[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)


      Mr. Campbell wrote and spoke much on education; he was pre-eminently a teacher. We call attention to his great address on education delivered before the College of Teachers at Cincinnati, published in "Popular Lectures and Addresses." He had an academy--"Buffalo Academy"--many years. His work in education culminated in the organization and foundation of Bethany College.

      In 1839 Mr. Campbell published an article headed



      I am now about to divulge to this community, to philanthropists, to lovers of good order, to the Disciples of Christ, a favorite scheme deeply impressed upon my mind; long cherished, and in the establishment and supervision of it, it is probable, if the Lord will, I shall close all my earthly projects.

      In the first place, the location must be entirely rural--in the country, detached from all external society; not convenient to any town or place of rendezvous--in the midst of forests, fields, and gardens--salubrious air, pure water--diversified scenery of hills and vallies, limpid brooks, and meandering streams of rapid flowing water. Such is the spot which I have selected.

      The buildings essential to the completion of this institution, are--the Stewart's Inn and Dormitories--the Family House--three Mansions for Professors--Primary School-rooms--College Proper, and the Church Edifice. An explanation of the uses of these buildings will develop some of the more prominent attributes and designs of this institution:--

      1st. The Stewart's Inn is designed for the boarding and lodging of the students in attendance, not members of the Family House, and for the entertainment of visitors and strangers.

      2d. The Family House is designed for a model family, in which children from 7 to 14 shall be admitted and constituted into a family, under an experienced and competent paternal and maternal government of the highest moral excellence. The management of this family, although it should consist of a hundred or more children, shall be that of a Christian household; in which religious and moral instruction from the Bible alone shall be as constant as morning and evening, as [453] day and night succeed. Early rising, personal cleanliness, social courteousness, as well as daily readings and examinations of the sacred Scriptures, accompanied with religious worship, shall be standing and immutable duties, always inculcated and always practiced by the domestic government in the family-house. Time for the preparations of lessons for the primary school classes shall always be apportioned without any interruption of the family duties; but every thing shall be subordinate to the moral and religious instruction of the members of this family. The entire course of education in this institution, from the nursery class up to the senior course in the college, shall be conducted with a single eye to the destiny of man, to the supremacy of religion and morality. This house shall be spacious, well ventilated, and adapted to the accommodation of at least one hundred children. Should it be regarded as eligible, a second family-house for young ladies from 7 to 14, of the same dimensions and under the same species of domestic government, may be connected with the institution, and become an integral part of it. The multiplication of families of this kind would necessarily be in proportion to the exigencies and demands of society.

      3d. The Professors' houses would, of course, be private dwellings, or, at most, large enough for the accommodation of a few students who might prefer to be inmates in their families.

      4th. The primary school-rooms would be detached from the college proper, and arranged with a reference to the classes through which children from seven to fourteen would necessarily pass as preparatory to a college or church course.

      5th. The college proper would not materially differ from similar institutions, being a collection of rooms for recitation, for philosophic apparatus, for libraries, etc. The course of instruction would indeed materially differ; not so much in the sciences taught, as in the manner of teaching some of them; not so much in the languages, as in the course of reading necessary to the acquisition of them. The immoral and profane poets and writers would be excluded, and selections of only what is rational, moral, and subservient to good taste and criticism be substituted for the demoralizing and unrestricted readings and studies too often tolerated, if not enforced, in literary institutions.

      6th. The church institution will need more explanation than any other. A portion of the college students will of course be Christians. These, together with a large number of young men, educated in other schools; and some uneducated in languages and sciences, will desire a knowledge of the Bible and of that sacred literature, indispensable to a thorough knowledge of the English Scriptures. Jewish and Christian history, chronology, ancient geography, ancient manners and customs, [454] idioms, ecclesiastic affairs, etc., etc., must therefore become a regular course of lectures and of studies.

