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A Historical Sketch of Rutgers University

From "Seminary of Learning" to Public Research University:
A Historical Sketch of Rutgers University*
by Thomas J. Frusciano, University Archivist

Section 1


Stained-glass window in Kirkpatrick Chapel depicting the signing of the Queen's College charter, 1766.


Introduction

During 2006, Rutgers University celebrated several milestones - the 240th anniversary of its founding as Queen's College on November 10, 1766, the 50th anniversary of becoming the State University of New Jersey in August 1956, and the 50th anniversary of the opening of Alexander Library. Rutgers is a large and significant institution of public higher education in the United States. Some statistics are telling: Rutgers educates over 50,000 students on its Newark, Camden and New Brunswick/Piscataway campuses. There are more than 2,600 full-time faculty members. Rutgers maintains 701 buildings and 5,968 acres of land throughout the State of New Jersey. In 2006, the university conferred a total of 11,559 degrees. $292 million in federal, state, university, and private sources were awarded to Rutgers' undergraduate students, while more than $50 million in grants, scholarships, and awards were given to our graduate students. There are 335,667 living alumni of Rutgers, with 201,547 residing in New Jersey. But when we turn back to the 1766, we find a very different institution.


The Founding of Queen's College

In his Rutgers, A Bicentennial History, Professor Richard P. McCormick called Queen's College a "child of controversy." Indeed, the founding of the eighth college in the American colonies resulted from controversy, specifically within the Dutch Reformed Church, the denominational parent of Rutgers University. The establishment of Queen's College also reflected broader social, political, religious, and cultural issues of the eighteenth century. Religious upheaval, colonial resistance, and the forming of a new nation all played a significant role in defining the institution.

The events leading to Queen's College began with the Great Awakening, a period of tremendous religious and emotional upheaval that swept through the British colonies in the 1730s, transformed the religious landscape, and loosened the conventional structures of colonial society.


Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen (1691-1747), Dutch Reformed minister and leader of the revivals during the Great Awakening.

The Awakening, which included the highly "sensational" tours of the English evangelist, George Whitefield in 1739, brought about not only enthusiasm and religious resurgence, but also bitter conflict within the Protestant churches in the colonies, particularly within the Dutch Reformed Church. Two decades before Whitefield had arrived in the colonies, the doctrines that he promoted had been heralded throughout the Province of New Jersey by the Rev. Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen. A graduate of the University of Halle, "the center of a strong pietistic and evangelical movement in European Protestantism," according to one historian, Frelinghuysen had arrived in the Raritan Valley from the Netherlands in 1720 to take charge of the churches in Raritan, New Brunswick, and Six Mile Run (Franklin Park). He soon became one of the leading figures in the revivals, along with Presbyterian minister Gilbert Tennent, and urged Dutch ministers to support the movement to gain independence from the Classis of Amsterdam, the governing body of the Dutch Reformed Church. Frelinghuysen's zeal, energy, preaching style, as well as his inclination to simply ignore church doctrine, served as the catalyst for like-minded Dutch ministers in the colonies to challenge the authority of Europe, while alarming members of the established churches in New York City, and causing them to question his beliefs and approaches. Following Frelinghuysen's death in 1747 his two sons, Theodore and John, continued the struggle, the former by preaching from his parish in Albany, and the latter by educating those students sympathetic to the revivalistic brand of Calvinism that the elder Frelinghuysen so diligently professed. John Frelinghuysen was considered by many in the Dutch church to be a prophet of theological education. From his father's former parishes at Raritan, Millstone, and North Branch, Frelinghuysen, together with his wife, the former Dinah Van Bergh, set apart a room within their home that served as an academy and theological seminary for the training of Dutch Reformed ministers, a forerunner to Queen's College and the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Frelinghuysen served as a preceptor to Jacob Hardenbergh, soon to become the first President of Queen's College, who took over as pastor of the churches in Raritan in 1754, following the death of John Frelinghuysen at the young age of twenty-seven. Hardenbergh assumed an active role in the movement to establish a Dutch college, and married Dinah Van Bergh Frelinghuysen in 1756.

