Contact us via live chat, phone or e-mail.
Or check our FAQ.

Transcript of the Manuscript History of Amherst College;

also included are Noah Webster’s speeches and the letter of acceptance of Zephania Swift Moore to the Amherst College Presidency

Prepared and arranged by

 Noah Webster, LL.D.

Copied by Lucius Boltwood in July 1834 from manuscripts, reports, votes and pamphlets prepared and arranged by Noah Webster and by his permission and presented to the Trustees of Amherst College on August 2, 1836.  This manuscript was recopied from Lucius Boltwood’s manuscript for the College by direction of President W. A. Stearns, Dec. 29, 1862.  It was transcribed to a digital format by Willis Bridegam, Librarian Emeritus, November 18, 2008.


            The origin and history of the literary institutions of a national leave in no serve degree to illustrate the character of the nation, and their improvements in arts, sciences and manners.  To future generations these correct accounts of the origin and progress of such institutions will form most interesting portions of national history.  Such an account of the origin of Amherst College, in the state of Massachusetts, will be more interesting as the circumstances attending to foundation were in some respects peculiar.

            In the month of July or August 1812, a subscription for establishing an Academy in Amherst was set on foot by Samuel F. Dickinson and H. W. Strong, Esqs.  By means of this subscription and subsequent additions to it, a brick edifice was erected & instructors were procured for the education of youth of both sexes.  Success attended this establishment, & at the session of the Legislature of the state, in the winter of 1816, an act of incorporation was obtained, dated Jan. 18th.  The trustees named in this act were David Parsons, Nathan Perkins, Samuel F. Dickinson, Hezekiah W. Strong, Rufus Gould, Calvin Merrill, Noah Webster, John Woodbridge, James Taylor, Nathaniel Smith, Josiah Dwight, Rufus Graves, Winthrop Bailey, Experience Porter, and Elijah Gridley.

            At the annual meeting of the board of Trustees on the 18th of November 1817, a project formed by Rufus Graves, Esq. was adopted for increasing the usefulness of the Academy, by raising a fund for the gratuitous education of pious young men.  For this purpose the Trustees adopted the following Resolve and preamble.

            “Taking into consideration the local situation of this Academy, its growing importance & flattering prospects, the following Resolution with the preamble was unanimously adopted by the board of Trustees.

            Whereas it hath pleased the disposer of events to cause an Academy to be established in this place, the primary objects of which are to improve the hearts as well as to cultivate the minds of youth, to inculcate the doctrine and precepts of sound morality & evangelical duty, as well as to instruct in the principles of science & useful literature; And whereas in pursuance of these principles guidance of a propitious providence, this institution has succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations; and animating hopes are cherished of its future growth and progress; and it has therefore become an object of the highest consideration with this board, place the institution in the most eligible circumstances, for great and increasing benefits to the present & succeeding generations by obtaining a large and an accumulating permanent fund, in order to afford its instructions gratuitously, to indigent young men of promising talents and hopeful piety, who shall manifest a desire to obtain a liberal education with the sole view to the Christian ministry, who on a reasonable probation, shall be adjudged worthy of the benefactions of the seminary, and where as in order to the realizing of the benefits aforesaid, it becomes requisite that the principal instruction at least, should be made permanent; and whereas the institution having been located in an elevated and healthy situation, in the centre of an extensive & wealthy population of regular morals has its, where the means of living are as cheap, & so easily obtained as in any part of this Commonwealth, & completely insulated from any institution embracing similar principles, it presents to the community no ordinary prospects, promising extensive, increasing and lasting blessing to the Church & to the world:

            Therefore, we the Trustees aforesaid, feeling ourselves under the weight of the most impressive responsibility to the Author of all good, faithfully and assiduously to avail ourselves of every advantage of this auspicious situation, as well as sacredly discharge the trust reposed in us by the Commonwealth, & by every means in our power to carry into complete affect the objects contemplated in our act of incorporation and expressed in the foregoing preamble.  Encouraged by the past & animated with the prospect of the future, humbly devotedly relying on the divine assistance in all our endeavors to promote the cause of truth, and train up the rising generation in science and virtue – Do humbly resolve as an important object of this board, to establish in this institution for the principles aforesaid, a Professorship of Languages with a permanent salary equal to the importance & dignity of such an office – and that Rufus Graves, Joshua Crosby, John Fiske, Nathan Smith & Samuel F. Dickinson be a committee to solicit donations, contributions, grants & bequests to establish a fund for that and other benevolent objects of the institution, & the veracity of the said board is hereby pledged for the faithful appropriating of any benefactions according to the will of the donor.”

            The committee named in the foregoing Resolve, formed a constitution and system of by-laws, for raising & managing a permanent fund, as the basis of a classical institution for the education of indigent young men of piety and talents for the Christian ministry, and reported the same to the board of Trustees at their meetings on the eighteenth day of August 1818.  The board unanimously accepted the report, approved the doings of the committee, & authorized the committee to take such measures & communicate with such persons and corporations as they might judge expedient & conducive to the great objects connected with their appointment.  The Rev.d Nathan Perkins & the Rev.d Edward Whipple were added to the committee.

            The committee before they made the report, had solicited subscriptions to constitute a fund for the support of a professorship of languages, according to the first project, but without success.  They found that the establishment of a single professorship for the purposes mentioned in the project was too limited an object to induce men to subscribe.  To engage public patronage, it was found necessary to form a plan for the education of young men for the ministry on a more extensive scale.  These considerations determined to them to form & report the constitution and by-laws above mentioned.  This instrument was drawn by Rufus Graves, Esq.

            A constitution & system of by-laws, for raising & managing a permanent charity Fund as the basis of an institution in Amherst, in the County of Hampshire for the classical education of indigent young men of piety & talents for the Christian ministry.  Taking into consideration the deplorable condition of a large portion of our race who are enveloped in the most profound ignorance and cruel superstition & gross idolatry; and many of them in a savage state without a written language; together with vast multitudes in Christian countries, of which our own affords a lamentable specimen, who are dispersed over extensive territories, as sheep without a Shepherd.  Impressed with the most fervent commiseration for our destitute brethren, & urged by the command of our divine Saviour, to preach the gospel to every creature, we have resolved to consecrate to the author of all good, for the honor of his name & the benefit of our race, a portion of the treasure or inheritance, which he has been pleased to intrust to our stewardship, in the firm belief, that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

Under the conviction that the education of pious young men of the first talents in the community, to the most sure method of relieving our brethren, by civilizing & evangelizing the word; & that a classical institution judiciously located & richly endowed with a large & increasing charitable Fund, in co-operation with Theological seminaries & education societies, will be the most eligible way of effecting it.

            Therefore we the undersigned have solemnly, deliberatively & prayerfully made, constituted & ratified, & by these presents, & for the foregoing weighty considerations, do make, constitute and ratify, the following constitution and system of By-laws, together with the preceding preamble, as the basis of such a fund, & for the raising and managing of the same.

Art 1st.  In contemplating the felicitous state of society which is predicted in scriptures of truth &the rapid approach of such a state, which the auspices of the present day clearly indicate; & desiring to add our feeble efforts to the various extensions of the Christian community, for effecting so glorious an event; we have associated together for the express purpose of founding an institution upon the genuine principles of charity & benevolence, for the instruction of youth, in all the branches of literature & science usually taught in Colleges; to be located in the town of Amherst, in the county of Hampshire, & incorporated with the academy in that place, & with Williams College also, should it continue to be thought expedient, to remove that Seminary to said County of Hampshire & to locate it in the town of Amherst, & to be called -----------.

Art 2nd.  In order to effect the benevolent object aforesaid we whose names are hereunto subscribed, severally & solemnly promise to pay to the Trustees of Amherst Academic for the time being, or to their successors in office, the sums annexed to our respective names, for the purpose of raising a permanent fund of the amount of, at least, Fifty thousand dollars, as the basis of a fund for the proposed Institution, the interest of which to be appropriated in manner hereinafter provided, to the increasing said fund, & for the classical, or academic * collegiate education of indigent young men, of promising talents & hopefully piety, who may desire such an education with the sole view to the Christian ministry, as whose talents , piety and assiduity upon a suitable probation shall entitle them to the patronage & assistance of the Institution.  Provided nevertheless, & with a view to remove all doubt relative to the success of said object; that in case the sums, subscribed to this instrument, in the course of one year from the date hereof, shall not amount to the full sum of Fifty thousand dollars, then the whole or any part thereof shall be void, according to the will of any subscriber or subscribers, he or they giving to the Trustees aforesaid, three months notice of his or their desire of such voidance; & his or their obligation or obligations shall be returned; or his or their money as the case may be, shall be refunded: provided, however, that the said notice be given as aforesaid, written three months next after the expiration of the said year from date.

Art 3d.  The aforesaid sum of Fifty thousand dollars together with any other sums that may be subscribed to this instrument, or any other sums which may be added to it, by gift, grant, or bequest not otherwise particularly appropriated by the donor, shall be denominated the charitable fund of the classical Institution at Amherst, & is consecrated to the education of indigent young men of piety & talents as aforesaid, for the Christian ministry in said Institution.  The interest & other avails of said fund, shall forever appropriated as follows, viz, five sixth thereof to the purposes aforesaid, namely the classical education of indigent, pious young men, the other sixth part shall be added to the principal as it shall accrue, for its perpetual increase.  The principal be secured and intangible not subject to be diminished by any exigency, the act of Lord excepted, but shall be perpetually augmenting by donations, subscriptions, grants, legacies & bequests, & by the addition of one sixth part of the interest & other avails as aforesaid.

