1806 - The Building Completed
With justifiable pride, President Meigs reported the completion of the new building in the Augusta Chronicle for February 1, 1806, observing that, "Better accommodations for students cannot be found in any College in the United States." . Along with a description of the building, he quoted the inscription of the marble plaque still mounted on the building's north wall.
Later that year the building served as the backdrop for the third annual commencement, as recalled in the Annals of Athens by Dr. Henry Hull.
"The writer has been present at every Commencement of the College since 1804, though his memory only reaches back to that of 1806. On this occasion a large crowd of people, of all sorts, from the country and from towns, male and female, old and young, in every variety of costume, were assembled under a large bush arbor in front of the Old College, supplied with seats made of plank and slabs borrowed for the occasion from Easley's saw mill, resting on blocks of billets of woods which raised them from the ground. The stage for the Faculty, Trustees and speakers was erected at the side of the College building, and the speakers when called came out of the door at the east end. The whole was built mainly by the students. The poles and brush for the arbor were growing in less than two hundred yards from the place where they were needed, the cutting and dragging them was a mere frolic, and as 'many hands make light work' the affair once began was soon completed.
Like all small boys, the writer was more interested in looking at the people than in listening to the speakers, and as the seats provided did but little more than accommodate the ladies, the men and boys stood around on the outside. One of the audience was particularly conspicuous. He was a full head and shoulders above all others near him and seemed to be standing on a chair or bench. He attracted the larger notice of all the small boys who were amazed to find him standing on his own proper feet. This was Benjamin Harrison, a very amiable young man, standing seven feet three inches in his shoes. Of course the intelligent portion of the audience were interested in the orations, but the greater part looked on in stupid wonder as if on a pageant, understanding about as much of the English as they did of the Greek and Latin speeches which were delivered, all however wrapt in profound attention.
The hearty, rosy cheeked country girls, in their homespun and calico dresses, looked without a shade of envy on the pale languid faces of the ladies from the miasmatic districts, dressed in their fashionably made silks and stains and regarded them rather with commiseration, as people who would not milk a cow or cook a dinner to save them starvation. As to the men with kid gloves and silk stockings, they created the same emotions as a show of was figures - they were "mighty fancy but no use."
On August 9, 1810, Josiah Meigs tendered his resignation as president. . His remarks, reviewing his career at the University of Georgia, are recorded in the Minutes of the Senatus Academicus. At the beginning he stated, regarding his accomplishments at Athens, "At my first arrival it was a new wilderness - it is now a beautiful village containing one of the most valuable Collegiate buildings in the United States."