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Dr. McVean’s School Leader
Among Georgetown Institutions Many Notables Among Graduates of Academy Directed by Scholar Who Took Part in Civic Affairs. BY JESSIE FANT EVANS. F OLD Georgetown, as a thriv ing port, of its distinguished folk, and of the charm of the old residences we justly hear much. Too little emphasis has been placed upon the fact that Georgetown was once one of the school centers of the United States. Here were established a great number and variety of private schools for the training of the children of the day, both white and colored. There was also that academy founded by Arch bishop Carroll destined to become world famous as Georgetown Univer sity. Most of these schools properly at tained a reputation far beyond Georgetown’s boundaries. One of the most widely known was founded as a classical seminary for young men by Rev. Dr. Wylie, a Presbyterian clergy man. It was continued by Rev. Dr. Carnahan, afterward president of Princeton College. Upon Dr. Carna han's elevation to Princeton, the school was taken over in 1820 as a classical and mathematical academy by Rev. James McVean. born near Johnstown, N. Y.. in 1796. A graduate from Union College in 1813 and from Princeton in 1819. his ■was destined to be the honored profes sion of giving to young minds those gleams of the inner spirit which ever light the true lamp of knowledge. Miss Sally Mackall in her "Early Days of Washington” tells us that Dr. Mc Vean was the descendant of Duncan McVean and Grace Fraser, whose forbear, Peter Fraser, three times cove/1 the life of Rohprt RniCP. for which act of bravery he was knighted. Royal titles had lapsed in Dr. Mc Vean's day. but this schoolmaster of old Georgetown was one of nature’s gentlemen who believed that through birth and education the training of youth was his mission to mankind. His memory lives on in the descend ants of the youth of Georgetown in whom he inculcated Christian Ideals as he trained their minds in his academy on West street, now P street. Enjoyed Enviable Reputation. From the time of Dr. McVean's ac cession to the headmastership of this academy for 27 years until his death on July 8, 1847. this school enjoyed a truly enviable reputation. As is the case with all significant educational Institutions, the lengthening shadows of the McVean Academy is to be found in the caliber of its graduates. This partial list is indicative of the type of leadership which the school developed. One pupil. Rev. John B. French, was one of the earliest mis sionaries to the Presbyterian Foreign Board in China. Two generals in the United States Army. Getty and Plea sonton, were its graduates. Miss Nancy Getty, a teacher on the staff of the Wilson Teachers' College, is one of Gen. Getty's descendants. Ad miral Semmes and Francis M. Gun nell, surgeon general of the United States Navy, were always proud to re late that they were among Dr. Mc Vean's “boys.” This feeling of pride in the school of their boyhood days was shared by many other graduates, who became ministers of the gospel, physicians, lawyers and men of distinction in the service of our National Government at home and abroad. Rev. B. F. Bit tinger at the centennial celebration of Presbyterianism in the National Capital on November 25, 1895, refers to the McVean Academy graduates then living as Henry C. Cameron, professor in the University of Penn sylvania; Elijah R. Craven, secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Pub lications: William A. Butler, eminent jurist of New York, and that learned justice of the District Supreme Court. Alexander B. Hagner, both beloved and revered by his contemporaries. Dr. McVean's own brother Charles, also his pupil, became State's attor ney and surrogate judge of New York and member of Congress during President Van Buren's administra tion. Dr. McVean was a classical scholar of distinction. It is said of him that he spoke and read seven languages with fluency, and it is a matter of record that the chair of Greek was always open to him at Princeton. His identity, however, with George town was inseparable from the time of his marriage in 1828 to Miss Jane Moffit Whann, a member of one of Georgetown’s fine old families and her self one of the first three pupils of Miss Lydia English's famous seminary for girls. Daughter Broke Custom. Years later the marriage of Mar garet, the daughter of the lovely Mrs. Mcvean and