17 U.S. 518 (1819), Trustees Of Dartmouth College v. Woodward

Citation:17 U.S. 518, 4 L.Ed. 629
Case Date:February 25, 1819
Court:United States Supreme Court

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17 U.S. 518 (1819)

4 L.Ed. 629




United States Supreme Court.

February 25, 1819

ERROR to the Superior Court of the State of New-Hampshire. This was an action of trover, brought in the state court, in which the plaintiffs in error declared for

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two books of records, purporting to contain the records of all the doings and proceedings of the trustees of Dartmouth College, from the establishment of the corporation until the 7th day of October 1816; the original charter or letters-patent, constituting the college; the common seal; and four volumes or books of account, purporting to contain the charges and accounts in favor of the college. The defendant pleaded the general issue, and at the trial, the following special verdict was found:

The said jurors, upon their oath, say, that his Majesty George III., king of Great Britain, &c., issued his letters-patent, under the public seal of the province, now state, of New Hampshire, bearing the 13th day of December, in the 10th year of his reign, and in the year of our Lord 1769, in the words following:

George the Third, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting:

Whereas, it hath been represented to our trusty and well-beloved John Wentworth, Esq., governor and commander-in-chief, in and over our province of New Hampshire, in New England, in America, that the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, of Lebanon, in the colony of Connecticut, in New England, aforesaid, now doctor in divinity, did, on or about the year of our Lord 1754,

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at his own expense, on his own estate and plantation, set on foot an Indian charity school, and for several years, through the assistance of well-disposed persons in America, clothed, maintained and educated a number of the children of the Indian natives, with a view to their carrying the Gospel, in their own language, and spreading the knowledge of the great Redeemer, among their savage tribes, and hath actually employed a number of them as missionaries and school-masters in the wilderness, for that purpose: and by the blessing of God upon the endeavors of said Wheelock, the design became reputable among the Indians, insomuch that a large number desired the education of their children in said school, and were also disposed to receive missionaries and school-masters, in the wilderness, more than could be supported by the charitable contributions in these American colonies. Whereupon, the said Eleazar Wheelock thought it expedient, that endeavors should be used to raise contributions from well-disposed persons in England, for the carrying on and extending said undertaking; and for that purpose the said Eleazar Wheelock requested the Rev. Nathaniel Whitaker, now doctor in divinity to go over to England for that purpose, and sent over with him the Rev. Samson Occom, an Indian minister, who had been educated by the said Wheelock. And to enable the said Whitaker to the more successful performance of said work, on which he was sent, said Wheelock gave him a full power of attorney, by which said Whitaker solicited those worthy and generous contributors to the charity, viz.,

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The Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth, the Honorable Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, Knight, one of the barons of his Majesty's court of exchequer, John Thornton, of Clapham, in the county of Surrey, Esquire, Samuel Roffey, of Lincoln's Inn Fields, in the county of Middlesex, Esquire, Charles Hardy, of the parish of Saint Mary-le-bonne, in said county, Esquire, Daniel West, of Christ's church, Spitalfields, in the county aforesaid, Esquire, Samuel Savage, of the same place, gentleman, Josiah Roberts, of the parish of St. Edmund the King, Lombard Street, London, gentleman, and Robert Keen, of the parish of Saint Botolph, Aldgate, London, gentleman, to receive the several sums of money, which should be contributed, and to be trustees for the contributors to such charity, which they cheerfully agreed to. Whereupon, the said Whitaker did, by virtue of said power of attorney, constitute and appoint the said Earl of Dartmouth, Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, John Thornton, Samuel Roffey, Charles Hardy and Daniel West, Esquires, and Samuel Savage, Josiah Roberts and Robert Keen, gentlemen, to be trustees of the money which had then been contributed, and which should, by his means, be contributed for said purpose; which trust they have accepted, as by their engrossed declaration of the same, under their hands and seals, well executed, fully appears, and the same has also been ratified, by a deed of trust, well executed by the said Wheelock.

And the said Wheelock further represents, that he has, by power of attorney, for many weighty reasons,

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given full power to the said trustees, to fix upon and determine the place for said school, most subservient to the great end in view; and to enable them understandingly, to give the preference, the said Wheelock has laid before the said trustees, the several offers which have been generously made in the several governments in America, to encourage and invite the settlement of said school among them, for their own private emolument, and the increase of learning in their respective places, as well as for the furtherance of the general design in view. And whereas, a large number of the proprietors of lands in the western part of this our province of New Hampshire, animated and excited thereto, by the generous example of his excellency, their governor, and by the liberal contributions of many noblemen and gentlemen in England, and especially by the consideration, that such a situation would be as convenient as any for carrying on the great design among the Indians; and also, considering, that without the least impediment to the said design, the same school may be enlarged and improved to promote learning among the English, and be a means to supply a great number of churches and congregations, which are likely soon to be formed in that new country, with a learned and orthodox ministry; they, the said proprietors, have promised large tracts of land, for the uses aforesaid, provided the school shall be settled in the western part of our said province. And they, the said right honorable, honorable and worthy trustees, before mentioned, having maturely considered the reasons and arguments, in favor of the several places

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proposed, have given the preference to the western part of our said province, lying on Connecticut river, as a situation most convenient for said school.

And the said Wheelock has further represented a necessity of a legal incorporation, in order to the safety and well-being of said seminary, and its being capable of the tenure and disposal of lands and bequests for the use of the same. And the said Wheelock has also represented, that for many weighty reasons, it will be expedient, at least, in the infancy of said institution, or till it can be accommodated in that new country, and he and his friends be able to remove and settle, by and round about it, that the gentlemen, whom he has already nominated in his last will (which he has transmitted to the aforesaid gentlemen of the trust in England), to be trustees in America, should be of the corporation now proposed. And also, as there are already large collections for said school, in the hands of the aforesaid gentlemen of the trust, in England, and all reasons to believe, from their singular wisdom, piety and zeal to promote the Redeemer's cause (which has already procured for them the utmost confidence of the kingdom), we may expect they will appoint successors in time to come, who will be men of the same spirit, whereby great good may and will accrue many ways to the institution, and much be done, by their example and influence, to encourage and facilitate the whole design in view; for which reason, said Wheelock desires, that the trustees aforesaid may be vested with all that power therein, which can consist with their distance from the same.

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KNOW YE, THEREFORE, that We, considering the premises, and being willing to encourage the laudable and charitable design of spreading Christian knowledge among the savages of our American wilderness, and also that the best means of education be established in our province of New Hampshire, for the benefit of said province, do, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, by and with the advice of our counsel for said province, by these presents, will, ordain, grant and constitute, that there be a college erected in our said province of New Hampshire, by the name of Dartmouth College, for the education and instruction of youth of the Indian tribes in this land, in reading, writing and all parts of learning, which shall appear necessary and expedient, for civilizing and christianizing children of pagans, as well as in all liberal arts and sciences, and also of English youth and any others. And the trustees of said college may and shall be one body corporate and politic, in deed, action and name, and shall be called, named and distinguished by the name of the Trustees of Dartmouth College.

And further, we have willed, given, granted, constituted and ordained, and by this our present charter, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, with the advice aforesaid, do, for us, our heirs and successors for ever, will, give, grant, constitute and ordain, that there shall be in the said Dartmouth College, from henceforth and for ever, a body politic, consisting of trustees of said Dartmouth College. And for the more full and perfect erection of said corporation and body politic, consisting of trustees of Dartmouth College, we, of our special grace, certain

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knowledge and mere motion, do, by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, make, ordain,...

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