Introduction - Dartmouth College
The Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, a Congregational minister from Connecticut, founded Dartmouth College in 1769. He had earlier established Moor's Charity School in Lebanon, Connecticut, principally for the education of Native Americans.
In seeking to expand his school into a college, Wheelock relocated his educational enterprise to Hanover, in the Royal Province of New Hampshire. The move from Connecticut followed a lengthy and sometimes frustrating effort to find resources and secure a charter. Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian and one of Wheelock's first students, was instrumental in raising substantial funds for the College.
The Royal Governor of New Hampshire, John Wentworth, provided the land upon which Dartmouth would be built and on December 13, 1769, conveyed the charter from King George III establishing the College. That charter created a college "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others." Named for William Legge, the Second Earl of Dartmouth â€” an important supporter of Eleazar Wheelock's efforts â€” Dartmouth is the nation's ninth oldest college and the last institution of higher learning established under Colonial rule.
In 1815, Dartmouth became the stage for a constitutional drama that had far-reaching effects. Claiming its 1769 charter invalid, the New Hampshire legislature established a separate governing body for the College and changed its name to Dartmouth University. The existing Trustees, under the leadership of President Francis Brown, challenged the action and insisted on the validity of the charter and Dartmouth's continuance as a private institution free of interference from the state. The case was argued in the United States Supreme Court by Daniel Webster, a graduate in the Class of 1801, who would go on to become a member of Congress and Secretary of State under Presidents William Henry Harrison and Millard Fillmore. The landmark decision handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall in February, 1819, affirmed the validity of the original charter. The Dartmouth College Case, as it has come to be known, is considered to be one of the most important and formative documents in United States constitutional history, strengthening the contract clause of the Constitution and thereby paving the way for all American private institutions to conduct their affairs in accordance with their charters and without interference from the state.
In over two centuries of evolution, Dartmouth College has developed from its roots on the colonial frontier into a college that has a special character and a unique place in private higher education: an excellent undergraduate program, small enough to ensure the intimacy of a classic liberal arts college, with instruction provided by faculty members committed to undergraduate teaching; yet one large enough to provide faculty depth and curricular breadth of a kind typically found only at research universities.
An Ivy League institution, Dartmouth College enrolls approximately 4,300 undergraduates in the liberal arts and 1,200 graduate students. Drawing faculty and students from around the world, Dartmouth is committed to advancing the principles of liberal education within a diverse community of students, teachers and scholars. In addition to 16 graduate programs in the arts and sciences, it is home to the nation's fourth oldest medical school: the Dartmouth Medical School, founded in 1797; the nation's first professional school of engineering: the Thayer School of Engineering, founded in 1867; and the first graduate school of management in the world: the Tuck School of Business, established in 1900.
< Back to college profile