"Mark Hopkins On One End And I On The Other"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Burke A. Hinsdale, president of Hiram College, describes James A. Garfield's career at the newly founded Eclectic Institute, a preparatory school that later became Hiram College, at Hiram, Ohio. Before entering the Institute, Garfield had taught grade school, and as a student he also acted as a teacher at the Institute. After three years at Hiram he went to Williams College, at Williamstown, Massachusetts; Mark Hopkins was president of the college at the time. After graduation from Williams, Garfield returned to take up teaching again at Hiram, at the age of twenty-three years. He became well known throughout the region as a public speaker, and the question in the minds of those who knew him was whether he should enter the ministry or the law. Garfield always had great affection for small schools in out-of-the-way places. He believed that in such schools the personal element in teaching operated with more power than in larger institutions. He believed in having adequate physical equipment for schools but also believed that good teachers were more important than apparatus. Later in life he said:

To all that has been said, I most heartily assent. No words of mine shall in any way detract from the importance of everything that has been urged; but I am not willing that this discussion should close without mention of the value of a true teacher. Give me a log hut, with only a simple bench, Mark Hopkins on one end and I on the other, and you may have all the buildings, apparatus, and libraries without him.