UIHistories Project: A History of the University of Illinois by Kalev Leetaru
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Repository: UIHistories Project: Board of Trustees Minutes - 1874 [PAGE 81]

Caption: Board of Trustees Minutes - 1874
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Illinois Industrial



may we not hope—may we not confidently hope—may we not predict— and I wish to-day I might speak with the spirit of prophesy and ntter its fulfillment—that the Illinois Industrial University, with its farm, its buildings, its new temple, its capacious auditorium, its geological room, its library, its laboratory, its horticultural and agricultural departments; with all its facilities for learning and pursuing the sciences; nurtured by the State, blest with the care of a wise and judicious Board of Trustees ; cherished by an intelligent and christian Faculty; guarded, cared for and protected by the people; it may grow in power and widen in influence, so that in the years to come, it will stand side by side, and in front line of the institutions of learning in this land, and in the old world; that from these halls may go out statesmen equal to Sumner and Pitt, historians equal to Bancroft and Macauley, jurists surpassing Story and Bacon, heroes rivaling Nelson and Washington, farmers and mechanics, traders and commercial men, and the wives of all these men, such as were unknown to any of the ages of the past, in our country or in Europe. If this be prophecy—I see but one thing in the way of its fulfillment—and that is Champaign county. If this be the coming greatness of the Illinois Industrial University, I see but one shadow to that greatness, and that is the Honorable Board of Supervisors of Champaign county. Now, I do not feel like Moses—standing upon holy ground, but I feel that I tread upon very delicate ground. I do not come here to impugn the motives of any man or citizen of this county or of this State ; but while I commend and applaud the members of the Board of Supervisors of this county who stood by the pledges made by the county, I deprecate the action of those who did not stand by the former pledges of Champaign county. I shall talk candidly and fairly, without impugning the motives of any one, or censuring any citizen of this county. To state the case: When this institution was seeking a location, this county was very anxious to secure that location. For that purpose it voluntarily, freely, without compulsion, without force, without fraud, without menace, voted bonds to the amount, I believe, of $200,000. Ot" these bonds this Industrial University now holds $115,000, the interest of which is $11,500 per annum. This interest is a part of the fund by which the institution is carried on from year to year. Now, whether this county can legally or not avoid the payment of the interest on the bonds, I am not prepared to discuss. It is said, I know, that Livingston county made void its bonds. My own opinion is that Champaign county is legally bound to pay its bonds, every dollar and cent, with interest thereon, according to the contract. But passing by the question of legality, morally, Champaign county is bound to pay these bonds. You cannot avoid it—you voted the bonds for a certain purpose—you have received the consideration—you have located in your county, this institution, with its buildings, with all its appliances for learning, to accommodate the State, more particularly Champaign county and the counties immediately surrounding: you have received the consideration, and you cannot morally repudiate the contract. Now, I take this position: that no individual, no municipality or organized community, no State, no nation, can afford to repudiate its solemn obligations. A man, through inability or misfortune, may not be able to meet his contracts and pay his debts \ but a man who, through dishonesty or flat refusal fails to pay his debts, is marked by his neighbors. The county that is abundantly able to pay all its obligations,