or her widower husband, was the occasion for a chatty letter from Mrs. Cassin, a Georgetown neighbor, to her son John. In it she tells of the Impending mariage of Margaret McVean to Dr. Louis Mac kail. At the time it was the custom for the bride to spend "the fortnight" Just prior to her marriage in a re tirement from which she was not sup posed to fare forth far beyond her threshold. The lovely bride to be, with something of the intellectual inde pendence of her father and certainly with his full and free consent, defied precedent by going to Baltimore to purchase her wedding gown, with a chaperone and her wedding party, in cluding the handsome groom. This was news indeed, and Mrs. Cassin was so shocked by the whole proceed ing that she concluded her letter to John with the query, which has such a familiar sound in our own age, "What do you suppose our young people are coming to?" ' The Georgetown Columbian of Au gust 17, 1827, gives an interesting ac count of one of the annual celebra tions of Dr. McVean's school which took place in the old Presbyterian church on that date. This was the order in part of the exercises, inter spersed by music. "Prayer,” "An Ora tion on Eloquence" by John Ott, "Eu logy' of Washington" (original) by Grafton Tyler; "Oration on the State oi ixew i one (original) by George Clark; “Oration on the Character of Hannibal” (original) by John Ritten house; "Oration on the South Ameri can Revolution” (original) by Samuel Tyler; "Speech of Patrick Henry on the Necessity of the American War" by WUUam Rennert; “The Speech of Mr. O'Connor in Favor of the Cath olics” by Thomas Jewell; “Hamilton's Oration to His Army” by Barlow Ma son; “Oration on the Mutual Depend ence of Animal Creatures" (Latin orig inal by John Rittenhouse; "Pitt’s Speech on the American War” by Lewis Coppersmith; and “Character of Alfred, King of England” (in Greek and original) by George Clark. There are still living within the - District of Columbia the distinguished - descendants of these school orators •f the long ago, many of whom were destined for leadership among their fellow men. The unknown newspaper commentator, who covered the occa sion, summarizes the achievements of the youthful orators with this state ment: ‘The selections were extremely judicious, the elocution equal to that in our best colleges and the original productions specimens of much genius and taste.” In this the natal month of the great Washington, we note that Graf ton Tyler, who later became one of Washington's prominent physicians, would have been awarded the palm by the press for his eulogy on the Father of His Country had the de cision been theirs, since this was the notice given his efforts: ‘‘But the latter was certainly one of the most manly, condensed and powerful speci mens of eloquence to which I have listened at any of the exhibitions of our literary institutions.” Man of Commanding Presence. Present-day pupils in the secondary schools of the Nation’s Capital, strug gling with the classical languages, might do well to thank their stars that their efforts do not have to be crowned by orations In either Latin or Greek perspiringly delivered at the closing exercises of their school year during the month of August. Dr. McVean was a man of large stature and of kindly, though com manding, presence. For a quarter of a century his life was allied quite as closely with Sunday school activi ties as It was with his daily academic labors. Every year there was a union CnnHair coViaaI ralaKratinn r\f all Ha. i nominations held on the Fourth of ! July. For weeks previous there would be preparation for this event, with the final assemblage in the “old Presby terian Church.” From there, led by Dr. McVean, the Sunday school pupils and their teachers would "form in lines four abreast" and go singing on their way to nearby Parrot's Wood, a portion of which is now a part of 1 Oak Hill Cemetery. Those of George town. who were ineligible to attend the picnic, apparently turned out to < see and hear the singing ranks ! march by. After prayer and speech making by Georgetown's most prominent citi zens, the picnickers were free to amuse themselves as they chose, with picnic baskets vieing in the quantity and quality of their full to overflowing contents. Soon after Dr. McVean’s death these yearly assemblies were | discontinued. j As a dominie, a school man, and as a natural executive and business lead ■ er, the imprint of