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Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York

by John H. Selkreg, 1894; D. Mason & Co., Publisher

History of Cornell
Chapter XX.

Early in the history of the university, propositions were made for the establishment of professional schools. At the fourth meeting of the Board of Trustees, held in Ithaca, October 21, 1866, a communication was presented from certain prominent physicians in New York proposing the organization of a medical department of the university, to be located in that city. This application was referred to a committee of the trustees to examine and report This report was presented on the 13th of February, 1867. The committee decided that the establishment of a medical department in Ithaca was not at that time desirable, on account of the impossibility of combining theoretical and clinical instruction successfully. The committee were, however, of the opinion that a medical school should be established in connection with the university, and that its location should be in the city of New York. As the gentlemen who presented this application were members of the homeopathic school, the question of the recognition of a body differing in theory from the regular school of medical science had to be considered. It was recognized that in the essential features, the science of medicine as taught in the two schools was alike, viz., in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, surgery, toxicology and materia medica, but that in the department of therapeutics there was an essential difference. In view of the fact that schools of medicine representing the established practice were attached to several existing colleges, the committee felt that the science of medicine as represented by the homepathic school should receive favorable consideration. It was proposed, therefore, that the board should accept the proposition of the physicians who had presented the memorial, and that details of the arrangement of the proposed school should be referred to a committee, who should be empowered to confer with the applicants upon the following basis: First, that the professors of the medical school should be appointed by the trustees on the recommendation and nomination of the New York State Homeopathic Medical Society, it being understood that the trustees would not withhold their assent from any nomination upon any other grounds than want of high professional standing, or of personal character in the nominee. The university reserved the right, in order to avoid any charge of partiality to either school, to appoint in the proposed school professors of allopathic and eclectic therapeutics, whenever they should think proper to do so, who should enjoy all privileges of the regular professor of therapeutics, or to establish a department under the charge of allopathic professors. Students graduating should receive their degree without any reference to the school in which they desired to practice. The university reserved the right to impart instruction in medicine at Ithaca to any degree, and in any manner thought advisable, and the university was not to be responsible for the financial support of the proposed school.

At the same meeting, a memorial was presented from a committee of the Congregational State Association, consisting of the Rev. Drs. J. DOUGLAS and Joseph THOMPSON, of New York, and W. A. BUDINGTON, of Brooklyn, acting in behalf of the association, which asked the board to approve a plan to endow certain professorships, which could not be deemed denominational. It was proposed to establish a theological seminary in connection with the university. Halls or colleges for theological study have been established in connection with the university of Oxford, like Mansfield College and with Harvard University, which, in addition to the Harvard Divinity School, containing professorships filled by eminent scholars of various denominations, has, in its immediate vicinity, the Episcopal Theological School, to whose students certain privileges of attendance at lectures and in the use of the university library are extended. The attitude of the governing boards at Harvard has always been favorable to the establishment of such schools in its vicinity. These separate colleges constitute together one center of learning. President ELIOT has sought with wise liberality to enlarge the Harvard Divinity School, so that it shall represent in its broadest sense the scientific study of Oriental languages, ecclesiastical history and theology. The report of the committee of the trustees of Cornell University, held that it would be inexpedient to furnish facilities for the use of lecture rooms, or dormitory accommodations for any such school. They were willing that such a seminary should be established in Ithaca, and would welcome similar institutions by other denominations. They placed on record the statement that, "we value any institution which will bring earnest men of scholarship and culture near to the university. They, therefore, recommend that university statutes be passed, admitting theological students to the lecture rooms and libraries on the same easy terms required of resident graduates of the university itself; and secondly, that every privilege of the university regarding lectures or library be extended to the faculty of any theological institution established in Ithaca, which is extended to the faculty of the university." Difficulties seem to have arisen in the execution of both these plans. In March, 1873, an additional effort was made by the physicians in New York to secure the establishment of a medical school in that city, constituting a part of this university It was believed by those who presented the memorial, that a sufficient sum would be immediately available, to erect a building and supply its equipment, and also that a faculty of great eminence could be at once secured. This application, as presented, does not seem to have been considered favorably. The school, as proposed, was to contain lecturers representing various theories, or views of medical science. It was believed that, the inability of the university to provide certain important chairs of instruction, made it inexpedient to attempt to found a medical school at a distance, whose administration would necessarily present difficulties, and possibly complications. A third effort to establish a medical department in connection with the university was made in 1887, when at the meeting of the trustees of June 6, a committee was appointed to consider the desirability of taking preliminary measures for the establishment of a medical department, either independently, or by arrangement with some existing institution. Certain propositions had been presented by those interested in the Graduate School of Medicine in New York, looking to its incorporation as a part of the university. The question of constituting Bellevue Medical College a part of the university was agitated; and a committee appointed to consider the subject, February 23, 1892. No final agreement was reached in the case of either of these applications. For many years there has existed in connection with this university, what has been termed a medical preparatory course, which, under the efficient direction of Dr. WILDER, imparted valuable instruction in comparative and human anatomy and pbysiology, also in microscopy and biology. Many graduates of this school have attained the highest eminence in their profession. In a single year four pupils received the highest recognition of scholarship, upon graduating from as many different medical schools. The subject of establishing a medical school in connection with the university in Ithaca has appealed strongly to the trustees. They have recognized the necessity of securing in advance an adequate endowment for its support, as well as the establishment of hospitals or wards in the vicinity of the university, which should afford the necessary clinical and hospital practice. The establishment of such a school must be regarded as an event of a not remote future.

