This post is part of the APUSH Gameday series.
University of South Carolina “Emollit mores nec sinit esse feros” (Learning humanizes character and does not permit it to be cruel)
The University was founded as South Carolina College on December 19, 1801, by an act of the South Carolina General Assembly initiated by Governor John Drayton in an effort to promote harmony between the Lowcountry and the Backcountry. On January 10, 1805, having an initial enrollment of nine students, the college commenced classes with a traditional classical curriculum. The first president was the Baptist minister and theologian Reverend Jonathan Maxcy. He was an alumnus of Brown University, with an honorary degree from Harvard University. Before coming to the college, Maxcy had served as the second president of Brown and the third president of Union College. Maxcy’s tenure lasted from 1804 through 1820.
The namesake town, Sumter, South Carolina, erected a memorial to Thomas Sumter (August 14, 1734 – June 1, 1832) a soldier in the Colony of Virginia militia; a brigadier general in the South Carolina militia during the American War of Independence, a planter, and a politician. After the United States gained independence, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and to the United States Senate, where he served from 1801 to 1810, when he retired. Sumter was nicknamed the “Carolina Gamecock,” for his fierce fighting style against British soldiers after they burned down his house during the Revolution.
The town is dubbed “The Gamecock City” after his nickname. (“Gamecock” is one of the several traditional nicknames for a native of South Carolina.) The University of South Carolina’s official nickname is the “Fighting Gamecocks.” Since 1903 the college’s teams have been simply known as the “Gamecocks.”
Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, a fort planned after the War of 1812, was named for him. The fort is best known as the site upon which the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter.
Curriculum Connections: Mascot (Gamecocks) Sectional Issues, Thomas Sumter, James Hammond (Alumni)