“In 1836, when the Cherokee nation still clung to its ancestral lands in the State of Georgia, and Atlanta itself had yet to be born a year later as the town of Terminus, a small band of Methodists in Newton County dedicated themselves to founding a new town and college. They would call the town Oxford. It was a name of high aspiration, linking their little frontier enterprise with the university attended by the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. The college they would call Emory, after an American Methodist bishop who had inspired them by his broad vision for what education in America might be. The year before had seen, in France, the appearance of the first part of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. It was Tocqueville’s insight that the American democratic experience rested on the voluntary association, [citizens] coming together in pursuit of the common good, and nothing symbolized his insight better than that company of college founders as they made their plans in the humming Georgia woods.”
—from A Legacy of Heart and Mind: Emory Since 1836
One hundred and eighty years to the day since the Georgia Assembly granted a charter to the college on December 10, 1836, Emory University bears as little physical resemblance to its fledgling ancestor as Atlanta does to Terminus. Yet the ideals that motivated the founders still sound in the voices of students, the lectures and seminar discussions led by faculty members, and the daily fulfillment of responsibilities by staff members and administrators–hope for a better future, convictions about the importance of individuals, and the belief that our sometimes wise and sometimes foolish hearts still have the possibility of nurturing knowledge in the hearts and minds of a new generation.
See the “Emory History Minute” about Emory’s original 1836 charter here, number 28 on the menu in the upper left.