Guide to the Papers of William Allen, 1800 - 1856Manuscript MS-916


William Allen (WA) was born in Pittsfield, MA on January 2, 1784. After graduating from Harvard University in 1802, he studied ministry for two years with his father, Rev. Thomas Allen, and the Rev. Dr. John Pierce of Brookline, MA. In 1804, WA became licensed to preach. In 1805, he became the assistant librarian and regent of Harvard until 1810. WA received his AM from Harvard in 1805. In 1810 he succeeded his father as pastor of the First Congregational Church of Pittsfield, MA where he remained for seven years. In 1812, he received an honorary AM from Dartmouth College. In 1817, WA became Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the newly established Dartmouth University under the presidency of his father-in-law John Wheelock (DC Class of 1771), former President and Trustee of Dartmouth College, 1779-1815. After Wheelock's death, WA became the executor of the John Wheelock estate and succeeded his father-in-law as President of Dartmouth University in 1818. In 1819, Dartmouth University was disbanded by the Supreme Court ruling in the case of the Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, the now famous Dartmouth College Case. After his presidency at the short-lived Dartmouth University, WA accepted the position of President of Bowdoin College in 1820 and moved to Brunswick, ME. As president of Bowdoin, WA established a medical school at the college. In 1831, he was ejected from the presidency as a result of a Maine State Act, but was restored to office two years later because of the ruling of the Dartmouth College Case. In 1838, WA issued his resignation as president of Bowdoin and the next year after his decision took effect he retired to Northampton, MA. While at Northampton, he published the third edition of his "American Biographical and Historical Dictionary" (1857). Other works by WA include "Junius Unmasked" (1828), a memoir of Eleazar Wheelock, D.D., founder and first president of Dartmouth College (1838), and two books of verse: "Wunnissoo, or the Vale of Hoosatunnuk, a Poem" (1856) and "Poems of Nazareth and the Cross" (1866). In 1812, WA married Maria Malleville Wheelock, the only child of John Wheelock. Before her death in 1828, she and WA had eight children. In 1831, WA was remarried to Sarah Johnson Breed, who died in 1848. William Allen died in Northampton, MA on July 16, 1868 at 84 years of age.

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