The Life of Daniel Coit Gilman
By Fabian FranklinWith Three Portraits New York Dodd, Mead and Company 1910 Copyright, 1910, by ELISABETH GILMAN Published, May, 1910 [Photograph of] Daniel C. Gilman
IT was at Mrs. Gilman's request that I undertook in part to write and in part to edit this Life of President Gilman. The first chapter, relating to his boyhood and youth, was written by his brother, Mr. William C. Gilman, of Norwich, Conn.; the second, covering the period of his connection with Yale College as librarian and professor, is the work of Miss Emily H. Whitney and Miss Margaret D. Whitney, daughters of the late Prof. W. D. Whitney; and the third, giving the story of his presidency of the University of California, was contributed by Prof. William Carey Jones, of that University. The editing of these chapters, and the preparation of the remaining five, embracing Mr. Gilman's life from the time of his coming to Baltimore until its close, fell to my share.
After the work was completed, and ready for the printers, came the unexpected failing of Mrs. Gilman's health, and her death after a brief period of critical illness. The appreciation of Mr. Gilman, signed by her initials, which appears at the close of the biography, was written by her for the book, and occupies the position which had been assigned to it in the first place; the few references to her occurring in the volume have likewise been left unaltered. Her relation toward her husband was not only perfect in point of personal attachment, but included an ideal completeness of sympathy with him in his labors and his aspirations; and after his death devotion to his memory was the absorbing interest of her life.
Chapter I: Boyhood and Youth [not available online]
[Not available online.]
Chapter II: New Haven [not available online]
[Not available online.]
Chapter III: California
IN order to understand the situation with which Mr. Gilman had to deal when he assumed the presidency of the University of California, it is necessary to glance briefly at the circumstances in which the University took its rise and at the history of its initial years. Chartered in 1868 by the State, there were two elements that entered into its organization and influenced its future which had their origin elsewhere than in the State government. In the first place, the University absorbed an existing institution, the College of California, which since 1860 had done great service in cultivating a university sentiment in the community; and in the compact between the State and the College by which the absorption was effected, it was stipulated that there should be perpetually maintained in the University a “College of Letters.” The other element referred to was the land grant bestowed on the State by the Federal Government, under the Morrill Act of 1862, which required the maintenance of “at least one college where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanical arts, in such manner as the legislature of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.”
The government of the University was placed in the hands of a Board of Regents, which included the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, and Superintendent
The State took over the work of higher education in the autumn of 1869, on the property in Oakland that had been occupied by the College of California. Martin Kellogg, one of the staunchest sustainers of university ideals, long the Dean of the Academic Senate, and later President of the University (1890-99), continued in the University, as he had been in the College, Professor of Ancient Languages. John and Joseph Le Conte, finest ornaments of the Faculty, were called from the University of South Carolina to fill the chairs of Physics and Geology respectively. W. T. Welcker and Frank Soule, graduates of West Point, were appointed, the former Professor and the latter Assistant-Professor of Mathematics. Ezra S. Carr was chosen Professor of Agriculture, and William Swinton Professor of English and History. In 1871 Willard B. Rising, a graduate of Hamilton College and of Heidelberg, instructor in Chemistry in the University of Michigan, and a short while Professor of Natural Science in the College of California, was added to the Faculty as Professor of Chemistry. These were the more important men on the staff of instruction.
At the outset the Regents did not elect a President, but they designated Professor John Le Conte Acting President, in which capacity he served for one year. A serious mistake had thus been made by the Regents in selecting a Faculty without competent advice, and, more especially, without considering the importance of harmonious cooperation between Faculty and President. The Regents were mostly new to administrative work of this kind, although some of
At this time the fires of the Civil War were not completely extinguished in California. They were not only wont to flare up in the political camp, but they cast their lights and shadows on many a meeting and enterprise of economic, industrial, educational and social character. The Board of Regents, as first composed, contained men from both the North and the South, some of whom had not lost all traces of their origin in a common Californianism. The spirit of domination characterized some of the Southern members, and it showed itself in the selection of the original members of the Faculty. Fortunately most of these professors were men of such ability and such purity of character that no harm was done to the University. The prevailing tendency was likewise shown in the offer of the presidency in 1869 to General George B. McClellan. Not only was there a desire to prevent too large an ascendancy of New England ideas in education, together with an anti-Congregational sentiment, but there was also a leaning toward a military school. This latter sentiment desired that emphasis be laid on the feature of the Morrill Act which provided for instruction in military science and tactics. The Presbyterians and Congregationalists had been the source of inspiration
It was the ascendancy in 1870 of the liberal and enlightened spirit of the community that resulted in the election to the presidency of Professor Gilman; though the unwarranted Puritan claim to a victory, made now, and again in 1872, tended to prejudice his position. The election took place on June 21. The letter given below from Edward Tompkins to Rev. Dr. H. W. Bellows suggests perhaps the way it came about that Professor Gilman was selected. Edward Tompkins, whom we shall meet again, was a member of the Board of Regents, a State Senator, and an ardent friend and advocate of the University. He writes under date of June 21 as follows to Dr. Bellows:
I have but a moment to say that the battle is fought and won. Prof. Gilman has this afternoon been elected
― 114 ―Pres. of the University of California. Your letter elected him, although there were a far greater number for other candidates. On what accidents life turns! A place that may and ought to be historical, filled by Dr. Thompson's dining with you on the day my letter reached you. Now, can you not send word to Dr. Thompson at once, so that he will make Prof. Gilman's acceptance certain? The Governor will write him tomorrow informing him of his election, and if by any accident he should decline, I should be compelled to abscond. I am inexpressibly obliged to you for all your interest in this matter. That, and the consciousness of the influence for good that you have exercised across a continent ought to give you one more very pleasant memory.
Governor Haight, ex-officio President of the Board of Regents, a man of culture and a wise and enthusiastic friend of the University, wrote to Professor Gilman, setting forth at length the resources, prospects and attractions of the University, and urging his acceptance of the presidency. Professor Kellogg, Dean of the Academic Senate, and others interested sent letters expressing their earnest hope that he would come. The enthusiastic letter of Mr. Tompkins has special interest:
As one of the Regents of the University of California, I feel a deep interest in your answer to the invitation to become its President. As I was the means of bringing your name before the Board, I am particularly anxious that an unfavorable answer should not be returned, at least until the inducements that the position offers are fully understood. A note from your brother-in-law, Dr. Thompson, to my valued friend Dr. Bellows, was sent me by the latter, speaking of you in terms that led me to learn all that was in my power about you. The result has been to convince me that it will be a misfortune to California, and I think to you, if you turn away from the opportunity offered you to shape and form the educational interests of the Pacific Coast. The
― 115 ―means are ready to your hand. Neither money nor interest in the matter is wanting. All that is needed is a young man, devoted and earnest, ready to do his life work in giving the best education to the greatest number, and realizing fully that his best reputation while he lives, and his noblest monument when he is dead, will be best secured, by making the University of which he is the first President a grand success. I have become satisfied that you can do all this, and so believing I am not willing to admit the idea that you can refuse to take the lead in so noble a work. Why should you? The lowest consideration, money, will not prevent. We pay $6,000 gold, to which in due season a house will be added. I need not contrast that with any salary paid on your side of the continent. The opportunity to do good is vastly greater in a new, energetic, enterprising region, poorly supplied with means of education, than in an old country where colleges and educated men abound. The promise for the future is much the greatest on this side of the continent. Where you are, suppose you could be President of Yale. You would get it only after a controversy with “old fogyism,” and you would be one of a long line of Presidents. Old ideas, if they did not defeat, would fetter and embarrass you. Here, you would be the founder of a new dynasty, the first President, and would forever be “at the head.” You would only be asked to relieve Regents, who are so hurried that they are glad to be let alone, and thus would shape everything to suit yourself. I concede all that you will claim for the society and surroundings of New Haven, but the educational interests of California are nearly all concentrated at Oakland, a Faculty of a high order is already gathered there, and you would soon be in a position to call around you the best culture in America. I am many years older than you; I know both sides of the continent, and I tell you that such an opening for usefulness and reputation does not come twice to any man. I pray you to consider well before you reject such a certainty for anything in the future. The present we know. The future can only be read by prophets. My good friend Prof. Brewer (and yours) will introduce me to you. After that, you will excuse and believe me cordially your friend.
The letters written by Professor Gilman to Governor Haight--one an official declination and the other a personal note--express his appreciation of the offer and indicate that his decision to remain in New Haven was brought about by a combination of considerations relating to his post in the Scientific School and of personal reasons. His reply to Mr. Tompkins was as follows:
Your kind letter of July 5 almost persuaded me. It led me to reconsider all the questions which a decision involved. For some days I felt magnetized, and entered with all your enthusiasm into the prospects of usefulness which cluster around the presidency of such a university. But after all I feel constrained to remain here. I am deeply interested in the Scientific College of this University, which is now making rapid progress and which seems destined to exert a great influence upon the education of the country. I may not be of much importance to this movement, but I am deeply involved in it and greatly interested in it, so that it would be very hard for me at present to break away.
Your confidential tone inspires my confidence, and though we are personally strangers I cannot refrain from adding a few words respecting another reason which prevents my leaving New Haven. The mother of my two little daughters was taken away from them a few months ago by death and I am not only depressed by the bereavement, but I am burdened with the parental responsibility thus thrown upon me. Here I am fortunate however in being surrounded by relatives and friends who will aid me in the care of these children but from whom I should be widely separated if I should go to California.
I feel desirous of explaining to you one other point. My name was suggested to Dr. Bellows in the most accidental and unpremeditated way, nor did I know anything of the fact until some little time afterward. I had then no idea that it would be seriously considered, but I said to Prof. Brewer and to others (who made some allusion to the matter) all that it would seem proper to say to prevent my being considered a candidate. I feel deeply sensible of the honor conferred
― 117 ―upon me and fully appreciative of your interest in presenting my name, and I should be very sorry to have you think the letters presented in my behalf were directly or indirectly sent forward at my instance.
I am very desirous of seeing California. Our vacation has begun, and if I can find company it is possible I may make the trip, but simply for my own gratification and instruction. The formal letter which I send herewith to the Governor is official and final.
Your letter draws me strongly toward you. I hope we shall meet face to face. But whether we do or not, I beg you to be assured of the very high and grateful regard with which I remain, etc.
Upon receiving Professor Gilman's declination, the Regents elected Professor Durant to the presidency. His administration saw both an apparent and a real development within the University, and a spread of its influence without. It was not aggressive to attain results and it took no positive steps that might arouse direct opposition, but nevertheless it firmly held its own as against any active manifestation of hostile forces outside or of disintegrating influences within. But along with unquestioned growth of the institution and the maintenance of proper standards, there went on a steady strengthening of antagonistic elements in the community and the formation of parties and cliques among Faculty and Regents.
