University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Notre Dame: Foundations, 1842-1857 / by John Theodore Wack

Chapter III
Tremors, 1845-1848

If the circulars sent out as advertisements for Notre Dame du Lac sounded a bit grandiose, if the letters written concerning the social and intellectual life there were a bit difficult to reconcile the facts, put it down to a certain light-headedness, a rosy glow which came naturally with first success. For it was a success, a small and none too steady one, but Notre Dame was a tangible, operating institution with new buildings, new teachers, new students, and an exhilarating future in the growing American West. Father Sorin that summer even found time to "occasionally play a game of marbles with the students . . . he was a capital shot at 'knuckle down.'"{1}

There was also time that summer for more work to be done on the grounds around the college building, particularly on the farm. Sorin's ideal was still self-sufficiency; he hoped to render the college as self-supporting as possible, and, since he had no endowment in funds or investments, he concentrated on the produce of the land which was brought forth through the labor of the Brothers and other farm workers. This was Notre Dame's endowment. The land supplied rents, meat, vegetables, fruit, cereals and grains; lime and marl care from the banks of the lakes, fish from their waters, and timber from the forests for buildings and fireplaces. Moreover, the acreage rose in value as the area was settled, offering a valuable asset in real estate on which to arrange loans or mortgages or to sell outright if the need arose (although the policy of Sorin, judging from the infrequency of land sales recorded in the records of Notre Dame, was always to buy more land while the price was low and to sell as little as necessary).

The work of the farm Brothers had been prodigious. When they arrived on the five hundred odd acres, they found only ten acres had been cleared. In the next two years, some one hundred and fifty more acres were added to the farm lands at an expense which now seems negligible but was then a difficult sum to raise: less than ten dollars an acre for clearing, plowing, and fencing.{2} This was extremely strenuous work; trees were first killed by girdling the bark of The trunk and then chopped down the following year and burned, old, dried stumps were later grubbed out, and the land was ploughed and crops planted as soon as the dying trees lost their leaves and allowed the sun to shine through on the rich soil below. Yet so poor was Notre Dame that after 1844, men were no longer hired to do the work, and the clearing of farm land became yet another job for the Brothers.{3}

The crop was diversified; they raised wheat, potatoes, corn, oats, turnips, beets, carrots, onions, melons, and grapes.{4} In addition, they raised a variety of livestock: pigs, sheep, cattle, oxen, and horses. In 1843, they began to plant a large orchard; two hundred trees were put out in that year and some seven hundred in 1845.{5} Also in 1845, the Brothers built a very fine barn at a cost of approximately $750.{6} Yet, despite the effort entailed, the farm was not at first a financial success. It had been hoped that its profits would help in running the other institutions, but Sorin wrote in 1848 that up to that time they had barely met expenses, although the farm had supplied both the college and the other institutions connected with the college with most of their food,{7} a saving estimated in 1845 at about $1,860 (10,000 francs) per year.{8}

The two other financial ventures which were promoted in that summer of 1845 resulted in rather clear failures. A limeyard was worked by the Brothers, drawing its raw material from the lakes and surrounding marshes which were rich in lime-producing marl. At this time, however, there was little market for lime in the area and thus little profit in its manufacture. Sorin hoped that a greater demand would follow from the denser settlement of the local communities, when the building of town dwellings and businesses would require much lime and brick.{9} A second financial venture came with the purchase, probably in 1845, of a printing press. This press was bought from a man in Niles, Michigan, at a price of $605, payable in three years of schooling.{10} Brother Joseph, was assigned as printer and the inexperienced man and his assistants attempted to turn out some textbooks (printed "in a most wretched manner"),{11} but the experiment was given up in 1847 and the press was sold, principally because a good printer could not be found to work it.{12} These failures were disappointments, to be sure, but hardly devastating ones. With Badin's donation plus an increase in enrollment the school would do well.

