President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act, which gave lands over to any state that agreed to use the profit made from selling the land to establish and maintain a college teaching agriculture and the "mechanic arts".
The Indiana General Assembly voted to participate in the plan and took steps to establish such an institution.
The Indiana General Assembly chose Lafayette for the new institution and received gifts from John Purdue for $150,000, $50,000 from Tippecanoe County and 100 acres of land from local community members.
Purdue's very first president, Richard Owen, started his term at the university.
Classes began with six instructors and 39 students.
John Bradford Harper earned the first Purdue University degree.