Representations of Hope College: An Examination of the Orations of the Class of 1866

Student Author(s)

Natalie Fulk

Faculty Mentor(s)

Geoffrey Reynolds

Document Type


Event Date



As the first graduating class of Hope College, the class of 1866 set the precedence for what it meant to be a student of Hope College. In the First Commencement, which took place on July 17, 1866, each of the eight graduating men gave a speech on a variety of topics ranging from hope to liberty to the progression of the life of man. However, even with such different topics, one can see recurring values and themes throughout all of the pieces. The first and most prevalent theme is that of Christianity and the coming of the kingdom of God on Earth. The next is the importance of education and enlightenment in individual advancement and the advancement of mankind as a whole. Finally, there is an impression of national pride, for both the Netherlands and the United States, seeing as almost all of these men were Dutch immigrants or descended from Dutch immigrants. These themes can be seen as a representation of Hope College itself, as a college in the United States rich with Dutch heritage and focused on education and Christian values.

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