The new students who came to Notre Dame in the fall of 1845, few as they were, met with an establishment which was impressively grand in the scale of the surrounding communities. The new young men followed a dirt road which passed through the dense forest between the college and South Bend and then broke suddenly into semi-cleared farm land, with the road bordered on both sides with girdled trees, prematurely stripped of their leaves; the ground under them was covered with the stubble of the summer's harvest, broken here and there by the rotting stumps of trees which had already been cut and burned.{13} The main college building faced south in the general direction of the town (South Bend was about two miles south and a bit west from the college); this plain four story structure (including the ground floor as the first story) was capped by a clock-tower on the top of which was a huge iron cross. In front of the building was a yard, outlined by a fence, with a small cottage on either side, one a small clothing and furnishing store, run at this time by a Mr. Steber, and the other the porter's cottage, a position which was held by Brother Cyprian who was also the shoemaker. Behind the college and to the east were the shops of the Manual Labor School, the tailor's, printer's, carpenter's, blacksmith's, and gardener's shops. Behind the college and to the west, on the semi-island between the lakes, was the Brother's novitiate; almost directly to the west of the college building, on the southern shore of St. Mary's Lake, stood the log chapel, the new barn, and the small brick bakery-college building, now being transformed into a house for the Sisters.{14}

This collection of rude buildings: frame, log, and brick, standing in a rough clearing by two small marshy lakes, was the whole of the University of Notre Dame du Lac, successfully established but hardly secure in her future. The produce of the farm, the work of the Brothers, Sisters, and priests, the various gifts and donations which the school received, these all served their purpose in keeping the college alive, but any or all of these sources of nourishment might dry up, bringing the college to a bitter end. Students were needed, young men with tuition money whose payments would assure the continuation of the life of the school. It is no wonder that Sorin was unwilling to expel or severely punish students, that he accepted every sort of student who applied and found a place for him in one way or another.

The new crop of students who had come in the fall was a little disappointing. In June of 1845 thirty-one students (not counting the two or three apprentices) were attending school, but at the end of October only nineteen returned, and these were joined by but eight new students. At the year passed a few more boys enrolled so that by the following June, the college contained thirty-four boys who regularly attended classes in one course or another.{15} This was hardly the increased enrollment which the college so sorely needed. Father Sorin tried to make his school better known throughout the country by placing advertisements in the local papers and in Catholic publications such as the Catholic Almanac. He had already written to various bishops of America to inform them of his work and his plans, and, in November, 1845, one of these bishops, Bishop Henni of Milwaukee, stopped at Notre Dame, the first of the hierarchy to see the new college. The visit was a happy one and it would later bear fruit for Notre Dame in the form of students from Wisconsin and seminarians who were sent by Henni to train at the college.{16}

When the Council of Professors met in the fall, there were a few changes; Father Sorin decided to preside as President of the Council in place of Father Cointet. Moses Letourneau was appointed Professor of Geometry and Writing and was also the Prefect of Discipline.{17} Two new seminarians were now also teachers: Dooner and O'Leary; Riley, who had been there the previous year, had departed.{18} The courses and the curriculum were much the same as those of the previous year. Tuition remained $100 per year for the English Course, but an additional charge of $20 was made for the Latin Course and $20 was charged for courses in instrumental music (taught by Mr. Gouesse, who valiantly tried to form a band){19} or in "linear drawing."{20} These charges remained the same for the next few years.{21} There were no intellectual requirements beyond a simple willingness to attend classes; there were no prerequisites stated in the advertisements for the college. The student was placed in a class according to his desires and his capacity for learning.