      We want no scholastic or traditionary theology. We desire, however, a much more intimate, critical, and thorough knowledge of the bible, the whole Bible as the Book of God--the Book of Life and of human destiny, than is usually, or indeed can be, obtained in what are called Theological Schools. As we make the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible our creed, our standard of religion and of all moral science, we have no hesitation in saying that this institution, from the nursery class upward to the church classes, shall make that volume a constant study. All science, all literature, all nature, all art, all attainments shall be made tributary to the Bible and man's ultimate temporal and eternal destiny.

      This church institution shall, in one cardinal point of view, resemble the West Point military school. There, it is not the theory alone, but the military camp, the practice, the daily discipline of the god of war. In this institution it will not be the theory of a church--of Bible reading, Bible criticism, Bible lectures--sermons--church order--Christian discipline; but the daily practice of these. This church will be in session seven days every week. The superintendent of this institution, or the professor in attendance, will be the bishop pro tempore of the church. The young men, in all their readings, questions and answers, and exercises, shall rise, and speak, and act, as though they were, as in truth they are, members of a particular church met for edification and worship. Immoral and disorderly actions, should they ever occur, will be treated here as, in Christian discipline, they ought to be, in the house of the Lord. Thus will the members of this institution be trained for filling any stations in the church of their ultimate location, to which they may be called by the brethren.

      In one word, the object of this (may I call it?) liberal and comprehensive institution will be to model families, schools, colleges, and churches according to the divine pattern shown to us in the oracles of reason, of sound philosophy, and of divine truth; and to raise up a host of accomplished fathers, teachers of schools, teachers of colleges, teachers of churches, preachers of the gospel, and good and useful citizens, or whatever the church or the State may afterwards choose to make of them.

      As I propose the details hereafter, and only sketch the designs and landmarks which have been long cherished, I will only add a few fundamental provisions in this scheme:--

      1st. The atmosphere of this institution, not physical only, but moral and religious, must be pure, perfectly pure, as the best state of present society can afford. Therefore, no price, no favor shall ever retain on [455] the whole premises a youth of decidedly bad habits, or of loose morals. Indeed, no youth above ten shall at all be received into the institution but upon credible testimonials of good moral character.

      2d. None shall be received but those whose parents and guardians desire them to be taught the facts, precepts, and promises of the Holy Book, as well as its divine truth, its awfully sublime and glorious sanctions, and who do not approve of such a strict and systematic discipline as the severe morality of Christ inculcates.

      3d. The physical vigor and health of the youth must be kept up and increased in summer by horticulture, in the cultivation and improvement of the college grounds, and in other athletic exercises; thereby increasing their knowledge of agriculture, horticulture, botany, etc. These exercises shall not, however, be pursued so far as to become a toil or a drudgery, but so far as to corroborate the constitution and preserve good health.

      4th. Economy in all expenditures shall be the order of every day, and of the management of the whole concern. Great pains will be taken to attain to a more rational costume in dress--to less expensive modes of living--to republican simplicity, if there be such a thing. All sorts of extravagance shall be discountenanced in this institution.

      Enough, perhaps, for a general outline of the objects contemplated in founding such an institution, or in offering it to the public for their consideration and patronage.

      Having now completed full fifty years, and on my way to sixty, the greater part of which time I have been engaged in literary labors and pursuits; and imagining that I possess some views and attainments which I can in this way render permanently useful to this community and posterity, I feel in duty bound to offer this project to the consideration of all the friends of literature, morality, and unsectarian Bible Christianity. I am willing to bestow much personal labor, without any charge, in getting up this institution, and also to vest a few thousand dollars in it; provided only our brethren--the rich and opulent especially--and those who have children to educate, will take a strong hold of it and determine to build up an establishment that may be made to themselves, their children, and many others a lasting and a comprehensive blessing.

