An interactive look at the long and proud history of Hamilton College
History & Traditions
Originally founded in 1793 as the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, Hamilton was chartered as a college in 1812. It is among the three dozen oldest colleges in the United States.
KIRKLAND’S PLAN OF EDUCATION
In 1793 Samuel Kirkland, missionary to the Oneida Indians, presented his “Plan of Education” to President George Washington, who “expressed approbation,” and to Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who consented to be a trustee of the new school, to which he also lent his name. The Hamilton-Oneida Academy was chartered soon thereafter. Nineteen years later, in 1812, the academy was rechartered as Hamilton College. Read more about the history of the College.
Almost every year since 1865, a member of the 50th reunion class has reminisced about life on College Hill as it was a half-century earlier. This chain of letters provides a fascinating history of Hamilton’s past.
From the quirky to the serious, certain customs persist.
Since 1975, each new student signs the College Register in historic Kirkland Cottage to symbolize matriculation at Hamilton.
Since 1912, Hamilton students have signed the Honor Code, pledging to “abstain from dishonesty in all academic work.”
A cane is awarded to each graduating senior as a token of the College’s affection. The head of the cane forms a Continental tricorne hat in honor of Baron von Steuben, drillmaster of Washington’s Continental Army, who laid the cornerstone of the Hamilton-Oneida Academy.
Watch your step! Tradition has it that students who walk across the bronze map in the center of campus will not graduate.
First held in 1950, Class & Charter Day is a convocation held on the last day of spring classes. It features an address related to Hamilton’s history and traditions and the awarding of prizes to students and faculty members.
Feb Fest heats up campus during the cold of winter. Events have included snow sculpture contests, chocolate tastings, snoccer (snow soccer), chili cook-offs, concerts, the crowning of Mr. Hamilton and more.
Hamilton’s very own sprint triathlon features a 525-yard swim, 9-mile bike and 5K running competition that coincides with the last weekend of spring classes.