Art 4th.  The property of said Fund unless it be in productive real estate, shall as soon as convenient be vested in the fund of this Commonwealth, in the Funds of the United States or in some other safe public; or be secured by Real estate; & retained in as productive a situation as may be consistently [sic] with perfect safety.

Art 5th.  Until the aforesaid contemplated classical Institution of which the said Fund is to be the basis or main pillar, is formed, established & incorporated a body politic & the management thereof shall be vested in the Brand of Trustees of Amherst Academy, so however as to be in perfect conformity to the provisions of this Constitution, & not repugnant to the constitution & laws of this Commonwealth.  At the accomplishment of which, meaning the establishment incorporation & organization of said Institution as aforesaid, the Trustees of said Academy shall without loss of time transfer, set off, acquit or convey to, give possession of & pay over to the Board of Trustees of said Institution, the whole of the property of said fund, whether real, personal or mixed; in possession or reversion, together with the titles & evidences of the same, with the obligation records, files, et cetera: in whom & their successors in office, the property of said fund, & the management & appropriation thereof, according to the provisions of this constitution, and system of bye-laws, is hereby & shall be forever vested.  Whatever, in the safe keeping, skillful management & faithful appropriation of the aforesaid fund is made binding on one of the said boards of Trustees in whom the same is or shall be vested, in the one case; is & shall be equally binding on the other.

Art 6th.  For the greater safety & more prompt & easy management of so important a concern, there shall be appointed as is herein after provided, a Board of Overseers, consisting of at least seven in numbers, a skillful Financier & an able Auditor.

Art 7th.  It shall be the duty of the Trustees, of said Academy or said Institution, as the case may be, to appoint either from their own Board, their Treasurer excepted who shall be ineligible, or from the public at large, a skillful Financier, who shall be sworn to the faithful discharge of the duties of his office; & under sufficient bonds to said board for the security of his trust; & subject to be removed at their discretion whenever the interest of the Institution shall require it.

It shall be the duty of the said Trustees also to examine all candidates for the charities of the Institution, to put them upon such probation as shall be deemed sufficient to determine their qualifications for admission, as Beneficiaries; & to apply the avails of the Fund, either in whole or in part, to the assistance of those who may upon the issue of such examination or probation be admitted; or who may be admitted from similar Institutions, or from education societies: to keep a correct record of the amount of said Fund, the situation & estimated value of each part & parcel thereof, which may be in real estate, the rate of rent at which each may be leased, & the time when due, if in other estate the places of its deposit, the security upon which its safety depends, & the average rate per centum of interest which it may produce, the progressive increase of the whole fund, with the n=ways & means by which it is effected; the amount received into their treasury in interest sent & otherwise, & of their disbursements, to gather with a detail of all their proceedings, a list of all vouchers & a summary of the accounts, vouchers & a summary of the accounts, vouchers & reports of the Financier- To preserve on file all papers that may directly or indirectly relate to the said fund, or the management thereof, & to make a detailed report of the same annually, with a digest of their plan of operation for the ensuing year to the Board of Overseers at their annual visitation, exhibiting at the same time, & at other times also, if requested, to the said Board, or to the said Auditor their Books of records, their files, the books & files of the Financier & any other evidence it may be in their power to furnish.  It shall be the duty of the Trustees likewise to keep an annual account current of all the losses & gains, receits [sic] & expenditures of said Fund, to which shall be brought up all unliquidated & unsettled accounts, arrearages or surplusages [sic] of former years; & ready to be submitted to the said Auditor for his inspection, at least five days next preceeding [sic] the annual Commencement, or meeting of said Board of Trustees, who is authorized to call for all necessary vouchers to the same, whether written or unwritten.  It shall be the duty of said Trustees also, annually, immediately preceeding [sic] their annual meeting to cause a manuscript copy of their records for the past year, & also a copy of their files for the same period, to be taken & attested by their secretary, & ready to be delivered to the said board of Overseers for safe keeping, as a security against their loss by fire or any other casualty.

Art. 8th.  It shall be the duty of the Financier to receive all monies & other personal property from the Subscribers, promisors [sic], obligors, donors & executors or trustees of legators of said fund, & without loss of time to place the same in the most productive situation, according to the provisions in the fourth article of this constitution, & receive possessions of, & to farm let, any real estate which may have been, or which at any time hereafter may be, presented to said Fund, by gift, grant or bequest, & which may in any other way become the property of said fund; & to purchase insurance of any property of said fund, which may be in danger from fire or from any other unforeseen occurrence.  It shall be his duty also, diligently & skillfully to manage the prudentials of the said Fund, to carefully guard against contingent losses & lose no time in shifting or securing the property when in danger; to receive the interest & rents of the fund as they become due, & without delay to place one sixth part of the amount, in some safe & productive department of the fund, & deposit the other five sixths in the Treasury of said Academy or Institution as the case may be, & take triplicate receits [sic] for the same, of the Treasurer thereof, one to keep for his own security, one to deposit with the secretary of the Board of Trustees & the other with the said Auditor.  It shall be his duty likewise to keep an accurate account of the whole fund, its original amount, & progressive increase; of its amount at the end of each year successively computed immediately preceeding the annual meeting; of the amount of each department of each department thereof, while & how secured; the rate per cententum of interest at which each may be, & the time when due; the rate of rent at which each part parcel & tenement is leased & the time when due, the amount of interest & rent added to the principal of the fund, & the amount of money deposited in the Treasury of said Academy or Institution & to Report the whole to said Board of Trustees, with such remarks & suggestions as he may choose to submit relative to any system of finance he may deem necessary to be pursued in future & to lodge the same together with his accounts current with the treasurer of said board, at least seven days previously to the annual meeting of said Board, that the necessary adjustments may be made, the account current & report of said Board completed, the requisite vouchers arranged & ready to be submitted to the inspection of the said Auditors of Accounts & Board of Overseers for the examination of the accounts & state of the fund, & to present his books, files, & vouchers for their inspection, & to offer for their further consideration any information relative thereto, which it may be in his power to afford.  It shall be his duty likewise in case of his resignation, or being succeeded in office, to deliver to the said Board of Trustees, or on their order to his successor in office the whole of the property of said Fund, with all the titles & evidences of the same together with all his Books, papers & files that may directly or indirectly related to the fund or the management thereof, & in case of his death, his Executor or Administrator shall do the same.

Art. 9th.  The Financier shall be paid from the avails of said Fund, a reasonable sum for his services & responsibility; & all other necessary expenses that may accrue in the management & appropriation of the fund, or the avails thereof shall be paid in like manner.

Art. 10th.  The Board of Overseers, who are hereby constituted the guardians of said Fund, shall be appointed & perpetuated in the following manner,  Viz.  Four shall be appointed by the four highest subscribers to the aforesaid fifty thousand dollar fund, each shall appoint one, the other three shall be elected by a majority of votes of the remaining subscribers of said fund, who may assemble for that purpose, said elections to be made as soon as convenient, after the filling of said subscription.  The said Board shall perpetuate their existence as such, by filling their own vacancies in the following manner,  viz, No seat shall be suffered to be vacant for more than six months.  Vacancies occasioned by death, resignation, removal, incapacity by age or otherwise, of which incapacity the said Board shall always be competent to determine, shall be filled by a majority of votes of the members present at any annual or special meeting, regularly notified for that or other purposes.  Should the said Board, from neglect, or by any fortuitous circumstances whatever, be reduced to two members or even to one, they or he as the case may be, shall be competent to fill the vacancies to the numbers sufficient to constitute a quorum, & the said Board thus filled shall elect the remainder.  And in case the said Board shall at any future period become extinct, the Governor’s council of this commonwealth are hereby authorized, & requested to appoint a new Board, with all the rights, powers & immunities of the former one.  In all meetings of said Board of Overseers, for the transaction of business, except in the matter of filling vacancies, four members shall be necessary to constitute a quorum.  And to prevent the sudden disorganization of the said Board at any time, so as to interrupt business, all resignations shall be made in writing to the Board when in session, & if convenient, handed in by the member himself, that the vacancy may be immediately filled.  But the resignation shall not be accepted, so as to disqualify the member so offering his resignation from acting with the Board, in all matters pending before them, till another shall be elected in his stead, & has signified acceptance.