It could not have been expected by the Regents that President Durant's administration would be more than temporary. Professor Gilman's declination had left them at sea, and they turned to the man who was the “logical” first President of the University, as well as a person held in universal high esteem. Most people in the community were gratified that this mark of appreciation had been shown for enlightened, persistent and unselfish services in the cause of higher education. Infirmities of age telling on him, in
That the retirement of President Durant should have led to a renewed effort to secure the services of Professor Gilman is natural enough. Numerous letters and telegrams--from the Regents, the Governor of the State, other prominent citizens and some from personal friends--testify to the degree of importance which was attached to his acceptance of the presidency, and the feeling of the large possibilities which it opened up for the future of the University and of the State. Assurances were given of hearty cooperation; in some of the communications these assurances were coupled with references to the peculiar difficulties of the situation. The vote in the election for President had been in a sense unanimous, the statement made to Professor Gilman in the letter announcing it having been as follows: “There were seventeen Regents present, and the vote stood twelve for you and five blanks. No one but yourself was put in nomination and the blank votes were cast in that way because of some promises made by those Regents for other parties which they did not feel at liberty to disregard.”
The President-elect made a brief visit to California, reaching San Francisco at the end of August. From memoranda which he kept of his trip across the continent, we learn that he left New Haven on August 10, going to New York and thence to Saratoga to see President Andrew D. White, and meeting incidentally many other persons of consequence. At Indianapolis he discussed with Governor Baker the plan of Purdue University, the general university outlook in Indiana, and the proposed second Morrill bill, which was more liberally drawn than the one of 1862, with
During his short sojourn he met the Regents, both officially and informally, and made the acquaintance of some of the more important persons in the vicinity. Professor Louis Agassiz had just arrived in San Francisco, and on the evening of September 2 was given a reception by the Academy of Sciences. Professor George Davidson was president of that society. He was Honorary Professor of Geodesy and Astronomy in the University, Chief of the United States Pacific Coast Survey, and one of the most eminent scientists in the State. At a later time he was largely influential in determining the direction of James Lick's benefactions. On this evening began a firm friendship between Professor Davidson and the new President of the University. President Gilman, being asked to speak, responded as follows:
I cannot but regard it as a most happy omen that the first opportunity I have after coming here to take charge of your educational institution, of meeting with the citizens of this place, is an evening when you are assembled to pay homage and render greeting to one who brings the best culture of the Old World to bear upon the solution of the great problems which appertain to the New, when you are here to greet so eminent a man as he who has just addressed you. I can
― 120 ―echo his words in a faint way, and take up a few of the thoughts he has dropped. He has told you that the museum at Cambridge is distinguished as the museum of today. Should it not be so with the University? Should it not be a University for the wants of today? Should we not use it for the great problems which belong to this generation, for the great future that is opening upon us? Should we not all unite to gather up the best of the past experience of every nation, the accumulations of all men before us, to bring them to bear upon our society, and upon, I trust you will allow me to say it, our own State of California? One other thought I should like to re-echo. Professor Agassiz has told you that the great want of science is observers, and the great want of society is men. Now, the object of the University is to turn out men, not narrow specialists, though they may be as eminent as possible in this or that department which they may pursue, but men of honest and earnest purpose, men of true wisdom, and that is what the University has before it. I will not prolong these remarks, but let me trust that the true utterances you have heard from the distinguished orator who has spoken to you, that you need an institution for today, and an institution for the training of men, may sink deep into all your hearts and inspire us all for the work which is to come.
At this time Mr. Tompkins' project of endowing a chair in the University was also discussed. The endowment, which was formally announced in the Board of Regents on September 18, inaugurated the new administration with the University's first considerable gift from a private source. It expressed Mr. Tompkins' generosity of sentiment, his love for the institution, and his confidence in President Gilman. The donation was in the form of a piece of land to be sold when it would realize fifty thousand dollars. The professorship was to be one of Oriental Languages and Literature, and in compliment to the great scientist then visiting California, it was to be called the “Agassiz Professorship.”
Only one week after President Gilman's inauguration Mr. Tompkins suddenly died. President Gilman had said in his inaugural address: “It is a praiseworthy forethought on the part of one of the Regents which has led him to provide among us for the study of Chinese and Japanese. His presence here cannot restrain me from rendering a public tribute of gratitude for this wise and timely munificence. Let us hope that his generous purposes will, ere long, be realized. To complete the instruction in Oriental tongues, at least two other chairs will be needed, one to be for Hebrew and the Semitic languages, which, perhaps, some other citizen will be glad to establish; and one for Sanskrit and the comparative philology of Indo-European tongues.” The development of this donation into a foundation of larger scope through the establishment of an Oriental College was a constant thought and endeavor of President Gilman throughout his administration. The interest of Congress was invoked, a bill was introduced by Senator Sargent, and it looked probable for a while that the Japanese Indemnity Fund then in the hands of the government might be utilized for this purpose.
The inauguration ceremonies were held in Oakland on November 7. The subject of President Gilman's inaugural address was “The Building of the University.” It rendered tribute to the men and agencies that had laid the foundations of the University, recognized with cordial sympathy the qualities and tendencies of Californian culture, sketched in a comprehensive manner the elements that must constitute any modern university, and portrayed the spirit that must pervade it. It forecast many of the dangers and difficulties that would have to be worked against, defined the proper relations of Faculty, Regents and State authorities (“Quick to help and slow to interfere,” it said, should be the watchword of the last), and laid down the lines along
President Gilman had laid out a program, but his purposes were wider than he had publicly declared. The field seemed to be an open one, and in large measure it was so. The public was generous in its appreciation, and of a mind to be generous in its purse also. The prospect must have seemed to him very fair, even alluring--work to be done, difficulties to be overcome, a public to be instructed. Only two circumstances in the situation were of a really perplexing character.
The first of these was the presence of a certain amount of incompetency and unfitness in the University staff. In so small a faculty the presence of two or three professors in important posts markedly unfit for their positions or manifestly neglectful of their work would necessarily be a very serious drawback. If they were not retained, they would become a center of disaffection or demoralization; if they were summarily removed, there might result in place of the general acclaim a great public outcry, and the whole future might be jeopardized in a moment. What the attitude of the Regents themselves might be could not be predicted; altogether the situation was one in which the path of wisdom was difficult to determine. At all events, President Gilman took no immediate action.
The second difficulty lay in the existing relations between the President and the Board of Regents. In law, and hitherto perhaps in practice also, the president was no more to the regents than any individual professor. Shortly after President Gilman's accession, the board adopted a resolution authorizing the President to participate in its deliberations, and making him a member of all committees;
Mr. Gilman, however, did not allow these two difficulties to weigh on his mind, but set to work to accomplish his mission, the effective building up of the University.
He began at the bottom. For the first step he took was the fundamental one of bringing about a better understanding, and more cordial and helpful relations, between the common schools and the University. He found ready cooperation in the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, an exceptionally well-qualified man, H. W. Bolander. The President of the University and the State Superintendent called a conference of University men and teachers in the public schools. The drift of President Gilman's address
The foundation of the Berkeley Club, an organization which still flourishes, was another thing that engaged Mr. Gilman's attention in the early months of his presidency. Its seventeen original members were a picked body, including ministers, lawyers, journalists and merchants, as well as professors and regents of the University. At a memorial meeting of the Club in honor of Mr. Gilman, Rev. John Knox McLean, President of the Pacific Theological Seminary, the only survivor of the seventeen, thus characterized Mr. Gilman's influence in the creation and maintenance of the Club:
Without his initiative it could never have come into existence; without his fostering care it could never have become a permanency. The history of the Club illustrates what appears to me one of President Gilman's strongest points . . . . He was endowed with an extraordinarily sharp, quick and unerring discernment, first of measures and men, and next of ways and means, not merely as to things in themselves, nor yet as to their latent values--he had all that, and more. With it all was allied the more fruitful sense of how to extract those values, and how, once extracted, to set them into active productiveness. He seemed to grasp the whole at once, at a glance,--the metal in the rock, the particular mode of extracting that special grade or class of metal, of
― 125 ―handling it when extracted, with also the ability to set in motion the required means to bring out a final, finished product, and not stopping there, but also to set the tide of this final product at earning its own daily bread.
The grand incitement with him to the creation of the Club at the time this was founded lay not at all in purposes of mere entertainment, good fellowship, relaxation, not merely as a place and medium for the exchange of ideas and the elucidation of great themes and thoughts. He wanted it just then for a far more concrete purpose, and to those who stood nearest he made no secret of the fact. He wanted it as an implement, an engine, an apparatus, of which he stood at that particular time in great need . . . . In every reference to that period of his experience he has uniformly, in speech or letter, as no doubt to others beside myself, spoken in warm appreciation of the succor received at a time of need through the Berkeley Club.
From some of the other addresses at the Berkeley Club memorial meeting may be drawn remarks bearing on the impression which Mr. Gilman's personality made at this time:
His walk, quick and springy, was that of a man who knew where he was going and what he was going for. A quick movement of the lower lip and the restlessness of the dark eyes indicated an alertness not usual in the college man.
His coming produced an immediate effect upon the college community and upon the public. There was a contagious enthusiasm about him. He was indefatigable, never sparing himself in setting the tasks designed for the advancement of the institution committed to his care. He was a very affable man and most pleasantly approachable to faculty and students alike, and displayed a rare tact in all his intercourse. He sought to be intimately friendly with all, and to assist and help forward every wise and approved activity. He was a keen judge of character, and delighted to discover in young men latent capacities often unknown
― 126 ―to themselves, and it gave him the keenest pleasure to put stimulating opportunities in their way, and then stand aside and watch them grow. The story of the useful lives thus stimulated by his influence in all parts of our country is another proof that the good he did lives after him.
Another subject that claimed the President's attention was the matter of professional education. There were no professional schools yet organized in connection with the University. The need of them was foreshadowed in the inaugural address. Before the end of his administration he hoped he had started the way for a law school. The immediate opportunity presented was the addition of a medical department.
In 1864 Dr. H. H. Toland had founded in San Francisco a medical school, giving it a valuable piece of land and a suitable building. On April 1, 1873, after negotiations between the Trustees of the Toland Medical College and the University Regents, a plan of affiliation was adopted. There was another medical college in San Francisco, and efforts had been made to combine the two into one strong school, but personal jealousies prevented this. Thus two imperfect medical schools occupied the field, and, as President Gilman said in his report in 1875, the “medical department was left behind the other departments of the University, in its standard and requirements for admission, when it should be decidedly in advance.” One of the things that might have been accomplished if President Gilman had remained in California was the ultimate uniting of these two institutions into one powerful and commanding medical school. Combination, concentration, avoidance of useless expenditure of energy, one strong instead of several weak departments or institutions: such were words or thoughts constantly recurrent with President Gilman. What was the Toland Medical College has now, in the course of years,
President Gilman effected the affiliation of the California College of Pharmacy with the University, and advocated the organization of a College of Dentistry, which was effected a few years after his departure.
