Documenting the American South Logo

Title: The University's Response to William B. Shepard's Speech, October 15, 1816; The Raleigh Minerva, October 18, 1816, 3: Electronic Edition.
Author: No Author
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Sarah Ficke
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 27K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-03-15, Sarah Ficke finished TEI/XML encoding.
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Title of article: The University's Response to William B. Shepard's Speech, October 15, 1816
Title of serial: The Raleigh Minerva, October 18, 1816, 3
Description: 1 page, 0 page images
Note: Call number C071 M66 1809-1821 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Administration
Education/UNC Student Life
Examples of Student Writing/Senior Speeches
Religion and Philosophy/Christianity and Christian Theology
Writings by Non-Students
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Originals are in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
DocSouth staff created a 600 dpi uncompressed TIFF file for each image. The TIFF images were then saved as JPEG images at 100 dpi for web access.
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as '.
All em dashes are encoded as —.
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

An anonymous author defends the faculty's action in suspending William B. Shepard and twenty-five additional students for disturbances following Shepard's speech, delivered without observing Pres. Robert Hett Chapman's corrections.
The University's Response to William B. Shepard's Speech, October 15, 1816; The Raleigh Minerva, October 18, 1816, 31

No Author

Page 3

Mr. Lucas 2 —Correct information is very important and desirable, expecially in those cases where the interests of society are so materially concerned. You will therefore please to insert in your useful paper the following observations. Feeling fully justified in the proceedings in the case by the laws of the University and a firm determination in the strength of God, to discharge duty amidst every opposition; the attention of the public is invited to a plain candid statement of facts That these may be understood and regarded in their just light, you will be pleased to notice the two following laws of the University 3
1st. "If any student shall deny the being of a God, or the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, or shall assert and endeavor to propagate among the students any principles subverting the foundation of the christian religion, and shall persist therein after admonition, he shall be dismissed.
2nd. "Nothing indecent, profane or immoral shall at any time be delivered on the public stage, under penalty of such censure as the faculty or trustees shall judge proper. And with a view to preserve all public exercises of the students from impropriety of any kind, every student during his senior year and previously to his commencement performances especially, shall shew to the President or presiding professor the whole of what he proposes to speak and shall not fail to observe such corrections as shall be made of his performances; and if any student pronounce any thing in public of a censurable nature in contradiction to the directions or corrections of the officer to whom he has shewn his piece, the President or presiding Professor is required to stop him on the public stage, and he shall be other wise censured as the Trustees or Faculty shall determine."
On these grounds [the speech of Wm. Shepard was ex]amined, and corrections were made by the President [Robert Chapman] . Some of these were considered by him and known by the speaker to be important and some unimportant. It has been the invariable practice of the President in his corrections to signify the first by erasure and insertion, and unimportant verbal alterations by placing the corrections above, without erasing the words of the speaker, leaving it at his option to use his own language or adopt the suggested amendment. The publication of the speech in Mr. Gales' paper [The Raleigh Register] of last week though some notes are made, is apprehended to be essentially defective, and to have a tendency to mislead the public mind by not clearly marking and stating this distinction and stating the reasons assigned by the President for the corrections. The public then will please to observe that there was but one erasure, and no insertion but what had reference to christianity. This erasure respected the sentence, "Without retailing scenes which would cause the most abandoned prosely[t]e of infamy to blush himself into virtue." The words "into virtue" were erased. The correction however was not considered as materially important and was no object of notice in the delivery of the speech. The essential points were, "But England has shewn us a christian people born at the foot of the altar, consecrated to the God of mercy—whose first draught was from the chalice of the church—whose first sound breath was a petition to a saviour." Words erased from "England," and the following substituted in their place; "professedly and pretendedly, with superior advantages, has shewn us a people." This reason was assigned to the speaker, noted on his speech, as the ground of correction: "Christianity ought not to be considered and mentioned as accountable for the conduct of British Rulers who are not under its influence." The precise words the publisher ought in candor to have inserted. Another exceptionable expression, was, "lighting the torch of war at the shrine of God." Altered the shrine of wickedness. The following sentence was corrected: "tell it not that England, the mistress of the world (the stay of righteousness, the staff of religion; whose vessels teem with missionary philanthrophists, that make the savage dens of Hindostan reverberate the anthems of God) erected a trophy, &c." The words in a parenthesis were erased and not the words "erected a trophy," as stated in the paper. The reason assigned to the speaker, written on his speech, for this erasure was—"British rulers, and individuals of that nation, who are sending missionaries abroad in the world, are different objects and ought not to be identified." The disregard of this correction in connection with the two proceeding it, evincing a determination in the speaker to prostrate the laws, and utter language deemed highly censurable, as the language of infidelity, impelled the President , as required by law, to require him to desist from speaking. There is another exceptionable part of the speech which was corrected by insertion, but which has been essentially mutilated by the publisher. The public will notice the sentence as printed in Mr. Gales' paper, and the original as handed to the President and corrected by him. "The (Christian) American (in the cause of Justice) when he rushes into the battle, is animated by the spirit of Washington, which, descending from heaven, covers him with the light of glory, exhorts him to victory, for God is the leader." The original was in the same words, with the following addition of poetic lines:
"And if he falls, say not his cause is done,
His deathless spirit shall outlive the sun
A while his ashes mingled with the dead.
But to yon heaven the aspiring soul has fled!
On seraphs wings she sought celestial rest
And keeps eternal sabbath with the blest."
The ground of the correction, sending every soldier, at death, however vile and abandoned to heaven, in direct opposition to the Sacred Scriptures, which declare that "he that believeth not shall be damned,"4 has thus been left out of view. With what design this was done, the public must judge. As printed in Mr. Gales' paper the correction was entirely unnecessary and childish. It is proper also to state to the public, that had the determination of the speaker and his prompter, to prostrate all authority, been known to the Faculty, the unhappy consequences to them and others would have been prevented. The public will now readily see that the publication in Mr. Gales' paper, last week, which says, that parts of the speech gave such offence to the Faculty that twenty-seven students were suspended, was incorrect. The offensive parts of the speech were known only to the President , whose business it was to make all corrections he deemed proper; but the speaker's breach of the laws and defiance of authority, in not observing the corrections, were the causes of the offence to the Faculty, which in justice ought to have been stated. With respect to the suspension of others, "the facts which have come to the knowledge of the citizen," give a wrong, incorrect view of the subject. It is proper, then, to state to the public that at the conclusion of Wm. Shepard's speech, in defiance of authority, there was a very general plaudit in the Hall in token of approbation. That at the end of the speakin[g,] as the students went to the College, there were noisy shoutings for Wm. Shepard , and great noise and riot in the buildings during a great part of the night—that the next morning the Faculty were grossly insulted by the students, individually and as a body—that all business was at an end, and authority despised and insulted,—that a public notification was placed on the Chapel door inviting the attendance of the students at a precise hour—that only 27 attended,5 & that these when discovered by the Faculty, avowed it as the object of their meeting, in the express language of one of their leaders "to form measures to express their indignation against the proceedings of the Faculty." This avowal they seemed afterwards to wish to palliate and conceal. They all had opportunity given them by the Faculty to state their object, to disavow such a design, and withdraw from the combination; but they chose to maintain their connection. Finding them engaged in such business, the following law of the University was the ground of procedure; "if any clubs or any combinations of the students shall at any time take place, either for resisting the authority of College,—interfering in its government, shewing disrespect to the Faculty, or to any of its members, or for concealing or executing any evil design, the Faculty are empowered and directed to break up all such combinations as soon as discovered, and to inflict a severer punishment on each individual than if the offence intended had been committed in his individual capacity, whatever be the number concerned or whatever be the consequence to the College."6 They were required to sign an acknowledgement of their offence, hoping that the Faculty would forgive them, and [promising future subjection to the laws: which they refused, and were accordingly suspended.7 These are the] facts, and it is further stated—that the Faculty proceeded with great deliberation—spent a whole week in the business—spared no pains to reclaim the students to a sense of duty, but that they who were suspended preseveringly manifested such a spirit and avowed such principles that the Faculty were compelled to send them away from the institution.
Chapel Hill Oct. 15, 1816.


