Saturday, December 22, 2007
OBERLIN COLLEGE Founded in 1833, Oberlin College became a focal point of antislavery and abolitionist activity in northeastern Ohio during the twenty years preceding the Civil War. The initial stimulus for this activity came in 1834-35 when a member of the board of trustees (Rev. Asa Mahan), a faculty member, and about thirty students from Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati transferred to Oberlin following the decision by Lane's trustees to forbid further discussion of the slavery issue on campus. Rev. Mahan himself became the president of Oberlin in 1835 on condition that blacks be admitted to the college on the same basis as whites. In addition to breaking the color barrier in the educational realm, Oberlin became a "station" on the Underground Railroad through which fugitive slaves escaped from the South into Canada. On one occasion in 1858, for example, Oberlin students and a number of local townspeople joined together to forcibly rescue a fugitive slave who was being returned to his Kentucky owner by federal agents.