Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Constitution, or Fundamental Rules For The Hampton Proprietary School Corporation -- Part III

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Constitution, or Fundamental Rules For The Hampton Proprietary School Corporation -- Part III

As the years went by, many young men, afterwards of high reputation in professional and political life, fitted for college here: -- three of Mr. Webster's sons, [See Genealogies -- Webster (6); (9) to (11).] Amos Morrill, Judge of the U. S. District Court in Texas; Daniel Clark, who held a like office in New Hampshire twenty-five years, was a founder of the Republican party and U. S. senator; Moses Norris, member of Congress, as representative and senator; James F. Joy, widely known as a railroad king; James W. Grimes, for three years governor of Iowa, and afterwards, U. S. senator; Amos Tuck, lawyer and representative to Congress; and many more. The renowned Rufus Choate completed his preparatory course here in 1815.

The early preceptors were, for the most part, men eminently qualified for their profession -- men of learning and culture and piety, commanding the respect and obedience, and often the warm affection of their pupils. Equally fortunate was the young ladies' department, established after the enlargement of the building in 1821; and which, except at devotions, at the opening and close of each day, was entirely distinct, under the charge of a preceptress.

Of all the teachers, Mr. Paine W. Chase was the only one who died in office; and his death was singularly sudden. He had taught, as usual, on Saturday forenoon, and had, with Miss Vose, the preceptress, spent the evening at Mr. Webster's. On returning to his boarding-place, he conducted family worship and retired to his room, apparently in health; but a sound of falling, a few minutes later, caused the landlady to hasten to his room, where he was expiring. He died deeply lamented by trustees, patrons, pupils and the entire community. [See Genealogies -- Chase (10).]

Among the names of preceptors, that of Roswell Harris, A.M., stand out prominently. He taught with great acceptance for about five years; and when he left for Brattleboro, Vt., the trustees passed a vote of appreciation and thanks. Not long after, efforts were made to induce him to return, but without avail. Mr. Harris married his preceptress, >Miss Matilda Leavitt.

In 1837 Mr. Amos Tuck, then principal, and also a trustee of the Academy, proposed the purchase of a philosophical and chemical apparatus, generously offering to relinquish all claim upon the income of the funds, and depend on tuition alone for his salary, "until said funds shall have accumulated sufficiently to pay all existing debts, and the amount of the debt that shall have been incurred, for purchase of said apparatus." The trustees agreed to this proposal, and purchased apparatus, at a cost of three hundred dollars, the next spring. But now, Mr. Tuck, who had been reading law for some time, had the opportunity of completing his studies, preparatory to being admitted to the bar, with James Bell, Esq., an eminent lawyer, of Exeter. He therefore gave up the school, and Joseph Dow, then teaching in Gardiner, Me., was invited to take it in charge. He accepted the position and entered at once upon its duties; but the arrangement made with Mr. Tuck, for relinquishing salary, being necessarily binding upon his successor, since a new debt had been incurred by the late purchase, Mr. Dow found the support inadequate, and felt compelled therefore to resign, at the end of one year.

The longest preceptorate was that of Timothy O. Norris, A.M., who had charge of the school for twelve years; [See Genealogies -- Norris (2).] and whose zeal and efficiency in a most trying ordeal, deserve particular mention.

On the 29th of August, 1851, between the hours of one and two, ins the morning, the Academy building was burned to the ground, from some unknown cause, but probably incendiary.

A proposition was made by the town, to repair and fit up the old Congregational meeting-house, for a town-house and Academy; and the trustees appointed a committee of three of their number, "to receive what proposition the town of Hampton, through their committees, may choose to make;" but no satisfactory arrangement could be made, and the trustees decided to build anew. They "chose T. O. Norris, Rev. S. P. Fay, Josiah Dow, S. B. Shaw and T. Ward a building committee, with power to cause to be constructed a new Academy building, on such a plan as they may agree upon."

Mr. Norris was indefatigable in his exertions, soliciting funds, laboring with his own hands and enlisting his friends, in the work. Mr. Thomas Ward was no less zealous; and after the new building was completed, and the school again in operation, the trustees passed a resolution, "that their names deserve to be held in grateful remembrance, by all the friends of Hampton Academy."

The new Academy was built with one large school-room, and small recitation rooms opening from it; and the old system of two distinct departments was abolished; the upper story being designed for a hall, but never furnished for school use. In 1866 it was rented, for a few months, to a Division of the Sons of Temperance.

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