Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

of science to the common purposes of life. My principal object is to qualify teachers for instructing the sons and daughters of farmers and mechanics, by lectures or otherwise, in the application of experimental chemistry, philosophy and natural history to agriculture, domestic economy, the arts and manufactures.

But the Boynton plan went further; it directed that the subjects of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, Architecture,

Chemistry and Metallurgy, should be taught, in addition to the fundamental sciences and academics. It also embraced the then novel requirement that these subjects be supplemented by

practical applications. Unquestionably, Dr. Sweetser had Ichabod Washburn's previous proposition in mind when he wrote this provision into the plan:

And these studies shall be arranged, and instruction given in them, according to the wisdom and discretion of those to whose care this institution is entrusted; it being understood that the course shall include studies with text books and recitations, and lectures with experiments, and all such practical applications of the use of tools and instruments, and the working of machinery, as may be available, so that the benefits of this school shall not be confined to the theories of science, but as far as possible shall extend to that practical application of its principles which will give the greatest advantage in the affairs of life.

Chronologically, Ichabod Washburn's plan does not belong in the first stage of the foundation. Its initial draft was submitted to the trustees on December 2, 1865, and it was revised somewhat between then and its final acceptance in March, 1866. He had committed himself, however, at the organization meeting, and the members of the new corporation were too engrossed in other matters to wonder whether the ideas of their colleague would mesh with the original plan. It is to Washburn's everlasting credit that he displayed not only an unselfish spirit of cooperation, but a sincere desire to adapt his carefully studied plan to the conditions in the Boynton letter of gift. This appears clearly in his preamble:

I have long been satisfied that a course of instruction might be adopted in the education of apprentices to mechanical employments, whereby moral and intellectual training might be united with the processes by which the arts of mechanism, as well as skill in the use and adaptation of tools and


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Last Modified: Fri Jul 30 11:15:25 EDT 1999