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Masherick; and from thence to Princeton College, Dr. Witherspoon being President.
His classical course was comprised in about five years. Owing to his narrow means, he was engaged in teaching the younger classes, while with Mr. Finley, and in the preparatory academy while in College, thus improving himself and contributing to his own support.
His mother spared no pains or efforts to assist and encourage him in his literary course; and rejoiced at his enterprise and his success.
While he was a member of College, this excellent mother was seized with a paralysis, and, after a short illness, died. With much of that meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price, she was eminent for that charity which thinketh no evil, which hopeth all things and believeth all things. Peculiarly fitted, by her ardent piety and affectionate disposition, to be near the sick and afflicted, no difficulties, by night or by day, prevented her attendance upon those who desired her presence. By her example and by her precepts she taught her son the great things of the gospel of Christ. Her religion, not being confined to internal experiences, manifested itself in her temper and the relative duties of life. Mr. Graham appreciated his mother while living; and mourned for her when dead. In after life he said—"he had received more information respecting the nature of practical religion from her conversation, than from all the books he had ever read on the subject, except the Bible."
Mr. Graham pursued his studies with the same ardour he had shown in all his early pursuits; and was graduated with a class of twenty-nine, in the year 1773. Of that class fourteen became ministers of the gospel, four Presidents of College, and three Governors of a State. His reputation for scholarship was high among his classmates, and in the College. Henry Lee, a classmate, afterwards so well known in the Revolution, and as Governor of Virginia, had formed a high estimate of his acquirements. At the approach of one of the examinations, young Lee requested to review with Graham, in preparation. Graham declined the opportunity, fearing loss of time; young Lee pressed the matter with urgency; and Graham consented, on condition that subjects of conversation should not be introduced. After the examination, Lee came to his room and said, —“Well, Graham, I have passed a glorious examination, and I know that I am indebted for it, in a great measure to you. What recompense shall I make you?” “None at all,” said Graham. After some conversation, Lee left the room, returned, and laying upon the table Belshaw's Lectures on Natural Philosophy, immediately departed. Upon opening the volume Graham found a black line had been drawn through the
name of Henry Lee, and underneath was written William Graham. The volume is still preserved by Mr. Graham's connexions, in Virginia.
John B. Smith, his companion in labour in Virginia, and almost his rival, and also Lewis F. Wilson, so beloved and honoured in North Carolina and New Jersey, were his class
The revival of religion, with which that class in College was visited from on high, could not have been lost on Graham; its fruits have been scattered, by the different members, through the United States.
Upon leaving College Mr. Graham returned to his father's house, and soon entered on the study of theology with his pastor, Mr. Roan, whose ardent preaching had made him notorious in Virginia, and given him a name on their records of Court. While studying with Mr. Roan, his knowledge of farming, and his skill in repairing the necessary tools of husbandry were turned to good account both to himself for exercise, and to his pastor and instructor for assistance; and such habits were cherished as were invaluable to him in his labours in Virginia.
In the fall of 1774, on the recommendation of the Rev. Samuel Stanhope Smith, employed in founding Hampden Sidney College, in Prince Edward, Mr. Graham was invited to engage in a classical school, in Augusta county, under the direction of the Rev. John Brown, pastor of New Providence and formerly of Timber Ridge.
The Presbytery had been engaged for some years on the subject of founding a literary institution, whose location should be in the Great Valley of Virginia. Their councils and efforts resulted first in Liberty Hall Academy, and ultimately in WASHINGTON COLLEGE.
In the month of May, 1771, the Synod of New York and Philadelphia recommended the Academy at Newark—“to the charity of the various congregations within their bounds." In the month of October, the Presbytery of Lexington, the first session of their meeting, at the Dee Ess church, "recommended to all their ministers, to lay it before their several congregations, and to use their best influence to promote that design. This turned the Presbytery to consider the necessity of a literary institution within their own bounds, and fostered by their care; and accordingly the next act recorded, is—“Presbytery being very sensible of the great expediency of erecting a Seminary of learning somewhere within the bounds of this Presbytery, do recommend it to all the members to take this matter under consideration, and report their thoughts at our next, especially respecting the best method of accomplishing it.” In April of 1772, at Rockfish,—the consideration of the minute concerning the New York Academy, and a Seminary amongst ourselves, is deferred until our next sederunt." In June, 1773, at Brown's meeting-house--"the Presbytery think. it prudent to defer the fixing the particular place of our intended Seminary, until our next stated Presbytery, which is to be at Rockfish, on the second Wednesday of October next.” In October, 1773—"the Presbytery agree to fix the publick Seminary for the liberal education of youth, in Staunton, Augusta.” In October 1774, at Cub Creek—the Presbytery resume the consideration of a school for the liberal education of youth; judged to be of great and immediate importance. We do therefore agree to establish and patronise a publick school, which shall be confined to the county of Augusta. At present it shall be managed by Mr. William Graham, a gentleman properly recommended to this Presbytery,—and under the inspection of the Rev. Mr. John Brown, and the Presbytery reserve to themselves the liberty at a future session, more particularly to appoint the person by whom it shall be conducted, and the place where it shall be fixed, which they are induced to do notwithstanding a former presbyterial appointment,--because there is no person to take the management of it in the place first agreed on, and it is very uncertain whether there ever will be.”
