SOME good chance guides us to Andover Hill, it may be for the first time. The stately Elm Arch, lofty and symmetrical, stretches out before us, shading the broad playing-fields which it borders. To left and right are dignified halls and houses which seem to reach far back into a New England past. If we come on a bright morning, we linger in delight over the view across the valley to the wooded ranges beyond; if at evening, we may catch a glimpse of one of those gorgeous sunsets which turn all the western sky to gold. The great school is near at hand, where we can respond to the throbbing pulse of its vitality. Hundreds of boys may be dashing to and fro across the Campus, or, through the half-darkness, lights may be glimmering from countless windows. Vague recollections of other towns, possibly of other similar schools, pass before our mental vision. The particular emotions which move us are, after all, not altogether unusual. But when we learn to know the Hill, we realize that it has a peculiar fascination, --- that it possesses that mysterious thing called personality.
What that personality is cannot be summed up in a phrase. It may be that, like the charm of many a noble painting, it is inexplicable and defies analysis. But that, though indefinable, it really exists, no Andover man will ever deny. When he comes to estimate the permanent values of his education, he will, perhaps, recall a teacher from whom he drew inspiration, a friend who taught him some vital lesson, a scholar who gave him a clue to right thinking, a preacher who showed him how to guard aright the immediate jewel of his soul; but there will be something left which he cannot measure, something which he seldom appreciates until his youth is gone irrevocably. Phillips Academy has left upon him, if he is worthy of her, the impress of her traditions.
On Andover Hill the very stones have tales to tell, and every path is filled with memories. Distinguished names come to our minds, and we feel as Wordsworth felt when he walked over the college lawns at Cambridge: --
I could not print
Ground where the grass had yielded to the steps
Of generations of illustrious men
Unmoved. I could not always lightly pass
Through the same gateways, sleep where they had slept,
Wake where they waked, range that enclosure old,
That garden of great intellects undisturbed.
Associations and reminiscences are alike inspiring. The ancient oaks and elms, the soft-hued brick of the dormitories against a leafy background, the gabled "Queen Anne" residences of a less artistic time, the new Phillips Gateway and the newer Peabody House, --- all these blend, the old with the modern, to make the Hill a lovely place to look upon.
Such a gift of beauty belongs to certain English schools, like Harrow and Winchester. But their picturesque individuality, so attractive to visitors, is merged in something broader and finer. It is their glory also that they are linked inseparably with the British Empire and its future. Swinburne has expressed this eloquently in his lines on the four hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Eton College: --
Still the reaches of the river, still the light on field and hill,
Still the memories held aloft as lamps for hope's young fire to fill
Shine, and while the light of England lives shall shine for England still.
So Phillips Academy, born and nurtured in critical days when our national consciousness was in the making, has had its part in our American history. It is something that "My country, 't is of thee," was written on Andover Hill.
It has seemed to Phillips men that the story of their school is worth relating, not only to revive traditions and to restate the old ideals, but also to reveal how closely the life of Phillips Academy is bound up with that of our country and how much it has done and can do to create a national mind. Into the school as a melting-pot come every year hundreds of boys from widely separated sections of our vast and heterogeneous land. If Phillips Academy is to continue to be great, it must do more than prepare them for college, more even than eradicate provincialism or keep them in the ways of clean living. It must give its students a conception of the meaning of loyalty---loyalty, first of all, to the school itself, but, beyond and above all that, to the nation of which Phillips Academy, we trust, is representative and to which it has already made its honorable contribution.
|A PHILLIPS crossed the water with John Winthrop, and from him descended a long line of ministers, judges, governors, and councillors ---a sterling race, temperate, just, and high-minded.|
THE record of the Phillips family in New England is long and honorable. The story properly begins on Saturday, June 12, 1630, when the sturdy ship Arbella, with John Winthrop, Simon Bradstreet, Sir Richard Saltonstall, Isaac Johnson, and other Puritan leaders on board, anchored in Salem Harbor, after a tempestuous passage across the Atlantic. One of the little company was the Reverend George Phillips, of Rainham, Norfolk County, England. Like many of the Puritan divines, he was a graduate of Cambridge, where, on April 20, 1610, at the age of seventeen, he had matriculated at Gonville and Caius College, taking his bachelor's degree in 1613 and his master's degree four years later. Phillips, who had settled as a minister in Suffolk County, but who was a sympathizer with the nonconformist agitation then rapidly spreading during the opening years of Charles I, took with him his sickly wife and two small children and joined the emigrants on the Arbella, apparently acting as officiating clergyman of the party. In recognition of his sacred calling, his parishioners paid his expenses for the voyage. Soon after the landing on Massachusetts shores his wife was taken dangerously ill, and within a few weeks was buried in Salem beside the unfortunate Lady Arbella Johnson, who had died in August, 1630.
The Reverend George Phillips soon found a suitable field for his ministrations in the new settlement at Watertown on the Charles River, where, at an annual stipend of forty pounds or its equivalent in provisions, he remained until his death fourteen years later, taking an active part in the community deliberations and helping to organize the church of the colony. He was evidently a strong-minded, independent thinker, not unlike the contumacious Roger Williams, and on at least one occasion he was accused of maintaining the heresy that the Church of Rome is a true church. In another instance his liberty-loving spirit was responsible for important historic consequences. When in 1632 the Governor and his "Assistants" levied a tax of eight pounds on Watertown for the purpose of fortifying New Town (Cambridge), the pastor persuaded his congregation to refuse to submit to the assessment, on the ground "that it was not safe to pay money after that sort, for fear of bringing themselves and their posterity into bondage." As a direct result of this Watertown protest, two deputies were chosen from each settlement to consult with the Board of Assistants; thus, what might easily have developed into an oligarchical type of colonial government was turned into a system of popular representation. The Reverend George Phillips thus, as one writer says, "assisted in giving form and character to the civil and ecclesiastical institutions of New England."
The good clergyman died suddenly on July 1, 1644. On that day John Winthrop made the following entry regarding him in his "Diary":
He was the first pastor of the church of Watertown, a godly man, specially gifted, and very peaceful in his place, much lamented of his own people and others.
The few anecdotes recorded of the Reverend George Phillips indicate that he was a man who, in a pious age, was conspicuous for personal piety. It was said that he read the entire Bible at least six times a year, and that he was able to turn to any stated text without the aid of a concordance. He was accustomed to spend the interval between his two sermons on Sunday in conferring "with such of his good people as resorted unto his house." Cotton Mather in his Magnalia makes the Watertown Congregationalist the subject of a carefully drawn eulogy, in which emphasis is laid on his faithfulness in office. "He was indeed," says Mather, "among the first saints of New England ---a good man and full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." It was for Phillips that Mather, in one of his whimsical moods, designed the remarkable epitaph, so delightful in its ambiguity:
Of the eleven children of the Reverend George Phillips several survived him --- the most important being the eldest, Samuel Phillips, born in Boxted, England, in 1625. After the father's death the members of his congregation, according to generally accepted tradition, undertook to educate this boy, and through their efforts Samuel was sent to Harvard College, where he graduated in 1650. A year later he became the minister of Rowley, near Newburyport, and remained there until his death, April 22, 1696. His estate was appraised at nine hundred and eighty-nine pounds. Of his character we can discover little, except that he had "piety and ability" of no common order. In 1678 he was awarded the honor of preaching the election sermon before the General Court of the province, and in 1687 he was imprisoned for a brief period on the charge of having called the royalist agent, Edward Randolph, a "wicked man." In 1651, at the very beginning of his ministry, he married Sarah Appleton, and he left behind him three of the eleven children born to her. She survived him until July 15, 1714, her funeral sermon being preached by her grandson, the Reverend Samuel Phillips, of Andover.
The eldest surviving son of the minister of Rowley was christened Samuel, after his father. Born March 23, 1657, he became a goldsmith in Salem, married for his first wife Sarah Emerson, daughter of the Reverend John Emerson, of Gloucester, and for his second, Mrs. Sarah (Pickman) Mayfield, and died in 172 at Salem. The most important fact about him is that he was apparently the founder of the family fortune. In turning to trade he broke the tradition which devoted the eldest son to the Christian ministry, but he accumulated wealth which was to benefit his descendants. From his two sons, Samuel and John,(1) are to be traced two separate and almost equally distinguished branches of the Phillips family. So far as Phillips Academy is concerned, however, it is the elder branch which deserves the more attention.
Samuel Phillips, son of the goldsmith of Salem, was born February 17, 1689, and was sent to Harvard College, where he graduated in 1708. For one year he was a schoolmaster at Chebacco (now Essex); during another he preached at Norton --- "very acceptably," it is said. Meanwhile a controversy had arisen in Andover over the location of a new meeting-house. So decided was the difference of opinion that in 1708 a number of members of the church withdrew from its pastor, the Reverend Thomas Barnard, formed a new parish, and constructed a building of their own, occupying it in January, 1710. In this new, or South Parish, meeting-house in Andover, Phillips began to preach on April 30, 1710. On December 12 of the same year, after the prescribed fast had been observed, he received a formal election as minister, at a salary of sixty pounds a year while he remained unmarried and ten pounds in addition "when he shall see reason to marry." Unwilling to assume such a charge while he was so young and untried, he postponed his ordination until October 17, 1711. Soon after be moved into the parsonage, which was erected in 1710 on the southeast corner of what are now School and Central Streets.
Like his grandfather and his great-grandfather the Reverend Samuel Phillips had only one settled parish. Until April 1, 1771, during nearly sixty years of almost undisturbed prosperity, he kept his place as pastor of the South Church. His congregation started with 35 members, of whom 14 were men; before he died he had added 574 regular communicants and had baptized 2143 people of his parish. In 1727 he said, "I do not remember one native of the parish that is unbaptized." He superintended the erection of a new and larger meeting-house, which was dedicated on May 19, 1734.
The portrait of the South Church pastor, now hanging in Brechin Hall, shows a dignified, ruddy-faced man, of commanding bearing. He was accustomed to dominate in his own community, and his sane judgment, combined with his unquestioned executive ability, made him easily the leading citizen of the town. "Are you, sir, the parson who serves here?" once asked a passing traveler. "I am, sir, the parson who rules here," was Phillips's ready reply. Although he was not without a sense of humor, his habitual expression was so stern that his parishioners, especially the young, never cared to brave his anger. His actual salary was small; but he inherited some property from his father, and, as his family grew, he managed to secure large grants of land in newly formed townships, which increased steadily in value. It was for the sake of justice as well as of thrift that he once said to his congregation, "The fact that I have an income of my own is no excuse for your being delinquent with my salary." He had many of the homely virtues of Benjamin Franklin, and, like Franklin, he had early acquired habits of order, industry, and economy, which led him to watch carefully the pennies. He advised his sons to be charitable to the poor, but added sound business counsel, "Keep to your shop, if you expect that to keep you, and do not be away when customers come in."
The minister had a personality both decided and original. It was his habit on Sunday to walk with his household in stately procession from the parsonage to the meeting-house, his negro servant on his left and his wife, with her attendant, on his right, the children following in the rear. When he entered the church, the congregation rose and stood until he had taken his seat behind the pulpit. His sermons, measured by an hour-glass at his side, never failed to stretch beyond the conventional sixty minutes. He tried assiduously to guard his people against error; in 1720, for example, we find him rebuking them in blunt terms for their overindulgence in strong liquors at funerals; and after the tremendous earthquake of 1755 he reproved his auditors for "sleeping away a great part of sermontime," strengthening his admonition by a reference to the shaking "which God of late had given them." His sermons, which were plain, direct, and earnest, were carefully numbered and filed away in successive volumes; more than twenty of them were published, the most famous being Seasonable Advice to a Neighbor (1761) in the form of a dialogue. One in particular, a ferocious tirade delivered in 1767 after the suicide of one of his townsmen, appeared bordered with black, with a heading of a skull and cross-bones; so terrible was its effect that the name of the poor unfortunate was seldom mentioned again in the community.
