University of Washington, 1862

The legislature, in Jan. 1862, re-incorporated the university, which was previously chartered in 1860 while it was located on the Cowlitz prairie, creating a board of regents consisting of Daniel Bagley, Paul K. Hubbs, J. P. Keller, John Webster, E. Carr, Frank Clark, G. A. Meigs, Columbia Lancaster, and C. H. Hale, in whom was vested the government of the institution. Three regents were to be elected each year, the length of the terms of the first nine to be determined by lot. In case of a vacancy the governor might appoint. The regents had power to elect a president of the board, and a president of the faculty; to fix the number of assistants, and determine their salaries. They could remove either, and could appoint a secretary, librarian, treasurer, and steward, and remove the same; but the treasurer could never be, in any ease, a member of the board of regents. They were entitled to hold all kinds of estate, real, personal, or mixed, which they might acquire by purchase, donation, or devise. The money received for the sale of lands or otherwise was to be paid to the treasurer, and as much as was necessary expended by the regents in keeping up the buildings and defraying expenses; the treasurer only to give bonds, in the sum of $15,000 to the governor. There was also a board of visitors to consist of three persons, and both regents and visitors were to receive pay out of the university fund for their actual and necessary expenses, all orders on the treasurer to be signed by the secretary and countersigned by the president. Wash. Stat., 1861-2, 43-6.

In an act in relation to the management and safe-keeping of the moneys arising from the sale of university lands, another board, called ‘university commissioners,’ whose business it was to locate and sell the two townships of land granted by congress to the support of a university, were associated with the regents and other officers named above, all together constituting a board of directors, with liberty to loan the fund derived from the sale of land, or any part of it, at 12 per cent interest, and for any time from one to ten years, reason of an insufficient population to support a higher order of college.

On the 10th of October, 1862, a primary collegiate school was opened for pupils of both sexes, under the charge of A. S. Mercer, assisted by Mrs V. Calhoun, the terms to continue five months. The reports of the different boards showed that in 1861 20,524 acres of the university land had been sold; bringing $30,787.04, and $30,400.69 had been expended in the erection of buildings. The receipts for lands in 1862 amounted to $16,748.03, of which $10,215.73 had been expended on improvements, leaving $6,959.24, on hand, and 28,768 acres of land unsold. Wash. Jour. Council, 1862-3, app. xvi.-xx.

The president of the board of regents, Rev. D. Bagley of the Methodist Church, was also president of the board of commissioners to select and sell the lands of the university, and so zealous was he to sell, and so careless was he in his accounts, that the legislature of 1866-7 repealed all former acts granting authority to the boards of regents and commissioners, and appointing a new board of regents consisting of B. P. Dennison, D. T. Denny, Frank Mathias, Harvey K. Hines, and Oliver F. Gerrish, granting them power to make full investigation of the affairs of the university and report thereupon. Wash. Stat., 1867, 114. The new board elected Dennison president, Denny treasurer, and William H. Taylor secretary.

In the mean time there had been several changes in the school. W. E. Barnard appears to have been the second president of the faculty, if such a board could be properly said to exist, and he resigned in April 1866, the regents appointing Rev. George F. Whitworth, who accepted upon an agreement that the salary should be $1,000 in coin, payable quarterly, in addition to the tuition fees, and the free use of the buildings and grounds. The grade of scholarship was low, as might be expected under the circumstances of the recent history of the country, and the number of pupils probably never exceeded 60, nearly all of whom belonged to Seattle. The new board of regents found $5.85 in the treasury, and only 3,364 62/100 acres of land remaining unsold out of 46,080 acres donated by congress. About 8,000 acres had been sold on credit without security, and about 11,000 on securities, which were worthless, and at prices illegally low. For the remainder of the 25,456 acres remaining after the erection of the university buildings, there was nothing to show but about six dollars in money and between 3,000 and 4,000 acres of land. In their report to the legislature, the board made Bagley in debt to the university $13,919.34 in coin, and responsible for the other losses sustained by the university fund, having illegally acted as president and treasurer of the board, and disburser of the moneys received. Rept in Wash. Jour. Council, 18678, 76-104. On account of this condition of affairs the school was closed in June 1867, and the buildings and property taken in charge by the new board. The report of the new board of regents being referred to a select committee of the legislature, the findings of the regents were reversed, and $2,314.76 found due Bagley from the university for services. The committee exonerating Bagley consisted of Park Winans, John W. Brazee, and Ira Ward, assisted by Rev. H. K. Hines of the Methodist Church, and member of the board of regents. Id., 187-202. Nothing was done by the legislature at this session except to appoint A. A. Denny and W. H. Robertson regents in place of D. T. Denny and H. K. Hines, whose terms had expired, Wash. Stat., 1867-8, 78, the assembly not knowing how to act in the matter. At the session of 1869 a report was made by the regents showing that $4,112.52 had been received into the treasury, $1,335.86 of which had been paid in liquidation of debts existing under the first regency; and $68.20 remaining in the treasury. The school had been reopened on the 12th of April 1869 by John H. Hall, who agreed to teach three years for $600 per annum. There were 70 students in attendance, 23 of whom were not residents of Seattle, and the university was not incurring any debts. Wash. Jour. House, 1869, 149-53. The governor, Alvan Flanders, declared in his message that `everything connected with the management of the university lands up to 1867 can be described only by saying that it was characterized by gross extravagance and incompetency, if not by downright fraud; and that the history of the institution was a calamity and a disgrace,’ all that remained of the munificent grant of congress being a building possibly worth $15,000. He suggested asking congress for further aid, which if granted should be protected from similar waste. Instead, congress was memorialized to bestow a grant of swamp and tide lands for school purposes and internal improvements, Wash. Stat., 18.59, 527-8, a prayer it was not likely to listen to after the use made of the former liberal grant. The university struggled along, unable to rise out of its slough of despond for almost another decade. The first assistance rendered by the legislature was in 1877, when it appropriated $1,500 for each of the years 1878 and 1879 to defray the expenses of tuition, and establishing 45 free scholarships, the holders to be between the ages of 16 and 21 years, and bona fide residents of the territory six months before their appointment. Each councilman and each assemblyman could appoint one from his district or county; each of the district judges one, and the governor three from three different counties. Wash. Stat., 1877, 241-3. The first graduate was Miss Clara McCarty, in 1876. The annual register for 1880 shows 10 graduates in all, only one of these, W. J. Colkett, being of the male sex. The faculty consisted in the latter year of the president, J. A. Anderson, and wife, Louis F. Anderson, A. J. Anderson, Jr, with 3 male and 3 female assistants. President Anderson raised the standing of the institution, which continued to improve, and has turned out graduates very creditable to it and the succeeding faculty.


Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890.

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