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Twombly's Administration--1870-1874.

Report for 1870--The old "gym"--Continued financial stringency--College journalism--President Twombly elected--Report for 1871--Ladies' Hall opened--A plea for the land-grant--First tax levy--Raising the standard--Report for 1873--Resignation of Dr. Twombly.

Report for 1870.

In their report for the year ending September 30, 1870, the regents express regret for their non-success, thus far, in filling the vacant presidential chair; but "it is extremely gratifying to be able to say, that the place has been most ably filled temporarily, by the honored Vice President," Professor Sterling. There has been a slight diminution in the aggregate attendance of students, which "finds abundant explanation in the stringency of the times, and the low price of farm productions. Many sons and daughters of farmers have been compelled, from this cause, to omit for a time their course of studies. Another cause may be found in the higher requirements for admission to the preparatory department and the more thorough examinations for admission, from which have come many rejections of applicants. The inability of the University to furnish rooms is still a drawback--for the price of board and rooms in the city is beyond the reach of many excellent students."

The old "gym".

They further state that a frame building for "drill and gymnastic exercises," containing as well an armory, and an office for the military instructor, has just been completed on the brow of the hill, northwestward of the main hall, at a cost of about $4,000; 1 which leaves at our disposal much room in University Hall, before occupied for military drill." It seems that this separate provision for the military department was "made on the urgent recommendation" of Col. Walter S. Franklin, the army officer detailed to fill the chair of military science and engineering; but Colonel Franklin had, after that, been withdrawn, and the board, feeling that the exigencies of the army service threaten to keep the military school in a state of uncertainty, are considering the advisability of paying "the expenses of this professorship from the funds of the University, in order to secure permanency in instruction."

Continued financial stringency.

During the year, the chair of geology, mining, and metallurgy had been created, and filled by the election of Prof. Roland Duer Irving,2 whose work was destined to bring fame to the University. "To meet the wants of the new department * * * extensive changes have been made in the north basement of University Hall." While not asking for further appropriations at this time, in view of the grant for Ladies' Hall, the board nevertheless remind the legislature that the University still needs an observatory and "a chapel or public hall." They do appeal, however, for a more direct control, hereafter, of the sale of University and Agricultural College lands, and conclude with this vigorous statement, which is interesting as showing that the board, like its predecessors, clearly understood, and were desirous that the public should continue to understand, the reason for the stringency of the University's finances:

As fast as these lands are called for, they are sold at the minimum price of $1.25 per acre and the working of this system has no other effect than to realize for the University the lowest possible price for its endowment lands. We wish authority to withhold a portion of the best of these lands from market until the development of the regions where they are located will enable us to dispose of them at a far greater price. Had such a course been adopted on the organization of the University, we should now have had an ample endowment, and been saved the necessity of begging at the doors of the State Councils for the meagre sums necessary to make the institution one of even reasonable usefulness.

College journalism.

An important event of the year 1870 was the issue, in June, of the first number of The University Press, of which George W. Raymer and James W. Bashford were editors and publishers; its columns were to be "always open to scientific, literary, and general news articles, written by the students, the professors, and the friends of the University." The Press was a monthly throughout 1870, and then appeared semi-monthly until September, 1882, when it became a weekly, continuing as such to the close of its very useful career. Its first rival was the weekly Campus appearing in October, 1881; after two months of existence, the Campus became the Badger, which was merged in the Press in September, 1885; that in turn was merged in the Aegis, October of the following year. The Aegis, at first a weekly, became a bi-weekly in September, 1892; and the literary monthly of the University, in October, 1895. The Daily Cardinal first appeared in April, 1892, and enjoys the reputation of being one of the best college dailies in the country.

At the opening of the University, in September, 1839, two new college publications made their first appearance. The Sphynx, an illustrated humorous bi-weekly, upon the plan of the Harvard Lampoon and papers of that character; and The Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, an illustrated monthly edited by Charles E. Allen, '99, Florence E. Baker, '91, and others--it is to be sent free to members of the Alumni association, and "will be devoted to the dissemination of knowledge in regard to life at the University."

President Twombly elected.

