The Life and Legacy of T.N. Hasselquist: Augustana’s Second President
Exhibit on view March–May 2016
Life in Sweden Tufve Nilsson Hasselquist was born March 2, 1816 in Osby parish in Skåne province, Sweden. His father was a devout, successful farmer and sent Hasselquist to Kristianstad to be educated. Hasselquist continued at Lund University, graduating in 1835. He struggled with student life, but completed his theological studies and was ordained in the State Church of Sweden.
Gradually, Hasselquist was influenced by the religious awakening at the time. He became a reformer, defended the Free Church movement (churches separate from the government), and advocated for the separation of Church and State. He became a strict Pietist (a Lutheran movement that stressed personal faith and devotion), a powerful speaker, and a temperance advocate. His reputation for radicalism began to precede him as he moved to preach at new parishes.
“The ungodly were so afraid of the young pietistic pastor that they scarcely dared to meet him on the streets.” —Nothstein in My Church
Emigration and Life in Galesburg, IL
In 1849, Hasselquist met Lars Paul Esbjörn for the first time, just as Esbjörn was about to leave for America. Esbjörn—who established the first church for Swedish immigrants in Andover, Illinois and was later the first president of Augustana College—remembered Hasselquist, and invited him to come to Galesburg, Illinois to start a congregation. Hasselquist accepted this call easily, perhaps because of his dislike for the State Church of Sweden. He left for America in August of 1852 with 60 others.
“It can not be denied that the United States, our new home, is a strange and very peculiar country. Here you can find almost nothing but contradictions, and of the greatest kind. And with all that, through human eyes it seems as if this country has been chosen by Him, who rules everything, to do something significant and important for His kingdom.” —T.N. Hasselquist, 1855
The need for a Swedish-American newspaper was felt as early as 1853. When no one else wanted the job, Hasselquist took on the task himself, traveling the country to obtain subscribers, buying a printing press, and finding a Swedish typesetter. Esbjörn and Hasselquist wanted informed citizens and Swedes were highly literate. On January 3, 1855, Hemlandet, Det Gamla och Det Nya (The Homeland, the Old and the New) was born.
Hasselquist was its first editor, from 1855 until 1858, but held a dominant influence over the paper even after that. Hemlandet focused on political and religious news from Sweden, Europe, and the United States as well as issues like agriculture, railroads, and banking. Some Swedes became distressed with the overly Lutheran tone of the paper, so Hasselquist created a separate paper, Det Rätta Hemlandet for the religious writings.
Still, Hasselquist and the paper expressed strong opinions and engaged in conflicts with other newspapers of differing opinions. For example, Hasselquist and Hemlandet took a strong stance against slavery, calling it “cruel, tyrannical, and immoral” and contrary to the bible. Critics said he was violating his oath as a naturalized citizen by criticizing slavery, which was allowed by the Constitution. Hasselquist engaged in many other battles with other papers when they held differing opinions or he felt that they threatened the supremacy of Hemlandet.
Hemlandet became one of the most influential Swedish-American newspapers. It served not only to shape the Swedish-American political opinion (proving important in the elections of 1852 and 1856), but also to spur continued emigration. Hasselquist himself forwarded copies of each published issue to households and libraries in Sweden, which encouraged further migration and the establishment of Swedish immigrant communities in the United States.
“If Hemlandet did not have enemies, I would not be its friend.” —T.N. Hasselquist
When Esbjörn first came to America, he joined the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Northern Illinois, but did not like that it was “new Lutheranism” and less conservative. In many ways, Esbjörn and Hasselquist differed. Esbjörn was more conservative and wanted to break away and establish a body more aligned with the Augsburg Confession. Hasselquist wanted separation of Church and State, a united synod, and tolerance of other denominations. Esbjörn thought Hasselquist was radical, but they agreed on the goal of gathering the Swedish people into an American Lutheran Church.
Eventually Esbjörn decided to separate from the Synod of Northern Illinois, and Hasselquist followed to avoid further dividing the group. In 1860, a meeting of Scandinavian church leaders organized the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod. Hasselquist became the first president and was tasked with strengthening the powers of the synod and ensuring its future.
