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Commentary
May 1, 2005

George Washington University School of Medicine and Department of Surgery

Arch Surg. 2005;140(5):422-424. doi:10.1001/archsurg.140.5.422

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington addressed the second session of the United States Congress and expressed a desire for a national university dedicated to the country’s citizens. However, the lack of a federal consensus and the War of 1812 delayed the opening of the university, despite further urging from Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. In 1821, a congressional charter established George Washington University (GWU). Its name at that time was Columbian College of the District of Columbia. In his remarks at the opening of the college, President James Monroe stated, “ . . . this institution, if it receives hereafter the proper encouragement, cannot fail to be eminently useful to the nation.”1 In 1904, Columbian College changed its name to George Washington University.

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