him who it was, and
he said that he preferred to keep the matter to himself
until the next meeting of the trustees. Nothing more passed
between us on that subject. I had no inkling of his
purpose, but thought it most likely that his candidate was
a Western gentleman whose claims had been strongly
pressed upon him. When the trustees came together, and
the subject was brought up, I presented the merits of various
gentlemen, especially of one already at the head of an
important college in the State, who, I thought, would give
us success. Upon this, Mr. Cornell rose, and, in a very
simple but earnest speech, presented my name. It was entirely
unexpected by me, and I endeavored to show the trustees
that it was impossible for me to take the place in view of
other duties; that it needed a man of more robust health,
of greater age, and of wider reputation in the State. But
Mr. Cornell quietly persisted, our colleagues declared
themselves unanimously of his opinion, and, with many
misgivings, I gave a provisional acceptance.

The relation thus begun ended only with Mr. Cornell's
life, and from first to last it grew more and more interesting
to me. We were thrown much together at Albany, at
Ithaca, and on various journeys undertaken for the
university; and, the more I saw of him, the deeper became my
respect for him. There were, indeed, toward the end of
his life, some things trying to one of my temperament,
and among these things I may mention his exceeding reticence,
and his willingness not only to labor but to wait;
but these stood not at all in the way of my respect and
affection for him.

His liberality was unstinted. While using his fortune
in taking up the lands, he was constantly doing generous
things for the university and those connected with it. One
of the first of these was his gift of the library in classical
literature collected by Dr. Charles Anthon of Columbia
College. Nothing could apparently be more outside his
sympathy than the department needing these seven thousand
volumes; but he recognized its importance in the general
plan of the new institution, bought the library for
over twelve thousand dollars, and gave it to the university.

Then came the Jewett collection in geology, which he
gave at a cost of ten thousand dollars; the Ward collection
of casts, at a cost of three thousand; the Newcomb collection
in conchology, at a cost of sixteen thousand; an addition
to the university grounds, valued at many thousands
more; and it was only the claims of a multitude of minor
university matters upon his purse which prevented his
carrying out a favorite plan of giving a great telescope, at
a cost of fifty thousand dollars. At a later period, to
extinguish the university debt, to increase the equipment, and
eventually to provide free scholarships and fellowships,
he made an additional gift of about eighty thousand dollars.

While doing these things, he was constantly advancing
large sums in locating the university lands, and in paying
university salaries, for which our funds were not yet
available; while from time to time he made many gifts which,
though smaller, were no less striking evidences of the
largeness of his view. I may mention a few among these
as typical.

Having found, in the catalogue of a London book-
seller, a set of Piranesi's great work on the ``Antiquities
of Rome,''--a superb copy, the gift of a pope to a royal
duke,--I showed it to him, when he at once ordered it for
our library at a cost of about a thousand dollars. At
another time, seeing the need of some costly works to
illustrate agriculture, he gave them to us at a somewhat
greater cost; and, having heard Professor Tyndall's
lectures in New York, he bought additional physical apparatus
to enable our resident professor to repeat the lectures
at Ithaca, and this cost him fifteen hundred dollars.

Characteristic of him, too, was another piece of quiet
munificence. When the clause forced into the university
charter, requiring him to give twenty-five thousand dollars
to another institution before he could be allowed to
give half a million to his own, was noised abroad through
the State, there was a general feeling of disgust; and at
the next session of the legislature a bill was brought in
to refund the twenty-five thousand dollars to him. Upon
this, he remarked that what he once gave he never took
back, but that if the university trustees would accept it he
had no objection. The bill was modified to this effect, and
thus the wrong was righted.

During my stay in Europe, through the summer of 1868,
under instructions to study various institutions for technical
education, to make large purchases of books, and to
secure one or two men greatly needed in special departments
not then much cultivated in this country, his generosity
was unfailing. Large as were the purchases which
I was authorized to make, the number of desirable things
outside this limit steadily grew larger; but my letters to
him invariably brought back the commission to secure
this additional material.

During this occupation of mine in Europe, he was quite
as busy in the woods of the upper Mississippi and on the
plains of Kansas, selecting university lands. No fatigue
or expenditure deterred him.

At various periods I passed much time with Mr. Cornell
on his home farm. He lived generously, in a kind of
patriarchal simplicity, and many of his conversations interested
me intensely. His reticence gradually yielded, and he gave
me much information regarding his earlier years: they had
been full of toil and struggle, but through the whole there
was clear evidence of a noble purpose. Whatever worthy
work his hand had found to do, he had done it with his
might: the steamers of Cayuga Lake; the tunnel which
carries the waters of Fall Creek to the mills below; the
mills themselves; the dams against that turbulent stream,
which he built after others had failed, and which stand
firmly to this day; the calendar clocks for which Ithaca
has become famous, and of which he furnished the original
hint--all these he touched upon, though so modestly that
I never found out his full agency in them until a later
period, when I had made the acquaintance of many of his

Especially interesting were his references to the
beginnings of American telegraphic enterprise, with which he
had so much to do.

His connection with it began in a curious way. Traveling
in northern New England to dispose of a plow which
he had invented, he entered the office of a gentleman who
had taken the contract for laying the first telegraphic wires
underground between Washington and Baltimore, and
found him in much doubt and trouble: the difficulty was to
lay the leaden pipe containing the two insulated wires at a
cost within the terms of the contract. Hearing this, Mr.
Cornell said: ``I will build you a machine which will dig
the trench, lay the pipe and wires, and cover them with
earth rapidly and cheaply.''

This proposal was at first derided; but, as Mr. Cornell
insisted upon it, he was at last allowed to show what he
could do. The machine having been constructed, he
exhibited it to a committee; but when the long line of
horses attached to it were started, it was so thrown about
by the inequalities of the surface that the committee
declared it a failure. Presently Mr. Cornell took them to
the ground over which the machine had just passed, and,
showing them a line of newly turned earth, asked them
to dig in it. Having done this, they found the pipe incasing
the wires, acknowledged his triumph, and immediately
gave him and his machine permanent employment.

But before long he became convinced that this was not
the best way. Having studied all the books on electricity
that he could find in the Congressional Library, he had
satisfied himself that it would be far better and cheaper
to string the wires through the open air between poles.
This idea the men controlling the scheme for a time
resisted. Some of them regarded such interference in a
scientific matter by one whom they considered a plain
working-man as altogether too presuming. But one day
Professor Morse came out to decide the matter. Finding
Mr. Cornell at his machine, the professor explained the
difficulties in the case, especially the danger of shaking the
confidence of Congress, and so losing the necessary
appropriation, should any change in plan be adopted, and
then asked him if he could see any way out of the difficulty.
Mr. Cornell answered that he could, whereupon Professor
Morse expressed a wish that it might be taken. At this
Mr. Cornell gave the word to his men, started up the
long line of horses dragging the ponderous machine,
guided it with his own hands into a boulder lying near,
and thus deranged the whole machinery.

