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Timeline

1776 - 1785
1776
The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 encourages the establishment of a public institution of higher education in the state.
1786 - 1795
1789
December 11 – The General Assembly charters the university.
1792
The site of the university is chosen. The first plan of education for the university is outlined by the trustees.
1793
October 12 – The cornerstone is laid for Old East. Lots in the village are sold.
1794
David Ker is appointed Professor of Humanity.
1795
Construction of Old East, Steward's Hall, and the First President's House is completed. The university officially opens. Hinton James, the first student, arrives on campus. The Dialectic and Philanthropic societies are founded.
1796 - 1805
1796
David Ker leaves the university. Charles W. Harris serves briefly as presiding professor. Joseph Caldwell is appointed Professor of Mathematics and takes over the duties of presiding professor.
1797
James S. Gillaspie is appointed presiding professor.
1798
Construction of Person Hall is completed. The cornerstone is laid for South Building. The first class graduates.
1799
Students break out in rebellion against the laws and the faculty. Joseph Caldwell again becomes presiding professor.
1801
Construction of the Preparatory School (Grammar School) is completed.
1804
The curriculum is revised to include Greek as a degree requirement. Joseph Caldwell becomes the institution's first president, a position previously titled presiding professor and held by Caldwell from 1799-1804. Caldwell served as President from 1804 to 1812 and from 1816 to 1835.
1805
The Great Secession occurs, with many students leaving the university in protest against the appointment of monitors.
1806 - 1815
1813
Robert Hett Chapman serves as President from 1813 to 1816.
1814
Construction of South Building is completed.
1816 - 1825
1818
The curriculum is expanded after the addition of two new professorships: Rhetoric and Logic and Moral Philosophy.
1822
Gerrard Hall (New Chapel) construction is begun.
1823
Construction of Old West is completed. Old East has a third story added.
1824
President Caldwell travels to Europe to purchase books and scientific apparatus for the university.
1826 - 1835
1832
The first observatory on a U.S. college campus is erected at the university. William Gaston delivers his famous oration opposing slavery before the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies.
1835
President Caldwell dies. Elisha Mitchell serves briefly as acting president. David Lowry Swain becomes president of the university, serving until 1868.
1836 - 1845
1837
Gerrard Hall construction is completed in time for commencement exercises.
1838
The observatory burns.
1843
The Society of the Alumni of the University is organized on May 31.
1844
Alexander Jackson Davis is employed by President Swain and the trustees to enlarge and beautify the campus.
1846 - 1855
1847
The university hires its first landscape gardener, John Loader. President Polk visits at Commencement.
1848
Additions to Old East and Old West are completed.
1852
Smith Hall (Playmaker's Theatre) construction is completed. Trustees recommend that a School for the Application of Science to the Arts be established at the university.
1856 - 1865
1856
The belfry burns. There is controversy over the senior class's invitation to Archbishop Hughes to speak at commencement. Professor Benjamin S. Hedrick is dismissed from the university for publicly expressing his views on slavery. Professor Herrisse makes allegations about lax discipline.
1857
Elisha Mitchell dies after a fall on the peak now named Mt. Mitchell.
1860
Construction of New East and New West is completed.
1861
The Civil War begins.
1865
Chapel Hill is occupied by the Union Army. The Civil War ends.
1866 - 1875
1867
President David L. Swain and the university faculty resign. The Board of Trustees asks them to remain until replaced or reelected.
1868
A new state constitution is passed, and a new Board of Trustees for the university is appointed by the Board of Education. The old board votes to reappoint Swain and the faculty. The new board ignores the reappointments. Exercises are suspended in late July.
1869
The Republican Party is in control of General Assembly. Solomon Pool is appointed as president of the university. Exercises resume on March 3.
1871
The university closes.
1875
The university reopens with Charles Phillips as Chairman of the Faculty.