Jonathan Blanchard (abolitionist)

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Blanchard Hall, Wheaton College

Jonathan Blanchard (1811–1892) was a pastor, educator, social reformer, abolitionist and the first president of Wheaton College, which was founded in 1860.

At Wheaton College[edit]

Blanchard had previously been president of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and was a staunch abolitionist with ties to Oberlin College. Blanchard separated the Wheaton College from any denominational support and was responsible for its name, in honor of trustee and benefactor Warren L. Wheaton.[1]

Jonathan Blanchard used the school as a platform for his abolitionist ideas and anti-Masonic advocacy, as well as for his national presidential campaign in 1884 on the Anti-Masonic Party ticket. He saw Wheaton College "as an 'arsenal' and 'drill camp' for the hosts of righteousness in the moral warfare of the world . . . a means of training social activists . . . ."[2]

In 1861, Jonathan Blanchard organized College Church in Wheaton. The church first met on the campus of Wheaton College as "The First Church of Christ in Wheaton." Blanchard wanted the church to be known for its opposition to slavery, secret societies, and alcohol use.[3]

Jonathan Blanchard's son, Charles A. Blanchard, succeeded him as college president in 1882 and served Wheaton in that capacity until his death in 1925.[1] Wheaton's most recognizable and oldest building is Blanchard Hall, a limestone tower built as the Central College Building in 1853 and, subsequently, named in honor of the college's first two presidents.

Other activism[edit]

Of New England Congregationalist stock, Blanchard had a clear vision for evangelical cooperation in gospel work and social reform. He named the church he cultivated on the campus of Wheaton College "The First Church of Christ in Wheaton." Blanchard insisted that the church go on public record with its opposition to slavery and secret societies and its support for temperance.[4] It was said that, on almost every conceivable political or social issue, Jonathan Blanchard was a radical.

He was a driving force behind, and the first president of, the National Christian Association, which appeared in the early 1860s, and he worked closely with Charles. G. Finney in opposition to the "insidious influence of [secret] societies." Blanchard and the NCA were determined to, "through tracts, lectures and sermons, introduce those embroiled with orders, both Christian and non, to the freedom promised by Jesus Christ, who performed His ministry not secretly but openly."[5]

In 1884, Blanchard was a candidate for the Presidency of the United States on the Anti-Masonic Party ticket. On September 13 of that year, he gave an hour-and-a-half lecture on "Christian Politics" at the anti-Masonic convention. The platform of the anti-Masonic Party was very brief, and espoused Christianity, temperance, the abolition of secret societies, and a direct vote for President and Vice-President of the United States instead of an electoral college.[6]


  1. ^ a b "About us - History". Wheaton College, Archived from the original on 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  2. ^ "The decade of the 1890s". Wheaton College faces a new century, Wheaton College, Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  3. ^ "Our History". Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  4. ^ "Our History". College Church, Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  5. ^ "National Christian Association - Intro". Archives & Special Collections, Wheaton College, Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  6. ^ "The Anti-Masonic Convention". The Daily News (September 14, 1882) (reprinted in "New as History," The Buffalonian (1996-2001)), Retrieved 2007-09-07. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Kilby, Clyde S., Minority of One: the Biography of Jonathan Blanchard (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959).
  • Maas, David E., "Jonathan Blanchard." In Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, edited by Timothy Larsen. Leicester, England: Intervarsity Press, 2003.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
New institution President of Wheaton College
Succeeded by
Charles A. Blanchard