Bache, Alexander D.

1838 ALS to trustee Joseph Hopkinson raising problems with Stephen Girard’s will to further aims of Girard College

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(1806-1867) USMA 1825, youngest in his class, graduated with highest achievement and stayed on for a year as an engineering assistant. Army construction engineer to 1828 when he resigned from the Army and accepted chemistry professorship at University of Pennsylvania. Member of the Franklin Institute for the Promotion of Mechanic Arts and of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, conducted notable scientific studies in general mechanics, terrestrial magnetism, and weights and measures. Accepted presidency of Girard College 1836 and traveled to Europe to learn how a school could be organized according to Girard's innovative desires. After 26 months of intense investigation into 278 schools, he published the lengthy, exacting “Report on Education in Europe” (1839). This study of comparative education, covering "the systems of general education" as well as the education of orphans, was very influential. When the college’s opening was delayed by financial and political problems, he helped organize Philadelphia’s new Central High School and became its 1st principal 1839. Adapting ideas derived from the Prussian educational system, he planned the curriculum with emphasis on science (“Report to the Controllers of the Public Schools on the Reorganization of Central High School” 1839). In 1843 President Tyler appointed Bache superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey, a position he held until his death. Bache directed the expansion of the office's scientific activity. Influential in establishing the National Academy of Sciences, he was its 1st president 1863-1867. Girard College was founded in 1833 and opened Jan. 1, 1848 under provisions of the will of financier Stephen Girard, who acquired his wealth as a sea captain and was possibly the wealthiest man in America at the time of his death in 1831. It was the largest private charitable donation up to that time in American history. Not part of the School District of Philadelphia,it is a private philanthropic boarding school for academically capable students, grades 1 through 12. Originally instituted for the education of poor white orphan boys, his will prevents any ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister of any sect from having any connection with the college, and clergy are not even allowed to enter the grounds. The school was segregated well after Brown v. Board of Education and desegregated by the Supreme Court, the first African American student admitted in 1968. The first female student was admitted as a first grader in the 1980s, the first females graduated in 1992. Joseph Hopkinson (1770-1842) Son of Francis Hopkinson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, graduated from Univ. of Pennsylvania, read the law with William Rawle and James Wilson before being admitted to the bar in 1791. In 1795 he defended the men charged with treason in the Whiskey Rebellion; in 1799 he successfully represented Dr. Benjamin Rush in a libel suit against journalist William Cobbett; and in 1804 he successfully defended defending Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase in his impeachment trial. In 1794 he married the daughter of Pennsylvania Governor (and Constitution Framer) Thomas Mifflin. In 1798 composed the lyrics for the patriotic song "Hail Columbia" to be sung to the tune of "The President's March." Federalist US Rep. 1814-19. In 1819, he argued several landmark constitutional cases before the US Supreme Court, including Dartmouth College v. Woodward, and McCulloch v. Maryland. US district judge for Eastern District of Penna. 1828-1842, issued 1833 opinion in Wheaton v. Peters, establishing foundations of modern American copyright law. He wrote Steohen Girard’s will and was one of the 5 executors and trustees. His civic and cultural activities included service as President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and as Vice-President of the American Philosophical Society. ALS, 1 1/2pp (one sheet), to Joseph Hopkinson noting that as Stephen Girard’s will requires children entering the college be between ages 6 and 10, the institution must begin with an elementary school. As most pupils will “no doubt go to trades” discusses suggestions as to courses they should and should not be taught. In full: "Dear sir I have just received yours, indorsing a letter from Sig. Di Mariotti and as he desires to be speedily informed in regard to the point, whether the Trustees will forward at once to the appointment of the officers of the institution it occurs to me that I had better informally tell you what appears to me probable in the case that you may if you see fit communicate it to M. Di Mariotti. The will of Mr. Girard requires that the children entering the college should be between the ages of six & ten years. The institution must therefore begin with an elementary school. Suffering this school to be at once organized (which it is not yet ascertained if the Trustees will be permitted to do) it must be some years before professional instruction will be acquired. So at best the case appears to me. As the majority of the pupils will no doubt go to trades, they will not have time for the complete intellectual development [promised?] through the combination of instruction in languages & science. Hence as the elementary school must include all, I do not think that instruction in (or through) foreign languages can form part of that to be given in the school. With kind regards to your family, I remain Very truly yours, [signed] A. D. Bache Oct. 11, 1838 Hon. Jos. Hopkinson"

Condition: Very good, slight rough edge, minor wrinkling
Type:Letter






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