As a natural result it was announced by various journals
at the national capital that the machinery for laying
the wires had been broken by the carelessness of an
employee, but that it would doubtless soon be repaired and
the work resumed. Thanks to this stratagem, the necessary
time was gained without shaking the confidence of
Congress, and Mr. Cornell at once began stringing the
wires upon poles: the insulation was found far better
than in the underground system, and there was no more

The confidence of the promoters of the enterprise being
thus gained, Mr. Cornell was employed to do their work
in all parts of the country; and his sturdy honesty, energy,
and persistence justified their confidence and laid the
foundations of his fortune.

Very striking were the accounts of his troubles and
trials during the prosecution of this telegraphic work--
troubles from men of pretended science, from selfish men,
from stupid men--all chronicled by him without the slightest
bitterness against any human being, yet with a quaint
humor which made the story very enjoyable.

Through his personal history, as I then began to learn
it, ran a thread, or rather a strong cord, of stoicism.
He had clung with such desperate tenacity to his faith in
the future of the telegraphic system, that, sooner than part
with his interest in it, even when its stock was utterly
discredited, he suffered from poverty, and almost from want.
While pressing on his telegraphic construction, he had been
terribly wounded in a Western railroad accident, but had
extricated himself from the dead and dying, and, as I
learned from others, had borne his sufferings without a
murmur. At another time, overtaken by ship-fever at
Montreal, and thought to be beyond help, he had quietly
made up his mind that, if he could reach a certain hydropathic
establishment in New York, he would recover; and
had dragged himself through that long journey, desperately
ill as he was, in railway cars, steamers, and
stages, until he reached his desired haven; and there he
finally recovered, though nearly every other person
attacked by the disease at his Montreal hotel had died.

Pursuing his telegraphic enterprise, he had been obliged
at times to fight many strong men and great combinations
of capital; but this same stoicism carried him through:
he used to say laughingly that his way was to ``tire them

When, at last, fortune had begun to smile upon him, his
public spirit began to show itself in more striking forms,
though not in forms more real, than in his earlier days.
Evidences of this met the eye of his visitors at once, and
among these were the fine cattle, sheep, fruit-trees, and
the like, which he had brought back from the London
Exposition of 1851. His observations of the agricultural
experiments of Lawes and Gilbert at Rothamstead in
England, and his visits to various agricultural exhibitions,
led him to attempt similar work at home. Everything
that could improve the community in which he lived
was matter of concern to him. He took the lead in
establishing ``Cascadilla Place,'' in order to give a very
gifted woman an opportunity to show her abilities in
administering hydropathic treatment to disease; his
public library, when I first visited Ithaca, was just

He never showed the slightest approach to display or
vanity regarding any of these things, and most of them I
heard of first, at a later period, from others.

Although his religious ideas were very far from those
generally considered orthodox, he had a deep sympathy
with every good effort for religion and morality, no matter
by whom made; and he contributed freely to churches
of every name and to good purposes of every sort. He
had quaint ways at times in making such gifts, and from
the many stories showing these I select one as characteristic.
During the Civil War, the young women of the village
held large sewing-circles, doing work for the soldiers.
When Mr. Cornell was asked to contribute to their funds,
he declined, to the great surprise of those who asked
him, and said dryly: ``Of course these women don't really
come together to sew for the soldiers; they come together
to gossip.'' This was said, no doubt, with that peculiar
twinkle of the eye which his old friends can well remember;
but, on the young ladies protesting that he did them
injustice, he answered: ``If you can prove that I am wrong,
I will gladly contribute; if you will only sew together all
one afternoon, and no one of you speak a word, I will give
you a hundred dollars.'' The society met, and complete
silence reigned. The young men of the community, hearing
of this, and seeing an admirable chance to tease their
fair friends, came in large numbers to the sewing-circle,
and tried to engage them in conversation. At first their
attempts were in vain; but, finally, to a question skilfully
put, one of the young ladies made a reply. This broke
the spell. Of course, the whole assembly were very unhappy;
but, when all was told to Mr. Cornell, he said:
``They shall have their hundred dollars, for they have
done better than any other women ever did.''

But I ought to say here that this little episode would
be grossly misunderstood were it supposed to indicate any
tendency in his heart or mind toward a cynical view of
womankind. Nothing could be more manly and noble
than his reference to her who had stood at his side
courageously, hopefully, and cheerily during his years
of struggle and want of appreciation. Well might he
speak of her, as he did once in my hearing, as ``the best
woman that ever lived.'' And his gentle courtliness and
thoughtful kindness were also deeply appreciated in other
households. His earnestness, too, in behalf of the higher
education of women, and of their fair treatment in various
professions and occupations, showed something far deeper
than conventional politeness.

From the time when I began to know him best, his main
thought was concentrated upon the university. His own
business interests were freely sacrificed; his time, wealth,
and effort were all yielded to his work in taking up its
lands, to say nothing of supplementary work which became
in many ways a heavy burden to him.

During the summer preceding the opening of the university,
this labor and care began to wear upon him, and
he was attacked by an old malady which gave him great
pain; yet his stoicism asserted itself. Through night after
night, as I lay in the room next his at his farm-house, I
could hear him groan, and to my natural sympathy was
added a fear lest he might not live through this most critical
period in the history of the new institution; but,
invariably, when I met him next morning and asked how he
felt, his answer was, ``All right,'' or ``Very well.'' I
cannot remember ever hearing him make any complaint
of his sufferings or even any reference to them.

Nor did pain diminish his steady serenity or generosity.
I remember that on one hot afternoon of that summer,
when he had come into the house thoroughly weary, a
young man called upon him to ask for aid in securing
school-books. Mr. Cornell questioned him closely, and
then rose, walked with him down the hill into the town,
and bought the books which were needed.

As the day approached for the formal opening of the
university, he was obliged to remain in bed. Care and
toil had prostrated me also; and both of us, a sorry couple
indeed, had to be taken from our beds to be carried to the
opening exercises.

A great crowd had assembled from all parts of the
State:--many enthusiastic, more doubtful, and some
decidedly inclined to scoff.

Some who were expected were not present. The Governor
of the State, though he had been in Ithaca the day
before, quietly left town on the eve of the opening
exercises. His Excellency was a very wise man in his
generation, and evidently felt that it was not best for him to
have too much to do with an institution which the sectarian
press had so generally condemned. I shall not soon forget
the way in which Mr. Cornell broke the news to me, and
the accent of calm contempt in his voice. Fortunately
there remained with us the lieutenant-governor, General
Stewart Lyndon Woodford. He came to the front nobly,
and stood by us firmly and munificently ever afterward.

