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Bishop Quintard and the University of the South

A Memorial Address by the Rt. Rev. Thomas F. Gailor, S.T.D., Bishop of Tennessee, before The Board of Trustees of the University July 27, 1899.

[Sewanee:] Published by order of The Board of Trustees, 1899.

"Every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God."--Heb. iii. 4.

THE RT. REV. CHARLES TODD QUINTARD, M. D., D. D., LL. D., was consecrated as second Bishop of Tennessee and seventy-fifth in the succession of the American Episcopate on Wednesday, October 11, 1865. His very first official act as Bishop was to write to the Rev. J. A. Merrick, D. D., "a godly and well learned man," urging him to join him at Sewanee, "to se what might be done in the way of reviving the work at Sewanee." As the successor of Bishop Otey, who had been President of the Board of Trustees, and as the intimate friend and chaplain of Bishop Polk, doubtless his mind had been profoundly and permanently impressed with the idea and hope of the University; and he himself often quoted Bishop Polk as saying that "a great thought never dies." But, whatever were the influences that helped to shape his purpose, it is clear that Bishop Quintard entered upon his Episcopate with the determination, by God's help, to build this University.

At the first Tennessee Diocesan Convention that met after the Civil War, the Convention which elected him Bishop, on September 6, 1865, Dr. Quintard had offered a resolution providing for the establishment of a theological training school for candidates for holy orders and instructing a committee to confer with the Executive Committee of the University of the South and to take steps to locate this school on the domain at Sewanee. His correspondence with Dr. Merrick was no doubt prompted by this action of the Convention and, as a sequel to it, he started for Sewanee as soon as the absolutely necessary business in the reorganization of the Diocese had been transacted.

At 2 P. M. on Wednesday, March 21, 1866, he reached Winchester, Tenn., where he met the Rev. Dr. Merrick, who had come from Philadelphia by appointment, and the Rev. T. A. Morris, and Maj. G. R. Fairbanks; and on the next day, Thursday, March 22d, a day ever to be remembered, accompanied by these gentlemen, he went to Sewanee and visited "University Place." There he found, to use his own words, that "all the buildings, with the exception of an old log cabin, had been burned by the Federal army while encamped on the ground; the corner-stone of the University, a block of marble weighing six tons, had been broken up and almost entirely removed; and some fragments of rock, quite concealed by the undergrowth, were all that was left to attest the place where less than ten years before had gathered a throng of thousands with hearts cheered by bright promises of the future."

The Bishop, with his three friends, selected the location for his training school, and in the afternoon erected a cross on the site chosen for the chapel (being the spot where St. Luke's Oratory now stands); gathered the workmen about it, and asked the blessing of the great Head of the Church on the undertaking. The Bishop ever afterwards emphasized the fact that on this occasion they recited the Apostles' Creed and sang the Gloria in Excelsis--that it was a definite act of faith and worship, consecrating the movement as a work for Jesus Christ and for His Church.

By midsummer the Bishop and Major Fairbanks had built homes for their families, and the Otey Hall was almost finished from funds provided by the Bishop. This hall he afterwards donated to the University authorities.

Up to this time it appears that Bishop Quintard and Major Fairbanks were absolutely the only believers in the possibility of reviving the University, and that the visit to Sewanee and the setting up of the cross and the building of the Theological Hall was one of those daring acts of faith, unauthorized by any University Trustees, but quite consistent with the enthusiastic determination, which so often carried the Bishop triumphantly over difficulties. It is also worth noting that the Bishop had already established a boys' grammar school at Winchester, to be a feeder to the University, and that throughout his active career, he was constantly urging the necessity of building up such a system of schools as the only foundation for the University's permanent growth.

During the summer of 1866, after the building of Otey Hall, Bishop Elliott of Georgia, Chancellor of the University by succession, issued a call for a meeting of the Board of Trustees. In response to it, a few of the members, not a quorum, came to Sewanee on October 11th. In a general way they agreed that the project of the University ought not to be allowed to fail, and that steps should be taken to open a good high school on the Mountain. Practically the only result of the meeting was to appoint Bishop Quintard as a commissioner to solicit funds and, if he found it possible, to get the school established. Upon his failure or success, as the correspondence shows, everything depended.

