William Arba Ellis.

Norwich University, 1819-1911; her history, her graduates, her roll of honor (Volume 1) online

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During 1835-37, one annual vacation of twelve weeks, be-
ginning on the first IMonday in December was given, also a recess
of one week, beginning immediately after the annual commence-

The ex|3€nses during the years 1835-37, were: Tuition $24,
room rent $8, fuel and lights $8, board SI. 50 per week or $58.50
for an academic year of 39 weeks; use of library and incidentals
$3.32; extra charge for instruction in French, Spanish, Music and
Fencing, $4 per quartei-; tuition Primary department, $4 per quar-
ter; tuition Teachers' department, $1.50 for each four weeks^.

In 1838 the tuition was increased to $32 a year, and the
charge for tuition, incidentals and French in the Civil Engineering
department $50.20; library and incidentals $3; charge for extra
studies as before given; attendance on lectures by the cadets
$2 each course, and $5 for persons not cadets. During 1838-43,
the charges were practically the same, only board was in-
creased to $1 . 75 per week.

The atliletics were confined to the military drills, fencing,
boxing and rowing. The cadets were required to attend chapel
each morning and were " urgently recommended to attend church
on Sunday"; such as did not attend church were required
to remain in their rooms, and were " advised to pass the day in
reading the Scriptures." Their rooms were regularly inspected
by the University authorities. All the cadets were required to
board in the commons, unless excused by Captain Partridge.
The commons was at times no more popular in this period than
in the twenties.


Rev. Cyrus H. Fay, '37, in 1898 gives the following account
of a play given by the cadets in 1837 in which " Grahamism"
was especially hit:

"The word Grahamism recalls a system of diet which discarded meats,
and asserted that vegetables, cereals and fruits were the only proper food.
One Doctor Graham was the author of this system, and he rode his hobby
until he seemed to regard meat-eaters as modified cannibals. This system
was unpopular with us. Why it was so I am unable to explain at this late
day. I certainly would not be so unkind toward our purveyors at the com-
mons as to suggest that the cause might possibly be traced to a hankering
on our part after more fleshly morsels than were set before us.

"Sherwood, the tallest in our ranks, andsomewhat slim of build and pale
of feature, was selected to represent Dock Graham, and to illustrate his die-
tetic system; and when he appeared on the stage in high-heeled shoes and
wearing a stove-pipe hat, he brought down the house. The author of this
narrative represented a more liberal diet, and appeared before the audience
rounded out by liberal padding, to the girth of Falstaff. Look on that pic-
ture and then look on this."

There were no fraternities during this period, 1834-44.
Special attention was given to the instruction in elocution and
public debating. Rev. C. H. Fay gives an account of a play given
at Commencement of 1837.

"A drama was proposed, but who could fui-nish it? Jackman was not
thought of, for none of us supposed that either the tragic or the comic muse
could lure him, for a moment, from the fascinations of his favorite science. To
our surprise and delight a drama, in manuscript, was placed in our hands, and
it was whispered to us that our reticent Professor was its author. It was
accepted and a cast of characters soon chosen. The leading object of the play,
as I now recall it, was to shoot some of the flying follies of the time. Promi-
nent among these in our view was Grahamism. The other actors in the drama
appear to me now in silhouette only, their very names having faded from my
memory. The other follies aimed at I have forgotten, although I have a
lingering suspicion that FASHION was one of them. There is no record that
I have seen of the effect of the play upon the then prevalent foibles, but if our
acting had been as good as our purpose was earnest some of them must have
fluttered for a time with crippled wing. You ask what became of the drama?
I cannot answer this question defiiiitcly. I surmise, however, that it fell into
a state of 'innocuous desuetude' and finally into death. But I am quite certain
that if the manuscript could ever be found, either in the archives of the Uni-
versity or anywhere else, this inscription would appear upon it in a hand-
writing expressive of righteous indignation: 'Murdered by amateur per-
formers.' "

An account of a portion of the play giving the ''hit" on the
commons, was given above.

