Columbia University is one of the foremost educational institutions in the United States. It is located in New York City, in the borough of Manhattan, and was founded as King’s College in 1754 through a charter issued by King George II of England. This early date makes Columbia the oldest institution of higher learning in New York State, and the fifth oldest in the nation.
Debate raged at first about the location of the school and what its religious affiliation should be. In the end those that favored New York as a location prevailed, while Anglicans were successful in determining the religious persuasion of the college. However, an ideology of tolerance was emphasized as everyone agreed to commit the school to the principles of religious freedom.
There were eight students in the first class, which was opened in July 1754 and taught by Samuel Johnson. The class was held in a new schoolhouse built next to Trinity Church hoping to bring the principles of “enlarging the Mind, improve the Understanding, polish the whole Man, and qualify them to support the brightest Characters in all the elevated stations in life.”