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The University of Delaware: A History

Published Work, Student Theses, and Duplicated Materials

The Colonial Academy

The best work on the founder is Elizabeth Ingersoll [Nybakken], "Francis Alison: American Philosophe, 1705-1779" (Ph.D. diss., University of Delaware, 1974), which is supplemented by two articles from the same author: "New Light on the Old Side: Irish Influences in Colonial Presbyterianism," Journal of American History 68 (1982): 813-32, and "The Enlightenment and Calvinism: Mutual Support Systems for the Eighteenth-Century American Wilderness," Transactions of the Fifth International Congress on the Enlightenment 3 (Oxford, 1980), 1126-135.

Thomas C. Pears, Jr., wrote many valuable articles on the early academy, such as "Francis Alison, Colonial Educator," Delaware Notes 17 (1944): 9-22; "Francis Alison," Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society 29 (1951): 213-25; "Colonial Education Among Presbyterians," Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society 30 (1952): 115-26; "Presbyterians and American Freedom," Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society 29 (1951): 77-95; "Ten Little Irish Lads," University News 8 (June 1943): 5, 9; and "This American Wilderness: A Study of Some of the Main Currents in Colonial American Presbyterianism," duplicated lectures on the L. P. Stone Foundation, Princeton Theological Seminary (1942).

Probably the best essays on the colonial academy are by George H. Ryden: "The Newark Academy of Delaware in Colonial Days," Pennsylvania History 2 (1935): 205-24; and "The Relation of the Newark Academy of Delaware to the Presbyterian Church and to Higher Education in the American Colonies," Delaware Notes 9 (1935): 7-42. On the same subject is George Morgan, "The Colonial Origin of Newark Academy and of Other Classical Schools...," Delaware Notes 8 (1934): 7-30. A very valuable contemporary account is [Matthew Wilson], "The Character of the Rev. Francis Alison, D.D., Vice-Provost of the College of Philadelphia...," Pennsylvania Journal (April 19, 1780). Guy Klett, ed., Minutes of the Presbyterian Church in America, 1706-1788 (Philadelphia, 1976), is an indispensable primary source.

Leonard J. Trinterud, The Forming of an American Tradition: A Reexamination of Colonial Presbyterianism (Philadelphia, 1972), is a splendid study of the Presbyterian background of the academy, even though biased toward the New Side. Other books with information on the institution's early Presbyterian connections include Douglas Sloan, The Scottish Enlightenment and the American College Ideal (New York, 1971); Richard Webster, A History of the Presbyterian Church in America...with Biographical Sketches of the Early Ministers (Philadelphia, 1857); Alfred Nevin, ed., Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States... (Philadelphia, 1884); William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. 3 (New York, 1858). Alexander Mackie, Facile Princeps: The Story of the Beginning of Life Insurance in America (Philadelphia, 1956), deals with another facet of Francis Alison's career, one that is also discussed in John Baird, Horn of Plenty: The Story of the Presbyterian Ministers' Fund (Wheaton, Ill., 1982).

Beverly McAnear wrote a series of excellent articles on colonial colleges, among which he included the Newark Academy: "The Charter of the Academy of Newark," Delaware History 4 (1950): 149-60; "College Founding in the American Colonies, 1745-1775," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 42 (1955): 24-44; "The Raising of Funds by the Colonial Colleges," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 38 (1952): 591-612; and "The Selection of an Alma Mater by Pre-Revolutionary Students," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 73 (1949): 429-40. Some information on the academy's early years may be found in Saul Sack, History of Higher Education in Pennsylvania, vol. 1 (Harrisburg, Pa., 1963), 40-43, as well as in James Mulhern, A History of Secondary Education in Pennsylvania (reprint, New York, 1969).

Contemporary references may be found in George Whitefield's Journals (1737-1741)...(reprint, Gainesville, Fla., 1969); Benjamin Rush, Letters, ed. L. H. Butterfield, 2 vols. (Princeton, N.J., 1951), and Autobiography, ed. George W. Corner (Princeton, 1948); Ezra Stiles, Extracts from the Itineraries and Other Miscellanies (New Haven, Conn., 1961); and Literary Diary, 3 vols. (New York, 1901), both works edited by Franklin B. Dexter; Benjamin Franklin, Papers, ed. Leonard W. Labaree et al. (New Haven, Conn., 1961-); and L. H. Butterfield, John Witherspoon Comes to America: A Documentary Account...(Princeton, N.J., 1953).

These can be supplemented by studies of nearby colleges and of prominent educators with some connection with the Academy of Newark, such as Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr., and Kenneth L. Smith, The Life and Works of Morgan Edwards (New York, 1980); Ann D. Gordon, "The College of Philadelphia, 1749-1759: Impact of an Institution" (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1976); William L. Turner, "The College, Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia: The Development of a Colonial Institution of Learning, 1740-1779" (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1952); Thomas H. Montgomery, A History of the University of Pennsylvania from Its Foundation to A.D. 1770 (Philadelphia, 1970); John Maclean, History of the College of New Jersey (Philadelphia, 1877); Varnum L. Collins, President Witherspoon, a Biography, 2 vols. (Princeton, N.J., 1925); and Ashbel Green, The Life of the Revd. John Witherspoon..., ed. Henry L. Savage (Princeton, N.J., 1973).

Many biographical studies exist for pupils of Alison and McDowell, such as John M. Coleman, Thomas McKean, Forgotten Leader of the Revolution (Rockaway, N.J., 1975); William T. Read, Life and Correspondence of George Read...(Philadelphia, 1870); Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry...(Cleveland, Ohio, 1907); Edward D. Neill, "Matthew Wilson--D.D., of Lewes, Delaware," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 8 (1884): 45-55; Elbert Chance, "Matthew Wilson Professor, Preacher, Patriot, Physician," Delaware History 10 (1963): 271-84; Harold Hancock, "Matthew Wilson and Delaware College," University News 31 (Fall 1964): 6-8; J. Edwin Hendricks, Charles Thomson and the Making of a New Nation (Rutherford, N.J., 1979). For the participants in the fund-raising trip to Britain, see Lacy E. Lee Ewing, Dr. John Ewing and Some of His Noted Connections (Philadelphia, 1930), and David Hosack, "A Biographical Memoir of Hugh Williamson," Collections of the New-York Historical Society 3 (1821): 125-79. A student paper in the University Archives, Thomas Burrs, "Rev. Thomas Read and the Newark Academy," is also of interest, as is John M. Clayton, Jr., "Thomas Read: An Early Delaware Educator," University of Delaware News 39 (1972): 9-10.

Among the pamphlets on churches closely connected to Alison and McDowell are Robert P. Dubois, A Discourse on the Origin and History of the Presbyterian Church and Congregation of New London (Philadelphia, 1845); J. H. Johns, A History of the Rock Presbyterian Church in Cecil County, Maryland (Oxford, Pa., 1872); James L. Vallandigham, Historical Discourse, Head of Christiana Church (1876); Henry G. Welbon, A History of Christiana Church (Newark, 1933); and William D. Mackey, White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of New Castle (Wilmington, 1876.)