September 5th, 1821

Williams alumni approve the newly composed preamble and bylaws of the Society of Alumni, thereby forming the first alumni society anywhere.

Williams College’s second president, Zephaniah Swift Moore, was enticed to Williamstown upon assurance by several trustees that the college would soon be moving south to more civilized surroundings. In a letter dated July, 1821, after the legislature found it neither “lawful nor expedient” to grant a petition by Moore and a majority of the trustees to relocate the college, Moore announced his resignation, effective after the fall commencement of the same year. In response to Moore’s impending departure, about half the student body proposed to withdraw (many intending to follow Moore to Amherst) leaving enrollment at a dangerously low level. Concerned for the College’s welfare and faced with the threat declining enrollment posed to the continued existence of the college, Emory Washburn (1817) and Daniel Noble (1796) were motivated to act. Washburn published notices in regional newspapers, calling upon all graduates of the college to meet for the purpose of forming a society dedicated to the support, protection and improvement of Williams College. Two weeks later, 23 percent of the living alumni attended the meeting, approved the preamble and bylaws of the society, and formed the first society of alumni to be established worldwide.