The Bishop accepted the responsibility with a brave heart and told his Diocese that, if he appeared to be neglecting his ordinary duties, it was because he had deliberately reached the conviction that the best work he could do for Tennessee, as for the whole country, was to build up this institution; that the crying need of the Church was Christian education; "that the Commonwealth, whatever be its good intentions or the value of its services, can never do the work of the Church of Christ; nor can the Church, without a perverted conscience, and serious injury to her dearest interests, ever turn over to other hands what her Lord, by his solemn injunction, has charged upon herself."

During the next four months he spent more than half his time traveling for the University. He entered upon a very campaign of advertising. The consecration of the Rev. Dr. J. P. B. Wilmer as Bishop of Louisiana on November 7, 1866, gave him an opportunity of a long conference with Dr. J. H. Hopkins, the Bishop of Vermont and Presiding Bishop, one of the earliest and best friends of Sewanee; and the consecration of the Rev. Dr. Cummins, Assistant Bishop of Kentucky, on November 17th, enabled him to enlist the interest of friends in Louisville to urge the Diocese of Kentucky to come into the union. During this winter he preached in New Orleans, Memphis, Mobile, Louisville, Savannah, Augusta, and many other cities, everywhere presenting the claims of the University. At the special meeting of the Board of Trustees held in Montgomery, Ala., February 12, 1867, Bishop Quintard was elected Vice Chancellor. He then reported the steps he had taken to reclaim the domain, and presented Otey Hall to the Board on condition that they would father it. He also offered a resolution inviting the Bishops of Kentucky to unite in the work. The Board of Trustees were still doubtful as to the enterprise, but were carried along by the Bishop's earnestness and enthusiasm. He took the responsibility.

At the next meeting of the Trustees in August there were only eight members present--only one Bishop besides Bishop Quintard; yet, as Vice Chancellor, he was able to report some moneys raised, Otey Hall completed, another building under way, and the materials for a chapel on hand, besides several houses erected by people who were coming to Sewanee to reside. On August 2, 1867, the corner-stone of St. Augustine's Chapel was laid with appropriate ceremonies by the Chancellor, the Bishop of Mississippi, who had succeeded on the death of Bishop Elliott, December 21, 1866. The affairs of the movement had now reached a crisis. The University had to be opened before the close of the year 1868, in order to save the property, and more than three thousand dollars was needed to make this at all possible, even in the simplest fashion. The interest of our Southern people in the enterprise seemed hard to arouse. They were impoverished and helpless, and the scheme seemed chimerical. Even the clergy were skeptical. After seventeen months' hard work on the part of Bishop Quintard, preaching and appealing in various cities, only one Bishop, two clergymen, and five laymen (two of them from Tennessee), could be secured for a meeting of the Board. Then it was that the Bishop of Tennessee resolved to go to England and plead the cause of the University. He sailed August 1 and remained until the following May. The sessions of the Lambeth Conference enabled him to meet the English Bishops, and while at first its sessions interfered with his special work, during the fall and winter months his industry was magnificent and his success tremendous. He won the hearty sympathy and confidence of the Rev. F. W. Tremlett, of St. Peter's Church, Belsize Park, London, and through him organized a movement in England on behalf of the University. Some of the most prominent men in Church and State, among them Mr. Gladstone and the present Lord Salisbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Wilberforce of Oxford, Professors and Fellows of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, heartily espoused his cause. Before great scholars and eminent statesmen; to crowded congregations in city and rural parishes; in public and in private; through discouragement and criticism; untiringly and unfalteringly, he made himself heard and won the interest and admiration of all classes. In the course of one hundred and twenty days he preached one hundred and thirty-five sermons and made numerous short addresses. He not only made friends for Sewanee, but he revolutionized the opinions of the Englishmen of that day as to America and Americans. One of the leading London papers devoted two editorial columns to a description of him and said: "The Bishop of Tennessee is the first American we ever heard whose speech did not bewray him." "His exterior is impressive." "His voice strong and searching and his enunciation deliberate." "His well-turned sentences are like solid carved mahogany." "He is a type of the highest average of the American public man." "His sermon was in every sense sufficient, strong, well-knit and balanced, and adequately emotional, while never falling short of the full dignity of the preacher's office and evident character. If the Church in America has many such Bishops it is indeed a living, efflorescent, healing branch of the great tree, which, according to Dr. Quintard, has never withered a day in England since the epoch of the Apostles."

