literary department, it is expected, will be put into operation in September next." It actually opened in October, Rev. Avery Briggs having been secured in the meantime as Professor of Languages.
But before the Literary Department was in operation the General Court of Massachusetts had passed the Act of Separation, and it was certain that the District of Maine was to become a separate state: On the eighteenth of August the Trustees of the Maine Literary and Theological Institution passed the following vote:
"21. Voted that a committee be appointed to petition the Legislature of Maine to invest this Institution with all the powers of a College & to endow it as in their wisdom they shall think proper & that Rev. S Boardman, Timothy Boutelle, Thomas B Ripley, Jeremiah Chaplin, Ebenezer T Warren & Nathaniel Weston Jr. & Calvin Stockbridge Esq be this Committee."
Evidently the Trustees had reason to believe that they could obtain from the first legislature of Maine the powers they had twice sought in vain from the General Court of Massachusetts. They certainly lost no time in making the attempt. The first session of the legislature of the new state met on May 21, 1820. To it the following petition was submitted.
To the Hon. the Senate & House of Representatives of the State of Maine, in Legislature assembled,
Respectfully represent, The Trustees of the Maine Literary & Theological Institution, That this Institution was incorporated by an Act of the Legislature in 1813, &, at the same time, was endowed with a Grant of a Township of land—That in 1818 the Trustees established the Institution in Waterville, & in July of the same year, instruction was commenced under the direction of the the Rev. Jeremiah Chaplin, Professor of Theology—that the Rev. Avery Briggs has been since appointed Professor of languages, & commenced instruction in the summer of 1819—that the number of Students now in the Institution is twenty-two—
They further represent, that since the establishment of the Institution, benefactions of generous individuals have amounted to about seven thousand dollars—by means of which, they have been enabled to purchase eligible grounds for the erection of suitable buildings, & to erect and finish a dwelling house & out buildings for the accommodation of one of the Professors, & have the greater part of the materials now collected for a brick Edifice one hundred & twenty feet long—forty feet wide—three stories high & to contain thirty-six rooms for students—
They further represent, that it was the original design of the Trustees, whenever their funds & prospects should warrant, to establish a sufficient number of Professors and Tutors to instruct in all the different branches of science and literature, usually taught in our Colleges—That, in establishing the Institution in Waterville, they believed they thereby attained one important point
- E. W. Hall: History of Higher Education in Maine, p. 104.
- The petition, and all documents quoted from this point (except records of the Trustees) are on file in the office of the Secretary of State at Augusta.