In 1712, shortly after coming to Andover, the Reverend Samuel Phillips married Hannah White, daughter of the Honorable John White, of Haverhill. With her he regularly made his parochial visits on horseback, she riding on a pillion behind him. Following the practice of even the poorest in those days, he bestowed one tenth of his income on worthy charities, and she devoted much of her time to distributing this sum among the needy families of the town. She was a lady of a large-hearted type, who, through her generosity and hospitality, increased her husband's influence.
The Reverend Samuel Phillips died on June 5, 1771, and was buried in the cemetery of his own church, six neighboring clergymen being pallbearers. His congregation passed the following resolution: --
That the parish will be at the charge of the funeral of the Reverend S. Phillips; that at his funeral the bearers shall have rings, that the ordained ministers who attend the funeral shall have gloves, that the ministers who preached gratis in Mr. Phillips's illness shall have gloves; and voted, to hear the bearers in turn.
In his will he left one hundred pounds in trust for the poor of the church, and a like sum "for propagating Christian knowledge among the Indians of North America." His wife survived him only two years, and died January 7, 1773, at the age of eighty-two.
WITH the death of the Reverend Samuel Phillips the line of ministers in the family was broken for several generations; but the underlying religious spirit still existed, finding an outlet along other channels. His three sons, Samuel (1715-1790), John (1719-1795), and William (1722-1804), all were fitted best for commercial pursuits, and each in his own community became exceedingly prosperous; but they were no less devoted than their father to philanthropy, and they preserved unstained the family reputation for trustworthiness and purity of character. Although they were separated in residence, --- Samuel in Andover, John in Exeter, New Hampshire, and William in Boston, --- all three were intimately connected with Phillips Academy. It was through the generosity of two of them that the school was made possible, and they all joined later in placing it upon a sound financial footing.
The eldest brother, often called Esquire Phillips to distinguish him from his son, Judge Samuel Phillips, was born in Andover, February 13, 1715, and graduated from Harvard College in 1734. For a short time he taught the town grammar school in Andover; but he soon settled down in the North Parish, where he engaged in agriculture and trading. On July 11, 1738, he married Elizabeth Barnard, only child of Theodore Barnard, and cousin of a neighbor, the Reverend John Barnard. Before his marriage Phillips, assisted by his father, had managed to make a bare living; but his wife brought him a considerable fortune, which he so increased by judicious investments and the profits of mercantile enterprise that he soon accumulated more than moderate wealth. In 1752 he completed the beautiful colonial house still known as the Phillips Mansion in North Andover Center, and occupied to-day by his direct descendants, Miss Agnes and Miss Gertrude Brooks. There he resided until his death in 1790.
Esquire Phillips, who was a man of energy and talent, naturally assumed a prominent part in town affairs, and was at various times the recipient of the highest honors which his fellow citizens in Andover could offer. So far as we can judge, he was a man to be respected rather than loved. Tenacious in his opinions and haughty in his bearing, he found it difficult to unbend and make concessions to the little amenities of social life. His townspeople, however, had confidence in him, and accordingly we find him in turn a Justice of the Peace and of the Quorum, a Representative to the General Court, a member of the Convention of Deputies, and one of the Governor's Council. In the critical decade before the Revolution he guided to a large extent the action of the town authorities. In 1765, when be was Representative, his constituents, angered by the news of the passage of Grenville's Stamp Act, instructed him to oppose the operation of the measure. In June. 1768. after Governor Barnard had dissolved the General Court, Phillips was sent as a delegate to a convention of representatives from various towns of the Commonwealth; and in September, when this patriotic assembly met and expressed its aversion "to standing armies, to tumults and disorders," he was present as a leader. In May of the same year, as Chairman of a Special Committee, he presented a report recommending that the citizens "by all prudent means endeavor to discountenance the importation and use of foreign superfluities, and to promote and encourage manufactures in the town." As Chairman of a similar committee in 1774 he was mainly responsible for a resolution supporting and confirming the non-importation agreement recently passed by the "Grand American Continental Congress"; and he was at once appointed Chairman of a large Committee of Safety, whose duty it was to enforce the execution of this memorable agreement. During these troublous years Esquire Phillips was regularly the Moderator of the Town Meeting. Although he was conservative in temperament and not altogether in sympathy with the movement for total separation from the mother country, he presided when the town directed a part of its militia force to enlist in the Continental army, and voted them food and supplies. With the actual outbreak of hostilities, however, his son, Samuel Phillips, Jr., gradually took his father's place as aggressive leader; but the elder Phillips, despite his instinctive reluctance to the shouldering of arms, was always ready to lend his assistance, whether in money or counsel, to the more radical of his neighbors. The charge of Toryism occasionally brought against him has no justification.
In his domestic life Esquire Phillips was strict, but yet affectionate. There is much pathos in the fact that, of the seven children born to him, only one, Samuel Phillips, Jr., lived to maturity. The letters written by Esquire Phillips to this boy show the father as a man of the Puritan-stoic type, exacting, inflexible, but with a sensitive and tender heart. He was a natural aristocrat, without the gift for mingling on terms of intimacy with those beneath him in birth and fortune; like Byron, he was "for the people, but not of them." Scrupulously just, courageous, genuinely benevolent, he was never able, as his son was, to make himself truly popular. Very few ever found the way beneath that chilling dignity to the warm heart of the man himself.
At the time when Esquire Phillips died, August 21, 1790, he was President of the Board of Trustees of Phillips Academy, and Ebenezer Pemberton, then Principal of the school, was selected to deliver the "funeral oration." The obituary notice in the Centinel sums up his character with fairness if not with enthusiasm: --
It is but a just tribute to uncommon merit to observe, that if integrity of heart, and purity of morals, an exemplary conduct in private life, a conscientious, faithful discharge of the various offices he sustained, and singular liberality in the cause of religion and learning constitute a good and great character, it was emphatically his.
Of Mrs. Phillips, who died November 29, 1789, we know very little, although one authority says, "her letters are very interesting, and show her to have been a woman of great piety and strong religious views." The epitaph placed over the tomb of her and her husband reads as follows: --
This pair were friends to order in the Family, Church, and Commonwealth; examples of Industry and Economy, and patrons of Learning and Religion.
Esquire Phillips, with his wealth and public spirit, was an ideal founder for a great school; but Phillips Academy would probably never have been established had it not been for the enterprise and fertile genius of his son and heir, Samuel Phillips, Jr. To him the institution must look as to its true creator, for it was his active mind that conceived the project and his will that made it a reality. Fortunately the necessary funds were at his disposal, provided by his father and his childless uncle, John; but part of the financial sacrifice involved was his also, for, in urging the endowment of Phillips Academy, he was resigning voluntarily no small portion of his own inheritance.
On February 5, 1752, only a few days after Esquire Phillips had occupied his new mansion at North Andover, his sixth child, Samuel, was born. This house, with its beautiful paneling, its wealth of pewter and silver, its tapestries and embroideries, and its commanding situation, was the center of the sparsely settled community around the North Parish meetinghouse --- a district where the deer still roamed in the town forests and a bear was occasionally shot by a watchful farmer. In one section of the mansion Esquire Phillips continued his business as merchant and trader. In the great house the boy grew up very lonely. All but one of his brothers and sisters died in childhood. His sister, Hannah, ten years older than he, was hardly suited to be his playmate, and even she was taken away in 1764, when he was only twelve years old. He was a delicate child, who required tender nursing and constant care. As his poor health prevented his taking part in the usual rough games of boyhood, he grew up somewhat solitary, fonder of books than of sports, and precocious in his studies. The atmosphere in his home also had its effect in making him prematurely a man. There he learned nearly every virtue except, perhaps, the saving grace of humor; for his family, like most of those who fought through that pioneer period, took everything, including themselves, very seriously. In some respects this distrust of frivolity and even of harmless pleasure was for them an advantage, for it enabled them to pursue, without wavering or misgiving, the course which their heritage and tastes made all but inevitable for them. The young Samuel, at any rate, accepted passively, or at least without protest, the discipline which was constantly shaping his career towards a preconceived end. The men of that age were thrown into a time when the manly virtues were all-essential; and the Puritan education, despite its frequent joylessness and its artistic shortcomings, was of the kind to produce heroes.
By the spring of 1765 Samuel Phillips, Jr., was ready to enter Dummer School at South Byfield. This institution, the forerunner of a new scheme of education, had been established on March 1, 1763, in accordance with the terms of the will of the late Lieutenant-Governor William Dummer. The distinguished but eccentric Master, Samuel Moody, was the first Preceptor, and under him Phillips commenced his studies. The system to which the boy was subjected was in some respects singular enough. Master Moody believed in the efficacy of audible study, and his classroom, filled with the droning and murmuring of the scholars, was a Babel of confused sounds. Every day at the hour of high tide in the near-by river the boys were driven from their benches for a swim in the stream. These peculiarities aside, however, Master Moody was a conscientious and persevering teacher, and young Phillips received under him a drill in first principles which he never forgot. It was at Dummer that Phillips formed with his fellow student, Eliphalet Pearson, a friendship which was to mean much to Phillips Academy.
From Dummer School Phillips went on in 1767 to Harvard. Here he was a faithful and painstaking scholar, apparently rather slow to grasp ideas, but indefatigable in his application to books. His progress was frequently blocked by attacks of illness, which compelled him, often for weeks at a time, to retire to his home at North Andover. He was too reticent and reserved to make many close friends, but his acquaintance was large and he was generally respected.
From the opening of Harvard in 1636 the members of the different classes had been arranged in the Catalogue, not alphabetically as to-day, but in the order of their social position in the community. On this basis Phillips was assigned to the eighth place; but at a meeting of the Tutors of the college, held on August 18, 1769, Esquire Phillips entered a protest against this ruling and succeeded in proving his case. Accordingly Samuel Phillips, Jr., was at once promoted to seventh place, ahead of a young man named Murray, and the father's rank was thereby vindicated. On the following evening the son wrote in his Journal: --
Came to Cambridge Wednesday, and found I was put with Osgood in chamber No. 26, Hollis Hall; very good chamber. This afternoon I received a copy of a vote wherein I was ordered to sit between Vassal and Murray; it occasions considerable talk. Some say I bought it, others I have tried for it; but promotion always breeds enemies, and envious ones are the most spiteful; let me be interested in the Lord, and no matter who is against me.
His father, in corresponding with his son about the affair, showed the tenacious spirit of the family: --
The eyes of all above and below you will be upon you, and I wish it might be that you could be at home till the talk about the change was a little over. Every word, action, and even your countenance will be watched, particularly by those that envy you. Keep as much retired as possible, waive all conversation about it. If you need councel consult Mr. Eliot about it privately, and keep his advice to yourself. Treat Murray with kindness, but by no means give the most distant hint of yielding your place.
It would be hard to acquit either member of the family of a little worldly pride in the happy conclusion of this episode. One fortunate result was a vote by the Board of Overseers that "for the future the practice should be laid aside, and that the names of the scholars in each class should be placed in alphabetical order."
During the greater part of his college course Phillips kept a diary, which is full of despondency and self-depreciation. The morbid introspection which it reveals is not unlike that so faithfully recorded in the writings of John Bunyan. Phillips repeatedly laments his waste of valuable minutes; he seldom examines his conduct without reproaching himself for having fallen short of his high ideals. Some entries during his Sophomore year illustrate his state of mind: --
August 28, 1768: --- I am now beginning another week; may I be enabled to perform in the best manner (for a frail creature) my duty to God, my fellow-creatures, and myself.
March 25, 1769: --- Last Monday evening was observed here as the anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act; but the fatigue that I experienced therefor is folly; I have misspent a vast deal of precious time.
August 19, 1769: -I-- have spent this vacancy very differently from my purpose; made no addition to my little stock of knowledge, only gained a little farther knowledge of the world.
December 9, 1769: --- Many valuable thoughts are gone entirely, for want of proper care to lay them up or fix them in the noble repository of the soul.
Phillips never really outgrew this habit of self-criticism, and even in mature life he could not refrain from condemning himself for faults which to any less sensitive conscience would have seemed trivial.