On the 7th of March, 1887, the trustees decided to establish a school of pharmacy, to be open for the admission of students at the beginning of the fall term of that year. It was proposed to found a course of study of equal rank in point of thoroughness and scientific character with the courses in the university, and that the training given should be adequate to prepare students for positions of responsibility as dispensing or manufacturing chemists. The law establishing a State Board of Pharmacy, which should license all druggists, was designed to advance the standing of that profession, and it was thought that students in large numbers would be induced to prepare themselves for pharmaceutical chemists, for which the existing courses in chemistry, botany and microscopical technology, offered special inducements. Mr. William Angell VIALL was appointed instructor, and later assistant professor of practical pharmacy and lecturer on materia medica. The hopes of attracting large numbers of students to the school were not realized, and the department was formally abolished on September 24, 1890.


Attention was also early called to the expediency of establishing a law department in connection with the university. The courses in history and political science, in constitutional and international law, and in the history of institutions already furnished instruction in departments closely related to the curriculum of a law school. Many students who contemplated professional studies desired the facilities for pursuing them here. Articles appeared in the college press in favor of such an institution long before its realization seemed possible, President ADAMS, in his first report, recommended to the trustees for favorable consideration, the establishment of a law department to be opened in the autumn of 1887. At the meeting of the trustees, held November 20, 1885, a committee was appointed to consider and report on the practicability and expediency of the early establishment of a law department in this university, such report to include the whole subject of the plan of organization. This committee consisted of President ADAMS, Messrs. BOARDMAN, GLUCK, WILLIAMS and WOODFORD. This committee presented a careful report upon the questions involved in the establishment of such a school, at the meeting of the trustees held June 16, 1886, which report was accepted and its recommendation unanimously adopted. The importance of a thorough legal training was considered, and it was held that the provision for legal education already existing was not ample, and that in many cases, where schools existed, they were private enterprises without endowment, in which instruction was often not of that character which was demanded by the present state of legal science. It was held that the University was favorably situated for a law school, and that such a school might be established in accordance with the letter and spirit of the charter. The original Land Grant Act stated that its purpose was to "promote the liberal and practical education"of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life. The proper equipment, and the additional demands which would be made upon the university in founding a law school, were considered and its establishment was at once recommended. The plan of the proposed law school was issued and the beginning of the school was fixed for September 23, 1887. The Honorable Douglass BOARDMAN, whose extended experience upon the bench made his counsel of great value, was elected dean, and Professor Harry B. HUTCHINS of the Law School of Michigan University, secretary, upon whom the executive administration of the school has devolved. As a preliminary step in the equipment of the school, the university purchased, the valuable law library of Mr. Merritt KING, consisting of 4,061 volumes. The opening of the school justified at once the confident hopes of its founders. The first year there were fifty five students; in two years the numbers reached 105, and at the present time there are about 200 students. An important addition to the library of the school was made by the gift of the Moak law library which was presented to the university for the use of the school, as a memorial of its first dean, Judge Douglass BOARDMAN, by his widow, Mrs. A. M. BOARDMAN, and his daughter, Mrs. Ellen D. WILLIAMS. In presenting this library to the university, the Honorable Francis M. FINCH stated: "Even beyond the value of the gift, is the grace of it, for it came with the cheerful and happy freedom which waited for none to persuade, and sought only the assurance that the gift was worthy of the purpose from which it sprang. It is hardly possible to overestimate its value I know of but one or two collections in the land which are as perfect and complete. Beginning back in the shadows of the early centuries when Bracton, whose true name is in dispute, and Fleta, by an author unknown, set growing in the bark and sap of the Saxon branches innumerable grafts from the older Roman law, and with the quaint and curious year-books couched in their barbarous Latin and primitive Norman French, the series of English reports comes down without a break to the present day. The State Trials beginning in 1163 with the arraignment of Becket, that Archbishop of Canterbury who ventured to question the religious supremacy of a not over-religious king, and passing on to their tragic and terrible stories of the blood through which liberty and justice waded to the shores of a higher civilization, the chancery volumes along the lines of which one can trace the growing strength and courage with which equity tempered the severities of the law, the colonial reports reflecting the thoughts of the motherland, but coloring all with the necessities of climate and situation, and changes born of Canadian snows, the Australian bush and the customs of many islands, all these are here in orderly rank and array and none are wanting at the call of the muster roll; and with them are massed the reports of that newer and younger life in our own land, gathered from every State in the Union omitting none, not one. . . And with all these which garner up the whole legal knowledge and wisdom of the English speaking race, are commentaries and text books without number, discussing all phases of jurisprudence and all forms of adjudication, so that it may be truthfully said of the gift which these ladies make to you to-day, that no authority will ever be cited, no case will ever be referred to, no existing doctrine will ever be asserted, which cannot at once be verified in the library thus added to your treasures."

