John Hiram Lathrop

John Hiram Lathrop

John Hiram Lathrop was a well-known American educator during the early 19th century . He served as the first President of both the University of Missouri [ [ Former Presidents | Office of the President | University of Missouri ] ] and the University of Wisconsin as well as president of Indiana University.

Early life

John Lathrop was born in Sherburne, New York in 1799. He attended Yale University, graduating in 1819 and teaching for three years at Farmington, Connecticut. He later became a tutor at his alma mater from 1822 till 1826 when he was admitted to the bar and practiced at Middletown, Connecticut. He also spent some time teaching in Norwich, Vermont and Gardiner, Maine. In 1829 he became professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.

First term at the University of Missouri

The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 as the first public or state university west of the Mississippi River. Professor Lathrop was chosen as its first president in 1840, a position he held until 1849. He is credited with laying the foundations for the university's first century.

University of Wisconsin

In 1849, Lathrop was elected the first chancellor of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During his tenure as chancellor, he established the academic setting at the university, and he recommended the university's seal and motto, "Numen Lumen." He was nominated for the position of first President of the University of Michigan in 1852 after Henry Barnard declined the job, but Henry Philip Tappan was elected instead. He resigned in 1858 due to problems with the regents and legislature, but remained the acting chancellor until Henry Barnard officially became the chancellor in 1859.

econd term at the University of Missouri

After resigning the presidency of Indiana University in 1859 after only one year, he returned to the University of Missouri as a professor of English literature. He was re-elected president in 1865, the only president ever to hold two separate terms, and held that office till his death in 1866.


* [ Chancellors and Presidents of the University of Wisconsin-Madison]
* [ An excerpt from "Wisconsin: Its Story and Biography, 1848-1913" (Lathrop's biography, pp. 2126-2131)]

ee also

*History of the University of Missouri


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