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Wheelock, John , 1754-1817

 

Dates

  • Existence: 1754 - 1817

John Wheelock was born on January 28, 1754, in Lebanon, Conn.He was the eldest son of Eleazar Wheelock who was the founder and first president of Dartmouth College; John Wheelock succeeded his father as the College’s second president.

Wheelock began his higher education at Yale, then followed his father to Hanover, NH when his father founded Dartmouth and completed his studies there, where he was a member of the College’s inaugural graduating class in 1771.

In 1776, Wheelock became a leader of the United Committees, a group of disgruntled New Hampshire citizens angry at their lack of representation in the state legislature and the distance of the state capital; in retaliation for these slights, Wheelock and others led twelve New Hampshire towns to secede from the state and attempt to join Vermont. The next year, 1777, as the Revolutionary War raged, Wheelock briefly served in New York and Vermont as a lieutenant colonel in Colonel Bedel's Regiment.

Upon his father's death in 1779, John Wheelock assumed the presidency of the College, despite the fact that he was neither an academic nor a minister. During his almost forty years as Dartmouth's president (1779–1815), Wheelock oversaw the construction of Dartmouth Hall and the founding of Dartmouth Medical School, the fourth-oldest medical school in the country; he also maintained the College’s fiscal solvency throughout the Revolutionary War, mainly through the Vermont legislature’s grant of 23,000 acres (93 km²) in Wheelock, Vermont. During the latter half of Wheelock's tenure, he became embroiled in a dispute with Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees. Wheelock proceeded to convince the governor of New Hampshire to fill the Board with supporters and turn Dartmouth College into a state-controlled Dartmouth University. The original, private Board resisted and eventually sued. The case, Dartmouth College v. Woodward, went through various judicial courts, before the United States Supreme Court decided in the Board's favor in 1819, the result of a brilliant peroration by Dartmouth alumnus Daniel Webster, class of 1801, who had, ironically, graduated under Wheelock's tenure. However, by this time, Wheelock, who had been forced out of the presidency in 1815 by failing health and poor relations with the Board, had died.

Found in 609 Collections and/or Records:

Abijah Blanchard letter

Mss 813411.1
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 813411.1
Scope and Contents Two-page letter from Abijah Blanchard of Waterford, New York to John Wheelock in Hanover, New Hampshire with a recommendation of Francis Drake.

Abraham Morrill letter

Mss 788603.1
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 788603.1
Overview In English.

Abram Lott letter

Mss 787569
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 787569
Overview In English.

Accounts of Extra Expenses for the School

Mss 789390
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 789390
Overview In English.

Accounts of Moor's Charity School

Mss 789358
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 789358
Overview In English.

Alex(ander) Thomas letter

Mss 788576
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 788576
Overview In English.

Alvin Johnson letter

Mss 788479
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 788479
Overview In English.

Answer to John Wheelock and Stephen Jacob

Mss 806611
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 806611
Overview In English.

B. Chase letter

Mss 788653
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 788653
Overview In English.

Ben Woodward letter

Mss 802269
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 802269
Overview In English.