Benjamin Thompson, 1806-1890
Benjamin Thompson, a farmer and a highly competent business man, was born in Durham on April 22, 1806. He never married and when he was fifty years old, he wrote a will leaving his farm and assets totalling over $400,000, to the state of New Hampshire for the establishment of an agricultural college on his land in Durham. Six year later, the Morrill Act would facilitate the installation of just such a college in Hanover.
For the next thirty-four years, Thompson quietly tended his farm and watched what transpired in Hanover. Although it is clear that his original intention was the establishment of a school exclusively for teaching agriculture, in 1874 he added a codicil to his will extending the scope of the college to include the mechanic arts.
Benjamin Thompson died on January 30,1890 and in 1891 the state legislature voted to accept the provisions of the Thompson will and to move the college from Hanover to Durham, establishing the foundation for the University of New Hampshire and the fulfillment of Ben Thompson's dream.