Question of the Week
Which U.S. President was the first to visit the University of Pennsylvania?
Answer: George Washington
The University of Pennsylvania’s roots date back to an initiative of Rev. George Whitefield and others to form a charity school in 1740, but at that time, the school never came to fruition due to a lack of funds. Then in 1749, Benjamin Franklin founded The Academy of Philadelphia, a public institution for secondary school students. From that institution was borne the College of Philadelphia, charted in 1755 and located on Fourth and Arch Streets, which set forth undergraduate education in the city. The College was renamed the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1790s. The school remained in its Old City location until the 1870s when it moved to the area west of the Schuylkill River now called University City.
Many U.S. presidents have visited the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The first of those was George Washington. Washington visited not long after his inauguration in the spring of 1789 to attend a trustee’s reception. Washington, as a delegate to the Continental Congress, had been to the campus before in 1775 to attend the college’s commencement.
Image: This undated photograph shows the University of Pennsylvania.
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.