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A History of the McGuffey Readers by Vail

The revaluation was contested in the courts by the tenants



In 1839, Dr. McGuffey accepted the presidency of the Ohio University at Athens, Ohio, which office he held for four years. During these years his faculties were at their fullest development. He had become an experienced, scholarly teacher and a popular speaker on religious and educational subjects. The students at Athens held him in the highest esteem, and the influence of his teaching became deeper as years rolled by and experience emphasized his lessons.

In 1839 he was honored with the degree of Doctor of Laws conferred upon him by the Indiana University, of which his former teacher and friend, Dr. Wylie, was then president.

The income of the Ohio University came chiefly from the rents of two entire townships of land which had been given it for an endowment. This land was lawfully revalued at the end of ten years. The revaluation was contested in the courts by the tenants. The Supreme Court decided in favor of the university; but the farmers induced the legislature in 1843 to pass a law which fixed the income of the university from these lands at a sum so low as to cause the doors of the institution to be closed for five years.

Dr. McGuffey returned to Cincinnati and was for two years a professor in Woodward College, now Woodward High School.

[University of Virginia]

justify;">In 1845 he was appointed professor of Natural and Moral Philosophy in the University of Virginia. This position he filled with credit to himself and with great acceptance to the students in that institution for more than a quarter of a century and until his death on May 4, 1873.

Dr. McGuffey's classes in the University of Virginia were well attended. His lectures were delivered extempore, in language exactly expressing his thoughts. His illustrations were most apt. He taught "with the simplicity of a child, with the precision of a mathematician, and with the authority of truth."

[Method of Teaching]

A portion of the lecture hour was given to questioning the members of the class. In this he used the Socratic method, leading the pupil by a series of questions to the discovery of the incorrectness of his reasoning or the falsity of his grounds. By this process the students were led to question their own reasoning, to think clearly and to express their thoughts accurately.

Dr. McGuffey once told a pupil that he had preached three thousand sermons and had never written one. Until late in life he had never written his lectures. Shortly before his death he began the preparation of a book on Mental Philosophy. This was never completed.

Dr. McGuffey was twice married. By his first wife. Miss Harriet Spinning of Dayton, he had several children. One daughter, Mary, married Dr. William W. Stewart of Dayton; another, Henrietta, married Professor A. D. Hepburn who was for a time president of Miami University. Professor Hepburn's son, in turn inheriting his grandfather's faculty of teaching, is a professor in the University of Indiana.

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