Thursday, August 20, 2009

American Students Studying Abroad during the Colonial Period

Following is a paragraph about American students being educated abroad during the colonial period from a manuscript I’m getting published in fall, 2010:

American students have been studying abroad and incorporating this experience as part of their education for centuries. The establishment of Harvard College in 1636, which was modeled after the residential colleges of Oxford, and the subsequent founding of the other colonial colleges began the great tradition of American higher education.
[1] Many colonists were concerned about the growing trend of American students studying in Europe even though important individuals such as Benjamin Franklin, who studied in London, and John Quincy Adams, who studied outside of Paris during the colonial period, were pursuing such opportunities.[2] The numbers of Americans studying abroad during this time period were significant enough that several leading American figures such as Thomas Jefferson in 1785 and George Washington a mere ten years later in 1795 voiced their concerns and were highly critical of Americans studying overseas.[3] Thomas Jefferson, in his scorn for sending American students to Europe, is quoted as saying, “an American coming to Europe for an education loses in his knowledge, in his morals, in his habits, and in his happiness.”[4] The Georgia Legislature in 1785 even went as far as to enact a law that penalized young men who were educated abroad by considering these students as Aliens for a minimum of three years after returning home and were thus ineligible to hold a seat in the legislature or any other civil or military office in the state.[5] The end of the American Revolution saw an expansion in the founding of colleges across the newly formed United States of America and the numbers of American students going to Europe to study continued to grow. The first American to earn a Ph.D. degree abroad was Edward Everett in 1817 at Gottingen in Germany.[6] Everett later went on to serve as the President of Harvard from 1846 to 1849.

[1] The order of founding of the American colonial colleges: Harvard College (1636), William and Mary (1697), Yale College (1701), College of New Jersey which later became Princeton University (1746), King’s College which later became Columbia College (1754), College of Philadelphia which later became University of Pennsylvania (1755), College of Rhode Island which later became Brown University (1766), Queen’s College which later became Rutgers University (1766), and Dartmouth College (1769). Obtained from Robert A. McCaughey, Stand, Columbia: A History of Columbia University (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003) with various supporting tables online at <>.
[2] Dietrich Goldschmidt, “Historical Interaction Between Higher Education in Germany and in the United States” in German and American Universities: Mutual Influences – Past and Present, Eds. Ulrich Teichler and Henry Wasser (Kassel, Wissenschaftliches Zentrum, 1992) 11-34.
[3] William W. Hoffa, A History of US Study Abroad: Beginnings to 1965 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Whitmore Printing, 2007), 25-28.
[4] Henry Schwaneger, “The Junior Year Abroad: Then, Now, and?” Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German, 3 no. 1 (Spring, 1970), 155.
[5] Robert H. Bremer, (Ed.). Children & Youth in America: A Documentary History (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1970). Book available via the Humanities & Social Sciences Net Online <>.
[6] Ibid.

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