Francis Brown (1784–1820)

Francis Brown (1784–1820)

University President
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Francis Brown (1784–1820)

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The Rev. Francis Brown ( – ) served as the president of Dartmouth College. He graduated from the College in 1805 and from 1806–1809 held a tutorship there. He also served a pastor in a Congregational church in North Yarmouth, Maine. Brown was removed from his presidency at the College as part of the actions that resulted in the Dartmouth College case, but was reinstated following the 1819 decision in favor of the College.

Biography

Francis Brown was born in Chester, New Hampshire. A pastor from North Yarmouth, Maine, he presided over Dartmouth College during the famous Supreme Court hearing of Trustees of Dartmouth College v. William H. Woodward or, as it is more commonly called, the Dartmouth College Case. The contest was a pivotal one for Dartmouth and for the newly independent nation. It tested the contract clause of the Constitution and arose from an 1816 controversy involving the legislature of the state of New Hampshire, which amended the 1769 charter granted to Eleazar Wheelock, making Dartmouth a public institution and changing its name to Dartmouth University. Under the leadership of President Brown, the Trustees resisted the effort and the case for Dartmouth was argued by Daniel Webster before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818.

Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the historic decision in favor of Dartmouth College, thereby paving the way for all American private institutions to conduct their affairs in accordance with their charters and without interference from...
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