Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/28

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4
A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

decline to assume the responsibility of any decision at all. So for many months the situation remained in a deadlock.

The solution was at length found in the American Baptist Education Society. Proposed by Dr. Henry L. Morehouse in 1887, the American Baptist Education Society was formally organized at the Baptist anniversaries held in Washington, D.C., in May, 1888. Unlike the other denominational societies—home and foreign mission, publication, etc.—which were in fact private organizations within the Baptist denomination, composed of contributors to their specific objects, this new society was organized on a representative basis. The state conventions, themselves representative of the churches, and the institutions of learning in the Baptist denomination, sent annual delegates to this society. This representative basis covered the South as well as the North, and made the American Baptist Education Society at that time an authoritative spokesman of the whole Baptist denomination, north and south.

The writer was made secretary of the new society on its organization in Washington. I knew nothing of any movement to found a college or university at Chicago. I did not know that Dr. Goodspeed had been in correspondence with Mr. Rockefeller; I did not know that Mr. Rockefeller had made up his mind that the founding of a college or university at Chicago was important, and that he would assist in the enterprise. I knew only that the old university at Chicago had come to its death in spite of every effort to keep it alive, and that the friends of education in the West were profoundly discouraged. With no prepossessions in favor of Chicago and consulting with no one, I immediately began a careful, independent study of Baptist educational interests, north and south, east and west, and covering all the Baptist academies, colleges, and theological seminaries in the United States, their location, equipment, endowment, attendance. I sought to ascertain the laws governing the growth of educational institutions; I examined particularly the question of location, in its relation to patronage, financial stability, wise management. This study involved correspondence with all Baptist institutions in the United States, and it was pursued with very close application daily for many months before I had reached conclusions which I thought secure.