Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/33

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

Mr. Rockefeller and was later, as we shall see, adopted in substance by the denomination.

Meantime, in February, 1889, six weeks before the meeting of this committee, Mr. Rockefeller, without solicitation, and entirely of his own motion, made a contribution of $100,000 to the American Baptist Education Society for use in its educational work. In this connection, Mr. Rockefeller intimated to various friends, in writing, among them Dr. Harper, that whatever he might do for the University of Chicago he would do through the agency of the American Baptist Education Society; and after the report of the Committee on Plan for an Institution in Chicago had been presented to Mr. Rockefeller, and he had found opportunity for studying it, he formally invited me to visit him in New York on my way to the May Anniversaries to be held that year in Boston.

I duly presented myself in New York three or four days before the Boston meeting, so as to give time for discussing and arranging all the details of the important action I was now confident Mr. Rockefeller would take. My first interview with Mr. Rockefeller was at his home. It was disappointing. He talked only in the way of general review of the situation. He withheld from me for the time his intentions, quite evidently with the purpose of going over the situation once more finally in order to see if there were any weak spots or questions of doubt. On parting, he reassured me somewhat by inviting me to breakfast next morning, and after breakfast we stepped out on the street and walked to and fro on the sidewalk in front of his house. No. 4 West Fifty-fourth Street. It was a delicious May morning. it was agreed that the least possible sum on which we could start, the least sum which could or ought to command confidence of permanence, would be $1,000,000. Of this he said he thought he might give as much as $400,000, if it should be absolutely necessary. I explained to him that it would be impossible for the society to raise $600,000 to his $400,000, or even $500,000 to his $500,000; that nothing less than $600,000 from him to $400,000 from the denomination gave any promise of success. For success we should have to go before the people of Chicago and the West with the thing more than half done at the start. Such a proposition they would not,