Art. 11th.  It shall be the duty of the said board of Overseers, as the guardians of said Fund, to appoint annually, o to appoint & continue in office during their pleasure, either from their own body, or from community at large, an able auditor of accounts who shall be sworn to the faithful & impartial discharge of the duties of his Office; & to certify to said Board of Trustees every such appointment.  It shall be their duty also, to visit the said Institution at its annual commencement; or the Board of Trustees in whom the property & managements of said Fund are vested, at their annual meeting in each year successively, forever; to receive, & diligently & impartially examine their reports which should always contain a correct statement of the nature & amount of the original fund to evidences of the property, how situated, where deposited, & how secured, its progressive increase from year to year, & the ways & means by which effected, with the aggregate amount at the date of each annual report; the amount of interest & rent, the avails of the fund, or of donations & subscriptions made in aid of said fund, received into their Treasury, with the amount of their disbursements; together with a list of the beneficiaries receiving support in whole or in part from said fund & the amount of assistance afforded to each; to receive also & examine the reports of the said Auditor, & to inspect the records, files & voucher of the Trustees & Financier aforesaid.  It shall be their duty likewise scrupulously & impartially to examine & compare all the documents, carefully attend to the oral representations of the officers & Trustees aforesaid, explanatory thereof, & in view of all the facts to decide, whether the said Fund has been skillfully managed, & whether the avails thereof have been securely & economically applied, according to the will of the donors, as is provided in this Institution & system of byelaws, & whether the financial system pursued, is proposed to be pursued in future, is consistent with the spirit of this instrument.  The sacred nature of the trust reposed in the said Board of Overseers, as the representatives of the rights of the dead, as well as the living, urges upon them the imperious duty of investigating every subject relative to their important trust, so as to enable them to approve or disapprove of the management of any part of the concern; to point out any errors they may have observed, or any improvements which they conceive may be made, to detect any violation of rights, breach of trust, or abuse of powers; any perversion of the fund, or misappropriation of the avails thereof, & to suggest the same to the said Trustees with a view to produce a reform.  Should the circumstances be such in any case, as to force a conviction that the constitution & laws had been violated & the sacred deposit perverted; should the Trustees aforesaid, to whose fidelity it had been entrusted, disavow the facts, & persist in the vindication of the purity of their motives & the wisdom of their measures; & should the reasons offered in justification thereof, be insufficient to satisfy the said Board of Overseers & remove those impressions; they the said Board of Overseers shall enter their protest in writing, specifying the grounds of their conviction as aforesaid, which together with the reasons offered by the said Board of Trustees in their justification, shall be entered on the records of both Boards.  And the question shall be submitted to the Honorable Justices of the supreme Judicial Court of the commonwealth, whose decision shall be final; & shall be entered on the records of both the said Boards.

Any similar or other questions of rights, powers or amenability, shall be submitted in the same way.  It shall be the duty of the said Board of Overseers to keep fair & correct record of all their proceedings, relative to the question of their important trust, to record or preserve on file the annual reports of the said board of Trustees, & the reports of the said Auditor; to receive & safely preserve the manuscript copies of the records, & copies of the files of the said Board of Trustees, which shall be annually furnished & attested by the Secretary thereof & delivered at the annual visitation, that the whole of the records of the institution may be safely preserved in the archives of both Boards.  And in case of the loss or destruction of the records & files of either of the said Boards, by fire or otherwise, the secretary or the recording officer of the other shall lose no time in furnishing attested copies of the whole to supply the deficiency.

It shall be the duty of the said Board of Overseers, annually or whenever in their opinion the interest of the Institution or the public good requires it, to publish a correct report of the state of said Fund, its progressive increase, growing importance & extensive retisity [sic] – [i.e. reticency?]

Art 12th.  It shall be the duty of the said Auditor to attend at said Institution a sufficient length of time, within the five days next preceding the annual commencement, or annual meeting of said Board of Trustees, to receive, audit all the accounts of the said Board relative to the management of said fund, examining all books, files vouchers, & oral testimonies which it may be in their power to afford illustrative of the same; & to make a detailed report of the state in which he finds them, to the said Board of Overseers at their annual visitation.  It shall be his duty also, to attend to the duties of his office at other times in the interval, if the exigencies of the Institution or fund shall require it.  He shall also keep a correct record of all his proceedings from year to year, & in case of his resignation, on being succeeded in office shall lodge the same with the said Board of Overseers.

Art. 13th.  It being the design of the founders of this establishment, that it benefits should be handed down inviolate to all succeeding generations, & considering the inadequacy of human forethought to provide for every exigence that may occur in the course of long experience, we the undersigned agree, that this constitution & system of bye-laws, may be attested or amended by the Board of Trustees of said Institution, & the board of Overseers of said fund.  So however, as not to deviate from the original object of civilizing & evangelizing the world, by the classical education of indigent young men of piety & talents; but it shall not be attested or amended, except from the most weighty considerations, & by the concurrence of both of said Boards, each holding a negative upon the other; nor without the majority of two thirds of the members of the said Board of Trustees, & five sevenths of the members of the said Board of Overseers.  A proposition for amendment may originate in either of said Boards, but it shall not be proposed to the other, till it has been fairly & deliberately discussed where it originated & passed by the majority assigned as above to the said Board.  It shall then be sent to the other Board for concurrence where it shall undergo a like discussion & if concurred on by the majority assigned to the Board also, it shall become a part of this constitution, otherwise not.

Art 14th.  In order to prevent the loss or destruction of this Constitution by any wicked design, by fire or by the ravages of time; it shall be the duty of the Trustees of said Institution, as soon as the aforesaid sum of fifty thousand dollars shall be hereunto subscribed, to cause triplicate copies of the same, together with the names of the subscribers & the sum subscribed annexed to each name, to be taken fairly written on vellum, one of which to be preserved in the archives of said Institution; one in the archives of the said Board of Overseers, & the other in the archives of the Commonwealth.  And in case of the loss or destruction of either of said copies, its deficiency shall be immediately supplied by an attested copy from one of the others.

May 23rd, 1818

Adopted Aug. 18th.  See p.7 [of the manuscript copy]

It will be seen by the vote of the Trustees in the 18th of August above cited, by which the committee were authorized to “communicate with such persons & corporations as they might judge expedient” that the Trustees of the academy had been apprised of the contemplated design of the Trustees of Williams College, to remove that Institution to some town in one of the counties which formerly constituted the old County of Hampshire.  A committee of the Trustees of that college had visited Amherst for the purpose of inquiring into the situation & advantages of the Town for being the seat of that college; and under the authority of the vote of August 18th above cited, two gentlemen from the Board of Trustees of Amherst Academy had waited upon the Trustees of Williams College, the first week in September & presented to them a copy of the said vote & a copy of the constitution above cited.  The Board of Trustees of Williams College returned the papers to the committee without any answer.  The silence of the Board of Trustees of Williams College was considered by the Trustees of Amherst Academy as a declining to accede to any proposal for unity that college with the proposed institution in Amherst.  On the tenth day of September soon after the committee had returned from Williamstown, the Board of Trustees of Amherst Academy, Resolved “that in the opinion of this Board, it is expedient to invite a convention of clergy & laity to approve & patronize the charitable literary Institution contemplated by this board, for the education of pious indigent young men for the gospel ministry.”

“Resolved that this convention be composed of the congregational & Presbyterian clergy of the several parishes in the counties of Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden & the Western sections of the county of Worcester, with their delegates, together with one delegate from each vacant parish, & the subscribers to the fund.”

Noah Webster Esq., the Rev. John Fiske & Rufus Graves Esq. were appointed a committee to prepare a circular for convoking the convention & managing the concerns of the corporation before that body.

 The following is a copy of the circular addressed to the clergy.

To the Rev.


The Trustees of Amherst Academy have for some time past, contemplated the establishment of a charitable institution for the purpose of educating pious indigent young men for the gospel ministry.  The interest of Zion in our own country & the conversion of the heathen present powerful motives for the union of all good men in combined & vigorous exertions to multiply the number of well educated ministers of the gospel, to supply missionaries & furnish destitute churches & people in our own extensive republic.  Impelled by their own conviction of the importance of the object, & urged by the advice & solicitations of many respectable Christian friends, both of the clergy & laity, they have adopted the Resolution to attempt the establishment of such a seminary.  For this purpose they have formed a constitution for a charitable fund, to be the basis of such an institution, & have made such progress in procuring donations, as to afford most animating encouragement of success.  The disposition of the public to encourage & support such an institution appears to be favourable, beyond our most sanguine expectations. As it is proposed to instruct young men in all the branches of literature & science usually taught in colleges, the magnitude of the object renders it, in our opinion, important that such an institution should embrace interests & unite the hearts of good men in a territory of considerable extent.

For this reason we have judged it expedient to invite to a convention & combined effort, the settled ministers of the gospel within the three counties of Hampshire, Hampden & Franklin & of the towns in the Western part of the county of Worcester; each minister to be attended by a lay delegate to be chosen or appointed, in such manner as he shall deem expedient.  A delegate will also be invited from each vacant parish.  It is requested that the clergy & delegates should meet in convention with the subscribers to the fund at the church in the West Parish in Amherst in the county of Hampshire on Tuesday the twenty-ninth day of September instant, at nine o’clock A.M., then & there to deliberate upon the important subject, equally interesting to the present & future generations. 

If Sir, you concur with us in opinion respecting the importance of such an institution, in this district of country & are disposed to lend to it the aid of your influence, we request your attendance with a delegate, at the time & place above named.

                                                By order of the Board of Trustees

                                                            Noah Webster

                                                            John Fiske                  Committee

                                                            Rufus Graves

Amherst Sept. 11th 1818


On the twenty ninth day of September 1818 the proposed convention was formed in the church in the West Parish of Amherst.  It was composed of the following gentlemen.

