Skip to main content
clickable transparency Rauner Special Collections Library
Home > Rauner Library > Dartmouth History >

Contact Information

  • Rauner Special Collections Library
  • 6065 Webster Hall
  • Hanover, NH 03755
  • Tel: (603) 646-0538
  • Fax: (603) 646-0447
  • Email Rauner Reference

Now on Exhibit

Current exhibit - detailInsta-Exhibit

Connect with Rauner Library

 

Dartmouth College Charter

George the Third, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting:

Dartmouth College CharterWhereas, it hath been represented to our trusty and well-beloved John Wentworth, Esq., governor and commander-in-chief, in and over our province of New Hampshire, in New England, in America, that the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, of Lebanon, in the colony of Connecticut, in New England, aforesaid, now doctor in divinity, did, on or about the year of our Lord 1754, at his own expense, on his own estate and plantation, set on foot an Indian charity school, and for several years, through the assistance of well-disposed persons in America, clothed, maintained and educated a number of the children of the Indian natives, with a view to their carrying the Gospel, in their own language, and spreading the knowledge of the great Redeemer, among their savage tribes, and hath actually employed a number of them as missionaries and schoolmasters in the wilderness for that purpose; and by the blessing of God upon the endeavors of said Wheelock, the design became reputable among the Indians, insomuch that a large number desired the education of their children in said school, and were also disposed to receive missionaries and schoolmasters, in the wilderness, more than could be supported by the charitable contributions in these American colonies. Whereupon, the said Eleazar Wheelock thought it expedient, that endeavors should be used to raise contributions from well disposed persons in England for the carrying on and extending said undertaking; and for that purpose the said Eleazar Wheelock requested the Rev. Nathaniel Whitaker, now doctor in divinity, to go over to England for that purpose, and sent over with him the Rev. Samson Occom, an Indian minister, who had been educated by the said Wheelock. And to enable the said Whitaker to the more successful performance of said work, on which he was sent, said Wheelock gave him a full power of attorney, by which said Whitaker solicited those worthy and generous contributors to the charity, viz., The Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth, the Honorable Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, Knight, one of the barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer, John Thornton, of Clapham, in the County of Surrey, Esquire, Samuel Roffey, of Lincoln's Inn Fields, in the County of Middlesex, Esquire, Charles Hardy, of the parish of Saint Mary-le-bonne, in said county, Esquire, Daniel West, of Christ's Church, Spitalfields, in the county aforesaid, Esquire, Samuel Savage, of the same place, gentleman, Josiah Roberts, of the Parish of St. Edmund the King, Lombard Street, London, gentleman, and Robert Keen, of the Parish of Saint Botolph, Aldgate, London, gentleman, to receive the several sums of money which should be contributed, and to be trustees for the contributors to such charity, which they cheerfully agreed to. Whereupon, the said Whitaker did, by virtue of said power of attorney, constitute and appoint the said Earl of Dartmouth, Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, John Thornton, Samuel Roffey, Charles Hardy and Daniel West, Esquires, and Samuel Savage, Josiah Roberts and Robert Keen, gentlemen, to be trustees of the money which had then been contributed, and which should, by his means, be contributed for said purpose, which trust they have accepted, as by their engrossed declaration of the same, under their hands and seals, well executed, fully appears, and the same has also been ratified, by a deed of trust, well executed by the said Wheelock.

And the said Wheelock further represents, that he has, by power of attorney, for many weighty reasons, given full power to the said trustees to fix upon and determine the place for said school, most subservient to the great end in view; and to enable them understandingly to give the preference, the said Wheelock has laid before the said trustees, the several offers which have been generously made in the several governments in America to encourage and invite the settlement of said school among them, for their own private emolument and the increase of learning in their respective places, as well as for the furtherance of the general design in view. And whereas a large number of the proprietors of lands in the western part of this our province of New Hampshire, animated and excited thereto by the generous example of his excellency, their Governor, and by the liberal contributions of many noblemen and gentlemen in England, and especially by the consideration that such a situation would be as convenient as any for carrying on the great design among the Indians; and also, considering, that without the least impediment to the said design, the same school may be enlarged and improved to promote learning among the English, and be a means to supply a great number of churches and congregations which are likely soon to be formed in that new country, with a learned and orthodox ministry; they, the said proprietors, have promised large tracts of land, for the uses aforesaid, provided the school shall be settled in the western part of our said province. And they, the said right honorable, honorable and worthy trustees before mentioned, having maturely considered the reasons and arguments in favor of the several places proposed, have given the preference to the western part of our said province, lying on Connecticut river, as a situation most convenient for said school.

