On February 3, 1803, the brand new building that was to revivify both student and academic life at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, burned to the ground. It was a devastating loss felt by the whole community. Yet Charles Nisbet, the college's principal for seventeen years, reported the event to a friend in sardonic fashion. The trustees had urged that Dickinson emulate Princeton, the more successful Presbyterian-backed enterprise in New Jersey. “We have now attained a pretty near conformity to it,” he wrote, “by having our Building burnt down to the ground [the same fate having overtaken Princeton's newly rebuilt college some months before] …. But it could not stand, as it was founded on Fraud & Knavery. The Trustees, in order to procure money for finishing this Building, sold the Certificates that furnished the salaries of the masters…. This awful Visitation of Divine Providence has taken more from them than all they have taken from me, tho' I do not think it will awaken them to do more justice.” While money was a constant source of contention between Nisbet and the trustees of Dickinson, they had taken much more than that from the Scottish cleric. Their knavery had included thwarting his godly mission to educate part of the post-Revolutionary generation of Americans. And it was not just the trustees; the students themselves, and their parents as well, had done their part to frustrate him. In fact, all of American culture, or so Nisbet thought, had prevented him from enlightening the wilderness.