Then came the need of preparation for removal to Berkeley. The University still occupied the old college buildings in Oakland. The situation was very unsatisfactory. While the buildings were well enough adapted for recitations and lectures, for work in science they were entirely unfitted. It would be a thankless task to spend money if he had it, or to ask for money either from the Legislature or from men of wealth, for the purpose of equipping laboratories in temporary buildings four or five miles away from the permanent site of the University. The ardent wish of President Gilman was, therefore, to hasten the day when the University should find its abiding dwelling-place at Berkeley. The earliest date possible was the opening of the academic year in September, 1873. Every effort was made to bring this about.
The future home of the University and its name were thus referred to in the inaugural address:
You have inherited, also, a good site at Berkeley. When I first stood at Berkeley, and looked at the mountains and the bay, the town and the distant glimpses of the open sea, I recalled an hour under the elms at New Haven, more than two years ago, when I listened to the story of how this spot was chosen, of the rides and walks which were directed by an observing eye over the hills and into the valleys of this charming region, with prophetic anticipation of the coming day when the college germ, already planted, would require a site worthy of its growth. . . .
I hail it as an omen of good, both for religion and learning, that the site of this University bears the name of Berkeley, the scholar and the divine. It is not yet a century and a half since that romantic voyage which brought to Newport, in Rhode Island, an English prelate, who would found a college in the Bermudas, the Sandwich Islands of the Atlantic, for the good of the American aborigines. He failed in seeing his enthusiastic purpose accomplished. He could not do as he would; he therefore did as he could. He gave the Puritan College, in New Haven, a library and a farm, and endowed it in prizes and scholarships which still incite to the learning of Latin. There, his memory is “ever kept green.” His name is given to a School of Divinity in the neighboring city of Middletown. It is honored in Dublin and Oxford, and in Edinburgh, where his memoirs have just been written. His fame has crossed the continent, which then seemed hardly more than a seaboard of the Atlantic; and now, at the very ends of the earth, near the Golden Gate, the name of Berkeley is to be a household word. Let us emulate his example. In the catholic love of learning, if we cannot do what we would, let us do what we can. Let us labor and pray that his well-known vision may be true:
|“Westward the course of empire takes its way;|
|The four first acts already past,|
|A fifth shall close the drama with the day;|
|Time's noblest offspring is the last.”|
The Legislature had made an appropriation of three hundred thousand dollars for buildings at Berkeley. The larger portion of this was contracted for in the construction of the building first known as the College of Agriculture, later as South Hall. Another building would be necessary before the University could be moved. How to get it by September, 1873, and for the amount of money in hand, less than one hundred thousand dollars, was a serious problem. The Regents agreed with President Gilman that the second building
The corner-stone of North Hall was laid early in May; and on July 16, 1873, Commencement exercises, marking the close of President Gilman's first year, were held in the still unfinished building. The graduating class had been in peculiarly close personal relations with President Gilman and had pursued two courses of study, Political Economy and Physical Geography, under his instruction. The Commencement exercises were of unusual interest. While some of the addresses breathed the feeling of aspiration for a high future for the University, others centered about the name of Bishop Berkeley, a copy of whose portrait at Yale College was presented to the University by Mr. Frederick Billings of Vermont, formerly a Trustee of the College of California. President Gilman's address to the graduating class closed with these words:
With these external rites, let us strive to perpetuate the old spirit of the scholar, the spirit of labor and self-sacrifice, the love of learning and culture, the desire to gather up the spirit of the past for the benefit of the future. With this high commission, the University sends you forth the first of its four-year classes. You are twelve in number,--be jurors, sworn to declare the truth as you find it; be apostles, bearing everywhere the Master's lessons. Young gentlemen, as we part, I invoke upon you the blessing of Almighty God; I bid you welcome to the responsibilities and the opportunities of educated men; I warn you against dishonesty, selfishness and sloth; and in the name of this band of instructors, who have watched for four years the unfolding of your characters, and who will ever be your friends, I bid you, with mingled hopes and fears, an affectionate farewell.
These public exercises, although a Presbyterian minister made an opening prayer and closing benediction, and although the President specially invoked the blessing of Almighty God, and although the Episcopal Bishop of California had given an inspiring address to “commemorate the devotion of the Bishop of Cloyne to the cause of education and religion,” were nevertheless misrepresented by a Protestant minister through the press of the United States as an occasion at which “the name of God was not spoken; no prayer was offered; nor was any reference made in any of the young men's speeches to moral or religious ideas. Now, even an atheist does not desire his boy to be trained a materialist.” The article was so grossly untrue that President Gilman issued a published statement in correction.
The charter of the University contemplated the organization of distinct “colleges” of Agriculture, Mechanics, Mining, Civil Engineering, Chemistry and Letters, each with its own faculty, but with all the faculties combined into one Academic Senate. A fully developed College of Letters
The University had been in operation three years when President Gilman was placed in charge. He found already developed much agitation and criticism because of the alleged neglect of agriculture and the mechanic arts, the two departments more especially mentioned in the Morrill Act of 1862. The more partisan advocates spoke of them as exclusively mentioned in the Morrill Act, and even went so far as to say that they were the sole object of the State legislation which established the University. Before President Gilman's arrival, Dr. John Le Conte had been appointed Professor of Physics and Mechanics, and the College of Mechanics had been nominally set up; but only nominally, because Professor Le Conte's lectures were in the domain of theoretical science, and had little to do with mechanics as applied to engineering and nothing with industrial processes. It was not practicable to organize the work along these lines, nor was money available for the necessary apparatus. The College of Civil Engineering was recognized contemporaneously with President Gilman's election by the appointment
President Gilman spoke earnestly and eloquently in his inaugural address on the subject of scientific and technical education. “Science, though yet you have built no shrine for her worship,” he said, “was the mother of California,” and he declared his “chief anxiety” to be “whether the people of this coast are yet ready to pay for the luxury and the advantage of such serviceable institutions. It will require a great many teachers, costly laboratories, large funds--more, I fear, than the University, with all the claims upon its treasury, is yet able to command.”
The subject of technical education was frequently presented throughout his administration by President Gilman in public lectures, beginning with one on that topic before the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco on January 4, 1873, and one a few weeks later in Sacramento entitled “What shall we do with our Boys?” It was a subject of constant thought and planning with him how to effect a University organization that would meet both scientific and vocational needs, and also to build up more strictly technical or trade schools of a lower grade. One of the most intelligent and enthusiastic champions of polytechnic instruction was Andrew S. Hallidie, President of the Mechanics' Institute and Regent of the University. Every movement in this direction for more than thirty years had his hearty support, and the successful ones, if not initiated by him, owed their success to him. He and President Gilman were in full accord on the subject. By the beginning of 1874 President Gilman had the outline of a technical school in San Francisco ready, and $15,000 a year for two years guaranteed to carry it on, Mr. Hallidie being one of the chief backers. But the will of James Lick providing a large bequest for such an institution chilled the enthusiasm of some of the subscribers, and this particular project came to naught. But in later years James Lick's endowment, and another by J. C. Wilmerding, provided San Francisco with efficient schools along the lines which President Gilman had laid down.
[Photograph of] DANIEL COIT GILMAN At the Age of Forty-three
As to agriculture, there was no one better able to give it its proper place in the University scheme. But it was a subject on which a judicial and well-balanced statement was not acceptable. President Gilman met here, as on most questions of University organization, the discouraging fact that very few persons in the community comprehended in any degree, as he did fully, the whole round of University work. There was indeed a large body of intelligent persons who were willing to leave the matter to the President of the University, whom they recognized to be a man of abundant ideas and of a well-defined policy. But their support, while it could be counted on, was naturally silent, while the persons who took partial views, advocates of agricultural education in a purely practical direction, or of trade schools, or of a classical college, were outspoken, even to the extent of being clamorous and abusive. He solved this problem of agricultural education, as he solved all like problems, as soon as he got the opportunity, by appointing the man head of the Department of Agriculture who would develop the work, on the right lines and in connection with the whole
The first year was drawing to a close with happiest results. But the seeds of the really malignant disease had not been touched, perhaps the condition had not been clearly diagnosed; and a feverish condition of the atmosphere was now setting in, making an effective operation dangerous.
An excellent summary of the character of President Gilman as an administrator is given in the following extract from an editorial article in the Overland Monthly for July, 1873, entitled “The Gain of a Man”:
There are some men who have a talent for turning everything touched into gold. All ventures turn out profitably. There is a better gift than this. It is the half-unconscious power of influencing other men to bestow their wealth wisely and beneficently--the faculty of enlisting the interest of others in a good cause. When the University of California found such a man, it was started on a new career of prosperity. There was no perfunctory begging to be done--no preachments about the value of a liberal education, and no poor face to make up. Busy men lent a willing ear when there were a few quiet utterances to be made from a full and generous mind. It never seemed so good and grand a thing before to put broad shoulders to this and that plan for helping the University, and to push these plans up to a successful termination. A suggestion dropped here and there wisely was enough. A strong man, who puts his soul into the work, carries with him the inspiration of hopefulness. Everybody else is made hopeful; and out of this spring plans, suggestions, and quiet benefactions. It is a rare gift, that of touching the best springs of other natures at the right moment, and to follow this with the right suggestion, so that neither more nor less ought to be said or done. We have not had a “melting season” yet. But the hearts of many have warmed toward the University as never before. Perhaps the President could not explain how men have been
― 135 ―drawn to him as the head of the institution, neither is it necessary now. The fact is better than the explanation.
The University began its instruction at Berkeley in September, 1873. From a physical point of view things were pretty well disorganized. The only communication with Oakland was by horse cars, and with San Francisco via Oakland. There were not sufficient accommodations at Berkeley for the students in the way of boarding-places, and no residences for the professors, all of whom continued for a while to live in Oakland. In January, 1873, President Gilman gave a public lecture in the Congregational Church in Oakland on “Berkeley: The Bishop and the Site of the University.” He took advantage of the occasion to give his views upon the proper laying out of the college city and the necessity of providing it with all the resources needed by the most advanced communities. He advised a proper regard for the topographical features of the landscape, preserving and utilizing the irregularities of the surface. He would have carriage ways, roads for equestrians, and broad areas of approach. He would like to see a commodious hotel, with restaurant attached that would provide meals for families. He hoped for all of the social attractions which would draw thither an intelligent and refined population. He closed his address with an appeal for the popular encouragement of the University. “The State has dealt liberally, the government has been generous, and one individual has donated nobly, but the needs of the institution are great, and some wealthy citizens have money to spare.” He pictured a bright future for Berkeley, and for the young and giant State on the Pacific.
