Gettysburg in Adams County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Founding of Gettysburg College
"The College at that day, was but a large family." - Reverend William F. Eyster, Class of 1839
In 1832, Lutheran theologian Samuel Simon Schmucker founded Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College). Chartered to provide instruction "in learned languages, the arts, sciences and useful literature," the college became one of the first Pennsylvania schools to offer students a liberal art education. The College moved to its current location in 1837 on land purchased from College trustee and abolitionist congressman Thaddeus Stevens. There, students, professors and the College president initially studied, recited, ate and lived together in Pennsylvania Hall, known at the time as the College Edifice.
Though governed "after the manner of a well regulated family," the college was not immune to the national tensions that triggered a terrible civil war. Located in a town just 10 miles from the Mason-Dixon line, the school attracted students from both the North and South. Legend has it that some students aided the escape of runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, while Southern students brought with them the beliefs and traditions of their hometowns. In classrooms students debated the issues, such as the right of a state to secede from the Union, which at the time cleaved the country in two.
When war erupted in 1861, one student's earlier prediction that he and his classmates "might in some future day meet in hostile battle array" proved eerily prophetic. Current and former students enlisted in both armies, and in July 1863 some would return to Gettysburg and meet on the battlefield as bitter enemies.
Politician Thaddeus Stevens was one of Gettysburg's most prominent public figures. As leader of the Reconstruction Era Radical Republicans, Stevens fiercely advocated for racial equality and and played an active role in the passage of the post-war amendments that abolished slavery and secured basic rights and citizenship for all Americans. Stevens also championed public education. He helped secure an endowment for Pennsylvania College and sold land to the Trustees that became the College's permanent location.
The College named Stevens Hall after the Trustee as "a perpetual monument to his name and fame." The building initially housed the school's preparatory department.
Erected by Gettysburg College.
Location. 39° 50.114′ N, 77° 13.954′ W. Marker is in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in Adams County. Marker is at the intersection of West Stevens Street and Mummasburg Street, on the left when traveling east on West Stevens Street. Click for map. Marker is located in front of Christ Chapel. Marker is at or near this postal address: 300 N Washington St, Gettysburg PA 17325, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dwight D. Eisenhower (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Office of a President (about 300 feet away); Daniel Alexander Payne (about 300 feet away); The Battle Arrives (about 400 feet away); Stevens Hall (about 400 feet away); U.S.A. Signal Station (about 500 feet away); Eddie Plank (1875-1926) (about 600 feet away); The College Hospital (about 600 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Gettysburg.
Also see . . . Gettysburg College. (Submitted on September 1, 2015.)
Categories. • Education • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Donovan of Maplewood, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 130 times since then and 17 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on , by Bill Donovan of Maplewood, New Jersey. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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