Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/37

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13
THE PREPARING OF THE WAY

Biblical Institute was opened, the Chicago Historical Society was organized, and the first city high school began its work. In 1858 St. Luke’s Hospital was founded. These were a few only of the organizations of education, charity, and religion that were conceived or actually founded during the period from r855 to 1859. The Chicago of that period was a city of vision, of idealism, of philanthropy. To all its other contributions to the higher life, the young, poor, but prosperous and growing city added with enthusiastic liberality the founding of the first University of Chicago.

The first University originated in a grant, by Senator Stephen A. Douglas, in 1856, of ten acres of land "for a site for a University in the City of Chicago." This site was on the west side of Cottage Grove Avenue, a little north of Thirty-fifth Street. The site was first offered to the Presbyterians, but failed to awaken interest among them. Rev. John C. Burroughs, D.D., was, at the time, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Chicago, and, while considering a call to the presidency of Shurtled College, Upper Alton, Illinois, he learned of this proffer to the Prosbyterians and of their apparent indifference to it. He at once conceived the purpose of securing the gift for his own denomination. This he accomplished, and in 1856 Mr. Douglas conveyed the site to a board of trustees. The first meeting of me trustees was new July I4, 1856

As the donor of the site required the immediate erection of a building to cost one hundred thousand dollars, a subscription was at once started. In less than three months a hundred thousand dollars was subscribed, and within two years the subscriptions aggregated two hundred thousand dollars. In January, 1857, the institution was incorporated as The University of Chicago, receiving a charter by act of the state legislature. The cornerstone of the building was laid on the fourth of July of the same year.

Then came the panic of 1857. Most of the subscriptions, given in good faith, became worthless, and work on the building was discontinued.

The project, however, was not abandoned. Dr. J. C. Burroughs was elected president on July 5, 1857. Declining to accept this first election, on September 8, 1858, he was re-elected. He then sought to persuade the trustees to elect a professor in Brown