In the midst of this incessant strain he had also to bear the unpleasant news that came to him from home. The University was being criticised as a sectional affair. The Trustees were hesitating. His own Diocese was complaining. Under date of February 27, 1868, the venerable Chancellor wrote to him to say that "your presence is much needed to let us see our way clear." "You must not fail to be with us, as our action one way or another will be based upon what you report. Without you we shall do nothing and thus once more disappoint our friends and the public." "I have determined to call a special meeting of the Board at Savannah April 1st, the day previous to Dr. Beckwith's consecration. We hope that with the unusual attraction of a consecration to help us we shall be able to secure a quorum." "Your good people are clamoring for your return. I have tried very hard to show them that you were at your Master's work."

Bishop Quintard reached home from this first visit to England on May 19, i868, with sufficient funds to meet all immediate necessities; and the Junior Department of the University was formally opened, with four professors and nine students, on September 18th. Thus the University of the South began its career. In the providence of God the great design had waited twelve years for one man to give it an actual existence. The fact that a school was really in operation at Sewanee and that the Bishop of Tennessee had raised the money to equip it, was advertised far and wide through the South. The doubters were silenced for a time. Even the Trustees took courage. On August 11, 1869, the Board met on the Mountain, and for the first time since the war a full attendance was reported.

From the very beginning the Bishop of Tennessee emphasized the fact that the University was in no sense a diocesan institution, that it belonged to the whole Church, and all his splendid work had to be done with the misgiving in his mind that some people might make his conspicuous connection with the venture an excuse for diocesan jealousy. His deference to the wishes of the Board, even when there were only a few members at its meetings, was given with studied courtesy. He three times tendered his resignation as Vice Chancellor, but it was not until 1872 that it was deemed possible to accept it and give the University a resident executive head.

The opening of the school in 1868 proved to be but the beginning of troubles. The need of the right kind of education in the South was so great and the growth of the school so rapid, that its resources were utterly inadequate to keep up with it. In less than four years the nine students had grown to two hundred and thirty, and the authorities were put to it to build halls and schoolrooms for their accommodation. In less than three years twenty-four new dwellings had been erected on the domain, and the village at the railway station had increased from one house to more than fifty. In despair of meeting the needs, now more pressing than ever, since the University proper, as distinguished from the Grammar School, was opened in 1872, the Board of Trustees in that year turned again to Bishop Quintard, who had just relinquished the Vice Chancellorship, and urged him to take up the work of raising an endowment of at least five hundred thousand dollars; and very heroically and unselfishly he accepted the burden.

The Bishop has left a detailed and touching account of the four months' tour he made through the South, presenting the claims of the University and soliciting funds. Two of the Bishops stood by him. One refused him permission to plead this cause in his Diocese, though welcoming him for any other purpose. Two others found themselves unable to cooperate with him. The glory of that trip belongs imperishably to South Carolina and to Texas; and the Bishop's heart, in his private diary, goes out to Bishop Howe and Bishop Gregg, and to those noble laymen, first and foremost to Gen. J. B. Kershaw of South Carolina, then to Dr. De Rosset of North Carolina, to Major Whittle of Georgia, and to Col. Pollard of Alabama. Taken all in all, it was a hard and laborious and discouraging undertaking. Yet we know now that the seed was well sown and that the harvest came at last.

The Bishop returned home on March 13, 1873, rode on horseback to the top of the Mountain and sang the Gloria in Excelsis in gratitude for his safe return. He concludes by saying: "My work is with God. The school was opened on the 13th, and I find the class larger by about fifty students than at the opening last year."

