William Gaston, the Original Hoya

In doing research for February’s This Month in North Carolina History feature on “The Old North State,” the North Carolina state song, we came across an interesting bit of trivia. It turns out that William Gaston, who wrote the lyrics for the song, and who was one of the most prominent lay Catholics in early nineteenth-century America, was the first student to enroll at Georgetown College. He entered the recently-founded school on the Potamac River in 1791, but left before graduating, finishing his education at Princeton and then returning to North Carolina where he spent the rest of his life active in state and national politics.