Princeton University. American Whig society.om.

Addresses and proceedings at the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the American Whig society, of the College of New Jersey, Princeton, N.J., June 29th, 1869 online

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Online LibraryPrinceton University. American Whig society.omAddresses and proceedings at the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the American Whig society, of the College of New Jersey, Princeton, N.J., June 29th, 1869 → online text (page 1 of 18)
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ADDRESSES AND PROCEEDINGS



OE3LlEBItA.TI03^T

OF THE

OF THE FOUNDING

OF THE

AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY,



COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY,



PRINCETON, N. J.,



June 29tli, 1869.



>-• -» J o •



-iLi i»_* • *



PRINCETON:



STELLE & SMITH, PUBLISHERS.
1871.



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,\



i:)Bi:)io-A.XBi:)

TO THE

Alembers of ti)e American iOMs Societo



ITS HISTORIAN.



■ • • • - • • • •
• • • • • • •

•• • z • • • • '






• ••-•'



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1 87 1,

By Henry Clay Cameron,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



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HISTORY

OF

THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY,

FROX^ 1769 TO 1869.

PREPARED FOR AND READ AT

June 29TH, 1869,

BY

HENRY CLAY CAMERON,

PROFESSOR IN THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY.



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HISTORY



AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY.



Fathers and Brethren of the American Whig
Society : — Your partiality has assigned to me the
pleasing duty of gathering from the past, not the
floating traditions that cluster around a venerable in-
stitution, but the well authenticated facts known to
all who love our Society, or those which may have
been hidden in remote corners and thus escaped the
attention of men whom the absorbing cares of life
render impatient of painful investigation. With un-
affected diffidence I say that I wish that it had been
assigned to abler hands. I approach the duty, how-
ever, with a reverence that increased as the work
advanced, and with an affection for the Whig Socie-
ty that has been augmented with each passing day.

O friends, and ye fair loving gentle folk,
Would I could better tell a tale to-day ;
But hark to this.

The origin of the American Whig Society, the time
and place ot its foundation, the name of its founder



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6 HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY.

are all well known. In an upper chamber of Nassau
Hall, on the 24th day of June, in the year 1769, one
of the authors of the Federalist, one of the framers
of the Constitution of our country, and the only Pres-
ident of the United States whom Nassau Hall has
graduated, in connexion with a few others, laid the
foundation of the American Whig Society. The
time, when the day of popular freedom was just
dawning upon the world ; the place. Nassau Hall,
which had been consecrated to liberty and was to be
intimately connected with the struggle for indepen-
dence ; the name, typical of its patriotic principles ;
were all that we could have desired. And when we
remember that the most distinguished graduate of
Nassau Hall, who with Hamilton and Jay fashioned
our National Constitution, gave form and character
to the Institution whose Centennial Anniversary we
this day celebrate, we are justified in saying that no
Literary Society in our Colleges can point to a no-
bler origin. The "prentice work" and the finished
structure alike reveal traces of their great author.

But James Madison was not alone in founding the
Whig Society. Associated with him were others who
became distinguished in the various walks of life.
Among these were Samuel Stanhope Smith, after-
wards President of Nassau Hall, William Bradford,
Attorney General of the U. S., John Beatty, a mem-
ber both of the Continental and of the Federal Con-
gress, John Henry, Governor of Md., a U. S. Repre-
sentative and Senator, the Rev. Nathaniel Irwin, who
showed his affection for the Society by a large lega-



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HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY. 7

cy, the Rev. Caleb Wallace, who was also Chief Jus-
tice of Ky., Gunning Bedford, a member both of the
Continental and of the Federal Congress, a member
of the Convention which framed the Constitution of
the U. S., and also a U. S. District Judge, Hugh H.
Brackenridge, Judge of the Supreme Court of Pa.
and author of Modern Chivalry, Philip Freneau, the
patriot-poet of our revolution, who with Dr. Charles
McKnight, Surgeon-General of our Revolutionary
Army, was among those who were sent to the prison
ships in the harbor of New York. Other names
might be mentioned, but these are sufficient for our
present purpose.

The object of the Society is expressed in its ever
unchanged motto, Literae, Amicitia, Mores. Its
name, American Whig, reflects the patriotic spirit
of its founders, and was inspired by the noble impul-
ses which animated the public mind at that momen-
tous period of our history. Let us briefly glance at
the condition of Europe and of our own country at
that time that we may thus learn the character of
the year 1769. Upon the throne of Russia was
Catharine II., whose talents were equalled only by
her vices, and whqse learning was surpassed only by
her ambition. Engaged in a great struggle with
the Turks her armies were successful at Choczim,at
Jassy and at Bucharest, while the dream of Peter the
Great was fulfilled when astonished Europe beheld a
Russian fleet issuing from the Baltic, passing down
the Atlantic and covering the waters of the Mediter-
ranean. It seemed as if the Greek empire was to



