A College Against Slavery

  • Education
  • 1833

Oberlin College was built on a strong opposition to slavery, and committed its intellectual resources to helping end the practice. When various financial downturns buffeted its home region in Ohio, Oberlin’s moral mission helped the college find financial saviors. Founded in 1833 and opened to students of all races, as well as women, the college had brought Charles Finney and other prominent abolitionists onto its faculty. These principled hires attracted many donors, like New York businessman Arthur Tappan, who gave the school $17,000, plus funds to cover Finney’s salary. Another group of New Yorkers committed more than $4,000 to fund eight professorships. The Financial Panic of 1837 almost scuttled Oberlin along with other colleges, but the school sent representatives to England, where $30,000 was collected from abolitionists in less than a year, putting the facility back on firm financial footing.

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