Norwich University and Clemson University in South Carolina have a shared legacy. Thomas Green Clemson attended the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy (the precursor to Norwich University) in Norwich, Vt., from 1823-1825. According to Clemson University’s history of their founder, the most notable influence on Thomas Clemson’s vision of higher education was the result of his time at the Academy.
After leaving the Academy, Clemson toured Europe and attended school in Paris, eventually becoming certified as an international mining engineer. He also participated in the Revolution of 1830 which dethroned Charles X of France.
Like many Americans, following the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861, Clemson had the difficult decision of choosing between the Union or the Confederacy. He decided to support his adopted state of South Carolina and enlisted at age 54. After four years of service he was paroled and began his quest to establish an institution of higher education that would provide practical education in agriculture and the sciences.
Clemson was privileged to have experienced higher education and was motivated to create a great legacy. The school that became Clemson University was actually established in Thomas Clemson’s will and founded a year after his death in 1888. It was started on the plantation of his father-in-law, John C. Calhoun.
The Norwich University Archives and Special Collections include a biographical file on Thomas Clemson and a biography published by Clemson University. There are also two letters from Thomas’ older brother, John Baker Clemson, to Alden Partridge in which he outlines his desires and expectations for his younger brother’s studies.
Submitted by George Kabel ’70