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(madison icon)1902

These days of beginnings were days of trial. A few men stood stoutly for the new idea of a college not controlled by the church--a college that stood for truth and morals, supported by the state, for rich and poor alike. The denominational colleges thought it "a serpent in the egg," and by night and by day plotted its destruction. Their adherents in the legislature advocated a policy that squandered the University lands, forced their sale at nominal prices to encourage immigration, or to obtain funds for the erection of University buildings. Every winter the enemies of the University thronged the lobbies of the Legislature, hoping to bring about at last the destruction of an institution that dared to ladle out truth without the sanction of a priest. At various times it was moved upon the floor of the Senate to abolish the University, and to divide the lands among the denominational colleges. It was called atheistic. Parents were solemnly warned to keep their sons from its godless association.

Commencement Order of Exercises

It was everybody's University, and criticism came from all quarters. The lovers of the practical clamored for a bread and butter education. Yielding to this clamor, the regents established, on paper, a medical college with a large faculty, and additional chairs to be added without extra cost. They also created a law college--on paper. The medical college never got beyond the paper stage, and the law college waited until 1869 before it had an actual existence.