this sterling man | was left upon the Georgetown of which he became so inherently a part, no I easy achievement then or now. His was the rounded life extolled by the ancient Greeks in whose language he so excelled. Precept in the school | room was ever carried out in public example. Abjuring his pupils that serv irp tn nnp's fpllnw man u:s»r thp Hntv of the educated, he himself served Georgetown as a member of its Board of Common Council and Aldermen and as the president of many benevo lent associations. His influence upon national thinking was shown in his defense of the American Colonization Society, an organization which was founded to transport members of the colored race to Liberia with the in tent of colonizing them and of provid ing for their education and well being. Town's Business Suspended. Upon Dr. McVean’s death, just af ter he had passed his 50th birthday, his fellow councilmen of Georgetown suspended the town's business for eight days and wore mourning crepe upon 1 their arms for the next calendar month. The year following his death, ; the publishing firm of Baker & Scrib ner of New York in their publication, "Teaching a Science, the Teacher an Artist,” gave a list of great men whom it ranked equally high as teachers. It began with Socrates and ended with James McVean. I like best the characterization, "Portrait of a True Man,” which Miss Sally Mackall includes in her com ment upon this school man of the eighties: "A gentleman (after the school of courtesy which an apostle would have commended). . . . His natural abilities and eminent attainments as a scholar and his great talents of government well qualified him to preside over any of our colleges, but his modesty disposed him to remain in a com paratively quiet and retired station of usefulness and rendered him little sensible to motives of pecuniary ad vantage or ambition. . . . His sense of duty governed all his sentiments. He never feared the face of man nor had the world any motive or power which could obscure, disarm or turn from its course his integrity.” Do you wonder that the fame of the school ministered unto by Dr. McVean went almost as far beyond the borders of Georgetown as the success of her ■--«»»v uvtiviavuuuo \Jk UC1 philanthropist*, the charm of her residences or the delightful sociability of those who occupied them? BERMUDA RAILWAY RARE FOR SCENERY Amusing Toy Cars Carry Visitors 22 Miles Around the Island. HAMILTON, Bermuda, May 16.— Come streamlined engines, come fast planes, come rocket ships and Ber muda’s toy railway will continue to travel its own liesurely, "subject to change,” way and Island visitors will continue to like hitting Bermuda’s high spots of interest via this quaint, restful method. The Bermuda railway is the unani mous choice of all visitors as the best conveyance for obtaining a compre hensive idea of the Island—and one of me most inexpensive. For lewer dol lars than it takes hours, passengers can make the 22-mile trip from one end of the Island to the other. Along the beach, through a deep ravine whose flower-covered walls are startlingly lovely with flaming tropi cal blooms, and over the trestle high above Hamilton Harbor—every type of scenery is visible from the car windows. The train stops at all the places which must be seen, including historic old fit. George’s; the govern ment aquarium; Crystal and Leaming ton caves; Tom Moore’s tavern, Swiz zle Inn; Gibb's Hill Lighthouse, quaint Waterlot Inn, and of course Hamil ton's Front street with its fascinating displays of British sportswear, gay English china and burnished Sheffield plat*. V Schools and Colleges _ . .. ” Ttlri annual larn elections at Georgetown University last week resulted In the choice of Peter P. Brennan being chosen president. William J. Williams of Ohio was named treasurer, but a run-off elec tion was necessary to fill the office of secretary, won eventually by John T. Canna of New York. The new presi dent of the Yard for next year, high est scholastic position at the Hilltop, had had the unique honor of being president of his class during his freshman, sophomore and Junior years. To climax his election he was also chosen president last week of the Philodemic Debating Society. Other Philodemic officers elected before its annual dinner were Joseph M. Dawson, corresponding secretary; Chris Bowland, treasurer, and Joseph Ryan, censor. Glee Club “keys” in recognition of three years’ faithful membership