North American Scholar

SLAUGHTER, Moses Stephen

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1860-10-03
  • Born City: Brooklyn
  • Born State/Country: IN
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1923-12-29
  • Death City: Rome
  • Death State/Country: Italy
  • Married: Gertrude Elizabeth Taylor, 28 June 1893.
  • Education:

    B.A. De Pauw U., 1883; fell. Lat. Johns Hopkins, 1885-6; Ph.D., 1891; study at Berlin & Munich, 1893-4.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Lat. Bryn Mawr, 1887-8; prof. Lat. Collegiate Inst. (Hackettstown, NJ), 1888-9; Iowa Coll., 1889-96; U. Wisconsin, 1896-1923; ann. prof. ASCSR, 1909-10; pres. CAMWS, 1906-7.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Substantives of Terence" (Johns Hopkins, 1891); printed (Boston, 1891).

  • Publications:

    The Story of Turnus: from Vergil's Aeneid, Books VII-XII (Boston, 1896); The High School Course in Latin, Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison No. 270 (1908); "How Germany Makes War," War Book of the University of Wisconsin (Madison, 1918); Roman Portraits (New Haven, 1925).

  • Notes:

    Educator and classicist, Moses Slaughter worked toward a comprehensive program of Latin education, advancing Latin as mental discipline and tool to elevate student minds to the glories of the world's great ideas. Slaughter was typical of the scholars pioneering in the movement to transform American universities from preservers of knowledge into the creators of new knowledge. William F. Allen had developed ancient studies at Wisconsin through the application of the research, lecture, and seminar methods of the German universities, but Slaughter avoided the technical, philological research typical of the Germans. Instead, he sought to enroll as many students as possible in the study of Latin. By 1907 Latin was disappearing from Wisconsin's high schools and the Wisconsin Teachers' Association, as part of its language curriculum development, called for a statewide policy on the teaching of Latin in high school. In response Slaughter wrote the High School Course in Latin stating the benefits of courses in Latin and outlining a practical four-year program for high schools.At Wisconsin there was a priority placed on developing the university's offerings in the humanities to keep pace with the growing scientific emphasis: the goal was total education. Slaughter was the leader in the Latin Department. The results of his emphasis on humanities were a number of practical programs to develop good scholars. Course offerings in Latin and Greek increased, generating more graduate scholars and teachers. In his teaching, Slaughter consistently attracted the highest enrollments in the Classics Department. His character and style seemed to manifest his personal belief in the intellectual value of Latin literature. The ideas of Rome were alive in him, but his understanding of human nature prevented him from being overwhelmed by them, so students and friends had a vital example of the classics and their value. J. A. Nairn characterized Slaughter's appeal best in his review of the posthumously published collection of character sketches, Roman Portraits: "The warm sympathies of the writer . . . make him a good guide to the humanities; and his book will serve a useful purpose if 'it sends its readers to study the great writers whom it describes'."Beyond the University of Wisconsin Slaughter's achievements gained him an international reputation as a teacher and a humanitarian. Mrs. Slaughter was a well-known author of books on life at the turn of the century in the United States and Italy.

  • Sources:

    Memorial Service for Moses Stephen Slaughter at the University of Wisconsin (Madison, 1924); J. A. Nairn, "Roman Portraits" (review) CR 40 (1926) 218; CJ 19 (1923-4) 309-10; WhAm 1:1133.

  • Author: Ronald J. Weber