North American Scholar

NORTH, Edward

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1820-03-09
  • Born City: Berlin
  • Born State/Country: CT
  • Parents: Reuben & Hulda Wilcox N.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1903-09-13
  • Death City: Clinton
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Mary Frances Dexter, 31 July 1844.
  • Education:

    A.B. Hamilton, 1841; L.H.D. NYU Regents, 1869; LL.D. Madison (now Colgate) U., 1887.

  • Professional Experience:

    Priv. tutor, Paterson, NJ, 1841-2; clerk law offices, 1842; princ. Clinton (NY) Grammar Sch., 1842-3; prof. anc. langs. Hamilton Coll., 1843-62; Edward Robinson prof. Gk., 1862-1901; actng. pres., 1891-2; trustee, 1881-1903; secy, to John M. Francis, U.S. minister to Greece, 1871-2; pres. NY State Tchrs.' Asso., 1865.

  • Publications:

    "Greek Proverbs" (rev. of Richard Chenevix Trench, On the Lessons in Proverbs), North American Review 85 (July 1857) 168— 77; Dedicatory Address for the Sunset Hill Cemetery, Clinton (Clinton, NY, 1857); The Uses of Music (Utica, NY, 1858); Memorial of Henry Hastings Curran (Albany, NY, 1867).

  • Notes:

    Edward North does not exist for Wissenschaft. Not one of his students ever became a great classical scholar, although one, Elihu Root, became a national figure in Republican politics. He never taught at what are optimistically called "the great universities." And worst of all he never became president of the APA. Why is he remembered? His son, upon the urging of hundreds of former students, wrote a 400-page memoir of his father. That means we have a well-documented case study of a devoted and talented teacher of Greek at a small, provincial men's liberal arts college, Hamilton, in the hamlet of Clinton, NY, for almost 60 years. He was of the generation before Gildersleeve and (Memoir, 215) his training antedated the German professionalism that after 1853 decisively colored American classical scholarship. One need only contrast his student and follower in what became the North Professorship, Edward Fitch, who went to Göttingen and wrote his dissertation under Wilamowitz. He loved Greek, knew it well, and taught it in a way that appealed to young men who would become farmers or businessmen. "His career is a typical, although not a unique, instance of the advantages which spring from this personal and intimate contact of professor and student and the influence of this association upon the character and career of the graduate body" (Memoir, vii). He visited Greece and met and corresponded with Heinrich Schliemann. He believed the classical writers in the way men did before Wissenschaft destroyed that belief. The linguistic subtlety and literary empathy that he reveals in his published lectures and notes surpass those of most later historicists. North's case reveals better than any other what we lost because of the German influence. Gildersleeve contrarily reveals what we gained. Both men reveal different facets of the development of an American approach to classical antiquity.

  • Sources:

    Edward Fitch, DAB 7:558-9; S. N. D. North, Old Greek: An Old-Time Professor in an Old-Fashioned College: A Memoir of Edward North, with Selections from His Lectures (New York, 1905); NYTimes (14 Sept. 1903) 7; WhAm 1:904.

  • Author: William M. Calder III