At the annual meeting of the regents in June, 1871, Rev. Dr. John H. Twombly,3 lately superintendent of the public schools of Charlestown, Mass., an educator and a Methodist divine of some note, was called to the presidency of the University, and to fill the chair of mental and moral philosophy. He entered upon his duties here at the beginning of the new college year, in September. In their annual report, the regents say that "His high character, and long experience in collegiate and educational management, with his energy and practical knowledge, lead the Board to congratulate themselves and the University upon the good fortune which enabled them to place him at the head of the University."

Report for 1871.

The annual report of the regents for 1871 announces the election to the professorship of military science and civil engineering, of Maj. William J. L. Nicodemus,4 U. S. A., retired, at a salary of $1,200, paid by the board. This election, together with that of the new president, enables them to "announce every department of the University in complete working order." The attendance of students in September of this year is greater than ever before, thus fully taxing the labors of the corps of instructors. "The Regents have great satisfaction in reporting the utmost harmony in the Faculty, from highest to lowest, and a cordiality between teachers and students which has called forth a marked energy and progress in studies, and a general good conduct on the part of the students. * * * The college classes are above the average of former years, both in numbers and scholarship, while an unusually large number of the preparatory students are fitting for the regular courses. Every feature of the present points to a steady growth in numbers and widening usefulness."

Ladies' Hall opened.

Ladies' Hall was opened at the beginning of the school year 1871-72. "The growing conviction in the public mind for many years back, that very many avocations might be fairly opened to women, who had thus far in the history of the race been debarred from them, has borne fruit," say the regents, "in a liberal acquiescence to woman taking her place in the acquisition and practice of some of the scientific professions. Instructions have been given to carry out a system of education for the Female College, which, while it opens every department of the University to both sexes alike, yet leaves to the choice of the lady students as ambition or taste may dictate--to pursue in their own college under lady teachers--or with the regular college classes, the studies in which they desire full accomplishment * * * a conservative course, midway between the theories of those who would ride a hobby to personal popularity, and that of fogyism which yields nothing to the demands of a growing public opinion."


A plea for the land-grant.

The regents return bravely to the charge, in placing the needs of the institution before the legislature. "A State institution of learning, in order to prosper, must be fostered and cared for by the State alone." Michigan, they say, "has given to its University an annual appropriation of $20,000, has erected all its buildings, and during the past year has erected an additional building at an expense of $75,000. It has given to its agricultural college alone, in another part of the State, a sum in lands and money of $390,000. Yet Wisconsin University has received from the State only one college building, costing $50,000, and nothing for its agricultural college." Books are needed for the University library, apparatus and furniture everywhere; and, above all, a public hall or chapel, and an observatory. Again is this Macedonian cry sent up, to stop the further sacrifice of the University and Agricultural College lands:

These lands amount to something over 200,000 acres, and are located almost entirely in the northern portion of the State. The present and prospective development of the northern counties, by the building of a network of railroads, will tend greatly to enhance the value of these lands. Must these lands all be sold at the minimum price of $1.25 per acre, when a few years will so immensely increase their original value? If from the original endowment grants by Congress, there had been reserved until now, ten per cent of the lands, we should have had an endowment second to no college in the country. If we can now reserve twenty-five percent of the lands that remain of the grants, for a period of twenty years or so, a future generation of students will be able to reach all of the prosperity which the most sanguine friends of the University have ever hoped for it. Let not our posterity have to say of us that we ignored for them all the powers this generation holds in its hands, to lay broad and deep foundations for our University.

First tax levy

The legislature of 1872 was not prepared to abandon the time-honored policy of the State, to hold the University, school, and Agricultural College lands at so low a price that immigrants would be attracted to Wisconsin. It nevertheless listened kindly to the representations of the regents, and frankly confessed that the State at large was now better able to contribute to the University's maintenance, because of the increased population and wealth which were the result of the persistent sacrifice of the University's birthright. This remarkable confession was made in the form of a preamble to chapter 100 of the laws of that year (approved March 22), wherein a State tax of $10,000 a year is ordered levied and collected, to form a part of the University income:5

Whereas, It has heretofore been the settled policy of the state of Wisconsin to offer for sale and dispose of its lands granted by congress to the state for educational purposes, at such a low price per acre as would induce immigration and location thereon by actual settlers; and

Whereas, Such policy, although resulting in a general benefit to the whole state, has prevented such all increase of the productive funds for which such grants were made, as could have been realized if the same policy had been pursued which is usually practiced by individuals of corporations holding large tracts of lands; and

Whereas, The university fund has suffered serious loss and impairment by such sales of its lands, so that its income is not at present sufficient to supply its wants, and cannot be made so by any present change of policy, inasmuch as the most valuable lands have already been sold; therefore, etc.

