July 7 , 2014
The Rev. T.N. Hasselquist
August Sandburg read the weekly newspaper, Hemlandet, which was published in his native Swedish. The title of the publication meant homeland. To many Swedish immigrants in the Midwest it was a comfort reading in the language they learned as children. The newspaper provided religious news, as well as information about Sweden and the United States.
Hemlandet was the first Swedish-American newspaper in the United States. It began in Galesburg in 1855. The Reverend Tuve Nilsson Hasselquist founded the publication and the Swedish Lutheran Publication Society while serving as pastor of the Lutheran Church in Galesburg.
Hemlandet and the publishing house were moved to Chicago in 1859. P.A. Sundelius became editor in the late 1860s and changed the paper's coverage to less emphasis on denominational matters with more discussion of general political issues.
Hasselquist was born in Hasselröd, Osby Municpality in Skåne County, Sweden. After graduating from Lund University, he was ordained as a clergyman in the Church of Sweden. In 1852 he emigrated to America to serve the Swedish Lutheran Mission in Illinois. His passage was paid by a group of sixty immigrants on the ship. He served as their pastor while crossing the Atlantic.
As a missionary, Dr. Hasselquist traveled on foot, on horseback and by stagecoach to establish churches across northern Illinois for Swedish immigrants. He was a rugged individual with a full beard. He could sing and tell stories. He believed in the printed word. Carl Sandburg called him “a natural persuader of men.”:
Hasselquist loved music and placed one of the first pianos in Galesburg in his home. Members of his church pointed with pride to this fact.
He was also a temperance advocate. He had spoken on the subject to groups outside the church. The leaders of the church in Sweden frowned on this outspokenness. More than likely Pastor Hasselquist had seen the destruction of families and loss of church members because of drunkenness.
Several Swedish Lutheran clergymen founded the Augustana Synod in 1860 and Hasselquist became its president and served until 1870. In 1863, he became the second president of Augustana College and remained in that position until his death in 1891. He taught a number of courses while fulfilling his presidential responsibilities.
Augustana College was founded in Chicago in 1860 as a seminary. It was moved to Paxton, Illinois, because the Swedes had been offered land by the Illinois-Central Railroad for an agrarian colony. The colony was not successful. By 1875 the school had become a liberal arts college and was moved to Rock Island. There were eight professors and ninety students. Two years later the first undergraduate degrees were awarded. The institution was more centrally located for the many Swedish-American Lutherans then living in western Illinois.