Mr. Cornell's speech on that occasion was very simple
and noble; his whole position, to one who knew what he
had gone through in the way of obloquy, hard work, and
self-sacrifice, was touching. Worn down by illness, he
was unable to stand, and he therefore read his address in
a low tone from his chair. It was very impressive, almost
incapacitating me from speaking after him, and I saw
tears in the eyes of many in the audience. Nothing could
be more simple than this speech of his; it was mainly
devoted to a plain assertion of the true university theory in
its most elementary form, and to a plea that women should
have equal privileges with men in advanced education. In
the midst of it came a touch of his quaint shrewdness; for,
in replying to a recent charge that everything at the
university was unfinished, he remarked in substance, ``We
have not invited you to see a university finished, but to see
one begun.''

The opening day seemed a success, but this very success
stirred up the enemy. A bitter letter from Ithaca
to a leading denominational organ in New York gave the
signal, and soon the whole sectarian press was in full cry,
steadily pressing upon Mr. Cornell and those who stood
near him. Very many of the secular presses also thought
it wise to join in the attack, and it was quickly extended
from his ideas to his honor, and even to his honesty. It
seemed beyond the conception of many of these gentlemen
that a Hicksite Quaker, who, if he gave any thought at
all to this or that creed, or this or that ``plan of salvation,''
passed it all by as utterly irrelevant and inadequate,
could be a religious man; and a far greater number seemed
to find it just as difficult to believe that a man could
sacrifice his comfort and risk his fortune in managing so great
a landed property for the public interest without any
concealed scheme of plunder.

But he bore all this with his usual stoicism. It seemed
to increase his devotion to the institution, rather than to
diminish it. When the receipts from the endowment fell
short or were delayed, he continued to advance money
freely to meet the salaries of the professors; and for
apparatus, books, and equipment of every sort his purse
was constantly opened.

Yet, in those days of toil and care and obloquy, there
were some things which encouraged him much. At that
period all patriotic Americans felt deep gratitude to Goldwin
Smith for his courage and eloquence in standing by
our country during the Civil War, and great admiration for
his profound and brilliant historical lectures at Oxford.
Naturally, on arriving in London, I sought to engage him
for the new university, and was authorized by Mr. Cornell
to make him large pecuniary offers. Professor Smith entered
at once into our plans heartily; wrote to encourage
us; came to us; lived with us amid what, to him, must have
been great privations; lectured for us year after year as
brilliantly as he had ever lectured at Oxford; gave his
library to the university, with a large sum for its increase;
lent his aid very quietly, but none the less effectually, to
needy and meritorious students; and steadily refused
then, as he has ever since done, and now does, to accept
a dollar of compensation. Nothing ever gave Mr. Cornell
more encouragement than this. For ``Goldwin,'' as he
called him in his Quaker way, there was always a very
warm corner in his heart.

He also found especial pleasure in many of the lecture-
courses established at the opening of the university. For
Professor Agassiz he formed a warm friendship; and
their discussions regarding geological questions were very
interesting, eliciting from Agassiz a striking tribute to
Mr. Cornell's closeness of observation and sagacity in
reasoning. The lectures on history by Goldwin Smith,
and on literature by James Russell Lowell, George William
Curtis, and Bayard Taylor, he also enjoyed greatly.

The scientific collections and apparatus of various sorts
gave him constant pleasure. I had sent from England,
France, and Germany a large number of charts, models,
and pieces of philosophical apparatus, and regarding
some of them had thought it best to make careful explanations
to him, in order to justify so large an expenditure;
but I soon found this unnecessary. His shrewd mind
enabled him to understand any piece of apparatus quickly,
and to appreciate it fully. I have never had to deal with
any man whose instinct in such matters was more true. If
a book or scientific specimen or piece of apparatus was
necessary to the proper work of a department, he could
easily be made to see it; and then it MUST come to us, no
matter at what cost. Like the great prince of navigators
in the fifteenth century, he was a man ``who had the
taste for great things''--``qui tenia gusto en cosas
grandes.'' He felt that the university was to be great,
and he took his measures accordingly. His colleagues
generally thought him over-sanguine; and when he declared
that the university should yet have an endow-
ment of three millions, most of them regarded him as a

I have never known a man more entirely unselfish. I
have seen him, when his wealth was counted in millions,
devote it so generously to university objects that he felt
it necessary to stint himself in some matters of personal
comfort. When urged to sell a portion of the university
land at a sacrifice, in order to better our foundations, he
answered in substance, ``Don't let us do that yet; I will
wear my old hat and coat a little longer, and let you have
a little more money from my own pocket.''

This feeling seemed never diminished, even under the
worst opposition. He ``kept the faith,'' no matter who
opposed him.

An eminent and justly respected president of one of the
oldest Eastern universities published a treatise, which was
widely circulated, to prove that the main ideas on which
the new university was based were utterly impracticable;
and especially that the presentation of various courses of
instruction suited to young men of various aims and
tastes, with liberty of choice between them, was preposterous.
It is interesting to note that this same eminent gentleman
was afterward led to adopt this same ``impracticable''
policy at his own university. Others of almost equal
eminence insisted that to give advanced scientific and
technical instruction in the same institution with classical
instruction was folly; and these gentlemen were probably
not converted until the plan was adopted at English Cambridge.
Others still insisted that an institution not belonging
to any one religious sect must be ``godless,'' would
not be patronized, and could not succeed. Their eyes were
opened later by the sight of men and women of different
Christian denominations pressing forward at Cornell
University to contribute sums which, in the aggregate,
amounted to much more than the original endowment.

He earned the blessing of those who, not having seen,
have yet believed. Though he did not live long enough
to see the fundamental principles of the university thus
force their way to recognition and adoption by those who
had most strongly opposed them, his faith remained
undiminished to the end of his life.

But the opposition to his work developed into worse
shapes; many leading journals in the State, when not
openly hostile to him, were cold and indifferent, and some
of them were steadily abusive. This led to a rather wide-
spread feeling that ``where there is smoke, there must be
fire''; and we who knew the purity of his purpose, his
unselfishness, his sturdy honesty, labored long against this

I regret to say that some eminent men connected with
important universities in the country showed far too much
readiness to acquiesce in this unfavorable view of our
founder. From very few of our sister institutions came
any word of cheer; and from some of them came most
bitter attacks, not only upon the system adopted in the
new university, but upon Mr. Cornell himself. But his
friends were more afflicted, by far, than he; all this opposition
only served to strengthen his faith. As to this effect
upon him, I recall one or two quaint examples. At the
darkest period in the history of the university, I
mentioned to him that a fine collection of mathematical
books was offered us for five thousand dollars. Under
ordinary circumstances he would have bought it for
us at once; but at that moment, when any addition
to his burdens would not have been advised by any of
his friends, he quietly said, ``Somewhere there is a man
walking about who wants to give us that five thousand
dollars.'' I am glad to say that his faith was soon
justified; such a man appeared,--a man who was glad to give
the required sum as a testimony to his belief in Mr.
Cornell's integrity: William Kelly of Rhinebeck.

