north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Marker Text:

Essay:
     In 1989 Fayetteville celebrated the bicentennial of several events central to the state’s history. At the beginning of the twentieth century historian Kemp P. Battle remarked upon the fact that Fayetteville was in 1789 the center of activity, noting that the events of that year occurred “as if forming part of a comprehensive plan.” The first event was the ratification by convention in November of the federal constitution. The second, following within days and occurring on the same site, was the adoption by the General Assembly of a bill chartering a state-supported university.

     The idea was not a new one. The state constitution approved in Halifax in 1776 contained a provision requiring the establishment of such an institution. William Sharpe in 1784 had failed in his attempt to secure passage of such a bill. It was largely through the efforts of William R. Davie that the legislators meeting in Fayetteville on December 11, 1789, adopted a bill chartering the university. Various provisions of the charter set out instructions on selecting a site for the school and described the functions of the trustees. It was stipulated that the trustees should meet on the third Monday of the next legislative session.

     The meeting took place earlier, just a week later, on December 18, 1789, and also in Fayetteville. Forty of the state’s most prominent men were present for the session, which was informal and unofficial. James Hogg presented to the group the news that Benjamin Smith had donated to the university 20,000 acres “to be applied to the use and disposal of the said institution.” The first regular meeting of the trustees was in Fayetteville on November 15, 1790, at which time William Lenoir was elected president pro-tem and Alexander Martin president.


References:
Kemp P. Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, Vol. I: From 1769 to 1868 (1907)
R. D. W. Connor, comp., A Documentary History of the University of North Carolina, 1776-1799 (1953)
Archibald Henderson, The Campus of the First State University (1949)
William S. Powell, The First State University (1972)
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north carolina highway historical marker program


William R. Davie

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