Chapel Hill April 4th 1845 Fellow members
I had resolved if ever chosen president of the Dialectic Society, as the least of two evils,  not to accept, but the almost unanimous vote, by which I have been elected; and much more the solicitations of many, whom I know to be personal friends, have induced me to undertake the task conferred upon me. My time has been so much occupied, as you all know, since my election, that I feel confident that your good sense and benevolence, will forgive all imperfections in the few remarks I shall make. It has been customary to address you from one or more of the articles in our constitution, by the strict and faithful observance of which, our future welfare may be promoted, and our success increased, and among the first of which in importance, we hold the amendments  and resolutions adopted a few weeks since in regard to indulgence and debts due the Society.  That it is one of serious and real importance to us, I think the spirit manifested on that occasion, and the ardent and eloquent discussions in favor of and against it, sufficiently show.
Prejudices then existed and now remain against it, but for what earthly reason, I am unable to conceive or even conjecture, for it is not as some think and have all things else to the contrary.
The constitution of the United States, the most perfect model of a form of government ever yet devised by the wisdom, ingenuity and experience of man, has requred from time to time, that amendments shoud be  added, whenever a necessity existed for them, or the language of some article, so equivocal as to admit of two constructions, had caused its abuse. It is thus with every constitution ever yet made. Why then should we possessed of so little wisdom and comparatively no experience, be expected to frame a system of rules for our government, so perfect, and in language so plain and explicit, that its intention cannot be perverted?
There is no doubt that the original intention was, that indulgence could be granted for six weeks only, and not for six weeks as a term, which could be repeated successively for an indefinite length of time, and thus enable men to leave, with impunity, their debts unpaid, and we see that this was the custom until within the last five years. Since that time, sad experience has taught us by the losses we have sustained, that it should be marked out with more precision,  and clearly defined, and a penalty attached to enforce its fulfilment; for it is not much to lose a diploma, but honor and reputation are matters of great moment, and surely worthy of some risk for their preservation. The present amendment is well adapted to accomplish the end for which it was intended, and as we think, merely another form expressing more clearly the original intention. If then all will act in strict obedience to it, we have no doubt but that it is destined to produce beneficial results to each individual member, and to the Society at large. But those who willingly disobey, will be branded with disgrace and infamy, and reproaches and regret will follow them through life, as the examples of those, who have gone before, have clearly taught us. Reccollect that by conforming to the laws here, you are forming useful habits of obedience, and preparing yourselves to respect the laws of your country hereafter, for, "just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined." 
But enough on this subject. Another habit, that has increased to an alarming extent and is the fruitful source of much confusion, is that of continual andSociety was first established, no one ever thought of going out unless necessity or comfort required it and never of adjourning until a late hour. But it seems now that an impatience prevails generally to go out and to adjourn, as if the subjects discussed here were of little importance and interest, and unfit for improvement. This is still increasing, but it were useless to multiply words, since all the addresses that ever were written or ever will be, will fail to produce the desired effect, unless we seriously reflect upon the inconvenience caused by it, and resolve to break off, unless it were necessary and absolutely and indispensably necessary, or our comfort materially required us to go out.
It is to be hoped that this reflection will be given it and unless it is good order can never be preserved.
1. Edwin Lafayette Dusenbery's inaugural address on assuming the presidency of the Dialectic Society is housed among the Dialectic Society Addresses, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A second hand has written "Dusenbery" in pencil above the date. The speech, written on one sheet measuring 40 cm by 25 cm and folded in half, has been bound and subsequently was separated from its binding. Dusenbery was elected president of the Society on March 14, 1845, and served the customary four-week term from April 4 through April 26, 1845.
2. Dusenbery may be referring to the office of "first corrector," to which he had been elected on February 28, 1845 and which he evidently gave up when he became president. The first and second correctors were required to read the weekly compositions submitted by Society members.
3. The final s of amendments has been smeared.
4. At the February 13, 1845, meeting members of the Dialectic Society proposed the following resolution: "Resolved, that any member may, and that the Treasurer, & Censor Morum jointly, shall, under the penalty of impeachment against themselves, present to the house a bill or bills, of impeachment, against any member or members in whom they may observe the following offences—viz—to ask for more than six weeks of indulgence, during one college session—to ask for more than one term of indulgence, for the same due or for part of the same due or to be indebted to the Society in a sum exceeding $25.00, for hereafter the foregoing shall be impeachable offences: with this proviso, that such as are now indebted to the Society in a sum exceeding $25.00 may be granted one month of indulgence from the passage of this" (Dialectic Society Minutes, Vol. S-10:17, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). The resolution was adopted at the February 21 meeting, but later in the meeting, "Mr Smith moved that the resolution be null and void until next meeting for 2 weeks," which motion carried (Dialectic Society Minutes, Vol. S-10:19, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
8. Alexander Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle I, lines 149–150 (1732): "'Tis education forms the common mind,/Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined."
9. Craigsville, or Craigeville, NC, no longer exists but was once located in Gaston County near Lincolnton, NC. It was the home of Thomas Turner Slade, a classmate of Dusenbery's and fellow member of the Dialectic Society.
10. The Dialectic Society voted on March 29, 1845, to grant Dusenbery a Society diploma. On May 31, 1845, Society members granted him a second diploma "in consequence of the inferiority of the one already granted" (Dialectic Society Minutes, Vol. S-10:29 and 43, University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).