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Washington and Lee University

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  • Lucian Howard Cocke (1858 - 1927)
    Lucian Howard Cocke (March 27, 1858 – November 14, 1927) was an American lawyer, politician, historian and university rector from Virginia. Life Cocke was born on March 27, 1858, at Hollins College...
  • Taylor Hudnall Stukes, Chief Justice on the South Carolina Supreme Court. (1893 - 1961)
    Taylor Hudnall Stukes was an associate justice and chief justice on the South Carolina Supreme Court. Life He was born in Manning, South Carolina attended Davidson College; Washington and Lee Un...
  • Houston Harriman Harte (1927 - 2019)
    Newspaper publisher in Texas with the family business, Harte-Hanks Communications. Appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to the Board of Visitors of the Air Force Academy in 1966. Member of the boards ...
  • Alfred Earnest Bruch, Jr. (1919 - 1971)
    Alfred E. Bruch was born in Washington, District of Columbia, the son of Alfred E. Bruch and Marion Russell Cecil, who later married Major Fred Allen Carter. She was the daughter of Colonel George Russ...
  • John Witherspoon Breckinridge (1850 - 1892)
    John Witherspoon "Owen" Breckinridge (December 22, 1850 – May 9, 1892) was an American lawyer and politician who served in the California State Assembly. Early life Breckinridge was born on Decembe...


Washington and Lee University (Washington and Lee or W&L) is a private liberal arts university in Lexington, Virginia, United States.

Washington and Lee's 325 acre campus sits at the heart of Lexington and abuts the Virginia Military Institute in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains. The rural campus is approximately 50 miles from Roanoke, Virginia, 140 miles from Richmond, Virginia, and 180 miles from Washington, D.C.

Washington and Lee was founded in 1749 as a small classical school by Scots-Irish Presbyterian pioneers, though the University has never claimed any sectarian affiliation. In 1796, George Washington endowed the struggling academy with a gift of stock. In gratitude, the school was renamed for the first United States President. In 1865, General Robert E. Lee served as president of the college until his death in 1870, prompting the college to be renamed as Washington and Lee University. Washington and Lee is the ninth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the second oldest in Virginia.

The University consists of three academic units: The College; the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics; and the School of Law. The University hosts 24 intercollegiate athletic teams which compete as part of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference of the NCAA Division III. The classical school from which Washington and Lee descended was established in 1749 and soon named Augusta Academy, about 20 miles (32 km) north of its present location. In 1776, it was renamed Liberty Hall in a burst of revolutionary fervor. The academy moved to Lexington in 1780, when it was chartered as Liberty Hall Academy, and built its first facility near town in 1782. The academy granted its first bachelor's degree in 1785,.

Liberty Hall is said to have admitted its first African-American student when John Chavis, a free black, enrolled in 1795. Chavis accomplished much in his life including fighting in the American Revolution, studying at both Liberty Hall and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), becoming an ordained Presbyterian minister, and opening a school that instructed white and poor black students in North Carolina. He is believed to be the first black student to enroll in higher education in the United States, although he did not receive a degree. Washington and Lee enrolled its next African-American student in 1966 in the law school.

In 1796, George Washington endowed the academy with $20,000 in James River Canal stock, at the time the largest gift ever given to an educational institution in the United States. Washington's gift continues to provide nearly $1.87 a year toward every student's tuition. The gift rescued Liberty Hall from near-certain insolvency. In gratitude, the trustees changed the school's name to Washington Academy; in 1813 it was chartered as Washington College. An 8-foot tall statue of George Washington, known as Old George, was placed atop Washington Hall on the historic Colonnade in 1844 in memory of Washington's gift. (The current statue is of bronze; the original wooden statue was restored and now resides in the university's library.)

The campus took its current architectural form in the 1820s when a local merchant, "Jockey" John Robinson, an uneducated Irish immigrant, donated funds to build a central building. For the dedication celebration in 1824, Robinson supplied a huge barrel of whiskey, which he intended for the dignitaries in attendance. But according to a contemporary history, the rabble broke through the barriers and created pandemonium, which ended only when college officials demolished the whiskey barrel with an axe. A justice of the Virginia State Supreme Court, Alex. M. Harman, Jr. ('44 Law), re-created the episode in 1976 for the dedication of the new law school building by having several barrels of Scotch imported (without the unfortunate dénouement). Robinson also left his estate to Washington College. The estate included between 70 and 80 slaves. Until 1852, the institution benefited from their enslaved labor and, in some cases, from their sale. In 2014, Washington and Lee University joined such colleges as Harvard University, Brown University, the University of Virginia, and The College of William & Mary in researching, acknowledging, and publicly apologizing for participating in the institution of slavery.

During the Civil War, the students of Washington College raised the Confederate flag in support of Virginia's secession. The students formed the Liberty Hall Volunteers, as part of the Stonewall Brigade under General Stonewall Jackson and marched from Lexington. Later in the war, during Hunter's Raid, Union Captain Henry A. du Pont refused to destroy the Colonnade due to its support of the statue of George Washington, Old George.

Washington and Lee University people

Below is a list of notable associated people of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. The year after each name designates their graduation year if the person is an alumnus.