History | Florida State University
The Florida Territorial Legislature began to plan a higher education system.
The Federal Government reserved two townships for the purpose of maintaining institutions of higher education in the territory.
The United States Congress, in an act supplemental to the act admitting Florida as a state in the Union, added two more townships. These townships were granted to the State for the use of two seminaries of learning, one to be located east and the other west of the Suwannee River.
The Legislature of the State of Florida provided for the establishment of the two institutions of learning, their first purpose to be "the instruction of persons, both male and female, in the art of teaching all the various branches that pertain to a good common school education; and next to give instruction in the mechanic arts, in husbandry, in agricultural chemistry, in the fundamental laws, and in what regards the rights and duties of citizens".
The Intendant (Mayor) of Tallahassee offered the Institute's land and building to the Legislature. Francis Eppes, who spent his formative years on the estate of his grandfather President Thomas Jefferson at Monticello in Virginia and shared his views of the importance to a democracy of a liberally educated citizenry, was the Mayor of Tallahassee who made the offer. The Legislature accepted the offer and designated Tallahassee as the site of one of the state seminaries because of its railway connections, its "salubrious climate," and its "intelligent, refined, and moral community."
The school first became co-educational in 1858 when it absorbed the Tallahassee Female Academy, begun in 1843 as the Misses Bates School. Thus the West Florida Seminary, founded in 1851, began operating in 1857, only twelve years after Florida achieved statehood. It was located on the hill where the Westcott Building now stands, which has been the site of an institution of higher education longer than any other site in Florida.
It has expanded from the original few acres and buildings to 542 buildings on 1550 acres, including the downtown Tallahassee main campus of 451 acres, a farm [which for many decades supplied the Florida State College for Women with food], the Seminole Reservation [a recreational facility], the Marine Laboratory on the Gulf Coast, the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering facility, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, and branch campuses in both Panama City, FL, and the Republic of Panama.
The University has over 50 years of experience in international education and is a nationally recognized leader in the field of study-abroad programs, with permanent study centers in London, Florence, Valencia, and Panama.
For more information about university history, please visit fsu.edu/about/history