There were, however, some personal requirements:

Each pupil must be provided with bed and bedding, (if furnished by the institution, they form an extra charge $3.00 per year), six shirts, six pair stockings, six pocket handkerchiefs, six towels, (all of which must be marked), a knife and fork, a table and tea spoon, a hat and cap, two suits of clothes, an overcoat, a pair of shoes, and a pair of boots for winter; three suits of clothing, and two pairs of shoes for summer.{22}

As a concession to their growing maturity as well as to their overall comfort and cleanliness, students who wished to do so were to be allowed to shave twice a week.{23} Such decisions on the extra-curricular regulation of the students plus the inevitable question of academic discipline remained the prime topics of conversation at Council meetings; new rules were thereby devised ("it was further regulated that the pupils should generally be accompanied when they take a privilege in hunting, going to town, &c."){24} and new complaints were put forth, some of them seem pertinent even now ("Brother Francis de Sales complained . . . that the University seemed to be considered by the administration but as an accessory thing & that it was always the last served.").{25} On the whole, however, it was a fairly pleasant fall and early winter; the records lack the impassioned and fiery tones of the previous year; Brother Gatian especially was so subdued that he almost, but not quite, seemed contented.

Late in the fall, however, the glow of success began to pale. In August, Sorin had travelled to Louisville to find that the Badin lots could only be evaluated at six thousand dollars, about half of what he had expected.{26} It was necessary that the lots be sold as soon as possible; the funds were sorely needed. While this was unfortunate and very disappointing, it was not yet disastrous, for six thousand dollars or so would pay the immediate bills and render the institution solvent. In November the lots were sold for nearly seven thousand dollars.{27} But the sale released an unexpected storm. Father Badin vigorously protested that the lots had been worth much more than this sum, saying that Sorin had been hasty and that he should not have parted with the lots for so low a price. Father Sorin countered by insisting that the price at which the lots were sold was more than the evaluation which had been put on them three months earlier in Louisville, and he reminded Badin that the agent used in the land sale had been Badin's own choice.{28}

Badin, however, was unconvinced by Sorin's arguments. This incident proved to be the opening salvo in what would become a major verbal battle between the two priests, a disagreement which would thoroughly disrupt the college at the peak of its severity. The old missionary had long been an independent, self-sufficient person; he was unused to others having charge of events around him; in particular, he was embarrassed, for he had thought the lots to be of greater value when he promised them to Notre Dame. It was not surprising that the impulsive and thoroughly confident young priest began to find little favor in the eyes of the proud old man. Their personalities were both too strong (and, perhaps, too similar) for one not to have attempted the domination of the other. From this time on there was open controversy between them. Badin was to still receive his annual pension, although the lots had sold for only half the value which he had given them; moreover, Badin did not purchase the two hundred acres of land on the St. Joseph River which he had promised to Sorin, possibly because the owner did not wish to sell, possibly because Badin no longer wished to buy.{29}

It was unfortunate that before Fathers Sorin and Badin could begin to rediscover some common grounds of mutual respect and admiration, Sorin was called to France where he was to attend the General Chapter meeting in the spring of 1846. He left Notre Dame du Lac at the end of February and returned there at the end of August.{30} This trip was the result of a considerably involved situation. Essentially it was an already familiar story; Bishop de la Hailandiere was still finding it difficult to understand the actions of Father Sorin.{31} The mission of teaching Brothers which he had requested from Father Moreau in 1839 had become by 1845 a Catholic mens' college, a preparatory school, and an apprentices' school, as well as a Brothers' novitiate. In addition, the Sisters, who had arrived from LeMans unrequested and unwanted by Vincennes, had been placed, contrary to the wishes of de la Hailandiere, in the town of Bertrand, Michigan just a few miles north of Notre Dame du Lac, in the Diocese of Detroit.{32}

Bishop de la Hailandiere could see only ruin resulting from Sorin's expansion, no matter how successful Notre Dame du Lac now appeared. The Bishop was seriously disturbed by Sorin's contacts with other bishops of America and by the persistent rumors that the Brothers would be sent to other dioceses.

