Willard, Joseph, Dd, Lld
Willard, Joseph, D.D., LL.D.
a president of Harvard College, brother of Rev. John Willard, D.D., or Strafford, Conn., was born in Biddeford, Me., Dec. 29, 1738. He was the son of the Rev. Samuel Willard, minister of that town, and great-grandson of the Rev. Samuel Willard of the Old South Church, Boston; and vice- president of Harvard College. Joseph was born and reared in poverty, but by the aid of others and by his own energy he entered Harvard College, and graduated in 1765. He studied divinity after his graduation, was tutor in Greek for six years, and was ordained colleague pastor (with Joseph Champney) of the First Congregational Church in Beverly, Mass., in 1772. Here he preached until 1781, when he was elected president of Harvard University. For more than sixteen years he performed his duties without interruption by sickness; but in 1798 he was prostrated by a severe illness and could never afterwards attend to the work of the college with the same constancy. In August, 1804, he took a journey to the southern part of the state, and of his return from Nantucket to New Bedford he was seized at the latter place with sudden illness, and died in five days, Sept. 25,1804. "President Willard's whole life was modeled on the sound and impregnable principles of religion, and presented an admirable specimen of the old Puritan character liberalized and improved. Generosity, disinterestedness, a lofty integrity, and honor were united with modesty, simplicity, and singleness of heart." In the administration of the college he was eminently faithful; his firmness, dignity, affability, and benignity secured the cordial respect, and often the affection, of both the students and the faculty. As a preacher, he was plain, instructive, and solemn. President Willard was a thorough and profound scholar; especially in his knowledge of the Greek language and literature he had few superiors, if any. He wrote a Grammar of the Greek Language (the first, probably that was written in English), which remains in manuscript in the library of the university. It shows great, research. The publication of the Gloucester Greek Grammar when Dr. Willard's was nearly completed induced him to abandon the design of publication. A few occasional sermons were published. See Sprague, Annals of the Amer. Pulpit, 2, 23-30; Cong. Quarterly, 1859, p. 40; Willard's Memoirs.