University of Notre Dame

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

Chapter VI
A Crisis of Identity, 1852-1855


After some years of tranquility, Notre Dame du Lac was wracked by successive stresses of such severity that twice it seemed as if the institutions there would crumble and collapse. The opening of the last half of the nineteenth century had found the college in a position of apparent permanence; solid buildings, thriving students, new curriculum, growing faculty, all of these presented a picture of substance and security to the suspicious eyes of the world around them, albeit a picture which was somewhat distorted in its focus so that the sharp cracks and flaws were muted to the eyes of those not resident on the campus. Beneath this idyllic college scene, however, a situation had developed almost unnoticed; a situation which, although having virtually nothing to do with the life of the college as such, would nearly cause its ruin.

The core of this situation lay in a controversy which had had its beginnings in the spring of 1850 and which had found fertile ground in which to develop in the already tenuous and uncertain relations between the mission at Notre Dame du Lac and the French Motherhouse. Had the two Notre Dames enjoyed the close and amicable relations which they both desired, there would have been acceptable solutions to most problems which might have arisen. As it was, all of the spectres of past frustrations and misconceptions came home now to haunt both parties, and mistrust bred mistrust until the whole structure was troubled.

It is not the concern of this history to dwell in detail on the aspects of this affair which were the outcome of internal problems of the future Congregation of Holy Cross. Moreover it is difficult to weave one's way through the maze of material, some of it conflicting, and to attempt to reach a clear understanding of the actualities of the affair and to discover the comparative level of involvement of each group which took a part in creating the situation. This at the least would involve a disproportionate amount of attention to this one matter which was only indirectly related to the history of the college. Yet, since the search for a solution to this problem lay heavily on Sorin's mind and three times led to his absence from the college, depriving it of the force of his leadership, and, since it seemed for a time that the final solution would involve either the separation of Notre Dame du Lac from Notre Dame de Ste. Croix or else the separation of Father Sorin from Notre Dame du Lac, then the circumstances of the affair must at least be outlined.{1}

Those major incidents which had previously provoked friction between the two Notre Dames had been mitigated by the Visit of Father Drouelle in 1849. His glowing report brought a period of comparative tranquility, but, beneath the surface, the habit of mutual trust between the two had not been wholly restored. Sorin's unwise action in the California expedition hardly had served to improve the situation. Moreover, France was not at all certain that it was being kept fully apprised of the changing situation at Notre Dame du Lac, particularly the financial status there. Sorin still found it difficult to interpret American conditions to his Superior in France. The outbreak of this new controversy in 1852 brought old frustrations to the fore, giving rise to a situation which served as a proverbial "last straw" for both parties.

A mission of Brothers and Sisters, led by Brother Vincent, had been sent to the city of New Orleans in the autumn of 1849 for the purpose of rescuing a boys' orphanage which had fallen on hard times.{2} By January it had become apparent that a priest was needed to head the new mission, but who at Notre Dame was there to send? Sorin finally had decided to call on young Father Gouesse, then newly ordained. Unfortunately, his reasons for this choice were as unwise as they were unusual. Gouesse had been a source of friction while at Notre Dame du Lac; he had proven himself unable to abide some of the others, particularly Fathers Cointet and Granger.{3} Sorin felt that he could solve two problems by sending Gouesse to New Orleans: first, remove a source of friction at Notre Dame du Lac and give the young Priest a chance to act on his own initiative, and, second, supply a priest for the new mission.{4}

The move did not meet with success. Even before he left Notre Dame, Gouesse expressed a desire to be appointed as Local Superior (i.e. independent of Sorin) at New Orleans, and he made his desires even more apparent after he arrived at his post.{5} He spoke openly against those at Notre Dame du Lac, so upsetting his own little mission that Sorin agreed finally, in July, 1850, to go there himself to untangle matters.{6} While in New Orleans, Sorin sought to calm the storm, but Gouesse persisted in contending that he would be made Local Superior, as Sorin wrote, "in spite of Fa. Sorin."{7} Sorin also noted that he then had permission from Ste. Croix to dismiss Gouesse, but that he did not do so because there was no one else to take the position at New Orleans.{8} Unwilling to leave the mission without a priest, Sorin returned to Notre Dame du Lac and reported the matter to France.{9} To his shock, he learned that Moreau, who had been and still was in Rome (and, perhaps, was not fully informed of the problem), had, in December, 1850, appointed Gouesse as the local Superior at New Orleans.{10} It would appear that Moreau had assumed that Gouesse's appointment to this position would be satisfactory to Sorin since Sorin himself had made the decision to send Gouesse to the orphanage. Sorin admitted that he might well have confused Moreau as result of his action. He felt, however, that had those in France been more alert, they would have remembered that he had made previous complaints concerning Gouesse, and thus they would not have been so quick to entrust the young priest with the title and authority which he desired.{11}

