State Seminary of Indiana

State Seminary of IndianaState Seminary of Indiana

Location: 100 W. 2nd St., Bloomington, IN 47403 (Monroe County, Indiana)

Installed 2009 Indiana Historical Bureau, City of Bloomington, and Indiana University
[Marker was ordered and delivered 2009; it was actually installed in 2011. See Admin file.]

ID#: 53.2011.1

Text

Congress, asserting that education was necessary for representative government, granted Indiana one township of land to support a seminary as part of its admission to statehood in 1816.1 In 1820, Governor Jonathan Jennings approved the act creating the State Seminary.2 When classes first began here April 4, 1825,3 only Ancient Greek and Latin were taught.4

Legislation recreated the Seminary as Indiana College (1828)5 and Indiana University (1838)6 to teach “useful arts and sciences” and attract more students. 7 After a fire in 1883,8 University Trustees purchased land northeast of here at Dunn’s Woods9 for a new campus that would allow for development and enlargement of the University;10 classes began there in 1885.11

Annotations

[1] In 1787, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance. The Northwest Ordinance applied to land located northwest of the Ohio River (this included land that became Indiana). Article Three marked Congress’ first attempt to encourage education in this territory. It stated, “Religion, Morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” “Northwest Ordinance, 1787,” in Hubert H. Hawkins, Indiana’s Road to Statehood: A Documentary Record (Indianapolis, 1969), 17-23 (B070294).

Indiana’s Memorial for Statehood, approved by the Indiana Territorial Assembly on December 11, 1815, explained that they requested Congress reserve an entire township “for the support of a college” because “the promotion of useful Knowledge, is the best Guarantee to our civil institutions.” “Memorial for Statehood, 1815,” in Hubert H. Hawkins, Indiana’s Road to Statehood: A Documentary Record (Indianapolis, 1969), 60-63 (070294).

Congress acted favorably toward Indiana’s statehood petition. Signed by President James Madison on April 19, 1816, the law permitted the Indiana Territory to form a constitution and state government. Section Six of the Enabling Act gave the Indiana Territory the ability to accept one entire township to “be reserved for the use of a seminary of learning . . . to be appropriated solely to the use of such seminary by the said legislature” and allowed the President of the United States to designate the township to be used. “The Enabling Act, 1816,” in Hubert H. Hawkins, Indiana’s Road to Statehood: A Documentary Record (Indianapolis, 1969), 64-67 (070294).

The men that constituted Indiana’s Constitutional Convention incorporated Congress’ offer of a reserved township for a seminary into Article IX, Section 2 of the 1816 Indiana Constitution. This section states “it shall be the duty of the General assembly [sic], as soon as circumstances will permit, to provide, by law, for a general system of education, ascending in a regular gradation from township schools to a state university, wherein tuition shall be gratis, and equally open to all.” “Indiana’s First Constitution, 1816,” in Hubert H. Hawkins, Indiana’s Road to Statehood: A Documentary Record (Indianapolis, 1969), 70-94 (070294).

On July 15, 1816, United States Surveyor General Josiah Meigs wrote to John Badollet and Nathan Ewing of the Indiana Land Office that President James Madison approved the designation of township eight, range one west, Perry Township in then Orange County (made part of newly created Monroe County in 1818) as the location for the new seminary. Clarence Edwin Carter, ed., The Territorial Papers of the United States: Vol. 8 The Territory of Indiana 1810-1816 (Washington, D.C., 1939), 437 (B070491).

The following sources state that President Madison approved of the location on July 10, 1816. Boone, A History of Education in Indiana, 353 (B070180); James Albert Woodburn, History of Indiana University, Volume 1 1820-1902 (Bloomington, 1940), 4 (070200); and Logan Esarey, ed., Governors Messages and Letters: Messages and Papers of Jonathan Jennings, Ratliff Boon, and William Hendricks Vol. 3, 1816-1825 (Indianapolis, 1924), 78 (B070293).

[2] Laws of Indiana , 1819, 82-83 (B071196) and An Act to Establish a State Seminary and for Other Purposes, Approved January 20, 1820, Indiana State Archives, Box G [F?], Paper 65 (B070295).

The new law designated six trustees for the institution and required the trustees to meet in Bloomington on the first Monday of June 1820 to select the best location for the State Seminary in the reserved township. The law also permitted the trustees to sell part of the reserved land to raise funds to construct buildings.

The General Assembly did not establish the school sooner because Indiana’s first constitution stipulated that the land in the reserved seminary township could not be sold before 1820. “Indiana’s First Constitution, 1816,” in Hubert H. Hawkins, Indiana’s Road to Statehood: A Documentary Record (Indianapolis, 1969), 70-94 (070294).

