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The Birth of Wesleyan University

It wasn't a painless birth, however ...

I left you hanging last evening with the Captain Partridge story. Alden Partridge opened the American Literary, Scientific, & Military Academy (ALS & M) in 1824 on the rise of land along High Street. The City of Middletown made a deal, offering the land and money as incentive to lure a first-rate college to the city.

Middletown got stuck with the short end of the stick. It seems Partridge was primarily interested in monetary success and less concerned about quality education.

Anne Royall, one of America's first professional journalists, made a visit to Partridge's ALS & M Academy in 1828 and wrote a scathing report:

"The halls and stairs were knee deep in dirt and the boys, instead of being at their studies, were romping and squealing all through the rooms, up and down the stairs, nothing but loud talking and hoarse laughs."

Of Captain Partridge, Royall wrote that he was "one of the most common clowns that ever undertook to keep a school."

Well, it wasn't long before either the city took action or Partridge saw the writing on the wall. Either way, in 1829, Partridge moved his academy to Norwich, Vt., and the school later became Norwich University.

The City of Middletown assumed ownership of the land and buildings of the academy, and sold them to Wesleyan College, which was founded in 1831 by the Methodist Church. They took over Partridge's buildings, which became North and South Colleges at the university.

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