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MIT Charter, 1861

William Barton Rogers' vision became reality in April 1861 following the votes of the representatives (April 8) and the senators (April 9) in the ornate chambers of the Massachusetts State House who approved at last the incorporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It had been a hard-fought effort by Rogers and his supporters, most especially over the issue of designating lands for MIT in the newly filled-in Back Bay section of Boston. The challenge now faced by the organizers of the new school was the unraveling nation. Two days after Governor John Andrew signed the MIT Charter on April 10, shots were fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. (To Rogers' great mortification, these acts of “terrorism,” as he called them, were led by several of his former friends and students.) The Civil War necessitated deferring the start of classes until 1865 but when the conflict was over, the need for this new school was clearer than ever.

From the Acts and Resolves of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts concerning the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Reproduction courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives.

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