or Thomas Clapp
(June 26, 1703 – January 7, 1767) was an American academic and educator, a Congregational minister, and college administrator. He was both the fifth rector
and the earliest official to be called "president
" of Yale College
(1740–1766). He is best known for his successful reform of Yale in the 1740s, partnering with the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson
to restructure the forty-year-old institution along more modern lines. He convinced the Connecticut Assembly to exempt Yale from paying taxes. He opened a second college house and doubled the size of the college; Yale graduated more students than Harvard
beginning in 1756. He introduced Enlightenment math and science and Johnson's moral philosophy into the curriculum, while retaining its Puritan theology. He also helped found the Linonian Society
in 1753, a literary and debating society and one of Yale's oldest secret societies. He personally built the first Orrery
in America, a milestone of American science, and awarded his friend Benjamin Franklin
an honorary degree.
His educational accomplishments were marred by many political, theological, and polity conflicts, with first the New Light
faction in Connecticut, then the Anglicans
, then the Old Light
faction. He fought with the Connecticut Assembly, the Yale board, and finally, with his own tutors and students. He was forced to resign as president of Yale in 1765 and died soon after.
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