Dr. Alonzo Webster
Dr. Webster, a minister and educator from Vermont and a member of Claflin’s Board of Trustees, secured Claflin’s charter in 1869. The charter forbids discrimination of any sort among faculty, staff and students, making Claflin the first South Carolina University open to all students regardless of race, class or gender.
Claflin opened its doors with Dr. Webster as its first president. He came to South Carolina to teach at the Baker Biblical Institute in Charleston, an institution established by the S.C. Mission Conference of 1866 of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the education of African-American ministers. In 1870, the Baker Biblical Institute merged with Claflin University. An act by the South Carolina General Assembly on March 12, 1872, designated the South Carolina State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute as a part of Claflin University. In 1896, the S.C. General Assembly passed an act of separation that severed the State Agricultural and Mechanical Institute from Claflin University and established a separate institution, which eventually became South Carolina State University.