A parallel to Esbjörn’s troubles at the Lutheran seminary in Springfield — at almost exactly the same time. Blanchard was an especially close friend and mentor …
Grant Forssberg, “Perspectives on Knox History: Sectarianism and Religious Schism,” 2010, Our History, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois https://www.knox.edu/about-knox/our-history/perspectives-on-knox-history/religious-schism.
Of the 1838 schism over slavery:
For these Presbyterians — George Washington Gale and the Galesburg settlers included — the national assembly’s policy on slavery was not defensible as a moral doctrine. They left with the Assembly, but stopped shy of disassociating with Presbyterianism, instead forming a separate faction referred to as the “New-School” Presbyterians. The New-School Presbyterians’ continued communion with the Presbyterian Church bothered some of the more idealist congregants — such as Jonathan Blanchard and Hiram Kellogg — who converted to Congregationalism, which provided more local autonomy.
Blanchard’s falling out with Gale, beginning in 1849; simmering through most of the 1850s; and leading to his subsequent dismissal in 1857 was over slavery:
In June 1856, the election of a new Presbyterian member to the board gave Gale’s Presbyterians a majority, and in June 1857, with tensions rising in the town, all civility collapsed. Compromise endured only so long as the Board was equally composed of Congregationalists and Presbyterians, but the underlying philosophical differences between board members of the two denominations had remained, festering. With the upper hand, a committee chaired by Presbyterian Orville Browning was appointed to take decisive action on the “differences” between Blanchard and Gale, and on June 24, the committee requested the resignation of both Jonathan Blanchard as President and George Washington Gale as Professor of Belles-Lettres, a secondary capacity he held in addition to his position as a board member. A narrow 11-10 vote sponsored the board’s request, and in response both men resigned.
The Board’s request feigned equal treatment by asking for the mutual resignations of both men, but allowed Gale to retain his position as a trustee of the College while severing Blanchard’s ties with the school completely. This fact, not lost on many, prompted a public outcry from students and townspeople alike. Several students transferred away from Knox following Blanchard’s dismissal, and all but one of the members of the graduating class refused to deliver their speeches at the 1857 commencement exercises in an act of poignant protest. Knox students were so critical of Blanchard’s dismissal that the board was compelled to retain Blanchard as president for another year so as to pacify them.
Blanchard stayed on for one more year and then resigned; he then moved to Wheaton, Illinois, and founded Wheaton College. […]
A summary and a few words on the significance of the scism:
Blanchard’s term in office was very successful, and his dismissal left the school without a talented executive. President Harvey Curtis’s administration did not take the activist role in social affairs that Kellogg and Blanchard’s had, and the College and town’s reputation as an abolitionist haven diminished in the coming years. The longest-reaching consequence of the College’s sectarianism during the 1840s and 1850s, however, was a gradual shift towards secularism. The Board of Trustees’ 1862 decision to “avoid all denominational contests and rivalry” changed the way religion was viewed within the College; in 1868, the Board of Trustees unanimously elected the Reverend Gulliver, a Congregationalist, as president. Although it wouldn’t be until after the Second World War that Knox officially dropped its religious affiliation, the sectarian schism curtailed the future role of religion at the College. The absence of religious conflict ensured that the college could move forward rather than risk fragmentation.
Among the bibliography, along with archival sources at Knox:
Calkins, Ernest Elmo. They Broke the Prairie New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937