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THIS History had its origin in the following circumstances. In March, 1836, the Author accepted an invitation from the Corporation of Harvard University, to prepare, as President of the institution, a discourse, to be delivered on the second centennial anniversary of its foundation, in commemoration of that event, and of the founders and patrons of the seminary. From the researches, into which he was led by this undertaking, it became apparent that these topics could not be satisfactorily investigated before the day fixed upon for the celebration. The Author, therefore, decided to prepare such a general sketch of events and characters as might be comprised within the limits of an occasional address, and to announce his intention of attempting to do justice to the subject in a work of a more enlarged form and permanent character.
Various considerations concurred to produce this determination. Many of the circumstances attending the foundation of the College, and much of its subsequent history, the lapse of time had already involved in obscurity. Important public documents were lost. Some of the early records of the institution had been destroyed by fire. Those which remained were contained in two or three decaying volumes, the loss of which would render it impossible to trace consecutively the events of its early history. In 1809, the importance of such a work was perceived, and its immediate preparation was urged on the sons of the College, by Buckminster, as ripe a scholar, and a genius "touched to as fine issues," as any one who was ever graduated at Harvard College; on the ground that, if delayed, "it would soon become impracticable."* For nearly thirty years a vote of the Corporation, requesting the President to prepare a History of the University, had stood upon the records of that board, and the execution of such a work had long been an object of desire among the friends of the institution. The laborious zeal of the late Benjamin Peirce, Librarian of the seminary, had indeed eventuated in a publication of
See an eloquent appeal to the Alumni of the University, in an address "on the Dangers and Duties of Men of Letters," pronounced before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, by J. S. Buckminster, and published in the "Monthly Anthology" for September, 1809.
great merit and usefulness, possessing the traits of that soundness of judgment and accuracy of investigation so eminently his characteristics. But his History of the University being left incomplete * by his death, the interesting information and valuable materials he had collected with great industry and research, although in many respects thoroughly wrought and fully developed, yet in others were only partially prepared, and in a state to excite rather than to satisfy curiosity.
A knowledge of facts could now be obtained, which might soon be lost, concerning founders, patrons, and officers of the institution, whose wisdom and exertions had contributed to its character, its success, and even to the continuance of its existence. To rescue these facts from oblivion was acknowledged by all to be a solemn duty, -a duty, which the Author, reflecting upon his relation to the seminary, and upon the circumstances which had led him to researches subsidiary to such a design, deemed to be upon him imperative. To render an appropriate and just tribute to the merits, sufferings, and sacrifices of these founders, patrons, and officers, was the conclusive motive to this undertaking; and, since no duty is more incumbent upon seminaries of learning, than the commemoration of the virtues and labors,
See the Editor's preface to Mr. Peirce's History of the University.
which have contributed to their existence and prosperity, a greater extension has been given to the biographical notices in this work, than is usual in a general history.
Every effort has been made to render the work complete, exact, and worthy of the institution it was designed to illustrate. In addition to the archives of the College, and those of the Colony and State of Massachusetts, the use of the books and manuscripts belonging to the Massachusetts Historical Society and to the American Antiquarian Society has been liberally afforded to the Author. Many ancient papers and manuscripts have been submitted to his inspection by those individuals in whose hands they now rest. The thread of the narrative has, however, been chiefly drawn from the records of the Corporation and Overseers; and no fact deemed generally important and interesting, which they contain, has been intentionally omitted. When views concerning motives, characters, and events, are expressed, differing from those generally entertained, the original documents from which they result are invariably annexed. The desire to place these authorities in the hands of the public, and to preserve from loss original papers, illustrative of the manners and characters of a former age, has led to an enlargement of the Appendix to each volume far beyond the original design.
To render the history more complete and useful, the outline of events has been brought down to the present day; but a particular notice of living characters has been avoided, except in cases where gratitude demanded a tribute to the bounty or extraordinary services of individuals; and in such cases it is confined to the language of records or public documents. A similar course has been pursued in respect to the narrative of contemporaneous events, which has been restricted to facts deemed necessary or important to be known.
A History of Harvard University, written by the President of the institution, and published with the sanction of the Corporation, may be regarded by the public as rendering the College or the Corporation responsible for the views and sentiments it contains. The Author of this work, therefore, deems it his duty explicitly to state, that the narrative of facts and circumstances here given is exclusively the result of his own research and selection, and that, for the views and opinions it expresses, he is alone responsible.
In collecting materials for this work, and particularly those relating to the lives of benefactors and patrons of the institution, the obligations of the Author to individuals have been too numerous to be specially acknowledged. His thanks, however, are particularly due to the following gentlemen, for important docu