But events were taking place which were to draw the young man away from petty personal matters into the whirlpool of larger and more vital issues. The Townshend Acts of 1767 had aroused protests throughout Massachusetts. British troops were landing in Boston. In 1770 the house of Chief Justice Hutchinson was sacked by an angry mob, and on March 5 of the same year occurred the Boston Massacre, with all its attendant and ensuing excitement. Many incidents of that crucial period were driven home to the Harvard undergraduates. In 1769 the General Court, alarmed by the continued presence of British regulars in the capital, adjourned to Cambridge, and held sessions in the college chapel. Passions ran high in the student body. The class of 1769 voted unanimously" to take their degrees in the manufactures of the country." A letter from the Reverend Andrew Eliot to Thomas Hollis in London describes the temper of the young collegians: --
The removal of the General Court to Cambridge hinders the scholars in their studies. The young gentlemen are already taken up with politics. They have caught the spirit of the times. Their declamations and forensic disputes breathe the spirit of liberty. This has always been encouraged, but they have sometimes been wrought up to such a pitch of enthusiasm, that it has been difficult for their tutors to keep them within due bounds; but their tutors are fearful of giving too great a check to a disposition which may, hereafter, fill the country with patriots, and choose to leave it to age and experience to check their ardor.
That Samuel Phillips, Jr., was one of those "taken up with politics" is indicated by an oration on Liberty, written at about this period, in which be praises Brutus and Rienzi. One passage reads as follows: ---
Let this truth be indelibly engraved on our breasts, that we cannot be happy without we are free, and may it have a desirable effect. The cause requires our utmost vigilance; we should watch against every encroachment, and with all the fortitude of calm, intrepid resolution oppose them, lest the burden should become too great, or from length of time acquire such a force that the difficulty will become insurmountable. It is a matter of very great importance. The consequences will not only be great, but very lasting. Unborn generations will either bless us for our activity and magnanimity, or curse us for our sloth and pusillanimity.
The momentous issues at stake during these years while he was at Harvard are discussed in Phillips's Journal with a detail and a vigor which prove his absorbing interest in the threatened crisis of England's colonial affairs. Unlike his conservative father and his loyalist uncle John, he was heartily in sympathy with even the most radical of revolutionary measures. One who knew him at this time said of Phillips: "I never saw him so much interested in anything else, as he was in the Revolution, unless it was the Academy."
Among his fellows, meanwhile, Phillips had won his way to a place of recognized leadership, not only in scholarship, but also in the other phases of collegiate life. He was, for instance, "either a founder or a leading member of three select associations, devoted to scientific or patriotic pursuits." One of these was the well-known Institute of 1770, still in existence. His connection with religious organizations gave him a name for sincere and unostentatious piety. That he was not averse to a certain kind of conviviality is shown by a letter to his father, May 27, 1771, in which he strives in a somewhat solemn fashion to convince that gentleman of the desirability of his giving a "spread" during the Commencement exercises.
Samuel Phillips, Jr., was only nineteen when he received his Bachelor's degree as a member of the class of 1771. A Salutatory Oration in Latin, apparently delivered on the Commencement platform, is still preserved, in a portion of which he pays compliments to President Holyoke, several of the Faculty, and Harvard College. The young man had unquestionably justified the expectations of his proud and critical father.
Esquire Phillips's satisfaction in his son's career was, however, to be somewhat dampened. While Samuel Phillips, Jr., was residing in Cambridge, he became intimately acquainted with Miss Phoebe Foxcroft, youngest daughter of the Honorable Francis Foxcroft, of that city. She was handsome, cultivated, and attractive, and belonged to an excellent family, in which she had received many social and educational advantages; but unfortunately she was nearly nine years older than her admirer, and Phillips's parents saw in this disparity an insuperable objection to the match. The argument that his uncle John of Exeter had taken for a wife a woman eighteen years his senior might have been used with effect by the nephew; but Esquire Phillips's consent was withheld, and, as a result, the young man, shortly after leaving Harvard, fell seriously ill. At a moment when his life was despaired of, he confided to his physician that he was dying of disappointed hope far more than of the mere physical disease with which he was afflicted. The doctor interceded with the parents, who for once found themselves obliged to yield. The whole incident suggests that beneath a calm exterior Phillips concealed a strong and passionate nature.
Luckily the concession was not too late; the patient soon recovered, and, after a delay of two years, the marriage was celebrated in 1773. The two thus united were decidedly different in character: he was quiet, sedate, and economical; she was impulsive, lively, and extravagant. In every respect she seemed younger than he. The marriage proved to be exceedingly happy, and even Esquire Phillips had no reason to regret the approval wrung from him with so much difficulty. The younger Phillips was an adoring husband; indeed, on one occasion, in 1785, he observed the twelfth anniversary of their wedding by presenting her with a copy of some verses attributed to Benjamin Franklin, a few stanzas of which may well be quoted:---
Of their Chloes and Phillises poets may prate,
I sing my plain country Joan,
Now twelve years my wife, still the Joy of my Life,
Blest day when I made her my own.
In peace and good order my Household she keeps,
Right careful to save what I gain;
Yet cheerfully spends, and smiles on the friends
I've the pleasure to entertain.
Am I laden with care, she takes off a large share
That the Burden ne'er makes me to reel;
Does good fortune arrive, the joy of my wife,
Quite doubles the pleasure I feel.
Was the fairest young princess with millions in purse
To be had in exchange for my Joan,
She cou'd not be a better wife, might be a worse, ---
I'll cling to my lovely old Joan.
The couple had two children: John Phillips, born August 18, 1776, who inherited the Phillips Mansion in North Andover; and Samuel Phillips, born in 1782, who died of a fever when be was only fourteen years old. Madame Phillips survived her husband by ten years. At her death Eliphalet Pearson, in speaking of her and her husband, paid them a deserved tribute: --
Of them both it may be said that their hearts were not more united by mutual esteem and affection, than by acts of charity and munificence.
Only three months before his wedding Samuel Phillips, Jr., had been elected Town Clerk and Treasurer of Andover in place of his father, and his talent in administrative and deliberate business soon brought him into prominence. It must be remembered that he lived literally in "times that tried men's souls." He may have been too young to hear of Braddock's defeat, but he could understand Wolfe's glorious victory at Quebec and he knew the significance of the Peace of Paris (1763), which gave England control of North America. In college he had watched with sympathy the growing disaffection of the patriotic party; and now as a leader in town affairs he was to have a chance to turn his rhetorical phrases about liberty into practical action. Early in 1774 he headed a town committee appointed to draw up a series of resolutions, which closed with the following emphatic declaration of the colonial temper: --
Resolved, that no person in this town, who has heretofore been concerned in vending tea, or any other person, may on any pretence whatever, either sell himself, or be in any way accessory to selling any tea of foreign importation, while it remains burdened with a duty, under penalty of incurring the town's displeasure.
When he was only twenty-three years old, his townspeople chose him as a delegate to the Provincial Congress which assembled at Watertown on July 19, 1775. During the four stormy sessions of that body, lasting until May 10, 1776, Phillips not only made a reputation as a persuasive speaker, but also served on many important committees, including one deputed to confer with General Washington on military matters connected with the siege of Boston. Of this assembly, which was attended by such distinguished patriots as Samuel Adams and John Hancock, Phillips was one of the most influential members. A competent critic said of him: --
His speeches were clear, concise, logical, direct, and nervous; but he made no effort to amuse the fancy, and never sacrificed anything to mere rhetoric.
He spent many hours in discussing the then inevitable conflict, in seeking to secure loans for the colonial government, and in doing his utmost to arouse and sustain enthusiasm for the cause. He was appointed Chairman of a committee for moving the books in the Harvard Library to safer situations in Andover and other inland towns; and on June 17, 1775, the day of Bunker Hill, he wrote in a hasty note to his wife: --
Amid all the terrors of Battle I was so busily engag'd in Harvard Library, that I never even heard of the engagement, --- I mean the siege (but don't speak of it) till it was complete.
Many of the books then packed by Phillips were carted over the road to "the house of George Abbot, Esq.," in Andover, the building which was soon to be Phillips's temporary home.
Although Samuel Phillips, Jr., saw no actual service in the army, he accomplished much in a very practical way by providing a supply of ammunition for the troops. From the noise of the first shot at Concord Bridge the colonists had been hampered in their military operations by a scarcity of powder. At Bunker Hill the defenders of the fortifications had been obliged to retreat solely because ammunition was lacking. General Israel Putnam cried in vain, "Powder, powder, ye gods, give us powder!" On July 8, 1775, General George Washington assumed command of the forces in front of Boston, and made plans for a vigorous investment of the city. It shortly became evident, however, that there was on hand only enough powder for some nine or ten rounds to a man, and letters were immediately dispatched to the other colonies asking for aid. Under the strain of these annoyances Washington wrote to Congress: --
It is not in the pages of history, perhaps, to furnish a case like ours. To maintain a post within musket shot of the enemy for six months together without ammunition ... is more, probably, than was ever attempted.
Meanwhile the General Court at Watertown was demanding from the various towns their quota of powder, and considering plans for the construction of powder-mills. The first definite move was taken on January 3, 1776, when Samuel Phillips, Jr., proposed, with sufficient encouragement from the Commonwealth, to build a powder-mill at Andover at his own expense. On January 8 the Court voted its sanction, agreeing to supply him with sulphur and saltpeter for a year at cost, and to pay him a bounty of eight-pence a pound for all his product; he, in turn, promised "to keep a good and sufficient guard about the mill." At once Phillips left his legislative duties, hastened to Andover, and, after securing a mill-site on the Shawsheen River, near the present Marland Village, called an informal meeting of his neighbors and explained his project. "I want your help," he said, "and I will undertake to pay you if the business prospers; but if it fails, you must consent to lose your labor and your time." Not a man hesitated, and, despite the severe winter weather, they began the next day to dig the mill-race, Phillips himself handling a pick and shovel with the others. Meanwhile his boyhood friend, Eliphalet Pearson, who was then settled in Andover, was carrying on the necessary experiments. Day after day he toiled patiently, testing various kinds of nitrous earths, and covering the desks in the town grammar school with pans of chemicals while he occupied himself with formulas. To secure heat he even took one of the stoves from the Old South meeting-house. At one time he feared that he might lose his eyesight from the effects of the poisonous fumes. At last, after thirteen successive tests, covering more than twenty-four hours, he was rewarded by a satisfactory reaction, so that by May 10, 1776, the mill was prepared to begin deliveries of powder. Before this date, on March 17, General Howe had evacuated Boston, and the immediate danger for Massachusetts was over; but the plant continued to furnish ammunition to the American forces during the remaining years of the war. Many British prisoners were employed in the mill, some of whom, according to Phillips, "had married, had children, taken the oath of allegiance, paid taxes, and become useful members of society." At critical times the workmen labored day and night, Sundays included, and when the supply of saltpeter gave out, they tore up the floors of old sheds and barns in quest of the precious earth. In 1778 a serious explosion destroyed a portion of the plant, and killed three employees. This disaster caused so much consternation in the town that operations were for a brief period suspended. The General Court, however, granted Phillips the sum of four hundred pounds as a recompense for his losses, and the business continued although the owner gradually began to transform the plant into a papermill. Even after Yorktown, powder was made at a profit to Judge Phillips; but a second explosion on October 19, 1796, in which two men were killed, led him to abandon the enterprise and to devote his attention to manufacturing paper. This paper business was retained in the family until 1820, when, with the death of Colonel John Phillips, it passed into other hands.
It was during this period, when the powder mill was being projected and the British army was being driven from Massachusetts shores, that Phillips and Pearson were associated in a plan for the founding of a school. The story of the inception and establishment of Phillips Academy will be related in another chapter; but it is worth remembering, as an illustration of both his versatility and his courage, that, in the midst of a busy political and business life, when only a small number of patriots had any real confidence in the future of the new government, Samuel Phillips, Jr., did not hesitate to lay the cornerstone of an enduring national institution.
