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Harvard - Top Schools

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Harvard University, the oldest school in America, was founded in 1636, six years after the first settlement of Boston. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, through its General Court, in that year made a giant of 400 pounds to "advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity," and in the following year appointed twelve of the principal men in the colony "to take order for a college at New-town." Two years afterward the Rev. John Harvard, a Non-Conformist clergyman of Charlestown, who the year before had graduated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, England, gave by his will the sum of 779 pounds, and 300 books, more than half of his estate. Nine students entered the first class. All of these distinguished themselves in after life, one of them, Sir George Downing, achieving the unenviable distinction of serving both the Commonwealth and the king in the English Revolution. John Harvard's bequest was followed by other gifts, such as a font of letters, books, silver spoons, cooking utensils, garden tools, and others, varying in value from 3 shillings to 200. The first gift of real estate was two and one half acres of land given by the town of Cambridge, thereby changing the nominal location from Newtown to Cambridge. The General Court, in lieu of the money it had promised, granted to Harvard College the right of ferry between Charles-town and Boston. In 1642, the board of overseers, consisting of the governor and deputy governor of the colony, the magistrates then in jurisdiction, the president of the college, and the teaching elders, was constituted. In 1643 the present seal of the University and its motto, "Christo et Ecclesiae, " was adopted. The college charter was granted in 1650, and the college corporation created. In 1653 Rev. Henry Dunster, the first president, fell under suspicion of favoring the Anti-paedo Baptists and as a consequence was indicted by the grand jury for disturbing the ordinance of infant baptism in the Cambridge church. He was tried, convicted, and besides being compelled to resign, and being laid under bonds for good behavior, was sentenced to receive all admonition once a year. Previous to this, Nathaniel Eaton, the first person in charge of the institution, was dismissed for beating his usher. The presidents in succession, with their terms of office, have been as follows: Henry Dunster, 1640-1654; Charles Chauncy, 1654-1672; Leonard Hoar, 1672-1675; Urian Oakes, acting president, 1675-1679; president, 1679-1681; John Rogers, 1682-1684; Increase Mather, acting president, 1685-1686; rector, 1686-1692; president, 1692-1701; Charles Morton, vice-president, 1697-1698; Samuel Willard, vice-president, 1700-1707; John Leverett, 1707-1724; Benjamin Wadsworth, 1725-1737; Edward Holyoke, 1737-1769; Samuel Locke, 1770-1773; Samuel Langdon, 1774-1780; Joseph Willard, 1781-1804; Samnel Webber, 1806-1810; John Thornton Kirkland, 1810-1828; Josiah Quincy, 1829-1815 Edward Everett, 1846-1849; Jared Sparks, 1849-1853; James Walker, 1853-1860; Cornelius Conway Felton, 1860-1862 Thomas Hill, 1862-1868; Charles William Eliot, 1869 to the present time.

During the term of the second president, a hall, costing 350, was erected, for the purpose of giving instruction to Indians, but one Indian only applied for admittance and was graduated by the college. Before this, a single building had served all the purposes of the college. All the college halls that were erected after this (luring the seventeenth century were subsequently razed or destroyed, so that the oldest building now standing on the Harvard yard is Massachusetts Hall, erected in 1720. Harvard College, from that time on, prospered, and now has property and endowment aggregating almost fifteen million dollars. The University is divided into the following departments, with separate faculties or board of administration: Harvard College, Lawrence Scientific School, Graduate School, Divinity School, Law School, Medical School, Dental School, School of Veterinary Medicine, Bussey Institution (a school of agriculture), Arnold Arboretum, University Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, University Museum, Botanic Garden, Herbarium, Astronomical Observatory, Peabody Museum of American Archeology and Ethnology. Radcliffe College, formerly known as the Harvard Annex for women, though intimately connected with the University, is still a separate institution. The degrees granted by the University are: Bachelor of arts, of agricultural science, of divinity, of laws, of science, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy, science, laws, medicine, veterinary medicine, and dentistry. Since the foundation of Harvard College, nearly twenty thousand students, in all, have been graduated, of whom some eleven thousand are alive.

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