Julius Hawley Seelye

Julius Hawley Seelye

Julius Hawley Seelye (1824-1895) was a missionary, author, United States Representative, and former president of Amherst College. The system of Latin Honors in use at many universities worldwide is said to have been created by him.


Seelye was born September 14, 1824, in Bethel, Connecticut, to Seth and Abigail (Taylor) Seelye. He prepared himself for college, then attended Amherst College from 1846 to 1849, when he graduated. He then continued his studies at Auburn Theological Seminary from 1849-1852, and at Halle, Prussia from 1852-1853.

Seelye was ordained in Schenectady, New York, on August 10, 1853. From 1853-1858 he was the pastor of the First Dutch Reformed Church in Schenectady.

In 1858 he returned to Amherst College, serving as Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy until 1890. During that time, he was the President of the Amherst College Corporation, and a Trustee of Amherst College, from 1876-1890, and the fifth President of the College from 1877-1890. He was pastor of the Amherst College Church from 1877-1892. Seelye was also a trustee of Mount Holyoke College from 1872 to 1895.

Seelye was a member of the 44th Congress, from 1875-1877.

Other activities

* Seelye lectured at Andover Theological Seminary from 1873 to 1874. He was then a member of the Board of Visitors there from 1874 to 1892.
* Seelye was on the Massachusetts Commission on Taxation from 1874 to 1875.
* Seelye incorporated the Clarke Institution for Deaf Mutes in Northamption, Massachusetts, from 1867 to 1887.
* Seelye was a corporate member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions from 1876 to 1895.
* Seelye was president of the Congregational Home Missionary Society from 1885 to 1892.
* Seelye received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Union in 1862.
* Seelye received a Doctor of Laws degree from Columbia in 1876.In his later years, Seelye worked as a medical missionary in the Middle-East, beginning a long family tradition of affiliation with the Arab world.


On October 26, 1854, Seelye married Elizabeth Tillman James of Albany, New York, who died in 1881. They had four children: Anna Seelye, who married Benjamin Kendall Emerson, an Amherst College professor, in 1901; Elizabeth Seelye, who married James Wilson Bixler, an Amherst graduate, in 1891, and who died in 1894; Mabel, who married Bixler in 1898; and William James Seelye, who graduated from Amherst College in 1879.

Seelye is the brother of Laurenus Clark Seelye, first president of Smith College. He is the great-grandfather of Former United States Ambassador Talcott Seelye and is the great-great-grandfather of National Public Radio reporter Kate Seelye

Written Work

* The Way, the Truth, and the Life (1873)
* Lectures to Educated Hindoos
* Christian Missions
* The Relations of Learning and Religion
* Duty (1891)
* A Book for Schools
* Citizenship (1894)
* A Book for Classes in Government and Law
* Schwegler's History of Philosophy (translated)
* Hickok's Moral Science (revised and edited)
* Hickock's Empirical Psychology (revised and edited)

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