A school of higher education for both Native American young men and the sons of the colonists was one of the earliest goals of the leaders of the Virginia Colony. The College was founded on February 8, 1693, under a royal charter (legally, letters patent) to "make, found and establish a certain Place of Universal Study, a perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and other good arts and sciences...to be supported and maintained, in all time comingNamed in honor of the reigning monarchs King William III and Queen Mary II, the College is the second oldest college in America. The original plans for the College date back to 1618, decades before Harvard. In 1695 before the town of Williamsburg existed, construction began on the Sir Christopher Wren Building, then known only as the College Building, and is the oldest college building in America. The College is one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution. The Charter named James Blair as the College's first president (a lifetime appointment which he held until his death in 1743). William & Mary was founded as an Anglican institution; students were required to be members of the Church of England, and professors were required to declare adherence to the Thirty-Nine Articles. The school's charter called for a center of higher education consisting of three schools. The Philosophy School instructed students in the advanced study of moral philosophy (logic, rhetoric, ethics) as well as natural philosophy (physics, metaphysics, and mathematics); upon completion of this coursework, the Divinity School prepared these young men for ordination in the Church of England. This curriculum made William & Mary the first American college with a full faculty. In 1693, the College was given a seat in the House of Burgesses and it was determined that the College would be supported by tobacco taxes and export duties on furs and animal skins. The College acquired a 330 acres (1.3 km2) parcel for the new school 8 miles (13 km) from Jamestown. In 1694, the new school opened in temporary buildings. Williamsburg was granted a royal charter as a city in 1722 by the Crown and served as the capital of Colonial Virginia from 1699 to 1780. During this time, the College served as a law center and lawmakers frequently used its buildings. It educated future U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler. The College has been called ï¿½the Alma Mater of a Nationï¿½ because of its close ties to Americaï¿½s founding fathers. A 17-year-old George Washington received his surveyor's license through the College and would return as its first American chancellor. William & Mary is famous for its firsts: the first U.S. institution with a Royal Charter, the first Greek-letter society (Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776), the first student honor code and the first law school in America. The College became a state-supported school in 1906 and went coed in 1918. In 1928, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. chose the Wren as the first building to be returned to its 18th-century appearance as part of the iconic Colonial Williamsburg restoration During the period of the American Revolution, freedom of religion was established in Virginia and the separation of church and state achieved, notably with the 1786 passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Future U.S. President James Madison was a key figure in the transition to religious freedom in Virginia, and Right Reverend James Madison, his cousin and Thomas Jefferson, who was on the Board of Visitors, helped The College of William & Mary to make the transition as well. The college became the first American university with the establishment of the graduate schools in law and medicine. As its President, Reverend Madison worked with the new leaders of Virginia, most notably Jefferson, on a reorganization and changes for the College which included the abolition of the Divinity School and the Indian School and the establishment of the first elective system of study and honor system. The College of William and Mary is home to the nation's first collegiate secret society, the F.H.C. Society, popularly known as the Flat Hat Club, founded November 11, 1750. On December 5, 1776, students John Heath and William Short (Class of 1779) founded Phi Beta Kappa as a secret literary and philosophical society. Other secret societies known to currently exist at the College include: The 7 Society, 13 Club, Alpha Club, Bishop James Madison Society, The Society, The Spades, W Society, and Wren Society. Thomas Roderick Dew, who was a professor of history, metaphysics, and political economy, became president of the college in 1836. He served until his death in 1846. Nathaniel Beverley Tucker was also a prominent faculty member at this time In 1842, alumni of the College formed the Society of the Alumni which is now the sixth oldest alumni organization in the United States. In 1859, a great fire caused destruction to the College. The Alumni House is one of the few original antebellum structures remaining on campus; notable others include the Wren Building, the President's House, and the Brafferton. At the outset of the American Civil War (1861ï¿½1865), enlistments in the Confederate Army depleted the student body and on May 10, 1861, the faculty voted to close the College for the duration of the conflict. The College Building was used as a Confederate barracks and later as a hospital, first by Confederate, and later Union forces. The Battle of Williamsburg was fought nearby during the Peninsula Campaign on May 5, 1862, and the city fell to the Union the next day. The Brafferton building of the College was used for a time as quarters for the commanding officer of the Union garrison occupying the town. On September 9, 1862, drunken soldiers of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry set fire to the College Building, purportedly in an attempt to prevent Confederate snipers from using it for cover. Much damage was done to the community during the Union occupation, which lasted until September 1865. Following restoration of the Union, Virginia was destitute from the War. The College's 16th president, Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, finally reopened the school in 1869 using his personal funds but the College closed in 1882 due to lack of funds. In 1888, William & Mary resumed operations under a substitute charter when the Commonwealth of Virginia passed an actappropriating $10,000 to support the College as a state teacher-training institution. Lyon Gardiner Tyler (son of US President and alumnus John Tyler) became the 17th president of the College following President Ewell's retirement. Tyler, along with 18th president J.A.C. Chandler, expanded the College into a modern institution. In March 1906, the General Assembly passed an act taking over the grounds of the colonial institution, and it has remained publicly supported ever since. In 1918, William & Mary preceded the University of Virginia to be one of the first universities in Virginia to admit women and become coeducational. During this time, enrollment increased from 104 students in 1889 to 1269 students by 1932.
William & Mary has produced a large number of distinguished alumni including U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, and James Monroe; key figures in American history Peyton Randolph, Edmund Randolph, Fulwar Skipwith, Bushrod Washington, Henry Clay and Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall; Massachusetts Institute of Technology founder William Barton Rogers, Amherst College president Carolyn Martin; U.S. Military General Winfield Scott; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning, football Hall-of-Famer Lou Creekmur, and New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper; major league baseball players Will Rhymes, Chris Ray, Brendan Harris, Bill Bray, Vic Raschi and Curtis Pride; entertainers Glenn Close, Scott Glenn, Linda Lavin, Patton Oswalt and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart; creator and writer of Scrubs and Spin City, Bill Lawrence; fashion designer Perry Ellis; Tony Award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long, founder and chairman of Legg Mason Raymond A. "Chip" Mason; Willis Group Holdings CEO Joe Plumeri; sports management pioneer Mark McCormack; Federal Bureau of Investigations director James Comey; SEC Chairperson Mary Jo White; FCC Chairperson Michael Powell; U.S. Representative and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; U.S. Representative and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann; Cabinet officials Robert Gates (22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense) and Christina Romer (former Chairwoman, Council of Economic Advisors); General David McKiernan (Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan); Presidential aide Jen Psaki; and NASA astronaut David M. Brown