Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/29

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5
INTRODUCTION

I speak of these studies because it was these that disclosed to me with overwhelming evidential power that the first great educational need of Baptists was to found a powerful institution of learning, not in New York nor in Washington, but in the city of Chicago, and not in a suburb outside the city, but within the city itself and as near its center as might be conveniently possible. When I had reached these conclusions I wrote a paper stating the grounds of them, and read this paper to the Baptist ministers of Chicago, on their invitation, on October 15, 1888.

By the kindness of Drs. Goodspeed and Harper this paper, somewhat revised and improved, was placed in Mr. Rockefeller's hands and by him, as I later learned, read with approval. I find it in his files. Mr. Rockefeller began to make inquiries about the Education Society and to disclose an interest in its organization and prospects. He saw at that time in the infant society a possible means of breaking the deadlock in which he found the conflicting denominational interests.

The first meeting of the Executive Board of the American Baptist Education Society took place in Washington, D.C., on December 3 of that year. Mr. Rockefeller himself at one time contemplated attending the meeting, though he was not a member of the Board. He later gave up the plan. For this meeting I prepared a paper advocating the establishment of a university at Chicago as the first policy of the Education Society, and the postponement of other claims until this should be done. The Executive Board of the American Baptist Education Society was made up of members widely scattered throughout the country, but a disproportionate number were from the city of Washington and vicinity — the cities of Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia, Wilmington, etc. It was expected at first that the executive offices would be located in Washington, and a quorum could be counted upon only if a considerable portion of the board consisted of near-by residents. Besides this, and perhaps still more important, Dr. Morehouse and others who had named the board had supposed, at the time of the organization in May, 1888, that the first work of the society would probably be to build up Columbian University at Washington as a national university for Baptists, and in the