Another example may be given as typical. Near the
close of the first celebration of Founder's Day at one of
the college buildings, a pleasant social dance sprang up
among the younger people--students from the university
and young ladies from the village. This brought a very
severe protest from sundry clergymen of the place,
declaring dancing to be ``destructive of vital godliness.''
Though this was solemnly laid before the faculty, no
answer was ever made to it; but we noticed that, at every
social gathering on Founder's Day afterward, as long as
Mr. Cornell lived, he had arrangements made for dancing.
I never knew a man more open to right reason, and never
one less influenced by cant or dogmatism.

To most attacks upon him in the newspapers he neither
made nor suggested any reply; but one or two which were
especially misleading he answered simply and conclusively.
This had no effect, of course, in stopping the attacks;
but it had one effect, at which the friends of the
university rejoiced: it bound his old associates to him all the
more closely, and led them to support him all the more
vigorously. When a paper in one of the largest cities in
western New York had been especially abusive, one of Mr.
Cornell's old friends living in that city wrote: ``I know
that the charges recently published are utterly untrue; but
I am not skilled in newspaper controversy, so I will simply
add to what I have already given to the university a special
gift of thirty thousand dollars, which will testify to
my townsmen here, and perhaps to the public at large, my
confidence in Mr. Cornell.''

Such was the way of Hiram Sibley. Upon another attack,
especially violent, from the organ of one of the
denominational colleges, another old friend of Mr. Cornell
in the eastern part of the State, a prominent member of
the religious body which this paper represented, sent his
check for several thousand dollars, to be used for the
purchase of books for the library, and to show confidence
in Mr. Cornell by deeds as well as words.

Vile as these attacks were, worse remained behind. A
local politician, who had been sent to the legislature from
the district where the ``People's College'' had lived its
short life, prepared, with pettifogging ability, a long speech
to show that the foundation of Cornell University, Mr.
Cornell's endowment of it, and his contract to locate the
lands for it were parts of a great cheat and swindle. This
thesis, developed in all the moods and tenses of abuse
before the legislature, was next day published at length in the
leading journals of the metropolis, and echoed throughout
the Union. The time for these attacks was skilfully
chosen; the Crdit Mobilier and other schemes had been
revealed at Washington, and everybody was only too ready
to believe any charge against anybody. That Mr. Cornell
had been known for forty years as an honest man seemed
to go for nothing.

The enemies of the university were prompt to support
the charges, and they found some echoes even among those
who were benefited by his generosity--even among the
students themselves. At this I felt it my duty to call the
whole student body together, and, in a careful speech,
to explain Mr. Cornell's transactions, answering the
charges fully. This speech, though spread through the
State, could evidently do but little toward righting the
wrong; but it brought to me what I shall always feel a
great honor--a share in the abuse showered mainly on him.

Very characteristic was Mr. Cornell's conduct under
this outrage. That same faith in justice, that same
patience under wrong, which he always showed, was more
evident than ever.

On the morning after the attack in the legislature had
been blazoned in all the leading newspapers--in the early
hours, and after a sleepless night--I heard the rattle of
gravel against my window-panes. On rising, I found Mr.
Cornell standing below. He was serene and cheerful, and
had evidently taken the long walk up the hill to quiet my
irritation. His first words were a jocose prelude. The
bells of the university, which were then chimed at six
o'clock, were ringing merrily, and he called out, ``Come
down here and listen to the chimes; I have found a spot
where you can hear them directly with one ear, and their
echo with the other.''

When I had come down, we first investigated the echo
of the chime, which had really aroused his interest; then
he said seriously: ``Don't make yourself unhappy over
this matter; it will turn out to be a good thing for the
university. I have long foreseen that this attack must
come, but have feared that it would come after my death,
when the facts would be forgotten, and the transactions
little understood. I am glad that the charges are made
now, while I am here to answer them.'' We then discussed
the matter, and it was agreed that he should telegraph and
write Governor Dix, asking him to appoint an investigating
committee, of which the majority should be from
the political party opposed to his own. This was done.
The committee was composed of Horatio Seymour,
formerly governor of the State and Democratic candidate
for the Presidency of the United States; William A.
Wheeler, Vice-President of the United States; and John
D. Van Buren, all three men of the highest standing, and
two of them politically opposed to Mr. Cornell.

During the long investigation which ensued in New
York and at Ithaca, he never lost his patience, though at
times sorely tried. Various disappointed schemers, among
these one person who had not been allowed to make an
undue profit out of the university lands, and another who
had been allowed to depart from a professorship on
account of hopeless incompetency, were the main witnesses.
The onslaught was led by the person who made the attack
in the legislature, and he had raked together a mass of
half-truths and surmises; but the evidence on Mr. Cornell's
side consisted of a complete exhibition of all the
facts and documents. The unanimous report of the
committee was all that his warmest friends could desire; and
its recommendations regarding the management of the
fund were such as Mr. Cornell had long wished, but which
he had hardly dared ask. The result was a complete triumph
for him.

Yet the attacks continued. The same paper which had
been so prominent in sounding them through the western
part of the State continued them as before, and, almost
to the very day of his death, assailed him periodically as
a ``land jobber,'' ``land grabber,'' and ``land thief.'' But
he took these foul attacks by tricky declaimers and his
vindication by three of his most eminent fellow-citizens
with the same serenity. That there was in him a profound
contempt for the wretched creatures who assailed him
and imputed to him motives as vile as their own can
hardly be doubted; yet, though I was with him constantly
during this period, I never heard him speak harshly of
them; nor could I ever see that this injustice diminished
his good will toward his fellow-men and his desire to
benefit them.

At the very time when these attacks were at their worst,
he was giving especial thought to the problem of bringing
education at the university within reach of young men of
good ability and small means. I am quite within bounds in
saying that he gave an hour to thought upon this for
every minute he gave to thought upon the attacks of his

It was during this period that he began building his
beautiful house near the university, and in this he showed
some of his peculiarities. He took much pains to secure a
tasteful plan, and some of the ideas embodied in it
evidently resulted from his study of beautiful country-houses
in England. Characteristic of him also was his way of
carrying on the work. Having visited several quarries in
various parts of the State, in order to choose the best
possible building-stone, he employed some German stone-
carvers who had recently left work upon the Cathedral of
Cologne, brought them to Ithaca, and allowed them to work
on with no interference save from the architect. If they
gave a month or more to the carving of a single capital
or corbel, he made no remonstrance. When he had thus
secured the best stone-work, he selected the best seasoned
oak and walnut and called skilful carpenters from England.