Despite his protests, it was clear that Sorin had not acted with great wisdom. Sending an untrusted man to a new and distant post may have been a convenient means of removing him from a troublesome situation at Notre Dame, and it may also have served as a final test of his ability, but it most certainly put a potential source of unrest in far-off New Orleans. At the same time, Moreau, learning that Sorin had elected to send Gouesse on the mission, could easily have come to believe that the Superior at Notre Dame du Lac had changed his mind concerning Gouesse's fitness.

Although the initial fault lay with Sorin in this case, the problem was intensified and complicated by the difficulties of communication and comprehension between the two countries. Sorin now felt that he must act quickly, and he appealed to the Archbishop of New Orleans to refuse to recognize the appointment of Gouesse as Superior there, since Sorin was certain a mistake had been made in the appointment .{12} Time would thus be given for Moreau to see the true facts (as Sorin felt he saw them) and repair the mistake. The immediate result, of course, was a grievous rupture between Sorin and Gouesse which intensified as it continued, with both parties appealing to the Motherhouse for justice and yet each one adamant in his conviction that justice lay only on his own side.

As the months passed, charges were met with counter-charges in an unhappy triangle of suspicion and confusion. Adding to the antagonism between Sorin and Gouesse was the omnipresent question of finance. In near dire circumstances at Notre Dame du Lac, Sorin anticipated that all surplus funds from the foundations made from Notre Dame du Lac would be returned to that institution to contribute to the support of the college and novitiates there. Gouesse objected to this. However, this was not the main source of the difficulty between the two, for the problem persisted even when Moreau gave Sorin specific permission to draw off surplus funds from New Orleans.{13}

In May, 1851, the Minor Chapter of Notre Dame du Lac boldly decided that Gouesse was to be "dismissed from the Society in this country."{14} Gouesse returned to Notre Dame de Ste. Croix and Father Cointet was sent by Sorin to replace him in New Orleans. This emphatic move reveals how thoroughly the stubborn nature of Sorin was aroused, for even Archbishop Blanc noted that Gouesse was doing well in his post,{15} but Sorin would tolerate no successful opposition in his American foundations.

In August, 1851, the General Chapter met at Ste. Croix, where Gouesse found an audience to hear his side of the debacle of New Orleans. The Chapter was sympathetic to his story; it censured Sorin and the action of the Minor Chapter, and, incredible to Sorin, ordered Gouesse to return to New Orleans, although not as Superior of the orphanage.{16} It was on hearing of these decisions that Sorin determined to go to France. He arrived there at the beginning of 1852 meeting Moreau at Notre Dame de Ste. Croix. The Superior-General had just returned from a six months stay in Rome; Sorin felt that as a result of this rather long absence from the Motherhouse, Moreau understood little of the problem.{17} Sorin met with Moreau and his Council and gave his version of the affair of Gouesse and New Orleans. The results of the meetings were not clear. Sorin's own account in his "Chronicles," written shortly after his return to America (the "Chronicles" were annually submitted to Moreau), implies that the whole matter was quickly cleared up to Sorin's satisfaction.{18} But the impression left in France was rather that Sorin had submitted to the will of the Chapter.{19} Nevertheless, while Sorin may not have received all of the satisfaction that he thought due to him, he was made Provincial of the United States and New Orleans was made a Local Superiorship under his jurisdiction with Father Cointet as Local Superior.{20} True, Gouesse was still to be in New Orleans at the disposal of Archbishop Blanc, but, before Sorin left for America, he learned that Moreau had asked Gouesse to transfer to Montreal in order to remove this source of friction from within the new Province of the United States.{21} To a considerable extent, the ultimate solution of the affair paralleled the desires of Father Sorin. How much of this decision came about as the result of The logic of his arguments and how much from the generous nature of Father Moreau is difficult to assess, nevertheless, Sorin returned to the United States feeling that all grievances were satisfactorily ended. He felt more than ever that Notre Dame du Lac would have to survive on its own, for, having seen that the Motherhouse was itself nearly impoverished, he realized that his own foundation could expect "little assistance . . . from the Motherhouse, which was hardly able to meet its own necessities."{22}

After a stay of seven weeks in Rome, Sorin took ship for the United States, arriving at his home at Notre Dame du Lac in the early summer of 1852, as described in the previous chapter. Following the closing of the college for the summer vacation, those at Notre Dame began their summer work of farming, building, and repairing. The new novitiate for the priests was begun and some repairs were made to other buildings; it was noted that many of the structures were in poor condition, particularly the college building.{23} The events of the past year had caused Sorin to neglect the college; now he once again had the opportunity to devote himself to its success. But this was not to be.