Augustana College and Theological Seminary
One of the first goals of the Augustana Synod was to solve the problem of not having enough ministers for their congregations. Quickly, they formed a seminary in Chicago to train ministers and parochial school teachers. This was Augustana College and Theological Seminary, with L. P. Esbjörn as its first president.
Hasselquist wanted to create a “complete American college,” not just a seminary, and desired to move away from the city, as he considered all cities evil. He explored colonizing Galesburg, but the Illinois Central Railroad offered land in Paxton, Illinois, about 100 miles south of Chicago at a good price and a further opportunity for the Synod to earn commission off land sold to colonists. The deal was signed in February 1863. To Hasselquist, this success meant more than securing funds for the seminary, it meant a centralized area for Swedish immigrants to come live and worship, away from the cities. Esbjörn, however, disagreed with this move and grew increasingly unhappy with his position in America. In 1863, he returned to Sweden. Hasselquist thus assumed the position of President of Augustana College and Theological Seminary in 1863.
As a professor, Hasselquist taught Languages, Mathematics, History, and Philosophy. Paxton proved a failure and never fully developed into the Swedish-American utopia of Hasselquist’s dreams. Congregations were not supporting the college financially and Hasselquist was borrowing money, forgoing his own salary, and paying teachers from his own pocket. He began again to look for a new home for the college. Many cities were considered, including Geneseo, Galva, and Chicago (again), but eventually he settled on 18 acres in Rock Island. On September 22, 1875, the first class sessions were held in Rock Island.
“When I attended school, I had to be satisfied with a little butter on coarse bread, and as a graduate student at Lund, often with less than that.” —T.N. Hasselquist
The first Bachelor of Arts degree was conferred in 1877, with the first woman receiving the degree in 1885. Hasselquist advocated coeducation as well as for music, encouraging Sunday singing and traveling with a quartet. In January of 1886, the conservatory department of the college was open, further attracting female students. By 1888, there were enough female students to necessitate a Ladies’ Hall.
At the time of T.N. Hasselquist’s death in 1891, he still held the office of president of the college. Though the synod had requested that he retire, his stoic, stubborn disposition would not allow him to do so. Throughout his time as president, he increased buildings, income, and educational standards for the college. For all his lasting impacts, he was a forceful, domineering figure in the college’s history. He can be remembered as having an iron will not easily bent.
“Augustana was not to be a Swedish institution, but it was to transplant the love of learning and the art of sound scholarship to a generation now trying to find itself in America. Hasselquist had much to do with creating the cultural character of Swedish Lutheranism in this country.” —Conrad Bergendoff, 5th President of Augustana College
“Past Presidents,” Augustana College website
“T. N. Hasselquist : the career and influence of a Swedish- American clergyman, journalist and educator,” Oscar Fritiof Ander. Augustana Library Publications, 1931
“Hemlandet det gamla och det nya.” Galesburg, Ill. : T.N. Hasselquist, 1855-1870
“Religious Perfectionism, Early Swedish Immigrant Political Identification, and T.N. Hasselquist,” Roger Kvist. In “Swedishness reconsidered : three centuries of Swedish-American identities,” Daniel Lindmark. Umea : Kulturens Frontlinjer, 1999.
MSS P:342 Augustana Synod Letters
Augustana Historical Society
T.N. Hasselquist’s 200th Birthday Party March 9, 2016 (belated) The Swenson Center hosted a birthday party for Tufve, who would have been 200 years old on March 2, 2016. The event included a “Pin the Beard on Tufve” game, “How well do you know Tufve?” trivia contest and a birthday cake.
How well do you know Tufve? Enter to win a prize! Answer all 4 questions. Put answers in box. One winner will be chosen at random. You do not need to be present to win. How well do you know Tufve? 1. Who asked him to come to America? Lars Paul Esbjörn 2. What newspaper did he help start? Hemlandet 3. When was he president of Augustana? 1863–1891 4. What are some adjectives you would use to describe him? Stoic, stubborn, faithful, dedicated, etc.