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This Day In Founding Fathers History – 17 July 2013
On this day in 1754, King’s College, today known as Columbia University, opened in New York City. The college originally had ten students. Several founding fathers attended King’s College, including Robert Livingston, Gouverneur Morris, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. When the Revolutionary War began, the college was closed down, but it reopened at the end of the war and was called Columbia College. The college was reorganized and in 1896 was renamed Columbia University. 1
One notable birthday on this day in 1745, that of Timothy Pickering. Pickering was born in Salem, Massachusetts, attended Harvard, and studied law. He held many local offices and then was elected to the state legislature. He served as a colonel in the Revolutionary War, was appointed adjutant general, and served on the Board of War in 1777. He then moved to Pennsylvania where he attended the state constitutional convention. He was appointed Postmaster General under President Washington, then as Secretary of War and finally Secretary of State. He returned to Massachusetts and served in the U.S. Senate. He was the first of nine senators to ever be censured by the Senate when in 1811 he violated a rule regarding injunctions of secrecy. 2
Another birthday on this day in 1744, that of Elbridge Gerry. Gerry was born in Massachusetts and attended Harvard. He desired a career in medicine but was urged into business by his father. Gerry’s business dealings were very lucrative and raised him to a place of respect and prominence in the community. He served as representative to the general court of Massachusetts. Gerry played an active role, along with Samuel Adams and others, in disengaging from British control, and he served in the provincial congress. Gerry sent warning to John Hancock and Samuel Adams at the time of the Battles at Lexington and Concord. Gerry served on the Continental Congress for many years and later attended the Federal Convention of 1787. In Gerry’s words, “The constitution proposed has few, if any, federal features, but is rather a system of national government, nevertheless, in many respects I think it has great merit, and by proper amendments, may be adapted to ‘the exigencies of government,’ and the preservation of liberty.” Gerry assumed the office of vice president under President Madison after George Clinton died in office, and Gerry too died in office less than two years later. 3
1 “King’s College,” Today in History, Library of Congress American Memory, memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/today.html
2 “Pickering, Timothy,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=p000324; Biographies of the Secretaries of State: Timothy Pickering,” U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian, history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/pickering-timothy; “Timothy Pickering: A Featured Biography,” United States Senate, www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/Featured_Bio_Pickering.htm
3 “Elbridge Gerry,” colonialhall.com/gerry/gerry.php