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Henry Mitchell Whitney

Summary of Chapter 17 "Henry Mitchell Whitney" of Richardson's History:

     Henry Mitchell Whitney, "Whit" for short, was professor of Rhetoric and English Literature from 1871 to 1899 at Beloit College. He came from a distinguished family. At the age 16 he entered Yale, but then left to join the Union army where he became a Sergeant Major. After his time in the Army he returned to Yale where he graduated in 1864; he then attended Princeton and Andover theological seminary. Finally, in 1871 he came to teach at Beloit. While in Beloit he became a co-founder of the Beloit Savings Bank in 1881. He also had an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 1885, running on a pro-liquor platform. Whitney was somewhat liberal for his time -- he believed in the acceptance of different Christian denominations, even though this was an unpopular stance with others at the college. His particular sense of humor was not always appreciated either. On different occassions he was ridiculed for inappropriate behavior even though his intentions were jovial. He became known to students through his undisciplined teaching style, and received criticism for repeating classes verbatim year after year. However, he was interested in student activities. He supported the building of a gymnasium and always took interest in student events. Throughout his career at Beloit he wrote several short histories of the college and numerous other articles. When he retired in 1899, he moved to Connecticut to become the librarian for the James Blackstone Memorial Librarian. He died of heart failure on March 26th, 1911.


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