One hundred sixty years ago is, in many ways, a long long time ago. Shimer's founding (obviously) precedes the Civil War. It precedes (obviously again) women's right to vote. It was a good year, 1853, in some ways. And not so good in others.
(Thanks to this site for the image.)
The coin pictured above is from that same year. 1853 also saw the founding of what became the University of Florida, of what became Washington University in St. Louis, of what became Wheaton College. It was the year the potato chip (allegedly) was invented and an envelope folding machine was patented. La Traviata premiered and Harriet Tubman started the underground railroad. On September 15th, the first woman was ordained a minister (Antoinette Blackwell). Lilly Langtry was born. So was Vincent Van Gogh. Hurrah. A busy year, like all years.
The Illinois State Fair was first held in 1853, in Springfield. And in this year, the Illinois state legislaure passed a law indicating that free blacks entering the state could be sold into slavery. Chicago's population was around 30,000.
And, of course, what eventually was to be called Shimer College was founded in 1853. We were actually chartered in 1852 by the state of Illinois, but classes began in May of 1853.
So: what Shimer is really about began then -- teachers and students meeting together. 160 years ago this month.
What were you doing in 1853?