General W. W. H. Davis, '43, gives an account of the Func-
tion Society, which was organized by George H. Derby, '42, the


famous " John Phoenix' ' of literary fame, and Thomas W. White,
'41, about 1839. General Davis states:

The insignia for the Society was an exceedingly wise owl, the token
signifying that the sessions were held at night, which I believe was the case.
I was not a member, as I was hardly thought advanced enough in worldly
wisdom to enjoy such distinction. The insignia was the work of George H.
Derby.* * * He was a wit and an artist, and if some of his drawings on the
blackboard could be reproduced, they would cause a broad grin on the face
of the country from Maine to the Pacific. I have no copy of the insignia
now, but had one some years ago."

Just how long this society continued is not known, but
probably it was discontinued about 1842.

Major 0. H. Tenney, '45, writes:

" In my day at ' Old N. U.' we had no secret societies. We had a debat-
ing society. I remember that the records were kept by O. A. Buck, just be-
fore my time, and before his time by William L. Lee, '4)3, who wrote the best
hand in the book."

During 1836-43, peace did not always exist between the
students of^'' N. U.' ' and Dartmouth. Feuds sprang up. The
cause of the first trouble is not preserved. Many tales have been
handed down of encounters between the students of the two

Rev. Cyrus H. Fa}^, '37, relates the following incident:

"I am sorry to be obliged to record the fact that with some of our neigh-
bors on the opposite bank of the Connecticut River, relations were at times
a little strained. I refer to certain students in Dartmovith College. These
students seemed to be affected by our regulation dress somewhat as a mad bull
is said to be by a red flag. Nearness to our buttons was usually accompanied
by some expression on their part, which proved an irritant to us. At length
a crisis came which tested our mettle. The Fourth of July was at hand, a
(lay we had always celebrated with cannon firing, the beating of drums,
patriotic songs and orations. Well, only the day before we learned that these
same students had, with malice prepense, planned for us the greatest insult
human ingenuity could invent. They had obtained a coat, in style like our
own, — buttons and all, — and had engaged a negro barber, on Hanover Plain,
to wear it over to Norwich on the morrow, mingle with the crowd, and so take
us off, as the saying was. Naturally this revelation greatly excited us. A
council of war was at once called, and all the military knowledge we had
acquired brought into service. I have neither time nor space to give a de-
tailed account of what then transpired. It is sufficient to say, perhaps, that
the strategy we planned would have delighted a Moltke, and that the daring
and dash displayed in its execution imperiled, to our view at least, the fame
of Napoleon. The coat with every part intact, was captured during the silent
midnight hours, and captured within the enemy's intrenchments. Joy never
mounted so high at the barracks as when tidings of the capture were an-


nouiiced, and our eyes beheld by (he moonHght the proof of victory dangling
from the end of a long pole, carried by Gray of Virginia, the leader of the
'Forlorn Hope.' We all felt that a great disgrace had been averted, and that
the skill and the valor of the Norwich cadets had been vindicated for all time.
The Fourth tlawned in brightness and beauty, and patriotism was regnant
through all its hours on Norwich Plain. Eveiy part of an elaborate program
was executed perfectly. Orator and poet achieved the loftiest flights of
eloquence. The American Eagle, as was then his custom, came to their aid,
and not only screamed but performed some wonderful gyrations.

Mr. C. B. Burnham '39 contributedt he following reminiscence
in 1909:

"Some day when an attack of 'Xacoethes Scribendi' comes upon me,
I may relate some unimportant event that may have occurred while I was
at the University, (1836-39) perhaps pertaining to the religious watchfulness
and care in exercises in protecting those two old rusty six-pounders from the
spoliation at the hands of Dartmouth mischief-makers who, as July Fourth
approached, annually evinced the desire to put them out of service. They
were of no sort of use whatever except to be dragged to and fro by cords and
straps at drill by us boys and to, at the risk of our lives, fire a salute from,
when we could raise money enough to buy sufficient powder for the purpose
and enough flannel to make bags to contain the powder charges. To have
anything happen to that old scrap after all this preparation, to prevent us
from risking our lives in the firing of the anticipated salute, would have broken
our hearts and caused us to hate Dartmouth to a degree of more than ordi-
nary intensity. Of course no harm could come except from the east side of
the river. We watched passing strangers by day, and sentries, sometimes
loaded with muskets — but not always — stood guard over them at night
until July Fourth had come and passed — the salute fired, no one hurt, then
we hung the powder horns and priming wires with the thumb stalls in the
Armory and risked the safety of the condemned six-pounders to the care
of ProA'idence and the elements. If those guns are not now in front of the
ruined quarters, I do not know where to look for them, unless in the scrap
pile of a junk shop.

