Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/26

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A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

The first recorded disclosure of Mr. Rockefeller's conviction upon the subject to a third person—Dr. Harper—shows him in October 1, 1888, according to the animated report immediately written by Dr. Harper, to have adopted Dr. Goodspeed's views. Up to this time the files in Mr. Rockefeller's office disclose no letters or interviews on the subject with anyone except Dr. Goodspeed. This urgency is all the more to Dr. Goodspeed's credit, in that he was the financial representative of the Theological Seminary at Morgan Park, itself dependent in large part upon Mr. Rockefeller's bounty. So far as human foresight could then predict, if Dr. Goodspeed were to succeed in interesting Mr. Rockefeller in a college in Chicago, his own duties in connection with the Theological Seminary would be rendered more difficult, and his burdens and anxieties would be increased. It was an act on Dr. Goodspeed's part of fidelity to high ideals of duty, as well as of educational statesmanship. No history of the University of Chicago will be an adequate history which does not begin with the correspondence of Dr. Goodspeed with Mr. Rockefeller in 1886, and trace that correspondence to its culmination.

But Mr. Rockefeller was not prepared to act on his own responsibility in a matter which was of Baptist denominational concern. Several circumstances gave emphasis to this hesitation. Dr. A. H. Strong, a friend of many years' standing, a Baptist leader of character, of learning, of ability, of persuasive power, and of denominational influence, was the originator and head of what might be called a party, consisting of many leading men of the denomination, who favored the forming of a Baptist university in New York City. Mr. Rockefeller was the only Baptist who singly could do this, and for many years Dr. Strong had pressed his plan upon Mr. Rockefeller's attention. Another party, numbering influential men in the Baptist Denomination, believed it to be the first educational duty of Baptists to develop Columbian University at Washington. A third influence on Mr. Rockefeller's mind, a power perhaps greater than that of either of these, was a mass of fervent appeals from poverty-stricken Baptist colleges and academies. They touched the heart. They came from men in the ranks, men of comparative obscurity, who were giving their lives in poverty to