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Memoir (1)

James Burrill Angell
History of the University of Michigan 219 - 220

James Burrill Angell was born at Scituate, Rhode Island, January 7, 1829, in
direct descent from Thomas Angell, who accompanied Roger Williams on
his expulsion from the Massachusetts Colony in 1636.

He was prepared for college at the University Grammar School, Providence,
entered Brown University in 1845, and was graduated with the highest
honors in 1849. The first year after graduation he was engaged as assistant
librarian in the college library and as a private tutor; and then, for the sake of
his health, which showed signs of impairment, he traveled extensively on
horseback through the South. Still looking for outdoor occupation, he took
up civil engineering for a time, and then went to Europe for travel and study.
While abroad he was appointed professor of the Modern Languages and
Literatures at Brown University, a position, which he did not return to fill
until 1853. In addition to the duties of his professorship, he contributed
leading articles to "The Providence Journal" from time to time; and when
Henry B. Anthony was elected United States Senator in 1860, Professor
Angell succeeded him as editor of that paper and resigned his chair at

After six years of arduous editorial work covering the whole period of the
Civil War, he accepted the presidency of the University of Vermont. In 1871
he resigned that position to become President of the University of Michigan.
For a detailed account of his services in this position, the reader is referred to
the chapter devoted to his administration (pages 62-76).

In 1880 he was appointed United States Minister to China, where he was
also the head of a special commission charged with the negotiation of two
treaties with that nation. The treaties procured through his negotiations
effected a settlement of some annoying commercial questions and also the
regulation of Chinese immigration.

Later, in 1887, he was appointed a plenipotentiary on the part of the United
States on the commission, which negotiated the North Atlantic Fisheries
Treaty with Great Britain. In 1895-1896 he was chairman of the United
States Commission on Deep Waterways, and presided at the joint meetings
with the Canadian commissioners. The year 1897-1898 was spent at
Constantinople as United States Minister to Turkey.

He is a recognized leader in the Congregational Church, and at the second
International Congregational Council which met in Boston, September,
1899, he presided over the deliberations of that body, composed of delegates
from all parts of the world and representing the scholarship and the
ecclesiastical organization of that Church in the persons of its most
distinguished members.

He is an accomplished speaker and writer. A considerable number of his
public addresses have been published, and he has contributed numerous
articles to the leading journals and reviews.

He has received many academic honors. The degree of Doctor of Laws has
been conferred upon him by the following institutions: Brown University,
1868; Columbia University, 1887; Rutgers College, 1896; Princeton
University, 1896; Yale University, 1901; Johns Hopkins University, 1902;
University of Wisconsin, 1904; and Harvard University, 1905.

He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, of Philadelphia; the
American Antiquarian Society, of Worcester; the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences, of Boston; and the American Historical Association, of
which last he was president in 1893; also, a charter member of the American
Academy at Rome, and of the Society of International Law; also, a
corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and of the
Colonial Society of Massachusetts. He has been for many years a Regent of
the Smithsonian Institution.

On November 26, 1855, he was married to Sarah Swoope Caswell, daughter
of the Reverend Doctor Alexis Caswell, then a professor in Brown
University, afterwards president of that institution. There are three children:
Alexis Caswell (A.B. 1878, LL.B. 1880), a member of the Detroit Bar; Lois
Thompson, now Mrs. Andrew C. McLaughlin, of Chicago; and James
Rowland (A.B. 1890, A.M. 1891), Professor of Psychology in Chicago
University. Mrs. Angell died at Ann Arbor, December 17, 1903.