"Why the 'Hanoverians' were not en rapport with the 'Norwiche-
gians' I never had personal knowledge. It was before my day when the for-
mer arranged to add 'Senegambian' to the Cadet Corps on some public
occasion; they clad him in regulation uniform and in some way were to insert
him into cadet ranks on parade, as I have understood, l)ut 'the best laid plans
oft gang, etc.,' and this one ganged. The African was captured, his canoni-
cals were confiscated and the Hanoverians lost out their projected scheme.
We sometimes visited Hanover, never singly, but in pairs, triplets, etc. We
wore our uniforms on such occasions; each carried a chip on his shoulder
and was prepared to defend that chip. So far as I know those chips were
still in place when the braves returned to quarters. About 10 p. m. of a June
evening, Norwich was visited by a delegation from Hanover composed,
as we supposed, of Dartmouth students. It was a long column of fours,
at least one hundred men, without music, which marched to the end of the
main street, then countermarched to return from whence they came, not
forgetting to attempt to enter our grounds on the eastern journey. Our gate


was guarded, the sticks and canes carried by the invaders proved ineffective
in the assault against the bayonets of the guard. The invaders, after a short
struggle, broke in retreat and were not pursued. Spoils of the victory consisted
of crushed silk hats and two or three walking sticks. This visitation
and visitant skirmish greatly disturbed the town officials. A delegation of
the committee of safety made an early call on Captain Partridge the follow-
ing A. M. to ascertain what assistance they might rely on to be furnished by
him to repel a future invasion should one occur. I don't know his reply to
the committee, but I do know that assembly was sounded about 9 a. M,
We promptly responded. Captain Partridge was present and in a few words
told us we would be called upon by Civil Authority whenever needed to pro-
tect the village fi'om a mob similar to the unwelcome visitor of the night
before. If so called upon, he would expect prompt response and efficient
service. Some one, I think Tarbell of Moriah, N. Y., replied that should
occasion require, our services would be prompt and effective. The Captain
bit his under lip, smiled a grim smile, dismissed the assemblage and departed.
We were never called on, for no mob came.

"Subsequent to the nocturnal invasion referred to, we arranged, in con-
junction with the Norwich Light Infantry, to pay an afternoon visit to Han-
over; On a Saturday afternoon, the cadets and infantry paraded on the
University grounds in full uniform — the band consisting of three snare drums,
three fifes and a bugle, formed one column and struck out for the land of
our enemy. The battalion numbered about one hundred and fifty men,
Captain Partridge in command. I well remember his martial figure, his tight
fitting uniform coat of ancient vintage, his rotund waist around which his
belt was buckled and from which belt depended a gold mounted sword in a
silver scabbard, — a 'gi-and old man.' Arriving at the west side of the bridge,
the column halted, arms were trailed and we crossed the bridge with broken
ranks and in irregular order. At the east end, formation was resumed; our
flint locks at the order Fix Bayonets ! Carry Arms ! Right Wheel into Column!
Guide Right! Forward March! drums sounded the cadence by taps. We
marched up the hill to the north and south road, one side of the square; the
music started, the fifes screamed, the drums rattled, the bugles made more
noise than all the rest. I doubt if either musician or fifer knew what tune
his fellow played, but so long as the tune was the same and the drums were
in unison, it did not matter. Reaching the east and west road at the north
end of the square, a right wheel, and we headed straight toward the college
grounds. Marching eastward we approached the north and south road on
the east side of the square. Before reaching the turning point to march south,
all the world, his wife, 'his sisters, his cousins and his aunts,' had turned
out. The road and grounds were filled and progress was difficult, and here
was where we expected trouble, if any should occur. We would not resent
jeers, hisses, or insulting remarks, but drew the line at stones and brickbats.
We knew why we had fixed bayonets and why oiu" arms were at carry. We
were ready for an emergency, — none came. Captain Warren and his com-
pany were in front. They pushed the crowd aside as they wheeled to the
right to march south. We closed our section into a solid column and pushed
after them. Not a word of command from the officers except 'Steady'
at intervals from Captain Partridge — we knew our business and did not
'have to be shown.' Emerging from the crowd, we marched south to the


end of the village — along the way many cheers— then we countermarched
and took our Avay homeward, our band playing Yankee Doodle."

