Baptists opened Michigan Central College in Spring Arbor on December 4, 1844. It was the first in Michigan to grant degrees to women.
Nine years later, the college was moved to Hillsdale and reorganized as Hillsdale College.
Hillsdale was the first American college to ban racial, religious and sexual discrimination in its charter. It was the second to grant 4-year liberal arts degrees to women.
Mainly because of professor and preacher Ransom Dunn’s efforts, Hillsdale managed to survive the Civil War; 80% of colleges founded before the war did not.
Hillsdale’s students who fought in the Civil War received high honors, too. Of 400 Hillsdale students who joined the Union Army, four won the Medal of Honor from Congress and three became generals.
As a result of Hillsdale’s antislavery reputation and its role in shaping the Republican Party, many speakers such as Frederick Douglass and politician Edward Everett visited the school.
Source : Historical Society of Michigan and Emily Hopcian, This Week in Michigan History, Detroit Free Press, December 2, 2007, B.4.