In his inaugural address President Stewart emphasizes Berea's geographical setting as central to the College's mission: ". . . it commands the fertile blue grass regions to the north and west and forms a gateway to the mountain districts to the south and east. From the former the institution welcomes to its privileges the descendants of those who were once enslaved and occasionally some of the freedmen themselves; from the after it invites the descendants too of these sturdy white mountain men, who were loyal to the Union in its period of peril and defended their country with their best blood."