During the first four years after their marriage Phillips and his wife lived in the North Parish: for a time in the family mansion of Esquire Phillips, and later in "a little old house beyond that residence." In the spring of 1777, after the transfer of part of the estate of George Abbot in the South Parish to Esquire Phillips had been effected, the younger Phillips, at his father's request, moved into the old Abbot house. In this dwelling, which until 1889 stood on the north side of Phillips Street west of the site of the Latin Commons, the Constitution of Phillips Academy was signed and the early meetings of the Trustees were held. Later it was used in turn as a residence for the first three principals of the school, Pearson, Pemberton, and Newman. Indeed it was in order to make room for Pearson that Phillips, in April, 1780, moved out, and found another temporary home in "a little red house on the Woburn Road,"(1) the title to which he purchased from the "widow Chandler." He lived here for two years; here his wife's mother, Mrs. Foxcroft, died, and here too his second son, Samuel, was born.
Meanwhile Phillips, prosperous in business, was planning a house more suited to his rank and station. In 1782 he deeded to the Trustees of Phillips Academy a piece of land comprising something over three acres on the southwest corner of the present main campus, and received in exchange nearly two acres on the opposite, or west side of the Boston-Woburn Road. There he soon began work on his new home. The construction of this mansion, the largest and finest built up to that time in Andover, caused widespread excitement in the vicinity. The frame, made of choice New Hampshire lumber, was raised in sections, and, when it was put up, stores and schools were closed, and men, women, and children assembled in the early morning on the training-field in front of the stone foundations. That stalwart veteran, the Reverend Jonathan French, then offered prayer, and everybody seized "ropes and pikes" to hoist the scaffolding into place. Cheer upon cheer rang out as the final successful pull was taken, and the weary laborers sought refreshment in tubs of punch provided by the thoughtful owner. By December, 1782, Phillips and his family were able to settle in the Mansion House, although it, was not entirely completed until the autumn of 1785.
When it was finished, it dominated the hill and the town like a baronial castle. The tale of its sixty-two windows was told the country round. Like many of the historic residences of Newburyport and Salem it had three stories with large square rooms, broad open fireplaces, wide window-seats, fine paneling and wainscoting, and ponderous doors on massive hinges. The key, still preserved in the Phillips Club, is of enormous size and weight, comparable to that which unlocked the gates of the Bastille. The doors and windows, nevertheless, were never barred except with a wooden catch, and Judge Phillips was host to nearly every passing traveler. As he rose to be a prominent figure in the State his home became more and more a center of generous hospitality; there several grandnephews of General Washington found lodging while they attended Phillips Academy; and there Washington himself, an old friend of Phillips, was entertained on his visit to Andover in 1789.
On September 1, 1779, when the Phillips School had been open over a year, Samuel Phillips, Jr., met in Cambridge with three hundred others as one of four delegates from Andover to the State Constitutional Convention. After the organization had been perfected, he was chosen by ballot as one of a committee of thirty-one members to prepare a "Frame of a Constitution and Declaration of Rights" to be submitted to the convention and later to the people. À second session was held during the memorable "hard winter" of 1780, and a few months later the new Constitution was adopted by a vote of two thirds of the citizens of Massachusetts. During the debates on crucial matters connected with drafting and revision of this Constitution Phillips took a leading part.
At the first election held under the state organization in September, 1780, Phillips was elected a member of the Senate, in which body he served, one year excepted, until 1801. In 1781, despite the fact that he had had no formal legal training, he was appointed by Governor John Hancock as one of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas for Essex County, and entered upon his duties as judge in Newburyport, September 25 in that year. In this office, the duties of which took up from three to four months of each year, he did faithful work until his resignation in 1798.
For the first five years of the newly formed government, Samuel Adams was annually elected President of the Massachusetts Senate; but in 1785 he declined the honor, and Judge Phillips was chosen to fill the place. In this position, we are told, "he was distinguished by his punctuality and assiduity," and earned the title of "the Nestor of the Senate." He marched at the head of the upper house when the Legislature walked in procession from the old State House on State Street to the new one on Beacon Hill.
In 1787, with General Lincoln and Samuel Otis, then President of the House of Representatives, he was appointed on a Board of Commissioners to treat with the disaffected citizens who had engaged in the notorious Shays's Rebellion in western Massachusetts, and, after spending more than a month in the disturbed counties, he was able, in his report of April 27, 1787, to state that seven hundred and ninety persons had subscribed to a confession of penitence for their misconduct. While thus absent on official business Judge Phillips, because of some hostile feeling stirred up against him, lost the nomination for Senator; in the following autumn, however, he was reinstated by his townsmen, and resumed his seat as presiding officer. In 1798, when a quarrel with the French Government seemed imminent, he acted as Chairman of an Andover committee which proffered support to President Adams, and be even prepared to arm as a volunteer in case of war. In 1801 his career was crowned by his election as Lieutenant-Governor on the Federalist ticket, the Governor being the Honorable Caleb Strong.
For some years, however, his health had been gradually failing. Although he was still comparatively young, he suffered from asthma, for the cure of which he had resorted to quack medicines prescribed by a physician unworthy of his confidence. Often for many nights in succession he was unable to get even an hour's sleep. In the summer of 1801 he made one last effort to regain his health by taking a journey, with Madame Phillips and Dr. Pearson, through the Berkshire Hills to the Hudson, but the outing brought him no relief. He had hardly undertaken his responsibilities as Lieutenant-Governor when, on Wednesday, February 10, 1802, the end came. On February 16 he was buried in the family tomb in the cemetery of the South Church.
In personal appearance Judge Phillips was tall and slender, with an erect and dignified bearing. His manners are said to have been "a happy combination of simplicity and refinement." Temperamentally he was calm and equable, and never seemed to be in a hurry. Even in critical situations he preserved his equanimity, and his coolness in times of danger was reassuring to his friends.
A circular prepared shortly after Judge Phillips's death mentions with emphasis his patriotism in subordinating his private concerns to his public duties. This is unquestionably one of his chief merits; yet he was gifted with such an extraordinary versatility that he was able to occupy himself with several projects at once without neglecting any one. "His short life," says Knapp, "by order, exactness, and method, was filled with incredible attention to business." While holding many public trusts, he superintended two stores, one in Andover and the other in Methuen, managed a sawmill, a gristmill, a paper-mill, and a powder-mill, and conducted agricultural experiments on several estates. His power of accomplishment was due principally to the fact that he was methodical and systematic to a remarkable degree, taking the most careful pains with even comparatively minor matters of business. His mind was eminently practical; he was fond of simple maxims, and distrustful of theories. He was, moreover, a shrewd and economical manager, and, in spite of the steady drains upon his private resources, he left at his death a fortune of over $150,000, exclusive of Madame Phillips's portion.
Many interests of a less personal kind made heavy demands on his time. His political prominence brought him in contact with a large number of people who wished to consult him upon important affairs, and to whom he was obliged to devote many weary hours. His public correspondence during the last twenty years of his life was exceedingly burdensome, especially so because he insisted on attending to most of it personally. After 1778 he took pleasure in watching the progress of Phillips Academy, and kept most of the records in his own hand. He attended with regularity the meetings of the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, and delivered several addresses at Cambridge on public occasions. In 1793, while his son John was an undergraduate, Judge Phillips was honored by Harvard with the degree of Doctor of Laws. He was a charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, incorporated May 4, 1780. A mere statement of the different fields in which he was active is sufficient to show him to have been a man of unusual energy.
In his family life, so far as he was able to enjoy it, Judge Phillips was very happy. Although he believed in simple living and disliked luxury and ostentation, he was a generous host and was fond of entertaining guests in his home. During his lifetime, as later during that of Madame Phillips, the Trustees of the Academy were always welcome at the Mansion House. His household was usually large, for he permitted several students from the school to have rooms with him, and he was seldom so busy that he could not snatch a few minutes to question them about their courses of study or their conduct in the classroom. With his family as with his friends Judge Phillips rarely unbent. The children were taught to speak to their elders with the utmost deference; and romping and "unseemly levity" were put down with a firm hand. Nevertheless, he was affectionate; he sobbed over his child's grave, and for years after preserved the boy's room intact, leaving the clothes and shoes, the little slate, and the half-burned candle just as they were.
Judge Phillips was never an effusive man. He seldom addressed his wife in a letter except by the title "My dear Friend," and his sons always wrote to him as "Honored Sir." Of Madame Phillips, however, he was exceedingly thoughtful. He took especial care to see that she had trained servants at her disposal. So far as domestic management was concerned, she relieved him of all worry. Indeed during his frequent absences from Andover she conducted his business affairs; she acted as his agent in financial matters; and for several years she kept in her own hand his records as Town Clerk. Their attachment was close but dignified, and each treated the other with elaborate courtesy, even in the privacy of their home.
Judge Phillips was so often occupied in Boston and other cities that he was rarely able to get an uninterrupted week with his family. In the course of a year he sometimes made over seventy trips to the capital on horseback, often at night and under conditions that exposed him to the most inclement weather. He sometimes slept in the saddle and lost his way in the darkness along the lonely roads. In 1794, while on one of these rides, he fell from his horse and fractured his leg so badly that be had to be carried to the house of his friend, Mr. Brooks, in Medford. After this accident, which confined him for several weeks to his bed, he was more careful about his health; but the early hardships which he endured undoubtedly hastened his end.
It hardly needs to be said that Judge Phillips was a stanch supporter of the church. Mainly through his efforts the Reverend Jonathan French, his classmate at Harvard, came to Andover in 1772 to take the pulpit just vacated by the death of the Reverend Samuel Phillips; and for years French and his friend cooperated in their endeavor to strengthen the Old South Parish. In 1787 Judge Phillips was Chairman of a committee appointed to plan the erection of a new meeting-house. Even after his health was impaired he kept up a practice of which he was fond --- that of reading to the congregation on Sunday noon between the two church services. In his will he bequeathed to the church a silver flagon, adding with it the hope "that the laudable practice of reading in the house of public worship between services may be continued so long as even a small number shall be disposed to attend the exercise."
In his theology Judge Phillips was a follower of Jonathan Edwards, but he was inclined to mitigate the extreme Calvinist doctrines by a reasonable tolerance. In connection with this subject Judge Daniel Appleton White once told an interesting story. As a senior at Harvard he had accepted a position as assistant in Phillips Academy. In his Commencement essay, however, when Judge Phillips was on the platform with other notabilities, White delivered a sentence in which he implied a disbelief in the dogma of human depravity. When the exercises were over, Judge Phillips told the orator that, if he desired, he might be released from his Andover engagement. The hint was sufficient, and White turned to another profession. Judge Phillips's favorite theologian was the nonconformist Doddridge, whose books be read and re-read --- especially the famous Plain and Serious Address to the Master of a Family on the Subject of Family Religion (1749).
On the new Phillips Gateway in Andover the inscription chosen as typical of Judge Phillips is a sentence from one of his letters to his son: "Be more covetous of your hours than misers are of gold." With him the saving of time became almost a mania, and be continually admonished his children to allow no moment to be wasted in idleness or vain pleasure. "Bar your doors, and secure your eyes, your ears, and your heart against all who would rob you of your treasure; I mean your time," he writes; and again, "Make it your invariable rule, not to defer any duty till the next hour or moment, which can be performed in the present; a religious observation of this rule will be of immense advantage to you through life." It was adherence to this principle, "Do it now," that made it possible for him to crowd so much into his short span of fifty years. In the same spirit he was punctilious in meeting engagements and accurate in his language upon every occasion. His letters are usually interlined with corrections, intended to make each phrase clear. The Constitution of Phillips Academy, mainly his work, was revised with the most scrupulous care.
For a man so uniformly, successful in his projects Judge Phillips was singularly modest. In all sincerity he belittled his own achievements, and regretted what he honestly thought to be his inability to do more for his community and country. His standard was invariably so high that he could not help at times failing to attain it; under such circumstances the consequent dejection was almost a form of mental disease. On January 22, 1795, he wrote to Madame Phillips: --
In the early part of life I fondly pleased myself with the expectation that I should do some good and communicate some happiness to others. How strangely have I been disappointed! I daily feel more and more my own unhappiness, and am ready to think sometimes the world will be glad when they get rid of me.
