1783-1815: Education: Chronology

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1783-1815: Education: Chronology




  • Apr. The North Carolina Assembly grants a charter to Martin Academy in what is now Washington County, Tennessee. It is the first educational institution in the Mississippi River valley.
  • Oct. Noah Webster publishes The Grammatical Institute of the English Language, part I, his blue-backed speller which tries to establish an American system of spelling and punctuation. Websters speller becomes the most influential grammar book and textbook in American schools and will remain in use for the next century, with at least twenty million copies sold.


  • Quakers in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, open a school, but it will close within four years for lack of funds.
  • Judge Tapping Reeve opens a law school in Litchfield, Connecticut.
  • The first theological college is founded in New Brunswick, New Jersey.


  • North Carolina charters Davidson Academy in Nashville; it will ultimately become the University of Tennessee, Nashville.
  • 27 Jan. A charter is granted to the University of Georgia, making it the first state university to be chartered.


  • The Virginia state legislature defeats Thomas Jeffersons Bill for Diffusion of Knowledge.
  • Apr. A free school for poor children is opened in Alexandria, Virginia, subsidized by George Washington and others.


  • Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance, setting aside land in townships north of the Ohio River in order to build schools.
  • 13 Apr. The New York state legislature creates a state university to be governed by a board of regents.
  • June William Samuel Johnson becomes the president of Columbia (formerly Kings) College, New York, creating new professorships and briefly boosting enrollment.
  • 28 July Benjamin Rush addresses visitors to the Young Ladies Academy in Philadelphia.
  • Nov. New York teacher Cornelius Davis opens a free school for black children; twelve students attend.


  • Norwich Academy, Vermont, holds a lottery to raise money for a new building.
  • Mar. Nicholas Pike publishes his arithmetic text.
  • 29 Oct. Benjamin Rush publishes a plan for a federal university in the Federal Gazette.


  • The University of North Carolina is chartered.
  • Leicester Academy, Massachusetts, holds a lottery to raise money. As the Academy is established for promoting piety and virtue and for the education of youth the managers have no doubt of a speedy sale of tickets.
  • Bishop John Carroll founds the first Roman Catholic college at Georgetown, Maryland.
  • Massachusetts law requires all towns to maintain schools for at least six months each year; larger towns are to have year-round sessions, and teachers must be certified by the state.
  • Jan. The only issue of The Childrens Magazine is published in Hartford, Connecticut.
  • July The Charleston College, South Carolina, building is opened.
  • 15 Oct. Boston adopts a new school law, creating an elected school committee.


  • 8 Jan. In his first annual message to Congress, President George Washington calls for a national university.
  • 5 Apr. Noah Webster donates some proceeds from sale of his spelling book as a prize for best essay on ethics, moral philosophy, or belles lettres by a student at Yale College.


  • Sarah Pierce opens a school for girls in her home in Litchfield, Connecticut.
  • David Ker opens a Presbyterian academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
  • Sept. Trustees of Hallowell Academy meet in Maine.


  • A Westford, Massachusetts, group opens an academy. The town buys twenty shares at six pounds a share.
  • The town of Gilmanton, New Hampshire, votes to give town land for a school.
  • Rev. James Wallis opens Providence Academy, a Presbyterian school near Charlotte, North Carolina.


  • Westfield, Massachusetts, votes to raise £300 to start an academy.
  • July The Massachusetts state legislature votes to establish Williams College in Berkshire County.
  • 2 Oct. Connecticut passes an act to establish a school fund from money raised by selling land in the Ohio River valley.


  • The African Free School, in operation since 1787, is chartered by New York.
  • Harvard College holds a lottery to raise money for a new building.
  • May The Society of Associated Teachers is formed in New York; within four months it has twenty-nine teachers.
  • Dec. Former Massachusetts governor James Bowdoins gift of $1, 000 and five thousand acres of land to Hallowell Academy leads to the founding of Bowdoin College.


  • Martin Academy becomes Washington College.
  • Connecticut establishes the first permanent public school fund.
  • Peacham, Vermont, chooses to be the home of the county grammar school rather than the county courthouse.
  • Union University, a nonsectarian school, is founded in Albany, New York.
  • 9 Apr. New York State starts to appropriate £20, 000 each year for the operation of schools.
  • May President John Witherspoon of Princeton College dies.
  • 12 May President Ezra Stiles of Yale College dies.


