TWO DECREES inscribed in the Minute Book of Chancery Court in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, constitute the Charter of Vanderbilt University. The first decree, entered August 6, 1872, in Minute Book W, pages 267-268-269, ordered that certain petitioners be declared a body politic and corporate under the name and style of "The Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church South." The second decree, entered June 16, 1873, in Minute Book X, pages 309-310, changed the legal name of the corporation to "The Vanderbilt University."
On the following pages, the text is a word for word transcription of the handwritten entries in the Minute Books.
"The Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church South"
This matter came on this day to be heard before the Hon'l Nathaniel Baxter Judge &c. of the Circuit Court of Davidson County, sitting by interchange with the Honorable Edward H. East, the Chancellor presiding, but who was incompetent to preside and hear this cause, for the reason that he was interested herein, and the same was heard upon the petition of W. C. Johnson, Robert J. Morgan, Smith W. Moore, and Milton Brown citizens and residents of the State of Tennessee and representatives of the Memphis Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and Alexander L. P. Green, Jordan Stokes, David C. Kelley, Edward H. East, David T. Reynolds and Robert A. Young citizens and residents of Tennessee and representatives of the Tennessee Conference, and Landon C. Garland a citizen and resident of Mississippi and Philip Tuggle a citizen and resident of Tennessee, the two latter representing the North Mississippi Conference, and James H McFerrin and John M. Steel citizens of the State of Arkansas, and representatives of the White River Conference and Christopher D. Oliver and Wm Dickson citizens of the State of Alabama and representatives of the North Alabama Conference, and Edward Wadsworth and W. M. Byrd citizens of the State of Alabama and representatives of the Alabama Conference and Wm. L. C. Hunnicutt and Thomas Christian citizens of the State of Mississippi and representatives of the Mississippi Conference and James L. Borden and Wm H. Foster, Citizens of the State of Louisiana and representatives of the Louisiana Conference, Andrew Hunter and James L. DeYampert citizens of the State of Arkansas and representatives of the Louisiana [Little Rock] Conference, and it appearing to the Court that said persons in their said petition prayed to be incorporated, under the name and style of "The Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church South", the object and plan of said University having been fully set forth in resolutions passed by the delegates of said Conference, at a convention of the same held in the City of Memphis on the 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th of January, 1872, and which resolutions are in words and figures as follows:
"Resolved by the Convention,
1st. That measures be addopted looking to the establishment, as speedily as practicable of an institution of learning of the highest order and upon the surest basis where the Youth of the Church and Country may prosecute theological, literary, Scientific and professional studies to an extent as great, and in a manner as thorough as their wants demand.
Second. That the institution shall be called the Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church South."
Third. That it shall consist at present of five schools or departments, viz. a Theological school for the training of our young preachers, who, on application for admission shall present a recommendation from a quarterly or annual conference, and shall have obtained a standard ofeducation equal to that required for admission on trial into an annual conference; and instruction to them shall be free both in the theological and the literary and scientific departments. Secondly, A Literary and scientific school. Thirdly, A Normal School. Fourthly, a Law School Fifthly, a Medical School.
Fourthly. That the sum of One Million of Dollars necessary in order to realize fully the object desired; and not less than five hundred Thousand dollars, must be secured as a condition precedent to the opening of any department of the University.
Fifthly. That the location of the University shall be left to the decision of the College of Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.
Sixthly. That the carrying out of this whole scheme is hereby committed to the persons (herein named before as petitioners) who shall take immediate steps for securing a suitable charter of incorporation, and shall be a Board of Trust with power to solicit and invest funds, appoint an agent or agents, and to do whatever else is necessary for the execution of this scheme.
Seventh. That seven of the Board of Trustees at any meeting regularly called, shall constitute a quorum.
Eighth. That provision be made in the charter for giving a fair representation in the management of the University to any annual conference hereafter cooperating with us.
Ninthly. That the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church South be and are hereby requested to act as a Board of supervision of the University or any of its departments, and jointly with the Board of Trust, to elect Officers and professors and prescribe the course of study and the plan of government."
And it further appearing to the Court that upon the filing of said petition, the Clerk & Master of this Court caused, by an order at rules, the same to be advertised, in pursuance of the statute in such cases made and prescribed, and it further appearing to the Court that no one has appeared, and made known any objection, to the granting of the prayers of the petition, and the Court upon inspection of the designs and objects of said corporation, finds nothing therein contained to be against public policy or good morals or in conflict with the constitution and Laws of the State or of the United States, is pleased to grant the prayer of the same, and doth hereby order adjudge and decree that the petitioners, be declared a body politic and corporate, under the name and style of "The Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church South" and in that name may sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, in the Courts of this State or of the other States of the Union, or of the United States of America, may have a common Seal, which may be altered at pleasure--shall have perpetual succession--may solicit and receive subscriptions, donations, legacies and devises, may hold real estate & personal property, in such amounts as the business of the corporation requires, and may receive the same by contract gift will or devise, and shall hold the same for the purposes of said in corporation, with all the lawful conditions imposed by the donor, may appoint such subordinate officers and agents and the business of the Corporation requires prescribe their duties and fix their compensation, To make bylaws not inconsistent with the laws of the land or this charter or the resolutions of the convention at Memphis as set out herein before--which resolutions are hereby addopted as a part of this charter--but shall make all bye-laws necessary and proper to carry out the objects of said resolutions as well as for the management of its property and the regulation of its affairs and may also have power to pass all bylaws, necessary to the use of the powers herein given, or which by law may hereafter be confirmed, and all said powers rights and privileges, together with such others as are not herein specially given and referred to, are hereby conferred upon said corporation, in as full complete and ample manner, as by the laws of the State, the same can or might be, and said corporation shall have the power to confer all the degrees of merit and honor usually conferred by Universities.
It is further decreed that petitions pay the costs of this proceeding, and that C & M issue to them a certified copy of this decree.
Central University of Methodist Episcopal}
Church South Ex parte }
This matter came on this date to be heard before the Chancellor upon the petition heretofore filed, and publication of the matter thereof having heretofore been made according to the Statutes in such cases made and provided, the Court is pleased to Order and decree that the name and style of the Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church South a corporation heretofore chartered under the constitution and laws of this State, as a University of learning, and with all the powers rights and privileges of such corporation as is now, given and conferred by the laws of the State of Tennessee, or may hereafter be given and conferred to be changed to the Name and Style of "The Vanderbilt University" by which which name it shall hereafter be known, and sue and be sued hold and receive property, confer degrees and do any and all things, which by the present or future laws of Tennessee, it may be empowered to do. It is further decreed that all the rights of property powers to contract privileges immunities and franchises, which heretofore by law under the decree of this Court were conferred upon the said corporation under the Name and Style of the Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the property or rights thereof which have heretofore been secured to said Corporation pass to "The Vanderbilt University and its assigns and successors forever for the purposes of said Corporation, and that it have power to pass bylaws resolutions &c not inconsistent with the laws of the land, and to increase & diminish the number of its trustees and change the name of its schools and do and perform any and all acts allowable by law to Corporations of learning. It is further decreed that the said Vanderbilt University pay the costs of this proceeding for which a fifa issue.
Ordered that Court adjourn to Monday June 23d 1873.
W. F. Cooper