Through now, all my contributions have been so focused on negative happenings “on this day in history” that I wanted to take this day to write about a positive change in history. On this day in history, in 1791 the doors to the first U.S. Catholic College-Georgetown University-opened for business.
The American revolution paved the way for religious freedom in our country, and when the Treaty of Paris was signed near the end of 1783, a plans for Catholic University were picked up almost immediately. John Carroll-newly appointed head of the Catholic Church in America-began putting clergymen together to work on the plans, and by 1789 Carroll was ready to act on those plans, purchasing property that would later become known as “Dahlgren Quadrangle”.
With the property purchased, and the plans approved it was a short two years before the school was ready to operate. On November 15, 1791 they officially opened their doors for business, and accepted their first student precisely one week later; on the 22nd. That first student would be the first in a long line of successful former students of the University, a Mr. William Gaston. Gaston would later become a Congressman, elected to represent North Carolina. One of the most amazing things about Gaston? He was just thirteen years old on that day in 1791, making him an extraordinary student in many ways. Gaston did not ultimately graduate from Georgetown however, as he was forced to leave shortly after his acceptance due to illness, and eventually graduated from Princeton instead.
Since opening their doors, Georgetown University has been home to some of the most successful and important people our country has seen, including 12 heads of state, and countless other politicians. Six current Senators and 13 seats in the House of Representatives studied there, as well as many members of royalty across the globe. One thing is for sure-even if indirectly, this day in history helped build and mold the characters for many more important days to come.