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Thomas Green Clemson - a Visionary and Pragmatic, Skilled, Altruistic Educationist

By Mark Bennett Subscribe to RSS | January 5th 2012 | Views:

South Carolina is a state covered with several major lakes and is home to one of the premier universities of the country, the Thomas Green Clemson University. I happened to watch a program on my Verizon FiOS TV that talked about the man behind this great institution. Yes, we are talking about Mr. Clemson, the founder of this university. There has not been an educationist like Thomas Green Clemson who never felt embarrassed to exercise his opinion in establishing an institution to provide quality education. Like what John Harvard had done to Harvard University and Elihu Yale had done to the Yale University; Not only did Clemson give his name to the University of Clemson, but also his dreams and visions of establishing the best education and knowledge hub for the South Carolinians.

Born in a wealthy and aristocratic family, Clemson was an extraordinary child and a remarkable student. Even the death of his father did not reduce his interest in science particularly in chemistry. Being a child of high intellect, Clemson was very much interested in the study of chemicals and mining during his school and college days. He took a trip to Europe to learn about chemicals under the guidance and practice of various chemists and professors like Louis Jacques and P.L. Dulong

His brief stint at Paris also grew his interest in politics and made him take part in the Revolution of 1830, and to associate this revolution, he took a large round metal plate from the streets of Paris as a souvenir for his involvement in it. After finishing his diploma and becoming a certified mining engineer, he returned back to the United States and traveled to various mines and did lots of projects in Missouri and research in the coal mines of Cuba. While working as a mining engineer, Clemson wrote various scientific articles and carried on his interest in artistic works like painting and drawing that he got fascinated when he was in Paris. Because of finishing his diploma in Paris and getting involved and influenced by the arts and education orderliness, Clemson always had the urge to establish an institution that would give quality best education to the future pedigree of South Carolinians. His urge or dream got fulfilled after he married Anna Maria Calhoun, the daughter of the senator John C. Calhoun.

Clemson met his wife during a business trip in the late 1830's and got married in the parlor of Fort Hill. The couple lived in Philadelphia for two years and after that came to the Calhoun's plantation. While living on the Calhoun plantation, Clemson took up an intense interest in agriculture which was introduced by his father-in-law. Clemson started growing various plants and did a lot of research on the quality of the soils, chemicals that need to nourish the plants, and various techniques like terracing, deep plowing, etc. This deflected his scientific studies towards the question of agriculture such as soil analysis. Clemson's scientific interest grew so much that in the late 1840's he bought a plantation of his own in the Edgefield District and started practicing agriculture using the innovative and modernized methods which he had evaluated.

Just as Clemson was getting so much absorbed in his research, his father –in-law, Senator John C. Calhoun gave and aided his name for the post of the Diplomat to Belgium. Senator John very well knew his son-in-laws interest and desire to live in Europe. Clemson enjoyed his work as the Diplomat to Belgium and his friendly acquaintance with King Leopold I and rose to the position of the ambassador from the United States to Belgium. After the death of Senator John C. Calhoun, he came back to the United States and settled down in the Calhoun plantation and sold his plantation in Edgefield District.

As years passed by and outliving his wife and kids, the dream of establishing an educational trust that cater to provide quality education never slipped his mind. Before dying, Clemson wrote his will and this will of his became an important document in the history of higher education. His bequest clearly reflected his altruistic attitude that stated that if the state of South Carolina was not going to accept his will, he would have his executor establish a private university along the same lines. In his will, he allowed the state of South Carolina to establish an agricultural institution in the Calhoun plantation and expressed his desire of not tearing down the dwelling house at Fort Hills and all the articles such as furniture, photos, and books should not be disposed of. In the late 1890's, the state of South Carolina built the Clemson University of Agriculture, which, as the years passed by, grew and became the Clemson University that had researches and studies in the field of Agriculture, Life Science, Arts, Architecture, Engineering, etc.

Mark Bennett - About Author:
Mark is a freelance writer and his area of interest includes history, animals, and geography. He has written many articles on various educationists. He watches all kinds of programs like educational, history, and animals on his Verizon FiOS TV

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