Claflin College, founded in 1869 as Claflin University, is the oldest historically black college in S.C. and was established to "advance the cause of education, and maintain a first-class institution ... open to all without distinction of race or color."
It was named for two generations of the Claflin family of Massachusetts, Lee Claflin (1791-1871), a prominent Methodist layman, and his son Gov. William Claflin (1818-1903), who supported and helped fund the new institution.
The S.C. Agricultural and Mechanical Institute opened at Clafin in 1872 and was the predecessor of S.C. State University, founded in 1896.
Claflin, associated with and supported by the Methodist Church, featured in its early years industrial, manual, and agricultural training; primary and secondary education; and college-prep and college courses, including architecture, law, teacher education, and theology. It was renamed Claflin College in 1979.