      I have the assurance that a charter--an act of incorporation--can be obtained from the government of Virginia, that will gave the necessary powers, and that will secure a faithful appropriation of all the funds of the institution, and exhibit a safe foundation for the investments and donations of all who have a heart and a purse consecrated to the Lord, to the cause of humanity--of literature, morality, and the Christian religion. [456]

      I have not begun to state the contemplated advantages of such in institution: this will be the work of a series of essays on Education, now in progress, and to which this overture, at this moment, is necessary. I am very sanguine of its success--because I am not only confident that it can be made a source of immense advantage to the cause we plead--to the whole community; but I believe our friends will have the discernment to see it, and that it is a real desideratum--not the rival of any existing institution; but aspiring to a stand and aiming at a character hitherto unassumed in this land, so far as my knowledge reaches.

      I shall confidently calculate on raising such a school as is not in this land; and on receiving not the prayers only, but, with them, large and numerous bequests, and offerings equal to the grandeur and benevolence of the undertaking. Many orphans, many excellent young men, many thousands of choice spirits may be trained here to benefit earth, and to adorn heaven for ages to come. I am persuaded it can be done; and if we put our hands to it, the Lord willing, it must go forward: for being first assured that the object is expedient, necessary, good, and right, we can prosecute it with all our energies.

      I now make the disclosure of my intentions. I have waited till Bacon College is fairly established and in successful operation. It is known to some that I had this matter in contemplation before that institution was established; and because I believed it to be needed in Kentucky and in the West, and because I ardently desired its success, I did not open my views till its importance has been felt and its existence secured by the intelligence and liberality of that community. Besides, the institution that I contemplate is one of an entirely different character. That only approximates my plan in one point--the college proper. The family--the primary school, and the church departments of the new project are not within its purview. Indeed, we shall look upon its success as contributing to supplying our church department with many members for the critical study of the Holy Scriptures and ecclesiastic affairs. Its prosperity will greatly subserve our intentions. May the Lord prosper it and bless the labors of our brethren!

      I have now laid the main principles of the "Bill" before the community. It is now open to discussion. Will our brethren interested in this matter, or in the objects contemplated and proposed, speak out like men? We shall first want many thousands of dollars, and next many hundreds of students. Is the scheme rational, right and necessary? If so, I am sure it is practicable. But again I say, friends and fellow-citizens, speak out.

[A. C.]      

      In the Harbinger for 1840, page 176, we have the [457]


      Through the assiduous and kind attention of John C. Campbell, Esq., of this county, during his visit to Richmond for the improvement of his health, while the Legislature was in session, the following liberal Charter of the College Department of our plan of a new institution has been granted by the Government of this Commonwealth; and thus a proper foundation has been laid for the safe investment of the funds necessary to the establishment and continued existence of that great scheme of physical, intellectual, and moral culture, of which the College proper is a very necessary part.

A. C.      


      SECT. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That there be, and is hereby erected and established, at or near Bethany, in the county of Brooke, in this Commonwealth, a Seminary of learning for the instruction of youth in the various branches of science and literature, the useful arts, agriculture, and the learned and foreign languages.

      Sect. 2. And be it further enacted, That the said seminary shall be known and called by the name of Bethany College.

      Sect. 3. And be it further enacted, That Alexander Campbell, Albert G. Ewing, Samuel Church, Henry Langly, James T. McVay, Robert Y. Henley, Samuel Grafton, William Stewart, Josiah Crumbacker, Adamson Bentley, Robert Nicolas, Campbell Tarr, Matthew McKeever, John Andrews, Robert H. Forrester, Thomas Campbell, Robert Richardson, and John C. Campbell, be, and are hereby constituted and appointed Trustees of said College; who, and their successors, shall be a body politic and corporate, by the name of the Trustees of Bethany College; and shall have a perpetual succession and a common seal, which seal they may alter at pleasure. And by the name aforesaid they and their successors shall be capable in law, and shall have full power and authority to acquire, hold, possess, purchase, receive, and retain to them and their successors for ever, any lands, tenements, rents, goods, chattels, or interests of any kind whatsoever, which may be given to them or by them purchased for the use of said College; to transfer, convey, and dispose of the same in any way whatsoever they shall adjudge most useful to the interests and legal purposes of the institution; and by the same name to sue and implead, be sued and impleaded, answer and be answered in all courts of law and equity; to select and employ a Treasurer, and such other officers, agents, and servants as they may see proper; to elect and employ such President, Professors, Instructors, and Tutors, for the benefit of said College as they may deem necessary; to make, ordain, establish, and execute, or cause to be executed, all such by-laws, rules, and ordinances, not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the United States or of this Commonwealth, as they may think necessary for the welfare of said College, the good government of the Professors, Instructors, Tutors, Agents, and Stewarts of the same; and generally to do all acts necessary and proper to promote the welfare and prosperity of said institution. [458]

