A University in 1693: New Light on William & Mary's Claim to the Title 'Oldest University in the United States'
William & Mary Law Review Online, Vol. 61
32 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 16, 2021
William & Mary has traditionally dated its transformation from a college into a university to a set of reforms enacted in 1779. This article argues that William & Mary became a university long before that, however; it was actually granted the status and privileges of a university in its royal charter of February 8, 1693, a fact that has been obscured by a very literal translation of the Latin phrase “studium generale,” a term of art for a university. This would make William & Mary the first university the crown chartered outside of the British Isles, as well as the first university in what would become the United States.
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