were awarded last week to the fol lowing: William T. Roberts, secre tary: E. Paul Betowski, John D. Fal ler, D'Armand Dochez, Bernard Ent ner, Michael F. Kivlighan. Howard J. McFadden. John H. Rule and Wil liam J. Doyle. Robert Kelly, presi dent, was given a key last year. The Washington Club, composed of local students, elso held its elections for the ensuing year with the follow ing results: Joseph M. Dawson, pres ident; J. Carlton Gartner, vice pres ident; George J. Fleury, secretary; James Flynn, treasurer, and William Gwynn, public relations chairman. The Washington students are arrang ing for a dance at the Manor Club the evening of June 5, just before the commencement program. Elections at G. W. U. VI/TTH the approach of the exami ’’ nation period, George Washing ton University student organizations are closing their activities and elect ing officers for the coming year. The George Washington Union has adjourned, the following officers hav mg oeen namea 10 neau uie uure parties In 1936-37: Center party—Fred Brooks, chair man; Morris Kruger, vice chairman: Lily Lykes Shepard, secretary, and Layton McNichol, treasurer. Left party—Charles Coltman, chair man; Joseph JafTe, vioe chairman: Sylvia Bahar. secretary, and Tatyana Jasny, treasurer. Right party—Bennett Willis, chair man; William Gaussman, vice chair man, and Elizabeth Wahl, secretary treasurer. Ethel M. Nelson has been elected editor in chief of the 1937 Cherry Tree. Other members of the editorial board of the student annual will*be: Bruce Kerr, business manager; Jane Burke, organizations editor; Betty Hartung, copy editor; Elizabeth Coale, art editor, and Frank Mitchell, photo graphic editor. Next year’s Handbook will be edited by Charles Hallam, editor in chief, and Edmund Browning, Robert Howell, Bertha Lockhart and George Sangster, associate editors. Howard Ennes has been named business man ager of the Handbook. The International Student Society has named the following officers for next year: Kitty Baart. Holland, president; Myer Stolar, United States, vice president; Rene Van Simayes, Belgium, treasurer; Elizabeth Wolter, Germany, corresponding secretary; Frank Kerr. Canada, recording secre tary; Naomi Fekmezian. Armenia, historian. The society will hold its annual picnic today at Pierce Mill. Spring Sports week will be held by the Department ol Physical Educa tion for Women throughout the com ing week, with competitions in tennis, golf, riding, swimming and archery. Aviation Exhibit at C. V. AN EXHIBIT of books and articles *"*■ relating to the history of avia tion will open tomorrow in the Lima Library, Catholic University, and con tinue through the week. Among the books to be shown is the "Various Modes 1 of Flying” by Bartolomew De Gus mao, which was published in Lisbon in 1710. A demonstration of the author’* invention was given before the Cham ber of Commerce of that city, and while it was only partly successful, it served to show the Interest in aviation at that early date. A medallion of Santos Dumont, a pioneer in aviation, who first invented a device to guide dirigibles, will also be exhibited. Dumont was a Brazilian liv ing in Paris, and it was he who first guided a dirigible around Eiffel Tower. Another interesting work to be shown is Alphonse Berget’s ’’La Route de L'Alr,” which treats of aviation in history, theory and practice. The Feast of the Ascension will bs observed at Catholic University on Thursday, May 31. Classes will be discontinued on that day, and a mass for the students will be celebrated in the University chapel. Right Rev. Patrick J. McCormick, vice rector, will attend a religious demonstration to be held at Leonard town, Md., this morning under the auspices of the Catholic Students; Mis sion Crusade. A solemn pontifical military mass will be celebrated by Most Rev. John M. McNamara, and the sermon will be preached by Msgr. McCormick. Dinner Saturday Night. 'T'HE All-University dinner, one of the most important pre-com mencement functions of American University, will be addressed by Leon Marshall, formerly of the N. R. A., at 2400 Sixteenth street, Saturday night. May 30. Dr. Marshall, who has been elected new professor of political economy at American U., will take for his subject "Objectives of a Na tional Economic Policy.” Dr. Joseph M. M. Gray, chancellor, will be SPEED DICTATION CLASSES IN STENOTYPY TUESDAYS and FRIDAYS I'M to !i.M» w. B m. 