And the said Wheelock has further represented a necessity of a legal incorporation in order to the safety and wellbeing of said seminary, and its being capable of the tenure and disposal of lands and bequests for the use of the same. And the said Wheelock has also represented that, for many weighty reasons, it will be expedient, at least in the infancy of said institution or till it can be accommodated in that new country and he and his friends be able to remove and settle by and round about it, that the gentlemen whom he has already nominated in his last will (which he has transmitted to the aforesaid gentlemen of the trust in England) to be trustees in America should be of the corporation now proposed. And also, as there are already large collections for said school in the hands of the aforesaid gentlemen of the trust in England, and all reasons to believe, from their singular wisdom, piety and zeal to promote the Redeemer's cause (which has already procured for them the utmost confidence of the Kingdom), we may expect they will appoint successors in time to come who will be men of the same spirit, whereby great good may and will accrue many ways to the institution, and much be done, by their example and influence, to encourage and facilitate the whole design in view; for which reason, said Wheelock desires that the trustees aforesaid may be vested with all that power therein which can consist with their distance from the same.

KNOW YE, THEREFORE that We, considering the premises and being willing to encourage the laudable and charitable design of spreading Christian knowledge among the savages of our American wilderness, and also that the best means of education be established in our province of New Hampshire, for the benefit of said province, do, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, by and with the advice of our counsel for said province, by these presents, will, ordain, grant and constitute that there be a college erected in our said province of New Hampshire by the name of Dartmouth College, for the education and instruction of youth of the Indian tribes in this land in reading, writing, and all parts of learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing and christianizing children of pagans, as well as in all liberal arts and sciences, and also of English youth and any others. And the trustees of said college may and shall be one body corporate and politic, in deed, action and name, and shall be called, named and distinguished by the name of the Trustees of Dartmouth College.

And further, we have willed, given, granted, constituted and ordained, and by this our present charter, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, with the advice aforesaid, do, for us, our heirs and successors forever, will, give, grant, constitute and ordain that there shall be in the said Dartmouth College, from henceforth and forever, a body politic consisting of trustees of said Dartmouth College. And for the more full and perfect erection of said corporation and body politic, consisting of trustees of Dartmouth College, we, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, do, by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, make, ordain, constitute and appoint our trusty and well beloved John Wentworth, Esq., Governor of our said province, and the Governor of our said province of New Hampshire for the time being, and our trusty and well beloved Theodore Atkinson, Esq., now president of our Council of our said province, George Jaffrey and Daniel Peirce, Esq'rs, both or our said Council, and Peter Gilman, Esq., now speaker of our house of representatives in said province, and William Pitkin, Esq., one of the assistants of our colony of Connecticut, and our said trusty and well beloved Eleazar Wheelock, of Lebanon, doctor in divinity, Benjamin Pomroy, of Hebroe, James Lockwood, of Weathersfield, Timothy Pitkin and John Smalley, of Farmington, and William Patten, of Hartford, all of our said colony of Connecticut, ministers of the gospel (the whole number of said trustees consisting, and hereafter for ever to consist, of twelve and no more) to be trustees of said Dartmouth College, in this our province of New Hampshire.