[3] Although several other dates have been used over the years, Historical Bureau research has confirmed April 4, 1825 (with primary source evidence) as the first day classes were held at the school. See especially, the March 30, 1826 notice issued by the school’s Board of Trustees indicating that May 1, 1826 was the second year of the institution. “NOTICE,” Indiana Gazette (Bloomington), April 1, 1826 (B071077). This source confirms the 1825 date was the State Seminary’s first year.

Please see the Indiana Historical Bureau’s report, “The Complex History of the Date Classes Began at the State Seminary of Indiana,” for an overview of the controversy surrounding the date classes began at the school and a complete summary of the evidence for April 4, 1825.

[4] “State Seminary of Indiana Notice,” The Indiana Gazette, January 8, 1825 (B070356). The list of books required for the Seminary were: Ross’s Latin Grammar, Colloquies of Corderius, Selectae e Veteri, Selectae e Profanis, Caesar, Virgil, Valpy’s Grammar, Testament, and Graeca minora.

The school’s first teacher, Baynard Rush Hall, graduated from Union College in New York (1820) and the Theological Seminary at Princeton (1823). Please see the Indiana Historical Bureau’s report, “The Complex History of the Date Classes Began at the State Seminary of Indiana,” for more information about Hall.

[5] Laws of Indiana , 1827-28, 115-19 (B071197) and An Act to Establish a College in the State of Indiana, Approved January 24, 1828, Indiana State Archives, Box K, Paper 200 (B070299).

Perhaps the most important provision in the act creating Indiana College allowed the Board of Trustees to elect a president to help the school run efficiently. The Board of Trustees elected Andrew Wylie president. Wylie, at the time of his election, was president of Washington College in Pennsylvania. Despite an article printed in the Indiana Journal which reported Wylie’s election in May 1828, the Board did not officially elect Wylie until October. Indiana Journal, May 22, 1828, in Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer, Volume 4, Historical Documents Since 1816 (Bloomington, 1977), 20-21 (B070296).

[6] Laws of Indiana , 1837-38, 294-98 (B071198) and An Act to Establish a University in the State of Indiana, Approved February 15, 1838, Indiana State Archives, Box W, Paper 124 (B070300).

[7] The University charter allowed the Board of Trustees to expand the topics offered at the institution. Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, French, English Literature, and Law were added to what used to be Indiana College’s core curriculum of classical languages and mathematics. To accommodate the expanded curriculum and expected enrollment increases, the Board of Trustees commissioned new building construction to hold the Chemistry and Philosophical lectures and hired a librarian to tend to the ever-increasing library. “Minutes of the Board of Trustee of Indiana University,” September 24, 1838-September 27, 1838, in Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer, Volume 4, Historical Documents Since 1816 (Bloomington, 1977), 70-81 (B070296).

[8] During a storm, lightning struck the Science Building, which the University dedicated in 1873. “Fire! Again Visits Our City,” Bloomington Telephone, July 14, 1883 (070289).

The resulting fire caused massive losses for the University. Along with the building’s destruction, the items destroyed included: the Owen Cabinet (a collection of 85,000 fossil and mineral specimens), and the Zoological Cabinet, which many newspaper reports claimed was the largest private collection of fish in the world. “A Heavy Loss to Science,” New York Times, July 14, 1883 (B070308).

The fire also destroyed the University Library, including 13,000 volumes and attendance, class, and graduation records. “Collected From the Ashes!” Bloomington Telephone, July 21, 1883 (B070290).

[9] On November 5, 1885, the Trustees of Indiana University purchased University Park, also known as Dunn’s Woods, from the Dunn family for $6,000; the sale took effect retroactively to February 4, 1884. “University Park” (Deed), in Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer, Volume 4, Historical Documents Since 1816 (Bloomington, 1977), 256-57 (B070296).

[10] After the fire, the Board met on August 29, 1883 and resolved to move Indiana University’s campus to a new location because the “present campus is wholly inadequate and unsuitable for the proper development and enlargement of the University.” The new location, in Dunn’s Woods, had more area, allowing for the school to expand as needed. “Board Minutes,” 1883-1897, 29-30 in Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer, Volume 4, Historical Documents Since 1816 (Bloomington, 1977), 246-47 (B070296).

[11] By November 1884, the buildings located on the campus in Dunn’s Woods were almost complete; by October 1885, the university moved from the old campus to the new. Indiana Student, October 1885, 12-16 (B071158) and Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer, Volume 1, The Early Years (Bloomington, 1970), 140-41 (B070284).