Two years later he said in a letter written on his birthday: --
Forty and five years of my pilgrimage are now completed, and to very little purpose, either for the honor of my Maker or the benefit of mankind; consequently I have hardly learned the true end of living.
This he penned at a time when the school which he had founded was flourishing, when for years he had devoted himself to patriotic service, and when, through genuine merit, he had been rewarded by the admiration of all who knew him.
It was impossible for Judge Phillips to take life and its responsibilities lightly. His habitual expression was somber, and his grave manner often deepened into despondency. Although he was usually cheerful with his companions, he had little sense of humor. Not a single jest of his is recorded. Seldom in his papers do we meet with any sign of interest in art, belles-lettres, or music. To say that he was occupied with business of a more practical kind is not to condemn him. Judge Phillips had the inherited tendencies of several generations of Puritan-ancestors, who, while facing privations and laboring under fearful disadvantages for their daily bread, had found no opportunity for pleasure as an end in itself. To a man who had bandaged the wounds received at Bunker Hill and had visited Washington's army before Boston, life presented itself, not as a playground but as a battle-field, where he must endure grimly with his comrades. So it was that, although a man of practical affairs, he grew also to be a moralist, with something of the stern philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.
In the final analysis it was in personal character that Judge Phillips was most distinguished above his fellows. We cannot think of him as intellectually brilliant, for he was industrious and persevering rather than clever or quick; we cannot praise him for his charm of manner, for he was respected rather than loved; but we cannot help being impressed by his sincere piety and his unswerving faithfulness to duty. Judge Phillips was a thoroughly religious man who believed in living up to his ideals. Professor John L. Taylor, his biographer, said of him: ----
We have not been able to discover a trait or an incident in his career, which has not seemed to us the product of his religion more than of anything else.
His letters to his wife and children are full of a confident trust in God and a frank reliance on the efficacy of prayer. He often gave his elder son, John, advice which might easily in some men be mistaken for cant; but with him it was natural expression of a conscientious father, seriously concerned over the spiritual welfare of his child. Dr. Dwight once said of him, "A species of ethical cast marked his conversation and life, and distinguished him from all other men whom I have known."
Such, then, was the man who, more than any other, moulded Phillips Academy. What he aimed at in his private and public life he naturally wished to impress upon the boys in his school. Phillips Academy for many years preserved unchanged the traditions which he left for it; indeed, it still maintains them today, although in a form somewhat modified to meet conditions of which the Founders never dreamed. It can still be said that no finer type of manhood can be held up as a model to Andover students than that of Judge Phillips himself.
After her husband's death Madame Phoebe Phillips continued for some years to reside in the Mansion House and to keep the doors hospitably open; but partly through some unfortunate investments made by her son, Colonel John Phillips, and partly because of an injudicious excess of generosity towards the Andover Theological Seminary, her property so diminished that she was glad in 1810 to accept an invitation from Esquire Farrar to make a home with him in his new house on the corner of Main and Phillips Streets. There she died in 1812, and her funeral sermon was preached by that old family friend, Dr. Pearson.
Madame Phillips was a dignified and self-reliant woman with a religious faith equal to that of her husband. In her nature also was an element of poetry and romance which was lacking in Judge Phillips's more practical character and which made her an admirable complement to him. A notice of her in a newspaper shortly after her death recalls her kindness to those in distress: ---
During the dark period of the Revolution, she sat up until midnight with the females of the household, to make garments for poor, destitute soldiers, and in scraping lint and cutting bandages for the hospitals. The sick in her neighborhood of all classes were inquired after, and everything that could administer to their comfort was sent from her hospitable mansion. The Academy, founded by her husband's father and uncle, was in the immediate vicinity of her residence, and every pupil's health was the subject of her attention; and to those who had come from a distance, and had no natural guardian near, she acted the part of a parent at all times.
Little nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.
she endeared herself to others, and sustained her husband's reputation for generous giving.
The only surviving son, John Phillips, born August 18, 1776, made a brilliant record at Harvard College, graduating in 1795 with the rank of Latin Salutatorian. After serving for a few months as assistant in Phillips Academy, he began, in the autumn of 1796, to study law at Charlestown. His constitution, like his father's, was not naturally robust, and continued overstudy so injured his health that he was obliged to abandon legal pursuits and to devote himself to business. On December , 1798, he married Lydia Gorham, daughter of the Honorable Nathaniel Gorham. A few years later he returned with his family to the Phillips Mansion in North Andover, where he resided until his death, September 10, 1820. He left ten daughters(2) and three sons. His widow, who survived until June 3, 1856, is well remembered by several persons now living.
Colonel John Phillips, as he was commonly called in recognition of his rank as aide-de-camp to Governor Strong, inherited much of his father's ability, but was hampered constantly by ill health. He was elected a State Senator from Essex County, but gained no further political honors. As a speaker he acquired a considerable reputation, and was invited to make many public addresses. His spirit was generous even to a fault; indeed, his gifts to Andover Theological Seminary are generally believed to have ruined the family fortune and to have reduced his mother from affluence to comparative poverty.
More than a word must be added concerning the other members of the family who assisted materially in making Phillips Academy a reality. Its most generous early benefactor, from a financial standpoint, was John Phillips, of Exeter, the second son of the Reverend Samuel Phillips. Born in Andover, December 7, 1719, he was a precocious child, so fond of learning that he entered Harvard College before he was twelve, and graduated with distinction in 1735. For a brief period he taught school in Andover, while pursuing intermittently studies in medicine and. theology. Although he had a slight weakness of the lungs, he had a desire to become a clergyman, and it is reported that he did actually preach on occasions in Exeter and several surrounding towns; but after hearing the duties of a minister described by the eloquent evangelist, George Whitefield, he so distrusted his own ability that he renounced all hope of continuing as a preacher. We know that he was taxed in Exeter in 1740; and it is said that in 1741 he opened there a "private classical school." It is certain that, on August 4, 1743, he married Mrs. Sarah (Emery) Gilman, who had inherited from her recently deceased husband, "Gentleman Nat," a fortune of something over eight thousand pounds. The fact that Phillips had first proposed to the daughter, Tabitha, but, on being refused, found solace with the mother, is interesting gossip; however, although his bride was forty-one when he was only twenty-three, this discrepancy in age did not apparently make the marriage an unhappy one. Aided by this addition to his resources, Phillips then became a merchant, and, through the industry and frugality so characteristic of his family, succeeded in accumulating a large fortune. After the death of Mrs. Phillips on October 9, 1765, he married again on November 3, 1767, his second wife being Mrs. Elizabeth (Dennet) Hale, widow of Dr. Eliphalet Hale, of Exeter. He had no children.
In the years preceding the Revolution John Phillips held several positions of trust. In 1771, 1772, and 1773 he was a Representative from Exeter in the Provincial Assembly; from 1772 to 1775 he was a Judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas; and he was chosen Colonel in 1772 of a select body of militia called the Exeter Cadets. When the war actually broke out, however, Phillips, whose sympathies, like those of more than one conservative man of property, were not altogether with the patriot party, resolved to keep aloof from the conflict. Withdrawing from business and resigning his various public offices, he took a position of avowed neutrality, and occupied himself with preserving the integrity of his investments. Some gifts to Dartmouth College, including the endowment of a professorship of theology, led that institution to make him a trustee, and in 1777 he was honored by the second degree of Doctor of Laws granted by the New Hampshire school. It was at this period that Dr. Phillips, after some correspondence with his nephew and heir, Samuel Phillips, Jr., agreed to lend his financial support to the latter's plans for Phillips Academy and gave for the purpose in the aggregate more than $30,000.
The school at Andover having been successfully launched, Dr. Phillips established at Exeter a similar academy, which was almost exclusively his own project and to which he gave nearly all his remaining fortune. The Phillips Exeter Academy thus organized through his generosity was incorporated April 8, 1781, and opened May 1, 1783. At the ceremonies connected with the inauguration of the first principal, Mr. William Woodbridge, Dr. Phillips was present, but modestly took no part. Sixty years after his death the sum with which he had endowed this academy amounted to over $135,000. Of the Board of Trustees Dr. Phillips was, of course, the first President, and he was also President of the Andover Board from 1791 to 1794. At his death in Exeter, April 21, 1795, he bequeathed two thirds of the residue of his estate to the Phillips Exeter Academy and one third to the Phillips Academy at Andover. His last words were: "My work is done, I have settled all my affairs, and have now nothing to do but to die; it is no matter how soon."
Dr. Phillips, like others of his family, was not a companionable person, and was excessively ceremonious and formal in his manner. From every one he exacted deference; each schoolboy who passed him had to doff his hat, and each little girl to make her curtsy; indeed, it is said "that he would not give a boy a cherry from his trees unless the favor were asked with a low bow, and in the most reverent tone."
In many ways Dr. Phillips showed his fondness for petty economies. With true New England thrift he soaked the back-logs for his fireplace in water overnight. When his household was assembled for evening prayers and the chapter had been read, he always extinguished the candle before the long prayer. It could easily be relighted at the open fire when the benediction had been spoken. What his careful management enabled him to amass, however, he disbursed most freely for worthy causes. Dr. Andrew P. Peabody, in an address at Exeter, once said: --
Our Founder probably never wasted a cent in self-indulgence, but he had all along this great plan maturing. He was the greatest public benefactor, as regards pecuniary amount, in the whole of the eighteenth century.
Like all his kinsmen he had much practical wisdom and common sense, and his gifts were placed where it seemed they would do the most good. President William J. Tucker, of Dartmouth College, speaking in 1903, placed Dr. Phillips "among that rare group of men who have in them the element of futurity in their thinking and in their action." "I suppose," continued Dr. Tucker, "that if we had sat at his table or gone into his house, we should have seen some signs of frugality and economy to which we should be rather strange, but the man was doing something all the while and paying the cost of it. He did the great thing, he earned it, and it is his for ever more."
Of Dr. Phillips's private life we have few intimate details. Josiah Quincy in his recollections says: ---
About the year 1785 I visited him at Exeter, with my mother, who was his niece. I spent three or four days there, and partook of his simple meals. I heard him at his family devotions. I shall never forget the patriarchal sweetness of his countenance, or the somewhat stern, yet not unattractive manner, in which he greeted and responded. He had an austere faith, softened by natural temperament and inherent kindliness of spirit.
It is evident that in religious matters he was more tolerant than his brother, Esquire Phillips, and that he cared less for those subtleties of dogma which agitated so many theologians of his time. It was Dr. Phillips who said, "The logical conclusion of Religion is Education." Had it not been for his judicious saving and his subsequent lavish philanthropy the noble plan evolved in the brain of Judge Phillips might have gone the sad way of many another splendid vision. It is for this reason that the epitaph suggested for John Phillips by Dr. Eliphalet Pearson is eminently fitting: --- "Without natural issue, he made posterity his heir."
There still remains to be mentioned the youngest of the three sons of the Reverend Samuel Phillips. William Phillips, born in Andover, July 6, 1722, did not, like his brothers, receive a college education, but was apprenticed at an early age to Edward Bromfield, a prosperous Boston merchant. In 1744, following out the career mapped out by tradition for industrious apprentices, be married his employer's eldest daughter, and, being made a partner in the firm, soon acquired a fortune. At different periods he was Representative from Boston in the General Court, a member of the Senate and of the Governor's Council, a delegate to the Convention for framing the State Constitution and to the Convention for ratifying the Constitution of the United States. He was one of the famous "Committee of Safety," chosen by the city of Boston, July 26, 1774, his associates being John and Samuel Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, Joseph Warren, and Josiah Quincy. He was one of the thirteen councillors. rejected by General Gage in 1774. Throughout the Revolutionary days he was a conspicuous and devoted patriot; he acted, for instance, on the committee which demanded of Governor Hutchinson that the British tea should be returned to London docks; and he went in person to Governor Gage to protest against the latter's arbitrary measures. When the war actually broke out, he moved with his family to Norwich, Connecticut, where he occupied the house in which Benedict Arnold was born; but be returned later and made his residence permanently in Boston.
