executors are said to have been excellent business men — the fund amounted to $9,157. By local subscriptions, and by the profits of a lottery, which the General Court cheerfully allowed to be employed in this good cause, it was gradually increased to about $14,000. The first building, now known as West College, containing twenty-eight rooms for the accommodation of the students, and a Chapel which occupies the space of four rooms," was finished in 1790, and the school formally opened during the autumn of the next year under the direction of a preceptor and an English schoolmaster." The trustees appear to have had a definite notion of the sort of preceptor they wanted. He must be "a man of good moral character; of the Protestant religion; well acquainted with the English and learned languages, the liberal arts and sciences; apt to teach, with talents to command the respect of his pupils; of mild disposition, and of elegant and accomplished manners," all of which demands they thought would be more fully realized in the person of Mr. Ebenezer Fitch, of New Haven, than in anybody else who was available, and they gave him the post. He was a graduate of Yale, and had been a tutor in that institution for eight years.
Contrary to what one would have expected, the free school proved an immediate success. "Youth resorted to it," we are told, "not only from the county and vicinity, but from New York, Canada, and other distant parts of the country." Within six months from the date of opening more than sixty students were enrolled in the upper classes, and in the lower the numbers were large. This rather remarkable success suggested the expediency of converting the academy into "a seminary of a more public and important nature"; and in June, 1793, it became, by an act of the Legislature, Williams College.
The Oldest College Building.
All the parties interested in the free school or in the estate of Col. Williams approved of the measure, —a fact of considerable importance in the bitter controversy soon to arise over the removal of the institution to some other locality. The old board of trustees was continued, with the addition of four new members, making thirteen in all, of whom eight were graduates of Yale; and the preceptor of the academy naturally became president of the college. He held the office for twenty-two years, and in many respects was well fitted for his position. The difficulties which confronted him were great, and the measure of his success indicates the possession of considerable administrative ability. Two buildings were added to the material equipment, — "a convenient house" for the president in 1794, and four years later, a second dormitory, usually called the old East College, "containing thirty-two chambers for the accommodation of the students." These "chambers" were far from being luxurious quarters. In none of them
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