Columbia Library columns (v.9(1959Nov-1960May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  v.9,no.3(1960:May): Page 8  

The Most Famous Student in

Columbia's First Class—

DeWitt Clinton


COLUMBUS, young DeAVitt Clinton informed the com¬
mittee in charge of the public entrance examination on
May 17, 1784, had at last come into his own. The fame,
which had been denied him by the country he discovered, would
henceforth be granted by the newly resuscitated King's College,
which had been renamed "Columbia," mother of the arts and
sciences and center of culture in New York State. The fifteen-
year-old youth proceeded to state some of the projects which, as
a mature man, he was later to foster: the development of agricul¬
ture and commerce, the defense of liberty under the sanctions of
law, and the welcoming of Europe's "oppressed" to the American

De Witt Clinton, George Livingston, and Philip Livingston,
admitted as juniors, became the first entering class of Columbia,
under the tutelage of William Cochran, Professor of Greek and
Latin. (Later John Bassett, Abraham Hun, Samuel Smith, Jr.,
Peter Steddiford and Francis Sylvester joined the class.) Colum¬
bia would have been at least a year farther behind in the race with
Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, had the Mayor of New York,
James Duane, not applied pressure on that infant organization,
the Regents of the University of the State of New York, to reac¬
tivate King's College, on behalf of De AA'itt Clinton. To Duane
it was unthinkable that the son of a Revolutionary officer, James
Clinton, and the nephew of the Governor, George Clinton, should
have to go out of the state to be educated at the College of New
  v.9,no.3(1960:May): Page 8