Philander Chase



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Long letter in which Chase copies a letter from B. L. Wooly and Jeremiah Taylor that outlines conditions regarding the power of the Board of Trustees. Chase details his deep dissatisfaction with these conditions and asks for his brother's help and advice on what to do about it.




Ben Chase, B. L. Wooly, Jeremiah Taylor, Board of Trustees, subscriptions, Milnor professorship, St. George Church, Judge Chase, Mr. Smith, Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Tappan, Rev. Benjamin Allen, Harvard College


Gambier Jan. 27 1829

My dear Brother

I am quite gratified by hearing thro Col. Hen. of the arrival of our Dr. nephew Benn. Chase with his new Englh. wife at Boston. When I renewed my acquaintance with him in Old Engd. his manners were those of a finished gentleman & from him I red. the most signal favours as testimony of his affection for his long remembered uncle.

But I have something else to speak to you about.

Near the time of receiving your kind favour containing the above agreeable intelligence, these came to hand the following letters

“To Bishop Chase”

Right Rev. and Dr. Sir.

As a Committee of the Gentleman also have been engaged in filling up the required amount for the Milnor professorship in the Theol. Seminary in Kenyon College, we are directed to inform you that the sums subscribed here in addition to those before subscribed out of the City are now sufficient to complete the professorship.

We are also instructed to state that it is the unanimous expectation of the subscribers that the following conditions be agreed to on the part of yourself and the Trustees of Kenyon College.

  1. That the nomination of the incumben[t] of this professorship should not with th[e] Rev. Dr. Milnor during his life time and after his decease with such person or persons as he shall name in his last will and testament the appointment of sd. professor to be subject to the approbation of the Board of Trustees of the Theological seminary of the Prot. Episc. Church in the Diocese of Ohio Ohio [sic]; and in the event of no nomination being made by Dr. Milnor or by his successor or successors for the space of six months, said Board of Trustees to nominate and appoint.

  2. That trustees be chosen by the subscribers to take charge of the whole fund of ten thousand Dollars and to invest such part of the sum as may be in money or board and mortgage or other satisfactory security to be held by the Trustees.

It is proposed to proceed to the election of the trustees in the Lecture Room of St. George Church in this city on the first monday in April next at 4. oclock P.M. of which notice will be given, to all the subscribers out of the City that they may personally or by proxy take part in the Election.

You will oblige us by sending us as soon as convenient the determination of yourself & your Board in Relation to the above points.

We are your [Obedt.] frids.

& Brethren in Christ

B. L. Wooly

Jeremiah Taylor

P.S. Would it not be well for you to write Judge Chase & Merrs. Smith of Vira. and Atkinson of Rochester. Please let us hear from you soon that no delay may take place. We shall communicate with the above named Gentlemen on the subject

B. L. Wooly

J. H. Taylor


I must confess Dr. Brother that the above new conditions to an old old [sic] subscription somewhat surprised me. But being perplexed with care I could not write my reasons for disapproving of their plan. Accordingly I wrote only the following hasty reply

“Dr. Mr. Taylor:

I have been and am now so depressed with care that it is quite out of my power to ansr., as I cd. wish your letter as one of the of the [sic] Committee of the subscribers to the Milnor Professorship.

Be assured I shall give the subject most mature deliberation not, I trust unaccompanied with sincere prayer to God that he wd. not suffer any difference of opinion touching the expediency of having a Board of unincorporated Trustees to cause to fail a professorship which to all human view is so necessary to the interests of Vital Religion among so many in this western world.

I will write you more at large soon, I have time now only to say I am

Your faithful Friend & Sert.

in Christ P. Chase

23 Jan: 1829

Kenyon College

Now Dr. Brr. I shd. like much to have your good opinion in this subject. I must confess the aspect of the business does not altogether please me.

My reason for disapproving of these new conditions are

  1. They differ most [?] from the terms which formed the basis of the subscription.

  2. They propose to put the fund not into the hands of an incorporated body but of individual men, who however excellent they may be, will have no power to perpetuate their official character nor the principles by which they are guided. Suppose that A.B.&C. be chosen to keep the funds -- Bonds, Banks stocks &c. &c. as Trustees of the Milnor professorship To them i.e. in their names as Trustees all the writings are drawn. They sue, and are sued in their names as Trustees. Well: during their lives, this perhaps may be. But who is to do this when they shall have, in the course of nature, passed off the stage? There is no way in these new conditions, pointed out by which these Trustees are to perpetuate their right to possess and to manage these funds. And, further, if these were any way pointed out, it would form a singular instance, that of requiring two corporate bodies to one Institution by the Trustees of the Theol. Seminary -- & Trustees of the funds to support the Professors of the Theological Seminary. It would also form a singular example to be imitated by having a new set of of [sic] Trustees to every professorship and perhaps to every scholarship. An Institution with so many independent Board of Trustees duly incorporated would be rather singular.

But the pointing out of these latter singularities is unnecessary: for there is no mention, and I think no idea of having a separate act of incorporation to the proposed number of Trustees. The prospect does not as I take it, contemplate any thing more than the appointment of a Board of Trustees for the time being i.e. during the natural life of the Trustees.

