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Earliest Members of the Century Association

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Daniel C. Gilman

President, Johns Hopkins University

Centurion, 1891–1908

Full Name Daniel Coit Gilman

Born 6 July 1831 in Norwich, Connecticut

Died 13 October 1908 in Norwich, Connecticut

Buried Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, Connecticut

Proposed by Edwin L. Godkin and Henry Holt

Elected 6 June 1891 at age fifty-nine

Archivist’s Note: Brother of William C. Gilman

Seconder of:

Century Memorial

Daniel Coit Gilman became a member here when he was sixty [sic: fifty-nine], and was for seventeen years associated with us. Time and space would be insufficient to recount the numberless activities of his life: born of old Connecticut stock and trained as student and professor at Yale, he studied abroad, had a short experience of diplomatic service, was identified with the fortunes of the Sheffield Scientific School, of the University of California, of the Johns Hopkins University which he built from the foundation, and of the Carnegie Institution. He was further identified with Civil Service Reform, with the publication of the International Encyclopedia, with two great educational trusts, and was a voluminous author. Wherever he lived, east, west, or south, he was a devoted citizen: local politics, local charities, local interests in art and letters, above all, local education,—all had his best attention and unremitting care. Though specially devoted to natural science, his avocation was in the presidency of the American Oriental Society and the vice-presidency of the Archæological Institute, the man of science having no mean attainments in both these humanistic lines.

For some men such an enumeration of activities would be almost an indictment of superficiality: politics and public service in many activities, teacher and investigator in both natural science and in historical studies, administrator and organizer of great trust foundations running into millions upon millions; executive of colleges, universities, and social-reform movements—it is an amazing record. But while he did a great deal about many things, he did much, very much, about one particular thing, the transformation, to wit, of the higher education in America. His name will be chiefly remembered and celebrated by the historian of education. At New Haven and at Berkeley he worked on lines of historic evolution, evoking benefactions for expansion in directions generally understood, and strengthening valued enterprises already begun. But at Baltimore he took the great step forward, a leap almost into the dark. The enlightened trustees of Johns Hopkins’s munificent bequest took infinite pains to find a man of a certain type, and, finding him in Gilman, bestowed upon him the unbounded confidence which enabled him to found the first American University for non-professional training in the highest fields of both natural and human learning. The idea was daring and original, the fulfilment beset with the enormous difficulty of finding men and students,—above all, of educating the American public to its moral support. Through many discouragements and numberless tribulations, he held the even tenor of his way; and, undismayed, for twenty-five years, patient, persistent, and inspiring, he resigned his office at seventy in triumph. Foundations laid, structure erected, traditions created, the beacon lighted, the example has been emulated far and near throughout the broad land of America.

William Milligan Sloane
1909 Century Association Yearbook