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Our History


Office of Communications

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401



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Berries on a campus tree.

Abraham Lincoln inscription on Old MainFive things nearly everyone here can tell you about our history

1. We were founded in 1837.  Our founding document (called the Circular and Plan) opposed slavery in all forms -- physical, spiritual, intellectual -- and declared that the College would be accessible to students regardless of their financial means, regardless of their race. This was a radical idea at the time. Our roots matter.

2. Our first president stood up in opposition to discrimination against women. Our current president developed an innovative community partnership with Galesburg ( KnoxCorps). We live out our ideals.

3. Our alumni make good things happen. From long ago: Samuel McClure, Class of 1882, joined other Knox alumni to found McClure's, a magazine that championed the work of muckrakers-progressive, activist journalists. From right now: Matt Berg '00 was named one of Time's 100 most influential people for his work to improve health care through the Millennium Villages Project.

4. The fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate was held on campus in 1858. Lincoln used the occasion to denounce slavery on moral terms for the first time. This was not a coincidence.

5. Our Honor Code was developed by students . One of those students, Ismat Kittani '51, came to Knox from Iraq; he went on to become president of the United Nations General Assembly. Students shaping the character of their community; students coming here from around the world; students going on to attain leadership roles on a global stage-again, not a coincidence. Just Knox. Consider the principles upon which the College was founded, and it's no wonder Knox is a place of great debate and action.

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Times President Obama visited

Once after winning the Democratic nomination to the US Senate, next as a commencement speaker in 2005 and lastly, in July 2013 to address the economy.

Knox College

Printed on Friday, September 24, 2021