And we do further, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, for us, our heirs and successors, will, give, grant and appoint that the said trustees and their successors shall forever hereafter be, in deed, act and name, a body corporate and politic, and that they, the said body corporate and politic, shall be known and distinguished, in all deeds, grants, bargains, sales, writings, evidences or otherwise howsoever, and in all courts forever hereafter, plea and be impleaded by the name of the Trustees of Dartmouth College; and that the said corporation, by the name aforesaid, shall be able, and in law capable, for the use of said Dartmouth College, to have, get, acquire, purchase, receive, hold, possess and enjoy, tenements, hereditaments, jurisdictions and franchises, for themselves and their successors, in fee-simple, or otherwise howsoever, and to purchase, receive or build any house or houses, or any other buildings, as they shall think needful and convenient, for the use of said Dartmouth College, and in such town in the western part of our said province of New Hampshire, as shall, by said trustees, or the major part of them, he agreed on, their said agreement to be evidenced by an instrument in writing, under their hands, ascertaining the same; and also to receive and dispose of any lands, goods, chattels and other things, of what nature soever, for the use aforesaid; and also to have, accept and receive any rents, profits, annuities, gifts, legacies, donations or bequests of any kind whatsoever, for the use aforesaid; so, nevertheless that the yearly value of the premises do not exceed the sum of 6000 sterling; and therewith, or otherwise, to support and pay, as the said trustees, or the major part of such of them as are regularly convened for the purpose, shall agree, the president, tutors and other officers and ministers of said Dartmouth College; and also to pay all such missionaries and schoolmasters as shall be authorized, appointed and employed by them, for civilizing and christianizing, and instructing the Indian natives of this land, their several allowances; and also their respective annual salaries or allowances, and all such necessary and contingent charges as from time to time shall arise and accrue relating to the said Dartmouth College; and also, to bargain, sell, let or assign, lands, tenements or hereditaments, goods or chattels, and all other things whatsoever, by the name aforesaid in as full and ample a manner, to all intents and purposes, as a natural person, or other body politic or corporate, is able to do, by the laws or our realm of Great Britain, or of said province of New Hampshire.

And further, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, to the intent that our said corporation and body politic may answer the end of their erection and constitution, and may have perpetual succession and continuance forever, we do, for us, our heirs and successors, will, give and grant unto the Trustees of Dartmouth College, and to their successors forever that there shall be, once a year, and every year, a meeting of said trustees, held at said Dartmouth College, at such time as by said trustees, or the major part of them, at any legal meeting of said trustees, shall be agreed on; the first meeting to be called by the said Eleazar Wheelock, as soon as conveniently may be, within one year next after the enrollment of these our letters-patent, at such time and place as he shall judge proper. And the said trustees, or the major part of any seven or more of them, shall then determine on the time for holding the annual meeting aforesaid, which may be altered as they shall hereafter find most convenient. And we further order and direct that the said Eleazar Wheelock shall notify the time for holding said first meeting, to be called as aforesaid, by sending a letter to each of said trustees, and causing an advertisement thereof to be printed in the New Hampshire Gazette, and in some public newspaper printed in the colony of Connecticut. But in case of the death or incapacity of the said Wheelock, then such meeting to be notified in manner aforesaid, by the Governor or commander-in-chief of our said province for the time being. And we do also, for us, our heirs and successors, hereby will, give and grant unto the said Trustees of Dartmouth College, aforesaid, and to their successors forever that when any seven or more of the said trustees, or their successors, are convened and met together, for the service of said Dartmouth College, at any time or times, such seven or more shall be capable to act as fully and amply, to all intents and purposes, as if all the trustees of said college were personally present -- and all affairs and actions whatsoever, under the care of said trustees, shall be determined by the majority or greater number of those seven or more trustees so convened and met together.

And we do further will, ordain and direct that the president, trustees, professors, tutors and all such officers as shall be appointed for the public instruction and government of said college shall, before they undertake the execution of their offices or trusts, or within one year after, take the oaths and subscribe the declaration provided by an act of parliament made in the first year of King George the First, entitled "an act for the further security of his majesty's person and government, and the succession of the Crown in the heirs of the late Princess Sophia, being Protestants, and for the extinguishing the hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales, and his open and secret abettors;" that is to say, the president, before the Governor of our said province for the time being, or by one by him empowered to that service, or by the president of our said Council, and the trustees, professors, tutors and other officers, before the president of said college for the time being, who is hereby empowered to administer the same; an entry of all which shall be made in the records of said college.

And we do, for us, our heirs, and successors, hereby will, give and grant full power and authority to the president hereafter by us named, and to his successors, or, in case of his failure, to any three or more of the said trustees, to appoint other occasional meetings, from time to time, of the said seven trustees, or any greater number of them, to transact any matter or thing necessary to be done before the next annual meeting, and to order notice to the said seven, or any greater number of them, of the times and places of meeting for the service aforesaid, by a letter under his or their hands, of the same, one month before said meeting: provided always that no standing rule or order be made or altered, for the regulation of said college, nor any president or professor be chosen or displaced, nor any other matter or thing transacted or done, which shall continue in force after the then next annual meeting of the said trustees, as aforesaid.