To carry this determination into effect, the Presbytery appointed “the Rev. Messrs. John Brown, David Rice, Samuel Cummins, William Irwin and Caleb Wallace to collect subscriptions, in the several congregations annexed to their names, for the purpose of obtaining a library and proper apparatus,viz. -Mr. Brown in the Pastures, Providence, and the North Mountain,-Mr. Rice in Botetourt, on the south side of James River,-Mr. Cummins in Fincastle, Mr. Irvin at Tinkling Spring, the Stone meeting-house and Brown's Settlement,--Mr. Wallace in the Fork of James River,—and Mr. Smith at plea
It was also agreed that by the terms of subscription the money should be paid—“to the persons or their order, on or before the twentieth day of December next ensuing, in the
By the act of Presbytery in 1774, the grammar school, conducted by the Rev. John Brown, or under his supervision and in his charge, became the centre of operations for literary and theological improvement in the Valley. The Rev. Samuel Houston in his letter to Rey. James Morrison tells us—“that shortly before the war, some men whósé sons were growing up, felt a desire for having them or part of them educated liberally, chiefly with a view to the ministry of the gospel. Accordingly a small grammar school was formed in the neighbourhood of Old Providence, composed of Samuel Doak, John Montgomery, Archibald Alexander, James Houston, William Tate, Samuel
Greenlee, William Wilson, Ebenezer Smith, and some others, which greatly increased and drew youths from distant neighbourhoods. This grammar school was moved to the place, near Fairfield, called Mount Pleasant; about which time the Presbytery of Hanover patronised it. This school, spoken of by Mr. Houston, was taught, at first, about four miles East of New Providence. Mr. Brown removed it to New Providence, and after teaching there for a time, removed it again to Mount Pleasant, the highest point of the Ridge, about a mile west of Fairfield, and equally distant from his house, which was situated at a like distance from Fairfield, on the same Ridge, the road to the Academy going out from the North end of the town, and that leading to his dwelling from the South end. The school became more prosperous under the tuition of Mr. Graham and the patronage of the Presbytery.
April 12th, 1775, the Presbytery commenced its Spring Sessions at Timber Ridge; on the 13th, it met at the house of Rev. Mr. Brown; present, Rev. Messrs. Todd, Brown, Rice, Leake, Irwin, Waddell, and Wallace, with John Logan, elder. “William Graham having offered himself on trials for the gospel ministry, produced sufficient testimonials of his good standing in the churches, where he lived to the Northward, and particularly from the churches where he was best known, and having been interrogated on his views for the gospel ministry, and also on his acquaintance with practical piety, and on these points having satisfied the Presbytery, he is continued on trials.” On the next day at the same place" Mr. Graham having read a discourse on Galatians, i. 13; and also an exegesis, on this question, — An Christus qua Mediator sit Adorandus?--The Presbytery after consideration sustain them as pieces of trial. The Presbytery appoint Mr. Graham a discourse on 1 Timothy, iv. 10; also a homily on this subject -How far knowledge is necessary to salvation—To be delivered at a Presbytery to be held at the De Ess, on the last Wednesday of June, Anno 1775."
At the same meeting, Mr. James Templeton, a graduate of Princeton College, of the Class of 1772, was examined respecting his views of the ministry, and “ also touching the grace of God in him”—and having produced testimonials —"in particular from Dr. Witherspoon," —respecting his character, moral and religious, was received on trial, and pieces according to custom, were assigned him.
“ The affairs of the public school are now taken under consideration, and after the most mature deliberation, the Presbytery find that they can do no more, at this session, than recommend it again, in the warmest manner, to the publick to make such liberal contributions as they shall find compatible with their circumstances, for the establishing said school; and the Presbytery, as guardians and directors, take this opportunity to declare their resolution to do their best endeavour to establish it on the most catholic plan that circumstances will permit of.” On the next day the affairs of the school were again considered; and—“the Presbytery finding that they cannot, of themselves, forward subscriptions in a particular manner, do, for the encouragement of the Academy to be established in Augusta, recommend it to the following gentlemen to take in subscriptions, in their behalf-viz:
“The Rev. Mr. Cummins, Colonel W. Preston, and Colonel W. Christian, in Fincastle, Colonel Lewis, Colonel Fleming and Mr. Lockheart, in Bottetourt,--on the south side of James River, Captain John Boyer, Captain W. Mckee, Captain Adlai Paul, Captain John Maxwell, and Mr. James Trimble,-in the Forks of James River, Mr. Samuel Lyle and Captain Samuel McDowell,-in Timber Ridge, the Rev. Mr. John Brown, Mr. James Wilson and Mr. Charles Campbell of Providence, Mr. William McPheeters, Mr. William Ledgerwood and Mr. John Trimble, in the North Mountain and Brown's Settlement, Mr. Thomas Stewart and Mr. Walter Davis at the Tinkling Spring, -Mr. Sampson Mathews of Staunton,-Captain George Mathews, Captain George Maffit and Mr. James Allen in Augusta congregation. Mr. Brown, Mr. Irvin and Mr. Wallace are to give the above named gentlemen notice of their appointment, and to solicit their favour.”
The opportunity of visiting the school under their patronage being so favourable—“the Presbytery repaired to the schoolhouse, and attended a specimen of the proficiency of the students, in the Latin and Greek language, and pronouncing orations; with which they were well pleased.”
About this time was made the visit so pleasantly described by Dr. Campbell of Lexington, in the Literary Messenger in 1838. “I happened at Mount Pleasant during Mr. Graham's superintendence. It was near the hour of recreation. Here was seen a large assemblage of fine cheerful vigorous looking youth apparently from ten to twenty years of age. They were mostly engaged in feats of strength, speed, or agility; each emulous to surpass his fellows in those exercises, for which youth of their age generally possess a strong predeliction. Presently the sound of a horn summoned all to the business of the afternoon. The sports were dropped as by magic. Now you may see them seated singly or in pairs, or in small groups, with book in hand, conning over their afternoon's lesson. One portion resorted immediately to the hall, and ranging themselves, before the preceptor in semi-circular order, handed him an open book containing their recita