The immediate concern to the revivalist ministers in the Dutch Church was the lack of authority within the American churches to ordain and educate ministers in the colonies. The proliferation of churches resulting from the revivals created a severe shortage of ministers available to preach the gospel. There were, for example, only twenty ministers in the 1740s to direct the religious activities of the growing Dutch population in the American colonies, and by 1771, when Queen's College commenced instruction, only forty-one were available and the number of churches had expanded to one hundred. Those who aspired to the pulpit were required to embark on a long, arduous, expensive, and often dangerous journey to Amsterdam for their training and ordination.

There had been growing agitation within the Dutch Reformed churches in the colonies for some kind of assembly with at least limited powers to educate and ordain ministers for the pulpit. The Classis of Amsterdam vacillated on the question for a number of years, but in 1747 reluctantly gave its approval for the formation of such a body, which was called a "coetus." Though the coetus hoped to gain some autonomy in ecclesiastical affairs, the Classis severely limited its authority to the examination and ordination of ministers under special circumstances; ultimate authority in colonial church government remained in the Netherlands. Discontent among members of the coetus over these restrictions led to a movement to establish an American classis, with the power to ordain ministers for the Dutch churches. With such authority, the classis would also attempt to establish a professorship of theology, or even more ambitiously, create a distinct Dutch academy in the provinces.

Severe opposition to the formation of an American classis came from established members of the Dutch Reformed churches in New York City, who contested any attempt to break formal ties with foreign authority, and who feared the decline of Dutch tradition in the church and in the colonies, especially the use of the Dutch language. Equally alarming to these ministers was the thought that a local classis could intrude into their own affairs much more efficiently than one which governed from Amsterdam. They formally rejected the proposal for a classis in a meeting in October 1754, citing their opposition to the "New Side" convictions of Theodore Frelinghuysen, son of the revivalist and now leader of the proclassis forces. The ensuing controversy between the two factions in the church, similar to that which was occurring among the Presbyterians, ultimately led to the founding of a Dutch college in New Jersey.


The Rev. Johannes Ritzema, Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in New York City and leader of the Conferentie faction of the church that opposed separation from Holland.

Dissension heightened between the coetus and the New York ministers in 1755 over a petition to appoint a Dutch professor of divinity in King's College (Columbia), which had received its charter from the New York State Legislature one year earlier. Initially opposed to any sectarian alliance of King's with the ever-powerful Anglican Church, members of the Dutch churches in New York suddenly shifted their allegiance to support the proposal and to voice their opposition to creating an American classis. They formed an opposing group to the coetus known as a "conferentie." The principal adversary was the Reverend Johannes Ritzema, pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in New York City and trustee of King's College, who made it known that he desired the professorship. Such a calculated move by Ritzema alarmed the coetus and prompted Frelinghuysen to leave his pulpit in Albany to rally the ministers and congregations throughout the Hudson Valley into action.

Convening in New York City in May 1755, the coetus formulated plans to appeal to the Synod of Holland in favor of forming an American classis "as well as an Academy, where our youth, who are devoted to study, may receive instruction." It selected Frelinghuysen to present a petition, which requested on behalf of the pastors and elders of the Dutch churches in New York and New Jersey:

. . . to plant a university or seminary for young men destined for study in the learned languages and liberal arts, and who are to be instructed in the philosophical sciences; also that it may be a school of the prophets in which children of God may be prepared to enter upon the sacred ministerial office in the church of God.