In November, 1851, shortly before Sorin had come to France, Father Moreau had been asked by Rome if he would be willing to send missionaries to Eastern Bengal; he had replied immediately that he would do so.{24} After some deliberation, in June, 1852, Rome gave the care of the mission of Eastern Bengal to the community at Notre Dame de Ste. Croix, and, in July, 1852, Moreau accepted this task, saying that he would send fifteen religious to begin the mission.{25} The major impediment to the success of the new mission lay right here: how was he to find fifteen religious to send to India, especially fifteen competent and qualified men? Those foundations previously sent out from Ste. Croix had overdrawn the few reserves of men and money which the community had possessed. Now it was called upon to make even further sacrifices. It would be helpful if those men and women who would be chosen had a knowledge of English, since the British had colonial control of India. It would also be helpful if at least some of those to be sent were missionaries with experience in adjusting to new environments. In other words, it was only to be expected that Moreau would carefully sift the missions in America to see if he could discover some of the men to meet his needs.

There were but five priests in the Province of the United States with whom Moreau was familiar: Sorin, Cointet, Granger, Baroux, and Gouesse. Of these five Frenchmen, Gouesse, the focus of the recent controversy, was now in Montreal and he was not suitable for the mission. Baroux was quickly chosen by Moreau, and he left in September, 1852, for France to prepare for the trip to Bengal; he was accompanied by Brother Benoit and Sister Victor from Notre Dame du Lac.{26} It was felt, however, that Baroux would not be qualified to be the permanent superior of the new mission; someone more experienced and more reliable was needed.{27} Father Moreau had considered Father Granger; he wrote to him in June asking him (but not under a vow of obedience) if he were willing to join the expedition. Granger felt it necessary to refuse;{28} this silent and non-worldly man had no strength for this sort of leadership. His career at Notre Dame du Lac prior to this (as well as his subsequent career) shows him as a timid, almost colorless individual with strong and rigorous religious principles, but little empathy for the complexities of the human condition. Father Cointet, of course, was also considered, and he would have been an obvious and wise choice for the position, but Cointet was lying ill in New Orleans, a victim of a fever.{29} This left only Sorin among the American missionaries.

In August, 1852, Sorin had received the news that Moreau might find it necessary to call on him to head the Bengal mission.{30} On September, 13, 1852, Moreau wrote to Sorin:

After prayer and long consultation with my council, I come to make known to you the will of God, insofar as it is possible to know it.

Notwithstanding the serious difficulties which will be entailed by your departure, you will, in virtue of holy obedience as promptly as possible, and after advising your chapter and whomever you will appoint as your temporary successor, leave for Eastern Bengal, Dacca, near Calcutta, as superior of the Mission, to be later presented to the Holy See for the vicarate apostolic and a bishopric in partibus. In this same mail, I am sending your appointment on to Propaganda.{31}

The deadline for his departure was later set at May, 1853; Cointet was to return to Notre Dame du Lac to replace him there, while Gouesse was to return to New Orleans to replace Cointet.{32}

The reaction at Notre Dame du Lac (among those who were permitted to know of the nature of the new obedience which Sorin had received) was one of shock and dismay. Sorin immediately wrote back to Moreau:

Leaving it to our chapters to report to you on the serious difficulties and grave dangers which would result from my departure at the present time, I come myself to inform you that, after careful reflection before God, I believe it my duty, unless the Pope himself orders me to accept, to refuse positively the office you wish to impose upon me, as I have absolutely neither the knowledge or the virtue required to make a good Bishop.{33}

The decisions of the two chapters, that of the Sisters and that of the Priests and Brothers, followed this letter to France. They had been consulted by Moreau as to the choice of a successor to Sorin, and they were unanimous in their decision: at this time there could be no successor, the departure of Sorin would mean the end of Notre Dame du Lac.{34}

