No. 242.
Mr. Bancroft to Mr. Fish.

No. 502.]

Sir: Frequent inquiries are addressed to the legation on the part of the authorities and the courts of justice here, as well as by individuals, respecting the genuineness of diplomas issued by the so-called “American University of Philadelphia.”

One of the latest of these inquirers incloses the accompanying circular, which had been senthim. This paper, it will be observed, is stated to be “for private circulation.” It offers to confer degrees and issue diplomas in all the branches of learning to persons in Europe, without requiring their presence, and indicates an agent in Jersey, England, as the person to whom application is to be made. I am informed that the price asked for the highest degree is $150.

I cannot think that any reputable institution in the United States would thus, underhand, offer to peddle its honors indiscriminately to any who would pay for them, and am led to hope that the enterprise may emanate altogether from England.

As much importance is attached to university degrees in Germany, and they are conferred with scrupulous care, their sale either by, or ostensibly on behalf of, a university with us, tends to bring our institutions of learning into disrepute, and is a detriment to the cause of letters everywhere.

I have thought it proper, therefore, to bring the matter to your attention, with a view to such measures being taken to expose and correct this abuse as may seem to you judicious.

I am, &c.,