1. The University's response to the publication of William Biddle Shepard's speech appeared in The Raleigh Minerva on October 18, 1816, p. 3; in the Raleigh Register on October 18, 1816, p. 3; and in The Carolina Federal Republican of New Bern, NC, on October 26, 1816, p. 2. The version appearing in a microfilm of The Raleigh Minerva serves as copy-text and is emended with readings from The Carolina Federal Republican. The author is unknown but probably is Joseph Caldwell .

2. Alexander Lucas was the printer of The Raleigh Minerva. A weekly newspaper edited by William Boylan , The Raleigh Minerva received the printing patronage of the Federalist party and generally was supportive of the University. Joseph Gales' Raleigh Register was a rival paper, staunchly Republican and often critical of the actions of University faculty and trustees.

3. Though John Pettigrew's copy of the "Laws and Regulations for the University of North Carolina" represents an early version of ordinances governing student behavior, trustees' minutes for December 3, 1802, contain a second, more elaborate set of twenty-four rules prepared as part of a "circular letter" sent to parents (Vol. 3, UA). On December 13, 1811, the trustees formed a committee to revise the ordinances again, but the minutes do not record the revised rules. The first "law" quoted is more restrictive than earlier regulations concerning religion, which required students to attend public prayers daily, observe the Sabbath, and avoid profane language but which did not stipulate articles of faith to which students had to subscribe. The first sentence of the second law was already in force in 1802; the remainder may have been added in 1811, when the laws were revised.

4. John 3:18.

5. The entire student body in 1816 numbered ninety-two students ["Matriculates and Graduates," Catalogue of the Trustees, Faculty and Students of the University of North Carolina, 1867-68 (Raleigh: Nichols, Gorman and Neathery, 1868), 14].

6. The 1802 version of this law is as follows: "Should a combination ever be formed by any number of Students to trangress the laws, or to prevent their execution, or to shew disrespect to the Faculty, or to anyone of its members, or to introduce disorder in any shape, the Faculty shall either punish the whole body according to their demerits, or they shall select such as appear to be most active and forward, as the sole objects of punishment. The Faculty shall choose either of these methods as to them shall appear most expedient" (Trustees Minutes, Vol. 3, UA).

7. The students were required to sign the following pledge:
We whose names are hereunto subscribed students of the University of North Carolina are convinced and do acknowledge that whoever of us were engaged in the plaudits made on tuesday evening in the public hall after speaking by W. Shepard were guilty of gross disorder & disrespect of authority, that on the next morning we transgressed our duty as students of the University and as good members of society by proceeding with tumultuous noise and riotous behavior to the public hall, and uniting in an unlawful & disorderly assembly for the purpose of opposing the Faculty and violating the laws.
We confess that this conduct was improper & unjustifiable. We hope that it will be forgiven by the faculty and we solemnly promise that we will hereafter faithfully submit ourselves to the laws of the university and deport ourselves as orderly members of society. (Faculty Minutes 2:57-58, UA)