  • The American Philosophical Society sponsors a contest on the proper system of national education.
  • 23 Sept. The Common Council of New York refuses to distribute state money to teachers who operate pay schools; instead, the council distributes the money to charity schools.
  • 7 Dec. In his final message to Congress, George Washington repeats his call for a national university and military academy.
  • 13 Dec. The Virginia state legislature charters the Male Charity School in Fredericksburg.


  • Massachusetts towns receive small land grants in Maine. The proceeds from the sale of these plots are to be used to finance academies.
  • The Congregational Church in Boston opens a school.
  • May The first edition of Caleb Binghams The Columbian Orator is published.
  • Nov. Fire destroys much of Providence College (later Brown University).
  • 15 Dec. Samuel Harrison Smiths system of liberal education receives a prize from the American Philosophical Society.


  • The Episcopal Church in Connecticut begins a movement to open church schools to the general public.
  • William Samuel Johnson resigns as president of Columbia College.
  • Nov. Vermont incorporates Middlebury Academy into a college, and Jeremiah Atwater is appointed the first president.


  • Connecticut refuses to grant Episcopalians a charter to open a school.


  • The Episcopal school in Cheshire, Connecticut, holds a lottery and raises $12, 000.
  • Pennsylvania passes the Pauper School Act to provide for education of poor children.
  • The U.S. Military Academy is founded at West Point, New York.
  • Mar. Fire destroys the college buildings at Princeton College, and the state legislature offers the use of the capitol building for classes.


  • Baptists in Maine found Hebron Academy.
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute is founded in Massachusetts.
  • Jan. Samuel Holyoke opens a music school in Salem, Massachusetts.
  • Feb. The Free School Society, a charitable, nonprofit organization receiving money from city and state treasuries to educate children, is formed in New York.
  • Nov. Connecticut requires that the School Society examine and issue certificates to all teachers.
  • Dec. Fisher Ames is elected president of Harvard College but declines to serve.


  • In New York City the first school opens using the Lancastrian method of monitors.
  • Feb. Samuel Webber, professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, becomes president of Harvard College.
  • 6 June William Maclure publishes the first American article on the educational reforms of Johann Pestalozzi in the National Intelligencer.
  • 12 June John Quincy Adams is appointed professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard College, the first such professorship in New England.


  • Apr. Harvard students riot over bad food, and one hundred of them leave the college.
  • Princeton students riot over the expulsion of three classmates, and college administrators send home 156 pupils.
  • July Rev. Joseph McKeen, the first president of Bowdoin College, dies just before the schools second commencement; Rev. Jesse Appleton of New Hampshire is elected his successor.


  • Green Academy in Smithfield, Rhode Island, holds a lottery to raise money.
  • The Female Charity School is opened in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
  • Nov. The Medical Society of New Haven proposes uniting with Yale College.


  • Joseph Neef opens the first American Pestalozzian school near Philadelphia.
  • 23 May The Richmond Enquirer prints a report calling for the opening of Lancastrian schools in Virginia.
  • 11 Dec. The opening of the Free School of New York occurs, and Gov. George Clinton speaks:


  • Aug. John Thornton Kirkland becomes president of Harvard College.
  • Nov. Connecticut incorporates New Haven Medical Society with Yale College as the Medical Institute.


  • Fall Robert Ould opens a Lancastrian school in Georgetown, District of Columbia.


  • James Mercer Gannett opens a secular Sunday school on his farm in Essex County, Virginia.
  • Jan. The Academy of Natural Sciences is formed in Philadelphia.


  • Emma Willard opens Troy Seminary in Troy, New York.
  • A school for free blacks opens in Fredericksburg, Virginia.


  • 11 Apr. Edward Everett is appointed professor of Greek literature at Harvard College.
  • June President John Wheelock of Dartmouth College reports to the New Hampshire state legislature that college trustees are not doing their duty; an investigation ensues.
  • Sept. Dartmouth trustees fire President Wheelock and appoint Rev. Francis Brown in his place.
  • 14 Oct. A movement begins to open a public charity school in Richmond, Virginia.

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1783-1815: Education: Chronology

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1783-1815: Education: Chronology