THE PRESIDENT OF ANDOVER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IS REQUESTING HELP FROM A BOARD MEMBER TO CONVENE A COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY
AUSTIN PHELPS (1820-90) HANDWRITTEN LETTER SIGNED, "Very truly yours Austin Phelps", 5 x 8, 3 pages, March 25, 1877, to Rev. Joshua Wellman, D.D., Andover, Mass.[on the Board of Trustees of Andover Theological Seminary & pastor of Eliot church in Newton, Mass], by the American Congregational minister and educator, President of Andover Theological Seminary for 10 years (1869-79) whose writings became standard textbooks for Christian theological education and remain in print today. He is the author of Theory of Preaching (1881), The Still Hour, English Style in Public Discourse (1883). Andover Theological Seminary created the educational model used by almost all Protestant seminaries today and pioneered many training programs for prospective clergy, including field education. Its alumni and alumnae included important abolitionists educators, clergy, and theologians; In this letter Phelps is President of Andover and is requesting help, with a faculty member, from a Board member, In part: "Understanding that you have had a conference with Prof. Park [Rev. Edwards Amassa Park, Abbott Professor of Christian Theology, Andover Theological Seminary] respecting Prof. Thazris project. I have thought it best to write myself to Dr. Fisk. The drift of my letter to his is to the point of the necessity of a "Committee of Inquiry" into the condition of the Seminary & the causes of it's decline. I feel sure that this must come sooner or later and Prof Thazris' move only creates in my view an immediate occasion for it. The Board ought, before deciding upon his request, to know some things which they cannot properly know officially, except in answer to such an Inquiry...when I had no better friend in the faculty than Prof Thazrin. When my relations to Prof Park were the most hopeless, I could not but marvel at his silence under the discouragement growing out of the size of the Junior Class. Had he moved then for an Inquiry, I should have felt bound in conscience to second his movement. So little has any personal relations to any of my colleagues had to do with my judgment of this matter...I have requested Dr. Fisk not to give my letter or my name to the Board, but to act-if at all upon his own responsibility...I do not myself attach importance to Prof Thazris' withdrawal from me...I prefer to abstain from official action, while at the same time I have no cause for concealment, and to a Committee of Inquiry I should speak without restraint...It will be a great mistake if they act upon Prof Thazris project without further inquiry...." Comes with the original mailing envelope. Both items are in fine condition, with the usual mailing folds to the letter and minor age toning.