Today, August 23, 2013, marks the 205th anniversary of the birth of Charles Benedict Calvert, founder of the Maryland Agricultural College, which became the University of Maryland. He and his brother, George H. Calvert, sold the land that formed the core of the College Park campus for $20,000, half its original cost, and lent the college half of the purchase price. Calvert was also elected as the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees, held the second largest number of subscriptions to charter the college, chaired a committee to plan the first buildings, laid the cornerstone for the “Barracks,” stepped in to serve as president of the college when the first president had to resign, and underwrote college expenses when there was no money to pay salaries.
Calvert also left an impression far beyond the campus of the Maryland Agricultural College. He served three terms in the Maryland House of Delegates and one term in the U.S. Congress. The pinnacle of his service was the passage of a bill to create a separate bureau of agriculture, signed by Abraham Lincoln on May 15, 1862; the bureau was elevated to a cabinet department in 1889. A major proponent of scientific agriculture, he also held leadership positions in local, state, and national agricultural societies. At once a staunch unionist, a beneficiary of the planter’s way of life, and a citizen of a state more divided than any other, his life was a microcosm of the Civil War conflict.
You can find a more detailed biography of Calvert and a list of resources about his life and accomplishments at http://www.lib.umd.edu/special/projects/cbc/home.
Charles Benedict Calvert is buried about three miles south of the university in a family plot in Riverdale Park.