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PRESBYTERIANISM IN THE SOUTHWEST.

ORIGIN OF OAKLAND COLLEGE - MURDER OF PRESIDENT

CHAMBERLAIN.

OAKLAND COLLEGE is located in Claiborne County (Mississippi), thirty-five miles north of the city of Natchez, and five miles east of the Mississippi River. Rodney is the nearest landing. Bruinsburg, three miles north, is the spot where General Grant crossed the river and gained possession of the rear of the city of Vicksburg, and soon that city fell. Oakland is situated in a region of country rendered interesting from many reminiscences of early times. Here was the scene of some characteristic incidents in the life of General Andrew Jackson. A few miles from the college was the residence of Blennerhassett. Here was the place of the capture of Aaron Burr. In this vicinity was the plantation of the amiable, patriotic, and lamented General Zachary Taylor. This region also derives much interest from the visits and labors of some of the earliest pioneers of Presbyterianism in the Southwest. Rickhow, and Smylie, and Montgomery,the last lately gone to his reward after a long life of labor in the Master's vineyard, the two former still living at an advanced age-here came, when the dew of their youth was upon them, and laid the foundation of our churches. Here visited and preached Schermerhorn, and S. J. Mills, and Larned, and Bullen, and many others whose praise is in our Southern Zion. The eccentric Lorenzo Dow here rode his mule and blew his horn, and attracted crowds of the first settlers, preaching on housetops and haystacks, resembling Peter the Hermit, who once marshalled all Europe under the Crusader's banner.

The origin of Oakland College may be traced to a meeting of Presbyterian ministers, held in the town of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in April, 1829. Some circumstances had occurred previous to this meeting which had particularly attracted the attention of Presbyterians to the subject of Southern education.

There was not, at that time, a single college, prepared to give a regular collegiate education, within the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, and the territory of Arkansas-containing a population at that time of more than three hundred thousand souls, and a tract of country of more than one hundred and forty-five thousand square miles, embracing the growing city of New Orleans and other citieswith a soil capable of sustaining a vast population. Efforts had been made by the Legislature of Louisiana, with princely liberality, to establish several institutions of learning, all of which had virtually failed. In the State of Mississippi exertions had been made for nearly thirty years, and large donations from the general government, and from corporations and individuals, had been expended ; and yet not one individual was known to have been graduated. The religious community had done nothing.

After viewing these facts, and having a full interchange of sentiments, the clergymen above referred to concluded that they would fail in their duty, and forfeit the character of their Church, as the great champion of learning, if they did not make an effort to meet the claims of the country, and provide means for a thorough Southern education. A committee was accordingly appointed who, after an extensive correspondence, continued through several months, called a meeting of the friends of education at Bethel Church, two miles from the present location of the college, on the 14th of January, 1830. This meeting was composed of gentlemen from the parishes of East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, and West Feliciana, Louisiana; and from the counties of Claiborne, Amite, Wilkinson, Adams, Jefferson, Warren, Hinds, and Madison, in Mississippi, and continued six days. The following resolution was presented :

Resolved, That it is expedient to establish and endow an insti. tution of learning within our bounds, which, when complete, shall embrace the usual branches of science and literature taught in the colleges of our country, together with a preparatory English and Grammar School, and Theological Professorship, or Seminary.

This resolution was sustained by gentlemen from every part of the country represented in the meeting; and after considering it for three days, it was unanimously adopted. A subscription was immediately opened to supply the requisite funds. Twelve thoạsand dollars were contributed for the purchase of a site and the erection of necessary buildings. Committees were appointed to prepare a constitution, to view the various locations which had been spoken of, and to make all necessary arrangements for opening the school.

The Presbytery of Mississippi, embracing, at that time, all the Presbyterian ministers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, received the proposed seminary under its care, adopted a constitution, appointed a Board of Trustees and the President of the college, and fixed the location within three miles of Bethel Church, in Claiborne County, Mississippi. On the 14th of May the school opened with three pupils, who had accompanied the President, the Rev. Jeremiah Chamberlain, D.D., from Jackson, Louisiana, where he had been presiding for some time over the “ College of Louisiana.” On the 2d of July, 1830, the first clearing

was begun on the magnificent Oak Ridge, now occupied by the college buildings. At the end of the session, March 28th, the school consisted of sixty-five pupils. The two more advanced formed a sophomore class, and there were five in the freshman class; the remainder were in the English and classical schools. The President instructed the two college classes and the classical school in the languages; and his brother, Mr. John Chamberlain, afterwards professor of chemistry and natural philosophy, instructed the classes in mathematics and in the English school. In the winter of 1831, a charter was received from the legislature of the State. In 1833, the first commencement was held; and Mr. James M. Smylie, recent Vice-Chancellor of the State of Mississippi, was the first graduate of Oakland College. His classmate, William Montgomery, son of Rev. William Montgomery, one of our oldest ministers, who expected to receive his degree at the same time, was removed by death about three weeks before the commencement. This is believed to be the first commencement south of Tennessee, and Judge Smylie is the first native Mississippian who received the degree of A. B. in his own State.

Such was the origin of Oakland College, an institution which has aided in the education of nearly one thousand native youth, and which now has on the roll of its graduates one hundred and twenty alumni, who are scattered throughout the Southwest, and occupied in the cultivation of the soil or in the learned professions. And the writer believes that there is not on the list of the graduates of Oakland College a single name upon which rests a blemish of dishonor or immorality. And the large number of those educated young men who assemble annually in the groves and halls of their alma mater, is a pleasing token of their interest and affection, and a guarantee of what the institution may hereafter expect from the influence and character of her own sons.

The necessary buildings and accommodations for students and teachers have been provided as the wants of the institution have required. There are, at this time, about thirty cottages for the occupancy of the pupils; residences for the President and professors; two handsome halls for the literary societies, with libraries attached; a college library of opwards of four thousand volumes; a philosophical, chemical, and astronomical apparatus, which cost nearly $4,000; a main college of brick, one hundred and twelve by sixty, containing a college chapel, prayer hall, lecture rooms, and other requisite accommodations. The institution has never received any aid from the State or general government. Its funds have been provided entirely from private liberality. And these funds would now be sufficient to sustain the college, were it not for some unfortunate investments a few years since in the banks of the State.

We shall conclude this brief history of Oakland College, by stating a recent occurrence, which, at the time, cast a deep gloom over the institution, and filled the whole land with astonishment and grief. The President and professors had been performing their quiet and laborious duties, unconscious of being the objects of any great amount of popular dislike or favor, when, during the pendency of the election in the State of Mississippi, in the summer of 1851, for members to the State Convention, the faculty were accused by individuals, and by some of the State Rights papers, of giving in their teachings undue favor to the sentiments of the Union Party. These clamors gained ground, until, during the election in September, handbills were circulated directly.charging the faculty with highly

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