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Obituary (2)

James Burrill Angell
The Michigan Alumnus 324

Historical perspective, which comes only with the lapse of time will
increase, not diminish, the estimate of the greatness of James Burrill Angell.
He came here nearly a half century ago, and his presidency, especially the
earlier part of it, covered a critical period in the development of the
University. It had been wisely planned and upon broad lines, but it was
young and crude in 1871, only partially organized, with its character still to
be largely determined, its spirit yet to be created. There were then few
universities of strength west of the Hudson River, and so it was that
Michigan served in a large measure the entire Mississippi and Missouri
valleys and the Pacific Coast. The great empire charged with vitality,
surging with the blood of youth and rich in resources just beginning to be
realized was ready to support the great democratic educational dream which
wise pioneers had planned, in the little pioneer city of Ann Arbor if only it
were clear that early dream was being wisely and vigorously realized. It is
difficult to believe that any other man could have brought to the great task
thus indicated, so fortunate and so rare a combination of great qualities. His
rich culture, his breadth of vision, his sanity, wisdom and philosophic poise,
and the charm and simple dignity of his personality, the purity of his
character would have made him a marked man anywhere and under any

Coming as he did to our young and potentially great institution in 1871, he
found a golden opportunity, a great and heavy responsibility, a
responsibility, however, for the assumption of which his unusual equipment
made him qualified. How wisely and ably he labored, how nobly he
succeeded, is told in the greatness of the institution with which his memory
will always be associated. He was a great educator, a great publicist and
scholar, but he was an even greater man.