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June 9, 1882

Milo P. Jewett, the first president of Vassar College, died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, aged 74. An early advocate in New England of the common (public) school system in the 1830s, Jewett subsequently founded the innovative and highly successful school for young women in Alabama that became the Judson Female Institute. An abolitionist, Jewett came north in 1855 and, purchasing the Cottage Hill Seminary in Poughkeepsie founded by Matthew Vassar’s late neice, Lydia Booth, he was principally influential in the formation of Vassar’s concept of a college for women.

Chosen by the first Vassar board of trustees to become the college’s first president, Jewett left the Cottage Hill Seminary in 1860 to devote his full time and energy to its planning and establishment. Differences with some trustees and, especially, his dispute with Matthew Vassar about whether the college should open before the end of The Civil War led to Jewett’s dismissal in 1864. He subsequently became a leading citizen of Milwaukee, WI, active in education, religion and philanthropy. In Wisconsin, Jewett became a commissioner of public schools, a trustee of Milwaukee Female College, the chairman of the board of visitors of the University of Wisconsin, the president of Milwaukee’s board of health, the founder of an importing business and the president of the state Temperance Society. He remained, also, a supporter of Vassar, and he took pleasure in its success.

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