JOHN BASCOM


From History of Dane County, Wisconsin, publ. by Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1880, page 951

JOHN BASCOM, LL. D., D.D., President of the University of Wisconsin, holds an eminent position as a writer on philosophy, psychology, aesthetics and the social sciences; a comprehensive notice of his literary labors appears in this volume in the chapter on Authors; Dr. BASCOM was born on the 1st day of May, 1827, in Genoa, N.Y. His father, John BASCOM, was a Congregational clergyman in Chester, Mass.; his grandfather, Aaron BASCOM, was also a Congregational preacher; he fitted for theology as Auburn and at Andover, graduating at the latter Seminary in 1855; since that time he has been an exceedingly diligent and productive author of books and of contributions, to our periodical literature; in Rochester, N.Y., he read law one year, but did not enter upon its practice. He was married on the 24th of December 1852, to Miss Abbie BURT, of Great Barrington, Mass., who died in August, 1854, leaving no issue. In 1855 he was elected Professor of Rhetoric in Williams College; a severe infection of the eyes had rendered him nearly blind, and for the first six years of his professorship, all his literary work, both of acquisition and composition, was performed by the aid of an amanuensis. Amherst College in 1873, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, and Grinnell College, in 1875, that of Doctor of Divinity; he continued to occupy the Chair of Rhetoric in Williams College until 1874, with the exception of one year, during which he was absent on a visit to Europe. He was married to Miss Emma CURTISS, of Sheffield, Mass., on the 8th of January 1856; they have had five children - George Mooar, born May 27, 1857; Jennie, born April 13, 1859; Emma, born June 3, 1861, died Feb. 22, 1879; Florence, born July 14, 1862, and Mabel, who was born Aug. 3, 1867, and died in August, 1868. Dr. BASCOM in 1874, came to Wisconsin as President of the University of Wisconsin; under his able management and watchful care the University has made rapid progress; several important changes and improvements affecting the university have resulted during his presidency; the first change was the removal of all remaining traces of distinction in instruction and opportunities between the sexes; the next step was the securing the erection of the Hall of Science; in this building the scientific instruction of the University is gathered and sustained by abundant appliances; the next was the obtaining of more extended and permanent income for the institution; then followed the securing of an astronomical observatory, erected and furnished by ex-Gov. C. C. WASHBURN, of Wisconsin; another progressive step was the erection of a library and assembly hall; the terms of admission to the university have been advanced, and the instructional force of the institution increased; his broad and enlightened views on education have been fruitful of a vast amount of good, not only to the university over which he presides, but also to the state and country; he is an excellent teacher, an impressive speaker, and, amid all his administrative duties, none of which he allows to suffer from want of his personal attention, he finds time to do a surprising amount of solid literary work; all his works have a philosophical bearing, all are analytical in their treatment of subjects, and all are characterized by their depth of thought. He is firmly in line with the great liberal thinkers of the age; his writings arouse thought and provoke discussion; he is a close student and a ripe scholar.


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