On May 13, 1891, Massachusetts-born businessman William Marsh Rice chartered the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science, and Art as a gift to the city of Houston, where he made his fortune. The terms of the charter required that work on the new institute would begin only after Rice's death.
On September 23, 1900, Rice was chloroformed to death by his valet, Charlie Jones, who had conspired with an unscrupulous lawyer, Albert Patrick, to murder the aging millionaire and claim his estate using a forged will. When an autopsy ordered by Rice's attorney, Captain James A. Baker, revealed evidence of poisoning, Jones agreed to provide state's evidence in return for immunity from prosecution. Patrick was convicted of murder and sent to Sing Sing. He was pardoned in 1912, the same year that classes began at the Rice Institute.
In 1907, the trustees of the Rice Institute acted upon the recommendation of Woodrow Wilson (then president of Princeton) and named astronomer and mathematician Edgar Odell Lovett the first president of Rice. Lovett called for the establishment of a unive...
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