Miami University

From Ohio History Central
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Miami University map.jpg

Miami University is one of the oldest and best-known universities in the State of Ohio.

Miami University was founded in 1809. It was named after the Miami Indians who once resided in Ohio. It was located just west of the Symmes Purchase in Oxford, Ohio. John Cleves Symmes was expected to construct a school as part of his obligation after receiving a major grant of land in Ohio. He repeatedly refused to do so, and residents of southwestern Ohio founded their own institution of higher education. Although chartered in 1809, Miami University did not open its doors to students until 1823.

The college relied on tuition and rent from college-owned land to finance the institution. Miami University's reputation grew quickly, and it became known as the "Yale of the West." One of its most famous professors was William Holmes McGuffey.

During the 1830s, abolitionist sentiment began to divide the faculty and students. In Ohio, support for an end to slavery often began on college campuses. Many Ohioans, however, either favored slavery or did not want the slaves freed. Due to these divisions, Miami University had some difficult times until the Civil War. During the 1870s and early 1880s, the school closed its doors due to a lack of funds. The Ohio legislature later appropriated twenty thousand dollars to allow Miami University to reopen. One of Miami University's most famous graduates was Benjamin Harrison who later became a President of the United States.

Three national fraternities originated at Miami University: Phi Delta Theta, Beta Theta Pi, and Sigma Chi. Today, Miami University has an enrollment of fifteen thousand undergraduate students and more than one thousand graduate students.

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