This autumn of 1873 was full of the most cheering promise. So many of the students as lived at Berkeley, whether continuously or from Monday to Friday, had a real
At the Friday afternoon assemblies, members of the Faculty gave addresses, and persons prominent in the State or from abroad were frequently heard. Newton Booth, Governor and later United States Senator, F. F. Low, former Governor and United States Minister in China, President Miner of Tufts College, Professor Bessey of Ames, Iowa, Professor Brewer of New Haven, Rev. Dr. Stebbins,
A meeting in November, 1873, is particularly remembered when he gave an address on “What Eastern Colleges are Doing,” being a report as it were of his recent vacation observations. He discussed first the extraordinary munificence of wealthy men toward institutions of higher learning. “This munificence is without parallel in any other country, and unequalled in any age. It is spreading from man to man and from State to State, and appears to delight the givers as much as the recipients, for the givers, in many cases, have duplicated and triplicated and multiplied without stint their donations, finding their reward in the gratitude of their fellow-men, and in the satisfaction of seeing the
The history, institutions and achievements of California made a very strong appeal to him. He entered with enthusiasm into whatever concerned the people of the State. In his inaugural address he had referred to the scientific and literary work accomplished in California in the following appreciative passages:
Besides, we must not fail to note that a vast amount of scientific and literary work, of a very high order, has been performed in California,--good, not only in itself, but as the seed-corn of future harvests. The work of the United States Coast Survey on the Pacific, for example, . . . has gained renown for California science, not in our own country only, but in Europe, and has helped prepare the way for a complete triangulation of the national territory. . . . There is the Geological Survey of the State, which surpasses in thoroughness and completeness any like undertaking in the country, and is the delight and pride of all men of science who take an interest in the accurate and careful investigation of the natural characteristics of the land, either for its own sake, or regarded as a basis for social and political growth. . . . Binding all the men of science together as a brotherhood of scholars is the Academy of Sciences, whose publications and collections are already of great value. A young society which has done so well will be an important supporter of the young University. . . .
Moreover, the literature of this coast possesses, like the fruits here growing, a richness and flavor of its own, so that some have even said that California alone of all parts of the land has made quite new and original contributions to American letters. The humor, the wit and the poetry of the Sierras are fresh as the breezes of the hill-tops, and as spicy as the groves of pine. Oratory has here spoken with a patriotic voice, the echoes of which are still floating in the
― 140 ―air. To foster your literature, there is a journal whose fame has gone over land and over seas as well, the encourager, the suggester, and the producer of much that is choice and enduring.
The spirit of the place got firmer hold of him as he dwelt longer in California. He took part in the activities of the community. He was a constant attendant at scientific meetings. He stimulated scientific research outside the University as well as inside. “University extension” found in him a living, active prototype. Literary men and literary journals were cheered by his voice of encouragement. He was quick to recognize in Edward R. Sill, then a teacher in the Oakland high school, the spirit of the true poet and man of letters. He first invited him to become a charter member of the Berkeley Club, where not only his delicate and fertile literary fancy would add to the general enjoyment, but the soundness and suggestiveness of his counsel would be of great value. As soon as there was a fitting vacancy, he added Sill's name to the roll of the Faculty. Numerous slight events might be mentioned, such as the occasion when the President laid before the University community the manuscript and proof-sheets of Bret Harte's “Heathen Chinee,” the gift of Mr. John H. Carmany of the Overland Monthly. He pointed to the fact that it was the breath of California that Bret Harte breathed. California is not wholly or even essentially given over to the pursuit of material fortunes; it has an intellectual atmosphere; its spirit is idealistic. Let us cherish its literature; what has been done is good; it is full of promise for the future.
In the matter of art he was not less enthusiastic than in that of literature. He wanted the art that had been achieved recognized and the artists rewarded, and he wanted art to be fostered and developed in the future. Virgil Williams and other artists of the day were brought to Berkeley
He foresaw possible relations of great value that might be established between California and the shores of the Pacific Ocean, whether American, Asiatic or on the islands of the sea. He wished the University to play the leading part in this as in all matters pertaining to the progress of California. Speaking on this subject in his inaugural address, he said:
The possible relations of this University to the new civilization of the Pacific Coast, and to the enlightenment of Asiatic nations, give a special interest to its work, for it is obvious that California is not only granary, treasury and mart for the American States that are growing up on this coast, but it is the portal through which the Occident and Orient must exchange their products and their thoughts. China and Japan, Australia and the Islands of the Sea, are the neighbors and customers of the Golden State. Shall they not also look here for instruction in the arts and sciences, and for an example of a well-organized and well-educated community? . . . We cannot be too quick to prepare for the possible future which may open upon us.
During the administration of President Gilman the increase of public interest in the University was indicated by many gifts and bequests, which may strike us to-day as of minor importance, but which were significant in the day of small things. In an address to the Legislature in January, 1874, when he had been in office little more than a year, he stated that the University had since his accession received gifts amounting to about $190,000. Besides the gifts actually made to the University during Mr. Gilman's presidency, other important contributions to its development were
In the meanwhile political developments were taking place which were destined to make very difficult the task of carrying on the University upon liberal lines. The contest for supremacy between the two leading national parties had for years been very close in California, and in the early seventies opposition to government subsidies to railroad corporations had become a leading issue between them. In 1873 there arose a new party, known under the name of Patrons of Husbandry or Grangers, which drew from the two historic parties and attracted all the dissatisfied elements of society. It made special affiliations with associations of mechanics. Its chief objects of attack were excessive rates of railroad freights and fares and extravagant expenditures of public money; and it was ready to bring, without much discrimination or scruple, charges of waste and corruption against any public institution. It soon formed an alliance with a faction of the Republican party, the composite organization being known officially as the People's Independent Party. Because of the ill-assorted character of its demands, and more especially of its diverse or parti-colored make-up, it was popularly known as the Dolly Varden party.
The new party won a decisive victory in the legislative election of 1873 over the Democrats and straight Republicans. At the session of the resulting Legislature the proceedings were determined to an unusual degree by members of inferior quality and ability, the noisier leaders overcoming the arguments of the abler men, though these sometimes turned the current of events when the agitators had exhausted themselves with bluster. A large number of public
During the early autumn of 1873 the California State Grange and the Mechanics' Deliberative Assembly appointed committees to examine into University affairs and recommend appropriate legislation. A memorial was addressed to the Legislature directed towards an increase of “practical” instruction in the College of Agriculture and Mechanics, and the substitution of an elective board for the appointed Regents.
Information on the subject of the controversy which is now beginning to take shape is supplied by the following letter from Regent John W. Dwinelle to President Gilman, dated December 13, 1873:
Permit me to say, in a hurried manner, a few things germane to the subject-matter of our late correspondence.
Professor Bolander came down from Sacramento with me last evening. I had a free conversation with him on that topic. He told me that Professor Carr had said that he meant to compel the Regents, by outside pressure, to let him have his own way. I think Mr. Bolander said that Professor Carr said this to him. He also said that Professor Carr's notions had been tried and rejected in Europe. Professor Bolander is good authority on these points, both as being German born and in part educated; as being a highly esteemed botanist; and virtute officii, as Superintendent.
I don't think we should let the matter lie as it is. The joint committee of the Grangers and Mechanics show by the letter which you sent me several things, among others:
- 1. That they have agreed to recommend several things (they have not consulted the Regents about them);
- 2. That they think the courses of the University are not practical enough;
- 3. That they think that the College of Letters is favored at the expense of the technical colleges;
- 4. That they think the land fund was especially devoted to agriculture and the mechanic arts.
They evidently think that they have all the information they need, and have no suspicion that it came from a partisan source, nor that it may all be literally true, but in fact all false. They were directed by their respective associations to “examine and ascertain,” and think that they have done so.
I suggest that they be addressed in some form, to the following purport:
That we are glad to learn that such committees had been appointed, for it had been a cause of chagrin to us that the public had not taken interest enough in our work to subject it to thorough and impartial scrutiny. That when we learned that such committees had been appointed, we appointed two committees to meet them, and assist them in their inquiries and examinations, leaving them to form their own conclusions, and announce the result. That in particular we desired our financial operations and condition to be examined, for on that depends the very existence as well as the usefulness of the institution; and the appropriations would also show whether or not the intentions of Congress and of the Legislature had been loyally carried out. That we were anxious that our committees should be put in communication with theirs at an early day. . . .
These are hints of what is floating in my brain, but only floating: non expressa signa sed adumbrata.
A special circumstance served greatly to increase the difficulties of the situation. The lecture hall at Berkeley, at first known as the “College of Letters,” had been constructed under conditions already set forth. A State law provided for an eight-hour day in all public work. Another
In 1872 Henry George became editor of the San Francisco Daily Evening Post. He had previously for a short time had editorial charge of a newspaper in Oakland, where, his biographer tells us, he “made the acquaintance of William Swinton, brother of John Swinton, the well-known radical of New York. . . . He (William Swinton) was a man of wide reading in the field of belles-lettres, of quick mind, fine taste and copious suggestiveness; and though sprung from and following the schools, formed a close affinity with this young editor, who could not boast of ever having had any college connections. Then and in the years following Swinton drew George out and encouraged him to aim at the higher domain of literature.” George was, in the words of his biographer, now “beginning to think clearly on the great social as well as the great political questions.” He had certain economic, social and political objects in view, and he struck out boldly to attain them, but sometimes blindly, and frequently in a way that was misdirected and prejudiced. In December, 1871, he denounced a movement then on foot in Washington to pass a new land endowment act for colleges. In November, 1872, an editorial on “Agricultural Land Scrip” said that “one of the worst acts ever passed by Congress was the Agricultural College
How utterly unreliable George's judgment might be, when he was hunting for error and wrongdoing, may be illustrated by the amazing assertions, used as editorial texts in the Post, that the snow-blockades that impeded transcontinental transportation were brought about in the interest of railroad stock-jobbing schemes. Such distortions exceed the limits of journalistic exaggeration. Even when, for the sake of making the attack on Dr. Merritt more pointed, he admitted that the Regents at large were innocent of any misconduct and were at most censurable for indiscretion in giving so much authority to Dr. Merritt, he still managed to involve the whole governing board in what he chose to call a “scandal.” And when the result of the investigation showed that the University had got a building for thirty thousand dollars less than it would have cost under the system ordinarily employed, and in half the time, thus saving the institution other expenses and difficulties, and that Dr. Merritt had not even made the profit that he would have had for his lumber from any other customer, there are still no limits to the abuse heaped on Dr. Merritt, and the general disparagement of the University continues. The minor note that runs through the whole investigation is the infraction of the eight-hour law. Dr. Merritt and Power & Ough, the firm that received the contract for building the College of Letters, had made themselves offensive in labor circles;
The activity among the Regents may be seen by the following letter from Regent Dwinelle to President Gilman, under date of February 3:
We had our meeting of the Advisory Committee today, thanks to your thoughtful diligence. Messrs. Haight, Stebbins, Martin, and Dwinelle, a quorum, were present. Messrs. Ralston and Butterworth were also present by invitation,--also Mr. Moulder.
