September 3rd, 1799

Williams College trustees abolish the position of professor of French.

“The first Williams professor, appointed in 1795, sold books on the side to survive on his $400 annual salary… Although Samuel Mackay survived, his professorship didn’t–being abolished by the trustees in 1799. The French option was stressed in the first Laws of Williams College to attract students from Canada, some historians have said. Mackay himself came from Canada and taught French well, according to contemporary reports. But New England was turning against all things French by the turn of the century. Williams students even petitioned the U.S. President in favor of war against France in 1798, seeing that country as a dangerous source of ‘anarchy and atheism’ stemming from their revolution. Although President John Adams responded politely, it was the Williams trustees who took action, terminating Samuel Mackay’s teaching post on Sept. 3, 1799. Fifty-four years would pass before the French professorship reappeared in the Williams Catalogue.” (Source: Williams 1793-1993, A Pictorial History)