Jonathan Y. Stanton

Professor 1863-1906“Uncle Johnny,” Professor of Greek and Latin, Debate Mentor, Ornithologist

Jonathan Y. Stanton, Professor 1863-1906 – Professor of Greek and Latin, Debate Mentor, Ornithologist

Jonathan Young Stanton, known to his Bates students as “Uncle Johnny” was born in Lebanon, Maine, in 1834. A graduate of Bowdoin College, Class of 1856, he came to Bates in 1863 as professor of Greek and Latin, also serving as librarian. He led debates and taught a popular class in ornithology. His bird walks were attended by students and townspeople alike. The local Stanton Bird Club is active to this day, and one of his students created the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary.

Stanton could flash an acerbic wit toward his students, suffering no fools, but he cared deeply for those he taught and mentored. One of his students said of him, “A more tender, loving heart has seldom beat in a human breast.”

One Bates tradition that continued for over 100 years was the “Stanton Ride.” Stanton personally paid to have horses and carriages bring the freshman class on a picnic, during which he would tell them the history of the College.

When offered better-paying positions at other colleges, Uncle Johnny always refused them saying, “I don’t wish to take all my pay in money.” He remained connected to Bates for 55 years, until his death in 1918. As one of the institution’s most influential early professors, Johnny Stanton was referred to by President Chase as “the spirit of Bates.”