Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

to the city through his friendship with John B. Gough, the noted temperance lecturer. Son of a Connecticut boatbuilder, he had shown an early aptitude for drawing. He was graduated from the State Normal Institute at New Britain in 1854, spent five years thereafter as a teacher of drawing, then through the efforts of that distinguished educator, Henry Barnard, he received an opportunity to study at the government school in London, completing the course in 1863.

M. P. Higgins, a native of Maine, had just received his degree from Dartmouth at the age of twenty-five. His college work had been interruptred for three years by the need of providing funds for his education. During this period he had served an apprentice course in the machine shop of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. at Manchester, N. H., of which his brother was superintendent. There he attracted the attention of Ichabod Washburn, and although he was not immediately appointed to the Institute staff, Mr. Washburn brought him to Worcester as assistant to his superintendent, Charles H. Morgan, in the Washburn & Moen Co.

The only other appointment prior to the opening of the Institute was that of George 1. Alden, on November 4. He was to be instructor in theoretical and practical Mechanics at a salary of $1,600. Mr. Alden's early life paralleled that of Mr. Higgins. He was a graduate of Lawrence Scientific School in the class of 1868, and before entering college had served his apprenticeship as a wood worker. He was also twenty-five, a native of Templeton. Undoubtedly the young man was well known to John Boynton, but it is not probable that the founder was instrumental in securing his appointment.

Immediate evidence of Professor Thompson's fitness for the principalship was displayed by the avidity with which he studied the methods of European technical schools. Fortified with a grant of $500 from the trustees, in addition to half his first year's salary of $2,500, and $500 more for the purchase of laboratory equipment, he sailed for Ireland on May 30. He visited schools at Belfast and Dublin, then went


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