This was the first State tax levied for the benefit of the University. We shall see that in 1876 it was increased to a tenth of a mill on each dollar of the assessed valuation of the state; and still farther increased, in 1883, to an eighth. In their report for 1872, the regents naturally express gratification at this promise of continuous state aid; they declare that the grant has "met with such cordial approbation by the people * * * that no doubt now remains that a hearty and generous support by the State, in future, will meet with the earnest approval of all friends of education." There were, indeed, evidences on every hand that the people of Wisconsin had at last risen to an adequate appreciation of their state University. Nowhere in the newspaper press of the time do we find any note of dissatisfaction at the initial tax levy of 1872. The attendance had now grown to 600, including the preparatory department, and naturally the expenses of administration and instruction were growing. The timely appropriation had enabled the regents to purchase long-needed apparatus, books, laboratory conveniences, "and what was of no less importance, the salaries of the hard-working professors and teachers were increased, placing them upon an equal footing with those of other colleges. This increase of salaries was necessary in order to retain some of our ablest professors, whose services were sought by higher salaries offered elsewhere."

Raising the standard.

The board report that they "have had in view a gradual raising of the standard of admission and of scholarship, to such extent as eventually to do away entirely with the preparatory department. This result is steadily in progress of attainment, but must be done so gradually, without too greatly diminishing the number of students, as to give full employment to all professors and teachers." The regents have therefore secured the passage by the legislature of a law providing, conditionally, free tuition in the University to all graduates of high schools. "The examination for admission to such students is such as must tend largely toward raising the standard of scholarship in these schools, and thus in great measure answer the purpose of preparatory schools. It also makes University education a prize within the reach of all high school students, and brings the University more completely before the people." During this year (1872), ten students have availed themselves of the privilege, and been admitted to the college classes. The following year, forty-eight students came from this source, with a corresponding diminution in the attendance on the preparatory department; in 1877 came the system of accredited high schools, now in vogue, and three years later (1880) the time had arrived for the abolition of the preparatory department.

Report for 1873.

In 1873, the board finds little of special moment upon which to report. The University is making good progress. "The pressing demand for increased accommodations will soon compel the Regents to ask for increased income, or to rest content with an institution of limited facilities, following behind others in character and usefulness in sister States, whose patrons look with deeper interest upon the advantages which are offered for the education of their youth."

Resignation of Dr. Twombly.

In January, 1874, the resignation of President Twombly was accepted by the board. Despite the self-congratulations of the regents, three years before, Dr. Twombly does not appear to have proven a success in this position. His methods were of an antiquated theological seminary type, quite out of keeping with a modern secular college having an ambition to satisfy; and personally, he was not popular. In their report for the year, the regents curtly treat the matter of his withdrawal:

The past year has been one of substantial progress. The resignation of J. H. Twombly, as president, was accepted by the Regents on the 21st of January last. President John Bascom was invited to occupy the place, and entered on the discharge of his duties with the beginning of the spring term. The Regents are more than satisfied with the change, and do not hesitate to predict from it an effectual increase of good in the management of the University, and a far higher position for it among the colleges of the country.

The passing of President Twombly signalized the close of the childhood of the University. With the entrance of President Bascom, 6 the University may be considered as having come into possession of the full vigor of early manhood. No longer was it "open to the charge of being little more than a respectable high school for Madison." 7 Henceforth it was not to be seriously affected by such vicissitudes as it had experienced in the past; it was at last felt to be a power in the State, the true head of the educational forces of the commonwealth, and with a splendid future before it.