De la Hailandiere had secured the Brothers for Vincennes, and he felt that they should remain in his diocese until he had no further need for them. On a trip to France in 1845, de la Hailandiere resolved to solve the problem by treating directly with Father Moreau. The two men reached an agreement in which the parts pertaining to the college were as follows: first, the lands of Notre Dame du Lac (which had not yet been formally given to the new congregation by the Bishop) were officially deeded to them. Second, Father Moreau agreed that no foundations of Brothers would be made outside of the Diocese of Vincennes, and, third, since the Diocese of Vincennes was soon to be split (the Diocese of Fort Wayne would be created several years later in Northern Indiana), the Brothers' novitiate was to be moved to Indianapolis in order that it might remain within the old diocese. If Father Moreau would transfer the novitiate, the Bishop agreed to give Notre Dame du Lac an additional 375 acres of land in the vicinity of the college plus nearly $500.{33}

While he was pleased to learn of the cession of the title to Notre Dame du Lac, Father Sorin protested the last two points; his dreams for Notre Dame were national in scope and were not to be bound simply to Vincennes.{34} Notre Dame was to be the center of his edifice; he did not want the Brothers' novitiate, a most important piece of his institution, to be split off from the whole. His protests resulted in a call to return to France for the Chapter meeting, in order that he might defend his point of view against the criticisms and arguments of Bishop de la Hailandiere, who had by now, of course, returned to the United States.

There was another reason for Sorin's trip to Notre Dame de Ste. Croix. In the foundation and administration of Notre Dame du Lac, Sorin had proved himself to be an impossible accountant. The precision and accuracy of good bookkeeping was alien to his impetuous nature. Records were confused and incomplete; the early account ledgers of Notre Dame du Lac are a hopeless quagmire of figures, haphazardly crossed by periodic efforts to uncover some sort of a logical path through the confusion. Money from various sources was put together in one common fund from which all debts were paid. Tuition receipts, rents, donations, loans, money earned by the Brothers, collection money, gifts to the Sisters, all were kept in a common account book.{35} Moreover, Sorin was not at all cautious in his financial ventures; he often spent money before he received it.{36} He appeared to many in France as dangerously reckless and totally undisciplined as he began the implementation of of one scheme after another, often without the prior knowledge of the Motherhouse.

Underlying the disagreement was the fact that few of those in France could appreciate the position of Father Sorin in America. He was certainly not a careful and cautious individual; his initial agreement to move to Notre Dame du Lac to build a college in two short years is mighty proof of his daring. The establishment and continued success of Notre Dame was not to be written off as merely the luck of a fool-hardy young man. In America, Father Sorin had very quickly made a part of his own philosophy that essential lesson taught to the immigrant; that in a country which was expanding so dramatically little success comes to the man who mistakes the careful and deliberate acts proper to the Old World as necessarily sagacious for the New. Success in young America was to the quick and the daring, particularly those who combined a steadfast optimism with a shrewd wit. Sorin was one of these.

Once embarked upon his venture, Sorin felt that too many restrictions would bind him to mediocrity. He envisioned an institution which would be a major force in the lives of American Catholics; financial restrictions or diocesan curbs would be stultifying to this ambition. All too often situations arose in which Sorin felt impelled to act without consultation or without immediate possession of necessary funds, where failure to so act would mean the loss of valuable time and essential opportunities. Such actions as these proved to be the making of the University of Notre Dame; they did not, however, make for harmonious relations between Notre Dame and France or Vincennes.

It was hoped that Father Sorin, by attending the General Chapter of 1846 (he had been excused from the previous ones){37} would be able to ease the concern of Father Moreau and the others at the Motherhouse, whose visions of disaster at Notre Dame du Lac had seen intensified by the remarks of Bishop de la Hailandiere the previous year. Sorin also intended this trip to Europe to be the means of recruiting new Brothers, priests, and Sisters and an opportunity to make a personal appeal for donations for his institution.{39} Unfortunately, the journey was not a success in this regard; the money that he raised was barely sufficient to cover the expenses of the long journey, and he did not find the candidates that he desired, although he did return with a few recruits. Sorin was unable to visit Ireland where he had hoped to find men who would be willing to join the Brothers of St. Joseph.{40} One priest returned to America with Father Sorin, Father Louis Baroux, a young man of twenty nine years who came to replace Father Marivault as a missionary among the Indians at Pokagan.{41} A seminarian, Mr. Joseph Gamier, who also made the return journey with Sorin, died of a fever within a few months of his arrival at Notre Dame du Lac.

