Memory Stream Dipping into Philadelphia's illustrated past

Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Rush
Posted: September 18, 2011

Dickinson College, in Carlisle, was one of the first colleges chartered in the United States. The college's charter, signed in September 1783, was prepared by Benjamin Rush, a prominent Philadelphia physician who believed that the new nation needed an educated citizenry to succeed.

Rush worked to make education a priority for Americans and sought to open a new educational institution in Western Pennsylvania. At Rush's request, John Dickinson, the president of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania, agreed to lend his support and his name to the new college. A grammar school in Carlisle, then a frontier town about 25 miles west of the Susquehanna River, served as the foundation of the institution.

Dickinson, who donated 500 acres to expand the school grounds, and Rush also designed the college's seal, which featured a liberty cap, a telescope, and an open Bible. That image remains the official college seal today.

Before helping found the college, Rush had signed the Declaration of Independence, practiced medicine in Philadelphia, and earned a reputation as a progressive political and intellectual thinker. He opposed slavery, supported equal education for women, defended the rights of the mentally challenged, and provided health care to impoverished Philadelphians.


Content and images provided by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. For more stories, visit www.hsp.org.

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