Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840

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John Thornton Kirkland (1770-1840) was President of Harvard University from 1810-1828.

From the description of My dear sir, permit me to introduce to you the bearer, Mr. McEwen of Philadelphia, a gentleman & a scholar, yours truly, J. T. Kirkland, 6 October [ca. 1800-1840]. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77067915

John T. Kirkland (1770-1840) was the fifteenth President of Harvard University from November 14, 1810 to April 2, 1828. He led Harvard University through a period of expansion and student unrest; he resigned in a conflict with the Board of Overseers over his financial management of the university.

From the description of Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, 1788-1842, 2000. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77066280

President of Harvard College.

From the description of Extract from a sermon delivered : manuscript copy in the autograph of John Pierpont, 1798 May 9. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270494763

John Thornton Kirkland (1770-1840) served as the fifteenth President of Harvard University from November 14, 1810 to April 2, 1828.

Kirkland was born to Samuel Kirkland and Jerusha (Bingham) Kirkland on August 17, 1770 in Herkimer, New York. His father was a Congregational minister and missionary to Indians who founded the town of Kirkland, New York and established Hamilton Oneida College (later known as Hamilton College ). Kirkland's early education took place at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He later graduated from Harvard College (AB 1789) and returned to teach at Phillips Academy and study divinity. However, Kirkland found the Calvinist doctrine too restrictive and decided to return to Harvard University and joined the Unitarian denomination. While studying divinity at Harvard, Kirkland served as a tutor of logic and metaphysics (1792-1794). Kirkland was ordained as a pastor of the New South Church in Boston, Massachusetts in 1794, serving until 1810.

A respected church leader, Kirkland was elected president of Harvard University in 1810. Under Kirkland's leadership Harvard expanded rapidly and evolved from a college to a university. Fifteen new professorships were formed, and the Law School (1817) and the Divinity School (1819) were founded during Kirkland's administration. New buildings were added to the school grounds; Holworthy Hall (1812), University Hall (1814), the Medical College (1816), and Divinity Hall (1825) were constructed. Other buildings were enlarged and renovated. The Library took over the entire second floor of Harvard Hall and extensive repairs were undertaken in Holden Chapel, Harvard Hall, Stoughton Hall, Hollis Hall, and Massachusetts Hall. New areas of instruction in chemistry, mineralogy, anatomy, physiology, and elocution were added to the college curriculum; the lecture method of instruction was introduced into the classroom; and the first student electives at Harvard were offered. Kirkland also played a leading role in the improvement of Harvard Yard which was cluttered at the time with a brew house, a wood yard, privies, roaming sheep, and a college pig pen. Under Kirkland's stewardship, the Yard was replaced with elm trees, regular pathways, and a proper lawn.

Kirkland's last years as Harvard president ended with controversy. Student disorder on campus was common in the early nineteenth century. When student riots and fights broke out at Harvard in 1823 over who was to give the commencement address at graduation, Kirkland expelled half of the senior class. As a result of Kirkland's actions, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rescinded the school's $10,000 annual state subsidy in 1824. This financial loss created a budget deficit, but more importantly, it exposed Kirkland's lack of management skills in administering the University's finances. A fiscal crisis led to a financial retrenchment at Harvard and undermined Kirkland's authority. Over the next year, Kirkland's salary was reduced, his student secretary's job was eliminated, professors' salaries were cut, teaching loads increased, non-resident teachers were fired, and the University sloop, the Harvard, was sold. Harvard's financial accounts were brought under strict control and Kirkland's laxity in managing the financial affairs of the University was ended. In August 1827, Kirkland suffered a slight paralytic stroke. No longer able to meet the increasing challenges of administering Harvard's affairs, Kirkland resigned in March 1828.

After leaving Harvard University, Kirkland and his new wife, Elizabeth, traveled extensively in the southern United States, Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East. Returning to Boston from his overseas trips in 1832, Kirkland's health began to deteriorate, and he spent the last years of his life living quietly. Kirkland died on April 24, 1840.

