Welling, James Clarke

From GW Encyclopedia

James Clarke Welling


Sixth President of Columbian University


Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy and Lecturer on History in the College. Professor of Public and Private International Law in the Law School.

James Clarke Welling (1825-1894) was born July 14, 1825, in Trenton, N. J. He died September 4, 1894 in Hartford, Connecticut. Welling prepared for college at the Trenton Academy, and entered Princeton, from which he graduated in 1844. He was a private tutor in Virginia for two years, and then began the study of law. In 1848 Welling became associate principal of the New York Collegiate School, but after a short time he accepted the position of Literary Editor of the National Intelligencer in Washington. He became Associate Editor of that journal in 1856 and was charged with its chief conduct until 1865 when failing health, induced by his arduous labors, compelled him to resign.

As editor of the Intelligencer during the trying period of the war, he occupied a place of singular difficulty and of great importance and influence. The discussions in the journal during this period often took the form of elaborate papers on questions of constitutional or international law, and exercised an acknowledged influence on public opinion. After his resignation from the Intelligencer, Welling spent a year of travel and study in Europe. Returning to Washington, he resumed the duties of Clerk of the U. S. Court of Claims, to which office he had been appointed in 1863. In 1867 he became President of St. John's College, Maryland, and in 1870 he was called to the chair of Belles-Lettres at Princeton. In 1871 he was elected President of the Columbian College.

President Welling was connected with many literary, historical and scientific societies. He was the President of the Anthropological Society of Washington, President of the Board of Trustees of the Corcoran Art Gallery, Regent of the Smithsonian Institution and Chairman of its Executive Committee. He wrote a great deal, but most of his published work appeared in the form of editorials and literary addresses, and as contributions to various periodicals.

GW Tenure Information: Under his administration the name of the institution was changed to the Columbian University, a permanent endowment fund was for the first time established, and large and conveniently arranged buildings were erected in the heart of Washington. The Law School was greatly enlarged, the Scientific School and the Dental School were established, the number of students increased from 326 in 1871 to 755 in 1891, and the number of the Faculty from twenty-five in 1871 to fifty-six in 1891.

Buildings or other makers named for individual: Welling Hall (no longer extant).

Document Information

Images: 1
Photographic Credit: University Archives
Author or Source: Adapted from Historical Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of the Columbian University, Washington, D.C., 1821-1891; Bricks Without Straw
Document Location: University Archives
Date Added to Encyclopedia: December 21, 2006
Prepared by: G. David Anderson; Lyle Slovick

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