Gov. Haight had seen Speaker Estee, on Saturday, who had, without any communication with me, given him precisely the same advice that I gave you and Dr. Merritt on Saturday evening.
We all agreed, unanimously, that we should, by memorial, ask the Committee on Public Buildings of the Assembly to be let in to introduce further testimony; also,
That we should memorialize the legislature to appoint a Joint Committee of both Houses, to inquire and report:
- 1. Whether the matter of agricultural education had been properly attended to in the University, and if not, why not, and in what particulars;
- 2. Whether the agricultural lands donated by the State to the University had been properly administered, and if not, why not, and in what particulars;
- 3. Whether the funds entrusted by the State to the Regents have been properly administered, and if not, why not, and in what particulars.
. . . . . . .
I propose to have the memorials presented in the Senate, have the resolutions adopted there, and then sent immediately to the Assembly for concurrence. They will be adopted at once by the Assembly. . . .
The first resolution is a pious snare. The Devil did not assist me in drawing it, but only an imp of his, Niccolo Machiavelli by name. It gives us all the power we want to eviscerate Tomaso Machinello, commonly called Massaniello, the fisherman of Naples, friend of the people!
If the Assembly don't concur in the joint resolution, then the Senate will adopt it, for their own body, from a sense of self-dignity.
Après ça, quoi? Well, I don't know. Only that if we have the materials of defence, we must use them. I told the Regents today, as I told you, that I cannot be relied upon to aid them, and I told them why. Yet I told them, also, that I would contribute my quota of the expense of getting Power and Ough here, and they all agreed to do the same; Mr. Ralston adding that they should be got here at any expense. . . .
Among the men in California of finest character was Benjamin P. Avery. He was a well-known journalist of the highest type. He was a special friend of the arts and a promoter of good objects in general. He was later United States Minister in China. No one's opinion was more
Mr. Slocum has just told me what he learned from one of the University investigating ignoramuses. I am sorry I was not in when you called, but let me say through this poor medium,--don't be discouraged; don't believe the public fail in appreciation of your splendid service to culture and progress in California, nor that the legislature will be so foolish as to meddle with the interior organization of the University, which they have intrusted to the Regents. I am firmly convinced that all will come out right. We cannot spare you here, and will not. The few of us who have been hoping and working a quarter of a century in the direction of your aim, though without your ability and success, will all stand by you and the cause you represent. I am mad, but not discouraged. We shall win this fight, and want you to bear with our ignorant destructives awhile. Be sure of sympathy and support.
On March 18 Mr. Avery wrote as follows to President Gilman:
I only did a public duty in the brief letter to the Post which you refer to in your kind note of the 16th. It was not what I would like to have written, because some points about the Regents and the course of education were omitted; and these I asked to give in another communication yesterday. But I have been quite unwell for a week, am in danger of being confined with rheumatism, and fear to write more than I am absolutely compelled to. It is a satisfaction to know, however, that I spurred up the Bulletin and Chronicle. Thank heaven, the legislature will soon adjourn, and then the demagogues will be quiet again. You will find a temperate reference to University matters in Overland for April.
A brief note from William Alvord shows the effect which thoughtful and observant people might think the course of
The newspapers which are attempting to disparage your good work are unworthy of notice. I assure you that the best people in the community are with you; and that they would consider it a public misfortune should anything happen to take you away from us.
Mr. Avery, as he said in his letter to President Gilman of March 18, published two letters in the San Francisco Post, one on March 14, the second on March 20. They were able and eloquent refutations of the charges against the University authorities; they pleaded especially for a discrimination between the business management of the University and its character as an institution of learning. “The aim should be to correct the one, if necessary, not to destroy or weaken the other.” He says that the Post's editorials are “not so much an arraignment of the management, as of the wisdom of the organic law by which the Regents were necessarily governed.” These letters vividly portray the grounds of alarm and apprehension felt among those who, like Mr. Avery, had been in California “for a quarter of a century, laboring from the beginning to create a well-ordered society.”
On the evening of January 26 President Gilman addressed the members of the Legislature in the Assembly Chamber, at Sacramento. “You ask me,” he said, “to tell the tale of the University of California, its scope, progress, dangers, wants and use. Without one word of abstractions on the importance of education, the value of colleges or the responsibilities of legislators, I enter on the theme.” He
I acknowledge that with all the success there are very great defects. There are some that can be helped and we intend to help. There are some that cannot be helped. There are the defects that come in the selection of teachers. There are the errors that come in marking out the courses of study; the difficulties attendant on removing to a new site; the endless perplexities that bother us in the education of our own minds and still more in the culture of our own children; but with all these drawbacks the State of California has got what it went after. It has got a University. . . . But success brings with it peril--great perils. In the direction of support there is danger that there will be too little interest shown in the institution. There is danger that there will be too much interest in it and too much interference. There is danger that you, gentlemen, won't give us enough. There is danger that we shall ask too much. . . . It is in danger of being captured. There are religious bodies that would like to control it or see it die, in order that separate denominational colleges might grow up in its stead. . . . Then come the theorists; there are men who want it to be a purely literary, classical college--the old-fashioned sort. There are men that don't want to have anything to do with the old-fashioned sort and they would like to capture it for the “new education.” . . . Gentlemen, there is danger from impatience. You not only want a good thing, but you want it right off. . . . There is danger to the University from dislike to some persons connected with it as managers. . . . In conclusion, it seems to me that what the University needs is steady, stable treatment. You should allow the experiment to be fairly tried--don't pull up the roots that you may see whether the thing is growing or not; it will very likely kill the plant.
The investigation by the Assembly committee into the construction of the College of Letters was begun on January
In response to the memorial of the Regents a joint committee was appointed on February 9, to examine into the management of the University. The report of this committee constituted in effect a reply to the memorial of the Grangers and Mechanics. It said: “The committee is of the opinion that the Regents and Faculty have done well, considering their means and surroundings; that they deserve the sympathy and support of the people at large.”
The outcome of University bills before the Legislature is thus expressed in an editorial in the San Francisco Bulletin, March 31, 1874: “Notwithstanding all the fierce talk against the University outside of the legislature, that body, just after a vicious onset had been made against the institution, actually appropriated a larger sum for the current expenses of the next two years than was at first asked for by the Regents; this appropriation was made with more than usual unanimity.”
On March 26 that brilliant and versatile man, William C. Ralston, President of the Bank of California, sent the following telegram to President Gilman:
I beg you will kindly express to the senators who so nobly defended and sustained the University the most united and cordial thanks of the Regents and of all our prominent and most enlightened citizens who regard that institution as the pride and hope of the State. The signal defeat of its enemies, who under various pretenses, but for purely selfish ends, sought to break it down or cripple its usefulness, is
― 154 ―matter for public rejoicing. The assault, however, has done great damage by disclosing the danger to be apprehended from disorganizing political elements, and we shall have hard work to overcome the effects of it. Many true friends of the University who designed making liberal benefactions will hold back until assured that the danger is past. If a political fight is to be made over it at every session of the legislature and the management liable to fall into the hands of irresponsible and unprincipled demagogues, they will stand aloof. We must hope for the best and stand by our beloved institution.
This acute crisis in the University's affairs was thus ended, and never was so great a peril to be encountered again. But it was impossible to foresee that. What had happened in the way of popular upheaval seemed merely symptomatic of what might happen again at any time, and with more disastrous effect. It could not even be known that the Dolly Vardens had had their day, and would never play a part again in the political game. It could not then be known that the influence of the Grangers would soon be on the wane. And if the first movements of the “sand-lot” agitation could have been foreseen, darkest anxiety would have prevailed among the friends of the University, and no one of less optimistic spirit than Mr. Ralston would have had the heart to say, “We must hope for the best and stand by our beloved institution.” He, sanguine in spirit and true Californian in his confidence in the State's destiny, would, with other Regents, have stood by the University as the main conservator of civilization.
President Gilman's feelings during this period may be judged from the following extracts from his correspondence.
Writing to his brother on February 28, he says:
The legislature is still in session, and its mode of procedure is such as to awaken in my mind the gravest apprehensions.
― 155 ―I cannot tell you all the circumstances, but the point is an effort on the part of the Farmers' Grange to capture the University and turn it into a sort of low manual-labor school. This it is proposed to accomplish either by abolition of the present Board of Regents or by special legislation or by both. I am infinitely disgusted, and were it not for the respect I feel for the excellent people who are so manfully striving here for the main thing, and were it not for the confidence I have that the University idea is to triumph in the end,--I should be quite discouraged. I am very much perplexed and engrossed. All my friends whom I ought to advise with are 3000 miles away.
And again on March 11:
On Monday I went to Sacramento, a six hours' ride, and came back Tuesday. I must go again to the capital tomorrow and return the next day. Gov. Haight and Dr. Stebbins were my companions on the first trip and I expect them to go again tomorrow. They have been most excellent friends and supporters ever since I came here and are excellent illustrations of Harvard and Yale training. Our effort now is to ward off unwise legislation and to secure as hitherto some appropriations. The story of how the Farmers' Grange are trying to capture the University will be a droll one, some years hence, if it ever comes to be written.
He enters extensively into the situation, and into the possibilities regarding his own future which it caused him to consider, in a letter to President White, dated April 5:
I received on Thursday your letter of the week previous (Mch. 26). I have not seen the Post article to which you refer,--but if you had known exactly what was passing in my mind you could not have written me a more cheering letter. “Our” legislature adjourned last week. During the last few days of the session, Prof. Swinton, whose resignation had been unanimously accepted by the Regents, appeared at Sacramento, as the opponent of the Univ. and the
― 156 ―advocate of the Granges. He issued a pamphlet so extreme as to be absurd; but by his newspaper affiliations, he succeeded in getting his chief statements widely copied. This was very annoying though it did but little harm. The Joint Univ. Comm. reproached him and commended the Regents. The legislature refrained from all adverse legislation, made the Pres. an ex-officio member of the Board of Regents, and gave us all the pecuniary help we had asked for. So we stand today. But the peril to the Univ. has been great. The Grangers were determined to capture the concern,--up to the last moments were endeavoring to abolish the Board of Regents, and substitute a Board chosen by popular election--two from each congressional district. Dr. Carr, who appears to have instigated the whole movement, at the last of it backed down, testified that he had never heard any complaint! that as far as indoor instruction was concerned, the Univ. compared favorably with any institution in the country, etc., etc.! The whole battle had its droll as well as its provoking side.