The annual commencements during 1836-43, were held on
the third Thursday of August. During 1835-38, public examina-
tions were given beginning on Monday preceding commence-
ment, and lasted three days. During 1839-43, the examina-
tions began on Monday of the week preceding commencement,
and lasted one week.

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Diploma of 1837.

In 1835, several of the cadets delivered orations. The
first cadet to formally graduate from the University was Alonzo
Jackman in 1836. Several cadets nearly completed the course
and were afterwards given their degrees as for this class. Ora-
tions were delivered by Cyrus H. Fay, '37, and Thomas J. Whipple
'37. The degree of A. M. was conferred upon thirteen of the
former cadets of the "Academy"; LL. D. upon the Hon. Ben-
jamin Wright of New York, and Moncure Robinson, Esq.,
former cadets of the "Academy," In 1837 twelve cadets grad-
uated; Rev. Cyrus H. Fay was the valedictorian of the class;
the degree of Master of Civil Engineering was conferred upon two


cadets. In 1838, the Hon. Thomas H. Seymour, '29, of Connecticut
delivered an address before the trustees on the day before com-
mencement and Hon. John Wentworth of Chicago delivered the
commencement address.

In 1840, Hon. Benjamin F. Hallet of Boston, delivered the
commencement address; orations were also delivered by the
Rev. Theophilus Fisk, '23, and Hon. Thomas H. Seymour, '29.
At the Commencement of 1842, AV. W. H. Davis delivered the

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Diploma of 1830.

salutatory address and oration, and William L. Lee the valedic-
tory; an oration was delivered by S. B. Lee, '43; Albert J. Wad-
dam, '44, delivered a French oration, and James A. Cunningham,
'44, a Latin oration; Gen. O. M. Clark of Sandy Hill, N. Y.,
delivered the commencement oration. The commencement
exercises in 1843 were held August 17. The commencement
oration was delivered by the Rev. Orestes A. Brownson, a former
cadet of the "Academy;" orations were also delivered by Gen.
O. M. Clark of Sandy Hill, N. Y., and James A. Hall, A. M., '39.
In May, 1843, an effort was made to raise the money to pay
Captain Partridge for the University property. Up to this date


the University trustees had only succeeded in raising money to
cover the regular expenses of the Institution. A committee was
appointed May 13, 1843, to solicit funds to remove the encum-
brance on the property. On this date Captain Partridge gave
the trustees a low figure on the buildings, grounds, library and
mathematical instruments, etc.

Later in this year, serious differences of opinion arose between
Captain Partridge and the trustees of the University, as to the
management of the Institution and on November 11, 1843, he
resigned the presidency. On this date Vice-president Truman
B. Ransom was appointed acting president and on February 8,
1844, was elected president.

During 1834-43, Captain Partridge was active in his work
to perfect the militia system of the state and country.

In June, 1838, Captain Partridge issued an invitation to the
officers, non-commissioned officers, musicians and privates of
the militia of Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and adjoining
states, to meet in Norwich, Vermont, on July 4, 1838, to form a
National Military Convention.

On this date fully 300 officers of the militia of Vermont and
New Hampshire assembled in Norwich. The meeting was called
to order by Captain Partridge in the University Hall. James
Udall, Esq., of Hartford was elected president, and Col. Nathaniel
Miller of Bridgewater, Vermont, vice-president; Maj. William E,
Lewis, '32, and Josiah Swett, Jr., '37, secretaries. A series of
resolutions was drawn up pertaining to matters of the greatest
importance to the militia of the United States, and were printed
and distributed throughout the country. A committee was
appointed to draw up "An address to the people of the United
States" on the reorganization of the militia of the country.

Addresses were delivered before the convention by Captain
Partridge, N. Robinson, Esq., and others. The convention then
adjourned to meet in Norwich, August 16.

