Thomas Green Clemson

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Thomas Green Clemson, (July 1, 1807- April 6,1888) was an American politician and statesman, serving as an ambassador and the United States Superintendent of Agriculture. He is the founder of Clemson University.

Born in Philadelphia, Clemson used money from his family trust fund to study at the Paris School of Mines. In the 1830s Clemson served as chargé d'affaires (ambassador) to Belgium. Upon his return to the U.S. co-authored significant legislation to promote agricultural education and was later named the United States' first Superintendent of Agriculture.

On November 13, 1838, Clemson married Anna Maria Calhoun. She was the daughter of John C. Calhoun, the noted Senator and Vice President from South Carolina. After Calhoun's death on March 31, 1850, Mrs. Calhoun inherited the property near Pendleton, South Carolina. Eventually, in 1872, Mrs. Clemson inherited the Fort Hill plantation. The passion of Mr. and Mrs. Clemson was to establish an Agricultural and Mechanical college for the state due to the horrendous condition left by the Civil War and uneducated farming practices. With the passing of his wife in 1875, Thomas Green Clemson inherited the plantation and was left alone to fight for the school. Thirteen years later, fighting years of depression and frustration, his skillfully written will forced his adopted state to either accept his estate, and $80,000 cash, to start a new college or his estate would start a school in competition with the state. The Bill to accept the will passed by one vote and on November 27, 1889, Governor John P. Richardson signed the Act of Acceptance and created the Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina. The land-grant college (with military training required) opened its doors in 1893 to 446 cadets.

Clemson Agricultural College was renamed Clemson University in 1964. A statue of Thomas Green Clemson and the Fort Hill house are located on the campus. The town of Calhoun that bordered the campus was renamed Clemson on October 1, 1943.

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