Now How I ask you as Judge in law to give your opinion on this point. Mine tho’ far less enlightened is decidedly against such a condition.

By this time you may wish to know what are the precise words of the first subscription used by Mr. A. Tappan.

They are these

“Subscriptions for founding a Theological professorship in Kenyon College Ohio 1827

Jan: 31: Arthur Tappan One thousand Dollars on condition that the sum of Ten thousand Dollars is made up for the object from monies not yet obtained within one year from the date: & provided the nomination approval of the person to occupy the said professorship shall rest with the Rev. James Milnor, and the professorship be called by his name. To be paid as soon as the professor shall enter on the duties of his office.”

In this original subscription which is the basis of all subsequent ones till the sum was filled there is no mention made of a new set of unincorporated Trustees Nor did I ever hear of this new project till passing thro’ NYork on my way from Washington to Ohio. When it was mentioned to me I saw the subject in same light in which it now strikes me; and having expended my self accordingly I thought the project was voluntarily dropt: But it seems the notion has been revived, & as the letter states, obtained a unanimous consent of the City subscribers: & a meeting by proxy or otherwise of all the subscribers to take place on this first monday in April next precisely at 4 oclock in the Lecture room of St. Geo’s Church NYork:

By the bye you will have gone home a month before this time. What can be done!

Will you not interfere in this business in your good way of bringing the erroneous in judgement back to the path of rectitude? Pray do.

The Committee will, no doubt, (as they hint or rather promise in their letter) write to you on this subject. In reply to them pray speak your mind freely. And if that should be accordant with my mind on this subject how happy shall I be for I have little doubt you will bring things into a right way again.

One thing I wish you to remember: that I was always correct when I stated to you that the sum of 10,000 was filled before the time stipulated.

The Rev. Benjamin Allen of Philadelphia actually did collect $1,000 of others & subscribed another $1,000 in his own name before he went to Engd. This with my own & yours and Mr. Smiths and Mr. Atkinsons & Mr. Tappans and what was announced to me as already then subscribed in NYork made the sum full.

But Mr. Allen went away to Engd. and (his own Brother told me) carried the money collected $1,000 collected with him. He has since I am told become insane. Pooor [sic] man!

This misfortune of Mr. Allen’s ought not in my opinion to vacate the other subscriptions made on Mr. Tappan’s first subscription.

But to return ~ Should this matter, of requiring the subscribers to elect a new set of Trustees, succeed, I can evidently see, or think I see plainly, many evils will arise.

In the first place. What (it will be asked by an inquiring world) what promoted to such a measure? They will answer (as they actually did answer me making the same inquiry in NYork. They will ansr. an anxious desire to prevent the funds from being hereafter diverted to the support of an unorthodox professor: Instancing the funds in Harverd [sic] College. But this measure instead of preventing such an evil could be the probable occasion of it. As thing, now are such an evil is precluded, by the professors being obliged (if he be not made independent of our [The:] Trustees) to be of their opinion in matters of orthodoxy.

Our Trustees are elected every 3d. year and the Electors are by being members of the Convention considered correct in this respect if any are such. If otherwise they are covered [?] [?]: for none can sit in our Ohio Convention but those who receive the Sacrament in attestation of their faith. Here then, there is all the security that the nature of the case admits that the person whom they not only approve of when submitted to their choice by Dr. Milnor but continue [to] pay as Theological Professor, is or will be orthodox.

But this tho’ the ostensible reason for requiring this new condition of another set of Trustees was not, is not, (in my opinion) nor by the world will it be considered the true reasons: yet what these true reasons are I can not perhaps I ought not even conjecture. For when I set my mind afloat on the inquiry it finds, as the Raven of Noah, no resting place, no shore of peace or honour on which to find repose. A black [?] of dishonourable surmises surrounds the very fact of requiring such a Board of New Trustees. And where is the cause of such distrust? Have not wise great and good men in both Countries east as well as West of the Atlantic been content with the faithfulness manifested in the whole transaction of Kenyon College? Have any in the management of its funds displayed a want of ability wisdom [economy] or honesty?

Take any scrutiny for the faithful fulfillment of the trust committed to us but spare us the humiliating reflection that at this stage of the business we are considered so far incapable of managing our own funds as to recognize a Board of New Trustees of individuals unincorporated of course their successors none at all or illegally committed and bound in law to no one to manage the funds for us!

What host of inquiries unworthy of my name character family and ancestors -- aye & I might say in relation to the Popularity which Kenyon College has obtained in Europe, unworthy also of my country, what is a host of these unworthy inquiries would rise up & meet me on my first arrival in England, should such a measure as this, have been reported to them before my net visit to that land of our Fore-Fathers?

Your own Country-People distrust you and have appointed unincorporated individuals to manage the funds of your professorships. How can you ask of us to be more charitable towards you? Why should we give you more confidence than the Inhabitands [sic] of your own land? But shame burns my cheek as I proceed. Dear Brother for [?] sake manage this matter for your unhappy

Brother P. Chase

Letter to Dudley Chase



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