Excerpt of a speech by Mr. A. E. Bestor, President of the Class of 1901, presenting the plaque of Stephen A. Douglas as the Class gift to the University. (H. H. Nelson, "The Class Day Exercises," University of Chicago. University record. Volume 6, 1901-1902. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 74.)
The reason for the gift was to commemorate the ties between the old and the new University. In a speech dedicating the plaque and tablet, the Class President noted the important role that Douglas' the financial support and advocacy played in the the creation of the old University and its continuing importance for the existence of the new University.
"This tablet is significant too of the bond that should bind the students of the new University of Chicago to the alumni of the old. The alumni of the two institutions find little enough in common, but they are being brought nearer and nearer together. May our gift today strengthen this bond of sympathy. This will show through all time that the old University has not been forgotten by the new; it will show that the founder and father of the old is given credit for his particular part in the inspiration of the new."
It is important to remember that some of the strongest ties between the old and new University were financial and human. For instance, John Boyer has shown that a large portion of the donors and trustees of the new University of Chicago were originally associated with the old University.