Philander Chase



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Chase writes to Messrs. Smith and Jenkins about moving the Seminary from Worthington to Mrs. Reed's land on Alum Creek. He expresses to them his frustration that they will not give him any land, despite the fact that he claims it will double the value.


Spring 4-25-1825


Mrs. Reed, Worthington, Alum Creek, Dr. McClary, Theological Seminary, Hammond, Cincinnati, Ohio


To Messrs Smith & Jenkins

Worthington Ohio

April 25 1825


It was in consequence of Mrs. Reed’s having put at my disposal for the benefit of the Church in Ohio. 1,000 acres of land lying immediately north of yours, that I was led to the thought of the possibility of placing our Contemplated Seminary in that region so far remote from anu considerable settlement. To the plan of so doing I knew there were objections which this donation of Mrs. Reed however disinterested and munificent would go but little way in removing. To take our Seminary from the bosom of civilized Society and from the fruits of [cultivated] fields and place it in a howling wilderness there to undergo the manifold & indiscernible difficulties inseparable from the task of opening the earth to the rays of the sun for the first time since the Creation of the world, I was well aware needed the combination of reasons and motives in importance much more considerable than could ordinarily be effected

In the first place the soil must be our own for a considerable distance round about, or the the [sic] public mind would not be brought to dwell on the plan for a moment.

In the second place; roads must be opened to & thro the grounds: - many bridges (& some of great expense must be built; mills erected & the forest, however difficult, must, to [a] considerable extent be cleared away

After all this should have been secured to us the plan would [have] to contend not only with that aversion, which every one who has tried it, feels to the herculian [sic] work of subduing new lands, but also with the [loral] [?] and sectional interests so common and so deeply rooted among us. WIth the knowledge of all these impediments I had what, I fear may top justly be termed the temerity to attempt it.

But hazardous as was the scheme, I must confess the appearance of failure arrises [sic] from a source whence I had least reason to expect it.

Of a readiness to give in those who owned lands in the neighbourhood I did not, could not doubt for, it was so evidently their Interest to do so, that I should have taxed myself with the character of great stupidity and ignorance of human nature had I on that heard hesitated one moment. My fears arose from quite and [then] quarter.

I apprehended that nothing but the most extraordinary efforts could bring our convention & entertain even a serious intention of placing the Seminary in an entire forest.

Accordingly I advised the insulating of Subscriptions in the surrounding settlements. And such was the interest which persons even at a distance took in the affair, solely by reason of benefit, that those subscriptions in work and materials for [?] exclusive of those for roads and bridges [amounts] soon to a great sum; One that I saw circulated on [?] & Sunbury only, amount to $1,125,00 So sure was I that yourselves and other Landholders would give & that liberally what would so essentially in hance the value of your own property in a ratio of double the donation that conceiving the other difficulties my sole obstacles I struck a blow on the forest which gloomy as my [?] was, opened a ray of hope beyond our expectation cheering The grounds for our future seminary (as we then dreamed) were surveyed -- Some hundreds of hands were brought to work on the premises and in less than 30 days elven [sic] acres were entirely cleared & fenced, the seed sowing and a house built, 20 by 24 feet,. In this house on sunday the 17th of this month Divine Service was celebrated, and a Sermon preached amidst a large congregation assembled from the distant settlements. ---------- How cheering were then our hopes how found by then did we dwell on the prospect before [us]!

The following Friday Dr. McClary returned; and the [fence] was changed! -------------

His account was ------- that Messrs Smith & Jenkins refusing nearly all the rest had declined giving! Some after this I received a letter from one of the Trustees of the said Seminary C--- Hammond [?] of Cincinnati most solemnly protesting against the plan it self of putting our Seminary in the woods. [These] [situated] I have to summon up all my resolution to write you this plain letter: not indeed to ask a favour as by way of Charity, but to state to you how blind you are to your own interests in letting the present opportunity pass by [unimproved].

You may perhaps think Gentlemen, that such is our desire to place the Seminary on the lands given us by Mrs Red that we will do so, tho’ you refuse to give your thousand acres. But give me leave to hint to you that perhaps in this you may find yourselves mistaken

It will need the combination of deeds of donation from All who have lands adjacent to give me even a face to propose to the Convention the location of our Seminary on the proposed site.

I have said little to convince you of the great accession to the value of your lands arising from the establishment of the Seminary in their neighbourhood: This I think self evident. If you can not see That the value of your lands will be immediately doubled and even at that doubled price command a much readier Sale I might as well have spared my self the trouble of writing and you of reading, this letter. As it is, and without this means to raise their price, if you can sell your lands for sufficient to pay their taxes for five years to [?] you will do better than I expect.

Dr. McClary mentioned, by way of accounting for you -- most extraordinary blindness to your own interest that you were much displeased at the treatment you had met with from a certain Character not far from this place. In this displeasure I can truly say I heartily sympathize with you. His conduct can not be more disgusting to you than it really is to all good men and unprejudiced men here. But why should your own [and] the interests of Religion & Science suffer on this [ace]?? Think of this I entreat you, and write if at all, soon to one who wishes well to you and the whole human family. Philan.r Chase

P.S. I will advocate the placing of our Theological Seminary and College on the ground within named [viz] the south half of Mrs Reed’s half section now given to us and within 60 rods of the Banks of Alum Creek of Smith and Jenkins will upon that condition send me a promisory [sic] article binding themselves to give a [?] Deed of 1000 acres from off their lands immediately joining these our lands on the south and [with] otherwise.

Phr. Chase

Our Convention sets the first week in June at [?] [?] [?].

Letter to Messrs. Smith and Jenkins



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