James Forsyth

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For other people named James Forsyth, see James Forsyth (disambiguation).

James Forsyth (September 8, 1817 – August 10, 1886) was an attorney, businessman, and the seventh president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was born in Peru, New York. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1839 and was admitted to the bar in 1842. The following year, he moved to Troy, New York where he practiced law, and was a director and counsel of several local banks and companies. He was a founder and trustee of the Union Trust Company of New York, and President of the Troy & West Troy Bridge Company. He also served as a judge and a member of the Board of Enrollment in Rensselaer County.

He was a longtime trustee of the Troy Female Seminary, which became the Emma Willard School, and Rensselaer. He was president of Rensselaer from 1868 to 1886.

Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas C. Brinsmade
President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
1868 – 1886
Succeeded by
William Gurley


  • Nason, Henry B., ed. Biographical Record of the Officers and Graduates of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824-1886. D.H. Jones & Co.: Troy, NY (1855).[1]
  • Sylvester, Nathaniel Bartlett. History of Rensselaer Co., New York. (1880).[2]