      Sect. 4. And be it further enacted, That the President of the College, by and with the advice and consent of the Trustees, shall have power from time to time to ordain, regulate, and establish the mode and course of instruction and education to be pursued in said College; and, together with such Professors, Instructors, and Tutors as the corporation may designate, shall be styled the Faculty of the College, and shall have power to adopt and enforce such rules as may be deemed expedient for the good government of the institution; which rules and regulations shall not be inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the United States or of this Commonwealth, nor with the bylaws or ordinances of the corporation, and shall remain in force until disapproved of by the Trustees present at any meeting, or a majority of them, and no longer.

      Sect. 5. And be it further enacted, That the first meeting of the Trustees designated in the third section of this act, shall be held at Bethany aforesaid, on the second Monday in May next, or at any time afterwards, on a day agreed on by any three or more Trustees, and by them duly announced by publication in some newspaper published in the aforesaid county of Brooke; at which meeting the said Trustees assembled, if there shall be a quorum present, may proceed to appoint such officers and transact such business as they shall judge necessary; but if a quorum shall not be present, those assembled shall have the power of adjourning from day to day, or to any future day, until a quorum shall be had. After a President shall have been elected, he shall preside in all meetings of the Board of Trustees, unless unavoidably absent: in such cases a President pro tempore shall be elected from their own body; but in no case shall the President be entitled to a vote, unless he shall also be a member of the Board of Trustees. All questions shall be decided by a concurring vote of the majority of the Trustees present, except in the cases hereinafter provided.

      Sect. 6. And be it further enacted, That the said President and Trustees, or any seven of them, shall have full power and authority to meet at such times as they shall think necessary for the examination of any candidates for literary degrees, and they are hereby authorized and empowered to confer such degrees on such persons as in their opinion shall merit the same, in as ample a manner as any other College in this Commonwealth can do; and under their common seal to grant testimonials thereof, signed by the President and seven of the Trustees at least. The President and seven Trustees shall at any time form a quorum for business; or, in the absence of a President, eight Trustees, of whom one shall be elected President pro tempore: and should there be at any meeting less than a quorum, they shall have the power of adjourning from day to day, or to any future day, until quorum shall be had.

      Sect. 7. And be it further enacted, That the said Trustees, or a quorum of them, shall annually elect a Treasurer for said College, who shall give bond with approved security, payable to the Trustees by their name aforesaid, and their successors, conditioned faithfully to discharge the duties of his said office, and shall render an account of all monies, goods, and chattels received and expended by him on account of, and for the use of said College; and on failure or refusal so to do, shall be subject to the like proceedings as are prescribed by law [459] in the case of Sheriffs failing to account for and pay into the Treasury of this Commonwealth the public taxes collected by them; such proceedings to be conducted in the name of the Trustees in their corporate and politic character aforesaid: Provided, That no appropriation, payment, or disbursement shall at any time be made by the Treasurer, but such as shall be in pursuance of the directions or orders of the Trustees.

