Dickinson College was founded in 1783 by Benjamin Rush, a man who believed America needed educated revolutionaries to lead the nation. Less than a week after Dickinson College became chartered, the United States was guaranteed international recognition, making Dickinson the first college chartered in the new country.
The prominent building, Old West, was designed by the architect of the United States Capitol, Benjamin Latrobe. Private donations from people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison made the design possible. Students pass through the doors twice, when they enter college and when they graduate.
Civil War History
In June 1863, Confederates invaded Pennsylvania. As the state prepared militia, Dickinson College students were getting ready for final exams. The Confederates arrived in Carlisle on June 27, 1863 and made Old West their headquarters and used East College as a hospital. On July 1, 1863 General J.E.B. Stuart arrived and demanded the Union army surrender and after they refused the Confederates shelled the town. They left the next day due to reports that the battle in Gettysburg had begun. East College and South College were both damaged during the attack.
During the years of the Civil War, Dickinson College remained a house divided with students and graduates representing both the Union and the Confederate. A Civil War Trails Marker is located on College Street between High Street and Church Avenue.