Temperamentally William Phillips was inclined to be stern, and, in his declining years, decidedly irascible. Indeed, young Josiah Quincy, who was brought up in his grandfather's house, was sent away to school at the tender age of six, mainly because his pranks so exasperated the old gentleman. Nevertheless, William Phillips was a supporter of many charities, and made his home a center of hospitality. There Judge Phillips was accustomed to stay during his service in the General Court, and he found his uncle a cordial and thoughtful host.
The Honorable William Phillips was not concerned in the founding of Phillips Academy, but he soon followed the salutary example set by his brothers and made liberal gifts to the school. He was a member of the Board of Trustees, and acted as President of that body from 1794 to 1796. He bore a third part of the expense for the second Academy building in 1786, and in his will he bequeathed to the institution the sum of $4000 as a fund for assisting poor students. He died January 15, 1804, leaving his fortune to his son, His Honor William Phillips (1750-1827), who, in his turn, continued the generosity of his father towards Phillips Academy.
The attention devoted in this chapter to the various members of the Phillips family is entirely justified, for the Academy was essentially a family enterprise. In its origin, and throughout its early history, it was emphatically a Phillips school. When it is remembered that the funds for the founding of the Academy were provided by Esquire Samuel Phillips and Dr. John Phillips; that Judge Samuel Phillips was the projector and the chief author of the Constitution; that for more than thirty years members of the family were only too ready to meet deficiencies in the revenue and to contribute their time for investigating petty details; and finally that four of the original Board of twelve Trustees were Phillipses and that these four became in turn the first four Presidents of the Board, --- when all these facts are considered, we realize to what an extent Phillips Academy, now a national school, began as a family enterprise and was supported and continued as a matter of family pride.
It is not often that a family preserves so consistently through so many consecutive generations a reputation for high character and stimulating leadership. The same fine qualities of honesty, industry, dignity, sagacity, and benevolence seem to have been handed down as a natural heritage from father to son. In this family, even after two centuries had passed, the distinctive elements of Puritanism persisted with but few modifications. Professor Channing once wrote: ---
Seventeenth-century Puritanism was an attitude of mind rather than a system of theology, --- it was idealism applied to the solution of contemporary problems.
The Founders of Phillips Academy were merely undertaking to give this idealism concrete form in the field of education. Phillips Academy, like Harvard College, was cradled and fostered in Puritanism. Phrases like those in the Constitution, "the great end and real business of living"; "knowledge without goodness is dangerous "; "the promotion of true Piety and Virtue,"---were to Judge Phillips not platitudes, but vital principles, which could not be stated too often. The personal sacrifice which the members of the Phillips family were willing to undergo in order to train the characters of young men is a striking practical outgrowth of that enlightened idealism which was the motive power for the whole Puritan movement in America.
|PHILLIPS ACADEMY became the mother and pattern of that great number of secondary schools which have been planted all over the country; not that there were not secondary schools before, but they were established in almost every instance for the wants of a single community, while the Academy at Andover was planted like the college ---for mankind.|
WHEN and where the first dim conception of a school came to Samuel Phillips, Jr., we have no means of knowing. His family had always had a respect for learning, and some of them had gained practical experience as teachers. At a period during the interim between his graduation from Harvard and his powder-making venture he must have done some reading about educational systems as they worked out in operation. When he came to formulate guiding principles for his ideal school, he must have realized that there was on this side of the Atlantic no satisfactory model for him to follow. It is true, of course, that there were other schools in Massachusetts, some of them, like the Roxbury Latin School and the Boston Latin School, already notable for excellent instruction. Dummer School, where Phillips had spent some years, was a deliberate effort to put into application sound pedagogic methods, and it had, to some extent at least, blazed the path which other later schools were to follow. But Dummer School, controlled by a town or parish committee, also had its defects, of which no one could have been more aware than the quiet, studious lad who sat under Master Moody, and who was able, young though he was, to make deductions from the facts as he observed them. No doubt Phillips was at first exceedingly vague as to what his aims should be; but he was soon thoroughly convinced that there was room for a school of a new type, broader in scope than any then in existence in the colonies.
Of the theoretical side of pedagogy Phillips probably found time to read a good deal. It is certain, as we shall see later, that be had studied carefully both Milton's Essay on Education and Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education; he may also have had access to the famous treatises by Montaigne and Rousseau. The actual scheme, however, seems to have taken form out of free discussion and practical experience rather than from the speculations of theorists.
There is still preserved a manuscript covering seven pages of foolscap, without signature or address, but certainly in the handwriting of Samuel Phillips, Jr., which outlines his first crude conceptions of what the ideal Academy ought to be. It is dated "Monday morning at five o'clock," but otherwise there is nothing to indicate when it was written, except some slight internal evidence which suggests that it was composed in 1776. The document is hardly worth quoting in full; but a few passages have much significance: --
Observations have been made upon the various irregularities which are daily appearing, the very frequent instances of the decay of virtue, public and private, the prevalence of public and private vice, the amazing change in the tempers, dispositions, and conduct of people in this country within these thirty years. The trouble is owing to the neglect of good instruction. Upon the sound education of children depends the comfort or grief of parents, the welfare or disorder of the community, the glory or ruin of the state. The present public ignorance gives rise to a fear of events the most dreadful; what method then can be taken?
Let then a public building be erected for the purpose, and the children sent, be supported and continued there for a certain term, say from the age of seven to fourteen. One of the best of men can be found to take command, who shall proportion his attention to the various branches of education according to their importance, who shall make it his chief concern to see to the regulation of the morals of the pupils, and attentively and vigorously to guard them against the first dawnings of depraved nature. He shall instruct them in the several relations they sustain to God, their parents, the public, and their neighbors, and make their whole course of education one continued lecture on all that is great and good.
From such an institution as this what a surprising change might be reasonably expected. Instead of the present degeneracy which has increased upon us with such rapidity, what blessings may we not look for. We have more reason to hope for success from such labors than from those of priest and magistrate united. How great an advantage has the teacher in exerting his influence upon his pupils so early in life and keeping them away from bad examples, as was done in Mr. Moody's school, although it was attended with more difficulty there on account of collections from every quarter than it would be here. When we consider that this plan had such success among the ancients, what may we not expect from it when joined to the advantages of the Christian religion? Among the thirty to whom I have mentioned the plan, I have not heard one dissentient voice, but have received vastly higher approbation than I had reason to expect.
An objection naturally arises, as to the charge of supporting the scholars. Very little, or no money will be required. Let parents send that provision which their children would eat at home. The scholars can raise their vegetables in their own garden. As to their diet at noon, less meat by one third than is eaten at present would greatly conduce to their health; they would continue this diet, being once established, when they returned to their parents, and would influence their families if they ever had any.
By allowing the child his time in which to study at school, the parent gives the youth a far greater blessing than the small services of the latter would be at home; nay more, the parent will be paid pecuniarily, for when the son returns to his home well educated, his labor will be more profitable. The support of such a man as the place would demand (and such a man we know of who is admirably fitted for the sphere, and would exert himself in the cause) must be honorable; he might expect more than a minister's salary because his duty would be more arduous and his opportunity for service much greater. Must so glorious a plan fail for want of money, when there are so many to whom it would be a relief to part with some of it?
The somewhat amorphous and impracticable scheme thus presented has some interesting features. It will be noticed that Phillips already has his eye on Pearson as the right master for the new institution. The suggestion that a plot of farming-land should be reserved, where pupils could be taught the principles of agriculture and incidentally help to support themselves, was actually tried in Phillips Academy, and later in the Teachers' Seminary, not, however, with very satisfactory results. It is clear that Phillips is inclined to disapprove of Dummer School as being too democratic. The most significant passages are those regarding the moral influence to be exerted by teachers upon the boys under them. On this subject Phillips laid increasing emphasis, as a letter, without date or signature, but apparently composed at about this period and sent to Eliphalet Pearson, seems to show: --
The object in educating youth ought to be to qualify young persons as ornaments, as blessings, and as comforts in the vineyard of the Lord. Too much industry, too much personal ease and comfort, cannot be sacrificed in this matter. The whole success of your Seminary will depend upon an Instructor who is willing to do this. The industry of such a man will keep pace with the sun, and his wishes will always be reasonable. Give him a generous latitude, he will not abuse it. All his views will be to inspire his pupils with that knowledge which will influence them to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. My sentiments upon this subject are new, perhaps no one will fall in with them, yet I shall be unwilling to alter them without fair experiment. And I shall be so partial to myself as not to think a fair experiment has been made until an instructor is found that enters into the spirit of my feeling on this subject. The blessing such a man might be to posterity is unspeakable.
Although Phillips makes it evident that his primary interest is in the moral rather than in the mental side of education, he nevertheless was not without ideas as to the proper arrangement of the curriculum. In the letter just mentioned he expresses sentiments decidedly radical and heretical with regard to the classics: ---
I think our general plan of educating youth is injudicious, unnatural, and absurd. As soon as an infant is capable of muttering English, he is put to his accidence. In the Latin, youths fall back upon something that has been dead these hundred years and never will exist again, but if there were not a fragment of the language remaining, it would not exclude us from heaven. In it they study months without one new idea, and yet it has a great tendency to make the little ignorant scholar a pedant, if he can throw out one Latin word, though he knows no more of its signification than a parrot. --- The Latin authors were pagans, and their works all contain more or less of the foolish and stupid religion of their times. I think they ought not to be read until a person is established in our pure and holy religion. It is a pity that the best six years of youth should be spent in studying heathen writers.
It is unnecessary to say that Phillips, influenced by Pearson, soon outgrew his hostility to Latin, so that when the school was opened, its course of study was overwhelmingly classical.
From a third paragraph in this draft we may gather his early views on another important matter: --
With regard to charity students, these arguments following may have some weight against planning for them in general. There are, no doubt, a great number of respectable wealthy persons who would be glad to have their children educated, and cheerfully be at the expense, but they find so great danger of their morals being totally corrupted that they are utterly deterred therefrom. This great difficulty being removed, there is reason to believe that the school would always be as full as conveniency would admit of, and certainly the happiness of such a child (a rich one) is of as great consequence as that of a poor child, his opportunity of doing good greater. His disinterestedness is a great argument in favor of his honest intentions in following the profession of a minister, that he does it from principles, and not from a lucrative view; but charity scholars must pursue this; they speak because they are hired to; it is their living, say the scoffers.
Phillips, with his aristocratic instincts, could not bring himself to favor opening his school to all candidates, as Governor Dummer had done. His tendency to exclusiveness, however, was again overborne by Pearson's more robust democracy, and Phillips Academy soon became an institution where "scholarship boys," as they were called, were encouraged. In no one respect has it been more successful than in its willingness to provide poor but ambitious young men with the advantages of a sound education.
These crude preliminary papers were not to be mere theoretical discussion. Before 1777 Samuel Phillips, Jr., had begun negotiations with his father and uncle, looking to the establishment of such a school as he had dreamed of. He himself, young and comparatively poor, was without the means of carrying out his design; but Esquire Phillips and Dr. John Phillips, both unemotional, conservative men, unlikely to be swept off their feet by a transient enthusiasm, had faith in his good sense. Both, moreover, had been teachers, and were therefore qualified to judge the plan on its merits. When they had definitely promised to furnish the funds required, nothing remained but to make arrangements for putting the scheme into operation.
The first step was to secure a satisfactory location. Phillips, born and brought up in North Andover, naturally looked for a site close at hand, and accordingly opened negotiations for an extensive tract overlooking Lake Cochichawicke, near where the Kittredge Mansion now stands. Finding it impossible to purchase there land enough for future contingencies, he next turned to the South Parish, where his grandfather had lived. Here he found the task somewhat easier. On September 24, 1776, Dr. John Phillips wrote his nephew: --
I rejoice that our judicious well-dispos'd friends so heartily agree with us on our present establishment, and that there is so good a prospect of procuring land in a part of the Town which so agreeably and remarkably strikes our minds .... I doubt not you will endeavor to secure the lands so soon as may be and wish you would consult our friends respecting the best manner of holding the lands to the use intended without incumbrance. I greatly desire a school may be forwarded, if the land can't yet be obtained; but leave the whole to your conduct.
