Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/32

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8
A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

letter of introduction from Dr. Harper, he very kindly received me as secretary of the society, for a conversation covering the scope and methods of the society's proposed work, and invited me to accompany him on the same train from New York to Cleveland for further and more detailed conversation. In these talks, the possibilities of the usefulness of the society to the colleges and academies throughout the land were fully discussed. Methods of giving were gone over in detail. The personnel of the board and the activities of the secretary were likewise discussed, and Mr. Rockefeller offered various hints as to methods of procedure. On the subject of contribution to the Chicago enterprise, which I did not at that time press, Mr. Rockefeller was reticent, beyond saying that progress was being made in his mind. The general impression he left with me was that to his mind the plans for Chicago were not dearly enough outlined to justify present action. His practical and cautious mind needed, I imagined, definite and clear-cut plans from authoritative sources, and the first result of the ride together to Cleveland was a determination on my part to secure, if possible, and place before Mr. Rockefeller, a definite plan of an institution which the denomination would be willing to undertake to establish with his aid in Chicago—a plan which should have denominational authority and to which he could definitely answer, on careful inquiry, yes or no. Accordingly, I wrote him the letter still preserved in the file, proposing a conference of certain leading Baptist educators and laymen of wealth and influence, to whom should be committed the duty of defining with precision just what in their opinion—representatives of the Baptist denomination—should be attempted in Chicago. It should be their duty to estimate the cost, define the nature and degree of denominational control, make suggestions as to wise and proper location of campus, and generally answer every fundamental question in advance. Mr. Rockefeller seized on this suggestion, as I hoped he would, without hesitation. He disclosed interest in the personnel of the committee, the gentlemen were duly invited, and in an all-day session in the city of New York, early in April, 1889, they worked out a clear, well-reasoned, moderate, and sensible plan. This plan was immediately communicated to