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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Historical Benefactions

This list names the benefactors who befriended Washington and Lee during the period beginning in 1796 and continuing until World War II.

(Listed in approximate chronological order.)

George Washington. George Washington was the first notable benefactor of the institution, having given James River Canal stock to the University in 1796. Among the hosts, who have befriended Washington and Lee University during the period since 1796 up until World War II, are the following:

The Society of the Cincinnati in Virginia. This group of former officers of the Continental Army voted to present the institution with a substantial accumulated fund in 1802.

John Robinson. This Irish immigrant boy, soldier of the Revolution, bequeathed to the University his entire estate, received upon his death in 1826.

The McCormick Family. One of the first friends to come to the aid of General Lee in his presidency was the Virginia-born inventor, Cyrus H. McCormick, then of Chicago, subsequently a member of the Board of Trustees for the last twenty years of his life. Mr. McCormick gave generously to the University in his lifetime. Later, Mrs. McCormick and other members of the family made a contribution to the University, and at the death of Cyrus H. McCormick II, his sons Cyrus and Gordon McCormick made another allocation from a fund which their father had left for the benefit of education.

Warren Newcomb. The interest of this distinguished businessman of New Orleans and New York, begun in the days of Lee's administration, led ultimately to the gift of Newcomb Hall by Mrs. Newcomb in memory of her husband.

Thomas A. Scott. Mr. Scott, then president of Pennsylvania Railroad and formerly Assistant Secretary of War under President Lincoln, gave, during the incumbency of Lee, a series of munificent gifts.

George Peabody. The great Massachusetts philanthropist, warm admirer of General Lee, made a considerable donation to the University.

W. W. Corcoran. The distinguished philanthropist of Washington, D.C., made numerous contributions, including an invaluable collection of books, as well as cash donations.

Rathmell Wilson. This famous scientist of Philadelphia sent, early in Lee's administration, a collection of several thousand books "to repair in some measure the effect produced by its (the Northern Army's) excessive destructiveness."

Other Friends of Lee. Men as widely varied as Henry Ward Beecher of New York, Samuel J. Tilden of the same city, and Robert H. Bayly of New Orleans, made generous contributions to the University during the days of General Lee's administration.

Vincent L. Bradford. This Philadelphia lawyer endowed a professorship of law, and left to the University his private collection of paintings.

  • James Edward Moliterno is the current Vincent L. Bradford Professor of Law.

General Custis Lee. After twenty-six years in the presidency of the institution, this son of Robert E. Lee left a generous bequest which was used to endow the chair of modern languages.

William Lyne Wilson Fund. Upon the death of William Lyne Wilson, president from 1897 to 1900 (Postmaster General of the United States under President Grover Cleveland), a group of his distinguished friends, among whom were Grover Cleveland; John D. Rockefeller; Isidor Straus; Thomas Fortune Ryan; Anson Phelps Stokes; William C. Whitney, Secretary of the Navy; Charles S. Fairchild, Secretary of the Treasury; David R. Francis, Secretary of the Interior; Daniel S. Lamont, Secretary of War; Richard Olney, Secretary of State; Hoke Smith, Senator from Georgia; H. A. Herbert, Secretary of the Navy; and many other prominent Americans, raised a memorial fund to endow the professorships of economics, political science, and commerce.

Susan P. Lees. In 1904 Mrs. Lees, of New York, donated money to erect the Lees Dormitory, now the south wing of the Graham-Lees dormitory.

The General Education Board. In a campaign for added endowment, begun in 1919, the General Education Board of New York City raised a large sum of money for the University.

Robert P. Doremus. The will of Mr. Doremus of New York, who died in 1913, provided that upon the death of Mrs. Doremus his entire estate should come to the University. This bequest was received in 1936.

George W. St. Clair. This devoted friend in 1931 and 1932 contributed toward the endowment of the chair of Bible. Following the death of Mr. St. Clair, members of his family have augmented this endowment by additional gifts.

Clara Davidson Estill. In 1916, Mrs. Estill, in return for an annuity, deeded to the University a residential area of about fifteen acres, now known as Davidson Park.

Alice H. White. Mrs. White of Radford, who died in 1932, bequeathed her entire estate to the University.

Isabelle W. Brown and Mrs. Joel W. Goldsby. These sisters, daughters of the late Professor J. J. White, in 1931 gave the University the ruins of Liberty Hall Academy, together with a small tract of land to be developed ultimately into a historical park.

Thomas H. H. Patterson. This Philadelphia lawyer bequeathed to the University money and property, chiefly for the benefit of the library.

Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Carnegie gave the larger part of the money for the original University library, later remodeled into the McCormick Library, and most recently renovated to house what is now the Ernest Williams II School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics.

William H. Reid. This citizen of Chicago gave a generous amount of money that was used in the construction of Reid Hall.

Lucy Anderson. Mrs. Anderson gave to the University a fund to be applied on the purchase of a pipe organ in memory of her son, Herbert, a devoted alumnus.

John Barton Payne. Judge Payne, who died in 1935, made the University one of three heirs to his residuary estate.

William R. Perkins. William R. Perkins, a distinguished alumnus who died in 1945, bequeathed to the University a substantial gift to be used for general endowment.

Jessie Ball duPont. Through gifts made in 1940 and 1958, this influential friend of education and youth established a trust fund in memory of her husband, Alfred I. duPont. The income from the fund is used for scholarships, as explained in the "Endowed Scholarships" section of this site.

From 1946 to 1948 Mrs. duPont established a fund in memory of her father, Thomas Ball. The income from this foundation is used to give recognition to six faculty members who have distinguished themselves through scholarship, effective teaching, or outstanding service.

In 1949 and 1950 Mrs. duPont made further contributions to irrevocable future benefits, an individual interest in the Jessie Ball duPont General Trust, and in 1950, 1951, and 1952 she made further contributions of irrevocable future benefits, an undivided interest in the Jessie Ball duPont Second General Trust.

In 1951 Mrs. duPont made a special emergency gift toward the current expenses of the University.

In 1954 Mrs. duPont established the Jessie Ball duPont-Francis P. Gaines Fund with a contribution, the income from which is to be used, one-half for augmenting the salaries of faculty members and administrators, and one-half for scholarships to worthy students, to be selected by the president of the University in consultation with an appropriate faculty committee.

The Jessie Ball duPont Scholarship Fund was established by Mrs. Alfred I. (Jessie Ball) duPont in 1959 and subsequent years. The income from the fund is to be awarded as scholarships to bright and worthy students.

Mrs. duPont has made additional gifts of considerable amounts for other University purposes.