And further, we do, by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, create, make, constitute, nominate and appoint our trusty and well beloved Eleazar Wheelock, doctor in divinity, the founder of said college, to be President of said Dartmouth College, and to have the immediate care of the education and government of such students as shall be admitted into said Dartmouth College for instruction and education; and do will, give and grant to him, in said office, full power, authority and right, to nominate, appoint, constitute and ordain, by his last will, such suitable and meet person or persons as he shall choose to succeed him in the presidency of said Dartmouth College; and the person so appointed, by his last will, to continue in office, vested with all the powers, privileges, jurisdiction and authority of a president of said Dartmouth College; that is to say, so long and until such appointment by said last will shall be disapproved by the trustees of said Dartmouth College.

And we do also, for us, our heirs and successors, will, give and grant to the said trustees of said Dartmouth College, and to their successors forever, or any seven or more of them, convened as aforesaid that in the case of the ceasing or failure of a president, by any means whatsoever that the said trustees do elect, nominate and appoint such qualified person as they, or the major part of any seven or more of them, convened for that purpose as above directed, shall think fit, to be president of said Dartmouth College, and to have the care of the education and government of the students as aforesaid; and in case of the ceasing of a president as aforesaid, the senior professor or tutor, being one of the trustees, shall exercise the office of a president until the trustees shall make choice of and appoint, a president as aforesaid; and such professor or tutor, or any three or more of the trustees, shall immediately appoint a meeting of the body of the trustees for the purpose aforesaid. And also we do will, give and grant to the said trustees, convened as aforesaid that they elect, nominate and appoint so many tutors and professors to assist the president in the education and government of the students belonging thereto as they the said trustees shall, from time to time, think needful and serviceable to the interests of said Dartmouth College. And also that the said trustees or their successors, or the major part of any seven or more of them, convened for that purpose as above directed, shall, at any time, displace and discharge from the service of said Dartmouth College, any or all such officers, and elect others in their room and stead, as before directed. And also that the said trustees, or their successors, or the major part of any seven of them which shall convene for that purpose, as above directed, do, from time to time, as occasion shall require, elect, constitute and appoint a treasurer, a clerk, an usher and a steward for the said Dartmouth College, and appoint to them, and each of them, their respective businesses and trust; and displace and discharge from the service of said college, such treasurer, clerk, usher or steward, and to elect others in their room and stead; which officers so elected, as before directed, we do for us, our heirs and successors, by these presents, constitute and establish in their respective offices, and do give to each and every of them full power and authority to exercise the same in said Dartmouth College, according to the directions, and during the pleasure of said trustees, as fully and freely as any like officers in any of our universities, colleges or seminaries of learning in our realm of Great Britain, lawfully may or ought to do. And also that the said trustees and their successors, or the major part of any seven or more of them, which shall convene for that purpose, as is above directed, as often as one or more of said trustees shall die, or by removal or otherwise shall, according to their judgment, become unfit or incapable to serve the interests of said college, do, as soon as may be after the death, removal or such unfitness or incapacity of such trustee or trustees, elect and appoint such trustee or trustees as shall supply the place of him or them so dying, or becoming incapable to serve the interests of said college; and every trustee so elected and appointed shall, by virtue of these presents, and such election and appointment, be vested with all the powers and privileges which any of the other trustees of said college are hereby vested with. And we do further will, ordain and direct that from and after the expiration of two years from the enrollment of these presents, such vacancy or vacancies as may or shall happen, by death or otherwise, in the aforesaid number of trustees, shall be filled up by election as aforesaid, so that when such vacancies shall be filled up unto the complete number of twelve trustees, eight of the aforesaid whole number of the body of trustees shall be resident, and respectable freeholders of our said province of New Hampshire, and seven of said whole number shall be laymen.

And we do further, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, will, give and grant unto the said trustees of Dartmouth College that they, and their successors, or the major part of any seven of them, which shall convene for that purpose, as is above directed, may make, and they are hereby fully empowered, from time to time, fully and lawfully to make and establish such ordinances, orders and laws, as may tend to the good and wholesome government of the said college, and all the students and the several officers and ministers thereof, and to the public benefit of the same, not repugnant to the laws and statutes of our realm of Great Britain, or of this our province of New Hampshire, and not excluding any person of any religious denomination whatsoever, from free and equal liberty and advantage of education, or from any of the liberties and privileges or immunities of the said college, on account of his or their speculative sentiments in religion, and of his or their being of a religious profession different from the said trustees of the said Dartmouth College. And such ordinances, orders and laws, which shall as aforesaid be made, we do, for us, our heirs and successors, by these presents, ratify, allow of, and confirm, as good and effectual to oblige and bind all the students, and the several officers and ministers of the said college. And we do hereby authorize and empower the said trustees of Dartmouth College, and the president, tutors and professors by them elected and appointed as aforesaid, to put such ordinances, orders and laws in execution, to all proper intents and purposes.