Frelinghuysen embarked from New York City to the Netherlands in October 1759, stayed for two years, and obtained promises of financial support, but failed in his mission. It could not have been unexpected. Frelinghuysen had come before the Classis as a representative of a church divided against itself. Letters from Ritzema and other members of the conferentie to the Amsterdam classis had counseled against any formal Dutch institution on American soil. There was undoubtedly a concern over where the money would come from to support such an institution; surely Holland could not look favorably upon providing such assistance to a schismatic faction of a distant provincial church. Rebuffed by the Classis of Amsterdam, Frelinghuysen set sail for the colonies in 1761; as his vessel approached New York Harbor, he mysteriously perished. It was left to others in the church to carry on his vision of a Dutch college.

By this time Jacob Hardenbergh had established himself as a formidable coetus leader and a strong advocate for establishing a Dutch college in the colonies. In 1763, he traveled to Europe to renew the cause for independence before the Amsterdam Classis. Rejected by the Classis, Hardenbergh decided to collect the funds that had been promised to Frelinghuysen, thereby further antagonizing the authorities in Amsterdam. Hardenbergh informed the Classis of efforts in the colonies to appeal to King George III of England for a charter to establish a Dutch academy. Previous requests to the Royal Governors of New Jersey had failed, but on November 10, 1766, William Franklin, Provincial Governor of New Jersey and the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin, granted a charter for Queen's College, named in honor of Charlotte, the Queen Consort.


William Franklin, Royal Governor of New Jersey (left), who signed the charter in 1766 that established Queen's College, named after Charlotte of Meckleberg, the Queen consort.

When the Trustees of Queen's College convened for its first meeting in Hackensack in May 1767, Jacob Hardenbergh took his place along side the other Dutch ministers who had been most active in the founding of the college. Launching the new institution proved to be as difficult as securing its charter for Hardenbergh and his fellow trustees. In fact, five years went by before Queen's College became operational. Several obstacles presented themselves from the outset. The original charter, a copy of which has never been found, presumably included features that were unacceptable to the trustees. Prominent among them was a distinction between residents and nonresidents of New Jersey that complicated the trustees' ability to raise funds for the college in the State of New York. After repeated efforts by the trustees to amend it, Governor Franklin issued a new charter on March 20, 1770. It is under this charter that Rutgers has since existed.

Though religious motives had been dominant in the founding of Queen's College, with the principal intention of educating future ministers in the Dutch Reformed Churches, the institution could not be considered in the strictest sense a denominational college. Its charter was a highly secular document that stated the purpose of the institution as "the Education of Youth in the Learned Languages and in the Liberal and Useful Arts and Sciences." As historian George P. Schmidt wrote, the term "useful" in the charter would assist the trustees a century later in arguing its case against Princeton for the Land Grant status of New Jersey. But nevertheless, the intent of educating youth for the ministry is explicitly stated in the charter for Queen's College.


Charter of Queen's College, 1770, issued by Governor Franklin following a request from the trustees to amend the original charter of 1766.

As established by the charters of 1766 and 1770, Queen's College was to be governed by a Board of Trustees that included the Provincial Governor, the President of the Council, the Chief Justice, and the Attorney General of New Jersey. Forty-one members were appointed to govern the college, of whom thirteen were ministers of the Dutch Church in New Jersey and New York. The initial Trustees of Queen's came predominately from the Provinces of New Jersey and New York, where the majority of the Dutch population had settled. They were to appoint a college president, who was to be a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. While the charter specified no ecclesiastical control over the college, provision was made for the appointment of a professor of divinity. One particularly interesting provision in the Queen's charter was directed at the Dutch population in the colonies:

It is hereby declared and expressly enjoined that there shall always be, residing at or near such college, at least one professor or teacher well versed in the English language . . . grammatically to instruct the students of said college in the knowledge of the English language.