Hampshire County

Ministers                                                                     Delegates

Amherst – 1st Parish  Rev. David Parsons, D.D.             H. W. Strong

                   2nd Parish  Rev. Nathan Perkins                    Dea. Nathan Franklin

Belchertown – Rev. Experience Porter                            Col. Henry Dwight

Cummington -  Rev. P. Williston                                     Mr. Amos Cobb

Easthampton – Rev. P. Williston                                      Dea. Thadeus Clapp

Enfield – Rev. Joshua Crosby                                           Mr. Rufus Powers

Granby – Rev. Elijah Gridley                                            Dea. John Stebbins

Goshen - _________________                                          Oliver Taylor, Esq.

Hadley - Rev. John Woodbridge                                        Saml. Porter Esq.

Hatfield – Rev. Joseph Lyman, D. D.                                Col. Joseph Billings

Ware – Rev. S. Ware                                                          Dea. Eli Snow

Pelham – Rev. Winthrop Bailey                                        Dea. Abiu Southworth

Southampton – Rev. Vinson Gould                                   Major John Lyman

Westhampton – Rev. E. Heale                                           Dr. Wm. Hooker

Williamsburg – Rev. Henry Lord

N. Hadley – Rev. Dan Huntington

Northampton                                                                          Hon Joseph Lyman


Franklin County

Buckland – Rev. J. Spalding                                                 Mr. Alpheus Brooks

Conway – Rev. J. Emerson                                                   Capt. John Williams

Gill – Rev. J. W. Cannon                                                      Capt. Seth S. Howland

Greenfield – Rev. L. Woodbridge                                         Mr. Quintus Allen

         -         - _________________                                       George Grennell Jr. Esq.

Deerfield – Rev. John Rue                                                    Dea. Elisha Clary

Hawley – Rev. J. Grout                                                       

Heath – Rev. Mr. Miller                                                        Roger Leavitt, Esp.

Leverett – Rev. J. Wright                                                      Mr. Erastus Field

Montague – Rev. A. Gates                                                    Mr. Martin Root

Shelburne – Rev. Theoph. Packard                                       Mr. Elisha Smead

Shutesbury – Rev. John Taylor                                             Mr. Samuel Clark

Sunderland – Rev. James Taylor                                           Mr. Benja. Graves

Whateley – Rev. R. Wells                                                      Dea. John White


Hampden County

Blanford – Rev. J. Keep

Granville – Rev. T M. Cooley

                2nd Parish – Rev. J. Baker                                     Hezekiah Robinson

Palmer – Rev. S. Colton

Westfield – Rev. P. Knapp                                                     



Worcester County

Sturbridge – Rev. O. Lane                                                       Mr. Eli Wheeler

Southbridge – Rev. J. Park                                                       Mr. John Morse

New Braintree – Rev. J. Fiske

North Brookfield – Rev. T Snell                                               Mr. Moses Bind


The convention chose the Rev. Joseph Lyman, D.D. President; & Col. Joseph Billings and George Grennell Jr. Secretaries.

The meeting was introduced by prayer by the President.

The proposed constitution & by laws for the government of the proposed institutions was read by N. Webster, Esq.

After some discussion the convention voted to appoint a committee of twelve, to take the subject into consideration, & make report.  The following persons were elected committee.

Rev. Theophelus Packard                                                        Elisha Billings Esq.

Roger Leavitt, Esq.                                                                  Rev. Enoch Hale

Rev. Joseph Lyman                                                                  Rev. Moses Miller

Rev. Timothy M. Cooley                                                         Rev. John Keep

Rev. Thomas Snell                                                                   Rev. Otis Lane

Rev. Dan C. Huntington                                                          Rev. Vinson Gould


In the afternoon a sermon was delivered before the convention by the Rev. Joseph Lyman, D. D. who received a vote of thanks for the same.

On Wednesday the 30th of September the committee reported to the convention, as follows.  Your committee sensible of the confidence reposed in them by the convention, & of the obligation under which they act, have taken the subject proposed into serious & careful consideration, have examined it in its several bearings & relations & beg leave to report.

The plan of a literary institution founded on the general principles of charity & benevolence, to give a classical or collegiate education to indigent pious young men of talents, while it proposed the ordinary advantages to others, is peculiarly suited to the exigencies of the day, & calculated to answer extensively benevolent purposes, in relation both to the church & the world.

This plan proposes a literary institution of a peculiar character in no way hostile to any other in our county – an institution in its very nature & tendency suited to receive aid & encouragement from other charitable institutions, & at the same time to import aid & influence to every other system of benevolent exertion now in operation to spread the gospel & extend the empire of divine grace.

The written constitution submitted to this convention , is obviously the fruit of much judicious reflection & mature consideration.  Already has it received the sanction of a considerable number of benevolent individuals, who after deliberate examinations, have subscribed the instrument as donors.  Your committee according to their ability & opportunity have examined & approved said constitution as a legal instrument.  In their opinion, it is executed with skill & judgment, guarding in the most satisfactory & effectual manner the faithful & appropriate application of the property consecrated by the donors.  And while the general object is to benefit our own & other countries, by the education of indigent young men of hopeful piety & talents, the instrument is so formed as to leave open a door for a union of interests with Williams College upon fair & honorable principles, should the guardians of that institution deem it expedient & useful to remove their charge & form the connection. 

That an institution of this description, designed to diffuse its blessings, with increasing influence to the end of time, should be judiciously located, cannot be reasonably questioned; nor can it be reasonably doubted that Hampshire county presents one of the most eligible places for the purpose in the United States.  Thus would it be established in the central part of Massachusetts proper, naturally excite an extensive interest, & hopefully secure the patronage of the state.  Here it would stand in the heart of New England, & almost equally distant from six other colleges; in an extensive section of country, salubrious fertile & populous, where industry & moral order, together with a disposition to cultivate science & literature, habitually prevail; where ministers & churches are generally united & harmonious, & where the numerous streams of benevolent charity, flowing into the treasury of the Lord, offered ample assurance that an institution of this description would be cordially embrased [sic], extensively patronized &liberally supported. 

Having compared a number of pleasant towns in this vicinity, in relation to advantages & disadvantages, in either of which an institution of this sort would be undoubtedly cherished & liberally aided with great cordiality; they are of the opinion

1st.  That an institution might flourish as located in the constitution & at the same time are convinced that it might flourish to a greater extent were it to have the advantage of that union which would result from its location by a disinterested committee appointed by the convention.

2nd.   In this general view of the subject submitted to their consideration, the committee cordially approve the object of a religious & classical institution in a charitable foundation, in the town of Amherst and recommend to the convention to give it their united and individual patronage.

3rd.  They also recommend that suitable measures be adopted by the Trustees of Amherst academy for the establishment of a college in connection with the charitable institution, possessing all the advantages of other colleges in the commonwealth.

4th.  That it is expected by this convention that in order to satisfy the public the people of the town of Amherst show themselves worthy of such an important privilege, by affording seasonable & liberal aid toward erecting college buildings.

5th.  They also recommend that such preparations & arrangements be made as will accommodate students at the institution as soon as possible.  With these resolutions & recommendations your committee express their fervent wish that the great object may be kept in distinct view in this body, that there may be union & harmony of feelings & deliberations, & that it will please our God & Savior to succeed the endeavors of his servants & under the contemplated institution a rich blessing to the church of this generation & to the most distant posterity.


                        Adopted unanimously by the committee

                                    A true copy attest

                                                Joseph Billings Secretary.


After a full discussion, the preamble of the report was approved & accepted.  On motion of Mr. Grant the first-article of the report was rejected.  The second article was amended by inserting “in the town of Amherst” after foundation.  The third article was amended by inserting “by the Trustees of Amherst Academy” after the word adopted.  And the fourth article was amended as above recited, & then the whole report was adopted by a large majority of votes.


At a special meeting of the Board of Trustees of Amherst Academy, October 26, 1818, the Board appointed the Rev. John Fiske, Noah Webster & Nathaniel Smith Esquires a committee to confer with the board of Trustees of Williams College at their session to be held in Williamstown on the second Tuesday of November then next, to communicate to them the result of the late convention in Amherst & to make suitable statements & explanations respecting the same.

In pursuance of the appointment, the committee repaired to Williamstown at the proper time, and presented to the Board of Trustees of Williams College a copy of the proceedings & resolutions of the convention & also made to the Board such verbal representation of facts, as they supposed to be useful & proper.  To these communications no answer was given.  But at this meeting, the Board of Trustees of Williams College resolved that it was expedient to remove the college on certain conditions & as a preliminary measure, they appointed the Honorable James Kent Chancellor of the state of New York, the Honorable Nathaniel Smith one of the judges of the Superior Court of Connecticut & the Rev. Seth Payson, D.D. of Rindge in New Hampshire, to determine the place to which the college should be removed.  In consequence of this determination of the Board of Trustees of Williams College, the Trustees of Amherst Academy at their annual meeting, November 17th, 1818, appointed Noah Webster, Esq. the Rev. John Fiske, the Rev. Edward Whipple, the Rev. Joshua Crosby, & Nathaniel Smith Esq. to be a committee to attend upon the committee appointed to locate Williams College to represent to them the claims of the Town of Amherst to be the seat of the College, including the funds procured by the Trustees of the Academy for a charitable institution, the recommendation of the convention of Clergy & lay delegates in convention in September last, the conveniences of geographical position & all other facts & circumstances that might affect a decision of the question.  At this meeting of the Board, the Secretary Rufus Graves Esq. reported that the subscription to the Charitable Fund & the value of the six acres of land given by Col Elijah Dickinson for the site of the buildings of the institution [amounted] to twenty five thousand & five hundred dollars.  On account of the lateness of the season, when the locating committee received their appointment, their meeting on the business of their appointment was deferred till the following spring.  In May 1819 the committee met & took a view of the several towns in Franklin & Hampshire counties & of Amherst among the others.