This might very well have been true. Notre Dame du Lac, the University and all other institutions, was the personal creation of Father Sorin. Always it had been Sorin who nurtured and protected it, who had found a harmony in the wild sounds of an expanding America, and who had learned to live in rhythm with it. Without an endowment in cash, he built his university on an endowment of land and labor, using loans, mortgages, rents -- and promises, smiles, and subterfuges -- to hold it together until it could grow solid roots. True, Notre Dame da Lac now appeared to be substantial, with its farms and landscaped grounds and brick buildings, but it was at least in part another of the mirages which Sorin was so adept at creating, a rosy image prepared for the public to see, a public which (Sorin was very aware) would applaud the symbols of success but which would as quickly abandon the college at the first sign of serious weakness. Unfortunately, France also had not learned the difference between the image of Notre Dame du Lac and its reality. Sorin, unable to communicate the American environment to his colleagues in France, had too often treated those at Ste. Croix as if they too were part of the American public, a group to be gently diverted from too close a scrutiny of the reality of Notre Dame du Lac.

For one thing, the debt of Notre Dame was a large one; as the past pages have shown, the financial condition of the college was always precarious. Certainly the total value of the institution was greater than the amount of the debts which she owed, but (and France also had difficulty in understanding this) her assets were in land and in difficult-to-sell college buildings, and America was rich in both land and colleges to the point, almost, of super-abundance. If the college was unable to meet a large debt, if suit were brought against it, large amounts of land would need to be sold immediately and at a loss (much of it was already mortgaged) in order to cover the debt. If word should come that the institution was shaky, creditors would demand their money and the whole would go down in a heap. As Sorin wrote when involved in other problems just two years later: on any day the most insignificant incident might cause alarm in such critical circumstances and create a panic terror amongst creditors, boarders, and novices -- and that would be the last of Notre Dame.{35}

If Notre Dame had been built as France seems to have recommended, with each move carefully planned and discussed between LeMans and America, with no buildings to be built, no schools opened, no fundations established until sufficient funds and competent men were available, there would have been no Notre Dame du Lac; it could never have survived that first summer when the decision had to be made to build the first large college building without the funds to pay for its cost. Sorin had made mistakes, he had become, on occasion, impetuous and stubborn and overconfident, but his native good sense and his exceptional faith had enabled him to overcome most disadvantages, both personal and environmental.

Another man, another leader, might have taken over from Sorin and might have directed the college and the other institutions to some level of success. Certainly such a person would have found need for many of Sorin's abilities and characteristics: his ambition, his optimism, and particularly, his diplomacy, his ability to make himself heard, seen, accepted, and even trusted and welcomed by native Americans. If such a person were also a dedicated academician ama a sincere scholar, he might well have surpassed Sorin's later achievements. But where was such a person to be found by Moreau? If experience and a knowledge of the English language were necessary prerequisites for the opening of a mission in Bengal, how much more were they necessary for the continued development and expansion of the foundation in the United States? Could a priest, fresh from France, make the rapid orientation to the American scene which the running of a rather complex group of institutions would demand? Would such a man be willing to accept the strange new patterns of life in democratic America, to become an American himself, or would he, like many missionaries, remain a foreigner to the new land? Sorin had made this adjustment exceedingly well. This more than anything else was the key to his success -- as well as the key to most of his misunderstandings with those in the French Motherhouse.

If it was necessary that Sorin go to Bengal, was there not an acceptable temporary substitute available in the United States, someone who could take over from Sorin until a better choice could be sent over to America from France, assuming that such a person could be found there? There were two choices: Granger or Cointet, but neither of these was wholly satisfactory. Granger might have kept Notre Dame running for a few months, but he did not have the ability or personality to have improved the condition of the college or to have held it in existence for a prolonged period. Father Granger might have been satisfactory as a Local Superior of the two novitiates, but never as a college builder. The first financial crisis would have seen the college's ruin. Cointet might have been more satisfactory, having served as the chief assistant to Sorin, but he was as useless to Notre Dame du Lac as he was to Eastern Bengal, for he was ill. Even so, Cointet was the most logical successor to Sorin, and he was ultimately the choice of Moreau for that position.

