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From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:


The Founding of the College was initiated by the Baptists of the Philadelphia Association. The Association had in 1756 established the first Baptist Latin Grammar School, Hopewell Academy, in New Jersey. In 1762, the design of establishing a college was promoted, with the Reverend Morgan Edwards, moderator of the Association a prime mover of the project, and Rhode Island was selected as a likely site, since the colony had been settled by Baptists, was still largely governed by Baptists, and had no college. Accordingly, James Manning, a graduate of New Jersey College (Princeton) in 1762, visited Newport in July 1763, where he met with “about 15 gentlemen of the same denomination” at the home of Deputy Governor John Gardner. The plan for a college was immediately accepted and a Charter was presented to the August 1763 General Assembly in Newport. After postponement a different charter was presented at subsequent sessions and granted at the session in East Greenwich on March 2 and 3, 1764. At the first meeting of the Corporation September 5, 1764 there were present eleven of the twelve Fellows and nineteen of the 36 Trustees. They included Governor Stephen Hopkins, his rival and sometimes Governor Samuel Ward, and two later governors of Rhode Island, Joseph Wanton and Josias Lyndon. Also present were James Honyman, attorney-general for the Colony, and present and future judges Job Bennet, Joshua Babcock and David Jenckes. There were two Harvard graduates, Edward Upham, who was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Newport, and Jeremiah Condy, a Baptist minister in Boston, and one Yale graduate, Thomas Eyres, a Newport physician. Nicholas Brown, prominent merchant from Providence, for whose son the College would later be named, was also present at the first meeting. The second meeting of the Corporation was held one year later, on September 5, 1765. At this time James Manning was appointed “President of the College, Professor of Languages and other Branches of Learning ...” just in time to begin his duties, for the first student, William Rogers, had matriculated the day before the meeting.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.

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