Founding a college in nineteenth-century America required courage and vision, if not foolhardiness. There was no European precedent for creating numerous small institutions of higher education; this was truly an American enterprise. Many colleges were doomed to fail or become secondary schools; a surprising number succeeded. Survival depended on attracting varied sources of support: local, denominational, ethnic, and governmental. The emotions that inspired support also produced conflict: those who cared enough to pay expected colleges to conform to their vision. These extraordinary ventures reflected the aspirations of many different Americans.