Jonathan Baldwin Turner

Jonathan Baldwin Turner

Jonathan Baldwin Turner

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Jonathan Baldwin Turner (December 7, 1805 - January 10, 1899) Born in Templeton, Massachusetts, Turner was a classical scholar, botanist, dedicated Christian, and political activist. He was perhaps the leading voice in the social movement of the 1850's that produced the land grant universities that pioneered public higher education in the United States. Turner was especially involved in establishing the University of Illinois.

Turner was a student of classical literature at Yale University and an aspiring missionary who, upon graduating in 1833, set out to the wilds of Illinois. In 1833, Turner became a professor at the newly organized Illinois College at Jacksonville, Illinois, where Turner encountered Pottawatomie Indians, and witnessed terrible outbreaks of cholera. At Jacksonville, Turner soon found himself involved in the question of slavery, becoming the editor of a Jacksonville abolitionist paper, an assistant with the underground railroad, and, in the classroom, a vocal opponent of slavery.

The conservative town of Jacksonville soon forced the abolitionist Turner from his teaching post, charging him with inappropriately politicizing the classroom.

Turner left the college in 1847 and soon began to lead the Illinois Industrial League and to advocate for a publicly funded system to provide "industrial" education, suited for the needs of the working ("industrial") classes.

Turner faced stiff opposition from traditional colleges, as well as from those...
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