John Gregg Fee : Founder of Berea College


• Berea College was founded by John Gregg Fee, a Kentucky slaveholder's son. He was convinced that slavery was a tremendous moral and spiritual evil. Fee preached instead a "gospel of impartial love" that defined not only the early programs and policies of the College but the emerging village of Berea as well. Fee stated the College "would be to Kentucky what Oberlin is to Ohio, antislavery, anti-caste, anti-rum, anti-sin."

Event Photos: 1

• Cassius Clay sends a check for $25 to support the "schoolhouse."

Event Photos: 1 | 2


• Fee writes to Gerrit Smth, a widely known philanthropist, abolitionist, and social reformer: "We have for months been talking about starting an academy, and eventually look to a college - giving an education to all colors, classes, cheap and thorough.".

Event Photos: 1


• J.A.R. Rogers (future principal of Berea College) graduates from Oberlin Institute and comes to Berea.

Event Photos: 1

• June, Berea's First Commencement.


• The College's constitution and by-laws gave substance to Fee's ideas. The opening words of the constitution, "In order to promote the cause of Christ," articulated the foundational aim of the school. The practical application of this aim was "to furnish the facilities for a thorough education to all persons of good moral character . at the least possible expense, and all inducements and facilities for manual labor which can reasonably be supplied by the Board of Trustees shall be offered."

Event Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

• Fee, in a fundraising speech at Henry Ward Beecher's Church in Brooklyn, unintentionally raised the fears of proslavery men when he said, "We want more John Browns; not in manner of actions, but in spirit of consecration; not to go with carnal weapons, but with spiritual; men who, with Bibles in their hands, and tears in their eyes, will beseech men to be reconciled to God. Give us such men, and we may yet save the South."

• On December 29th, a confrontation with sixty-two armed horsemen leads to exodus from Berea by Fees, Rogers, Davis' and others to Ohio..


•In March, John Hanson, a co-founder and early trustee, attempts return to Berea but is threatened and his sawmill is destroyed.

Event Photos: 1 | 2


• On April 5, Berea College's incorporation is completed.

• Berea's first full year of education after the Civil War. "The Berea Literary Institute had a total attendance of 187, of whom 96 were Negroes and 91 whites. Emancipation had changed the constituency of the Berea institution while it was still in its swaddling clothes."


• Howard Hall is built. It is named after O.O. Howard, Director of the Freedman's Bureau and civil war veteran and person for whom Howard University, Washington, DC is named.

Event Photos: 1 | 2

Celebrating 150 Years
150 Years of Learning, Labor, and Service

Larry D. Shinn John B. Stephenson Willis Weatherford Francis Hutchins William J. Hutchins William Goodell Frost William B. Stewart Edward Henry Fairchild John Gregg Fee