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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 388 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.

Ben Woodward letter

Mss 802269
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 802269
Overview In English.

Benjamin Darling letter

Mss 811478.1
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 811478.1
Scope and Contents Letter from Benjamin Darling in Hanover, New Hampshire to President and Trustees of Dartmouth College with a petition for abatement of College bill which were billed to him during the time he was not a member of the College.

Benjamin Pomeroy letter

Mss 781508
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 781508
Scope and Contents Pomeroy writes to Wheelock from Hebron stating he is not strong enough to attend the Trustees' meeting.

Caleb Bingham letter

Mss 784324
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 784324
Overview In English.

Capt. Francis Annanee letter

Mss 803555
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 803555
Overview In English.

Capt. Francis Annanee letter

Mss 803590
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 803590
Overview In English.

Charles Backus letter

Mss 796352
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 796352
Scope and Contents Letter from Charles Backus of Somers to John Wheelock of Hanover, N.H. informing him that he declines appointment as Professor of Divinity.

Charles Coffin letter

Mss 815512
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 815512
Overview In English.

Cyrus Perkins testimony

Mss 815564
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 815564
Overview In English.