And we do further, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, will, give, and grant unto the said trustees of said Dartmouth College, for the encouragement of learning, and animating the students of said college to diligence and industry, and a laudable progress in literature that they, and their successors, or the major part of any seven or more of them, convened for that purpose, as above directed, do, by the president of said college, for the time being, or any other deputed by them, give and grant any such degree or degrees to any of the students of the said college, or any others by them thought worthy thereof, as are usually granted in either of the universities, or any other college in our realm of Great Britain; and that they sign and seal diplomas or certificates of such graduations, to be kept by the graduates as perpetual memorials and testimonials thereof.

And we do further, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, give and grant unto the trustees of said Dartmouth College, and to their successors that they and their successors shall have a common seal, under which they may pass all diplomas or certificates of degrees, and all other affairs and business of, and concerning the said college; which shall be engraven in such a form and with such an inscription as shall be devised by the said trustees, for the time being, or by the major part of any seven or more of them, convened for the service of the said college, as is above directed.

And we do further, for us, our heirs and successors, give and grant unto the said trustees of the said Dartmouth College, and their successors, or to the major part of any seven or more of them, convened for the service of the said college, full power and authority, from time to time, to nominate and appoint all other officers and ministers, which they shall think convenient and necessary for the service of the said college, not herein particularly named or mentioned; which officers and ministers we do hereby empower to execute their offices and trusts, as fully and freely as any of the officers and ministers in our universities or colleges in our realm of Great Britain lawfully may or ought to do.

And further that the generous contributors to the support of this design of spreading the knowledge of the only true God and Saviour among the American savages, may, from time to time, be satisfied that their liberalities are faithfully disposed of, in the best manner, for that purpose, and that others may, in future time, be encouraged in the exercise of the like liberality, for promoting the same pious design, it shall be the duty of the president of said Dartmouth College, and of his successors, annually, or as often as he shall be thereunto desired or required, to transmit to the right honorable, honorable, and worthy gentlemen of the trust, in England, before mentioned, a faithful account of the improvements and disbursements of the several sums he shall receive from the donations and bequests made in England, through the hands of said trustees, and also advise them of the general plans laid, and prospects exhibited, as well as a faithful account of all remarkable occurrences, in order, if they shall think expedient that they may be published. And this to continue so long as they shall perpetuate their board of trust, and there shall be any of the Indian natives remaining to be proper objects of that charity. And lastly, our express will and pleasure is, and we do, by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, give and grant unto the said trustees of Dartmouth College, and to their successors forever that these our letters-patent, on the enrollment thereof in the secretary's office of our province of New Hampshire aforesaid, shall be good and effectual in the law, to all intents and purposes, against us, our heirs and successors, without any other license, grant or confirmation from us, our heirs and successors, hereafter by the said trustees to be had and obtained, notwithstanding the not writing or misrecital, not naming or misnaming the aforesaid offices, franchises, privileges, immunities or other the premises, or any of them, and notwithstanding a writ of ad quod damnum hath not issued forth to inquire of the premises, or any of them, before the ensealing hereof, any statute, act, ordinance, or provision, or any other matter or thing, to the contrary notwithstanding. To have and to hold, all and singular the privileges, advantages, liberties, immunities, and all other the premises herein and hereby granted, or which are meant, mentioned or intended to be herein and hereby given and granted, unto them, the said trustees of Dartmouth College, and to their successors forever. In testimony whereof, we have caused these our letters to be made patent, and the public seal of our said province of New Hampshire to be hereunto affixed. Witness our trusty and well beloved John Wentworth, Esquire, Governor and commander-in-chief in and over our said province, [etc.], this thirteenth day of December, in the tenth year of our reign, and in the year of our Lord 1769.

N.B. The words "and such professor or tutor, or any three or more of the trustees, shall immediately appoint a meeting of the body of the trustees, for the purpose aforesaid," between the first and second lines, also the words "or more," between the 27th and 28th lines, also the words "or more," between the 28th and 29th lines, and also the words "to all intents and purposes," between the 37th and 38th lines of this sheet, were respectively interlined, before signing and sealing.

Last Updated: 1/5/12