In May, 1846, Father Sorin made his report to the General Chapter at Notre Dame du Ste. Croix. He spoke of the work of the Brothers and of the new foundation of Sisters near Notre Dame du Lac, and he described to the assembly, as well as he could with words alone, Notre Dame du Lac and its various parts. Particularly he tried to tell them what he wished to see done in America, what his dreams were for the future. What he had accomplished was to be only the beginning, to complete his work he would need to make new foundations, to build more buildings, and all of this would cost money, but the results, he assured them, would make all efforts worthwhile.{43} Perhaps the priests and Brothers of the General Chapter found it difficult to follow this energetic and single-minded young man, but they applauded his efforts. Nevertheless, they were concerned over many things which they felt Father Sorin had, in his eagerness, overlooked. Where was the money to come from? -- who was to staff these new ventures, and what would be the fortune of their religious lives if they were sent out half-trained in the rules of the religious life? -- and was not Father Sorin reflecting a little too much independence and imprudence in his actions?{44} The Chapter warned him concerning his accounts and insisted that he keep them with greater care, sending accurate reports annually to the Motherhouse, and they also cautioned him concerning his eagerness to initiate new foundations.{45} Sorin defended himself by pointing out that the total assets of his institution exceeded the liabilities, and this was true, but most of the assets were in forms which would not allow them to be easily liquefied: land, buildings, equipment, and so forth.

The complaints which Bishop de la Hailandiere had made the previous year had given Father Moreau much to ponder before Father Sorin arrived in France. Now, most inopportunely, a new criticism of Sorin was put forth. Shortly after the conclusion of the General Chapter meetings, a letter came for Father Moreau from Father Stephen Badin.{47} The old priest had become increasingly agitated during the absence of Sorin, and on May 10, 1846 while at Notre Dame du Lac, he wrote to Father Moreau complaining of the actions of Father Sorin. The event which caused the aged missionary to burst out in anger some several months after the departure of Sorin is not precisely clear, except that it involved the failure of those at Notre Dame du Lac to pay him some funds which he felt he had coming to him. Possibly Badin had requested all or a part of the annual stipend which was to be his, but found that the treasury of the college was empty.{48} Some such affront led him to write to Moreau not only concerning the failure of the community at Notre Dame du Lac to meet his demands, but also on other matters as well, particularly the recklessness and heedlessness which he saw in Sorin's conduct -- Cavalli's museum, the printing press, the new buildings and the projected buildings, all came in for criticism. Badin wrote: "While we recognize his good intentions, we cannot but regret his blunders, his hastiness, and his impetuosity in trying to accomplish all the good that came into his imagination."{49} In many ways this was an accurate judgement of Sorin's exuberant nature, but it was also an extreme judgement, for Sorin was visibly succeeding where many others had failed in projects similar to his, nor was this success of Sorin the result of a special providence which guarded the ways of the innocent; his plans had been quickly but carefully made.

Father Sorin, feeling that he had been unreasonably and ungenerously charged, and perhaps unsettled by the untimely effect of the letter, wrote back to Badin in icy anger: "In two words, no one has done more good for the institute than you, Monsieur, and no one has done it more harm."{50} In this way the controversy between the two men was deepened. In addition, the charges of Father Badin added more discomfort to the relations between Sorin and the Motherhouse; after all, Father Badin had been most generous to Notre Dame du Lac and he was able to report first hand concerning happenings at that institution. To the men at LeMans, Badin was a figure of considerable reputation; they had no knowledge of his idiosyncrasies.