      Sect 8. And be it further enacted, That the said Trustees, or a quorum of them, shall have power to remove or suspend the President, or any of the Professors, Instructors, or Tutors at any time, two-thirds of such quorum concurring, and also two-thirds concurring to remove any of the Trustees for good cause; and when there shall be a vacancy in said Board of Trustees, occasioned by death, removal, resignation, or refusal to act, the remaining Trustees, or a quorum of them, shall supply the vacancy. It shall also be lawful for any three of the Trustees, or the President, or the Professors for the time being, or a majority of them, to call a meeting of the Trustees whenever they or he, as the case may be, shall deem it expedient, by giving at least ten days' notice of such meeting, in the mode prescribed in the fifth section of this act.

      Sect. 9. And be it further enacted, That whenever any Trustee shall absent himself from three successive annual meetings of the Board of Trustees, without assigning a sufficient reason, at the fourth the Trustees of said College, or a quorum of them, shall have power, by entry on their minutes, to declare his seat vacant, and proceed to the election of a new Trustee to supply such vacancy.

      Sect. 10. And be it further enacted, That the said Trustees and their successors are hereby authorized, so far as their funds may warrant, to admit gratuitously, in whole or in part, as their respective cases may require, such person or persons as they may think proper.

      Sect. 11. And be it further enacted, That the Trustees of said College shall have power to establish a department of agriculture in said College: Provided nevertheless, That no pupil or student in the College aforesaid shall be required to study or labor in said department in any manner contrary to the wishes of the person or persons at whose charge and by whom such student or pupil has been placed in the institution aforesaid.

      Sect. 12. And be it further enacted, That there shall be annual stated meetings of the said Board of Trustees, to be held at such time as the said Trustees shall at their first meeting under the authority of this act appoint; but they shall have power at any subsequent meeting to alter such day as to them may seem expedient, and so on from time to time. It shall be the duty of the said Board of Trustees, when thereto required, to make a report of the general condition of the College to the President and Directors of the Literary Fund, to be by them communicated to the General Assembly.

      Sect. 13. And be it further enacted, That the said Board of Trustees shall never be less than twelve nor more than thirty in number; and the said Board, from time to time, at any regular meeting, may, by appointments, create additional Trustees, not exceeding in all the greater number specified in this section. [460]

      Sect. 14. And be it further enacted, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as at any time to authorize the establishment Theological Professorship in the said College.

      This act shall be in force from and after the passage thereof.



      The first donation for the establishment of our new institution was made by our much lamented brother Philip B. Pendleton, of Virginia, whose decease was noticed some months since on our pages. The information of this generous bequest is received in the following note:--

[A. C.]      

BENVENUE, King & Queen, 23d February, 1840.      

      Sir--My brother, Philip B. Pendleton, departed this life the 28th December last, leaving a Will, in which he bequeaths the sum of one thousand dollars (conditionally) to aid in establishing a school proposed by yourself. You will see it in Vol. III., No. 10, page 446, proposing a plan for a Scientific, Literary, and Moral Institution. The conditions are that if the school is carried into effect in five years from the time of his death, he requests his Executors to pay to it the sum of one thousand dollars. He left Mr. James Smith and myself his Executors. Both of us have qualified. Yours with respect,


      In 1840, page 505 [sic], we read of the


      The first meeting of the Board of Trustees of Bethany College was held at Bethany in pursuance of the Charter of the Institution, on Monday, May 11th, 1840. Trustees present--Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Robert Richardson, Robert Y. Henley, Matthew McKeever, Samuel Grafton, John C. Campbell, William Stewart, and Robert Nicolls.

      On motion of John C. Campbell, Thomas Campbell was unanimously called to the chair.

      On motion of William Stewart, William F. M. Arny was appointed Secretary of the Board of Trustees.

      On motion of Samuel Grafton, Alexander Campbell was appointed Treasurer of Bethany College; also, as General Agent to procure donations, and to publish an Expose of the contemplated character of the Institution.

      On motion of John C. Campbell, William Stewart, Robert Richard. son, Matthew M'Keever, and Alexander Campbell, were appointed a Building Committee, who shall have power to procure and adopt a plan agreeably to which the necessary buildings shall be erected; also, to procure, when sufficient funds are collected for the purpose, the necessary materials for said buildings.