1 The old "gym," an illy-constructed and poorly-equipped building, was destroyed by fire on the night of June 12, 1881.

2 Professor Irving, a grandnephew of Washington Irving, was born in New York City, April 27, 1847. He graduated from Columbia College in 1866, and spent three years in post-graduate work in the school of Mines connected with that institution. For a time he was assistant geologist on the State survey of Ohio, and then metallurgist in smelting works at Greenville, N. J. He was holding this latter position when called to the University of Wisconsin. In 1873 he was appointed assistant geologist on the Wisconsin State survey, holding the position for six years in connection with his University chair. He was special agent for the 10th federal census, as expert on Lake Superior explorations; and in 1882 was placed in charge of the United States geological survey in the Northwestern States,--a position he held, also in connection with his University work, at the time of his death, May 30, 1888. He had won great distinction in his profession, being the first of the faculty of the Wisconsin University to attain a position among leading men of science. See an appreciative sketch of his character and career, by President Bascom, in Badger, 1890, pp. 187-190.

3 Dr. Twombly was born in Rochester, N. H. He obtained his early education with difficulty, having to intersperse his studies with labor of various sorts-- carpentering, farming, and teaching. Finally, he graduated from the Wesleyan University at Middletown, Conn., in 1843. Being ordained a Methodist preacher, he at first taught in seminaries of his denomination; but from 1846 to 1866 was in charge of large congregations in different parts of Massachusetts. In 1855, he was chaplain of the Massachusetts senate; 1855-67, one of the overseers of Harvard College; 1857-71, secretary of the New England Education Society; 1868-69, director of the American Institute, and engaged in founding Boston University, of which he was a trustee. He had been upon the school boards of Worcester, Lynn, and Chelsea; and in 1866-70 was superintendent of the Charlestown public schools. Called to Wisconsin in June, 1851, he resigned January 21, 1874, and resumed his work in the ministry, going to Westfield, Mass.; later, he was at Springfield, and closed his career in charge of the Broadway Methodist church in Boston. His alma mater gave him the degree of M. A. in 1846, and D. D. in 1871.

4 Born at Cold Springs, Va., August 1, 1834, graduating from West Point in 1858. As lieutenant in the Fifth Infantry, he took part in the Utah expedition, and again (1861) in the Navajo expedition. Commissioned captain in the Twelfth, in October, 1861, he was engaged until the following June as acting assistant adjutant-general of the Department of New Mexico. At the battle of Valverde (February 21, 1862), he was brevetted major. In October, 1862, he was commissioned colonel of the Fourth Maryland Volunteers, and guarded recruits at Baltimore. In February, 1863, he was assigned to the signal service, having charge of the communications between Harper's Ferry and Washington. Promoted major in that service for gallant conduct in pursuing the enemy through Maryland, he later became lieutenant-colonel. He was in charge of the signal bureau at Washington from October, 1863, to December, 1864, and in 1865 was made inspector in the corps, being finally restored to the Twelfth Infantry. During 1865-68, he was in garrison at New York, Richmond, and Washington; then for two years gave military instruction at Western University Pittsburg). Being honorably discharged in December, 1870, he afterward came to Wisconsin University, where he was soon appointed on the State geological survey, in addition to his duties as teacher. He died in Madison, while still a member of the faculty, January 6, 1879.

5 The regents (Report 1872, p. 9) say that the legislature, "through its committees on Education," made a thorough examination of the conditions and wants of the University; investigated the manner in which its grant of lands had been located and sold, and said committee arriving at the same conclusion [as ourselves] as to the cause of the waste of its productive fund ['that it was more important that these lands should be sold, and the country settled as rapidly as possible'], prepared and introduced a bill * * * [which], after due deliberation, was passed by both houses of the Legislature."

6 President Bascom was born in Genoa, N. Y., May 1, 1827. He graduated from Williams College in 1849, and in 1855 from Andover Theological Seminary. In the same year he was chosen professor of rhetoric at Williams, and was holding that chair when called to the presidency of U. W. Resigning this post in 1887, he returned to Williams, of whose faculty he is still a member. Dr. Bascom has published numerous books, magazine articles, and addresses, and contributes largely to the leading critical reviews, his special fields being political economy and mental and moral philosophy. Amherst gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1873, and Grinnell (Iowa) that of D. D. in 1875.

7 "Board of Visitors' Report," 1874, in Report of Board of Regents for that year, p. 13.