Brown University (formerly Rhode Island College), a seat of learning in Providence, R. I., founded about the middle of the last century by the Philadelphia association of Baptist churches, at the special instigation of the Rev. Morgan Edwards, a Welsh clergyman of Philadelphia. The Rev. James Manning, a native of New Jersey, and graduate of Princeton, was authorized in 1703 to broach the scheme to certain prominent Baptists of Newport, with whose aid the necessary money was raised, and a charter obtained in February, 1704, " for a college or university in the English colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England, in America." One of the provisions of this charter is as follows: "And furthermore, it is hereby enacted and declared, that into this liberal and catholic institution shall never be admitted any religious tests; but, on the contrary, all the members hereof shall for ever enjoy full, free, absolute, and uninterrupted liberty of conscience; and that the public teaching shall, in general, respect the sciences, and that the sectarian differences of opinions shall not make any part of the public and classical instruction." The government of the college is vested in a board of fellows, consisting of 12 members, of whom 8, including the president, must be Baptists; and a board of trustees, consisting of 30 members, of whom 22 must be Baptists, 5 Friends or Quakers, 4 Congregationalists, and 5 Episcopalians; this proportion representing the different denominations then existing in the colony.
The instruction and immediate government of the college rest in the president and board of fellows. In the spring of the year in which the college was established, instruction was commenced at Warren, under the direction of Mr. James Manning, who was formally elected its president in September, 1705. A local contest for the seat of the college was finally terminated in favor of Providence in 1770. During a part of the war of the revolution instruction was suspended, and the college building was occupied by the state militia and by the troops of Rochambeau. Instruction was resumed in 1783. Mr. Manning was elected to congress in 1786, but soon resigned the post in conse-quence of its incompatibility with his duties to the college, and died in 1791, aged 53. Mr. Manning was succeeded by the Rev. Jonathan Maxcy, who resigned in 1802, and was succeeded by the Rev. Asa Messer, who was president till 1826. In 1804, during his presidency, the college received the name of Brown university, in honor of Nicholas Brown, its most distinguished benefactor. Mr. Messer was succeeded in 1827 by the Rev. Francis Wayland, D. D., who resigned in 1855, having by his personal character and writings greatly extended the reputation and influence of the university.
The Rev. Barnas Sears, D. D., LL. D., was then chosen president, and resigned in 1807. He was succeeded by. the Rev. Alexis Caswell, D. D., LL. D., and the latter, in January, 1872, by the Rev. E. G. Robinson, D. D., LL. D. - The officers of instruction are the president, nine professors, and three instructors, besides a librarian and register. The university lias five college buildings, and a mansion house for the president. Its enclosures are graded and adorned with elms, and comprise upward of 10 acres, situated on high land in the eastern section of the city. The college year is divided into two terms with two vacations, one of three weeks beginning about the last of January, and another of nine weeks commencing the last week in June. Besides these there are two recesses of a week each. The annual commencement exercises occur on the last Wednesday in June, during which week candidates for admission to the college are examined. The course of study comprises four years. All the studies of the first two years and the first term of the third are compulsory. For the second term of the junior and senior years, geology, political economy, Latin, and Greek are elective; while Latin, Greek, and German are elective studies of the first term of the senior year.
In addition to the regular collegiate course, there are courses of study covering three years for the degree of bachelor of philosophy. The annual college expenses are: tuition, $75; room rent, $20; use of library, $3; register's salary, $4; total, $102. In the case of indigent students, $25 per annum on the tuition may be remitted to a number not exceeding two fifths of all the students in college. Scholarships, 57 in number, each yielding about $60 per annum, have been established; and a fund of $50,000 has been placed by the state of Rhode Island in the custody of the corporation, the income of which sustains 30 scholarships. The state scholarships are open only to citizens of Rhode Island; and appointments to them are made on the nomination of the general assembly of the state. This fund was realized by the state from the sale of land scrip given by congress for the founding of a college of agriculture, which has been organized in connection with the university. A fund of $8,000 has been given to the university by two of its friends, the income of which is applied either in the form of a gift or a loan to students.
The following departments of practical science have been established in the university: 1, chemistry applied to the arts, in which particular attention is given to metallurgy, pharmacy, medical chemistry, and the application of chemistry to manufacturing processes; and 2, civil engineering, in which the course is three years. The course is not confined to undergraduates in either department. The course in the agricultural and scientific department is three years. The college library contains more than 40,000 volumes, and is constantly increasing from the income of a permanent fund of $27,000. The museum of natural history contains a valuable collection of specimens. There is also a valuable collection of portraits. The invested funds of the university amount to $602,653, the greater part having been contributed by private individuals, among whom are John Carter Brown, Nicholas Brown, Alexander Duncan, Rowland G. Hazard, William Sprague, William S. Slater, Earl P. Mason, William H. Reynolds, and H. N. Slater, all residents of Providence; of whom the five last mentioned subscribed in October, 1865, $20,000 each.
The sum of $50,000 was bequeathed by the late William Sanford Rogers of Boston, to found " the Newport-Rogers Professorship of Chemistry." According to the last triennial catalogue, issued in 1869, the whole number of alumni was 2,376, of whom 1,351 survived.