There are a huge number of men and women who helped make the United States the country it is. Yet many of those people don’t get discussed nearly as often. One such person is James Blair.
Who is the Famous Virginian James Blair?
James Blair was born in the year 1656. He was and still is best known for his role in founding the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Due to the exact nature of the college, this made his occupation both missionary and educator.
He was the first president of the now world famous university and his tenure lasted from 1693 to 1743. The 50 year tenure is perhaps unsurprising since he was the founder of the school, but it shows how long he dedicated his life to his work.
He was born in Banffshire, Scotland. He studied at three separate schools, including the University of Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen. Even in the 1670s, these schools were well established and well regarded. Once his education was completed, he was ordained into the Kirk (or Church in today’s dialect) of Scotland.
Through out the seventeenth century, there was political conflict between the theological factions of the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians. While this conflict was part of a larger clash between the various nations of the British Isles, Blair eventually sided with the Episcopalians and his position as the head of his Edinburgh parish.
After being ordain as a missionary in the Anglican Church, Blair eventually chose to take a position as missionary to the then newly established Virginia colony. The colony had long wanted a school to send their sons to and many of the members of the churches in the colony were eager to have clergy trained. With this mind, Blair founded the College of William and Mary in the still growing city of Williamsburg, with a charter granted by King William and Queen Mary II. The college is named after these two monarchs in honor of that charter.
After securing land and getting the buildings built, Blair was appointed president of the school for life, a position he held for fifty years, the second longest tenure for such a position in United States history.
As you can see, James Blair played a pivotal roll in building this great nation. Without him, thousands if not millions of people would be without the education that fine university offers.