The Academy and College of Philadelphia

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Academy and College of Philadelphia (ca. 1780). Sketch by Pierre Du Simitière. Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

The Academy and College of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, is considered by many[who?] to have been the first American academy. It was founded in 1749 by Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin drew up the constitution for the academy, and at the founding meeting of trustees on November 13, 1749, he was appointed its president. The academy opened for the secondary schooling of boys on August 13, 1751. The college was granted a charter in 1755 and graduated its first class of seven men on May 17, 1757, at its first commencement; six graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees and one with a Master of Arts.

In 1765, John Morgan and William Shippen, Jr. founded the Medical School of the College of Philadelphia, the first medical school in North America. That same year the first dormitory was built.

The college educated many of the future leaders of the United States. Twenty-one members of the Continental Congress were graduates of the school, and nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were either alumni or trustees of the university.[1]

On September 13, 1791, state legislation united the University of the State of Pennsylvania with the Academy and College of Philadelphia, under the name the University of Pennsylvania.


  1. The Early Years: The Charity School, Academy and College of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania Archives, 1972.

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