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8 HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY.

be re-established and the crescent to fade before the
cross. A century has rolled away, "the sick man"
still lives, and the name of Constantine in the royal
family of Russia tells of blighted hopes and unac-
complished plans. Joseph II. was Emperor of Ger-
many, trying to reform and to benefit people who
were too ignorant to understand the designs of their
ruler and who indignantly rejected the blessings he
wished to confer. The " light from the North " was
but a brilliant aurora that soon died away; that in
the South was but a passing mirage. Alexander II.
and Francis Joseph in our day have accomplished
that which their predecessors of a century ago could
but attempt. Maria Theresa was the controlling
spirit of her empire so long as she lived, and at this
time (1769) by all her actions she vindicated the title
given her by her faithful Hungarians in the begin-
ning of her reign in that famous burst of loyalty:
Moriamur pro rege nostro, Maria Theresa, Freder-
ick the Great, the hero of Protestantism, was on the
throne of Prussia, resting now from the labors and
battles which had ended but six years before, armed
indeed and ever ready for the conflict, and yet devo-
ting his days and nights to the restoration of his
country and the pursuits of literature. In France
the Encyclopedia of Diderot and D' Alembert and the
infamous orgies of the Pare aux Cerfs had been prepar-
ing the nation for the bloodiest and greatest political
revolution of modern times. Under Louis XV. she
had lost Canada and Louisiana in 1763, and the re-
covery of Avignon and Venaissin from the Pope was



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HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY. 9

but a slight compensation. Corsica was obtained
by gold rather than by valor, and the gallant Paoli,
whom " neither the gold, nor the splendid ofifers of
France, had the power to tempt to dishonor,** es-
caped from the island and landed at Leghorn in this
very month of June, 1 769. Poland and Sweden
were distracted by internal difificulties. The Rom-
ish Church was losing its hold upon the minds of
men and its influence over the governments of Eu-
rope. A monk (Ganganelli,) had come forth from his
cell to sit in the chair of Peter; but even the Bour-
bon Princes were all demanding the suppression of
the Jesuits at the hands of the Pope. England,
through the East India Company, had so oppressed
the natives of India, that under Hyder Ali they had
risen and penetrated to the gates of Madras and
compelled a treaty of peace. It was the year in
which Watt obtained his patent for the steam engine,
and Arkwright for his spinning machine, It was in
the month of June, 1 769, that Daniel Boone, " from
the top of an eminence surveyed with delight the
beautiful plain ** of Kentucky, " the Dark and Bloody
Ground.** It was the year in which Cuvier and
Humboldt and Chateaubriand and J. Q. Adams and
Dupont de TEure and Mehemet Ali and Tallien and
Soult and Ney and Wellington and Napoleon Bona-
parte were born. In England the great question of
the rights of the people in the matter of choosing
their own representatives was agitating the popular
mind. John Wilkes, a demagogue indeed and a
man of bad character, but representing a great prin-



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lO HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHU; SOCIETY.

ciple, had been unjustly deprived of his seat in par-
liament. The government triumphed for the time,
but the victory was ultimately with the people. It
was the year in which Junius, stet nominis umbra,
wrote his first terrible letters. The struggle for the
rights of the people in England raised up friends for
the Colonies in their disputes with the government
of the Mother country. The Home government
foolishly clung to the tax on tea which yielded noth-
ing, simply to assert their right to tax America for
purposes of revenue, and threatened to transport to
England for trial those who might be charged with
treason. In reply to the English Parliament the
House of Burgesses of Virginia adopted its three
Resolutions on taxation, intercolonial correspon-
dence, and trial by a jury of the vicinage, resolves so
" calm in manner, concise, simple and effective ; so
perfect in substance and in form, that time finds no
omission to regret, no improvement to suggest ;**
and these became the model for the action of all the
colonies. Thus the public mind was agitated
throughout the colonies and earnest discussions were
carried on particularly through the press. In the
division of sentimerit that occurred, those who advo-
cated the cause and rights of the colonies, like the lib-
eral party in England, assumed the name of Whigs,
while those who adhered to the side of the crown
were called Tories. The great issues of the day
were the constant theme of discussion ; in England,
Burke and Chatham and Fox were arrayed against
Mansfield and North ; the thunders of their elo-



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HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY.. I i

quence were borne across the broad Atlantic and fell
upon ears that were strained to catch even the fee-
blest whispers of those who were pleading the cause
of liberty and the rights of the people. An ardent
lover of liberty presided over Nassau Hall, and from
his instructions the students learned the lessons of
freedom. The sacred fire kindled in Nassau Hall
was fanned by the invigorating breezes that swept
from distant lands, and every youthful heart was in-
spired not merely with the love of learning that had
drawn its possessor within these walls, but with a love
for the eternal principles of truth and liberty and an
undying devotion to their fatherland. It was amid
scenes like these, and at such a momentous period
in the history of the world, that a noble band of young
men with James Madison as their leader, formed a
Society for the cultivation of eloquence and litera-
ture. Their young hearts glowed with patriotism,
and gave to this Society, in which they were united
by the threefold cord of Literature, Friendship and
Morality, the name of American Whig, a name that
appeals to all who delight to dwell upon the history
of their country — ^and which falls like angel music
upon the ears of her sons who this day meet to cel-
ebrate her HUNDREDTH YEAR.

