McGuffey After Miami

McGuffey at Age 70

McGuffey Age 70

Encouraged by his Cincinnati friends, McGuffey resigned from Miami in 1836 to accept the presidency of Cincinnati College, expecting to create an institution of learning that would equal or surpass any other in the West. He had brilliant professors on his faculty, and the college became the center of literary activity in Cincinnati and the surrounding country. But, as Edward Deering Mansfield said, it was endowed with genius and nothing else. A severe financial depression made it impossible for businessmen to honor their pledges to the college. McGuffey resigned the presidency in 1839 to become president of Ohio University.

At Athens, however, the people of the town fell out with him because he fenced the university grounds. The new president would not suffer his campus to be a cow pasture. The resentful Athenians influenced the state legislators to cut down the appropriations McGuffey needed to carry out his plans for the university. He resigned in 1843, returned to Cincinnati, and became a professor at Woodward College, which was a good classical high school.

In spite of all his troubles, McGuffey's fame as an educator, author, and lecturer continued to grow. In 1845, he went to the University of Virginia as a professor of moral philosophy and political economy, which post he held for twenty-eight years. Some students loved him, some feared him, but all admired his erudition and enthusiasm. His proverbial sayings were long remembered.

In the summer of 1850, McGuffey took his wife back to Woodside, her girlhood home, hoping that her health would improve there, but Harriet died on July 3 and was buried in Woodside Cemetery.

Her sorrowing family returned to Virginia. Some time later, Professor McGuffey married Laura Howard, daughter of the Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia. They had one child, Anna, who died at the age of four.

McGuffey died at Charlottesville, May 4, 1873, and is buried there.

Text by Dr. William E. Smith, 1973

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