In August 1832, a deadly outbreak of cholera in Utica, New York, prevented a public commencement at Hamilton College. General Prosper M. Wetmore, a poet of some local repute, defied warnings, entered the region, and delivered moving verse on the nobility of ambition to a packed chapel that included little more than ninety students.
The College, according to newspaper reports, was slowly recovering from “serious difficulties”–financial, religious, and political–that had nearly caused its total collapse. The previous year’s senior class had fewer than ten students. At about the same time, the Reverend Henry Davis, to the relief of many in the community, resigned his position as president; a year later he would publish a 150-page apology entitled A Narrative of the Embarrassments and Decline of Hamilton College.
Hamilton’s visible difficulties spurred an ambitious undergraduate named Samuel Eells to found on campus in 1832 a literary society called Alpha Delta Phi. Eells intended the private association to debate the searing issues of the day in a way that would promote both freedom and academic excellence. The AHI since its inception has opened its doors to public presentations by the young gentlemen from the fraternity of which AHI co-founder James Bradfield is a member.
On Monday evening, 16 February, at 7:30 pm, Christopher Warren, an undergraduate government major and economics minor at Hamilton College, continues one of the founding traditions of his fraternity by speaking at the AHI on “The United States Government in Financial Crises: A Historical Perspective.”
Mr. Warren’s talk is open to the public. A reception will follow.