Vassar, Matthew

Vassar, Matthew a well-known layman of the Baptist denomination and founder of the college for females which bears his name, was born in East Dereham, Tuddenham Parish, County of Norfolk, England, April 29, 1792. In 1796 his father came to America, and took up his residence at Wappinger's Creek, near Poughkeepsie, N. Y., where he established a brewery. The enterprise did not prove successful, and, after various reverses of fortune, he became a farmer, in a small way, in the vicinity of Poughkeepsie. The subject of this sketch, then quite young, commenced the manufacture of ale on a small scale. The business grew on his hands, until at last it reached such proportions as surpassed the most sanguine expectations of Mr. Vassar. For fifty years, until 1866, he continued in this business and accumulated a large fortune. His mind was now much occupied with the question as to the best disposition he should make of his great gains. He concluded to establish a college for females where the opportunities for obtaining an education should be equal to those furnished for males. In 1861 he procured from the New York Assembly a charter for Vassar College, and in February of that year he conveyed to the board of trustees bonds and securities to the amount in cash value of four hundred and eight thousand dollars to be used for the purposes of the college. He also gave the grounds on which the college was: built. The college was opened in 1865, and from the beginning has been largely patronized. The gifts of its founder continued to be bestowed as the necessities of the new institution demanded until they reached the munificent sum' of over eight hundred thousand dollars. While addressing the trustees at the anniversary of the opening of the college, Mr. Vassar died, June 23, 1868. See Appletons Annual Cyclop. 8:755. (J. C. S.)

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