Founded when the United States was on the cusp of civil war, the University of Maryland-College Park was originally called the Maryland Agricultural College. Consisting of only a few buildings and a farm in its early years, the college prohibited the use of slave labor on campus and aimed to combine sophisticated scientific instruction with practical agricultural education, promoting a spirit of inquiry and industry in the service of what founder Charles Calvert called “the great interests of the nation.” In an article from October 6th, 1859, the Baltimore Sun describes an opening ceremony attended by “some six or seven hundred persons…mostly of the rural population and of a character indicating intelligence and a progressive spirit.” The college’s steep tuition fees, however, made it accessible only to the most wealthy students, several of whom were related to the powerful men who founded the institution. Nevertheless, the college’s dedication to practical inquiry and useful knowledge would pave the way for its transformation into a major research university.

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