In thus going abroad for artisans there was no want
of loyalty to his countrymen, nor was there any alloy
of vanity in his motives. His purpose evidently was
to erect a house which should be as perfect a specimen
of the builder's art as he could make it, and therefore
useful, as an example of thoroughly good work, to the local

In connection with this, another incident throws light
upon his characteristics. Above the front entrance of the
house was a scroll, or ribbon, in stone, evidently intended
for a name or motto. The words carved there were, ``True
and Firm.'' It is a curious evidence of the petty criticism
which beset him in those days, that this motto was at times
cited as a proof of his vainglory. It gives me pleasure
to relieve any mind sensitive on this point, and to vindicate
the truth of history, by saying that it was I who
placed the motto there. Calling his attention one day to
the scroll and to the need of an inscription, I suggested
a translation of the old German motto, ``Treu und Fest'';
and, as he made no objection, I wrote it out for the stone-
cutters, but told Mr. Cornell that there were people,
perhaps, who might translate the last word ``obstinate.''

The point of this lay in the fact, which Mr. Cornell knew
very well, that he was frequently charged with obstinacy.
Yet an obstinate man, in the evil sense of that word, he
was not. For several years it fell to my lot to discuss a
multitude of questions with him, and reasonableness was
one of his most striking characteristics. He was one of
those very rare strong men who recognize adequately their
own limitations. True, when he had finally made up his
mind in a matter fully within his own province, he
remained firm; but I have known very few men, wealthy,
strong, successful, as he was, so free from the fault of
thinking that, because they are good judges of one class of
questions, they are equally good in all others. One mark of
an obstinate man is the announcement of opinions upon
subjects regarding which his experience and previous
training give him little or no means of judging. This was
not at all the case with Mr. Cornell. When questions arose
regarding internal university management, or courses of
study, or the choice of professors, or plans for their
accommodation, he was never quick in announcing or
tenacious in holding an opinion. There was no purse pride
about him. He evidently did not believe that his success
in building up a fortune had made him an expert or judge
in questions to which he had never paid special attention.

During the last year or two of his life, I saw not so
much of him as during several previous years. He had
become greatly interested in various railway projects
having as their purpose the connection of Ithaca, as a
university town, with the State at large; and he threw
himself into these plans with great energy. His course in
this was prompted by a public spirit as large and pure as
that which had led him to found the university. When, at
the suggestion of sundry friends, I ventured to remonstrate
with him against going so largely into these railway
enterprises at his time of life, he said: ``I shall live twenty
years longer, and make a million of dollars more for the
university endowment.'' Alas! within six months from
that day he lay dead in the midst of many broken hopes.
His plans, which, under other circumstances, would have
been judged wise, seemed for a time wrecked by the financial
crisis which had just come upon the country.

In his last hours I visited him frequently. His mind
remained clear, and he showed his old freedom from any
fault-finding spirit, though evidently oppressed by business
cares and bodily suffering. His serenity was especially
evident as I sat with him the night before his
death, and I can never forget the placidity of his
countenance, both then and on the next morning, when all was

Something should be said regarding Mr. Cornell's
political ideas. In the legislature he was a firm Republican,
but as free as possible from anything like partizan
bigotry. Party ties in local matters sat lightly upon him.
He spoke in public very little, and took far greater
interest in public improvement than in party advantage.
With many of his political opponents his relations were
most friendly. For such Democrats as Hiram Sibley,
Erastus Brooks, and William Kelly he had the deepest
respect and admiration. He cared little for popular
clamor on any subject, braving it more than once by
his votes in the legislature. He was evidently willing to
take any risk involved in waiting for the sober second
thought of the people. He was as free from ordinary
ambition as from selfishness: when there was a call from
several parts of the State for his nomination as governor,
he said quietly, ``I prefer work for which I am better

There was in his ordinary bearing a certain austerity
and in his conversation an abruptness which interfered
somewhat with his popularity. A student once said to
me, ``If Mr. Cornell would simply stand upon his pedestal
as our `Honored Founder,' and let us hurrah for him,
that would please us mightily; but when he comes into the
laboratory and asks us gruffly, `What are you wasting
your time at now?' we don't like him so well.'' The fact
on which this remark was based was that Mr. Cornell
liked greatly to walk quietly through the laboratories and
drafting-rooms, to note the work. Now and then, when
he saw a student doing something which especially
interested him, he was evidently anxious, as he was wont
to say, ``to see what the fellow is made of,'' and he would
frequently put some provoking question, liking nothing
better than to receive a pithy answer. Of his kind feelings
toward students I could say much. He was not inclined
to coddle them, but was ever ready to help any who
were deserving.

Despite his apparent austerity, he was singularly free
from harshness in his judgments. There were times when
he would have been justified in outbursts of bitterness
against those who attacked him in ways so foul and
maligned him in ways so vile; but I never heard any
bitter reply from him. In his politics there was never
a drop of bitterness. Only once or twice did I hear
him allude to any conduct which displeased him, and then
his comments were rather playful than otherwise. On one
occasion, when he had written to a gentleman of great
wealth and deserved repute as a philanthropist, asking
him to join in carrying the burden of the land locations,
and had received an unfavorable answer, he made a remark
which seemed to me rather harsh. To this I replied:
``Mr. Cornell, Mr. ---- is not at all in fault; he does not
understand the question as you do; everybody knows that
he is a very liberal man.'' ``Oh,'' said Mr. Cornell, ``it's
easy enough to be liberal; the only hard part is drawing
the check.''

Of his intellectual characteristics, foresight was the most
remarkable. Of all men in the country who had to do
with the college land grant of 1862, he alone discerned the
possibilities involved and had courage to make them actual.

Clearness of thought on all matters to which he gave his
attention was another striking characteristic; hence, whenever
he put anything on paper, it was lucid and cogent.
There seems at times in his writings some of the
clear, quaint shrewdness so well known in Abraham Lincoln.
Very striking examples of this are to be found in
his legislative speeches, in his address at the opening of
the university, and in his letters.