The committee of the Trustees of Amherst Academy appointed to attend upon the locations committee & present to them the claims of Amherst, waited upon them at Northampton, & read to them the following observations, which had been previously prepared.

“In designating the situation of Williams College we suppose the most important considerations are:

1st.  The conveniences of situation for accommodating the people of the five Western Counties of Massachusetts.

2nd.  The salubrity of the climate & the pleasantries of the country.

3rd.  The cheapness of subsistence including provisions & fuel.

4th  The advantages of literary & moral improvement in this and future ages.


  1.  In the first particular, the town of Amherst has, in our apprehension, a decided advantage over every other town in the counties in the river.  The territory to be particularly accommodated in this college, comprehends the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Worcester.  Many persons in Middlesex & Norfolk counties take a particular interest in this institution.  The hill in the centre of the west road in Amherst, on which the church stands, is within about two miles of the geographical center of this territory; taking Pittsfield on the West & the town of Worcester on the East, as the two extremes.  It is equally central between the limits of the Commonwealth, on the North & South.  In addition to the fact, it may be observed that it is almost equally distant from the University of Cambridge, the college in Providence & the college in New Haven, the distance from each being about 85 miles.  It is a hundred miles from Union College in Schenectady & from Dartmouth College in Hanover, & a greater distance from Middlebury College.
  2. The roads leading to & from this town are as good as any made in the country, excepting perhaps a mile or two on the mountain, the road leading to South Hadley & Granby, which is not as well made & in as good repair as the other country roads.  But this road with the usual labor bestowed on public heighways will be as good as others, & furnish an easier passage over the mountains than the river roads; as the hills are not so long & difficult.  It is important also to state that in the spring of the year, it often happens that the river road from South Hadley is impassable for days or weeks by means of a flood in Connecticut river.

In regard to the salubrity of the climate, no great advantage we believe, can be pleded [sic] in favour of any town in the river counties; as the climate is everywhere healthy.  But in all the particulars which constitute salubrity & pleasantness of situation Amherst presents advantages which in no respect are exceeded in any town & in some respects are unrivalled.  The land in the hill before mentioned is so elevated as to command an uninterrupted view of the plains on the banks of the Connecticut river, & of  a great extent of country west of the river.  With a radius of thirty miles in length an arch may be described which will comprehend about thirty townships, extending from the south lines of Hampden county into Franklin county on the north, all of which fall within a single view, & it is said by gentlemen well acquainted with these three counties, that the church of the first Parish in Amherst may be seen from twenty seven towns.  The scenery presented to the eye at this spot is highly beautiful.  The range of mountains on the south & southwest, the hills on the east, the more distant cliffs on the north, the great variety of slopes & vales which diversify the scenery, & the vast extent of prospect on the west and Northwest offer to the eye of a spectator one of the most picturesque landscapes which New England affords.

Nor are the advantages of this situation calculated only to gratify the eye; they furnish also means of health, particularly useful to students.  It is to be observed that this hill presents an open prospect to the west, giving the advantage of an uninterrupted current of wind from that quarter, from which the wind usually blows in summer, when refreshing breezes are most necessary for men of study.  In winter the temperature of the air appears, by thermometrical observations, to be no colder than it is at Northampton & in other towns on the river.  But if were, it would be no material inconvenience, as we can always moderate cold at pleasure in warm rooms, but we have no power to moderate extreme heat, which is far more inconvenient to the student by its debilitating effects, except by availing ourselves of a fresh current of air.  And while this hill in Amherst offers the best advantages for this purpose, it is remarkably defended from the unpleasant effects of easterly winds, by a range of hills on the east of the town.

It may be asserted with truth, that the easterly winds in this town are not ordinarily half the strength which they are on the seacoast.  It may be added that the water found in this hill is abundant and of the best kind.

3rd.  In regard to the expenses of subsistence, Amherst offers as favourable a location as can be found in the three river counties.  The land is generally good & well cultivated by sober, industrious farmers who can supply the officers & students with provisions of every kind, at as low prices as they can be afforded in any other town.  The town & lands adjacent in other towns abound with wood, & fuel may be obtained at all times on as favourable terms, so in any town proper for such an institution.  And we apprehend, that both provisions & fuel, & all the necessary expences [sic] of subsistence for officers & students, must necessarily be lower in Amherst than in the shire town of either of the counties.  Being merely an agricultural town, the expenses of living will be less liable to be enhanced by the artificial refinements of more gay & fashionable life.

4th.  It is agreed by all good judges of the subject that a literary institution might not to be situated in a large & populous town.  The particular extent of population which is best suited to accommodate a college, without exposing the persons attached to it to unnecessary or exorbitant expenses & the students in particular to the danger of evil examples & extravagances in dress & other expenses, may not be easily defined & respecting these points there may be a difference of opinion. 

In our opinion a college should not be located in a town which does, or hereafter probably will consist of a population, which shall invite & maintain the more fashionable expenses & amusements.  If the higher classes of society in this country, & which of course must be infected with the views which necessarily prevail among the lower orders which must always form a part of a numerous population in any town of fashionable resort.  We are not to be governed in our opinion in this subject by the present slate of the town in this country.  We are to look forward to the state of them in future ages.  From facts which have already taken place, we may form a tolerably correct judgment the facts which will hereafter take place.

The town of Amherst must, from its position forever be an agricultural town.  So can neither be a shire town nor a commercial nor manufacturing town.  From its situation with regard to Connecticut river & the neighboring towns, it cannot be the centre of a great commerce, & its streams of water will never support great manufacturing establishments.  The inhabitants must be chiefly laboring farmers, who dispersed over the town & occupied in their own pursuits, can have no particular connection with the students, of course no enmity will probably bring them into collision & produce these quarrels & vices which have frequently disturbed the peace of some other colleges.

If it should be said that such a town affords less advantages for improving the manners of the students, we reply that some well bred gentlemen will always be attached to such a seminary & others will reside in the neighborhood.  But the design of the college is to track the arts & sciences & to activate the mind rather than to polish the manners.  One fourth part of the year consists of vacations, in which the students may visit their friends & mingle with the world, but in term-time we are persuaded from observation & experience, that the less intercourse they have with the world, the more advantageously will they cultivate both the head & the heart.  And it may well be suggested that the situation of the colleges & universities in Europe, in cities & large towns, has been a principal cause of the depravity & infidelity which are so prevalent among the higher orders of society, in that quarter of the world, & whose baleful influence has been extended to the higher classes of society in this country.  From all the considerations above recited & from every view we have been able to take of this subject we are compelled to believe the town of Amherst offers the most eligible situation for a college.  In all respects the situation is as favourable, as that of any other town, & in several particulars it professes advantages which are not to be found in any other town in the three counties.

In the considerations already enumerated, we subjoin a few other observations.

It is well known, or must be admitted that the cheapness of a collegiate education in this county is not merely favorable to an extension of it, but absolutely necessary.  The great body of people in New England consists of men of moderate estate who are utterly unable to give their sons an extensive education.  Already are the expenses of a four years education, in some of our college in or near large towns, as great, that if there were no colleges in the country where education is less expensive, a large portion of young men, who now receive a college education, would be utterly precluded from that advantage.  Great numbers of men can afford two hundred or two hundred & fifty dollars a year, who cannot afford four or five hundred.

Now let it be considered that the larger part of the men, who constitute those most useful classes, ministers of the gospel & instructors of youth in colleges, academics, & other seminaries of learning are the sons of the yeomanry of the country: men of small estates, who if they educate their sons at all must educate them in the cheapest manner the country affords.  A course of liberal education is already so expensive in some of our colleges, that were there no other means of obtaining an education the country here would be deprived of the necessary supplies of ministers & teachers.

This is not all.  It is well known that the east, western & southern states, now rapidly settling, depend chiefly on New England for ministers of the gospel & teachers of seminaries & the wants of the settlements cannot be supplied.  This is then a matter of vast moment, that in all the plans of education adopted in New England, all possible facilities should be given to the multiplication of men intended for literary, moral & religious instructors.

To this purpose, it is an essential prerequisite that the means of education should be as easy & accessible as possible to the pious & well disposed sons of our yeomanry.  This consideration deserves additional importance from the circumstance that great numbers of young men, destined for these employments are educated by charitable contributions.  We deem it very important that the charitable fund of fifty thousand dollars should be united in operation with Williams College, for the following reasons:

1.       Because the money will produce much more effect, united with the college, than it will if unconnected with it, as one set of instructors will answer for both.

2.      Because the tuition of the beneficiaries in this fund will aid the college as effectually as the proper funds of the college.  Twenty beneficiaries paying twenty dollars each for tuition annually or $400, are equal to a fund of $6667, and more in the same proportion.

3.      Because any attempt to remove the location of this fund will destroy it & the Christian public will lose the benefit of it.

4.      Because the two institutions if located in different towns, will not only produce less effect, but may be in collision.

5.      Because the convention of clergy & laity at Amherst last September manifested a desire that the two institutions should be united.

6.      Because one sixth part of the interest of the charity fund is reserved as an accumulating fund, on the principle of compound interest of course the means of supporting & enlarging the usefulness of Williams College will be continually increasing.

