Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11

Businessman Ezra Cornell was born on January 11, 1807, north of New York City. A Quaker, he was raised Upstate and settled in Ithaca. As an associate of Samuel F.B. Morse, he made his fortune in the telegraph business by inventing the idea of using glass insulators where telegraph lines connected to supporting poles. He supervised wiring of the nation’s first significant telegraph lines, and later owned the company that became Western Union. As a lifelong devotee of science and agriculture, when he retired from the company he saw the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act (1862) as an opportunity to found a university that would teach practical subjects equally with the classics favored by traditional institutions. Cornell University was chartered in Ithaca in 1865 under Ezra’s motto, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

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