On April 6, 1888, attorney Richard W. Simpson recorded in his diary “Mr. Clemson dies.” Clemson University traditionally marks that date with a Founder’s Day ceremony.
Thomas Clemson’s death set into motion a series of events that culminated in the creation of Clemson Agricultural College, and ultimately Clemson University. But the complete story of the University’s founding begins with seeds planted many generations earlier.
The timeline below traces the progression and interweaving of the people, places, ideas and events that evolved, intersected and merged to create the new and unique “high seminary of learning” that opened in July 1893. It’s a story of circumstances, perseverance, tragedy, politics, exclusion and compromise.
“The Founding of Clemson University: A Confluence of People, Ideas, Time and Place” timeline is based on an exhibit that was on display in the Clemson University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives exhibit area from May 2015 through April 2017.