The basis for the dispute between Sorin and Moreau seems to have had its origin in the old problem of communication; it was incomprehension of each other's positions which caused them to so badly misunderstand each other. To Sorin, Moreau's action could only indicate that the Superior-General still had not come to understand the condition or the importance of the foundation in the United States. Moreau, on the other hand, saw Notre Dame du Lac as a successful (and often troublesome) mission in a foreign land. To Moreau, the appointment of Sorin to Bengal, while reluctantly made, was a necessary one, for Sorin was the best man available for such a task and, Moreau felt, the American mission could survive without Sorin. To Sorin, such reasoning was incredible; apart from the fact that he was himself so emotionally bound to Notre Dame du Lac that he would have found it difficult to leave under any circumstances, Sorin knew that the results which could be gained by a mission to far-off pagan Bengal were not to be compared with the potential which he saw for Notre Dame du Lac in the United States, where the institution could be a center of Catholicity in a country which would one day inevitably rival Europe in size and population and wealth. His departure from Notre Dame, Sorin believed, would seriously jeopardize the success of the institution.

Bluntly stated, those in France -- understandably -- had shown little feeling for conditions in America, nor had they seen the success and significance of Sorin's work there. Possibly they found it difficult to imagine the raw potential of the country and to visualize the stream of Catholic immigrants who were entering the country. It is interesting to note that the only one from France to see Notre Dame du Lac, Father Drouelle, supported Sorin, although only for a short time.{37} To be equally blunt, Sorin had never shown the submissiveness in his relations with the Motherhouse which his colleagues there felt was necessary and proper in a religious. He had acted, on occasion, without consulting his Superior and had sometimes strained loopholes in those directives given to him in attempts to circumvent those commands which he felt were ill-advised. Now it appeared to Sorin as if he would be the sacrifice demanded by Notre Dame de Ste. Croix in order to bring about a more proper relationship between the American foundations and the Motherhouse.

Thoughts such as these must have occurred to Sorin and to the others at Notre Dame du Lac who had been told the news of his removal. It was a great dilemma; Sorin felt that he could not leave Notre Dame du Lac without bringing genuine harm to the institutions he had founded, moreover, there seemed to be no one who could even adequately replace him. And yet he knew he must leave. He had been ordered to do so under his religious vow of obedience, the very vow which had sent him as a missionary to America. It is no wonder that those who directed Notre Dame du Lac were plunged into a period of confusion. Only the members of Sorin's Minor Chapter knew of the problem, so the confusion was not communicated to the students; Sorin wisely kept the news from all of the others; had he not done so, there might have been chaos.{38}

The college went on as before, classes were held, discipline administered, amusements pursued. There was a tragic happening; two young boys ran away from the college on October 19, intending to spend a day of hookey in South Bend. They were afraid to return to certain punishment at the school, so they elected to spend the night in an old stable in town. During the night, the stable somehow caught fire and both boys were burned to death.{39} But even tragedy could not divert Sorin and the Minor Chapter from their concern over the course that should be pursued in the crisis between the Motherhouse and themselves. The records of the period make this concern obvious by the very fact that they have so little to say concerning the college or the other institutions.

This period of uncertainty lasted for several months. During this time Sorin, ordinarily a man of quick and decisive action, was frustrated by his inability to bring the matter to a decision which would be satisfactory to Notre Dame du Lac and to Notre Dame de Ste. Croix. Characteristically, he tried to resolve his own uncertainty, by plunging rather recklessly into action, moving to attack the one part of his predicament which he found to be the most irksome, the reappointment of Gouesse to New Orleans. This appointment seemed to epitomize the whole misunderstanding between those at the Motherhouse and those at Notre Dame du Lac. Sorin seized upon it as if it were indeed the crux of the problem, as if shoring up this one break would prevent the collapse of his whole world. Cointet and Gouesse were informed by telegraph to remain at their respective posts until further decisions were made.{40} Numerous letters passed back and forth between Notre Dame du Lac and New Orleans.{41} When Gouesse determinedly came to New Orleans, much to the confusion of Archbishop Blanc, Sorin traveled down to that city and remained there during the month of December, attempting to prevent the acceptance of Gouesse by the Archbishop. Nevertheless, Blanc kept Gouesse in New Orleans on a temporary basis.{42} On January 3, 1853, Sorin, accompanied by Father Cointet, returned to Notre Dame du Lac.{43}

Whether Father Gouesse remained in New Orleans or not, for Sorin the die was cast. Whatever reasons could be offered for his conduct, whatever pleas were made in his behalf, in fact, even if his departure for Bengal did mean the certain collapse of his foundation, he was bound by his vows to obey his Superior, no matter how the situation might appear to be. Sorin felt that the circumstances of the case outweighed the vow, and, as the May deadline for his departure came near, he persisted in his refusal to leave Notre Dame du Lac.{44} Now he took steps to initiate the final break: the dispensation of those at Notre Dame du Lac from their vows, steps which would inevitably mean separation from Notre Dame de Ste. Croix.