Among his moral characteristics, his truthfulness,
persistence, courage, and fortitude were most strongly
marked. These qualities made him a man of peace. He
regarded life as too short to be wasted in quarrels; his
steady rule was never to begin a lawsuit or have anything
to do with one, if it could be avoided. The joy in
litigation and squabble, which has been the weakness of
so many men claiming to be strong, and the especial
curse of so many American churches, colleges, universities,
and other public organizations, had no place in his
strong, tolerant nature. He never sought to publish the
sins of any one in the courts or to win the repute of an
uncompromising fighter. In this peaceable disposition he
was prompted not only by his greatest moral quality:--
his charity toward his fellow-men, but by his greatest intel-
lectual quality:--his foresight; for he knew well ``the
glorious uncertainty of the law.'' He was a builder, not a

There resulted from these qualities an equanimity which
I have never seen equaled. When his eldest son had been
elected to the highest office in the gift of the State
Assembly, and had been placed, evidently, on the way to the
governor 's chair,--afterward attained,--though it must
have gratified such a father, he never made any reference
to it in my hearing; and when the body of his favorite
grandson, a most winning and promising boy, killed
instantly by a terrible accident, was brought into his
presence, though his heart must have bled, his calmness seemed
almost superhuman.

His religious ideas were such as many excellent people
would hardly approve. He had been born into the Society
of Friends; and their quietness, simplicity, freedom from
noisy activity, and devotion to the public good attached
him to them. But his was not a bigoted attachment; he
went freely to various churches, aiding them without
distinction of sect, though finally he settled into a steady
attendance at the Unitarian Church in Ithaca, for the pastor
of which he conceived a great respect and liking. He was
never inclined to say much about religion; but, in our
talks, he was wont to quote with approval from Pope's
``Universal Prayer''--and especially the lines:

``Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see;
The mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.''

On the mere letter of Scripture he dwelt little; and,
while he never obtruded opinions that might shock any
person, and was far removed from scoffing or irreverence,
he did not hesitate to discriminate between parts of our
Sacred Books which he considered as simply legendary
and parts which were to him pregnant with eternal truth.

His religion seemed to take shape in a deeply reverent
feeling toward his Creator, and in a constant desire to
improve the condition of his fellow-creatures. He was
never surprised or troubled by anything which any other
human being believed or did not believe; of intolerance
he was utterly incapable. He sought no reputation as a
philanthropist, cared little for approval, and nothing for
applause; but I can say of him, without reserve, that,
during all the years I knew him, ``he went about doing



Although my formal election to the university presidency
did not take place until 1867, the duties implied
by that office had already been discharged by me
during two years.

While Mr. Cornell devoted himself to the financial
questions arising from the new foundation, he intrusted all
other questions to me. Indeed, my duties may be said to
have begun when, as chairman of the Committee on Education
in the State Senate, I resisted all efforts to divide
the land-grant fund between the People's College and
the State Agricultural College; to have been continued
when I opposed the frittering away of the entire grant
among more than twenty small sectarian colleges; and
to have taken a more direct form when I drafted the
educational clauses of the university charter and advocated
it before the legislature and in the press. This
advocacy was by no means a light task. The influential
men who flocked to Albany, seeking to divide the fund
among various sects and localities, used arguments often
plausible and sometimes forcible. These I dealt with
on various occasions, but especially in a speech before the
State Senate in 1865, in which was shown the character
of the interested opposition, the farcical equipment of
the People's College, the failure of the State Agricultural
College, the inadequacy of the sectarian colleges,
even though they called themselves universities; and I
did all in my power to communicate to my colleagues
something of my own enthusiasm for a university suitably
endowed, free from sectarian trammels, centrally
situated, and organized to meet fully the wants of the
State as regarded advanced education, general and

Three points I endeavored especially to impress upon
them in this speech. First, that while, as regards primary
education, the policy of the State should be diffusion of
resources, it should be, as regards university education,
concentration of resources. Secondly, that sectarian
colleges could not do the work required. Thirdly, that any
institution for higher education in the State must form an
integral part of the whole system of public instruction;
that the university should not be isolated from the school
system, as were the existing colleges, but that it should
have a living connection with the system, should push its
roots down into it and through it, drawing life from it
and sending life back into it. Mr. Cornell accepted this
view at once. Mr. Horace Greeley, who, up to that time,
had supported the People's College, was favorably impressed
by it, and, more than anything else, it won for us
his support. To insure this vital connection of the
proposed university with the school system, I provided in
the charter for four ``State scholarships'' in each of the
one hundred and twenty-eight Assembly districts. These
scholarships were to be awarded to the best scholars in the
public schools of each district, after due examination, one
each year; each scholarship entitling the holder to free
instruction in the university for four years. Thus the
university and the schools were bound closely together by
the constant and living tie of five hundred and twelve
students. As the number of Assembly districts under the
new constitution was made, some years later, one hundred
and fifty, the number of these competitive free scholarships
is now six hundred. They have served their purpose
well. Thirty years of this connection have greatly
uplifted the whole school system of the State, and
made the university a life-giving power in it; while this
uplifting of the school system has enabled the university
steadily to raise and improve its own standard of instruction.

But during the earlier period of our plans there was
one serious obstacle--Charles James Folger. He was the
most powerful member of the Senate, its president, and
chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He had already won
wide respect as a county judge, had been longer in the
Senate than any other member, and had already given ample
evidence of the qualities which later in life raised him to
some of the highest positions, State and National. His
instincts would have brought him to our side; for he was
broad-minded, enlightened, and earnestly in favor of all
good legislation. He was also my personal friend, and
when I privately presented my views to him he acquiesced
in them. But there were two difficulties. First, he had in
his own city a denominational college, his own alma
mater, which, though small, was influential. Still worse
for us, he had in his district the State Agricultural College,
which the founding of Cornell University must necessarily
wipe out of existence. He might rise above the first
of these difficulties, but the second seemed insurmountable.
No matter how much in sympathy with our main aim, he
could not sacrifice a possession so dear to his constituency
as the State College of Agriculture. He felt that he had
no right to do so; he knew also that to do so would be to
sacrifice his political future, and we felt, as he did, that he
had no right to do this.