The Law School was first accommodated in the rooms on the fourth floor of Morrill Hall, but aside from the inconvenience and the difficulty of access to these rooms, they only partially met the needs of the school. In February, 1891, the trustees made a liberal appropriation for the erection of a special building for the school, which was completed in the summer of 1892. It is a large three-story structure of Cleveland stone, having the general architectural features of the Sage Library, and is practically fire-proof. On the first floor are three large lecture rooms and the necessary halls and cloak rooms. Seminary rooms and the offices of the several resident professors occupy the second floor, while the third is devoted to library purposes Here are three large, well lighted and elegantly furnished library rooms, which have accommodations for thirty thousand volumes, and for three hundred readers. The building is heated by steam and lighted by electricity, and is thoroughly well ventilated. The erection and furnishing of the building, cost $110,000. At a meeting of the trustees held on September 14, 1892, it was resolved unanimously that, in view of the long and valuable services of the late Judge Douglass BOARDMAN as a member of their body, and of his official connection with the School of Law, the home of the school should be designated as Boardman Hall. The library of the school contains 23,000 volumes The building was first occupied for the purposes of a school at the opening of the fall term of 1892, and was formally dedicated and named on the 14th of February, 1893, with addresses by the Hon. Francis M. Finch, who presented the Moak Law Library in behalf of the donors, and President SCHURMAN accepting the gift, and by the Hon. Chas. ANDREWS, chief judge of New York Court of Appeals. The able address by Judge ANDREWS traced the history of legal study in the formation of the Constitution of the United States and of the separate States, and described the increasing demands which the future would make in settling problems which affect the rights of the people, and social order.

The faculty of the Law School first appointed, consisted of the Hon Douglass BOARDMAN, dean. Judge BOARDMAN had served on the Board of Trustees, first as alumni trustee from 1875-1885, and from that date as a regular trustee, elected by the board. He had served on the bench of the Supreme Court from 1866-1881, a portion of the time as a member of the General Term, when he voluntarily retired, bearing with him the respect of his colleagues on the bench and the members of the bar. He was an upright and industrious judge, who, while possessing positive views, was courteous and tolerant, while maintaining the dignity of his judicial office. The associate dean of the school, Professor Harry B. HUTCHINS, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and afterward Jay professor of law in that institution. He lectures on American constitutional law, the law of real property, common law pleading and practice, equity-jurisprudence and equity-pleading and procedure.

The Hon. Charles A. COLLIN graduated at Yale in 1866, and was later city attorney in Elmira. For several years Professor COLLIN has been one of the commissioners on statutory revision, where his work has been recognized as of the highest value to the State, and also legal adviser of the governor to report upon the constitutional and legal character of bills submitted for approval. He has also devoted much attention to sociology and to the amelioration of the condition of the dependent and criminal classes. He lectures in the Law School upon elementary law, criminal law and procedure, civil procedure under the codes, private and municipal corporations, and partnership.

Professor Francis M. BURDICK, now of the Columbia Law School, came from Hamilton College, where he held a similar position. His instruction embraced elementary law, contracts including agency, evidence, bailments, mercantile law including bills, partnership, sales, suretyship, and Roman law. Upon Professor BURDICK's resignation in 1891, his position was filled with brilliant ability by Professor Charles E. HUGHES, who resigned after two years' service, and was succeeded by Professor Ernest Wilson HUFFCUT, a graduate of the university in the class of 1884, and at the Law School in 1888, who had filled the position; of instructor in English, from 1885-88, and had later, after a period of practice at the bar, held a professorship of law in the University of Indiana, and in the Law School of the Northwestern University in Chicago. Professor HUFFCUT's instruction embraces the subjects formerly taught by Professor BURDICK, with the exception of elementary law, bailments and partnership.

William A. FINCH, esq., of the class of 1880, has been assistant-professor (1891-2) and later associate professor in the Law School. He lectures upon wills and administration; evidence, chattel mortgages, domestic relations, bailments and insurance. Professor Herbert TUTTLE, L.H.D., lectures upon English constitutional history (1887-94), and Professor Moses Coit TYLER, LL.D., has lectured upon American constitutional history since the opening of the school.

Notable lectures before the school have been delivered by the Hon. Francis M. FINCH, LL.D., of the Court of Appeals, on the Statute of Frauds and Fraudulent Conveyances; by the Hon. Daniel H. CHAMBERLAIN on Constitutional Law; by the Hon. Alfred C. COXE of the United States District Court on Admirality; by the Hon. Orlow W. CHAPMAN on the Law of Life Insurance; by the Hon. Goodwin BROWN on the Law of Extradition, and others.

History of Cornell - Chapter XXI

Carl Hommel donated this material and transcribed into digital format.
Thank you Carl Hommel.

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