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At the outset of the American Civil War (1861–1865), enlistments in the Confederate States Army depleted the student body and on May 10, 1861, the faculty voted to close the College for the duration of the conflict.The College Building was used as a Confederate barracks and later as a hospital, first by Confederate, and later Union forces.The Charter named James Blair as the College's first president (a lifetime appointment which he held until his death in 1743).William & Mary was founded as an Anglican institution; students were required to be members of the Church of England, and professors were required to declare adherence to the Thirty-Nine Articles.
W&M students founded the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society in 1776 and W&M was the first school of higher education in the United States to install an honor code of conduct for students.
William and Mary is the oldest college in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the oldest institution of higher education in the American South.
In his 1985 book Public Ivies: A Guide to America's Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities, Richard Moll categorized William & Mary as one of eight "Public Ivies".
Largely thanks to the vision of a William and Mary instructor, Reverend Dr. Significant campus construction continued under the College's nineteenth president, John Stewart Bryan. Roosevelt received an honorary degree from the College on October 20, 1934.
In 1935, the Sunken Garden was constructed, just west of the Wren Building.