But here came in to help us the culmination of a series
of events as unexpected as that which had placed the land-
grant fund at our disposal just at the time when Mr. Cornell
and myself met in the State Senate. For years a
considerable body of thoughtful men throughout the State,
more especially of the medical profession, had sought to
remedy a great evil in the treatment of the insane. As far
back as the middle of the century, Senator Bradford of
Cortland had taken the lead in an investigation of the
system then existing, and his report was a frightful ex-
posure. Throughout the State, lunatics whose families
were unable to support them at the State or private asylums
were huddled together in the poorhouses of the various
counties. Their condition was heartrending. They
were constantly exposed to neglect, frequently to extremes
of cold and hunger, and sometimes to brutality: thus mild
lunacy often became raving madness. For some years before
my election to the Senate the need of a reform had
been urged upon the legislative committees by a physician
--Dr. Willard of Albany. He had taken this evil condition
of things much to heart, and year after year had come
before the legislature urging the creation of a new
institution, which he wished named after an eminent physician
of Albany who had in his day done what was possible to
remedy the evil--Dr. Beck. But year after year Dr.
Willard's efforts, like those of Dr. Beck before him, had
been in vain. Session after session the ``Bill to establish
the Beck Asylum for the Chronic Insane'' was rejected,--
the legislature shrinking from the cost of it. But one day,
as we were sitting in the Senate, appalling news came from
the Assembly: Dr. Willard, while making one more passionate
appeal for the asylum, had fallen dead in the presence
of the committee. The result was a deep and wide-
spread feeling of compunction, and while we were under
the influence of this I sought Judge Folger and showed him
his opportunity to do two great things. I said: ``It rests
with you to remedy this cruel evil which has now cost
Dr. Willard his life, and at the same time to join us in
carrying the Cornell University Bill. Let the legislature
create a new asylum for the chronic insane of the State.
Now is the time of all times. Instead of calling it the
Beck Asylum, give it the name of Willard--the man who
died in advocating it. Place it upon the Agricultural
College property on the shores of Seneca Lake in your
district. Your constituents are sure to prefer a living
State asylum to a dying Agricultural College, and will
thoroughly support you in both the proposed measures.''
This suggestion Judge Folger received with favor. The
Willard Asylum was created, and he became one of our
strongest supporters.

Both Mr. Cornell's financial plans and my educational
plans in the new university charter were wrought into
final shape by him. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee
he reported our bill to the Senate, and at various
critical periods gave us his earnest support. Quite likely
doctrinaires will stigmatize our conduct in this matter as
``log-rolling''; the men who always criticize but never
construct may even call it a ``bargain.'' There was
no ``bargain'' and no ``log-rolling,'' but they may call
it what they like; I believe that we were both of us
thoroughly in the right. For our coming together in this way
gave to the State the Willard Asylum and the Cornell
University, and without our thus coming together neither
of these would have been created.

But in spite of this happy compromise, the struggle for
our university charter, as has already been seen, was long
and severe. The opposition of over twenty sectarian colleges,
and of active politicians from every quarter of the
State where these colleges had been established, made our
work difficult; but at last it was accomplished. Preparations
for the new institution were now earnestly pressed
on, and for a year I gave up very much of my time to them,
keeping in constant communication with Mr. Cornell,
frequently visiting Ithaca, and corresponding with trustees
in various parts of the State and with all others at home
or abroad who seemed able to throw light on any of the
problems we had to solve.

The question now arose as to the presidency of the
institution; and, as time passed on and duties increased, this
became more and more pressing. In the previous chapter
I have given some account of the circumstances attending
my election and of Mr. Cornell's relation to it; but this is
perhaps the place for stating one of the difficulties which
stood in the way of my acceptance, and which, indeed,
greatly increased my cares during all the first years of my
presidency. The death of my father and uncle, who had
for many years carried on a large and wide-spread business,
threw upon me new responsibilities. It was during the
Civil War, when panic after panic ran through the American
business world, making the interests now devolving
upon me all the more burdensome. I had no education
for business and no liking for it, but, under the pressure
of necessity, decided to do the best I could, yet determining
that just as soon as these business affairs could be turned
over to others it should be done. Several years elapsed,
and those the busiest so far as the university was concerned,
before such a release became possible. So it happened
that during the first and most trying years of the
new institution of Ithaca, I was obliged to do duty as
senator of the State of New York, president of Cornell
University, lecturer at the University of Michigan,
president of the National Bank of Syracuse and director in
two other banks,--one being at Oswego,--director in the
New York Central and Lake Shore railways, director in
the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal,--to say nothing
of positions on boards of various similar corporations
and the executorship of two widely extended estates.
It was a trying time for me. There was, however, some
advantage; for this epoch in my life put me in relations
with some of the foremost business men in the United
States, among them Cornelius Vanderbilt, William H.
Vanderbilt, Dean Richmond, Daniel Drew, and various
other men accustomed to prompt and decisive dealing with
large business affairs. I recognized the value of such
associations and endeavored to learn something from them,
but was determined, none the less, to end this sort of
general activity as early as it could be done consistently
with justice to my family. Several years were required,
and those the very years in which university cares were
most pressing. But finally my intention was fully carried
out. The bank over which my father had presided so
many years I was able to wind up in a way satisfactory
to all concerned, not only repaying the shareholders,
but giving them a large surplus. From the other cor-
porations also I gradually escaped, turning my duties
over to those better fitted for them. Still many outside
cares remained, and in one way or another I was obliged
to take part in affairs which I would have gladly shunned.
Yet there was consolation in the idea that, as my main
danger was that of drifting into a hermit life among
professors and books, anything that took me out of this for a
limited length of time was not without compensating advantages.

Just previously to my election to the university presidency
I had presented a ``plan of organization,'' which,
having been accepted and printed by the trustees, formed
the mold for the main features of the new institution; and
early among my duties came the selection and nomination
of professors. In these days one is able to choose from a
large body of young men holding fellowships in the various
larger universities of the United States; but then, with
the possible exception of two or three at Harvard, there
was not a fellowship, so far as I can remember, in the whole
country. The choosing of professors was immeasurably
more difficult than at present. With reference to this point,
a very eminent graduate of Harvard then volunteered to
me some advice, which at first sight looked sound, but which
I soon found to be inapplicable. He said: ``You must secure
at any cost the foremost men in the United States in
every department. In this way alone can a real university
be created.'' Trying the Socratic method upon him, I
asked, in reply, ``How are we to get such men? The foremost
man in American science is undoubtedly Agassiz, but
he has refused all offers of high position at Paris made him
by the French Emperor. The main objects of his life are
the creation of his great museum at Harvard and his
investigations and instruction in connection with it; he has
declared that he has `no time to waste in making money!'
What sum or what inducement of any sort can transfer
him from Harvard to a new institution on the distant hills
of central New York? So, too, with the most eminent
men at the other universities. What sum will draw them
to us from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the University of
Virginia, and the University of Michigan? An endowment
twice as large as ours would be unavailing.'' Therefore
it was that I broached, as a practical measure, in my
``plan of organization,'' the system which I had discussed
tentatively with George William Curtis several years before,
and to which he referred afterward in his speech at
the opening of the university at Ithaca. This was to take
into our confidence the leading professors in the more
important institutions of learning, and to secure from
them, not the ordinary, conventional paper testimonials,
but confidential information as to their young men likely
to do the best work in various fields, to call these young
men to our resident professorships, and then to call the
most eminent men we could obtain for non-resident
professorships or lectureships. This idea was carried out to
the letter. The most eminent men in various universities
gave us confidential advice; and thus it was that I was
enabled to secure a number of bright, active, energetic
young men as our resident professors, mingling with them
two or three older men, whose experience and developed
judgment seemed necessary in the ordinary conduct of our

As to the other part of the plan, I secured Agassiz,
Lowell, Curtis, Bayard Taylor, Goldwin Smith, Theodore
Dwight, George W. Greene, John Stanton Gould, and at a
later period Froude, Freeman, and others, as non-resident
professors and lecturers. Of the final working of this
system I shall speak later.