From the guide to the Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, and undated., 1788-1837, (Harvard University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Confederate States of America. Dept. of the Treasury. Interim depository receipts, Hillsboro, N.C., 1864. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848,. Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson [manuscript], 1814-1826. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Records of the Erving Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy kept by John White Webster, 1824-1835 and undated. Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Extract from a sermon delivered : manuscript copy in the autograph of John Pierpont, 1798 May 9. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Emerson family correspondence, ca. 1725-1900. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Lowell, Charles, 1782-1861. Letter, 1828 April 2, Cambridge, to John Thornton Kirkland. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Papers, 1817-1867. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Brown, Francis, 1784-1820. Letter, 19 September 1818, to Daniel Webster. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf [John L. Kirkland, biographical materials] University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
creatorOf Monroe, James, 1758-1831. Financial records : of James Monroe, 1809-1831, n.d. James Monroe Museum & Memorial Library
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Letter, 1826 April 12, Cambridge, to George Ticknor, Cambridge. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Society for the Study of Natural Philosophy. Records, 1801-1807. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Anthology Society. Anthology Society records, 1806-1808. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Harvard University. College history by Nathaniel Bowditch, 1828 May 12. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Society for Promoting Theological Education. Records, 1815-1977 (inclusive). Harvard University, Divinity School Library
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, ca. 1852-ca. 2004 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Correspondence and reports by John Collins Warren, Hersey Professor of Anatomy and Surgery, 1814-1827 and undated. Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Records of Jacob Bigelow, Rumford Professor and Lecturer on the Application of Science to the Useful Arts, 1816-1827. Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Harvard University. Corporation. Inauguration records, 1806-1819 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Kirkland, Samuel, 1741-1808. Papers 1765-1808. Hamilton College, Daniel Burke Library
referencedIn Temple, Nelson, Lloyd, Vassall, and Borland family papers, 1611-1862 (inclusive), 1700-1831 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Harvard University. Corporation. At a meeting of the immediate government of Harvard University, Nov. 9th 1818, the following votes were received from the Corporation. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Lewis Gannett papers, 1681-1966 (inclusive) 1900-1960 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Wendell Phillips papers, 1555-1882 (inclusive) 1833-1881 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Parsons-Sargent family papers, 1749-1917, bulk: 1793-1842. Library of Congress
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, 1788-1842, 2000. Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Letter to James Monroe 1827June 27. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Everett, Edward, 1794-1865. Letter book, 1818-1819. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf Harvard University. Corporation. Records of early Harvard buildings, 1710-1969. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915. Topical pamphlet collection, <1741>-<1996>. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
referencedIn Records of the Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic kept by James Jackson, 1814-1827 and undated. Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Kirkland, Samuel, 1741-1808. Papers, 1764-1808. New Hampshire Newsp Project
creatorOf Phillips, Willard, 1784-1873. Papers, 1769-1875. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, to T.B. Adams, 1812 Feb. 14. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. My dear sir, permit me to introduce to you the bearer, Mr. McEwen of Philadelphia, a gentleman & a scholar, yours truly, J. T. Kirkland, 6 October [ca. 1800-1840]. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn James Freeman Clarke additional correspondence, 1787-1886. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Autograph File, L, 1641-1976. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, and undated., 1788-1837 Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Emerson, George B. (George Barrell), 1797-1881. Papers, 1709-1904. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Bancroft, George, 1800-1891. Papers, 1816-1890. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Lewis Gannett papers, 1681-1966 (inclusive) 1900-1960 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Biographical sketch of John Thornton Kirkland with partial transcriptions of his papers held in the Harvard University Archives, 2000. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Swan, Sarah Hodges, 1825-1910. Hodges-Swan family papers, 1698-1909 (bulk 1845-1909) Cambridge Historical Society
referencedIn Papers of Professor Henry William Wilder Foote and Family, 1714-1959 Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School
referencedIn Autograph File, A, 1518-2002. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Harvard University. Corporation. Correspondence concerning the design of the Bowdoin medal, 1814- 1822 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, and undated., 1788-1837 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Edwad Everett letter book, 1818-1819. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Stearns, Asahel, 1774-1839. Proposals looking to the founding of the Harvard Law School [1816-1817]. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Letter, 1826 March 2. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Kirkland, John Thornton, 1770-1840. Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, to E. Gerry, 1812 Jan. 8. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Kappa Delta Society (Cambridge, Mass.). Records, 1804-1819. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Sibley, John Langdon, 1804-1885. Note from John Langdon Sibley regarding the Papers of John Thornton Kirkland, 1842 January. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Gray, John Henry, 1802-1850. John Henry Gray papers, 1747-1847. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Harris, Thaddeus Mason, 1768-1842. Papers, 1631-1842. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Transylvania University. Board of Trustees. Holley collections, 1797-1890 (bulk 1818-1832). Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives, Kentucky State Archives
referencedIn Edwad Everett letter book, 1818-1819. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Houghton Library printed book provenance file, E-K. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Harvard University. Corporation. Memorandum books of the Corporation, 1806-1814 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Bancroft, George, 1800-1891. [Letter] 1871 July 4, American Legation, Berlin [to Charles William] Eliot [Cambridge] : [copy]. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Papers of the Grew, Andrews, Norton, and Wigglesworth families, 1738-1884. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Waterhouse, Benjamin, 1754-1846. Papers, 1783-1841, undated. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn James Freeman Clarke additional correspondence, 1787-1886. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Papers, 1796-1845 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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associatedWith Gerry, Elbridge, 1744-1814, person
associatedWith Gray, John Henry, 1802-1850. person
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associatedWith Hayward, James, 1786-1866. person
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associatedWith James L. Murray person
associatedWith Jerusha (Kirkland) Lothrop person
associatedWith John Hosmer person
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associatedWith John T. Kirkland. person
associatedWith John T. Kirkland's person
associatedWith Kappa Delta Society (Cambridge, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Kirkland family. family
associatedWith Kirkland, Samuel, 1741-1808. person
associatedWith Lega, Mr. person
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associatedWith Lowell, Charles, 1782-1861. person
associatedWith Lyman Buckminster person
associatedWith Mary Ann Lothrop's person
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correspondedWith Palfrey family. family
associatedWith Phillips Academy corporateBody
correspondedWith Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884 person
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associatedWith Sibley, John Langdon, 1804-1885. person
associatedWith Sidney Willard person
associatedWith Society for Promoting Theological Education. corporateBody
associatedWith Society for the Study of Natural Philosophy. corporateBody
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
correspondedWith Story, Joseph person
associatedWith Swan, Sarah Hodges, 1825-1910. person
associatedWith Thomas Dobson's person
associatedWith Ticknor, George, 1791-1871. person
associatedWith University Hall corporateBody
associatedWith University of Virginia corporateBody
associatedWith Walker, Timothy, 1802-1856. person
associatedWith Warren, John Collins, 1778-1856 person
associatedWith Waterhouse, Benjamin, 1754-1846. person
associatedWith Webster, John White, 1793-1850 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Virginia--Charlottesville
Massachusetts--Boston
Subject
Mathematics teachers
Clergy
Unitarian churches--Clergy
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1770-08-17

Death 1840-04-26

Male

Information

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