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. 80 to 110 w. p. m. 8:00 to 0:00 p.m. The STENOTYPE COMPANY 1 604 Albea Bldg. NAt. 8320 among the other speaker*. Dr. George B. Woods, dean. Is in charge of ar rangements, with the alumni associ ation being represented by B. Brooke Bright. The first function of the com mencement program proper will be the Senior class chapel, at the Met ropolitan Memorial Methodist Church next Wednesday morning at 11 o'clock. Numerous functions are scheduled for commencement week, concluding with the baccalaureate sermon Sun day afternoon, May 31. and com mencement Monday night, June 1. The American University Alumni Association is voting on candidates for election to the ooard of the as sociation. The candidates include Harlan Hendrick, Richard Jarvis, Margaret Moses, Emily Coleman, Dr, H. P. Cotterman, Dr. Ed son Whitney, Elsie Rackstraw and Edwin A. Swin Elf Dean Woods is receiving congratu lations from friends and acquaint ances on the recent honor conferred upon him by the Northwestern Uni versity Alumni Association, which singled him out of all its graduates to receive this year its annual "award of merit in recognition of worthy achievement which has reflected credit upon Northwestern University and each of her alumni.” Dr. Walter P. Shenton, professor of mathematics, is about to conclude the cataloguing of the famous Arte mas Martin Mathematics Library at Off the Beaten Track I IF YOU are one af those persons who enjoys adventuring **•» year ewi," yea’ll eppreeiate—every hoar!—knowledge ef the language ef the country you’ve tear ing. Between new and salllng-dfete, yea can learn enough French, Spanish, Ital ian, German at Berlits to make yea In dependent ef guides and sign language! RFRIIT7 *<HO°l °' » K n LI I im LANOUAOIS LWnhinrton, 1115 Conn. At,. NA1. 0170. Baltimor,. 505 N. Chariot St. PL. 0707 _ Inquire eleo about Language Stud* “ Toun abroad with the Bering Travel Club. the university, containing about 5.000 volume*. The work is being done un der a grant from the McGregor Foundation, of which the late Tracy McGregor of this city was president. The Commons, new organization of non-fraternity men at the college of liberal arts, plans to elect officers to morrow. Debating Society Elects. JNGRAM MACK, retiring president of the Alvey Debating Society of National University, announced yester day that Giles Morrow, junior law student, had been elected to head the society next year. Other officers elected were: James Hayden, first vice president; Miss Verna McCarter, second vice president; Miss Leila Terrill, secre tary; John S. Kenestrlck, treasurer; Joseph Underwood, sergeant at arms, and Miss Marian Poole, historian. Tear Round School Program. Varatlon School. SI MMER TAMP. Bnatin*. Fl»h Inr. Crahblna. Pony Rldins. Addreas Box 1*1-K. Star oilier. • PRIVATE TUTORING June College Board Exama. For information rail Wlaronaln 3S6S Or Write ELI RWAVELY It West Woodbine St., Chevy Chase. Md 1 ?* n n 1 — v J ; n Qokool nC FRENCH LANGUAGE Sommer Clatter and Private Instruction Dan and Evenlnas DOS Hth 8t. X.ff._ME 1832 » The Temple School Shorthand Dictation and Typewriting Speed Drills Monday, Wednesday and Friday Evenings, 5:00 to 9:20 Day School 9:00 to 3:00 Enrollment Now Open to College Students and High School Graduates for SPECIAL INTENSIVE SUMMER COURSES June 22 and July % 1420 K Street N.W. NAtional 3258 Spood Dictation Clatter STENOTYPY AND PENCIL SHORTHAND Tuetdaya and Thuradaya 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. THE TEMPLE SCHOOL 1420 K Street N.W. Notionol 3258 The Renshaw School 1739 Cosnscticit Avenue North 6906 Announces Short Summer Courses (May IS—June 19) WELL-BRED ENGLISH Spoken English—Platform Pone—Dic tion—Tone Training—Engltsh Prob lems— Vocabulary Building — Com mon Errors Mondays ond Thursdays at 3 or 8 P.M I -•-—— VOICE and DICTION Enunciation—Tone Placement—Reson ance—Cultural Valuei of Voice and Epeech. Individual Analysis Tuesdoys and Fridays at 3 or 8 P.M. -» PUBLIC SPEAKING Impromptu «nd Extemporaneous Treln- ’ In*—Campaign Speaking—Speeches for Special Occasions — Constant Platform Practice. Tuesdoys and Fridays at 8 P.M. -• Two thousand men and women from :*0 vocations have increased their efficiency with these courses which meet twice weekly for two hours. Limited Groups. Fee $20.00 Register: 4 to 7 P.M. MUSICAL INSTRUCTION. BESSIE N. WILD Voice Culture. 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