Andrew Dickson White

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Andrew Dickson White (November 7 1832November 4 1918) was an American diplomat, author and educator.

He was born in Homer, New York on Nov. 7, 1832 and was educated at Yale University where he was a classmate of Daniel Coit Gilman, who would later serve as first president of Johns Hopkins University. The two were members of the Skull and Bones secret society, and would remain close friends. He was also a member of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity while at Yale, serving as editor of the fraternity publication, The Tomahawk. After his graduation from Yale in 1853, he spent three years studying in Europe before returning to the United States as a professor of history and English literature at the University of Michigan.

In 1865, White and Western Union tycoon Ezra Cornell founded Cornell University on Cornell's estate in Ithaca, New York, with White as its first president. His farsighted leadership set the university on the path to becoming one of the world's elite educational institutions, with particular excellence in agricultural research and engineering. After 14 years at Cornell, he resigned to serve as the United States' minister to Germany (18791881) and Russia (18921894), and as ambassador to Germany (18971902).

While serving in Russia, White—a noted bibliophile—made the acquaintance of author Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy's fascination with Mormonism sparked a similar interest in White, who, like most educated Americans at the time, had previously regarded the Latter-Day Saints as a dangerous, deviant cult. Upon his return to the United States, White took advantage of Cornell's proximity to the original Mormon heartland near Rochester to amass a collection of LDS memorabilia (including many original copies of the Book of Mormon) unmatched by any other institution save the church itself and its university, Brigham Young University.

As an author, White's best known works are A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896) and Seven Great Statesmen in the Warfare of Humanity with Unreason (1910).

White died in Ithaca on Nov. 4, 1918.

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