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William and Mary, College of

The second of the higher institutions of learning established in the English-American colonies. An effort was made in 1619 to establish a college in Virginia, but the massacre in 1622 put an end to the enterprise. In 1660-61 the General Assembly of Virginia passed an act for the establishment and endowment of a college, and in 1693 a charter was obtained from the crown of England, chiefly through the efforts of Rev. James Blair and of Lieutenant-Governor Nicholson. It was named William and Mary, in compliment to the ruling sovereigns, who made appropriations for its support. Buildings designed by Sir Christopher Wren were erected at the Middle Plantation, which was named Williamsburg. The first college edifice was destroyed by fire in 1705 and was rebuilt soon afterwards. The General Assembly and individuals made liberal gifts to the institution from time to time, and in 1776 it was the wealthiest

William and Mary College in 1723.

college in America. Its riches were wasted during the Revolutionary War, its resources being reduced to $2,500 and the then unproductive revenue granted by the crown. The college was closed in 1781, and American and French troops alternately occupied it, during which time the president's house and a wing of the main building were burned. After the Revolution, the General Assembly gave lands to the college, and its organization was changed. In 1859 the college building, with the library, was consumed by fire, but was rebuilt and restored before the close of 1860. The college exercises were suspended in 1861, in consequence of the Civil War, and at one time the building was occupied as barracks and at another as a hospital. During the occupation of Williamsburg by Union troops in 1862, it was again accidentally burned. From 1861 to 1865 the losses of the college, in buildings and endowments, were about $125,000. In 1869 the main building was substantially restored, the faculty was reorganized, and the college was reopened for students. In 1900 it reported fifteen professors and instructors, 192 students, 10,000 volumes in the library, grounds and buildings valued at $125,000, and productive funds aggregating $127,900.

On Oct. 22, 1901, a tablet, erected to the memory of John Blair, the founder and first president of William and Mary College, and to the seventeen Virginia gentlemen who were his associates in the establishment of the institution in 1693, was unveiled by the Colonial Dames of [374] Virginia. The tablet is of Florentine marble, fashioned in a style to correspond with the date of the foundation of the college. The armorial bearings awarded the college by the college of heralds of England are placed upon the tablet. William and Mary is the only American college to possess this distinction.

William and Mary, Fort

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