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Purdue History

July 2, 1862

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act, which turned public lands over to any state that agreed to use the land sale proceeds to maintain a college teaching agriculture and the "mechanic arts."


The Indiana General Assembly voted to participate in the plan and took steps to establish such an institution.

May 6, 1869

The Indiana General Assembly chose the Lafayette area for the new institution and accepted a $150,000 gift from John Purdue, as well as $50,000 from Tippecanoe County and 100 acres of land from local residents. The legislature named the new school Purdue University.


Purdue's first president, Richard Owen, started his term.

September 16, 1874

Classes began with six instructors and 39 students.

June 17, 1875

John Bradford Harper earns the first Purdue University degree.

John Purdue

The principal benefactor for the University’s founding was born October 31, 1802, near Shirleysburg, Pennsylvania, and died September 12, 1876, in Lafayette, Indiana. He is buried on the Purdue — West Lafayette campus.

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