Fordham University developed out of Saint John’s College, founded by Bishop Hughes upon the old Rose Hill Farm at Fordham, then in Westchester County, and formally opened on St. John the Baptist’s Day, 24 June, 1841. This same year the theological seminary of the New York diocese was moved from Lafargeville, Jefferson Co., to Fordham. In April, 1846, an act of incorporation passed by the New York Legislature granted it the power to “confer such literary honours, degrees or diplomas as are usually granted by any university, college or seminary of learning in the United States”. In June, 1846, the Fathers of the Society of Jesus purchased the property from the diocese. The first Jesuit president was the Rev. Augustus Thebaud who, with other members of the early Jesuit faculty, came from St. Mary’s College, Marion County, Kentucky. St. Mary’s was practically transferred to Fordham, and, as it had been incorporated in 1820 with all the powers of a university, the history of the present college must be considered to begin with its foundation in that year. Under such presidents as Fathers Thébaud, Larkin, Tellier, Doucet, and Tissot, S.J., the college rapidly gained in attendance. In the early fifties there were 200 students. There was a falling off at the time of the Civil War, but in the year 1869-70 there were 257. After a phase of less attendance in the late seventies, there were 327 in 1889 and 1890. The number rose to 500 in the early part of the present decade. Many Fordham students of the early times reached distinction. Among them were: John La Farge the painter; Ignatius Donnely, the author; John R.G. Hassard; the MacMahon brothers, James, Arthur, and Martin, two of whom died nobly in the Civil War, while the third, though badly injured, survived for distinction on the bench in New York City; Thomas B. Connery for many years editor-in-chief of the “Herald”; Gen. James O’Beirne; Judges Morgan O’Brien, Amend, Hendricks, of the Supreme Court; and many well-known lawyers, Anthony Hirst of Philadelphia, Philip van Dyke, and William B. Moran of Detroit, the latter on the Supreme Bench of Michigan at his death; John A. Mooney of New York, a well-known writer; Ignatius and Thomas McManus, of Mexico, and Michael F. Dooley, of Providence, bankers. Many of Fordham’s brightest students have entered the clergy and reached positions of great influence. Among them are Cardinal Farley, Bishop Hoban, Bishop Rosecrans of Columbus, Monsignori Van Dyke (Detroit), O’Connor (Charleston), Lynch (Utica), Mooney (New York), and many distinguished Jesuits. On 21 June, 1904, with the consent of the regents of the University of the State of New York, the board of trustees of St. John’s College, during the presidency of Father (now Bishop) John Collins, authorized the opening of a school of law and a school of medicine. The law department rapidly increased until, in 1911, there were 230 on its rolls. The university now (1912) numbers 548 students under 124 professors, distributed as follows: law, 224 students, 12 professors; medicine, 164 students, 96 professors; academical department, 160 students, 16 professors. The Fordham University Press, whose historical publications have a wide diffusion, completes the university organization.
The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911)