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The Idea of a Christian College   by 1869, minnesota and the nation were recovering from the wounds of war. Industry began to expand, and completed projects such as the transatlantic cable and the transcontinental railroad were widely hailed. The country seemedtobeenteringaneweraof prosperity.IntheupperMidwest,thelumber industrywasbooming,attractingimmigrantsandothers.InternationalandEast Coast investors looked to the region for moneymaking opportunities. The July 5, 1869, issue of the New York Times carried an article on Minnesota by a correspondent traveling in the region that claimed that investors from Amsterdam were exploring railroad expansion in the region. E.D. Litchfield of London and George L. Becker of St. Paul were overseeing the development of a project that would extend the railroad across the state and eventually to the Pacific coast. While their efforts were not successful, they do tell us something about the positive mood of the region. Five years later, George L. Becker would be named in the original charter for Macalester College as a founding trustee. Historical documents do not indicate whether Edward Duffield Neill knew Becker at this time. Nevertheless, Neill, ensconced in Dublin between 1869 and 1871, was in correspondence with friends in Minnesota and likely learned that the financial outlook of the region held promise. His thoughts turned once again to his dream of establishing a Christian college in the region. Yet even now, progress toward fulfillment of that vision would be slow. It would take another fifteen years before the college he envisioned would open its doors.  | nature & revelation Jesus College: A Controversy among Presbyterians By 1871, Neill was ready to resume his efforts to establish a Christian school in theWest.Inthefall,hetookaleaveof absencefromhisconsulatepostinDublin, and by December, he had resigned entirely to return to Minneapolis. There, on the urging of his sister Emily, he redoubled his efforts to establish a Christian school. Arriving in St. Paul, however, he learned that, boosterism aside, the financial situation had improved little and, in fact, was worse than he expected. The monies that had remained at the close of the Baldwin School before the war had vanished. “The Baldwin trustees [were] faint-hearted,” he wrote in his memoir,“and . . . thetreasurerhadcarelesslyinvestedseveralthousanddollars.”1 Neill would have to start over from scratch. Hewasencouraged,however,bythesupportof atleastsomeof theoriginal BaldwinSchooltrustees.ThoughwecanonlyspeculateonBecker’sparticipation, trustee Henry M. Knox clearly urged Neill on, writing that although there was some difference of opinion among the trustees, “for my own part I believe our churches are much in fault in not having candidates for the ministry and that a movementinthedirectionof aschoolwould[bring]theduties&responsibilities of the churches in their regard fully before them & awaken an interest therein.” Healsopointedout,however,thatthetimingwassomewhatunfortunateinthat the St. Paul Presbyterians had other priorities than supporting a new college: “Allthreeof ourSt.Paul[Presbyterian]churchesarenowcommittedtobuilding improvements based upon pledges [obtained] through the year—our own in thesumof nearly$13,000inadditiontoourfirstsubscriptionof some$17,000.”2 Writingabouttheperiodseveralyearslater,Neillrememberedthatatthispoint, heresolvedthat“if acollegeforyoungmenwastobeestablisheduponaChristian basisinthevicinityof MinneapolisandSt.Paul,itwouldhavetobedonebythe patience,endurance,andpecuniarysacrificeof someone,owningtotheapathy of the community upon the subject.”3 What he needed was a new benefactor. Two years later, Neill reopened the Baldwin School as an academy, but he and Emily paid the school’s expenses for some time.4 The building they rented for the new school was the Winslow House, a large former hotel located on the east bank of the Mississippi River near St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis. This building would play two major roles in the development of Macalester College. First, its location about a mile from the University of Minnesota sparked a new scheme for the role of Christian education. Second, the building, owned by The Idea of a Christian College |  Philadelphia businessman Charles Macalester, would eventually catalyze a new and crucial financial arrangement that would significantly benefit the college.5 The new conceptualization for the role of Christian education likely fully emergedfromNeill’sexperiencesinDublin.TherehewasexposedtotheEnglish universitysystem,whichhousedmultiplediscretecollegesundertheauspicesof asingleuniversity.Herewasapossiblemeansof integratingreligiouseducation into the new University of Minnesota, an institution whose charter prohibited religious education, a provision that was a source of deep regret for Neill. Using theBritishmodel,Neillbegantoplananentirelynewcollege,onethatwouldbe associated with the University of Minnesota, perhaps eventually a component of the university, but administratively and financially separate. Neill wanted his college to provide university students with what he considered an essential component of a sound education: a thorough understanding of Christianity. No education was complete, he argued, without a deep understanding of “the history of the Bible; of Jesus, the founder of our religion and civilization; and the history of the church of Christ, before it was separated into the Greek and Roman...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780816673346
Related ISBN
9780816656264
MARC Record
OCLC
648711615
Pages
424
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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