The American Whig and the Cliosophic Societies
were not the earliest literary associations in the Col-
lege of New Jersey. Such societies had existed al-
most from the foundation of Nassau Hall, but with
the exception of the immediate predecessors of the
present Literary Societies they had been ephemeral



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12 HISTORV OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY.

in their existence. These Associations possessed
no halls, no libraries and no strong bonds of union.
A few years, however, before the present Societies
were formed, two sprang up with a complete organ-
ization, seals, diplomas, &c. These were ** The Plain-
Dealing Society*' and " The Well-Meaning Society'* :
the " American Whig Society " is the legitimate suc-
cessor of the former, the "Cliosophic Society" of the
latter. The Minutes of the Faculty begin in 1787,
the first date being Nov. loth, 1787 ; the Minutes of
the Trustees are complete ; but both are silent, so
that the records of the College do not contain any
reference to the foundation or history of these early
Societies. There is however, satisfactory evidence
that they were suppressed by order of the Faculty
in the summer of 1768 in consequence of serious
disturbances between them. For a year there were
no Societies, and it was not until June 24, 1769, that
James Madison, in connexion with some of the mem-
bers of the Plain-Dealing Society and some other
students, formed the American Whig Society, a'i§ has
been already stated. The members of the Plain-
Dealing Society were claimed as American Whigs,
although the catalogue contains the names of those
only who were actual members of the Whig Society.
In like manner the members of the Well-Meaning
Society were considered as Cliosophians. The Cli-
osophic Society proper was organized June 8th,
1770, and it was not until i820,just fifty years after its
foundation, that the date was changed to 1 765, which
was considered as representing the time of the or-



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HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY. I 3

ganization of the Well-Meaning Society, of which it
was the legitimate successor. Prof. Giger in his ex-
cellent History of the Cliosophic Society concludes,
from certain papers which belonged to the late Judge
Patterson and which were without date, but which,
from internal evidence, he refers to the month of
July, 1769, "that the two Societies [The Plain-Deal-
ing and the Well-Meaning] were disbanded about
the middle of the year 1769." In this, however, he
mistakes ; The American Whig Society was already
in existence, at that very time. They were dissolved
by order of the Faculty in 1768 ; the Whig Society
was organized in 1 769 and the Cliosophic Society in
1770. On these points there can be no dispute, and
it is for this reason that for a century the Societies
have been spoken of as the American Whig and Cli-
osophic, and not in the reverse order. I suppose
that it was owing to the activity oi youth that our sis-
ter Society was four years in advance of us in cele-
brating her Centennial Anniversary. That I may
not be suspected of any undue bias, arising from my
attachment to my own Society, I will refer you to the
testimony of the members of our sister Society given
on pp. 68 and 69 of Prof. Giger*s History of the Clio-
sophic Society. In 1820, the date 1770, on the Clio-
sophic Medal, was changed to 1765 the supposed
date of the organization of the Well-Meaning Soci-
ety, in view of certain communications to the Clio-
sophic Society and especially of an important one
" by the Rev. John Woodhull, D. D., who sent a list
of those who were members of the Well-Meaning



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14 HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY.

Society in 1765, and until the breaking up of that
Society/' This list contains the names of persons
who were graduated as early as 1761, 1762 and
1 763 ; thus showing conclusively, I think, that the
Society existed at an earlier date than 1765, prob-
ably in 1 760. Prof. Giger accounts for the presence
in Princeton in 1765 of graduates of the College of
an earlier date. Messrs. Thomson and Perriam
were Tutors, Messrs. Sergeant and Patterson and,
probably, Mr. Reeve had been law students with the
Hon. Richard Stockton, and Mr. Williams was prob-
ably engaged in the study of theology. I am not
aware that any other memorials of the Well-Mean-
ing Society are now extant.

