North American Scholar

WEST, Andrew Fleming

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1853-05-17
  • Born City: Allegheny
  • Born State/Country: PA
  • Parents: Rev. Nathaniel & Mary Tassey Fleming W
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1943-12-27
  • Death City: Princeton
  • Death State/Country: NJ
  • Married: Lucy Marshall Fitz Randolph, 4 May 1889.
  • Education:

    Study at Centre Coll. (Danville, KY) 1870-2; A.B. Princeton, 1874; Ph.D. (hon.), 1883; LL.D. Lafayette Coll., 1897; D. Litt. Oxford, 1902.

  • Professional Experience:

    Lat. tchr. Wyoming (PA) HS, 1874-6, Hughes HS (Cincinnati), 1876-80; travel in Europe, 1880-1; princ. Morris Acad. (Morrristown, NJ), 1881-3; Giger prof. Lat. Princeton, 1883-1928; dean grad. sch. 1901-28; trustee, AAR; pres. ACL, 1917-28; pres. APA, 1901-2.

  • Publications:

    "On a Patriotic Passage in the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus," AJP 8 (1887) 15-33; P. Terenti Afri Andria et Heauton Timorumenos (New York, 1888); Alcuin and the Rise of the Christian Schools (New York, 1892); "Brief Notes on Plautus, Terence, and Horace," AJP 15 (1894) 356-8; "Some Places in the Philobiblion of Richard de Bury," AJP 16 (1895) 77-8; The American College (Albany, NY, 1900); Roman Autobiography, particularly Augustine's Confessions (New York, 1901); Present College Questions (New York, 1903); A Latin Grammar for Schools (New York, 1904); Short Papers on American Liberal Education (New York, 1907; repr. New York, 1971) "Philosophaster Once More," CP 5 (1910) 50-5; The Graduate College of Princeton (Princeton, 1913); Value of the Classics (Princeton, 1917); The War and Education (Princeton, 1919); Stray Verses (Princeton, 1931); American General Education (Princeton, 1932); The Philobiblon of Richard De Bury (New York, 1945).

  • Notes:

    Andrew Fleming West was the leading proponent of the value of the classics of his day, writing an endless number of pamphlets, delivering countless speeches, and serving as organizer and first president of the American Classical League. In the early days, the ACL was devoted to the survival of classics in the schools and the promotion of statistics showing the vitality of American classical study. He was an educational conservative, opposed to the elective system, which he felt "had grown out of all sensible proportion” and which he called "the educational lunch counter." Though West never undertook formal graduate study himself, he proposed a plan in 1896 for a graduate program at Princeton, and when it was organized in 1901, he was then made its first dean in 1901. West was not a Germanophile; after visiting Oxford in 1902, he envisioned an Oxford-like enclave, "a valuable institution which does not yet exist [in America], a residential college devoted solely to the higher liberal studies—a home of science and philosophy, of literature and history," devoted to pure scholarship, not applied scholarship. He disagreed publicly with Princeton president Woodrow Wilson, who favored a series of quadrangles in which undergraduates and graduates alike would live, while West favored a separate college secluded from the rest of the university. The debate was not so much over the housing of graduate students as it was over political control of the university, and it divided Princeton faculty (for Wilson) and alumni (for West) for years to come. Two bequests, one by William Cooper Procter, the other by Isaac C. Wyman, naming West as co-executor, settled the debate in favor of West's plan, the graduate school was dedicated in 1913, and Wilson resigned to enter politics. West remained a powerful champion of the classics and a man of influence at Princeton even after his retirement in 1928. A large man physically, he was gregarious and charming as a social companion, dedicated to the elegance of living that he had witnessed at Oxford, though he was a solitary host. His wife went mad giving birth to their only child, Randolph, in 1889, and was hospitalized for nearly 40 years

  • Sources:

    NatCAB 12:209; Laurence R. Veysey, DAB Suppl. 3:809-11; NYTimes (28 Dec. 1943) 17; WhAm 2:568.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.