Hudson is the original location of Western Reserve College (now Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland). Founded in 1826, it was the first institution of higher education in northern Ohio.
One of the few documented accounts of the Underground Railroad in Hudson took place on the Western Reserve College campus. On November 11, 1834, John Buss (1811-1876) wrote in his diary about an encounter he had with "a slave...his wife and one child...", who arrived on the campus. The students at the college raised about $5.00 to send the family on to Canada.
During its early history, the College was at the center of the anti-slavery movement. The founders and early trustees of the college (including town founder David Hudson) were supporters of the colonization movement, while many of the early faculty strongly supported abolitionism, causing a significant rift in the school and dividing the town. Professors Beriah Green (1794-1878) and Elizur Wright were particularly outspoken on their views: contributing letters to the local newspaper, speaking locally and nationally, and using the classroom for discussion and debate. The controversy infiltrated the college and town, and many took sides. At the time, it was the only college where abolition was publicly supported, and thus the College gained national attention.
As a result, many parents withdrew their students and financial donors pulled their promised subscriptions. Historian Frederick C. Waite even charged that the events at the time stalled “the development of the college for the next twenty years”. Green and Wright eventually resigned from the College in 1833 and the controversy in the college waned.
While the students and College remained “anti-slavery,” the College gained a negative reputation nationally, so much so that in 1836, the Trustees felt the need to pass a resolution addressing the rumors. The resolution stated that ”freedom of discussion both among themselves, and in the presence of Faculty is allowed the students on all subjects” and “young men of decent talents and moral character have always been freely admitted to all the privileges of the College without distinction of nation, denomination or complexion.” Many local abolitionists, including Owen Brown, were dissatisfied with the College's handling of the episode and as a result, withdrew their financial support of the institution and instead placed their support in the newly established Oberlin College, which was more sympathetic to the abolition cause.