Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/27

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3
INTRODUCTION

the education of Baptist boys and girls, in the attempt to furnish the denomination with an educated ministry.

Thus the denomination itself was divided. Mr. Rockefeller was convinced that a solid institution ought to be founded in Chicago. But he was not prepared to act in favor of Chicago until he heard the voice of the denomination calling upon him so to act.

Dr. Harper did what he could to strengthen Mr. Rockefeller's conviction and to urge him to action; but Dr. Harper's repeated and increasing urgency was in vain. Dr. Goodspeed continued his labors. He went to New York at the invitation of Dr. Harper and Mr. Rockefeller. He proposed definite plans; he discussed figures, wrote out details, smoothed difficulties—all equally in vain. Mr. Rockefeller's interest during the fall of 1888, so far from increasing, seemed to wane as the weeks went by. For one good reason or another he cancelled engagements hopefully entered upon. He found it increasingly difficult to make appointments for Dr. Harper, either at New York or at Vassar. He continued to listen attentively but to reply evasively, or to plead the multiplicity of adverse and conflicting influences acting upon him. The hesitation of Mr. Rockefeller seemed at the time inexplicable; but a study of the correspondence discloses the underlying truth that he was perplexed. His trusted advisers and friends, as just now intimated, were divided into three camps: one for Chicago, headed by Dr. Goodspeed and Dr. Harper; one for Washington, headed by Dr. Welling and friends in Philadelphia and elsewhere; one for New York, headed by Dr. Strong; while the appealing voices of helpless Baptist schools all over the land, with no prominent spokesman, formed a fourth powerful influence. Mr. Rockefeller thus found himself a storm-center of eager, even passionate, conflicting views and interests. None of the parties applying to him on every side with sleepless vigilance, pulling every possible wire, in disinterested zeal for the cause of education, clearly fathomed Mr. Rockefeller's difficulty or saw a way out. Supposing that Mr. Rockefeller held the situation in his own hand, they watched his enigmatic face intently hour by hour for signs. Yet all the time, the harder he was pressed, the more certain it was becoming that in the confusion of voices he would