What you say of like perils in other places interests me very much. Misery likes company. But I am only sorry that you are so vexed,--after having achieved such good results. I have thought often of your long letter, and of the talks it gave rise to last fall. I don't know what I should say if I were called on to make a decision. At the present, my mind turns more to the direction of editorial life,--either in the newspaper line, or in establishing a monthly to be called “Earth and Man,”--and to be devoted to the discussion of modern social problems,--with reference both to the physical and outward circumstances of human society and to the historical and institutional antecedents. I merely give you a hint of the scope,--but you will quickly expand it. There is no such journal in the world. The graphic methods of illustrating social and historical papers could be most efficiently introduced. It might be made a journal of anthropology,--not of man's body only, but of all his social progress. Such work as Walker is doing for the U. S. Census could be expanded and multiplied indefinitely. History and political economy might be treated on a scientific basis. This is not a prospectus, however, only
― 157 ―a suggestion of what I am revolving. I want to talk the scheme over with you,--for if you do leave your present work, here is an opening! Prof. J. D. Whitney,--just thrown out as Calif. State Geologist, goes around the world on a two years' journey. I think he could be enlisted, though I have not spoken to him. Then I should hope for W. D. Whitney also. Think this over agin we meet.
I have not the disposition to leave here without cause. The Regents are very cordial in sustaining me; and so are the right-minded persons all around. But there are dangers here which I could not foresee. The first is the “Code” (adopted after I came here) makes the Regents a body of civil executive officers, liable to be abolished at any session of the legislature. The second is that the legislature assumes the right to investigate and scrutinize the Univ. to its most minute affairs. This year the dangers have been averted; but who can tell what will happen two years hence? I feel that we are building a superior structure, but it rests over a powder mill which may blow it up any day. All these conditions fill me with perplexity. I should be strongly tempted to accept a good call to go hence. But the editorial work looks quite as attractive as the continuance of official life. I could not conclude on any new proposition without conferring upon it with some of my family friends; and I have not felt at liberty to do so. I confess that the Baltimor scheme has ofttimes suggested itself to me, but I have no personal relations in that quarter. One of these days there is going to be a magnificent opening in New York City to associate and affiliate all those grand institutions which are springing up there.
Doubtless the personalities of the winter growing out of Professor Carr's and Professor Swinton's part in these attempts to alter the constitution of the University, in fact to destroy it as a university, were the most annoying features of the controversy. What has been quoted from Henry George's biography as to the mental capacity of Professor Swinton is correct. He was a brilliant man, capable of
Professor Swinton was, indeed, now out of the University. That problem had been eliminated, though not without leaving baneful effects behind. But Professor Carr was still in the Faculty, and one of the Regents had promised immunity for him if the Legislature would drop the bill remodeling the Board of Regents. The Regent, Mr. Dwinelle, who made the immunity agreement, was the author of the charter of the University, and the institution had no more devoted and, generally speaking, intelligent friend than he. Nor was the promised immunity what it was generally claimed and popularly believed to be, an absolute promise that Professor Carr should not be disturbed if the bill in question was dropped. It apparently was made with reference to the accusations against Professor Carr that he had instigated the anti-University measures; and Mr. Dwinelle was ready to withdraw any such accusations. He accordingly
Under these discouraging circumstances he addressed to the Board of Regents the following letter of resignation, dated April 8:
I believe that the real controversy which has been carried on during the last few months arises from a deep and radical difference of opinion as to the scope of the University of California. On the one hand are those who insist upon it that the chief object is to maintain an Agricultural College, or, as it is sometimes more liberally stated, a College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. They call for a large increase in the “practical” elements of instruction, often going so far as to insist that instruction in carpentry, blacksmithing and other manual and useful trades should be taught in the University. On the other hand are those who insist upon it that the constitution and laws of the State,
― 160 ―the conditions of the endowments, and the highest interests of California demand a true University, in which indeed there should be maintained at least one college of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts,--but where the best of every sort of culture should likewise be promoted. These claim that the most practical service which the University can render to the State is to teach the principles of science, and their applications to all the wants of men, and at the same time to teach all that language and history have handed down as the experience of humanity.
The University of California is now organized on a comprehensive and liberal basis. Its plans are in accord with the best experience of modern institutions in other States and countries. I believe in it as it stands, rejoicing that in so short a time so much has been done, with such promise of good fruit ripening rapidly. I am heartily in sympathy with the introduction of science into higher educational establishments and eager to see also the wide diffusion of technical instruction. But because I cannot assent to some of the radical demands which would overthrow the University, abolish the Regents, and entirely change the present course of study, I am exposed to censure.
The honorable post which I hold by your appointment was not of my seeking. I came to it with hesitation, when your invitation was renewed after an interval of two years from its first proposition. I have tried to the utmost of my ability to conciliate the various conflicting parties and beg them to sink the points on which they differ for the sake of those on which they agree; to make a University of the most liberal, elevated and comprehensive sort, worthy of California, worthy of the 19th century, worthy to train up the future citizens of this great State. You have as a Board and as individuals strengthened me in this effort,--encouraged me amid many difficulties, conquered many obstacles, and remained true to the University idea. You have received the co-operation of multitudes of the most intelligent and far-sighted persons in the community. You have had the satisfaction of attaining great results within a short time, which have attracted the attention of intelligent people at home and abroad.
Notwithstanding all this, and notwithstanding that my record as an advocate of technical instruction is clear and decided, it is probable that some one else will better serve you in the present complexities. For University fighting I have had no training; in University work I delight. I therefore beg of you to release me from the post I hold, at the earliest day you can consistently do so. I only ask leave to present more fully for your consideration at another time the embarrassments to which I have been subjected from within as well as from without the University circle. The words after “subjected” in the last sentence of the above letter are crossed out in the original.
This resignation does not appear of record in the University archives. No mention is made of it at any proceedings of the University authorities. It was submitted to the Regents, who quietly persuaded President Gilman to withdraw it. The only documentary reference we have to the situation is the following letter from Regent Haight to President Gilman, dated April 14:
I sat down some days since to write you a note respecting our meeting Saturday, which was to my mind a very satisfactory and assuring one.
The disposition manifested by the Regents to act with firmness in any direction where the interests of the University require action was all that could be desired, and the entire unanimity of the Board was certainly gratifying. When I say entire unanimity, it may be that one member of the Board entertains some peculiar views of his duty, but that is immaterial.
My confidence in the ultimate result of all this rude and senseless clamor is strengthened by the present aspect of matters.
The Regents will not suffer you to leave if they can help it. You have every reason to feel gratified with the estimate in which you are held by them and by the intelligent portion of the community.
President Gilman's letters after the storm had subsided show decided satisfaction with the immediate situation, but very grave doubts about the future. Writing to President White on May 12, he says:
We seem to have come out in still waters,--and have a smooth prospect for the next two years, but I should not like to go through such a tussle again. Swinton and Carr, plotting mischief, within our own ranks, one of them eager to sell books and the other to hide his own incompetency, were too much for any institution to carry. I often thought during the winter that I should quit at this time,--but the legislature did so well, and the Regents stand so firm, that I cannot resign here without some very strong reason presents itself for doing so.
To his sister, Mrs. G. W. Lane, on June 2:
We have just had the annual meeting of the Regents, at Berkeley, a large attendance, good feeling and gratifying spirit of work. Gov. Booth was here. Gov. Haight (just leaving for the East) was detained, but he does not withdraw from the Board.
As for my own relations to the work, I vibrate. Some aspects are very delightful and encouraging. In the daily round of occupations I am happy and contended; but I consider that our best work may be overthrown in an hour by a capricious legislature,--and that makes me question constantly whether I ought to remain here. The good will of the Regents and of the University friends is still so cordial and demonstrative that I have no reason “to stop” today or tomorrow. I should be sorry “to stop” in an abrupt or damaging way,--but I think the foundations are weak, and I don't like to build upon them. If any domestic or public consideration should call me east I should feel at liberty to go; but unless there is some such obvious reason for breaking away, I shall probably remain here through another winter. As I feel now, and have felt ever since the last legislature met, I could not be induced to go through such a
― 163 ―tussle. I have a sort of settled conviction that the only way to live is from day to day,--and that now my duty is to serve as well as I can these interests; yet I have an impression also that I ought not to be indifferent to opportunities elsewhere and I should listen favorably to any call to work at the East.
To President White, June 21:
I would give all my pile just now for a talk with you; the provocation being a single line from my brother that you have been talking with him. I wrote twice, at least, during the winter, when both you and I were a good deal absorbed and I don't know exactly how I stated my story nor have I heard from you in reply; but my mind was then turned strongly to the old idea of “the press” as better than “the office,” to help on public affairs. We came out all right last winter, but the perils of a college subject to direct legislative control are so great, so complex, so inevitable, that I am in no mood to go forward here. The Corporation would be a bulwark; but Regents regarded as responsible direct to the legislature, like railroad or bank commissioners, are too unstable to rely on. We are now serene and prosperous. Everything is lovely. Good feelings are every where ascendant. I can't give up however the recollection of our last winter's dangers; and whenever the right moment comes,--I shall feel that I am justified in withdrawing. What next? Here are capital openings for usefulness and for activity, but I turn homeward.
During the winter and spring President Gilman had been busy with his usual tasks. Three important addresses were given by him. On December 23, 1873, he delivered an address at the Agassiz Memorial Meeting held by the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, on the “Influence exerted by Agassiz on American Education.” On January 3, 1874, he gave a lecture before the Mechanics' Institute in San Francisco on “Modes of Promoting Scientific and Industrial
President Gilman had felt great concern about securing accommodations for the students in Berkeley. He had urged ecclesiastical bodies as well as individuals to supply houses for them. These requests had not been successful. It therefore fell upon the Regents to make some provision. For this purpose eight cottages, each accommodating ten or twelve persons, were built and rented to the students at a moderate rate. Most of the students were in moderate circumstances, and many had to earn their own livelihood. In order to supply aid to deserving students, he secured the organization of a number of liberal gentlemen in a students' loan association. Much work had to be done to get affairs together after the demoralizing experience of the winter. Preparation for the annual report and arrangements for the coming year had to be made. The President was busy in his class-room repairing sadly interrupted work there.
Larger schemes were also occupying his mind. The idea of concentrating influences so as to bring about the greatest results was always with him. We have a manuscript record of this project in the following skeleton form:
Form a company of gentlemen to be incorporated under some appropriate name, such as
- Trustees of Learning;
- SAN FRANCISCO UNION, for the advancement of Science, Literature and Art.
