Brown University is a private Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1764 intitially by a proposition by the Baptist minister, Morgan Edwards. It was the third insitution of higher education established in the United States. Brown became the first university in colonies to accept students regarless of their religious preferences. Based in Rhode Island, Brown mirrored it's colony's beliefs and principles which are still applied today.


History of American Universities

During the seventeenth century, the founders of the European universites were a group of highly educated men, while in America, representatives of the communities who held limited resources, contributed to the founding of the small colleges and universities. The prototype of the American college government was fomented at Yale and Princeton, or then, known as the College of New Jersey. Representatives of the community, in which the college resided in, were composed in a single board of trustees, in which they controlled the university, but were not members of the faculty. These men consisted of ministers, lawyers, merchants, physicians, and magistrates (civil officers). American colleges also created the head of the instituition, or otherwise known as the college president.

History of Brown University


James Manning as first President of Brown University Copy of the university's charter

James Manning arrived in Newport, Rhode Island in 1763 with a plan for a Baptist college. On March, 3 1764, Manning recieved a charter from King George III, to form a college in Warren, Rhode Island. The charter consisted of thirty six trustees--twenty two Baptists, five Quakers, four Congregationalists, and five Protestants. It also included twelve fellows.

According to the charter, eight of the fellows, including the President, had to be Baptist and the remaining four consisted of other denominations. It specified that "into this liberal and catholic institution shall never be admitted any religious tests, but on the contrary, all the members hereof shall forever enjoy full, free, absolute, and uninterrupted liberty of conscience."

Manning became the first President of the then, College of Rhode Island in 1775 and remained in this position until 1791 when the college relocated to Providence on College Hill.

Relocation of the University

The proposed relocation of university on top of College Hill in Providence. The building showed is one of the university's first buildings, University Hall.

The issue of relocation was disputed among the trustees and fellows of the school Board that a college should exist where "civil and religious liberty is encouraged and defended...the town should be large and populous so that upon commencements or other public occasions the large number of people that usually attend may be agreeable entertained and provided for...where there is a large library and numerous mathematical, philosophical, and scientific professors." It was concluded that thetown of Warren was not fit to hold their standards of the college. Therefore, it was then voted that the college be moved to Providence. On November 14th , 1769 the committee of trustees decided to relocate the college to Providence.

The Brown Family


The Brown family consisted of brothers John, Joseph, Nicholas Sr., and Moses. In 1764, Nicholas Sr., John, and Moses helped sign the charter for the college. All three brothers were heavily involved in the school's academics and administration. Joseph became a professor of Physics, and John was the treasurer of the college until 1796. Although the family made a small part of their wealth from the slave trade, the brothers beliefs were split over the issue of slavery. John fervently defended slavery, and while his brothers Nicholas Sr., and Moses, were staunch abolitionists. In 1804, a year after John's death, his nephew Nicholas Jr, gave a gift of $5,000 to the college, resulting in the college formerly changing their name to Brown University in honor of his endowment.

Moses Brown

Role of University in American Revolution

In 1781, General George Washington led troops on a march from Rhode Island to Virginia. Brown University served as an encampment site for these soldiers during the effort. During later years of the war, several notable Brown graduates served as delegates in the Continental Congress, while others also were signatories to the Declaration of Independence.

Values and Beliefs

Because of the university's location in Rhode Island, Brown University was founded under the values of the colony itself. Although intended to be a male Baptist institution of learning, the college still and continues to encourage freedom of religion. The institution also still strives to preserve in equal rights between men and women, which can best be seen when they established a women's college in 1891, later named Pembroke College of Brown University.



Today, Brown continues to hold the reputation that instills a liberal view of education in all of its students and community. Because of its rich and unique history, Brown will always hold their founding values and apply them to their educational system which has enriched thousands of young people's minds. The university has taught students to be open-minded individuals and to tolerate everyone--which was exactly the mindset of the founders of the colony of Rhode Island and the founders of Rhode Island College, later to be known as the prestigious Brown University.

A prestigious diploma from Brown

Work Cited

Guild, Reuben Aldrige. History Of Brown University With Illustrative Documents. Providence: Subscription, 1867.

Rappleye, Charles. Sons of Providence: the Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print.