7.      Because experience & facts prove that the funds for charitable religious purposes, in this county are more easily augmented, than the funds of a more literary institution, such as the disposition of pious & well disposed people in the present age, to encourage the education of pious youth, & to spread the gospel, that multitudes will make donations for these purposes, who will not give their money to a mere classical institution.  Hence we infer that a connection of the college with this charity fund will essentially promote its properly.

N. Webster                  

John Fiske               Committee of the

Edward Whipple       Trustees of Amherst

Nathl. Smith             Academy

The foregoing were the most material arguments & statements presented to the locating committee in favor of removing the college to Amherst.  The committee however were unanimous in naming Northampton as the most suitable place for the institution. 

The Trustees of Amherst Academy, on the 18th day of November 1818, appointed Noah Webster Esq., the Rev. John Fiske, the Rev. Edward Whipple, the Rev. Nathan Perkins, the Rev. Joshua Crosby, the Rev. James Taylor, the Rev. Winthrop Bailey, Nathaniel Smith & Samuel F. Dickinson & Rufus Graves Esquires a committee to solicit subscriptions to the charity fund, & also for the foundation and support of a college, to be connected with the same, as recommended by the convention.  But in consequence of the proceedings of the corporation of Williams College, in resolving to remove that institution and in appointing a committee to locate it, the Trustees of Amherst Academy suspended further measures in relation to the foundation of a college, until the event of an application of the corporation of Williams College to the legislature for an act, authorizing such removal, should be known.  They made no opposition to that application and took no measures to defeat it.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Amherst Academy, July 6th, 1819, a committee appointed to examine the subscription to the charity fund, reported that the money & other property subscribed amounted, at a fair estimate, to Fifty one thousand four hundred and four dollars.

On the twenty-third day of June 1819, the Trustees of Williams College published a printed address to the public assigning their reasons for proposing to remove that institution, & soliciting donations to increase the funds, & promote its prosperity in its proposed location at Northampton.  One paragraph in the address is in the following words.

“The Trustees, highly approving the object of the charitable institution at Amherst, & the benevolence which has influenced so many to unite in contributing to the very important object of educating poor & pious young men for the ministry, are particularly desirous that that should be so united with the college at Northampton & the college with that, that contributions to either should be conducive to the good of both, & so form an institution, which would receive the united patronage of all the friends of literature, science & religion.”

A copy of this address was sent to the Trustees of Amherst Academy, enclosed in a letter from the President, the Rev. Zephaniah Swift Moore, dated July 1st 1819.

To this letter & address the Trustees of Amherst Academy returned the following answer.  The vote directing it to be sent is dated August 18th, 1819.


To the Rev. Zephaniah Swift Moore                                                                                                      President of the Board of Trustees of Wms. College

Dear Sir

The Trustees of Amherst Academy have received your letter dated July 1st addressed to the President of the Board, enclosing the address of the Trustees of Williams College, on the subject of its removal, & have given the subject of it their deliberate consideration.  In answer to the queries contained in your letter, we would remark that, in our opinion a union between the college & the charitable institution in Amherst would be conducive to the interest of literature, science & religion in the Western section of Massachusetts.  The constitution of the Charity Fund opened the door for that union, & nothing on our part we believe, has been wanting to accomplish the object.  We entertain the most friendly disposition toward Williams College, & shall rejoice in its prosperity, although we see not at present how a union between the college & the charitable institution can be effected; yet if a plan could be devised for that purpose, not incompatible with the constitution of the Fund it would meet our most cordial approbation.

In Behalf of the Board of Trustees

David Parsons President

Rufus Graves Secretary


The corporation of Williams College mad an application to the Legislature of Massachusetts, in the winter of the year 1819 for an act authorizing them to remove the college to Northampton, but it failed of success.  In consequence of this failure the Trustees of Amherst Academy judged that the way was opened for them to proceed on their original design, & put in operation the Charity Fund entrusted to their care.  Therefore on the Fifteenth day of March 1820 they resolved, “That this Board consider it their duty to proceed directly to carry into effect the provisions of the constitution for the classical education of indigent pious young men, & the Financier is hereby directed to proceed with as little delay as possible to effect a settlement with subscribers to procure notes & obligation for the whole amount of the subscriptions, & also to solicit further subscription from benevolent persons in aid of this great charity & for erecting the necessary buildings.”

At the same meeting the Rev. Experience Porter, Samuel F. Dickinson & H. W. Strong were appointed a committee to form the plan of a building for the use of the charity institution, to estimate the expense & make report, & also to solicit subscriptions for erecting said building.  At the same meeting they directed the secretary to notify the subscribers to the said Fund, to meet at the Academy in Amherst on the second Wednesday of May then next, for the purpose of choosing overseers of the fund,  agreeably to the provisions of the constitution.

This meeting was not held at the time, and the appointment of overseers did not take place till August following.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees May 10th, 1820 the committee appointed to form the plan of a building as before mentioned, was discharged & the following vote was passed.

Voted.  That Samuel F. Dickinson, H. W. Strong & Nathaniel Smith Esquires, Dr. Rufus Cowls and Lieut. Enos Baker be a committee to secure a good & sufficient title to the ten acres of land, conditionally conveyed to the Trustees of this academy, as the site of said Institution, by the late Col. Elijah Dickinson & for the special benefit of the charity Fund; to digest a plan of a suitable building for said institution, to procure subscriptions, donations or contributions for defraying the expense thereof, to prepare the ground & erect the same, as soon as the necessary means can be furnished; the location to be made with the advice and consent of the prudential committee. 

At this meeting it was resolved further that “great & combined exertions of the Christian public are necessary to give due effect to the charitable institution,” & the Rev. Joshua Crosby, Jonathan Grant, James Taylor, Edward Whipple, John Fiske & Joseph Vaill were appointed agents to make applications for additional Funds, & for contributions to aid in erecting suitable buildings for the accommodation of students.

The committee proceeded to execute the trust committed to them, secured a title to the land, marked out the ground for the site of a building of a hundred feet in length and invited the inhabitants of Amherst friendly to the design, to contribute labor & materials, with provisions for the workmen.  With this request the inhabitants of Amherst friendly to the institution & a few from Pelham & Leverett most cheerfully complied.  The stone for the foundation were brought chiefly from Pelham by gratuitous labor; & provisions for the workmen were furnished by voluntary contributions.

The foundation of the building being nearly completed, the Board of Trustees met on the eighth day of August, 1820.

[Rev. David Parsons.]  President

Noah Webster Esq.  Vice President

Rev. James Taylor

Rev. Joshua Crosby

Rev. Daniel A. Clark

Nathaniel Smith Esq.

Samuel F. Dickinson Esq.

Rufus Graves Esq.

The session was opened by prayer by the Rev. Dr. Crosby; & this was ordered to be the constant practice in future.

At two o’clock P. M. on the ninth day of August 1820 the Board met after an adjournment & “voted that the Board will proceed immediately to lay the corner stone of the edifice for the charitable institution, & that the Rev. Joshua Crosby be requested to open the ceremony with prayer, that the Rev. David Parsons, President of the Board, be requested to perform the ceremony of laying the corner stone; & that Noah Webster Esq. Vice president be requested to close the ceremony at the foundation with an address.  Voted also that after the ceremonies, the Rev. Daniel A. Clark be requested to preach a sermon, & that the Rev.  E. Porter & the Rev. J. Grant be requested to assist in the other exercises.

For pursuance of this vote, the Trustees proceeded to the place, & the President of the Board with appropriate remarks, laid the corner stone, at the North West corner of the building, in the presence of a numerous audience, after which the Vice President, standing on the same corner stone delivered the following address.  {Here insert the address from the pamphlet.  There is a literal error in the printed copy experience should be expedience}

We are assembled this day to lay the corner stone of an Edifice, designed for the accommodation of the Beneficiaries, who may be placed on the fund, which your benevolence has constituted for their education in classical literature & science.  This act & the ceremonies of the day will witness to you the sincere intentions, and ardent desire of the Board of Trustees of Amherst Academy, to carry into effect the design of the liberal charity which you have consecrated to the advancement of the Christian church.

That they have not sooner commenced the execution of the trust reposed in the by the constitution of the Fund is to be ascribed wholly to considerations of prudence & expedience arising out of circumstances over which they had no control of however, this delay has contributed to strengthen the cause by removing obstacles & illuminating the path of duty, we are confident that the patrons of the institution will justify the Board in the exercise of their discretion.

The object of this institution, that of educating for the gospel ministry young men in indigent circumstances but of hopeful piety & promising talents, is one of the noblest which can occupy the attention & claim the contributions of the Christian public.  It is to second the efforts of the apostles themselves in extending & establishing the Redeemer’s empire, the empire of truth.

It is to aid in the important work of raising the human race from ignorance & debasement; to enlighten their minds; to exalt their character; & to teach them the way to happiness & to glory.  Too long have men been engaged in the barbarous wars of multiplying the miseries of human life. 

Too long have their exertions & resources been devoted to war & plunder; to the destruction of lives and property; the ravage of cities; to the unnatural, the monstrous employment of enslaving & degrading their own species.  Blessed be our lot!  We live to see a new era in the history of man, an era when reason & religion begin to resume their sway and to impress the heavenly truth, that the appropriate business of man is to imitate the Savior, to serve their God; & bless their fellow men.

