Mark Hopkins

Mark Hopkins.jpg

Mark Hopkins (1802-1887) was a graduate of Williams in the Class of 1824, which he entered from secondary school as a junior in 1822. Professor of moral and intellectual philosophy from 1830 to 1887 and president of the College from 1836 to 1872, he symbolizes in the history of American education the era of small country colleges, where poor boys, simple surroundings, and dedicated teachers created an environment friendly to liberal learning. A skilled teacher in the Socratic tradition, he has been immortalized by the aphorism attributed to one of his former students, James A. Garfield: "The ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other." A popular lecturer on moral and religious questions, for many years president of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, he earned the love and respect of generations of Williams men by his qualities as a teacher and friend.

Mark Hopkins House and the Mark Hopkins Professor of Philosophy post are named after him, and Albert Hopkins was his brother.


1802 born February 4 in Stockbridge, MA the son of Archibald and Mary (Curtis) Hopkins.
1815 moves to Clinton, NY to live with Uncle Sewall Hopkins
1816 returns to Stockbridge
1820 moves to Mecklenburg, VA to teach
1822 enters Williams College as a Sophomore
1824 graduates from Williams College; gives valedictory oration; begins study of medicine in Pittsfield
1825 appointed tutor to the Junior Class at Williams College
1827 leaves Williams; moves to Pittsfield to continue medical studies; teaches at Berkshire gymnasium, Pittsfield
1828 teaches briefly at Mrs. Smith's School for Girls, NYC (?)
1829 receives M.D.
1830 moves to New York City with bother Harry; briefly practices medicine with Silas West; appointed professor of rhetoric and moral philosophy at Williams
1832 marries Mary Hubbell
1833 receives license to preach
1836 appointed president of Williams, the youngest man ever to hold office as college president in the United States; made professor of moral and intellectual philosophy; ordained as a Congregational minister
1837 receives doctor of Divinity from Dartmouth
1847 publishes Miscellaneous Essays and Discourses
1841 receives doctor of Divinity from Harvard College
1843 elected fellow of the University of the State of New York College of Physicians and Surgeons
1846 publishes Evidences of Christianity, Lectures before the Lowell Institute
1848 voted member of the board of Andover Theological Society
1853 elected Vice President of American Congregational Union
1857 elected President of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; elected Vice President of National Compen sated Emancipation Society; receives doctor of Laws from Regents of the State of New York
1858 gives welcoming address in Stockbridge to Cyrus W. Field, who had just laid the first Atlantic cable
1861 takes trip to Europe with wife
1864 elected resident member of MA Historical Society
1868 elected president of Academy of Metaphysical and Ethical Sciences
1869 publishes The Law of Love and Love as a Law
1872 resigns presidency of Williams, retains chair of philosophy
1873 publishes An Outline Study of Man
1874 publishes Of Strength and Beauty, Discussion for Young Men
1882 eldest daughter, Mary Louisa, dies
1883 declines presidency of National Temperance Society
1886 elected honorary member of American Institute of Civics; receives doctor of Laws from Harvard
1887 dies June 17 in Williamstown

This page was derived from an article written for the Williams College Archives.