Wesleyan's First Century: With an Account of the Centennial Celebration

By Carl F. Price | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE OLIN INTERREGNUM AND NATHAN BANGS, ECCLESIAST

THE loss of President Fisk bore heavily upon the sorrowing college community. Some of the friends of Wesleyan felt that a serious crisis was impending: it proved to be more serious than most of them had feared. The trustees appointed as acting president Professor Augustus W. Smith, who had held that office during Fisk's European tour. Little did he, or anyone else, dream that he would have to serve as such during nearly two and a half years!

It was almost six months after Fisk's death when his successor was elected. Among the many names proposed for the office those of Nathan Bangs and Stephen Olin stood foremost, although neither of these two distinguished clergymen desired the election. The latter had been Fisk's choice, especially in comparison with the former. It had been proposed, when Fisk went to Europe, that Nathan Bangs, then president of the Joint Board, be drafted as acting president; but Fisk, farseeing and an excellent judge of men, practically vetoed this proposal, and Smith was chosen to carry on in his absence. Subsequent events justified this judgment. Bangs had won the reputation of a successful money-raiser; and Olin was now in Europe and in ill health. Still, the wisdom of the first president, even after his death, prevailed in the choice of the second president, and on August 6, 1839, Stephen Olin was elected.

He was in Europe on that date, and it was not until November 11 that the letter of Laban Clark, president of the Board of Trustees, reached him, informing him of his election, though he had previously heard of the event on October 31. To Clark he made a non-committal reply, citing the uncertainty of his health.

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