In reference to the Plain- Dealing Society we are
satisfied 'that it was in existence in 1 763 and was
founded at an even earlier date, probably in 1 760.
The list of its members has perished and almost the
only names certainly known are those attached to the
only diploma of either of these early Societies that
is known to be in existence. From a most careful
examination of the whole subject I am convinced that
there is no means of determining the precise date of
the foundation of either of the early Societies of this
college, although it is certain that both the Plain-
Dealing Society and the Well-Meaning Society ex-
isted previous to the assumed date of 1765. Thus
much I have deemed it proper to say in elucidation
of the question of priority ; and I need not assure you
that I have been Well meaning in my Plain deal-
ing. As to the origin of the name Plain-Dealing, if it



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HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY. I 5

was anything more than a student's fancy, it was prob-
ably taken from the title of a publication like The
Spectator, The Rambler, &c.

We here present a copy of the diploma to which
allusion has been made :

OMNIBUS ET SINGULIS

Has literas lecturis, notum sit, quod Jo-
SEPHUS Hasbrouck, A. B., pro more institu-
to, admissus in Plain-Dealing Club, per-
digne se gessit dum inter nos versatus
fuit ; et praeterea quamdiu se ita gesserit,
omnia ejusdemprivilegia jure sibi vindicet.
Cujus sigillum commune Plain-Dealing
Club, nominaque nostra subscripta testi-
monium sint.

HUGO VANCE,
JOHANNES HALY, A. B.,
GULIELMUS SMITH, A. B.,
DANIEL McCALLA,
HENRICUS WAGGAMAN,
GULIELMUS SCHENCK,
. NATHANAEL RAMSAY,
JOHN ELMENDORPH,
SAMUEL EAKIN, A. M.,
.SAMUEL SMITH, A. B.

Datum Plain Dealing Hall,
in Aula Nassovica, quarto
calendas Octobris,AnnoyErae
Christi millesimo septingen-
tesimo et sexagesimo sexto.

The device on the seal was a gentleman dressed
in the costume of the day, with head uncovered, the
arms extended from the sides at an angle of forty-five



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I 6 HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY.

degrees, with the hands open and presented towards
the front Near the outer margin of the seal are the
words ** Seal of the Plain-Dealing Club/* and in an
inner circle the motto, ** Aperta vivere mente."

The men, whose names are attached to this diplo-
ma, were the pioneers of the Society whose Centen-
nial we this day celebrate ; and we delight to honor
their memories. Except in the case of two or three,
I have been able to gather but little of their history
to present to you upon the present occasion.

Joseph Hasbrouck, whose diploma is here given
and who was graduated in 1 766, was of Huguenot
descent. It may not be uninteresting to give a brief
account of his ancestry.

Abraham Hasbrouck, a native of Calais, France,
and a Huguenot, escaped from that country and took
refuge in the Palatinate, a few years before the Rev-
ocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685. He lived
there a few years, and emigrated to America in 1675,
settling at Esopus (now Kingston), N. Y. He mar-
ried Maria Deyo, also a Huguenot immigrant, and
in 1 677, with eleven others, obtained from the English
Governor of the colony a patent for a tract of land on
the Wallkill, which they purchased from the In-
dians and named New Paltz, from grateful rec-
ollection of the kindness received in their former
place of refuge. He settled a few miles south of the
present village, in 1678, and died March 17th, 171 7,
leaving five children. His eldest son, Joseph, was
born in 1683, and died in 1724. He married Elsie
Schoonmaker, one of the most remarkable women



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HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY. I 7

of her day, a grand-daughter of Hendrick Joachim
Schoonmaker, of Hamburg, Germany, the ancestor
of all the ministers of that name in the Reformed
(Dutch) Church in this country. The Hasbrouck
Place, at which Joseph resided, was called Guilford,
and is three miles south of the village of New Paltz.
Abraham Hasbrouck, the eldest of their ten chil-
dren was born in 1707, and died in 1791. He was
a merchant at Kingston, N. Y., a man of influence
and public note, frequently a member of the Colo-
nial Legislature. The British forces under Sir Hen-
ry Clinton plundered and burned the village of
Kingston (then called Esopus), Oct. 17, 1777 ; only
one house escaped. In this house, which is still
standing, the first Constitution of the State of New
York was framed. It has been erroneously stated
that this house belonged to the Hasbrouck family.
Abraham married Catharine Bruyn, Jan'y 5th, 1739,
and became the father of twelve children. Joseph,
the subject of this memoir, was the third child and
oldest son. He was born March 3d, 1744, and re-
ceived his preparatory education at Kingston, where
there was a classical school at a very early period.
He entered Nassau Hall in 1763, and was gradu-
ated in 1766. All of his diplomas have been pre-
served, and both of his college diplomas are now
deposited in the archives of the College. The dip-
loma of the Plain-Dealing Club as the Society was
termed, was intended for the American Whig Soci-
ety, but has not yet reached it. He did not study a
profession but settled on the old homestead as a far-



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1 8 HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN WHIG SOCIETY.


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Online LibraryPrinceton University. American Whig society.omAddresses and proceedings at the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the American Whig society, of the College of New Jersey, Princeton, N.J., June 29th, 1869 → online text (page 1 of 18)