In August, 1846, Father Sorin returned to America with a small colony of recruits. He had not accomplished much; the accounts between the two Notre Dames were settled, but a general feeling of uneasiness still lay in their relationship.

Father Granger had been in charge at Notre Dame in the absence of the Superior; unfortunately the task had been too much for the priest, and things had not gone at all well.{51} It was not problems of discipline which disrupted the school, although there were the usual signs of disorder. Instead it was a variety of matters, discipline included, which called for firm solutions and quick action. Perhaps nowhere else in her early history does Notre Dame give a more graphic illustration of how necessary Father Sorin was to her continued success. In the absence of his quick wit and inventive mind, Notre Dame was going adrift.

Part of the problem was a lack of leadership. Father Granger was not the sort of person who was adept at giving commands or making decisions. This was apparent even before Father Sorin's departure for France. In the middle of February, while discussing the administration of the institution after Sorin would make his journey, the members of the Council expressed their feelings that Father Cointet should give up his missions and remain at the college to hear confessions and adminster discipline "because F. Granger could not do it." Father Cointet, however, did not agree that he was so sorely needed and protested that he could not leave his missions.{52}

Soon after the departure of Sorin, Moses Letourneau fell ill. He had been serving as Prefect of Discipline and, as a result of his illness, the Council of the Prefect of Discipline did not meet until July.{53} His illness, in addition, meant the loss of a teacher; the decision of two other seminarians to leave Notre Dame that spring seriously increased the problem for both of them had also been teaching.{54} Moses Letourneau himself was forced, on account of his illness, to leave the college soon after.{55} The lack of teachers caused the school some considerable hardship, but it was not this alone which caused turmoil in the institution; in fact, there is little mention made of the number of teachers or of unusual conditions.{56} The major concern was that Notre Dame was rudderless during these six months, while those who should have been exercising leadership were caught up in indecision. The minutes of the various meetings indicate that they were infrequently held and that, when held, little was discussed. There is an air of uncertainty and confusion about them. Brother Gatian, of course, was fairly vociferous in his demands for a regimented discipline; for example, when the newly created Debating Society requested the use of a few books as a library which they might consult in their spare time, the young Brother objected "that the professors should have the control of the time which some may have to spare or that a specified time should be given them." At the same meeting he objected to the buying and reading of newspapers by the students without prior censorship by the college.{57}

In the face of this situation came the crisis with Father Badin. The old priest did not participate in the administrative meetings of the college; his only contacts with the students were in the catechism classes and in his sermons.{58} In the spring of the year, Badin began to grow disturbed over the affairs of Notre Dame du Lac; perhaps what ignited him was simply the irascibility of a rather independent old man or perhaps it was the obvious confusion exhibited by the faculty. To the dismay of all involved, he began to openly criticize and to complain, unsettling the already uneasy college.{59} In April, for some unexplained reason, it was decided to "persuade" Father Badin to give over the catechism classes to Father Cointet.{60} Sometime after this, the affair came to a head over the question of money, and, on May 10, Badin, by now thoroughly aroused, sat down to write the angry letter to Moreau mentioned above. Whether his request for money was reasonable or unreasonable was of little matter; it was hardly possible that Father Granger was in a position to do anything about it. The finances of the school were in deplorable shape; judging from the account ledger, there was little money on hand. Yet somehow Badin was able to find some cash, for he departed Notre Dame for Milwaukee, traveling, he said, for his health.{61} He left behind him a dangerous legacy; word of his criticism of the finances and administration of Notre Dame reached the local businessmen, causing some distrust of the economic soundness of the college. Sorin later wrote: "Some merchants would give no peace until they had received the full amount of their bills."{62} This was the very sort of loss of confidence that Sorin had tried to avert by those actions which Badin charged were impetuous.

