Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/34

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10
A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

they could not, allow to fail. Anything less than that would never even get started. It would be doomed to hopelessness and to failure at the outset. "Give $600,000 of the $1,000,000, and everybody would say at the outset: 'This will not, cannot, must not fail; every adverse interest must and will efface itself. The whole denomination, west and east, will rise as one man to do this whether other things are done or not.' "At last, at a certain point near Fifth Avenue, Mr. Rockefeller stopped, faced me, and yielded the point. Never shall I forget the thrill of that moment. I have since then been intimately associated with him. I have seen him give $10,000,000, $30,000,000, $100,000,000, but no gift of his has ever thrilled me as did that first great gift of $600,000, on that May morning after those months of anxious suspense.

After the decisive words, Mr. Rockefeller invited me down to his office to work out the pledge and all the details. I wrote the first drafts of the pledge, and we together worked it over again and again, trying various forms of words until it took the shape in which it stands. The report of the Committee in April, defining the institution to be founded, was put by me in the shape of a series of brief, pointed resolutions. Mr. Rockefeller required that I keep his pledge absolutely confidential until the society should have adopted the resolutions without material change. If the society should fail to adopt the resolutions, committing it and the Baptist denomination to the Chicago enterprise as there outlined, and doing so without any knowledge whatever of his pledge, doing so in advance of any assurance whatever from him, then the pledge was to be returned to him undelivered.

I went to Boston and duly presented the resolutions, first to the board which adopted them without change and then to the society itself; and on the adoption of the resolutions, Mr. Rockefeller's pledge was announced and received with wild enthusiasm.

Mr. Rockefeller's pledge of $600,000 toward $1,000,000 required the society to raise $400,000 more within the period of one year. The resolutions fixed the character of the institution. It was to be at the first a college, though it might grow into a university. There might be an academy in connection therewith. The institu-