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William Marsh Rice and His Institute

The Centennial Edition

Edited by Randal L. Hall; First Edition by Sylvia Stallings Morris; Foreword by Katherine Fischer Drew; From the Papers and Research Notes of Andrew Forest Muir 

Publication Year: 2012

 In 1891 William Marsh Rice made a generous bequest in order to found the distinguished Houston institution that bears his name. Ironically, this very bequest helped to bring about his murder, an act of treachery perpetrated by a conniving attorney and Rice’s naïve, malleable manservant. This captivating tale—full of intrigue, legal twists and turns, and sensational revelations—an important part of the full biography of Rice himself, received its first careful historical investigation by Andrew Forest Muir, a longtime professor of history at Rice University who, beginning in 1957, performed the fundamental research that forms the basis for this biography. At the time of Muir’s death in 1969, the work remained incomplete. Subsequently, at the request of the Rice Historical Society, Sylvia Stallings Morris shaped the fruits of Muir’s labor into the first edition of this book, which was published in 1972. The new edition of William Marsh Rice and His Institute, edited by Randal L. Hall, returns this fine biography to print in connection with the celebration of the centennial of the opening of Rice University. Incorporating new and important sources unearthed since the publication of the original book, this revised edition retains all the flavor and meticulous care of the earlier work, especially the “finely crafted storytelling of Sylvia Stallings Morris Lowe and Andrew Forest Muir,” as characterized by Hall. Rice University students, faculty, staff, and alumni; scholars and students of Houston, Texas, and regional history; and those interested in the history of American higher education will all welcome William Marsh Rice and His Institute: The Centennial Edition.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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pp. c-ii

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-v


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pp. vi-vi

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Preface to the Centennial Edition

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pp. vii-viii

As Rice University approached the centennial of its opening in September 1912, the Rice Historical Society recognized the need to return this fine biography to print. The only full study of the life of the university’s benefactor, it originally appeared in 1972 as an issue of Rice University Studies, and it has become increasingly difficult to find. A new generation of Texans—both Rice University students and staff, as well as everyone ...

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Foreword to the First Edition

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pp. ix-x

For a number of years prior to his death in 1969, Professor Andrew Forest Muir was engaged in collecting the material to write an account of the life of William Marsh Rice, founder of the Rice Institute, now called Rice University. To this end, Professor Muir received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation that allowed him to take the time to consult in detail the courthouse records of Harris and its neighboring counties,...

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Preface to the First Edition

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pp. xi-xiv

Answering these questions was the task to which Andrew Forest Muir addressed himself and for which he was granted a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1957, but the work remained incomplete at the time of his death in 1969. The extent and variety of the notes and manuscripts left by Dr. Muir, nevertheless, are ample evidence of the range of his research and the zest that he brought to its pursuit. I feel greatly privileged to have...

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1: The Early Years

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pp. 1-31

“Just below Springfield,” wrote the Reverend Timothy Dwight, that indefatigable traveler and preacher who was soon to become the president of Yale University, as he journeyed northward along the Connecticut River Valley at the end of the eighteenth century, “we crossed a vigorous millstream on which, a little eastward, is erected the most considerable manufactory of arms in the United States.”1...

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2: The War Years and Their Sequel

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pp. 32-62

Of Rice’s views on slavery nothing written has survived. Back in Springfield in the mid- 1830s, that “peculiar institution” had been one of the issues most hotly debated in the discussion of Texas’ proposed entry into the United States. At the Asbury Chapel a resolution had even been passed during the Methodists’ Quarterly Conference in July 1835 to “close the chapel to all lectures on colonization and abolition”; but the...

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3: Plans for the Institute

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pp. 63-86

In 1886 the president of the Houston School Board was Cesar Maurice Lombardi, who had come to the United States from Switzerland in 1860 as a boy of fifteen and been educated at the Jesuit College in New Orleans. Settling in Houston ten years later, he was soon associated with the firm of W. D. Cleveland and Company, wholesale merchants and cotton factors, and in 1877 he married the youngest daughter, Caroline...

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4: Murder on Madison Avenue

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pp. 87-120

In the summer of 1898, Rice apologized to Mary Andrus Brewster for not writing more regularly, adding that he did not always feel cheerful enough to do so because of his continuing troubles over “the big suit.”1 That suit, of course, was his appeal against the validity of Elizabeth Baldwin Rice’s will, still making its snail- like way through the legal process. Mrs. Rice’s executor, Orren Holt, preparing to defend his claims...

Appendix 1

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pp. 121-127

Appendix 2

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pp. 128-132

Appendix 3

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pp. 133-136

Appendix 4

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pp. 137-139

Appendix 5

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pp. 140-146


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pp. 147-172


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pp. 173-186

Back Cover

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pp. 187-187

E-ISBN-13: 9781603446884
E-ISBN-10: 1603446885
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603446631
Print-ISBN-10: 160344663X

Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 19 photos. Index.
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 794003447
MUSE Marc Record: Download for William Marsh Rice and His Institute

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Subject Headings

  • Rice, William Marsh, 1816-1900.
  • Businesspeople -- Texas -- Biography.
  • Philanthropists -- Texas -- Biography.
  • Murder victims -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • William M. Rice Institute -- History -- 19th century.
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