Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yale College

Collegiate School at Saybrook, Connecticut was founded on October 16, 1701 by ten Congregational ministers. It was moved from Saybrook to New Haven, Connecticut and renamed after Elihu Yale (1649-1721). Consequently, the ten Congregational ministers who founded Yale had been unhappy with the growing liberalism which had taken root in Harvard. The ten ministers donated forty books for the library of the new school.

The General Court passed an Act which authorized the creation of the new college. The Act declared that the new college be an institution where:

"Youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences who through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church and Civil State."

The first classes held in Collegiate School occurred in the residence of Reverend Abraham Pierson who became the school's first rector.

Elihu Yale was and American born English merchant who became governor of the East India Company. He donated his library and goods from his personal fortune which amounted to $2,800. This generous amount of $2,800 was the equivalent to the annual income of about fourteen doctors.

It was in 1745 that the school was moved from Saybrook to New Haven and renamed Yale.

On November 11, 1701, the trustees of the school stated the purpose for which the school was created.

"To plant, and under ye Divine blessing to propagate in this wilderness, the blessed Reformed, Protestant Religion, in ye purity of its Order, and Worship."

Specific rules were enumerated by the founders concerning the students at Yale College.

"Whereunto the Liberal, and Religious Education of Suitable youth is under ye blessing of God, a chief, & most probably expedient...we agree to...these Rules:
1. The said rector shall take Especial Care as of the moral Behavior of the Students at all Times so with industry to Instruct and Ground Them well in Theoretical Devinity...and [not to] allow them to be Instructed and Grounded in any other Systems of Synopses...To recite the Assemblies Catechism in Latin...[with] such Explanations as may be (through the Blessing of God) most Conducive to their Establishment in the Principles of the Christian protestant Religion.
2. That the said Rector shall Cause the Scriptures Daily...morning and evening to be read by the Students at the times of prayer in the School...Expound practical Theology...Repeat Sermons...studiously Indeavor[ing] in the Education of said students to promote the power and Purity of Religion and Best Edification and peace of these New England Churches.

Students who are enrolled at Yale were required to:

"All scholars shall live religious, godly and blameless lives according to the rules of God's Word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, the fountain of light and truth; and constantly attend upon all the duties of religion, both in public and secret."

Private prayer was required of all students.

The primary goal of the college as outlined by the founders of Yale was clearly set forth:

"Every student shall consider the main end of his study to wit to know God in Jesus Christ and answerably to lead a Godly, sober life."

The Yale Charter of 1745 clarified the intention and goal of the college.

"Which has received the favorable benefactions of many liberal [generous] and piously disposed persons, and under the blessing of Almighty God has trained up many worthy persons for the service of god in the state as well as in the church."

Around the year 1800, a faculty member Benjamin Silliman wrote:

"It would delight your heart to see how the trophies of the cross are multiplied in this institution. Yale College is a little temple: prayer and praise seem to be the delight of the greater part of the students."
Benjamin Silliman was a well-known science educator and editor. He served on the faculty at Yale during the era of President Timothy Dwight 1795-1817.

Tragically, the original high ideals of the founders of Yale have faded into obscurity.

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