Skip to main content
Two years and 10 days after his election to the presidency, Cornelius Conway Felton lay dead. His determination to do the job was too much for a constitution already weakened by a heart condition. (Ironically, he had once presided over a Boston physical-education society.)
Felton (1807-1862) was a noted scholar who also found time to share his talents with the Massachusetts Board of Education and the Smithsonian Institution. Despite its brevity, the Felton presidency produced at least one milestone. At Commencement 1860, Felton conferred degrees upon the first Harvard Class of more than 100 graduates.
More ominously, as civil war loomed on the national horizon, most Southern students left Harvard during the winter break of 1860-61, never to return.
Cornelius Conway Felton
President of Harvard University 1860-1862 (died in office on Feb. 26)