The months of late spring and summer brought fresh disaster. The illness which had struck the college in previous years returned then to grip the college with even greater force. Fortunately, no one at Notre Dame du Lac died during the epidemic that summer (but two were to die in the fall, a Brother and the new seminarian from France),{63} although almost every person in the college, priests, Brothers, Sisters, and students, lay ill at one time or another. Father Cointet contracted the disease so severely that he was given the last rites of the Church by Father Granger.{64} The period of illness put the finishing touches to the feeble administration of the college. The school year was closed at the beginning of August with a quiet awarding of premiums, most of them to Louis Letourneau and to a friend of his from Detroit, John Williams, who was also a student in the Latin Course.{65}

The summer unveiled one bright spot. The Reverend Michael E. Shawe was a priest of English birth who had come to America in 1839 as one of a group of priests who responded to the request for help from Bishop Bruté.{66} He achieved some small fame among Indiana Catholics as a man of learning and as an orator during the years in which he served the Bishop at Vincennes. On at least two prior occasions Shave had come to Notre Dame du Lac as a visitor; once in August, 1843, when he gave a retreat,{67} and in July of 1845, when he was present to participate in the distribution of premiums.{68} In 1845, Father Sorin had told him that he would be welcome if he wished to move to Notre Dame, and, in March, 1846, he wrote to Sorin to ask if this offer still held true, saying that he had received the Bishop's permission to make the change. Father Sorin, of course, was still in France, but Father Shawe was invited to come, and he arrived at the college on June 4.{70}

This was a very unexpected piece of fortune for Notre Dame du Lac. More than any other man, Father Shave began the process of putting Notre Dame on its academic feet. He was a man of broad and varied experience. Born in England in 1792 to an aristocratic family, he had attended St. Mary's College in England. At the Battle of Waterloo, he fought as a major of cavalry in the English army; he was badly wounded in this battle. After the war, he wandered about Europe while recovering his health, pausing at one point in Vienna, where he became a Teutonic Knight. But he soon resolved to resign his commission, and he entered the seminary at the College of St. Sulpice in Paris, from which he was recruited by Bishop Bruté.{71} As a priest in Vincennes, he showed particular skill as a polished preacher of sermons; he was especially cognizant of the methods of classical rhetoric. Within a few months of his arrival at Notre Dame du Lac, he was involved in changing the intellectual environment of the college, encouraging debate, establishing the first literary societies, and exhorting the Council of Professors to improve the academic reputation of the school.{72}

There was another advantage to the arrival of Father Shawe. Unlike Father Cointet, who was also a scholarly person and a capable teacher, Father Shawe was in close contact with the mainstream of American higher education. As an Englishman, he was familiar with the English system of higher education upon which much of that of America was based, and, in addition, while at Vincennes with Bishop de la Hailandiere, he saw first hand the methods of conduct (and eventual collapse) of St. Gabriel's College. Moreover, Father Shawe was familiar with the subject matter of the American college; one of his major interests was the field of English literature, a field quite unfamiliar to the French priests. Under the direction of Shawe, courses in English literature and history were first offered at Notre Dame du Lac.{73} Most of all, Father Shawe provided a scholarly conscience to the new college, illuminating the weaknesses which had appeared in its development and urging the teachers on to the attainment of a higher level of scholarship. Brother Gatian noted in the minutes of the Council of Professors for August 1, 1846:

Mr. Shawe being present at the commencement of the Council, observed that the pupils of the preparatory course knew their catechism better than anything else, and that our paying greater attention to the religious instruction of our pupils, than to literature, gave a bad repute to the house. It was decided that religious ceremonies should not interfere with a single minute of the time which should be devoted to study. All the counsellors acceded to this article . . . asserting that the college would fail if these observations were not attended to.{74}

Father Shawe was active at Notre Dame du Lac for only two year,{75} and, while he was unable to generate a massive vitalization of the academic life of the college, many of the sorely needed academic improvements which eventually came into the curriculum had their origin with him.

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