After Maxcy's death, the Board of Trustees chooses as president the outspoken and free-thinking Thomas Cooper, a close friend of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. A native of England, Cooper attended Oxford and after immigrating to the United States, was jailed for violating the Alien and Sedition Laws during John Adams' administration. He later became a noted chemist and scientist, wrote important treatises on the subject of state's rights
and was an intellectual leader of the nullification movement in South Carolina. Always controversial, he enraged South Carolina Presbyterians because of his attacks on the clergy and his denial of Christianity.