Many officers of the militia from Vermont, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York met in Norwich on
the above date. Gen. Jacob Washburn was elected president pro
tern; Captain Partridge reported for the committee which was
appointed to prepare an address to the people of the United States
on the militia of the country; the address was adopted and
ordered printed. A committee of which Captain Partridge, was
chairman, was appointed to memorialize Congress on the matter
of reorganization of the militia.


The convention adjourned to meet in Montpelier, Vt., at 2
p. M., October 12, 1838. The convention met at the stated time.
James Udall presided; Gen. J. Washburn, Gen. John Kellogg,
Col. J. G. Dudley and Maj. Earl were elected vice-presidents and
Maj. J. W. Curtis, '37, secretary; orations were delivered by
Captain Partridge and others. It was voted to adjourn to meet
in Boston, February 22, 1839. Space cannot be given for the
text of the Resolutions and the " Address to the'^people of the

One has but to read these documents to become impressed
with the remarkable insight of Captain Partridge into the military
necessities of the country. Many of the suggestions proposed in
these publications were not carried out until years afterwards,
and some of them are still being agitated. If the country had at
that time adopted the wise plans presented, thousands of lives and
millions of money would have been saved in the subsequent
wars of the country. As has been stated before. Captain Partridge
did not believe in a large standing army. The following quota-
tion from the " Address to the people of the United States' ' well
represents his views on this subject:

"As to standing armies, it is believed there is but one opinion amongst
the people of the United States on the subject. They consider them hostile
to civil liberty, and the history of many ages proves them to have been so.
They are the necessary appendage of monarchy, and constitute the right arm
of tyranny. Take away the standing armies of Europe, and what monarch
could sustain himself six months on his throne? Our revolutionary fathers
well understood their character, and witnessed their power in combatting
against liberty, and in shedding innocent blood. Do we wish further proof,
the recent tragic scenes at St. Charles, St. Eustache, and in other parts of
Canada will furnish it. It is evident, then, that the attention of a free people
should not even for one moment be directed to a standing army, as the guard-
ian of their liberties and independence. For the protection of these they should
rely only on themselves. The great and good men who framed the Consti-
tution of the United States, were well aware of the absolute necessity of a
well-regulated and efficient National militia, for the preservation of our
National Independence and of public liberty. They therefore wisely invested
Congress with full power to adopt all the necessary and proper measures
for establishing and rendering efficient for the military defence of the country,
such national force."

A military convention was held in Norwich, January 8, 1840;
Captain Partridge presided; speeches were made by several
officers of the militia of Vermont and New Hampshire. The
convention adjourned to meet in Norwich, July 4, 1840. A
very elaborate program was given on this date. After the regular


work of the convention, the corps of cadets gave several drills;
orations were delivered by Prof. Jehiel Lillie, '38 of the Univer-
sity and by Cadet Simeon Wheeler, Jr.

A committee of cadets consisting'of^^^Lucius Hurlbut, J. V. A.
Shields, A. J, Dorn, J. E. Stevens and Pierpont G. Edwards had
charge of the celebration on the part of the cadets.

Conventions were held in Norwich at the commencement of
1841 and 1842; at this last convention Maj. Josiah Swett delivered
an address. In 1843 the convention was held July 3. Captain
Partridge presided and many officers of Vermont and New Hamp-
shire were in attendance.

On October 24, 1843, the Hon. Richard M. Johnson of Ken-
tucky, visited Norwich. The corps of cadets with several com-
panies of New Hampshire and Vermont militia escorted him from
Hanover to Norwich. A national salute was fired in his honor
by a squad of cadets under command of Prof. David Richardson.
We quote from the Spirit of the Age: "The cadets of the
University made a fine appearance and rendered essential aid
to the occasion for which they are entitled to the thanks of the
citizens." A public dinner was given him, at which several
speeches were made. He was the guest of President Ransom,
who accompanied him to Strafford, Chelsea and Montpelier.

Cfiptain Partridge was one of the first prominent educators

Online LibraryWilliam Arba EllisNorwich University, 1819-1911; her history, her graduates, her roll of honor (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 61)