Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/43

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17
PREPARING OF THE WAY

work of completing the conditional subscription toward the payment of the debts. They rendered worthless a large proportion of the subscriptions which had been secured without conditions. They so dissipated the resources of some of the ablest of the trustees as to deprive the University of a hundred thousand dollars of endowments which had been pledged by them. This process of financial ruin was completed by a succession of dissensions within the Board of Trustees which continued through ten years and resulted in alienating a large part of the friends and supporters of the institution and depriving it of the sympathy and support of the general public.

The site and buildings had been mortgaged to the Union Mutual Life Insurance Company of Maine for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. With accrued interest added, the amount due the Insurance Company at the beginning of 1878 was one hundred and seventy-four thousand dollars. The Company agreed to accept one hundred thousand dollars as a discharge of the whole debt, giving one year as the time in which to raise it, the interest to be at 4 per cent. Should further time be needed, six months additional were to be allowed for what might remain unpaid at the end of the year. Although strenuous efforts were made to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity, they failed, and with this failure ah1 real hope of saving the institution and perpetuating its work ended. The mortgage was foreclosed at the beginning of 1885 and the property was bid in at the sale by the Insurance Company for two hundred and ninety-one thousand dollars. One more plan was devised in 1886 by a board of hopeful men, a plan more ambitious than any that had preceded it. It contemplated the raising of two hundred and ninety thousand dollars for redeeming the property, ten thousand dollars for current expenses, fifty thousand dollars for repairs, apparatus, etc., and one hundred and fifty thousand dollars as the foundation of an endowment fund— five hundred thousand dollars in all. It being found, however, that the paltry sum of ten thousand dollars for current expenses could not be raised, it was decided to bring the educational work of the University to an end, and the Commencement of June 16, 1886, closed the work begun with so much hope twenty-eight years