The question of buildings also arose; but, alas! I could
not reproduce my air-castles. For our charter required
us to have the university in operation in October, 1868,
and there was no time for careful architectural preparation.
Moreover, the means failed us. All that we could
then do was to accept a fairly good plan for our main
structures; to make them simple, substantial, and dignified;
to build them of stone from our own quarries; and
so to dispose them that future architects might so combine
other buildings with them as to form an impressive quadrangle
on the upper part of the university property. To
this plan Mr. Cornell gave his hearty assent. It was then
arranged, with his full sanction, that the university
buildings should ultimately consist of two great groups: the
first or upper group to be a quadrangle of stone, and the
second or lower group to be made up of buildings of
brick more freely disposed, according to our future needs
and means. Although this plan has unfortunately been
departed from in some minor respects, it has in general
turned out well.

Having called a number of professors and seen foundations
laid for ``Morrill Hall,'' I sailed in April of 1868
for Europe, in order to study technical institutions, to
purchase needed equipment, and to secure certain professors
such as could not then be found in our own country.
Thus far my knowledge of higher education in Europe
had been confined almost entirely to the universities;
but now I went carefully through various technical
institutions, among them the English Agricultural College
at Cirencester, the Agricultural Experiment Station
at Rothamstead, the French Agricultural College at
Grignon, the Conservatoire des Arts et Mtiers at Paris,
the Veterinary School at Alfort, the German Agricultural
College at Hohenheim, the Technical School and
Veterinary College at Berlin, and others. As to equipment,
wherever I found valuable material I bought it.
Thus were brought together for our library a very large
collection of books in all the principal departments; physical
and chemical apparatus from London, Paris, Heidelberg,
and Berlin; chemicals from Berlin and Erfurt; the
only duplicate of the royal collection of cereals and grasses
and the great collection of British patent-office publications
from the British imperial authorities; the Rau models
of plows from Hohenheim; the Brendel plant models
from Breslau; the models of machine movements from
London, Darmstadt, and Berlin; the plastic models of
Auzoux from Paris; and other apparatus and instruments
from all parts of Europe, with diagrams and drawings
from every institution where I could find them. During
three months, from funds furnished by the university, by
Mr. Cornell personally, and, I may be allowed to add, from
my own personal resources, I expended for these purposes
over sixty thousand dollars, a sum which in those days
represented much more than in these.

As to non-resident professors, I secured in London
Goldwin Smith, who had recently distinguished himself
by his works as a historian and as regius professor of
history at Oxford; and I was successful in calling Dr.
James Law, who, though a young man, had already made
himself a name in veterinary science. It seemed to many
a comical juxtaposition, and various witticisms were made
at my expense over the statement that I had ``brought
back an Oxford professor and a Scotch horse-doctor.''
But never were selections more fortunate. Goldwin Smith,
by his high character, his broad and deep scholarship, his
devotion not only to his professorship but to the general
university work, his self-denial in behalf of the university
and its students, rendered priceless services. He bore all
privations cheerfully and braved all discouragements
manfully. Never were there better historical lectures than his.
They inspired us all, and the impulse then given is still
felt. So, too, Dr. Law, in his field, was invaluable, and this
was soon felt throughout the State. Of him I shall speak



On the 7th of October, 1868, came the formal opening
of the university. The struggle for its charter
had attracted much attention in all parts of the State, and
a large body of spectators, with about four hundred
students, assembled at the Cornell Library Hall in Ithaca.
Though the charter had required us to begin in October,
there had seemed for some time very little chance of
it. Mr. Cornell had been absent in the woods of the upper
Mississippi and on the plains of Kansas, selecting university
lands; I had been absent for some months in Europe,
securing plans and equipment; and as, during our absence,
the contractor for the first main building, Morrill Hall, had
failed, the work was wretchedly behindhand. The direct
roads to the university site were as yet impracticable, for
the Cascadilla ravine and the smaller one north of it were
still unbridged. The grounds were unkempt, with heaps
of earth and piles of material in all directions. The great
quantities of furniture, apparatus, and books which I had
sent from Europe had been deposited wherever storage
could be found. Typical was the case of the large Holtz
electrical machine from Germany. It was in those days a
novelty, and many were anxious to see it; but it could not
be found, and it was only discovered several weeks later,
when the last pots and pans were pulled out of the kitchen
store-room in the cellar of the great stone barrack known
as Cascadilla House. All sorts of greatly needed material
had been delayed in steamships and on railways, or was
stuck fast in custom-houses and warehouses from Berlin
and Paris to Ithaca. Our friends had toiled heroically
during our absence, but the little town--then much
less energetic than now--had been unable to furnish
the work required in so short a time. The heating
apparatus and even the doors for the students' rooms were
not in place until weeks after winter weather had set in. To
complicate matters still more, students began to come at
a period much earlier and in numbers far greater than we
had expected; and the first result of this was that, in
getting ready for the opening, Mr. Cornell and myself were
worn out. For two or three days before my inauguration
both of us were in the hands of physicians and in bed, and
on the morning of the day appointed we were taken in
carriages to the hall where the ceremony was to take place.
To Mr. Cornell's brief speech I have alluded elsewhere;
my own presented my ideas more at length. They were
grouped in four divisions. The first of these related to
``Foundation Ideas,'' which were announced as follows:
First, the close union of liberal and practical instruction;
second, unsectarian control; third, a living union between
the university and the whole school system of the State;
fourth, concentration of revenues for advanced education.
The second division was that of ``Formative Ideas''; and
under these--First, equality between different courses of
study. In this I especially developed ideas which had
occurred to me as far back as my observations after
graduation at Yale, where the classical students belonging
to the ``college proper'' were given a sort of supremacy,
and scientific students relegated to a separate institution
at considerable distance, and therefore deprived of much
general, and even special, culture which would have
greatly benefited them. Indeed, they seemed not considered
as having any souls to be saved, since no provision
was made for them at the college chapel. Second, increased
development of scientific studies. The third main division
was that of ``Governmental Ideas''; and under these--

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