It would appear from Sorin's own writing that his reasons for taking this final step were not to be found simply in the circumstances of his appointment to Bengal, but were the result of the whole scale of previous misunderstandings.{45} Each had added its own weight to the frustrations and misconceptions which existed between the two Notre Dames. The culmination had come with the controversy over the appointment of Gouesse to New Orleans; here Sorin felt that his word (and that of Cointet and Granger) "ought in justice to have been enough to silence the complaints of a brainless and ambitious man. Instead, the Chapter had upheld the appointment of Gouesse in the face of Sorin's bitter protests.{47} This was the action, as Sorin sadly noted, which placed him in a frame of mind to consider separation from the Motherhouse in LeMans. "Here," he wrote, "the patience of the Lake came to an end. When it was clearly proven that Sainte Croix had no confidence in those that had given proofs of fidelity for many years, it became evident that N.D. du Lac had no longer anything to expect from Sainte Croix, . . ."{48} Thus his appointment to India and the return of Gouesse to New Orleans were seen by Sorin as moves in an attack directed at himself, and he took retaliatory steps. perhaps he was merely impetuous when he first wrote Moreau to refuse the appointment, but by the end of the winter his anger had strengthened and hardened into a characteristic stubborness which drove him relentlessly toward separation.

After the return of Sorin and Cointet to Notre Dame du Lac in January, 1853, it was decided in Chapter that Cointet would be sent to France to "try to settle there the difficulties actually existing between both houses."{49} This idea was soon abandoned, possibly because of the health of Cointet. In February, Sorin and the Minor Chapter acted to separate Notre Dame du Lac and its missions from the authority of Ste. Croix. At first they had planned to write directly to Rome, but they decided instead to write to the Motherhouse to ask for a separation for a five year period; the basis of the separation was to be a private agreement between Moreau and Notre Dame da Lac, thereby avoiding the publicity which would come with an official separation. At the end of five years "it could be seen what was best to do, with the consent of the Rector [Moreau]."{50} In the next days, Sorin sought advice and support for his decisions, but little was received which gave him encouragement. Those to whom he wrote all counseled prudence and patience. Canon Heurtebize of LeMans to whom Sorin had sent the document of trial separation and whose advice Sorin had sought, replied in kind but logical terms which were obviously intended to dissuade Sorin from his action.{51} But the Canon also added a note: if the group at Notre Dame du Lac had made a final decision to separate from Ste. Croix, they should petition their local bishop for a dispensation from their vows which they had made to their Superior-General, Moreau.{52} Still determined to carry out the separation, Sorin wrote to Maurice de St. Palais, still Bishop of Vincennes, and, after some effort, obtained a rather loosely defined dispensation.{53} Those in France, who had turned down Sorin's request that a five year trial separation be put into effect, were now informed that the five year period was to be in effect on a unilateral basis.{54}

In this way the academic year of 1852-1853 sadly ended its course with the deliberate dislocation of Notre Dame du Lac from the control of the community in France. This new condition was unbeknown to the students and to those members of the faculty who were not members of the Minor Chapter. The year for them had been an uneventful one. Although there was once again no catalogue printed, an examination of the "Commencement Program for 1853" shows some fifty-six students who won "premiums," indicating that there were probably sixty to seventy students who had entered the college and who had remained a sufficient time to be considered as regular students.{55} This was about the same number as in the previous three years. Of particular note, fourteen premium winners were from New Orleans, all young boys in the Junior Department,{56} a graphic indication of how valuable a foundation elsewhere in the country could be to Notre Dame du Lac.

Plans had been drawn (after the decision to separate from Ste. Croix) to add to the college building the two wings which had been in the original plans; since both wings would be divided into dormitories and the old dormitories converted into classrooms the capacity of the college would be raised to two hundred and fifty boarders.{57} This project was begun in the spring of 1853 and completed that summer. At the same time a new house was built for the Sisters,{58} and, sometime earlier in the year, a small building northeast of the college building had been expanded to form a Music Hall, built of brick, two stories in height, with music rooms downstairs and private lodgings upstairs.{59} These projects were to be financed by a gift of some $10,000 which one of the seminarians had promised to present to Sorin in a year, a windfall which Sorin had immediately used but which only added to the debts of the college, for the young man, when he left Notre Dame du Lac the next year, turned out to have had no such fortune to give.{60}

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