VIII. June 27, 1865
GENTLEMEN: "We are assembled, as a Board of Trustees, for the last time before the completion of our preliminary arrangements for the opening of the College, and for the reception of those who are to enjoy its benefits.
It is fitting that we pause to recognize the favoring Providence which has conducted our enterprise safely and successfully through the preparatory stages, and shed the benignant light of promise upon the future. It is not given to mail to foresee the perils and perplexities through which his best laid plans must advance to their completion. A loving wisdom veils from our view the roughness and the dangers of the way, while it holds out, in clear relief, its glorious ends, which ever invite us on.
Had we anticipated, four years ago, when first we set our hands to the work, the stormy period of war that was before us and the immense augmentation of our difficulties consequent thereupon had we been able then to count the losses, the failures, the disappointments, the perilous crises, and the "hair-breadth escapes" on which we now look back, it may well be doubted whether we should have summoned courage to face the ordeal and embark upon this tossing sea. But all these trying experiences are now in the past. We may fairly number them among our victories achieved; and though in some respects our anticipations may not have been fully realized, in others, perhaps, they have been as much surpassed, and in the whole actual results, as they stand before us so full of present beauty and so fraught with prospective benefits, we may surely find occasion to thank God and take courage.
The last and finishing stroke will soon be put to our noble structure, the largest in the world and best appointed for the purposes to which it is consecrated, and whose fair proportions and graceful architectural lines have won universal admiration. The orders have been given out for the various fixtures and appliances, both domestic and educational, required to furnish its interior, and these, we hope, will be in place and ready for use by the time appointed. The park has been laid out and graded, seeded and planted with requisite shrubbery, shade-trees, and evergreens. The principal drives and foot-paths have been carefully studied and properly prepared.
The farm-grounds have been fittingly arranged and put under cultivation; and a vegetable-garden of several acres, eight of which have been laid out and planted with all varieties of small summer fruits, under the direction of an experienced workman. These already smile with the promise of a generous supply of esculents for the College family in the first months of its existence.
For myself personally, I feel especial cause for thankfulness in the fact that, contrary perhaps to reasonable expectation, my life and health have been spared, not merely to watch the progress of the work, but to participate in it, constantly and actively, from the beginning to the end, besides conveying the hundreds of distinguished visitors to the grounds without any expense to the College. As Chairman of the Executive Committee, I have taken a deep and lively interest in all the details, and have spared no pains to insure the most favorable conditions to every contractor, by watching with daily and sedulous care the manner in which every part of the work has been performed. As no one more than myself has borne the burden of solicitude, and performed the labor of daily and nightly thought incident to such a task, no one more than myself has a right to rejoice as this stage of the enterprise approaches completion.
I have, from the beginning, looked forward to this period, as the time when I might fairly claim to be relieved from the responsibility of superintending these details. My long experience in business life had perhaps given me some peculiar qualifications for the discharge of this duty, so long as it pertained to the collection and disposition of the materialities of the College. But now that the questions to be considered will relate, in a large degree, to its interior and educational life, I feel that there is a special fitness in calling to this service gentlemen who can add to general business capacity and an interest in the cause a more intimate acquaintance with institutions of learning and more experience in their management. Such gentlemen, fortunately, we have in our Board; and a sufficient number of them, I am happy to know, stand ready to accept the trust. If I am so happy as to be sustained by your concurrence in this view, (which I do not doubt,) I retire with perfect satisfaction from my post, and, during what remains to me of a life now surely drawing near its close, I shall look with assured confidence, by the divine blessing, for the steady development and final success of this the dearest object of my hopes. I retire, gentlemen, from my office and trust; thanking you kindly for your generous counsels and support hitherto. Wishing you all health and happiness in the future, I tender you my resignation of the position I have held on your Executive and Library Committees.
Vassar's Communications to the Board of Trustees