Object.--To hold funds and devise methods for cooperating with the University, the Lick Observatory, the Academy of Sciences, the Lick Polytechnic School, the Art Association, etc., so that these and other kindred foundations may pull together, and not pull apart.
The Trustees not to exceed 15 in number and to be chiefly chosen from business men of acknowledged character and position.
An Advisory Board or Council to be organized from literary and scientific men, to whom shall be referred questions of literary and scientific bearing.
This Council to include: President of Acad. of Sciences (ex officio), Director of Lick Observatory (ex officio), President of University (ex officio); and not more than six other associates.
Funds to be solicited:
- 1. A Library Fund.
- 2. A Popular Lecture Fund.
- 3. A fund for Prizes and Scholarships, to help bright and needy young men in their studies.
- 4. A fund for a Mining School.
- 5. A fund for a School of Architecture and Building.
- 6. A fund for a School of Design.
- 7. A general untrammeled fund.
We have also a manuscript draft of a scheme for Lick's Polytechnic School. Correspondence and conversations, too, there were about the Lick Observatory. In the course
In the summer of 1874 it was decided to settle the question of the professorship of Agriculture. Accordingly, on July 23, the Regents passed a resolution requesting the resignation of Professor Carr. He refused to comply, invoking pledges given during the session of the Legislature, and asserting that he could not resign “without an apparent abandonment of the cause of industrial education.” On August 11 the Regents formally voted to dispense with his services “in view of his incompetency and unfitness for the duties of the chair.” President Gilman had by this time gone East on his vacation. There was a remonstrance made to this removal by a joint committee of the State Grange and of the Mechanics' State Council and Mechanics' Deliberative Assembly, to which the Regents made a printed answer. Professor Carr published a pamphlet of 112 pages on “The University of California and its Relation to Industrial Education.” With the subsequent appointment of Dr. Eugene W. Hilgard as Professor of Agriculture the controversy was practically at an end; far more so, indeed,
The new academic year opened in September. At an early Friday afternoon assembly President Gilman, in place of a formal lecture, made a short address upon the object of a university education. He dwelt upon the importance of having a “clear and vivid notion of what we are aiming at,” ever a striking characteristic of his policy and conduct. He said: “At the beginning of a new year of college instruction it is desirable that we should all, both teachers and scholars, have a clear notion of what we are aiming to accomplish. We shall encounter obstacles, surely, before we have gone far; we shall sometimes feel as if our best work was of no account; we shall tend toward discouragement. But if we have a clear and vivid notion of what we are aiming at, and a right appreciation of the methods of
The University community took the President's address as meaning that he had adjusted himself to the situation, and, with a clear notion of what he wished to accomplish, had set his face steadily to the attainment of his object. Certainly things resumed their wonted aspect,--every one worked with buoyancy and hope, and no one during the next six months detected any diminution of interest and zeal in the University on the part of the President.
The most important work of the last year of his administration was the strengthening of the Faculty. Professor Sill was appointed to the chair of English. Dr. E. W. Hilgard was appointed to the professorship of Agriculture and has lived to bring to full fruition the hopes of President Gilman. The College of Mechanics was fully organized, and Frederick G. Hesse was made the leading professor in it. “It is rare,” said President Gilman, to find a man qualified to fill the duties of a chair of industrial mechanics both by his scientific attainments and by practical knowledge acquired in the shop, but Mr. Hesse is such a man,” and the subsequent development of that college fully justified his faith. Likewise the College of Mining was organized, and William Ashburner appointed Professor of Mining. He was a mining engineer, with accurate scientific and technical training in the East and in Europe, and with large practical experience in California. He laid solid foundations for this department of the University. A new instructor in German was named in the person of Albin Putzker, who long continued, first as instructor and then as Professor of the German Language and Literature, in the words of President Gilman, to “succeed in a remarkable degree in awakening
President Gilman pursued the policy of appointing a number of recent graduates as “assistant instructors,” to be afterwards sifted out, those who proved worthy and wished to follow an academic life to be promoted. None of his appointees who desired to remain at the University failed of ultimate promotion. What the retiring President of the Carnegie Institution found worth stating as a principle--that we must “discover and develop such men as have unusual ability”--he had put in practice thirty years before as President of the University of California.
While the University was being thus reinforced, and President Gilman was making a thoroughly well-compacted and efficient institution, corresponding with the ideas that he had set forth in his inaugural address, events were working rapidly toward another future for him. The course of these events is disclosed in several letters written to President White.
There is an intimation of something coming in this letter, dated September 30, 1874:
You will be glad to know that I find the outcry almost exclusively confined to the Grangers and Dr. Carr's personal friends. We begin the term, inside, more pleasantly than ever. We had more than 100 applicants for admission; our Freshman class numbers 67; the whole number of students was never so large as now; Hilgard is here, and proves to be just what we thought him,--a first-rate man in his place,--coöperative and capital as a teacher. Dr. Carr has published nine columns of mixed calumny and falsehood and innuendo; the Regents have had their say, and there the matter now rests. A Santa Barbara paper was handed me Tuesday in which a letter is printed from your friend Mr. Storke. It is very friendly and will do good here; but the young man has let out what I have kept entirely secret,
― 170 ―--the point of our recent talks and correspondence. I am afraid that he has gone beyond the limits of discretion in what he reports of your conversation and wishes; but if the story remains here no harm will come of it; I hope not in any case. But if the paragraph does get copied in the East I hope you will know whence it originated. I have regarded your overtures as strictly confidential,--so much so that I have not felt free to consult those whose opinions I desired to seek. My references even in the family have been very guarded.
The following letter, dated October 18, after referring to the Carr episode and the existing pleasant situation at the University, comes again to the now vital subject:
I have received your two long letters written early in this month, one of them giving me an account of your visit from the Hopkins Trustees, and the other your views of the answer here given to the Grangers. I feel very much obliged to you for both these notes. The latter (on Dr. Carr) I have read to Gov. Haight, Bolander, Hilgard, Rising, and others who are very much pleased that you take this view. . . .
The Univ. never began a term more pleasantly than the present. . . . Our new teachers take hold first rate, and we are all cheerful and happy. . . .
I am of course deeply interested in what you say of the Hopkins Trustees. Their reception at New Haven amused me more than it surprises me. There is no doubt among our old friends a latent indifference if not an open distrust of what is doing at the upper end of College street. I feel grateful to you for the good word you said for me to these gentlemen, and confess that I should consider their proposition if it were made. When I saw you, I felt that to think of leaving here might be “desertion in the face of the enemy,”--but our term opens so finely and everything is so encouraging that I do not feel fettered. We had a gift yesterday of $5000 for a cabinet of minerals.
A letter to President White, dated November 4, announces the receipt of overtures from the Johns Hopkins Trustees, and expresses the solicitude he always felt for the University of California:
The Baltimore overtures have reached me an hour ago. I suppose my family are half way across the continent; but if I can stop them coming on I shall do so, and shall ask leave to go East and see for myself. I feel much gratified by the confidence which so many of my friends have shown in me by saying a good word, at the opportune moment; but I must be very careful that the interests here do not suffer. We are apparently over the crisis; that answer to the Grangers has silenced them; our large increase of scholars, and general quiet and serenity surprises us all; if I am to resign at all within two years, now is the moment. No legislature for thirteen months; and then the tidal wave of what sort of democracy? I have not mentioned your letter respecting the visit and talk of the Hopkins Trustees to anybody, by letter or orally; so I don't know how to proceed with their overture,--but I shall at once have a frank talk with some of our Regents. I think I shall resign,--resignation to take effect at a time to be mutually agreed upon. Then being free, I shall go East and look at the situation. It would seem to me unwise to accept such a post without having first a personal interview. I write on the spur of the moment.
On December 9 President Gilman wrote to Governor Booth: “It is my intention to inform the Regents at their next meeting that I have received letters from an institution of learning at the East looking to my acceptance of the Presidency of the same. The overtures are so attractive that I feel bound to consider them and in order that I may honorably do so, I shall present my resignation to the Board.” Governor Booth in his reply said: “I can only add the expression of my regret that we are to lose you,
John W. Dwinelle had resigned from the Regency after the removal of Professor Carr. There were those who criticised him for making that promise at the session of the Legislature; there were those who criticised him for not making the Board of Regents live up to the promise; there were those who criticised him for paying any heed whatsoever to the promise. He acted as his conscience told him was right, and especially that his position might not complicate matters to President Gilman's disadvantage. To no one does the University owe a larger debt in organization, and first years of development. On February 12, 1875, he wrote the following letter to President Gilman:
If I have not said, before now, what I now say, it is because I thought that the time and the place had not come when it would be perfectly proper to say it. Of course you will accept the Baltimore appointment.
First: We have not furnished you the entertainment to which you were invited. We are on the eve of a contest where the Board of Regents is to be assailed by falsehood, malice and every kind of nastiness from the outside, aided by treachery from within. We did not invite you to this, and you have a right to retire from it, particularly when the mode of retirement comes in the form of accepted reward of well-doing--promotion.
Secondly: You have a great opportunity at Baltimore, that of organizing the first real American university. That you will do it successfully, and thus place yourself at once at the head of your profession in America, I have not the least doubt:
God bless you in this great mission!
The Regents made plans for a public dinner in honor of President Gilman before his departure from California;
The invitation which you have communicated to me from the Board of Regents to meet them at a public dinner before my departure from California is an honor which I fully appreciate. I am grateful for this token of their confidence and regard, but feel constrained to ask them to excuse me from accepting.
There are still many duties connected with the University which I wish to discharge and there are distant parts of the State which I wish to visit, so that my days are already full of engagements.
If any public service could be rendered by bringing together at this time those who are interested in the advancement of the University, the Academy, the Polytechnic School, the Art School, the High School, and other higher educational institutions, I should be willing to delay my departure; but I think that the moment is not propitious for such a gathering.
Personally I could not have any better evidence of the good will of the Regents than the support which they have uniformly extended to me, and the unvarying devotion to the interests of the University which they have exhibited.
Will you be so good as to communicate this note to the Regents with my Farewell, and the assurance that wherever my home is cast, I shall maintain a grateful remembrance of the manifold kindnesses I have received from them, and from other citizens of California, and a lively interest in all the efforts which are made to advance the education of the State.
