The University of Minnesota’s Historical Ties to Slavery


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It may come as a surprise to many readers, but another university that is examining its historical ties to slavery is the University of Minnesota. In 1856, the university was struggling financially and received a loan of nearly $15,000 from William Aiken Jr., who at one time owned more than 700 slaves in South Carolina. This money helped build one of the first campus buildings, Old Main. The university repaid about half of the loan in 1857, but the rest was still owed when the Civil War broke out in 1861. The Rebellion Act passed by the Legislature in 1862 made it impossible for Aiken to retri...