The collection includes one letter written by Crowninshield and four letters received by him while a student at the College of William & Mary in May and June of 1804.
In his May 30, 1804 letter, he writes, “The pleasing manners of this place would be enough to keep one here, but the advantages of the college, I should think, would keep me here forever.” He also discusses the theories of Sir Isaac Newton and mentions walking with the president of William & Mary, Bishop James Madison. Of particular note is his description of an incident involving William & Mary students desecrating Bruton Parish Church. He mentions the departure of the organist and that the organ has fallen to ruin. He writes, "The students in their last insurrection, broke into the Church, beat the windows down, and nearly completed the destruction of the organ. Such frequent behaviors has discouraged the inhabitants, and they have abandoned both the organ and Church."
The other letters are from B. L. and William Oliver, both of Salem, John Frobel of Mt. Vernon, and Thomas [?] Blanchard of Norfolk.
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Benjamin Crowninshield was a student at the College of William and Mary in 1804-1805. He was from Salem, Massachusetts, and according to a June 18, 1933 article printed in The Boston Sunday Globe, he was the "first yankee who ever went south to college."
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This material was formerly part of the University Archives Faculty-Alumni File Collection.