Clemson University is today South Carolina’s second-largest university, but its creation passed the state Legislature in 1889 by only one vote.
The name it bears is that of Thomas Green Clemson, who bequeathed $80,000 and 814 acres of land for the creation of an agricultural college. Clemson was the son-in-law of former Vice President John C. Calhoun.
Clemson Agricultural College opened as an all-male military school in July 1893 with an enrollment of 446, according to the university’s web site, and remained that way until 1955 when the change was made to “civilian” status for students, and Clemson became a coeducational institution. It was renamed Clemson University in 1964, as the state Legislature recognized the school’s expanded academic and research offerings, the web site said.
Charleston native Harvey Gantt made history at the university in 1963 as the first black student to be admitted to Clemson, and went on to become the mayor of Charlotte.
In 1989, Clemson celebrated its first 100 years. In 2015, the university that almost didn’t pass the Legislature is more than a quarter of the way toward its second centennial.