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A Sesquicentennial Timeline: 1833-1987



In 1833 the Georgia Methodist Conference first contemplated the establishment of a church-sponsored manual labor school, where students would combine farm work with a college preparatory curriculum. In doing so, they planted the seed that became Emory College and then Emory University.


means In March the Georgia Conference Manual Labor School opened west of Covington, in Newton County, with physician and minister Alexander Means as superintendent. During the first year of operation the school's debts mounted and subscriptions dwindled, but despite these problems, the Board of Trustees, at the urging of Ignatius Few, asked the Conference to expand the school into a college.


The organization of Emory College began. At its first meeting the Board of Trustees accepted land belonging to the Manual Labor School on which to situate the "contemplated college" and the proposed new town they would call Oxford.

phi gamma

The first literary society, Phi Gamma (for which Phi Gamma Hall was named), may have been founded even before classes began in September. It was certainly founded by 1839, when a rival organization, the Few Society, originated.

Ignatius Alphonso Few, a Princeton-educated lawyer, a planter, and a skeptic-turned-Methodist, was elected the first president of Emory College.

The first faculty members appointed by the trustees were: Alexander Means, George W. Lane, Archelaus Mitchell, and George H. Round, all of whom were Methodist preachers.


andrewIn one of the bitter disputes between North and South that eventually erupted into civil war, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church focused on Bishop James O. Andrew, president of Emory's Board of Trustees and a resident of Oxford, who had inherited two slaves and could not free them under Georgia law. After delegates voted to suspend Andrew, the church split along sectional lines and Oxford became the intellectual center of Methodism in the Southeast.


Work began at Oxford on a much-needed main building, which would provide space for a library, science demonstrations, classes, and an auditorium.


James R. Thomas, a graduate of Randolph-Macon College, a former president of Collinsworth Institute in Georgia, and a former professor at Wesleyan Female College, became the fifth president of Emory College.


thomasPresident Thomas banned fraternities at Emory because rivalries between them had reached, he said, "a pitch of bloody desperation" and late-night meetings had encouraged students to engage in "vicious revel."


Emory reopened in January with twenty students and three professors, one of whom was President Thomas. Passage of Georgia's bill to finance the education of indigent and maimed soldiers brought many veterans to the campus as students during the following year.


In response to the need for "practical" education,l smith Emory added to its standard four-year curriculum emphasizing the classics a three-year program that did not require Greek or Latin.

Luther M. Smith, an Emory College-educated lawyer and professor of Greek, became the sixth president of Emory College.


Sunrise prayers, previously mandatory for students, were discontinued.


o smithOsborn L. Smith, an Emory-educated teacher of languages, a former president of Wesleyan College, a former member of the Georgia legislature, and a Methodist minister, became the seventh president of Emory College.

pierce The main building at Oxford, virtually destroyed during the war, was condemned, and Bishop George F. Pierce, who had been president of Emory College when the structure was erected, launched a major drive to raise funds for new buildings.


The master of arts degree became an earned degree requiring a thesis. Until this time, it was "conferred on every Bachelor of Arts of three years standing or more who [had] been engaged since his graduation in some literary occupation and [had] attained a good moral character."


Under President Haygood's direction, Emory College began to offer many technical and professional subjects in addition to courses required for degrees. The classes were designed to produce citizens who would be skilled workers as well as educated men.


At the College's first intercollegiate debate of record, Emory students and students from Mercer University in Macon argued the question of women's suffrage. Emory students presented the affirmative position and lost.

Isaac Stiles Hopkins, a graduate of Emory, a Georgia Medical College-educated physician, and a Methodist minister, became the ninth president of Emory College.



At a meeting of the Georgia Methodist Conference, a preacher known as "Uncle" Allen Turner declared that Georgia Methodists should have their own college instead of supporting Randolph-Macon in Virginia.

On December 18, the General Assembly of Georgia chartered the Georgia Methodists Conference Manual Labor School.


fewOn December 10, the Georgia General Assembly granted the Georgia Methodist Conference, represented by Ignatius Few, a charter to establish a college to be named for John Emory, a popular bishop who had presided at the 1834 conference but had been killed in 1835 in a carriage accident.


Emory College classes began on September 17 for fifteen students.



Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, a Yale-educated lawyer, a planter, an editor, a judge, and the author of Georgia Scenes, became the second president of Emory College.

In July the Emory College Board of Trustees took over all the assets and liabilities of the financially shaky Manual Labor School.

Emory became the home of a "Temple" of the Mystic Seven, reputedly the first chapter of a national fraternity to be established in the South.


Emory College's first graduates -- Henry Bass, Adam C. Potter, and Armistead R. Holcombe -- received their diplomas.


L.Q.C. Lamar graduated from Emory College. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives, as a U.S. senator, as Secretary of the Interior, and as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.


Joseph S. Key graduated. Thirty-eight years later he would become the first Emory alumnus to serve as a bishop of the Methodist Church.


Emory students debated the question "Should Georgia secede from the Union?" By a vote of members of the literary societies, the negative won.


Alexander Means, a largely self-educated physician and chemist and a Methodist minister, became the fourth president of Emory College.

atlanta medical college

The Atlanta Medical College was founded, becoming the first of several forerunners of Emory University's School of Medicine.


All Emory College dormitories, branded "facilities for mischief," were closed.


meansAlexander Means, a delegate to the January convention that passed Georgia's act of secession, first spoke in favor of delaying the act, but later voted for the Secession Ordinance in its final version.

In late April a Confederate flag was raised at Emory College, and volunteers for the Confederate Army were recruited.

In November Emory College closed its doors until, the trustees wrote, peace should "take the place of the present public agitation." During the war the unused college buildings would first be commandeered as a Confederate hospital and then occupied by Northern troops. Three Emory graduates would attain the rank of brigadier general: Edward L. Thomas, James P. Simms, and Reuben W. Carswell. Thirty-five Emory men would lose their lives in the service of the Confederate Army.


The Board of Trustees lifted the ban on fraternities imposed twelve years earlier and gave official sanction to chapters of Chi Phi and Kappa Alpha.


While Emory College was still struggling to overcome the financial devastation of the war, a nationwide economic panic resulted in a drop in enrollment and a corresponding drop in school income.


haygoodAtticus Greene Haygood, an Emory-educated Methodist minister and a former editor of the Sunday School publications of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, became the eighth president of Emory College.


The Emory Mirror, the first major student publication for which copies of successive issues are extant, was initially produced. In 1886 The Mirror and a shorter-lived rival called The Georgia College Journal merged to form a new paper called The Emory Phoenix.

President Haygood preached a Thanksgiving Day sermon entitled "The New South," in which he urged Southerners to put provincialism and illiteracy behind them and to cultivate the growth of industry. seney hallThe printed sermon later fell into the hands of George I. Seney, a New York banker and Methodist layman, who responded by giving $130,000 to Emory College. Part of the money was used to finance the construction of Seney Hall.



1833-1885 | 1886-1935 | 1936-1987 | 1988-present



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