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There have been five times in its history when William & Mary faced a future bleak enough that attempts were made to relocate the institution. The first attempt occurred in 1792 when the College had lost most of its funding because of the Revolutionary War, and due to the removal of the Capitol to Richmond, there was a drop in population in the Tidewater Virginia region. Other attempts occurred in 1824, in 1859 after a disastrous fire in the main College Building, following the Civil War in 1865, and again in 1879.

In 1824, the Board of Visitors and the President and Masters sent a memorial to Richmond urging the removal of the College from Williamsburg. The legislature rejected the proposal in January 1825.

A letter from C. D. Yancy of Richmond to W.L. Fontaine dated 22 December 1824: "It is proposed to remove the College of Wm & Mary to this place. She is languishing in Wmsburg with only 16 students, possessing an annual income of $7,000. With her means a greater good ought to result and certainly would by a change of location. Much of the depressed state of the institution is to be traced to the climate, & almost depopulation of the maritime counties, the delegation from which oppose removal, & the especial friends of the University are acting a kind of undercurrent, being afraid to oppose openly, which renders the result dubious. I say let her come to Richmond." (Relocation Efforts, University Archives Subject File Collection)


  • Folders 15 and 50, College Papers Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • Relocation Efforts, University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • William & Mary College and the University of the South, William Mercer Green, Richmond: Whittet & Shepperson, 1879. University Archives book collection: LD6051 .W52 W5


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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.