Such an institution, with an appropriate destination, in which the views & hopes, the liberality & prayers, of an extensive Christian community may be concentrated seems to be a desideratum in our country; & it is believed will command the respect, & receive the patronage of the public.  The place selected for the seat of this seminary is believed to be particularly adapted to secure to prosperity.  It is to be situated in a populous country, abounding with provisions; in a climate remarkable for its salubrity; in a village where no peculiar circumstances exist to invite dissipation & extravagancies [sic], surrounded by a well cultivated territory, inhabited by people whose moral, religious & literary habit dispose them to cherish the cultivation of the mind, & the propagation of evangelical truth – while the extensive prospect & diversified scenery, presented to the eye from this elevation, is adapted by nature & by art, to delight the student & furnish to piety perpetual sources of contemplation & improvement.

In such a situation, & under the patronage of a religious community, can this Institution fail of success?  Small indeed are its beginnings & feeble the human instruments by which it is to be raised & supported.  And more – it encounters opposition.  But opposition to a good cause must stimulate exertion & contribute to ultimate success.  And why should it be opposed?  It has no competitor; it interferes essentially with no other seminary, for none exists of a similar character.  Will not New England supply it with students?  Let the numerous applications to the Education societies, beyond their means furnish the answer.  Are not well education ministers of the gospel wanted, in great numbers to repair the waste places of our old settlements; to supply a numerous destitute population in the new states, & to carry the gospel to millions of the human race, who are perishing in ignorance & barbarism?  Let the continual & pressing demands on our theological institutions answer this question.

But can the means be found to erect the necessary buildings, & to endow the institution with funds that shall raise it to reputation & usefulness.  Let the doubts on this subject be dissipated by considering the success which has hitherto attended every benevolent institution designed to enlarge the bounds of the Redeemer’s Kingdom.  The great Head of the church, who commanded his disciples to preach the gospel to every creature, & who promised to be with them to the end of the world, cannot forsake his own Cause, nor be unfaithful to his promise.  If this institution is commenced with pious motives & adopted to advance the moral & religious interests of men, it is the duty of Christians to lend their aid to its establishment & support, in humble confidence that a blessing will attend their sacrifices, & their labors.  No sordid views should suffice – the prosecution of the plan – no selfish passions, no local interests should be permitted to interrupt the union & cooperation of the friends of Christ.  Minds elevated with evangelical hopes & views will discard as base & dishonorable,, all references to personal or local advantages, & consider this institution as intended to embrace, in its effects, the whole community of man.

And should success attend this establishment, how delightful to the friend of religion must be the thoughts that he had thrown mite into the treasury of the Lord!  With what satisfaction will the Soul of its benefactors hereafter hear it related that a missionary educated by their father’s charity had placed a Church of Christ on the burning land of Africa, or in the cheerless wilds of Liberia – that he had been the instrument of converting a family, a province perhaps, a kingdom of pagans, & bringing them within the pale of the Christian church; who that duly appreciates the influences of the gospel in civilizing the savage, & in preventing or restraining the disorders of civilized society, can hesitate a moment – even on motions of temporal advantage, to extol his name among the benefactors of such an institution!  No, by friends, the man who loves peace & security in this life, must lend his aid to the propagation of the gospel, & contribute to give efficacy to old principles.  The gospel only can convert swords into ploughshares, & spears into pruning hooks.  The gospel only can supersede the necessity of bolts & bars.  The gospel only can dispeople [sic] the State prison, & the penitentiary!

Let us then take courage!  The design is unquestionably good, & its success must be certain.  Small efforts combined & continued, cannot fail to produce the desired office, & realize the hopes of its founders.  Prudence & integrity will subdue opposition & invite Cooperation; perseverance will bring to our aid new accessions of strength, & a thousand small streams of charity from unexpected sources, will flow into the common current of benevolence, which is to water & refresh this nursery of gospel ministers.  This institution will grow & flourish, & become auxiliary to a thousand appreciations which Christian philanthropy has found to reclaim & evangelize the miserable children of Adam.  Charity will nourish, protect & augment what charity has begun; and the prayers of piety will invoke blessings on this humble effort to diffuse the gospel of peace.

May the great head of the church to whose service this edifice is to be consecrated, multiply the benefactors of the institution, & crown their charities with his loving kindness & tender mercy, & may the benefits of their benevolence, in diffusing truth, & exterminating idolatry & sin, be as extensive as the human family, & as durable as time.


After the address, the Trustees & the spectators repaired immediately to the church, where the Rev. Mr. Clark delivered an appropriate discourse from 2nd Kings 6 Chap 1-3 which was published with the title, “A plea for a miserable world.”


On the following day the Trustees directed the Secretary to notify Henry Gray Esq. of Boston, Gen Salem Towne Jr. of Charlton, Rev. Theophilus Packard of Shelburne, Rev. Thomas Snell of North Brookfield, Rev. Luther Sheldon of Easton, Rev. Heman Humphrey of Pittsfield, & H. W. Strong Esq. of Amherst of their election by the subscribed to the charity fund to be overseers of that Fund.

The Trustees also voted that their thanks be given to Noah Webster Esq. for his address, & to the Rev. Mr. Clark for his sermon, & requested a copy of each for publication.

At this meeting also the Trustees voted to request a number of respectable gentlemen residing in different parts of the United States to act with the Board as Correspondents, in promoting the interest of the institution.

More than twenty men named for this purpose, but it is not known that this measure produced any valuable effect.

At the same meeting Dr. David Parsons resigned his seat in the Board of Trustees & Noah Webster Esq. was elected President of the Board.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees Sept. 7th 1820, a committee was appointed to correspond with the American Education Society on the subject of the terms on which the Board might cooperate with that Society in the education of their beneficiaries.

At a meeting of the Board on Nov. 8th 1820, the Trustees appointed John Leland Esq. as their agent to receive all donations made for the benefit of the charity institution, other than those made to the permanent Fund.  They passed a vote also authorizing the prudential committee to receive into the academy as Beneficiaries from education societies or elsewhere, charity students not exceeding twenty.

At this meeting also the Trustees resolved to establish in the charity institution these professorships, one in mathematics & natural philosophy, one in Rhetoric, & one in the learned languages.  A committee was appointed to solicit & obtain the necessary funds to support them.

Notwithstanding the building committee has no funds for erecting the building, not even a cent, except what were to be received from gratuities in labor, Materials & provisions; yet they prosecuted the work with continuing diligence.  Repeatedly during the progress of the work their means were exhausted, & they were obliged to notify the President of the Board that they could proceed no further without aid.  On these occasions, the President called together the Trustees, or a number of them who, by subscriptions of their own, & by renewed solicitations for voluntary contributions, enabled the Committee to prosecute the work.  And such were the exertions of the Board, of the Committee & of the friends of the institution that on the  nineteenth day from the laying of the corner stone, the roof timbers were erected on the building.

At the meeting of the Board in November the Trustees voted their thanks to the building committee, to the inhabitants of the town of Amherst, & of the neighboring towns, & to all who had aided in the great work, for thieir role exertions & generous liberality in contributing labor, materials, money & provisions towards erecting a building for the charity institution.  {*Occasional contributions from individuals in Hadly [sic] & Belchertown were received.}

But the interior of the Building was not yet finished; & at a meeting of the Board Feb. 4th, 13th, 1821, a committee of four persons, Rev. Mr. Porter, Rev. Mr. Clark, Rev Wes Whipple, and Rev. Mr. Baile, men appointed as agents to make application to evangelical associations  To combine their efforts to carry into effect the design of this institution, to form societies & to invite the aid of societies already formed for Charitable purposes, & in short – to procure donating for enlarging the funds & maintaining the professorships.

At this meeting the Rev. Heman Humphrey of Pittsfield was requested to deliver a discourse before the Trustees of Amherst Academy as their meeting in May then next; & the Rev. Luther Sheldon was appointed his substitute.

At a meeting of the Trustees of Amherst Academy, on the 8th Day of May, 1821 “voted unanimously that the Rev. Zephaniah Swift Moore be & he is hereby elected President of the Charity Institution in this Town.”

Voted that the permanent salary of the President of this institution for his services as President & Professor of Theology & of Moral philosophy, shall be twelve hundred dollars, & that he be entitled to the usual perquisites.

The Trustees at the same meeting determined to build a house for the President, provided they could procure donations of money, materials & labor.  Also, that the first term of study in the  [school] should commence on the third Wednesday of September then next.  They also voted an address of thanks to the Rev. Heman Humphrey for his very appropriate & useful Sermon delivered on the ninth instant.

At this meeting also the Trustees passed a vote prohibiting the students from drinking ardent-spirits or wine, or any liquor of which ardent spirits or wine should be the principal ingredient – at any inn, tavern or shop, or to keep ardent spirits or wine in their rooms, or at any time to indulge in them, under the penalty of admonition for the first offense, & for the second offense admonition or expulsion according to the nature & aggravation of the offense, at the discretion of the prudential committee.

On the 9th of May 1821, the votes of the Board of Trustees, appointing Rev. Zeph. S. Moore President of the Charity institution & granting him a permanent salary, were sent by the President of the Board, to that gentleman at Williamstown.  To these Communications, President Moore returned the following answer.

