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Wayland, Francis (1796–1865)

Wayland, Francis (17961865)


The Reverend Francis Wayland exerted a strong influence over generations of American youth, including not only his own students at Brown University, but also the thousands who relied on his standard textbooks, The Elements of Moral Philosophy (1835), and The Elements of Political Economy (1837). Wayland was born March 11, 1796 in New York City to English immigrant parents. He graduated from Union College in 1813 and was preparing to become a doctor when he underwent a conversion experience and enrolled at Andover Seminary. After graduating in 1816, Wayland returned as a teacher to Union, then led the First Baptist Church in Boston, before being installed as president of Brown in 1826.

Wayland's legacy is as a reformer. Brown was a troubled institution when he arrived. Wayland embarked on a vigorous program to revivify the school, through a combination of increased student discipline and liberalization of the curriculum. He compelled faculty to live on campus and pay visits to students in their quarters. He insisted that all student infractions be reported to him personally, and he used the threat of expulsion to keep order. Yet Wayland compelled an enormous respect and admiration from many students. In contrast to his restrictive approach to student behavior, Wayland advocated opening Brown's pedagogy. For colleges to be competitive in the market for students, he believed they should offer classes relevant to the new professions of the nineteenth century. Wayland rejected the standard fixed university curriculum of classics, mathematics, and philosophy. He introduced classes in the sciences and engineering. Wayland also advocated for the expansion of the public school system in Rhode Island so that a greater number of youth might be prepared for college. His ideas about education are best expressed in his books Thoughts onthe Present Collegiate System (1842), and Report to the Corporation of Brown University on Changes in the System of Collegiate Education (1850).

Wayland's approach to raising his children mirrored his treatment of students. A personal essay published anonymously in The American Baptist Magazine in 1831 testifies to his intensive disciplinary efforts. The piece describes his reaction to the willful refusal of his fifteen-month-old son, Heman, to accept a piece of bread from Wayland's hand. To subdue Heman's temper, Wayland left him alone in a room, without food or drink, for a day and a half. He visited regularly to give Heman a chance to behave compliantly, until the infant finally relented his obstinacy. Wayland's discipline, while strict, was balanced with great openness and love. Heman and his older brother, Francis, Jr., fondly remembered wrestling their imposing father on the living room floor; and both expressed absolute respect and love for him in their personal letters. Historian William G. McLoughlin has suggested that Wayland's disciplinary technique, prompted by religious fears of infantile propensities towards sin, may have been archetypal of evangelical child rearing, and likely to result in "reaction formation."

Wayland retired from Brown in 1855, afterwards devoting himself to reform movements including temperance, antislavery, peace organizing, and prison and hospital reform. He died September 30, 1865, at the age of sixty-nine.

See also: Child Development, History of the Concept of; Discipline.

bibliography

Cremin, Lawrence. 1980. American Education: The National Experience, 17831876. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.

McLoughlin, William G. 1975. "Evangelical Child Rearing in the Age of Jackson: Francis Wayland's Views on When and How to 9: Subdue the Willfulness of Children." Journal of Social History 2043.

Smith, Wilson. 1956. Professors and Public Ethics: Studies of Northern Moral Philosophers before the Civil War. New York: Cornell University Press.

Rachel Hope Cleves

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Francis Wayland

Francis Wayland

Francis Wayland (1796-1865), American educator and clergyman, was in the forefront among educators who urged reforms in American collegiate education.

Francis Wayland was born in New York City on March 11, 1796, to a Baptist family recently emigrated from England. He entered Union College, Schenectady, at the age of 15. After his graduation in 1813, he began studying medicine with doctors in Troy. He received his license to practice medicine but decided to study theology and went to Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts in 1816.

Financial difficulties interrupted Wayland's theological studies. He accepted a tutorship at Union, where he associated with the president of the college, Eliphalet Nott. After 4 years in teaching, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Boston in 1821. In 1825 he married Lucy L. Lincoln, and the next year he resigned his pastorate to become a professor of moral philosophy at Union. In 1827 he became president of Brown University.

At this time Brown was suffering from a decline in applicants, faculty dissension, and a breakdown in student discipline. To correct the abuses, Wayland called for more faculty responsibility in teaching and in the supervision of student life and for greater student discipline.

Wayland also tackled the problems of declining enrollments and financial crises. In 1842 his "Thoughts on the present Collegiate System in the United States" cast him nationwide as a critic of higher education who urged drastic reforms. He charged that college education did not meet the needs of an American public with increasing diversity of backgrounds and educational needs. His reforms stressed an expanded curriculum, including science; a student's election of his own course of study; flexibility in the required residence for a degree; thoroughness in teaching; increased fees; and better library facilities. In 1850 his report to the Brown board of trustees called for an overhaul of the college's educational program in order to attract more students and improve the college's usefulness to society.

Wayland's proposals ultimately won disfavor, and he resigned in 1855. After his first wife's death in 1834, he had married again in 1838. His later years were spent in writing and as pastor of a Baptist church in Providence, R.I. He died on Sept. 30, 1865.

Further Reading

The standard biography is James O. Murray, Francis Wayland (1891). For background see Walter C. Bronson, The History of Brown University, 1764-1914 (1914); R. Freeman Butts, The College Charts Its Course (1939); H.G. Good, A History of American Education (1956); and Frederick Rudolph, The American College and University (1962). □

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Wayland, Francis

Francis Wayland, 1796–1865, American clergyman and educator, b. New York City, grad. Union College, 1813, and studied at Andover Theological Seminary. As pastor (1821–26) of the First Baptist Church, Boston, he became known for his able preaching. After a brief professorship at Union College, he was president (1827–55) of Brown. He enlarged the scope of the institution through a vigorous program of reforms and was a pioneer in progressive ideas in higher education, such as flexible entrance requirements and elective systems. His founding of a free library at Wayland, Mass., inspired legislation that empowered towns to support public libraries by taxation. After retirement he gave his attention to benevolent works, notably prison reform. His many books include Elements of Moral Science (1835), Elements of Political Economy (1837), and Elements of Intellectual Philosophy (1854). His son Francis Wayland, 1826–1904, b. Boston, grad. Brown, 1846, studied at Harvard law school and was (1873–1903) dean of the Yale law school. A graduate course in law, the first of its kind in America, was established under his auspices.

See biography of the father by the son (2 vol., 1867); study by T. R. Crane (1962).

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