Florida State University is traceable to a plan set by the 1823 U. The Legislature of the State of Florida, in a Legislative Act of January 24, 1851, provided for the establishment of the two institutions of learning on opposite sides of the Suwannee River.
The Legislature declared the purpose of these institutions to be "the instruction of persons, both male and female, in the art of teaching all the various branches that pertain to a good common school education; and next to give instruction in the mechanic arts, in husbandry, in agricultural chemistry, in the fundamental laws, and in what regards the rights and duties of citizens." By 1854 the City of Tallahassee had established a school for boys called the Florida Institute, with the hope that the State could be induced to take it over as one of the seminaries. Eppes again offered the Institute's land and building to the Legislature.
Florida State College was empowered to award the degree of Master of Arts, and the first master's degree was offered in 1902.
That year the student body numbered 252 men and women, and degrees were available in classical, literary and scientific studies. The 1905 Florida Legislature passed the Buckman Act, which reorganized the Florida college system into a school for white males (University of the State of Florida), a school for white females (Florida Female College later changed to Florida State College for Women), and a school for African Americans (State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students).
However, the West Florida Seminary, as it was still generally called, continued to expand and thrive.
It shifted its focus towards modern-style post-secondary education, awarding "Licentiates of Instruction", its first diplomas, in 1884, In 1901 it became Florida State College, a four-year institution organized in four departments: the College, the School for Teachers, the School of Music, and the College Academy.
In recognition of the cadets, and their pivotal role in the battle, the Florida State University Army ROTC cadet corps displays a battle streamer bearing the words "NATURAL BRIDGE 1865" with its flag.
The FSU Army ROTC is one of only four collegiate military units in the United States with permission to display such a pennant.
The Buckman Act was controversial, as it changed the character of a historic coeducational state school into a school for women.
An early and major benefactor of the school, James Westcott III (1839–1887), willed substantial monies to the school to support continued operations.