      Ordered, That the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees shall be held on the second Monday in May. [461] Ordered, That the Treasurer shall file with the Secretary of this Board, before its next meeting, his bond, in the penalty of ten thousand dollars, with good security, conditioned for the proper performance of his office.

      Ordered, That when this meeting adjourn, it adjourn to meet on Friday, the 18th day of September next, at 12 o'clock A. M., at Bethany.

      On motion of Samuel Grafton, the meeting was adjourned.

THOMAS CAMPBELL, President pro tem.      
      W. F. M. ARNY, Secretary.

      A meeting of the Board of Trustees of Bethany College was held at Bethany, on Friday, September 18th, 1840, according to adjournment. Trustees present--Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Robert Richardson, Robert Y. Henley, Matthew M'Keever, Samuel Grafton, John C. Campbell, William Stewart, Robert Nicolls, Albert G. Ewing, and Adamson Bentley.

      On motion of John C. Campbell, Thomas Campbell was unanimously called to the chair.

      After which the Secretary presented the bond of the Treasurer, which was ordered to be filed.

      Thereupon the Treasurer made a report of what had been done by him since the last meeting, which was ordered to be filed.

      After which Alexander Campbell presented a bond for a deed of ten acres of land for the use and benefit of Bethany College, which was received and ordered to be filed.

      On motion of John C. Campbell, it was

      Unanimously resolved, That the Building Committee be authorized to erect such buildings as they may deem necessary, according to the plan adopted; also, to procure permanent furniture, including beds and bedding, for the building now in progress of erection.

      On motion of William Stewart, it was

      Unanimously resolved, That the Board now proceed to the election of President of the College.

      Whereupon Alexander Campbell was unanimously elected.

      On motion of Albert G. Ewing, it was

      Unanimously resolved, That the President be requested to prepare and submit to the next meeting of this Board for their action, a scheme of the course of education which he thinks ought to be adopted in this Institution; showing the number of Professors requisite under such system, and the branches to be taught by each respectively. Also, that he make inquiry for such Professors, Stewards, and Officers as he may deem necessary to be employed, and report to the [462] next meeting of the Board the names of such persons as he would recommend for the various offices.

      On motion of Adamson Bentley, it was

      Unanimously resolved, That eight additional Trustees be now appointed:

      When, on motion of Alexander Campbell, it was

      Unanimously resolved, That Reuben L. Coleman, of Charlottesville, Va.; Major J. Johnson, Woodville, Wilkinson county, Miss.; Buckner H. Payne, Louisiana; Henry Ewing and Joseph W. Clay, Nashville, Tenn.; William Dabney, Richmond City, Va.; Judge Charles Somner, Akron, Summit county, Ohio; and L. A. Sandidge, of May's Lick, Mason county, Ky., be appointed additional Trustees of Bethany College.


      The first Commencement is recorded in the Harbinger for 1844, page 383:

      At the Commencement on the 4th of July, in this institution, the degree of Bachelor of Arts was conferred on five young gentlemen, the firstfruits of this institution: these were Messrs. J. C. Stone, J. S. Fall, R. T. Bryan, J. A. Dearborn, all of Kentucky, and Wm. Ferrell, of Virginia.

[A. C.]      

      1. Alexander Campbell. "A New Institution." The Millennial Harbinger 10 (October 1839): 446-451.
      2. ----------. "Charter of the Bethany College." The Millennial Harbinger 11 (April 1840): 176.
      3. John C. Campbell. "A Bill Incorporating the Bethany College." The Millennial Harbinger 11
(April 1840): 176-179.
      4. Alexander Campbell. "The First Donation." The Millennial Harbinger 11 (April 1840): 179-180.
      5. Thomas Campbell. "Proceedings of the Board of Trustees of Bethany College," in "Bethany College."
The Millennial Harbinger 11 (November 1840): 508-509.
      6. Alexander Campbell. Extract from "Bethany College." The Millennial Harbinger 15 (August 1844):


[MHA2 453-463]

[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)