Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/31

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
7
INTRODUCTION

is little permanent local wealth. The city is governed by Congress. There is little local pride or enterprise or public spirit. None of the conditions exist in that city which make for the growth and stability of powerful institutions of learning. The government exhibits, departments, libraries, and museums, so often urged as aids to students, will be found on examination to be of little substantial value for such purposes, and can by no means take the place of expensive illustrative material owned by the institution itself for use, and even destructive use, on its own campus. There is almost no point of view from which the plea for Washington, on careful examination, will not be found illusory. In view of the success of the Chicago movement, any attempt to rehabilitate Columbian University at Washington became impossible. The institution at length changed its name, and by a change in charter passed out from denominational control.

In the retrospect, and after the lapse of twenty-five years, it seems to me that the adoption, by the Executive Board of the American Baptist Education Society on the evening of December 3, 1888, of the plan to establish a college, to be ultimately a university, at Chicago, was—in view of Mr. Rockefeller's expressed interest, already secured by Dr. Goodspeed, and nourished by Dr. Harper—the decisive action which resulted in the founding of the University of Chicago eighteen months later. The report of this action, which I sent immediately to all the Baptist newspapers, was favorably received editorially and commanded the approval quite evidently of the rank and file of the Baptist denomination in all parts of the land. Dr. Harper made a full personal report to Mr. Rockefeller, specially emphasizing the unanimity of sentiment among men widely representative of the denomination, many of whom had prepossessions favorable to Columbian. It is quite evident from many things that Mr. Rockefeller's interest in this action was deeply engaged. Almost immediately afterward he sent to the treasurer, of his own accord and without solicitation, a contribution toward the current expenses of the society which some months before he had declined. He began to drop hints to Dr. Harper and to others that the society might become an authoritative agency for his educational giving. On a