Founded in 1850 by the Disciples of Christ, or “Campbellites,” this institution of higher education was chartered as Hiram College in 1867. The College’s original charter provided for instruction for both men and women, and Hiram served as an early example of successful coeducation. From 1857 to 1861, James A. Garfield, 20th president of the United States, held the principalship of the institute. It continues today as one of Ohio’s successful liberal arts colleges.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, a religious unrest known as the Second Great Awakening spread across much of the American frontier. Among the most influential of the evolving religious organizations were the Campbellites, or Disciples of Christ, founded in the 1820s by Thomas and Alexander Campbell. The Campbellite movement sought to “restore” New Testament Christianity by calling for a return to the primitive church revealed in the gospels. Campbellites denied creeds and oath-taking and rejected sectarianism. They believed in baptism by immersion and communion on Sundays. Followers also dealt with problems and transgressions of members within the church and did not use civil courts. They held a millennial view that professed human happiness and the belief that Christ would reign on earth for a thousand years. Believers spread this word to the pioneers of the Doty Settlement and elsewhere. By 1850, there were ninety Campbellite Churches in Ohio.