With an adequate charter obtained and the governing board assembled, the trustees turned to selecting a site for Queen's College. The members were split on whether to locate the college in Hackensack or New Brunswick. Hardenbergh reminded his colleagues how Princeton had been chosen over New Brunswick for the College of New Jersey in 1752, when its representatives offered a more favorable grant of land and money, and he suggested that the same method be employed for Queen's College. The Reverend John H. Goetschius, an early advocate for the college, claimed that the academy he began in Hackensack served as an advantage for establishing the college in Bergen County. But the supporters of New Brunswick reminded their colleagues that the Reverend John Leydt of New Brunswick had joined with Hardenbergh and other members of that community to establish a Grammar school in 1768. Four years passed before the trustees met in May 1771 to present their subscriptions and choose the location for the college. A vote of ten to seven placed the college in New Brunswick.


The City of New Brunswick as it appeared in 1832. The trustees selected New Brunswick over Hackensack for the location of Queen's College.

By October 1771, the trustees were prepared to open Queen's College. They had acquired the "Sign of the Red Lion," a former tavern located on the corner of Albany and Neilson streets in New Brunswick, which housed the students of the college and the Grammar school, as well as Frederick Frelinghuysen, a Princeton graduate (Class of 1770), who was the unanimous chose of the trustees to serve as the first tutor. Frelinghuysen, grandson of the revivalist Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen and son of the theologian John Frelinghuysen, commenced instruction in November "to cultivate Piety, Learning and Liberty" among the first students of the college.


The "Sign of the Red Lion," located on the corner of Albany and Neilson streets in New Brunswick, served as the first home for the students and tutor Frederick Frelinghuysen (right) of the college.

The curriculum of Queen's College was modeled on that of Princeton and the other colonial colleges of the time. The plan of education, published in the Rules and Regulations for the Government of Queen's College (1787), informs us that prospective candidates for admission to the college were required to be able to "render into English, Caesar's Commentaries of the Gallick War, some of Cicero's Orations, the Eclogues of Virgil, . . . and at least one of the Gospels from the Greek." As for the curriculum, the students through their four years were required to master Latin and Greek, and become familiar with standard works in Antiquities, Logic, Geography, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Algebra, Elements of Geometry, Trigonometry, Navigation and Surveying, Natural and Moral Philosophy, and English Grammar, and composition.

Queen's College went for over a decade without a president. Governance remained in the hands of the trustees' committee that assisted Frelinghuysen with directing the business of the college until a suitable president could be secured. The college grew slowly over the next few years, and by 1774, when the first commencement was held, there were over twenty students enrolled. The Rev. Jacob Hardenbergh, dedicated proponent of Queen's College, presided over the memorable event and conferred on behalf of the trustees the first and only degree of the day to Matthew Leydt, son of founder Johannes Leydt of New Brunswick.

In his commencement address, Hardenbergh extolled "that men of Learning are of absolute necessity and extensive advantages to Society." Demonstrating the usefulness of higher learning in preparing men for public life as well as for the learned professions of law, medicine, and theology, he encouraged those who had assembled to continue their moral and financial support by sending their children to the college, reflecting on "how reasonable and necessary it is, that the Community should promote and Incourage the Seats of Learning. . . ." Hardenbergh, an ardent patriot who was to play a significant role in the American Revolution, took the occasion to remind his audience of the troubled times in which they lived. "O! may America never want Sons of consumate Wisdom, intrep'd Resolution and true piety to defend her civil and Religious liberties, and promote the public weal of the present and rising Generation!"


Text of Jacob Hardenbergh's commencement address, 1774.

As the Revolution approached, the students of Queen's College voiced with increased frequency their staunch patriotism. There were very few loyalists among the students and faculty and along with those at Princeton and Yale, Queen's students proved to be among the strongest supporters of resistance to Great Britain. Discussion on topics pertaining to the Revolution took place at Queen's College during meetings of the Athenian Society, a student literary society established shortly following the opening of the college. Recorded throughout the minutes of the society and referenced by Richard P. McCormick in his Rutgers, A Bicentennial History, are frequent references to speeches on liberty, "the future Glory of America," and readings on patriotic themes. "General Howe with the British Fleet arriving at Sandy Hook," read the entry for June 29, 1776. "All the Members of the Athenian Society who were able to bear Arms immediately marched to oppose the Enemy. Matters being thus in Confusion, July the 27th the College was suspended to the 21st of October." The following passage appeared at the end of the recorded deliberations for November 20, 1776:


Laws and Regulations of the Athenian Society, the first student organization at Queen's College.