Within a little over a year Samuel Phillips, Jr., was able to buy, in the name of his father and uncle, sufficient ground to allow, not only for the immediate needs of the institution, but also for an almost indefinite expansion. It is due to his large views and remarkable far-sightedness that the Trustees in later years have seldom felt hampered by the want of additional land. The first purchase consisted of two tracts, one of about twenty-two acres, the other of about seventeen, deeded on January 24, 1777, by Solomon Wardwell to Esquire Phillips; on this property stood an old house and a joiner's shop. On March 1, 1777, Captain Joshua Holt, administrator of the estate of George Abbot, Esq., conveyed to Esquire Phillips for the sum of six hundred pounds three separate parcels of land, one of twelve, one of twenty-eight, and one of thirty acres. On May 29 of the same year Dr. John Phillips sanctioned these arrangements by binding himself, in an instrument drawn up and signed at Haverhill, to pay to a Board of six Trustees within one year the sum of one thousand, six hundred and sixty-six pounds, thirteen shillings, and four pence. Two additional tracts of woodland, covering in all thirty-two acres, were transferred on January 12, 1778, by Nehemiah Abbot to Esquire Phillips. In the Deed of Gift, moreover, were specified some two hundred acres of land in New Hampshire, bought on September 4, 1777, by Esquire Phillips of one John Little. The various pieces of real estate acquired on Andover Hill amounted in the aggregate to over one hundred and forty acres, covering a large part of the area where Phillips Academy has to-day its buildings and playing-fields.
Up to this date the land on Andover Hill had not been a popular place of residence. The early settlements in the South Parish, quite naturally, had been made along the Shawsheen or on the gentle slope above the river. On the Hill were small patches of poorly cultivated farm land, in the midst of stretches of rocky pasture and clumps of stunted trees and bushes. Part of the territory was marshy, some almost swamp; and the meadows during rainy periods were flooded until they resembled shallow lakes. Phillips Hall, built in 1809, stood on the border of a boggy huckleberry lot, which the students and professors crossed by stepping from stone to stone. What is now the main campus was, in 1778, filled with birches, alders, briers, and berry-bushes, along the western side of which, near the road, was a low stone wall. On the turnpike, near the present Pease House, stood an old, unoccupied dwelling; the Abbot House on Phillips Street has already been mentioned; the so-called Blunt Tavern (later the Berry House and now the Johnson House) had been built by Captain Isaac Blunt before 1765; these houses, with the carpenter's shop just spoken of, were the only buildings then standing on the land occupied to-day by Phillips Academy.
It had originally been decided that the school should be entirely a private enterprise, under the direct personal supervision of Samuel Phillips, Jr.; and a document, erased and underlined, probably composed during 1777, gives the more important particulars of the plan, the most interesting feature of which was that the property already bought was to be handed over without restriction to Phillips and his heirs. In theory this may have seemed feasible; but it was not long before it seemed far more businesslike to vest the holding power in a Board of Trustees, which should renew itself perpetually. The Deed of Gift, or Constitution, in its final form, as it was signed by Esquire Samuel Phillips and Dr. John Phillips on April 21, 1778, was mainly the composition of Samuel Phillips, Jr., with the advice of other members of his family and the active cooperation of Eliphalet Pearson, whose sane counsel, as we have seen, had already modified in some important particulars the educational theories of his friend. No evidence is available as to the part taken by each in the production. It is probable that the actual drafting of the document was done by Phillips, after frequent consultations with others. The Constitution has a substantial unity which proves it to be the work in the end of a single mind.
In considering the provisions of this remarkable document it must not be forgotten that there was no existing model which could be consulted or followed. Some of its principles, and occasionally some of its phrasing, it is true, were borrowed from Milton and Locke; but the details of organization, the legal arrangements, and the system of administration had all to be created by the author. The best proof of his success lies in the fact that for nearly a century and a half Phillips Academy has been conducted with this Constitution as a guide, without the necessity for a single amendment or the revision of even a word. The school is still carried on with every one of the distinctive features contemplated by the Founders. Expansion in numbers and in influence, the development or discarding of pedagogical theories, changes in the spirit of the age, --- these have not affected the essential characteristics of the original plan. This is due primarily to the wise elasticity of the Constitution; never too rigid or exact, it has permitted adjustment to new conditions without deviation from the wishes of the original projectors.
These wishes, which should be studied in the Constitution itself, are expressed in certain fundamental principles, which will, perhaps, become clearer as the story of the school is told. Although the Academy was to be devoted to secondary education, it was to have the breadth of a university in organization and administration. As an endowed academy, controlled by a permanent Board of Trustees and not operated for the profit of any person or corporation, it was to have a valuable independence, so that, dominated by no "special interests," it could deal with its students without discrimination. Undesirable pupils could be summarily ejected without fear of pecuniary loss. The school could pursue its independent course without being compelled constantly to consider the effect of any new policy upon the size of the student body. This fact alone was sufficient to set it apart from many schools otherwise of the same general type.
The Founders, however, did not desire to leave the Trustees absolutely unrestricted. Aware of the dangers that might arise if the Academy should ever become sectarian or parochial, they specified that a majority of the Trustees should always be laymen. In order to guard against any tendency to allow it to degenerate into a local or provincial academy, they further provided that a major part of the Trustees should not be inhabitants of the town in which the institution was located; and they permitted the Trustees, upon a two-thirds vote of their number and for "good and sufficient reasons," to change the situation of the Academy if at any time this should seem desirable. These clauses have been of immense importance in opening up to the authorities a national field of usefulness. There were no petty and vexatious conditions such as to-day hamper many American colleges. Liberal and tolerant in their point of view, the Founders succeeded in stamping their spirit upon the school.
This broad-mindedness was illustrated in other ways. The Phillips School was to be "ever equally open to youth, of requisite qualifications, from every quarter." The advantage, not of any one district, but of the whole country, was considered. It was to be a "public free school or academy,"- --not free in the matter of tuition, but free in the sense that it was open to all properly qualified applicants, regardless of race or nationality, religious convictions, financial standing, or social position. This policy the Trustees have consistently maintained, with the fortunate result that Phillips Academy has never been representative merely of a single class or locality.
Accepting the doctrine laid down by Samuel Phillips, Jr., that the instruction in an ideal school should be "one continued lecture on all that is good and great," the Founders stated explicitly that "the first and principal object of this institution is the promotion of true Piety and Virtue." The manner in which this injunction is emphasized and reiterated, "so that there could not be the smallest perversion of the true intent of the Founders," shows that they were unanimous in believing that the teachers should occupy themselves chiefly in pointing out to pupils "the great end and real business of living." At one time the Founders considered inserting some doctrinal qualifications in the Constitution. On January 24, 1778, Dr. Phillips wrote to Samuel Phillips, Jr.: ---
I am convinced of the need of Scholars being under the Tuition of Instructors who are of what we call Calvinistical Principles. I would not employ any that neglected teaching the Assembly's Catechism --- or if any part was objected to, should expect to know what part.
The nephew very fortunately was able to persuade his uncle that any such restrictions would be both unnecessary and unwise. Some mention, it is true, was made regarding the duty of the Master to impress upon his pupils certain Calvinistic doctrines --"the fall of Man --- the Depravity of Human Nature --- the Necessity of an Atonement," and other kindred dogmas. The Founders did, however, avoid the danger of inflicting upon Phillips Academy a stationary and inelastic creed. Nothing was said in the Constitution about the Westminster Catechism. The one indispensable provision was that Principal, Trustees, and Teachers should always be Protestants.
A course of study was sketched roughly in the Constitution, but it was made flexible by a saving final clause, --- "fourth, such other of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, or Languages, as opportunity and ability may hereafter admit, and as the Trustees shall direct." Without violating the manifest intentions of the Founders the authorities have felt free to change the curriculum in accordance with the variations of educational evolution. Some subjects once regarded as vital have been permanently discarded; others, from time to time, have been added to the list. Phillips Academy, nevertheless, has remained throughout its history a "cultural" school, and has vigorously resisted the increasing demand for so-called "vocational" studies.
According to one provision of the Constitution boys were to be encouraged "to perform some manual labor, such as gardening, or the like, so far as is consistent with cleanliness and the inclination of their parents." During the early years half-hearted efforts were made to carry out this suggestion; but the gradual increase in the importance of outdoor sports soon made it impossible to lure most boys into ploughing land or digging potatoes.
Realizing that the value of such a school as they were planning would depend largely upon the character and efficiency of the Principal Instructor, --- or Master, as he was commonly called in the Constitution, --- the Founders devoted much attention to prescribing the qualities desirable for the incumbent of that office and the duties involved in its proper administration. He must be "a professor of the Christian religion, of exemplary manners, of good natural abilities and literary acquirements, of a good acquaintance with human nature, of a natural aptitude for instruction and government." "It is expected," says the Constitution, "that the Master's attention to the disposition of the minds and morals of the youth, under his charge, will exceed every other care." He was to watch their health and excite them to industry; to act as their personal adviser in questions of conduct; to point out "the deformity and odiousness of vice, and the beauty and amiableness of virtue"; and to inculcate moral precepts by frequent repetition. The Founders, hoping that a large number of the Academy students would eventually choose the Christian ministry as their profession, believed it to be essential that they should be grounded early in the broader doctrines of New England Calvinism. Of this system the Principal would naturally be the chief support.
The views on education thus outlined in the Constitution of Phillips Academy were at that time new to American thought; but many of them bear a striking resemblance to the theories of John Locke. That philosopher, in his famous treatise Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), had divided education into four parts, placing Virtue first, then Wisdom, then Breeding, and finally Learning. "It is virtue, then, direct virtue," he went on to say, "which is the hard and valuable part to be aimed at in education .... Everything should be bent to the acquisition of virtue .... All other considerations and accomplishments should give way, and be postponed, to this." Again he added, "I place virtue as the first and most necessary of those endowments that belong to a man or a gentleman, as absolutely requisite to make him valued and beloved by others, acceptable or tolerable to himself." He speaks in another section of "the great decay of Christian piety and virtue," and of the desirability of retrieving them in the next generation. "The great business of all," he asserts, "is virtue and wisdom." All this reads much like the phrasing employed by Samuel Phillips, Jr.
Locke also laid peculiar stress on the desirability of securing an able and conscientious preceptor. In summarizing the duties of such a master, he says: ---
The great work of a governor is to fashion the carriage, and form the mind; to settle in the pupil good habits, and the principles of virtue and wisdom; to give him, little by little, a view of mankind; and work him into a love and imitation of what is excellent and praiseworthy; and in the prosecution of it, to give him vigour, activity, and wisdom.
Other features of Locke's essay also invite comparison with the Constitution of Phillips Academy. Locke had, as one critic says, "a profound conviction of the importance of education, and of the breadth of its aim. It has to fit men for life --- for the world, rather than for the university." It was Phillips's comprehension of this same theory that led him, like Locke, to place the supreme emphasis on the development of character.
From Milton it is possible that Samuel Phillips, Jr., received some inspiration, but of a kind more general than specific. It is to be noted, however, that the word "Academy," as applied to an educational institution for boys, was first employed by Milton in his Essay on Education (1644).(1) In the Constitution the name commonly given to the school was "Seminary," but this was shortly superseded, and the Act of Incorporation in 1780 was passed for Phillips Academy. One provision of the Constitution empowered the Trustees to erect "a large, decent building, sufficient to accommodate at least fifty scholars with boarding, beside the master and his family." This has some resemblance to Milton's suggestion: --
First, to find out a spacious house and ground about it fit for an Academy, and big enough to lodge a hundred and fifty persons, whereof twenty or thereabout may be attendants, all under the government of one, who shall be thought of desert sufficient, and ability either to do all, or wisely to direct and oversee it done.
There is nothing to indicate that Phillips had made any study of the great English public schools, such as Winchester, Eton, and Harrow. It is, indeed, much more probable that he borrowed ideas from the English nonconformist academies, which, in turn, were based mainly on the principles laid down by Milton and Locke.(2) Much of this discussion of influences, however, is vain speculation, in which it is easy to exaggerate matters really of small significance. The fact is that Samuel Phillips, Jr., as pioneer in a new field, is worthy of being ranked among men like Horace Mann and Andrew D. White, as one of the few original minds in American education.
