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President Edmund Janes James...
(Facing page) Jonathan Baldwin Turner...
14 Granville Church and Industrial League Design..
16 Turner Home in Jacksonville....
128 Bronson Murray
138 John A. Kennicott.
144 William A. Pennell Ralph Ware
John P. Reynolds Group of Men who Led.....
.. 149 L. L. Bullock Jesse W. Fell
Justin S. Morrill Jonathan C. Stoughton.
201 C. A. Hunt...
201 Old University Building-Rear View..
208 Early Campus
281 Earliest University Building.
308 Adelphic Society
314 Philomathean Society
319 First Botany Class...
324 Alethenai Society
327 Group of Early Alumni-Baker, Rolfe and Ricker... 335 Group of Trustees..
338 Group of Trustees.
345 Group...... George Atherton-Member of First Faculty B. F. Harris, An Incorporator of UrbanaChampaign Institute
346 0. B. Galusha—Member of First Board of
Trustees Group-First Faculty
Fifty years ago on the second of March, 1868, the Illinois Industrial University was opened for the registration of students. Three students enrolled on that day, just the number of the faculty, including the Regent, elected up to that time. Nine days later on Wednesday, March 11th, the university was formally opened with public ceremonies of interest and significance, and Doctor John Milton Gregory, who had been elected regent of the university on March 12th, 1867, at the first meeting of the board of trustees a year before, was formally installed in his high office.
If this may be counted as the real birthday of the university, the day of its conception may properly be named as the second of July, 1862, when Abraham Lincoln appended his signature to the so-called land grant act of 1862, by which 30,000 acres of land were given to each state of the union for each senator and representative from that state in the federal congress. Illinois received 480,000 acres of land under this grant "for the endowment, support and maintenance of at least one college where the leading objects shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts in such manner as the legislatures of the states may respectively prescribe in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in their several pursuits and professions in life.”
So far as is known this was the most magnificent endowment of higher education ever made in one law by any political body. It is not without significance that this bill was passed in the darkest period of the civil war. Friends and enemies of the American Republic in Europe alike believed that the Union had been dissolved; even such a man as Gladstone could announce confidently that the United States of America had ceased to exist. The answer of the American people to this note of pessimism and discouragement was that magnificent declaration of confidence in the perpetuity and development of this government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” It was a recognition of the travail of the Republic and its belief in the loyalty of its sons, that the Government prescribed instruction in military tactics in this new institution. It was indicative of
its confidence that the students of this university would do their part in the defense of the country if they were ever called upon to do so.
And now in this fiftieth anniversary of the opening of this institution our beloved country finds itself in the midst of the Great War for liberty and democracy against tyranny and autocracy. Its sons, I am rejoiced to say, have fulfilled-nay more than fulfilled-all the expectations of its founders. In every branch of the military and naval service, in every division of the forces for the national defense, on every battle front in Europe and Asia will be found alumni of this institution, of which their Alma Mater may well be proud; for they are living, sacrificing—nay, dying for human freedom and our national independence.
At the opening exercises of the university on that 11th day of March, 1868, certain letters were read from distinguished men who had been invited to attend but could not be present. One of the most significant was from the great war governor of Illinois, the honorable Richard Yates, at that time senator from Illinois in the Federal Congress. He writes:
“My great hope is that this institution shall prove the crowning achievement of this age among all the grand works in behalf of popular education, which illustrates the splendid history of our state and that to the latest generation our young men shall have cause to bless the wise forethought of the men of this age, who have, amidst gigantic war, not only vindicated the free institutions and ideas of self-government, but also founded this splendid nursery of free men and enlightened patriotism. An educated man may become unpatriotic, a patriot may become perverted through ignorance, but wisdom and patriotism hand in hand are invincible.”
His wish was a splendid prophecy which has been splendidly fulfilled.
It is only by a patient study of its own history that a people may come to an understanding of what it really is and how it has come to be; only by a careful and detailed study of the process by which it has grown can it gain that just and solemn pride in its past achievements, which is at once the source and inspiration of its future efforts. Ever since Pericles pronounced that wonderful memorial oration over the Athenian soldiers, who had fallen in the early campaigns of the Peloponnesian War, we have all believed with him that no people is worthy to receive the heritage of freedom and culture which its ancestors have passed down to it unless on its own part it takes the trouble to study the deeds and thoughts of the men who through toil and sweat and blood wove the web of these magnificent achievements on the roaring loom of time. The man, who thinks not of his ancestry, thinks little of his posterity, and he, who thinks of neither, lives and dies like a dog, and leaves,-I will not say an empty place for his insignificance was too great to have occupied a place,—but an unfelt and unnoticed point or spot in the great process of human life.
The real history of a commonwealth like that of Illinois can never be written or understood unless all the phases of its life, its thought and feeling and action have been studied and viewed as a unit from some single vantage ground of wide observation. From this point of view, the education, the politics, the industry, the art and religion, the social organization, the ideas and the ideals must all be examined and brought into an integral relation to one another.
Of all these aspects none is more important than education. A complete view of its development throws a flood of light on the development of all other sides of the community life. It furnishes us a cross-section, so to speak, of its entire structure. The history of higher education is a very important part of the general field of education. Many improvements in society, which are brought about by education, spring up in the centers of learning and culture known as universities. The universities themselves as organizations have often opposed reform and advances, but in most cases such ideas have sprung from the heads of men who have had the benefit of university training. No people ever developed a thoroughly good system of secondary or elementary education which had not first developed a scheme of higher education. The reason is plain. To develop a general system of efficient secondary or elementary schools there must be a supply of good teachers. To have a supply of good teachers one must have good higher schools. The talk which one often hears, that all our educational funds should be expended on elementary or secondary schools until they are perfect before any should be expended on colleges or universities, is pure quackery and demagogy, whether talked by a walking delegate or by a governor of a state, and the latter is, alas !, more apt to express this idea than the former.
The history of the University of Illinois, is, however, one full of stimulus and encouragement to lovers of popular education. The movement which ended in its establishment is almost purely a popular movement, although begun and urged by college men; and the great advances in the development of the university have come generally not from its board of trustees or its presidents or its faculty or its alumni, but from the rank and file of the common citizenship of the state, as year by year it grew in education, in culture and in vision. It is purely and emphatically an institution of the people for the higher education of such members of the body politic and body social and body economic as choose to seek for such an education. The people who do not care to utilize its advantages directly are just as enthusiastic in its support as those who spend months or years within its walls. Why? Because they see with ever clearer vision that the problems of our human society can be settled only on the basis of a wider and ever more accurate scientific knowledge and that the university is the organ of the state whose function it is to discover this knowledge, to systematize it into science, to spread it abroad in print, and train it into the very fibre of the youth of the Commonwealth until it becomes a part of their moral texture. The men of today recognize that this movement is of more far reaching effect than their predecessors of fifty years ago would or could recognize, and so they are willing to spend more money upon more subjects in more ways than the men of the forties or fifties in the prairie state.
The University of Illinois today is a vastly different institution from what it was in March, 1868, and in 1968 it will be more different from what it is now, than it is today from what it was fifty years ago. Why? Because the world of 1968 will be more vastly different than our world has been from the world of the fifties and sixties. The great war will in my opinion change the face, nay, change the very constitution of society as no other war in history has changed it, except the French Revolution itself; and with this change in society must come a change in all its institutions, and in none will there be a more profound change than in its universities.
Some of the men who presided over the birth of this insti. tution were of large vision. They foresaw that the institution would become greater than and different from any institution which they could foresee. The university anthem, which was written by Doctor Gregory and sung at the opening exercises of the institution, indicates this vague feeling.