The Virginia Gazette

Today in the 1770s: August 20

WILLIAMSBURG, August 20, 1772.
Last Saturday, being the Anniversary held at the College to commemorate the Foundation of that useful establishment, a Number of Gentlemen in the City and Neighbourhood attended, by Invitation, at academical Exhibitions of the Students, to two of whom (Mr. Nathaniel Burwell of Martin's Hundred and Mr. James Madison from Augusta) were adjudged Gold medals and also had the degree of Bachelor of Arts conferred on them; After which the whole Company sat down to an Entertainment provided for the Occasion, and spent the Day in decent Festivity.

Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon) August 20, 1772

About this entry:

Nathaniel Burwell (1750-1814) was the son of Carter Burwell of Carter's Grove. Two years after he won the Botetourt Medal he was a colonel in the militia. He represented James City County in Virginia's House of Delegates during the Revolutionary War and in 1788 took part in the Virginia Convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution. He left Carter's Grove soon after that and built a new home in the Shenandoah Valley which he named "Carter Hall". James Madison (1749-1812) was named professor of natural philosophy and mathematics at William and Mary at the age of twenty-three, only a year after he won this prize. He sailed to England in 1775 to be ordained as an Anglican priest and returned to Williamsburg to be named president of the college. He was able to keep William and Mary open through much of the war, but the school was officially closed in June 1781 when Gen. Cornwallis occupied the town. Madison was at the forefront of the creation of the Episcopal Church in the United States and became the first Bishop of Virginia. Bishop Madison's more famous cousin became President of the United States in 1809.

Sources: DVB, v.2; ANB, v14

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