Daniel Webster Obtains A Charter For Dartmouth College

"It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college.

And yet there are those who love it! "

With these words, Daniel Webster concluded his successful defense of the inviolability of the royal charter of Dartmouth College, which was originally obtained on December 13, 1769.

In his landmark Dartmouth College v. Woodward decision (1819), Chief Justice John Marshall (1755-1835) supported the inviolability of the charter as a contract and ruled that the college, under the charter, was a private and not a public entity. As such, the school was protected from the state's regulatory power through the contract clause of the United States Constitution.

Established in 1769 by Congregational minister Eleazar Wheelock with funds largely raised by the efforts of Native American preacher Samson Occom, the College's initial mission was to acculturate and Christianize the Native Americans. After a long period of financial and political struggles, Dartmouth emerged from relative obscurity in the early twentieth century. In 2004, Booz Allen Hamilton selected Dartmouth College as a model of institutional endurance "whose record of endurance has had implications and benefits for all American organizations, both academic and commercial," citing Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward and Dartmouth's successful self-reinvention in the late 1800s. Dartmouth alumni, from Daniel Webster to the many donors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, have been famously involved in their college.

It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it! ”

— Letter, Thomas Jefferson to William Plumer regarding the Dartmouth College Case