Bates College, originally the Maine State Seminary, was founded on 16 March 1855, in Lewiston, Maine, by Oren Burbank Cheney and prominent abolitionists as a Free Will Baptist institution. It afterwards secularized and established a liberal arts curriculum. Benjamin Bates had donated the vast majority of early donations and the Board of Trustees subsequently named the college after him. Historically known for its social inclusivity and academic rigor, it is the second oldest coeducational college in United States and the oldest in the Eastern United States.
- We do not propose an Academy, but a school of higher order, between a college and an Academy. We shall petition the state legislature to suitably endow, as well as incorporate, such an institution. We know our claim is good and intend openly and manfully and we trust in a Christian spirit to press it. If we fail next winter, we shall try another legislature. If we fail on a second trial, we shall try a third and a fourth.
- I am familiar with the history of Bates College and acquainted with its officers. In the old times of bitter pro-slavery feeling the College gave earnest and effective support to the anti-slavery movement and was among the very first to open its doors to the colored man. Since then it has shown the same liberal spirit touching the equal education of women, being, I believe, the very first to graduate a woman from its classes
- Wendell Phillips, in a letter (3 December 1881), quoted in The Story of the Life and Work of Oren B. Cheney: Founder and First President of Bates College (1907), p. 200
- Bates embodies a powerful alchemy of the universal and the particular. The audacity of the intellectual project — to encompass knowledge across time and the world — invites our students to grapple with fundamental principles even as they hone their individuality. At the same time, our intimate scale creates a zone of care and concern that — when it works — produces graduates with ethical awareness and a commitment to serving purposes larger than themselves.
- Amore ac Studio. I cannot send anything better than these words for the seal of your Institution. I once thought to have them cut on a seal of my own, but did not.
- Charles Sumner, on the latin motto "Love for Study", in a letter to Oren Cheney (11 December 1857), as quoted in "Editors' Portfolio", in Bates Student, Vol. 5, No. 4 (April 1877), p. 91