M. Woolsey Stryker

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M. (Melancthon) Woolsey Stryker, D.D., Litt. D., LL.D., (7 January 1851 – 6 December 1929), an American clergyman, was Pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago and President of Hamilton College in upstate New York from 1892-1917. He distanced Hamilton from the Presbyterian Church, moving it towards becoming a more secular institution.[1]

Early and family life[edit]

Stryker was born in Vernon, Oneida County, New York, to Rev. Isaac Pierson Stryker (1815–1899), a Presbyterian minister, and Alida Livingston Woolsey (1822–1859), daughter of Melancthon Taylor Woolsey. Educated at the Rome Academy and Hamilton College, from which he graduated in 1872 and later received a D.D (1888), Stryker also attended Auburn Theological Seminary, graduating in 1876. He received honorary degrees from Lafayette College in 1889 and Wesleyan College in 1909.

On September 27, 1876, Rev. Stryker married Clara Elizabeth Goss (1856–1936). The couple's children included: Goss Livingston Stryker (1877–1971), Alida Livingston Stryker (1881–1951) (married Elihu Root, Jr., son of Hamilton alum and trustee Elihu Root), Robert McBurney Stryker (1883-1883), Lloyd Paul Stryker (1885–1955), Evelyn Stryker (1888–1976) and Elizabeth Woolsey Stryker (1896-?).


Rev. Stryker's first position was in Auburn, New York. In 1878 he took another position in Ithaca, and in 1883 he accepted a position in Holyoke, Massachusetts. In 1885 Rev. Stryker became pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.

He left that position to become the ninth President of his alma mater, Hamilton College in 1893, and served there until 1917.[2] Rev. Styker was a popular speaker, and widely quoted in his day.[3][4] As Hamilton's President, Stryker strongly defended the traditional approach to a liberal arts education, and preserved the teaching of the classics.[5] He also became known for his individualism and disdain for mob choices, although he vehemently disapproved of President Theodore Roosevelt, whom he greatly resembled.[6]

A liberal, Rev. Stryker spoke out against prejudice against Jews, basing "his argument on the fact that our spiritual and religious perceptions have been first taught by Jews, and that the Old as well as the New Testament we owe entirely to men of that race. "[7] He was one of the signers of the Blackstone Memorial advocating the creation of a Jewish State as a solution to anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia.

Rev. Stryker also compiled and wrote poetry and hymns. With Hubert Platt Main, he jointly edited The Church Praise Book (1882) and contributed 9 original pieces, and the New Alleluia (1880–86). Stryker also edited Christian Chorals (1885), and Church Song (1889; including 19 original contributions). He also published Hymns and Verses (1883), and Song of Miriam, and Other Hymns and Verses (1888) and College Hymnal (1897, including 27 of his works published 1890-1894). His verse Latermath was published in 1896.[8] He also wrote An Outline Study of the History of the Bible in English: With a Brief Essay on its Quality as Literature.

Death and legacy[edit]

After his retirement, Stryker continued as a trustee of Hamilton College as well as Auburn Theological Seminary.[9] He died in Clinton in 1929, and was buried in the Hamilton College cemetery.[10]

"Some minds are eager for change, and some are angry at any" --- M. Woolsey Stryker, 1894


  1. ^ "AUTONOMY OF HAMILTON COLLEGE.; President Stryker Asserts the Institution's Independence of the Presbyterian Synod". New York Times. 1893-12-22. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
  2. ^ N.Y.), Hamilton College (Clinton; Stryker, Melancthon Woolsey (1893-01-01). The Inauguration of Melancthon Woolsey Stryker: As the Ninth President of Hamilton College, in the Presbyterian Church, Clinton, N. Y., on Tuesday, January 17, 1893. L. C. Childs, Printers.
  3. ^ Life of William McKinley, Our Martyred President, by Samuel Fallows - 1901, p. 424
  4. ^ [site:query.nytimes.com M. Woolsey Stryker]
  5. ^ "Decision in Favor of Latin and Greek a Distinct Triumph for President M. Woolsey Stryker". New York Times. 1912-10-27. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
  6. ^ Carmer, Carl (1995-01-01). My Kind of Country: Favorite Writings about New York. Syracuse University Press. pp. 45–48. ISBN 9780815603108.
  7. ^ "ROCKEFELLER PEW FOR ABERNATHY BOYS; Child Riders Hold a Reception in Church Lobby After the Morning Service". The New York Times. 1910-06-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  8. ^ "Melancthon Woolsey Stryker - Hymnary.org". www.hymnary.org. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  9. ^ Hills, Frederick Simon (1910-01-01). New York state men : biographic studies and character portraits. Argus Company. p. 10.
  10. ^ "Melancthon Woolsey Stryker (1851 - 1929) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-04-13.

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