C.W. Fitch



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Fitch outlines grievances he and other faculty members have with Chase's operation of the College, specifically in regards to faculty power in decision making and faculty housing. He urges Chase to make changes in his actions in order to avoid negative consequences and benefit the welfare of the institution.




Professor Sparrow, president, professors, housing


C.W. Fitch

Right Rev. P. Chase President of Kenyon College,

With due respect this paper is submitted to your consideration, a sense of the duty which I owe to my own feelings & to Kenyon College imposes on me the painful duty of making this necessary communication. As an officer of the Institution I should neglect what is due to you by delaying it longer. If my motives are rightly [appreciated], evils of a serious nature may possibly be avoided. Evils are hanging over us which are but too visible I fear to every one except to him whom they most concern. I cannot suppose Sir that you are aware of the consequences which result from the principles which you have laid down as the guide of your actions in relation to the College if you had been aware of them, I am sure you would have seen the necessity of acting differently.

For the purpose of regulating the studies ascertaining the progress of the classes correcting irregularities and punishing offenders weekly meetings of the officers are necessary and usual in every Collegiate Institution.

We found the need of them & established them, you being absent at the time, Prof. Sparrow presided: when at your return you took the chair as President of the College, we were surprised and grieved at the revolution which appeared to have taken place in your feelings; for you treated us not only with incivility but with marked contempt both by language and manner. Twice you left us with such abruptness that as gentlemen it was impossible for our feelings not to be hurt, as officers of College we could not construe it otherwise than as an open insult. Since that we have been obliged to go on as we could with a much apparent harmony as possible before the students, but with the constant liability of having the most salutary regulations broken up and confusion introduced by the want of concert between the President & other officers. With our utmost caution things look mysterious to the students, but if they once know the whole truth, which they must do soon, there would at once be an end of all further discipline.

In coming to Gambier as a Professor in Kenyon College I did not expect such things. I did not dream of being connected with a College in which the laws were made & promulged without the knowledge of any officer but the President - I had never formed the idea of a College in which the government and instruction were totally separate in which the President directed every thing by his individual authority without consulting the other officer or regarding their feelings. I did not expect or coming to Gambier to deserve or see every one else deserve and receive so much unkindness.

After putting the best construction on the things which I daily see & feel & after explaining them to friends and strangers in the most favorable manner which christian charity would require I am at last obliged to confess myself disappointed and grieved.

We have had but few families to make our little wilderness habitable; most of those few are now going away, & what prospect them is that the situation of the few who remain will be less uncomfortable I do not see. I see no prospect that I am ever to have the house for which I agreed with you in Philadelphia, and without which I assured you that I could never consent to come. It has been said by those who are supposed to know your mind that you intend that it shall not be built nor any house for any Professor. If this be your intention it is not only doing unjustly by me, but it is attempting to carry into execution a plan which I know from sad experience must be impracticable -- families cannot be happy thus situated & they will not remain to be miserable. I am sorry to part with those who are going and I pity those who may come to take their place, for if they are made of the same materials as other men unless they are treated differently from what others have been they come to be unhappy. Gentlemen of cultivated minds & feelings cannot endure to be treated like children nor will they voluntarily without necessity resign the comforts of life.

I have written this paper twice to make it as plain as possible and yet free from severe or offensive language; but such is the nature of the subject on which I speak, that I may not have succeeded, a circumstance which I should greatly regret.

With a heart sick with grief and filled with anxiety for the welfare of our Institution, this is submitted to your deliberation by

Yours respectfully,

C.W. Fitch

Letter to Philander Chase



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