In the Deed of Gift, which we have been accustomed to call the Constitution, ten men were named, who, with Esquire Samuel Phillips and John Phillips of Exeter, were to comprise the first Board of Trustees. The composition of this body had been the occasion of a considerable correspondence between Dr. Phillips and his nephew. On March 13, 1778, the former wrote: --
With respect to Mr. Pearson's being one of the Board of Trust, you may remember I mention'd him heretofore ---but as my brother and you were silent respecting it, I did not insist. I cannot say upon mature thought that your uncle William's not yet engaging to help bear the expense of the propos'd institution sh'd disqualify him from assisting otherwise --- but as it seems there is room for but one more, should that be overruled otherwise; I must renew the nomination of yourself --- and think your father's objections ought not to prevent it; and unless there appear to the other members of the Board an absolute inconsistency, I do and must insist upon it. As to your saying your Father's resignation would soon remove his objection, he may not once think of my excusing him, or continuing a member with those that shall. But you will say a major part must not be inhabitants of Andover. I say so too with regard to future selections; 't is clearly a good as it may turn out a needful provision, and best to be now established as a rule in the future.
Dr. Phillips's desire that his brother William and Samuel Phillips, Jr., should both be on the Board was followed. The other members were all personal friends of the Founders. Eliphalet Pearson, who had already been named as Principal, was a member ex officio. The Reverend Jonathan French(3) (1740-1809), a classmate of Samuel Phillips, Jr., at Harvard, had been, since 1772, minister of the South Church in Andover, and was a man of recognized leadership among his people. The Reverend Josiah Stearns (1732-88) was a distinguished clergyman, who was pastor during the last thirty years of his life at Epping, New Hampshire. Nehemiah Abbot (1731-1808), a prosperous Andover farmer, was selected by Phillips to be Treasurer of the Board. Of the others, Oliver Wendell(4) (1733-1818), the grandfather of Oliver Wendell Holmes, was a well-known representative in the General Court, whose sister, Margaret, had married Esquire Phillips's first cousin, William Phillips; John Lowell (1743-1802), the grandfather of James Russell Lowell, was a lawyer of Newburyport and Boston, who became a Judge of the United States Circuit Court and was a leader in the Boston community; the Reverend Elias Smith (1731-91) was minister for thirty-two years at Middleton, Massachusetts; and the Reverend William Symmes (1729-1807), pastor of the church at North Andover from 1758 until his death, was one of Esquire Phillips's nearest neighbors. Four of these men were ministers and eight were laymen; of the eight, however, one, Eliphalet Pearson, was later ordained as a clergyman. The rule prescribing that a majority of the Trustees should be non-residents of Andover was temporarily waived, for six of the number were citizens of the town. All twelve had been born and educated in New England and in the Calvinistic faith.
On Tuesday, April 28, 1778, in the old Abbot House on Phillips Street where Samuel Phillips, Jr., was then living, the Trustees, with only one member, the Reverend Josiah Stearns, absent, held their first meeting. The Board was there permanently organized with Esquire Phillips as President, Mr. French as Clerk, and Mr. Nehemiah Abbot, as Treasurer.
From this date until 1878, a full century, the Records were preserved in a huge folio volume presented to the Board on April 20, 1779, by Mr. French. The book is now worn and yellow with age, but the stately script of the first Clerk, as clear-cut as engraving, is still as legible as on the day when the entries were made. At this meeting some necessary business was transacted. The institution, hitherto styled a "Seminary," was given the name of "Phillips School," and the title of Preceptor was bestowed upon the "Principal Instructor." It was determined, apparently because of the poor state of Pearson's health that the number of scholars should be limited to thirty, until it should be enlarged by a formal vote. Two vacations of three weeks in length were arranged for each year, one in April, the other in October. Finally Pearson, who had just left the town grammar school, was formally nominated and elected as Preceptor.
On the following day, Wednesday, April 29, the meeting was continued, at which time Pearson's salary was fixed at eighty pounds a year, with "the improvement of the two pieces belonging to the school, situate in Andover." An assistant, Joseph Mottey, was engaged for two months. The classical nature of the school was established by a vote, "That preference shall be given to those scholars who are to be instructed in the learned languages." The Treasurer was required to give bonds for a thousand pounds. The regulation of discipline was provided for in a resolution: --
That if any scholar shall be so incorrigibly vicious that his continuance at the Seminary may be dangerous to the morals of the other scholars, or inconsistent with the good government of the Seminary, he shall be expelled, and never afterwards readmitted.
This expulsion was to be dignified by being made a public ceremony; it was to be decided upon by a committee of Trustees, "of which two at least shall be present with the Preceptor at such expulsion, which shall be made in the School House, in the presence of the scholars, by the Preceptor." A system of boarding-houses, to be kept by private families in the town, was arranged, and several prominent Andover persons, among them Samuel Phillips, Jr., and Pearson, agreed to furnish room and board at reasonable rates. Not for over fifty years did the Trustees find it possible to build dormitories for the boys.
Meanwhile an old carpenter's shop, included in the purchase from Solomon Wardwell, had been moved to the corner of "the old road to the meeting-house" (now Main Street) and the lane which has since been named Phillips Street, almost on the spot where the Archæological Museum(5) now stands. This rude structure, only one story high and only thirty-five by twenty feet in floor space, made of unpainted boards and ornamented on the exterior by a brick chimney, was fitted up temporarily for school purposes, although it could at best accommodate few more than fifty boys. Many a rural "district school" has afforded its pupils better quarters.
The necessary preliminaries having been completed, Phillips School was at last opened on April 30, 1778. The schoolhouse, small as it was, was large enough for the little group that assembled there on that memorable Thursday morning, to meet Master Pearson and to hear a dedicatory sermon by the Reverend Jonathan French. Dummer School had started with twenty-eight pupils; Phillips School began with only thirteen. There were few favorable auspices; indeed, no time could have seemed less propitious for such a project. General Washington and his rapidly waning army had just passed through the terrible winter at Valley Forge. The news of our treaty with France, signed February 6, 1778, had barely reached our shores. The nearness of the conflict is indicated by a vote of the Trustees in 1778 authorizing a committee to "make application to the General Court for a number of books, belonging to the estates of the absentees, for the use of the school." These "absentees" were Tories, or loyalists, who, for safety, had fled to Canada or England, in many cases leaving their property behind them. No stable American government had as yet been formed, and even the most optimistic were far from certain that the patriots would win in their struggle against heavy odds. It was one of the darkest hours of the war.
The first name to appear on the register of Phillips School was that of Thomas Payson, of Boston, aged thirteen. The original enrollment gradually increased and, at the end of a month, the full complement of thirty was made up. On June 24 the Committee of Exigencies voted to enlarge the School to the number of thirty-five, forty, or forty-five scholars, and on November 4 a similar resolution permitted it to extend to sixty. The total registration for the first year is recorded as fifty-one. Of these all were, as might be expected, from New England, eight being from New Hampshire and the remainder from Massachusetts. No scholar came from outside the New England States until 1782, when John Callender arrived from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Thirteen of the first fifty-one boys were from Andover. The variation in ages was extraordinary. The youngest, little Josiah Quincy(6) (1772-1864), who entered on May 29, 1778, was only six years old; he sat beside James Anderson of Londonderry, New Hampshire, a man nearly thirty years of age. Quincy, who had been sent to Andover because his mother, a daughter of the Honorable William Phillips, of Boston, wished to encourage the Phillips School, was later the second Mayor of Boston; and by a strange coincidence the future first Mayor of Boston, John Phillips(7) (1770-1823), whose father was a second cousin of Judge Phillips, was one of Quincy's playmates in that little group of scholars during the early months of the school. An examination shows that a considerable number of those on this school list for the first year were, like those just mentioned, relatives of members of the Board of Trustees.
On October 8, 1778, the Trustees made an official visit of inspection, and on the same day a committee was appointed to apply to the General Court for an Act of Incorporation. On April 20, 1779, it was voted that the name of the institution should be changed from "Phillips School" to "Phillips Academy," and the title of the "Principal Instructor" from "Preceptor" to "Rector," "provided it may be done without giving offense." The proposed substitute for the title of Preceptor was apparently never adopted; but the passage of an Act of Incorporation on October 4, 1780, established the name of the school as Phillips Academy. This act was the last legislative measure of the old Provincial Court; the new State Government which Judge Phillips had helped to form was organized in November. Phillips Academy has the distinction of being the earliest incorporated academy, not only in the Commonwealth, but also in the country at large.(8) The phraseology of the Act of Incorporation is evidently the work of Judge Phillips himself, the Preamble, indeed, being in his own handwriting. The language, for the most part, either repeats or condenses that in the Deed of Gift, but it is specified that the number of Trustees "shall not at any one time be more than thirteen nor less than seven." By the terms of the bill the Academy was authorized to hold real estate with an annual income of five hundred pounds and personal property up to an income of two thousand pounds. The act was signed by John Hancock, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In April, 1780, the Trustees made the first of what has proved since to be a long series of embarrassing discoveries: that the available funds were inadequate to the support of the institution. Accordingly an assessment was levied on the scholars, to the amount of two and one half dollars, "hard money," every quarter. This was the initial step towards the stated tuition fee which soon became indispensable for the proper maintenance of the Academy. Despite this temporary reverse, Judge Phillips, on September 6, 1780, wrote to his uncle in Exeter: "This school is in a flourishing state, in the estimation of those who have children here."
When the Phillips School opened, Samuel Phillips, Jr., and Eliphalet Pearson were only twenty-six years old. The idea had been a young man's project, carried out with a young man's ardor and enthusiasm. The vision of an academy became rapidly a reality; but not too rapidly, for, as it turned out, nearly every exigency had been anticipated. But, although the Founders had striven to provide against failure, they could not be certain that the plan would work well in operation; it was gratifying, then, to see that its success was likely to exceed even their most sanguine expectations. We to-day can appreciate how admirably Judge Phillips's motto, "Finis origine pendet," which he transferred to the school, is suited to Phillips Academy, --- an institution which has prospered because it had a right beginning.
When the merits of the new scheme of education became known, the idea spread speedily into other districts. A committee of both Houses of the General Court reported, February 27, 1797, that fifteen academies had been incorporated in Massachusetts. Of these, seven had already received grants of state lands; and the committee recommended that a half township in Maine should be appropriated for the use of four others, Dummer, Phillips, Groton, and Westford. At this time the principles were laid down that academies were, in most respects, public schools; that they were a part of an organized system of education; that they ought to be distributed to suit the needs of different localities, one to every twenty-five thousand people; and that their advantages should be used for the common benefit. Among the academies of importance which followed the model of Phillips may be named Leicester Academy (1784), in Worcester County, founded by Colonel Ebenezer Crofts, of Sturbridge; Derby Academy (1784) at Hingham; Bristol Academy (1792) at Taunton; Westford Academy (1792); Westfield Academy (1793); New Salem Academy (1795); Groton Academy (1793); Monson Academy (1804); and Amherst Academy (1812), besides others of lesser note. Before 1841 nearly one hundred and twenty acts incorporating academies had been passed by the General Court. Not all these institutions, of course, were actually opened for students; some of them were born feeble, languished a few years, and died dismally; but there was at this period at least one such school in every county in Massachusetts. The service performed by these academies in the first quarter of the nineteenth century in raising educational standards was very great.
With the rise of the high school about 1825 many of these academies lost a large part of their patronage, and sank slowly into a decline. Some, like the Franklin Academy in North Andover, fought desperately, but had ultimately to be abandoned. Others were transformed into high schools, or were superseded by them. A few still in existence to-day are continuing with moderate success, supported by their endowments. The two Phillips Academies have been more fortunate. For various reasons which will become clear later they managed to survive the critical period, and to adjust themselves to changed conditions. Some life-giving principle there must have been, to keep these schools healthy when so many others, apparently equally well constituted, could not escape ruin.