Muhlenberg, William Augustus
Autograph Letter Signed, Flushing, New York, September 17, 1833 to Marcus Catlin, Hamilton College, Clinton, Oneida Co., New York

quarto, 3 pages, plus stamp-less address leaf, short tear into second leaf, otherwise in very good, clean and legible condition.

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     Muhlenberg writes, in part:


     “… Your letter intimating a willingness to accept of the professorship of Mathematics in the Institute of this place, was accompanied by so strong a recommendation from president Davis, that I am desirous to have further communication with you on the subject.  With the view you will allow me to ask whether you are a professor of religion – Religious Instruction holds so prominent a place in our institution that we wish all our instructors to favor it, at least in the way of example. And we care more for the evangelical piety of an Instructor than for his particular creed provided he is willing to conform in externals to the Episcopal Church. Nor do we expect a professor to be a preacher in his lecture room. I make these remarks to explain the reason of the above question and that I may not be thought to be impertinently inquisitive.

          But a small proportion of our boys would need instruction in the higher Mathematics – would you be willing to teach considerably in the elementary branches? Would you be ready, in case of appointment, to enter upon your duties early in October? I consider the situation in view a desireable one – you would have nothing to do with the discipline of the Institute any further than you desired. Your business would be pretty much confined to a recitation room where you would have your class alone. The Institution is a rising one – limiting its number of pupils to about 80. There would be two or three assistants in your department. The Salary is certain – and there is a vacation of two months in the year – August and September – The location is eminently healthy and generally admired. The pupils are almost all from families of the first respectability. I have stated these particulars supposing you would be pleased to know them, and to induce you to state anything on your part, which you suppose I would be glad to hear. I suppose an interview is impossible, so that before entering into any engagement as free an interchange of views as possible is desireable. An immediate answer is requisite, inconsequence of the numerous applications for the situation…”

     Muhlenberg was a Philadelphia Episcopal clergyman, who is “considered the father of church schools in the United States”, his model schools on Long Island, making a “monumental contribution to the history of American education.”


        This letter was written five years after he became Principal of his first Church Institute at Flushing, New York, “where he initiated a unique and highly successful method for the education of boys” – and five years before he established a “more ambitious” St. Paul’s College and Grammar School on Long Island. This letter offers a rare synopsis of his early educational philosophy.


         Muhlenberg’s attempt to woo Marcus Catlin from his academic appointment at Hamilton College, 300 miles north of Flushing, was unsuccessful. Catlin remained at Hamilton until his death in 1849.