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Welcome to
Greene County, Ohio
History & Genealogy

Green County 1803  - 1908.
Edited by A Committee of the Home Coming Association -
Xenia, Ohio -
The Aldine Publishing House
(Transcribed by Sharon Wick)

Pg. 163

by John M. Davidson

     THE history of Antioch College is of interest to every student of the history of education in America.  The average citizen, even of Greene County, is perhaps unaware that the founding of this college and the formulation of its policy marked an epoch in the history of College education as truly as the public turning point in the education of the people's children in the grammar grades.  Its importance lay in its frank democracy as opposed to the aristocratic tendencies of earlier college policy.
     Antioch became non-sectarian at a time when nearly all colleges, and universities were under sectarian control.  It abolished the color line at a time when the education of the negro was thought to be impolitic, if not dangerous.  It established a scholarship system for the education of those who otherwise would have been unable to secure college training, at a time when a college career was generally considered the prerogative of the children of fairly well-to-do parents able to spend money for the education of their children.  Finally, Antioch became the first strictly co-educational college in the world.  Oberlin, it is true, had before this admitted women to the same class room with men in some studies, but, under the influence of Horace Mann, Antioch was the first college frankly to adopt the democratic policy of preserving absolute equality between men and women, both in the courses of study offered and in the requirements for graduation.

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     Horace Mann, the great reformer and democratizer of the American common school system, was the inspirer of much of the sentiment which brought Antioch into existence, and for that reason was selected as its first president.  Upon the day of his election to the presidency of Antioch, he was also nominated for the position of Governor of Massachusetts.  He declined the latter honor to take up the former.
     The college was organized by the members of the Christian denomination at a convention in Marion, N. Y., in 1850.  It was incorporated in 1852, in which year Mann was elected president, and it was opened in 1853.  No institution has ever attracted to its cause a more distinguished or notable body of supporters than did Antioch.  Among the friends and helpers attracted by her ideals were numbered the best minds of the day.  Emerson came out to lecture.  Edward Everett Hale became a trustee.  Horace Greeley, Bayard Taylor, Salmon P. Chase and others also came on to lecture and help.  Among her constant friends were numbered Chas. Sumner, Josiah Quincy, Theodore Parker, William Ellery Channing and Wendell PhillipsGreat attention was paid to the scholarly and original quality of the work done in the class room and but little towards the securing of new students.  Indeed many applicants for admission were turned away for lack of accommodation.
     Its history since that time has been one of many vicissitudes.  Horace Mann died six years after his election to the presidency and was succeeded by Dr. Thomas Hill, who was called from Antioch to the presidency of Harvard University in 1862.  The war closed the college doors for two years and crippled the institution financially and numerically to such an extent that its prospects for usefulness and influence, which had been so brilliant under the administration of Mann, were for some time consider ably impaired.  It did not, however, prevent the college from preserving its democratic and independent ideals, and keeping up its steady, conscientious, and thoroughly scholarly work.
     Its output of men who have made places for themselves in the world of scholarship and letters has been entirely disproportionate to the numbers sent out. Pres. G. Stanley Hall, of Clark

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University, the late Prof. Langley, of the Smithsonian Institution, Franklin W. Hooper, founder and head of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, Amos R. Wells, editor and author, Dr. George H. Shull, biologist for the Carnegie Institute, Bergen, the botanist, and others are types of the kind of men that have had their training at Antioch.  Original and independent thought and creative work have been almost uniformly characteristic of her successful students, and constitute a striking evidence of the persistence of the democratic and independent spirit which characterized its first president and brought about its foundation.
     Under the leadership of Dr. S. D. Fess, who was called in 1906 to the presidency of Antioch from the University of Chicago, the college has entered upon a career of new promise.  It is growing steadily in the number of its students, has strengthened its faculty, and is broadening its activities and sphere of usefulness.  Not, perhaps, since the days of the first president of the college have the prospects for a large and vigorous institution been so brilliant.  Improvements gradually are being added; the college has enrolled about three hundred students this year (1908), and the Antioch Chautauqua furnishes instruction and recreation for visitors from all parts of southwestern Ohio.  In short, Antioch seems surely to have come into her own.
     A word should be said about the buildings and location.  The campus faces the glen on the Neff Grounds.  It comprises perhaps ten or fifteen acres, covered by beautiful trees of many varieties, most of which were set out under the direction of Horace Mann.  The main building is one of the most dignified and beautiful buildings in the county, and has a perfect landscape setting.  It is in the form of a cross, one hundred and seventy feet long, with a transept of one hundred and ten feet.  It is three stories high, besides the basement, and contains the library, laboratories, museum and class rooms besides the chapel.  Near by stand two dormitories, and at the entrance to the campus stands the president's house.
     The distracting elements which go with a large place are missing.  "Plain living and high thinking" is the expression which perhaps characterizes best the educational spirit of Antioch.




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