At its meeting in 1874 the Board again by formal resolution appealed to the Bishop of Tennessee and urged him to make another trip abroad in behalf of the University. How cheerfully and how faithfully the Bishop fulfilled this mission during the year 1875-76 it is unnecessary here to relate. His reception in England was even more enthusiastic than in 1867. His labors, if anything, were more unwearied and incessant. He returned home almost completely exhausted in mind and body, but he brought with him the money given by Mrs. Manigault to erect the first permanent stone building on the University domain, and to crown those years of prayer and service by making the Theological Department a consecration, as it were, of the institution, which from the first he had believed in only as a work for God.

There is no finer chapter in the history of the American Church than the story of that ten years of service; a record of great conviction, great courage, great faith, great unselfishness. To him the cause was everything, himself nothing. He had to endure many things. He was not by nature a man of tact and policy; therefore his forbearance at times was all the more noble. He was naturally quick, impulsive, energetic, impatient; therefore his self-restraint deserved more praise.

There were times when the bitterness of theological controversy created conditions that wounded his heart; but his faithfulness never wavered. There were incidents in the history of Sewanee that did not commend themselves to his strong and aggressive nature as quite worthy of the churchly purpose of a Church University; and under such impression he did not always control his feelings or his utterance; but no personal disappointment ever cooled the ardor of his devotion.

It has ever been Sewanee's glory and one sure evidence of her destiny, that at every crisis in her career she has shown herself greater and larger than any individual. And if to-day we rejoice in the fact that this institution unites and holds together more Bishops and more Dioceses than any other Church institution on this continent, it is largely because Bishop Quintard taught and lived the doctrine that the University is greater than any one Bishop, or any one Diocese, or any one section of the United States. God granted him length of days to see the University fully organized and widely known, openly acknowledged and honored by the American Church. He heard it praised in the General Convention. He read the tributes paid to it by men of literary renown. He saw its influence spreading through North and South and East and West. His heart rejoiced with a great joy. To the last it was his passion, his darling, his best beloved. When he lay exhausted with long illness in those last sad days, as his strength slowly but surely ebbed away, and the scenes of his active life were fading from his sight, his one cry was "Sewanee." For it was not merely the University. It was the place. He pervaded it. He loved it, and it responded to him. Its Sewanee spirit was his spirit. Its atmosphere was in a large measure his creation. No stranger came here that he did not welcome. There was no sorrow to which he did not minister. There was no suffering that he did not try to cheer. The faculty, the students, the people, one and all, felt and understood the unique charm of his personality. The time came when the child in a way had outgrown him, and he did not always realize it; and, as age increased upon him, perhaps he was tempted sometimes to resent the change. But it was a profound satisfaction and happiness to him that toward the close of his life, in the time of his physical decline, the Faculty and the Board of Trustees seized the opportunity to give him emphatic evidence of the child's love and tenderness. And so he learned to know that that love was not less real because it was less demonstrative; and that, in the full tide of its increasing self-reliance, when those early struggles and associations were becoming, more and more, a distant memory; when, to its widening vision, ideas and problems were presenting themselves that that old time did not know nor understand; even then the Church University of the South was at heart true to its traditions and loyal to its first Vice Chancellor.

To-day it is my high privilege, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, to put on record, with this brief and imperfect recital of Bishop Quintard's services to the University, their glad and grateful recognition of his courage and his faith, without which, humanly speaking, this institution would never have been revived. Wherever Sewanee shall be known there shall his name be honored. Wherever the cause of Christian education shall be advocated there shall his memory be blessed. And as the years increase, carrying us on, we pray, through happy and helpful labor on this mountain for Christ and for His Church, deeper and deeper shall become the sense of that obligation which we owe to Bishop Quintard; and more and more real shall grow our appreciation of him and of his work; until some day the men and women of this generation, whose hearts and minds are alive to the blessings of a Christian culture, will build for him here a fitting memorial to tell our children, in the days to come, the heroic story of how one man believed and loved and labored, and, by the grace and power of God, proved the victory of faith.

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