1853: Samuel Kennedy Talmage to Dr. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer

Oglethorpe University at Midway, Painting by Thomas Addison Richards

Oglethorpe University at Midway, Painting by Thomas Addison Richards

This letter was written by Samuel Kennedy Talmage (1798-1865), an 1820 Princeton College graduate who later completed his seminary training there. He came to the South in 1825 where he worked as a missionary in South Carolina and then in 1828, relocated to Augusta, Georgia, where he served as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church until 1836.

With others, Talmage helped to start Oglethorpe College in nearby Midway, Georgia, and in 1841 became its second President.

In this letter, Talmage references an address he delivered at the 23 June 1853 commencement of the Greensboro Female College in Greensboro, Georgia — one of the oldest institutions of higher education for women in the United States.

Rev. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer, D. D., Pennsylvavina Academy of Fine Arts

Cortlandt Van Rensselaer, D. D., Pennsylvania Acad. of Fine Arts

Talmadge wrote the letter to Dr. Cortlandt Van Rennsselaer (1808-1860), the son of General Stephen and Cornelia (Paterson) Van Rensselaer. He graduated from Yale in 1827, studied law, and was admitted to the bar of New York state in 1830. He later decided to join the ministry, studying at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and the Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. He became a missionary among the slaves of Virginia and later became a minister in New Brunswick, NJ. He served as corresponding secretary and principal executive officer of the Presbyterian Board of Education from 1847 until his death.

1847 Letter

1853 Letter

Addressed to Rev. C. Van Rensselaer, D. D., 265 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.

Oglethorpe Universiy
October 12th 1853

Dr. Van Rennselaer,
Rev. & Dear Sir,

Mr. Theodore E. Smith, a candidate of the Cherokee Presbytery & one of our students in the Junior Class, requests me to ask you to forward to me for him 2 quarterly payments from you, which he informs me are now due to him — he being under your care. Mr. Smith is a youth of sincerest piety & of good merit. He is something above the average scholarship in his class & is advancing in his standing. The only cause of complaint I have against him is too assiduous study with too little corporeal exercise. He has promised to amend his ways in this particular.

Our new scholastic year is opening honorably. We have added 19 new students in the few days past & expect a number more. I hope our Synod, at its approaching meeting, will take hold of our important institution in earnest.

Talmadge's  Published Address

Talmage’s Published Address

I intended to forward to you a copy of an address on the “Proper Training for the Young” which I delivered a few months ago at the commencement of the “Greensboro’ Synodical Female College.” They have, however, delayed the publication longer than I expected & have, as I learn, forwarded the manuscript to the Board of Publications. As portions of the address are somewhat local in character, I do not believe that the Board will be willing to publish it as one of their publications, as the Committee hoped they would. Believing, however, that I have there uttered some important truths for parents, teachers, & the church to ponder, I thought of suggesting to you my impression that the body of the address might suit the object of your Annual Educational Pamphlet.

It would be proper for you, if you deem it worthy of your adoption, to leave out the Introduction, which is suited only to a Georgia audience, & also the closing part which dwells on the evils of the prevalent system of Female Education adopted in the Female College of Georgia.

You will put the manuscript, I think, in the hands of the Board of Publication. I believe the Committee have directed it to be published by the press of the Board at the expense of the Female Colleges if they do not adopt it as their own & I should have dissuaded them from applying to the Board had they consulted me.

Fraternally &c. — Sam’l K. Talmage

2 responses to “1853: Samuel Kennedy Talmage to Dr. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer

  • Eli Arnold

    Good afternoon!

    I am the University Librarian and Director of the Philip Weltner Library at Oglethorpe University, where Dr. Talmage was President.

    We have two letters from Dr. Talmage in our University Archives’ Old Oglethorpe collection, but we would be honored to include the letter you describe and transcribe above if you are looking for a permanent archival home for the document.

    If you would like to chat, I can be reached at earnold@oglethorpe.edu or 404-364-8885.

    Thank you!
    Eli Arnold

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