The British Army under the command of General Howe having invaded the State of New Jersey, and penetrating as far as the City of New Brunswick on the first day of December in the Year 1776. The members of the Athenian Society still inspired by Patriotism, and zealous to promote the interests of America, leaving their peaceable abodes, again assisted their Countrymen to repel an Enemy endeavoring to establish a System of Tyranny and Oppression.

In 1777, during the British occupation of New Brunswick, Queen's College tutor John Taylor gathered a half-dozen students in an abandoned church at North Branch in Somerset County to resume their studies. Called into active service, Taylor was replaced by John Bogart, an alumnus of Queen's, who directed the college until Taylor returned in 1779. The college relocated to several locations in Millstone the following year, including the home of trustee Johannes Van Harlingen, and eventually was able to return to New Brunswick in the spring of 1781. It was also during the college's stay in North Branch and Millstone that the students also revived the Athenian Society.



The house of the Rev. Johannes Martinus Van Harlingen served as home to Queen's College during the British occupation of New Brunswick during the American Revolution.

Queen's College trustee Jacob Hardenbergh likewise became an outspoken proponent for American independence. According to one writer, he "took no pains to conceal his opinions," and frequently "stirred up the people through the pulpit ministrations of the sanctuary, arousing their enthusiasm and encouraging them in their determination to achieve their country's independence." He was a delegate to the last Provincial Congress, which met in Burlington in June 1776 to ratify the Declaration of Independence and frame the constitution of the State of New Jersey. He served several terms in the General Assembly, where his colleagues "testified their confidence in his political wisdom and patriotism by appointing him chairman of important committees and intrusting to him much of the business of legislation."

Hardenbergh was considered among "the warmest friends of liberty" throughout the Revolution. During the campaign in New Jersey in the winter of 1779, he befriended General Washington, whose army was encamped within the area of Hardenbergh's congregation. Washington's headquarters were located next door to his home and the two men visited frequently. His public zeal on behalf of the resistance against British rule provoked the enmity of his Tory neighbors and his life was often endangered. The British considered Hardenbergh a menace and offered a £100 reward for his capture, and he was obliged to sleep with a loaded musket at his bedside, and several times flee from his home, "fully armed, and to roam about the country, to prevent being seized by the Tories." On the evening of October 26, 1779, a company of the Queen's Rangers, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe, burned to the ground his church at Raritan during a raid through Somerset County. For several years his congregation gathered together for worship in a small dwelling nearby, patiently waiting the rebuilding of a new church edifice.


Simeon DeWitt, Queen's College class of 1776, served as General Washington's Chief Geographer during the Revolution.

Others associated with Queen's College played instrumental roles during the American Revolution. Frederick Frelinghuysen served as a major of the Minute Men, captain of artillery, and then colonel and aide-de-camp to General Philemon Dickinson in the Continental Army. John Taylor was a colonel in the militia. And Simeon DeWitt (Queen's College Class of 1776) became General Washington's chief geographer and conducted a survey of the road to Yorktown, where the final battle of the Revolution took place.

Queen's College survived the war but faced an uncertain future. The most pressing issue was the lack of leadership. The trustees of the college continued their search for a president with the assistance of a Dutch Church that was reunited in 1773. They initially extended invitations to the Reverend Dirck Romeyn, a prominent minister in Hackensack, and to the Reverend John Henry Livingston, who drafted the Articles of Union that united the two factions in the Dutch Reformed Church, and who also served as Professor of Theology in New York City. But both men declined the offer. In 1786, however, the trustees finally succeeded in securing the services of the faithful Jacob Hardenbergh, who accepted the presidency of the college and the pastorate of the church at New Brunswick.



Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, first president of Queen's College.

The college prospered during the next four years under Hardenbergh's leadership. With assistance from the trustees and ministers in the area of New Brunswick, he campaigned for additional subscriptions to meet expenses and paved the way for attracting funds to erect a new home for the college on George Street, which was fully occupied by 1791. Enrollment climbed slowly, and by 1789 the graduating class of the college included ten students. Hardenbergh reported to the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church that year on the institution's progress but also cautioned that more was needed in the way of financial support to continue its operation. The college had run a significant deficit and the salaries owed to both the President and the tutors had gone unpaid. But before the churches could come to the aid of the college, Hardenbergh succumbed to tuberculosis and died on October 30, 1790. Queen's College had lost its most loyal friend and supporter.

With the death of Hardenbergh, Queen's College fell upon difficult times. Its trusted tutor Frelinghuysen had departed, as did John Taylor, who assumed charge of an academy in Elizabeth; he subsequently joined with Dirck Romeyn to commence instruction in the Union Academy in Schenectady, soon to become Union College. Their place was taken by a succession of tutors over the next several years, including Charles Smith, a 1786 graduate of Princeton. The trustees searched for a successor to Hardenbergh, and once again forwarded the names of John Henry Livingston and Dirck Romeyn, both of who declined. In the interim, they appointed the Reverend William Linn to preside at the commencements of 1791 and 1792. A gifted preacher, whose eloquence was described as of "a most ardent and impassioned kind," Linn graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1772. He had been appointed a trustee of Queen's College in 1787, and assisted Hardenbergh with securing subscriptions for the new college building. When adequate funding for the college appeared remote, Linn was forced to explore ways of keeping the doors open of the fledgling institution and soon debated with his fellow trustees the merits of merging the college with that of the College of New Jersey at Princeton in 1793.

A "Plan of Union," formulated by a joint committee of trustees from Queen's and Princeton in September 1793, called for the elimination of collegiate instruction in New Brunswick, to be replaced by a preparatory academy. Princeton would maintain a liberal arts college. Under this new arrangement the trustees of both colleges would surrender their respective charters and request a new one, to be issued by the State Legislature of New Jersey. This charter would call for a consolidated board of trustees, to include the Governor of the State, the president of the college, and twenty-six members, selected evenly by the existing governing boards of Queen's and Princeton. Only inhabitants of New Jersey would be permitted to serve as trustees on the newly constituted governing body.

This bold proposal created a stir among the Queen's trustees and led to an acrimonious debate within their council. When the trustees of Queen's College convened in October 1793 to discuss the proposed merger with the College of New Jersey, they clearly recognized that the institution's fate was in their hands. Even before Princeton had an opportunity to discuss the merger, the Queen's College trustees narrowly defeated the proposal, as well as another plan that would have transformed the college into an academy and theological seminary, both maintaining close ties with the College of New Jersey. When the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church learned about the negotiations with Princeton, it showed its displeasure with the trustees by withholding any financial support it may have secured for the college through subscriptions. When that restriction was lifted, the Synod raised the possibility of moving the college closer to the large Dutch population in northern New Jersey and New York, a prospect that favored the union of the college with that of the Professorship of Theology, then languishing with John Henry Livingston in the Dutch Reformed Church in New York. The trustees, cognizant that the Synod's plan would mean an end to the college in New Brunswick, voted against such a move and, with meager resources and diminishing prospects for the future, closed the college following the commencement exercises of 1795.


Ira Conduct, President Pro tempre, who layed the cornerstone of "Old Queen's" in 1809.

