Read their stories…see their faces…
From Penn’s founding in 1749 until the beginning of the next century, 122 men served as trustees of the institution in its varying institutional forms, from the Academy and Charity School of Philadelphia in 1749, to the College of Philadelphia in 1755, to the University of the State of Pennsylvania in 1779, and finally in 1791, as University of Pennsylvania. The biographies of these trustees (and of four men who served as clerks or secretary to the board) reveal the achievements and nature of these varied individuals, and also a glimpse into the 18th century world in which Penn began.
Discern the trends…
Were the trustees all men of wealth and status? What were their professions? How were these men connected by family, marriage and professional ties? How did they shape first the colonial economy and then the economy of the new nation? Were they all born in America? Were they educated in America?
Did Quakers or Episcopalians dominate the board of trustees? Was the board non-sectarian? How many clergymen were included?
What was the connection between the trustees and politics? How much influence was wielded by the Pennsylvania proprietors, the Penn family? What role did trustees play in the American Revolution? How did they shape the New Republic? How many held political offices? How did they align politically? How did they influence the law?
Engage in a scavenger hunt…
Who could beat Benjamin Franklin at chess?
Who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Who remained loyal to the king?
Who were imprisoned for debt? Who was jailed for assaulting Quaker elders?
Who designed the Seal of the United States?
Who owned enslaved people? Did anyone openly oppose slavery?
Who were NOT native English-speakers?
Did a father and son ever sit on the board simultaneously? Did two brothers ever do so?
Who were land speculators in “western” Pennsylvania?
Who died during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793?
Who fought in a duel?
Who was both an ordained clergyman and a combat officer?
Who asserted that drinking rum led to lead poisoning and why?
Who made a living as a brewer?
Whose mansion was the site of a Revolutionary War battle?
Who served as mayor of Philadelphia? Governor of Pennsylvania?
Biographies of All Trustees, 1749-1800
* indicates founder
William A. Atlee
John B. Bayard
Samuel Campbell (clerk)
Edward Fox (secretary)
P.F. Glentworth (clerk)
Justus H.C. Helmuth
John Jones (clerk)
John C. Kunze
Joseph B. McKean
Benjamin R. Morgan
Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg
John P.G. Muhlenberg
Rev. Richard Peters*
Hon. Richard Peters
John D. Sergeant
Jonathan B. Smith
Casparus D. Weiberg
John H. Winckhous