Upon their acceptance of President Gilman's resignation, the Regents appointed Professor John Le Conte to the position of Acting President. Two gatherings in the nature of a farewell were held,--one just before the week's recess, closing the winter term, on March 24, and the other on
A number of pages of manuscript have been found among President Gilman's papers relating to the period of his residence in California. These pages are, for the most part, not numbered, and are not in all cases consecutive. They seem to have been prepared for an address before leaving Berkeley, perhaps for the meeting that was held on April 2. There are indeed some expressions found in the manuscript which correspond to what he said on that occasion, but on the whole the tenor of the remarks then made differed from the written pages. In the manuscript the words “in the company of these officers and students” is underscored. Perhaps, when he found so large an audience not belonging to his intimate University family, he shrank from speaking so freely and confined himself to impromptu generalities. These fragments are valuable as disclosing the writer's inner feelings; or rather, perhaps, as showing his desire that the “officers and students” should understand what his feelings were, for we have been let into his heart by his private letters. These manuscript pages are now given in what seems to be their proper sequence:
It is with great reluctance that I take the final steps which will sever my connection with the University of California. I came with much hesitation; I have staid with increasing satisfaction; I go with sincere regret. Whatever the future may bring forth, Berkeley will be remembered with delight.
― 175 ―It seems as if even friendships ripened quicker than elsewhere beneath these favoring skies.
Perhaps I ought to rest content with this simple utterance of good will; but the University has of late been the subject of so much comment that I am tempted to throw off the reserve which is natural to me and speak somewhat freely in the company of these officers and students who will know the truth of what I utter. You will bear me witness that I have not used official opportunities in the class room or assembly, in the Faculty or Board of Regents, for any personal ends; and that I have kept aloof from all the financial, political and ecclesiastical excitements which have prevailed in the community. My sole desire has been to see the University well established; to see all classes united in its support; to see the prosperous and the needy equally welcome to our literary republic in the good fellowship of learning; to see literature and history on the one hand, science and the arts upon the other, promoted with generous zest; and above all to see those influences made perpetual which will mould the youth of California into noble, virtuous, and cultivated men and women.
Such an institution has here been planted. It is administered by a Board of Regents whose persistent, unselfish, and unpaid devotion to the work entrusted to them this community has never begun to appreciate. They have been blamed for not incurring expenditures, when their treasury was exhausted; they have been censured because the University was not built in a day; but through evil report and through good report, they have been firm in their convictions of duty, united in action, successful in their undertaking; and the day will come when the State of California will render them thanks for their now thankless service.
I have also learned to appreciate and honor those who are devoted to the instruction and administration of the University. Trained as they have been in different sorts of institutions and in different countries, devoted to widely different branches of study, they constitute a body of teachers of whom the community is now more proud than ever and whose highest praise is to be found in the intellectual and moral characteristics of those who have graduated under
― 176 ―their authority. Some of the Faculty are already eminent as scientific investigators, and others who have been devoted to the work of the class room rather than to literary and scientific research are likewise eminent as teachers and are remarkably successful as the guides of youth. . . .
During the last few months the University has been so unfortunate as to be the object of some unfriendly attacks. You know quite as well as I the sources from which they came,--but neither you nor I need attribute them to any improper motives. The Regents have endeavored to ascertain whether the criticisms were deserved; and where either friend or foe has pointed out a weakness or an imperfection they have endeavored to remedy it. The lack of money, the need of time, the want of men, the defects of laws have delayed many changes and improvements. But in the face of all its embarrassments, the University has maintained its serenity and has gone forward with constantly increasing prosperity.
If the personal animosities are overlooked, it will be discovered that the chief complaint has been that the University has been unfriendly to agriculture, and this cry has been widely repeated through a secret political organization,--composed of those who for the most part have never visited the University, and who had been largely influenced by the representations of one of their order who was supposed to know.
Among the errors into which they have been led was the belief that the Congressional grant of 1862 had either been squandered or devoted to a classical college; that the University gave no technical instruction in subjects relating to agriculture; and that only one-twentieth of the University income was so expended as to be of use to agricultural students.
The Regents controverted these extravagant assertions with success and were sustained by the legislature; but popular errors are slowly corrected; and these false impressions continue to give bitterness to the controversy. It was an unfortunate coincidence that an accomplished member of the Faculty resigned his professorship to engage in other literary work, just when the controversy was at its height, and
― 177 ―that he lent his practised pen to the support of a cause which on other occasions he had never espoused. The perusal of his pamphlet, in connection with these remarks, is earnestly to be commended.
The attacks upon the University have been kept up, in a limited circle, from that time onward; newspaper articles have been clipped out, underscored, and widely distributed by some diligent hand, through the Eastern colleges.
One reply has been issued by the Regents,--an answer to a special communication formally presented to them.
On all this controversy I have neither complained, nor answered back, nor asked to be vindicated. Even now I call no names; impugn no motives; employ no epithets. If there have been grave errors, public vigilance will detect them, and will resort to stronger methods of attack than Parthian arrows, or amusing squibs. But up to the present time, the legislature, the executive officers of the State, the Regents, the Faculty, the parents, and the students have stood united in their defense of the University. I do not hesitate to say that the government was never more harmonious; the number of scholars was never so large; the Faculty was never so vigorous; the courses of study were never so varied; the funds were never so ample; the library and museums were never so large; the finances were never so well administered; and
The page ends without finishing the sentence, and there is no page following in consecutive order. There are two pages which fit in as a later continuation of the same thought, giving a somewhat explicit account of the growth of the University and the strong material foundation which it has secured. The following isolated paragraph might well conclude that portion of the address:
It seems strange to a few of my friends both here and at the East that under these circumstances I am willing to leave the University and the State from which so much is anticipated; and in some of my most serious moods, I shrink
― 178 ―from the final step which will part me from colleagues and pupils whom I love and from duties which with all their embarrassments have been full of pleasure.
Taking up another thought, the manuscript runs as follows:
The University of California is nominally administered by the Regents; it is virtually administered by the legislature. The Political Code, which went into operation on the first of January, 1873, placed the Regents in the position of a commission of the legislature liable to be “sponged out” in a single hour of partisan clamor; and the mode of procedure during the last session of the legislature, although it resulted in nothing which was openly harmful, showed clearly what might have happened if the legislature had been composed of a more hostile element. Moreover, the revelations of that session were such that five gentlemen, whose names I could give were it not for the confidence with which all such communications should be regarded, each of whom contemplated large gifts to the University, informed me that they could not bestow their gifts upon an institution which might be swept away in an hour.
As I firmly believe that the advancement of higher education in this country depends chiefly upon the munificence of wealthy men, I regard the present organization of the University, which is liable to change at any session of the legislature, as peculiarly uncertain. It would be easy to suggest a remedy for this state of things, and to show by the experience of Eastern institutions how public aid can be supplemented by individual gifts, with a just protection of popular rights, and the careful administration of private funds.
The final paragraphs remaining of this manuscript read as follows:
Under all these circumstances, personally assailed by two members of the Faculty, insecure in chartered rights of the
― 179 ―institution, remote from family ties and from those who have known me long and well, unable to procure a suitable residence at Berkeley without a risk which I am unable to assume, I have listened to a call which came to me unsolicited.
A wealthy citizen of Baltimore, who died a few months since, has left his fortune for the good of his fellow men. One large portion is devoted to a hospital; another to the maintenance of a University. Nearly seven millions of dollars are consecrated to these two objects.
The trustees whom he selected are responsible neither to ecclesiastical nor legislative supervision; but simply to their own convictions of duty and the enlightened judgment of their fellow men. They have not adopted any plan nor authorized, as I believe, any of the statements which have been made as to their probable course,--but they are disposed to make a careful study of the educational systems of the country, and to act in accordance with the wisest counsels which they can secure. Their means are ample; their authority complete; their purposes enlightened. Is not this opportunity without parallel in the history of our country?
The Overland Monthly in July, 1873, had an editorial article entitled “The Gain of a Man,” from which we have made quotations. In April, 1875, it contained an editorial entitled “The Loss of a Man.” This article voiced the sentiment of the community at the time, and the passing years have not diminished in any wise the judgment then passed. It is the conviction of those who know the history of the University that we must look back, for the safety with which it passed through years of danger as also for the growth which marked its course in the face of hostile forces as well as under favoring conditions, to the character of the foundations that were reared during President Gilman's administration. In illustration of the abiding sentiment of the community we give the following extracts:
Only one man, but we cannot imagine any other that the State could worse afford to be without at this momentous period of her educational development. Two years ago, D. C. Gilman came to California to take presidential charge of our young University. He did not found that University, but he did more to build it up than anyone else. The difficulties of his position were almost overwhelming. He met them with consummate tact, urbanity, and patience. He made men, in both public and private capacities unused to the giving mood, surprise everybody, and themselves most of all, by exhibitions of unexpected generosity. . . . Success was with him every way that he went, and before the touch of his achievements the advocates and adherents of ignorance and disorder were astonished and confounded. . . . The President of the University and his course have had at all times the practically unanimous approval and applause of the Regents of the University, its professors, its students, and of all the well-educated persons of the whole State.
To all these the shock comes suddenly of his farewell. From other and broader fields eyes have been fixed on our great and wise husbandman, as was indeed inevitable, and the word of invitation has come for him. . . . We are glad for the sake of the Johns Hopkins University, glad for the sake of American education, glad not least for the sake of D. C. Gilman; but we are sorry for the sake of the University of California, sorry for the sake of Californian education, sorry for ourselves, for we have lost a man--a man calm, reasonable, dignified, full of resource in every emergency--a man of surpassing talent for organization, of extraordinary insight and sympathy as to the strong and weak points of colleagues and students, who can do more with poor materials than most men can with good--a man with incessant industry and persistent acquirement in every direction of science and literature--a man who is at once a gentleman in the technical and general sense of that term, unswerving in integrity, punctilious in honor, faithful in friendship, chivalrous and self-contained under attack and criticism. He leaves behind, in our University itself and in all it today is, in the hearts of his students and friends,
― 181 ―in the pages of the Overland, in the heart of hearts of us his nearer neighbors and acquaintances, sweet memories of a quiet perfect gentleman and genial gifted scholar. . . . Though we have lost our man, we have not lost our friend.
1--The words after “subjected” in the last sentence of the above letter are crossed out in the original.
Chapter IV: The Beginnings of Johns Hopkins University [not available online]
[Not available online.]
Chapter V: A Quarter-Century in the Johns Hopkins Presidency [not available online]
[Not available online.]
Chapter VI: Some Letters [not available online]
[Not available online.]
Chapter VII: Retirement from Johns Hopkins and Presidency of the Carnegie Institution [not available online]
[Not available online.]
Chapter VIII: Home Life and Personal Traits [not available online]
[Not available online.]
An Afterword [not available online]
[Not available online.]
Index [not available online]
[Not available online.]
Courtesy of University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000; http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/info
Title:  Excerpt from The Life of Daniel Coit Gilman by Fabian Franklin (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company)
By: Franklin, Fabian, 1853-1939, Author
Contributing Institution: University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000; http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/info
Material in public domain. No restrictions on use