Though collegiate instruction ceased, the trustees continued the grammar school, which flourished in the early years of the nineteenth century, under the watchful eye of the Rev. Ira Condict. A graduate of the College of New Jersey (1784), Condict received the appointment as professor of Moral Philosophy in Queen's College in 1794, and one year later had replaced Linn as President pro tempore. From his pulpit in the Dutch Reformed Church in New Brunswick, he also engineered the move of the Theological Seminary from New York to its present home in New Brunswick.

With suspension of collegiate work in Queen's College, he turned his attentions as interim president to assuring success in the Grammar School and originating plans for reopening the college. The Grammar school prospered but the college remained idle; the trustees did not meet until 1800 and then very infrequently thereafter until 1807, when interest in the college was renewed. The two men most responsible for this resurgence were Andrew Kirkpatrick, former teacher in the Grammar School and Chief Justice of New Jersey, and the Reverend Condict. Kirkpatrick urged the trustees to raise funds for the erection of a new college building. The trustees resolved to raise $12,000 to "complete the necessary buildings, re-establish the college and its courses of instruction, and raise it to that pitch of publick utility which the present view of things seems to encourage, and which the present situation in our country, and the church with which this institution is particularly connected seems to call for." Condict procured more than $6,000 for the building in 1807 from patrons in and around New Brunswick and continued his efforts during the early construction of the building. He also assisted trustee Abraham Blauvelt, chair of the building committee, with selecting a site and reviewing architectural plans. The college had acquired a gift of land from the family of James Parker, constituent of the Provincial Congress before the Revolution and a leading member of the Board of Proprietors. The property consisted of five-acres bounding Somerset and George Streets, the present site of the Queen's campus, where the architectural plans of John McComb were to be realized.


Old Queen's, designed by John McComb, and built on land acquired from James Parker.

With the revival of Queen's College in 1807, the trustees called the Reverend John Henry Livingston to the office of president and the professorship of theology. Reluctantly, he finally accepted in 1810, when the trustees assured him that he was only "to preside at commencement and authenticate diplomatic documents and take general superintendence of the institution as far as . . . [his] time and health [would] admit." He was promised a salary of $200 as president, and $1,400 plus $300 for house rent as professor of theology.


The Rev. John Henry Livington, president of Queen's College, 1810 to 1824.

At first Livingston had only five students when he began theological instruction in the college in 1810. The number rose to nine the following year. Between 1812 and 1816, he instructed thirty-two students, who went on to the church for their ordination and for ministry in its parishes. He was the sole professor in the seminary until 1815. His role as president of the college, as indicated from the outset, was nominal. The Reverend Condict, and following his death in 1811, by the Reverend John Schureman, Class of 1795, directed the academic and business affairs of the college.

By the end of Livingston's first year as president, Queen's College was faced with such severe financial problems that construction was halted on its new building. The trustees had expended $20,000 on the building but had raised only $12,000 through subscriptions. In January 1812, the trustees received approval by the New Jersey State Legislature to conduct a lottery to raise the needed funds. The venture proved to be extremely complicated and fell short of its intended goal. Depressed economic conditions during the War of 1812 had hindered the trustees' ability to secure adequate funds for the college. Even the salary promised to Livingston was not paid in full; for many years he received only half, and the trustees were forced to borrow money to meet their obligations. In 1815 the General Synod proposed that Queen's College be transformed into a theological college with three professors of divinity appointed by the Synod and one professor of mathematics and natural philosophy appointed by the College Trustees. The proposal was rejected, and by 1816 the trustees were forced to suspend collegiate instruction and turn over the building to the Synod for use of the theological seminary.

Queen's College remained dormant and the trustees lacked sufficient funds to make repairs to the building. Pressed to pay the debt incurred with the construction of Old Queen's, in 1823 the trustees agreed to sell the building and the lot to the Synod for $4,000. Free of debt, the trustees turned toward reviving the college and appointed a committee to confer with the Synod. Its members included Dr. Philip Milledoler, soon to become the next president of the college, Abraham Van Nest, and Jacob R. Hardenbergh, son of the former president who had graduated from Queen's College in 1788.