To the President & Trustees of Amherst Academy


I received from the President of your Board a copy of your vote of the 8th of May 1821, appointing me to preside over the charity institution in Amherst; & other votes relating to the same subject attested by your Secretary.  I have attended to the subject with earnest desire, so far as I know my own heart, that my decision might be such as God would approve.  Previous to receiving any notice of your appointment, I had made up my mind to resign my office in this College at the next Commencement.  Providence had clearly made it consistent with my duty to have then, if not sooner.  I have ascertained so far as I have had the opportunity, the opinion of those who are the friends of evangelical truth, with respect to the necessity, prospects & usefulness of such an institution, as that contemplated at Amherst.  I have much reason to believe there is extensively an agreement on this subject.  In my own opinion, no subject has higher claims on the charity & benevolent efforts of the Christian Community, than the education of pious young men for the gospel ministry.  Their classical education should be thorough, & I should be wholly averse to becoming untied with any institution, which proposed to give a classical education inferior to that given in any of the colleges in New England.

On this subject I am assured your opinion is the same as my own, & that you are determined that the course of study in the institution to which you have invited me, shall not be inferior to that in the Colleges in New England.  I am also assured that you will make provision for the admission of those who are not indigent, & may wish to obtain a classical education in the institution.

After such deliberation & such attention to the subject, as I supposed its importance demanded, I have concluded to accept your appointment to the Presidency of the Charity Institution in Amherst; & I do hereby manifest my acceptance of the same.

I shall resign my office in this College at the next Commencement, if not sooner, after which I shall consider myself devoted to the interests of the Institution entrusted to your care.

May God continue to bless your efforts, to build up an Institution, which, I trust be designed in his wise & gracious providence, to make eminently useful in promoting the interests of literature & science, & particularly in promoting the interests of the Redeemer’s Kingdom which, by his sure promise is one day to be extended with all its blessings of peace, freedom & salvation to all the nations that dwell on the face of the earth

                                                I am gentlemen

                                                            Very respectfully yours

                                                            Zeph. Swift Moore

Williams College

            June 12, 1821

On the same day president Moore addressed a letter to Noah Webster Esq. President of the Board of Trustees of Amherst Academy, in which he states among other things, the doubts he had entertained respecting the expediency of his accepting the appointment.  “I think” he wrote, “I have decided right.  I know it will require much effort to make the Institution in Amherst what it ought to be.  There will probably be many difficulties to encounter.  But the object is an important one, & merits the efforts & self denial & prospect of the friend of Zion.” 

On the thirteenth day of June 1821, the Trustees of Amherst academy elected the Rev. Gamaliel S. Olds to be Professor of Mathematics & Natural Philosophy in the Collegiate Charity Institution & Joseph Estebrook to be Professor of the Greek & Latin Languages.

At the same meeting of the Board, voted that persons wishing to avail themselves of the Charity Fund as beneficiaries, should be under the patronage of some Education Society or other respectable association which should furnish to each beneficiary a part of his support, amounting at least to one dollar a week, for which he was to be furnished with board & tuition.  They required also that every applicant should produce to the examining committee, satisfactory evidence, of his indigence, piety & promising talents.

The Trustees voted also that the preparatory studies or qualifications of candidates for admission to the Collegiate Institution, & the course of studies to be pursued during the four years of membership should be the same as those established in Yale College.

At this session of the Board it was determined that the President & Professor of the Collegiate Charity Institution should be incorporated & the College Edifice dedicated, with suitable religious services, on the Tuesday next preceding the third Wednesday of September next & that Professor Stuart of Andover be invited to preach the dedication sermon.

In case of his declining, the Committee were authorized to request the Rev. Mr. Osgood of Springfield to perform that service.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees August 6th 1821, the Rev. James King was elected to be professor of Oriental languages in the Collegiate Institution.

[Mr. King soon after went to Greece & declined accepting the appointment]

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees Sept. 18th 1821, the Rev. Zephaniah S. Moore, D. D. Rev. Thomas Snell & Rev. Daniel A. Clark were appointed a committee to report a Confession of Faith, to be subscribed by the President & Professors of the Collegiate Institution, previous to their entering on the duties of their respective offices.  This service was performed.

The Trustees then proceeded to the inauguration of the President & Professor Estebrook, Professor Olds not being present.  The ceremonies were performed in the Parish Church & were introduced by the following observations of Noah Webster President of the Board of Trustees.

“A number of charitable citizens of this state having by donations constituted a fund for the education of pious young men, for the gospel ministry & having committed that fund to the management of the Board of Trustees of the Academy in this Town, until an act of incorporation shall be obtained; the Board in pursuance of their powers & in execution of their trust, have erected a College Edifice, for the accommodation of students, & have appointed a President & professors qualified to give them a classical education.  And in conformity to the recommendation of a respectable number of the clergy & laity of this & the neighboring counties convened in this Town in Sept 1818.  The Board propose to annex to this institution a college for the education of young men, who have the means of defraying their expenses.

As it is the duty of men on all occasions to acknowledge their dependence on divine aid for success in their careful enterprises; so it is peculiarly proper that an undertaking which had for its special object the promotion of the Christian religion should be commended to the favor & protection of the great head of the Church.  To his service is the Charity Fund consecrated, by the donors & to him is the Edifice now erected to be, at this time solemnly dedicated.

Then followed prayers by the Rev. Mr. Crosby of Enfield Mass, & a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Leland of Charleston, S.C. who was on a visit to his father then resident in Amherst.  Professor Snell having for special reasons declined to preach on that occasion, & the Rev. Mr. Osgood not being present.

The President of the Board of Trustees then proceeded.  “The Board of Trustees have elected the Rev. Zephaniah Swift Moore to be President of the Collegiate Institution in this town & the President is ex officio Professor of Theology & Moral Philosophy.  They have also elected the Rev. Gamaliel S. Olds to be Professor Mathematics & Natural Philosophy & Mr. Joseph Estabrook to be Professor of the Greek & Latin languages in the same institution.  Mr. Olds is not present but he has accepted the appointment.  Then addressing Dr. Moore the President asked him whether he then publicly manifested his acceptance of the office of President of the Collegiate Institution in Amherst.  Dr. Moor answered in the affirmative.  The President then asked Mr. Estabrook whether he publicly manifested his acceptance of the office of Professor of the Greek & Latin languages in the collegiate institution.  Mr. Estabrook answered in the affirmative.  The confession of faith was then read & the gentlemen assented to it.

The President of the Board then proceeded, “Then in behalf of the Board of Trustees & by this authority I publicly announce that you Zephaniah Swift Moore are constituted President of the Collegiate Institution & by the same authority invested with the power of Superintending, instructing & governing the students according to your best discretion & according to the statutes & regulations that are or may be established for these purposes.

And I further declare that you Joseph Estabrook, are by the same authority constituted professor of the Greek & Latin languages in the same Seminary with power to assist the President in the instruction of the students & in the government & discipline of the Institution.   

Sensible of the difficulties which will attend a faithful & discreet discharge of your arduous duties; felling their own responsibility, & solicitous to promote the best-interests of the Seminary, the Board of Trustees  will cheerfully cooperate with you  gentlemen in such measures as circumstances may demand or prudence dictate, for giving effect to the regulations prescribed; & will assist in devising the best means for elevating the character & extending the usefulness of the institution.

Most devoutly & affectionately Dear Sirs, do we commend you to the holy guidance & protection of the Supreme Head of the church, to whose service this institution is consecrated.  Most honestly do we pray that the blessing of heaven may accompany your labors, & crown them with success under your pious care, diligent instruction & prudent government may this infant Seminary commence itself to the affection & respect of the community, while the fostering patronage of the Christian public shall raise it to distinction among the literary institutions of the American Republic.

By your precepts & example may virtue be honored & piety encouraged among the youth of the Seminary, while every species of commonality shall be discountenanced & repressed.  May your instructions enlarge the sphere of intellectual improvement, & circumscribe the dominion of error.

In yonder edifice may the youth of America be richly furnished with the science & erudition which shall qualify them for eminent usefulness in church & state.  There may they be instructed in the principles of our holy religion & armed with fortitude & grace to defend & maintain its doctrines in their apostolic purity.

And while your labors contribute to excel – the moral, religious & literary character of your own country may there issue from this Seminary some beams of the light of civilization & of heavenly truth, to illuminate the “dark places of the earth, which are full of the habitations of cruelty.”  Here may a flame of holy zeal be enkindled in the hearts of young Christians, which shall plow with inextinguishable ardor, & animate them with courage to hazard all temporal enjoyments & life itself in bringing the message of redeeming love to an ignorant & guilty world.

And when your labors on earth shall have ceased; may it be your everlasting joy that you have been the instruments of preparing many souls to join that great multitude which no man can number, whose blissful employment it shall be to ascribe salvation to him that sitteth on the Throne & to the Lamb forever.”

On the following day September 10th Noah Webster Esq. resigned his seat in the Board of Trustees, & Dr. Moore was elected a member & President of the Board, to supply his place.



Copied from a copy of the original manuscript of Mr. Webster with the following entry “Copied July 1834 from Manuscripts, Reports, votes & pamphlets prepared & arranged by Noah Webster & be his permission.

                                    L. Boltwood


Copied from Mr. Boltwood’s manuscript for the college by direction of W. A. Stearns  Dec. 29th 1862