Sketches of Students of First
BISHOP THOMAS BOWMAN, D.D., LL.D.
"If I were a voice, a persuasive voice,
That could travel the wide world through,
I would fly on the beams of the morning light,
And speak to men with a gentle might
And tell them to be true.
I would fly, I would fly over land and sea,
Wherever a human heart might be,
Telling a tale or singing a song
In praise of the right, in blame of the wrong."
Bishop Bowman is the very ideal of the poet. He has that intrepidity in his Master's work that prompts to "travel the wide world through;" he has the qualifications, in an eminent degree, to "speak to men with a gentle might," and the story he tells is true, and the song he sings is winning, "in praise of the right, in blame of the wrong." He was born near Berwick, Pennsylvania, July 15, 1817, and was named for his grandfather, Rev. Thomas Bowman, an eminent local preacher, who was ordained by Bishop Asbury at Forty Fort, Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, July 19, 1807. His father, John Bowman, was a successful business man. His mother piously dedicated him to God when he was born, with a prayer that he might be a preacher of the Gospel. He was sent to the Wilbraham Academy in 1831. In 1832 he was recalled and sent to Cazenovia, where he was converted and joined the Church, and remained three years as a student. In 1835 he matriculated at Dickinson College, where he graduated in 1837, as the valedictorian of his class. He studied law one year under Judge Reed, an eminent jurist of Pennsylvania; but finally elected to enter the ministry, and joined the Baltimore Conference in 1839, and traveled a large circuit that year.
In 1840 Mr. Bowman became a teacher of the grammar school of Dickinson College, at Carlisle, Penn., where he remained three years. In 1848, as principal, he organized Dickinson Seminary, at Williamsport, Penn., on the model of Cazenovia Seminary, and presided over it ten years, spending his own patrimony there in order to make the undertaking successful, leaving it, finally, on a sure foundation, with about four hundred students. In 1858 he was elected president of Indiana Asbury University, and entered upon his duties as such in 1859, where he remained until 1872. During his presidency of the University the number of regular college students increased from fifty to two hundred, and the endowment fund was increased threefold. In 1853 the Ohio Wesleyan University conferred upon him the honorary degree of doctor of divinity. He was elected chaplain of the United States Senate in 1864, and the same year was appointed by the General Conference of his Church a co-delegate with Bishop Janes to visit the British Conference in England. Both these appointments were made without his knowledge. Much to his regret, he was compelled to decline the mission to England, but accepted the chaplaincy of the Senate. In 1872 Dickinson College conferred on him the honorary degree of LL.D., and the same year he was elected bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. By this brief record it will be seen that at the age of fifty-five Bishop Bowman had attained to the very highest honors in the line of his profession, and the highest his Church can confer. To have accomplished this much in the humble line of a Methodist preacher and a teacher prompts the exclamation that it is
"Enough for life's woes, full enough for its cheer."
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