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Title: Letter from Joseph Caldwell to the Board of Trustees, February 19, 1824: Electronic Edition.
Author: Caldwell, Joseph, 1773-1835
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Bari Helms
Images scanned by Bari Helms
Text encoded by Brian Dietz
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 21K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2005
© 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:
2005-06-28, Brian Dietz finished TEI/XML encoding.
Source(s):
Title of collection: University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Joseph Caldwell to the Board of Trustees, February 19, 1824
Author: Jos. Caldwell
Description: 6 pages, 6 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from Joseph Caldwell to the Board of Trustees, February 19, 1824
Caldwell, Joseph, 1773-1835



Page 1
Chapel Hill Feby. 19, 1824

Dear Sir,

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees in December, an order was passed, as you may perhaps recollect, that an account be exhibited by the Faculty of the University, of the purchases made by them of books for the publick library, with the funds raised by the semiannual payments of the students, agreeably to an ordinance passed probably at the end of the year 1813. Of this order, the Treasurer Mr. Manley transmitted to me a copy, before he left Raleigh for Washington. As I am informed he will probably not return till after the lapse of a month or two, and the order may make the account returnable to the Committee, I have concluded to send it to yourself as a member of the Board, and of the Committee, that it may be ready to be submitted at such time as the director may possibly give reason to expect it. Since the notice given by Mr. Manley , I have had the library examined, and have found that the books are all present, agreeably to the account herewith transmitted. The Records in the hands of the Treasurer, will show the number of students for every session, since the year 1814, and consequently the amount may be accurately ascertained, which ought to have been received by the Faculty, at the rate of one dollar from each student, at the beginning of every session. These accounts therefore, as now presented by the Faculty, are completely subject to control on the part of the Board; and we would invite the attention of a Committee, or of the Board itself to the state of the Library, at such time as may be convenient or eligible. I would suggest that a visit to the Library may be directed and made for inspecting its condition, and its correspondence with the accounts herewith rendered, during the annual examination in June. It had not occurred to the Faculty, though there is no proper reason why it should

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not have been done, to exhibit to the Board, our proceedings in the application of these funds. I shall be particular to do so at all times hereafter, for the reasonable satisfaction of the Board, at its annual sessions. It was a valuable privilege granted to the Faculty, and an important provision for the College, when the ordinance was passed appropriating the library money for the purchase of books. Without some such fund, I know not how we should have been able to get along as a body of Teachers. It has enabled us to procure some books from year to year, without which we must have continued most grossly ignorant. We must have become completely stationary, within limits, which if known to others would have been disgraceful. It is perhaps hardly considered with sufficient advertency, that a professor in a college who is without books in tolerable supply, is analogous to the creation of nobility which for want of estate is obliged to live in rags.* What should one think of a lawyer or a judge who was told to go into the practice or the decisions of the courts, and to prosecute his profession with eminence and extensive success, while he was destitute of library, and unable to determine what were the laws or the decisions of authorities? What is to be understood by a standing professorship in a college, if it be not, that he who occupies it, is to employ his whole time and his utmost diligence in the extension of his knowledge by the examination and study of the multitude of authors who have written on the subjects upon which it is his business to teach and deliver lectures. It has been well said, upon a late occasion in regard to impost upon books imported into our country, enforced by a law of Congress, that library constitutes a main part of the stock in hand to a man engaged in literature. It is almost proverbial to say of men whose business is literature, that they are a class who are apt to be found getting along with difficulty, ever cramped by the

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restrictions of necessity. What should we think of laying impost upon a shoemaker's awls and lasts, or a carpenter's planes and chisels, if there were no possibility of obtaining these instruments but by sending to Europe? And how could a printer commence and go on to execute in the handsomest style, and with the most extensive methods of his business in one of our cities, if he were turned into a building, and told to go to work with one or two fonts of types, and those perhaps half worn? Obliged to make out his ink as well as he could, and to patch up his presses by his own ingenuity? It was easy to enlarge in these illustrations of the circumstances in which the Faculty here have been compelled to proceed in their business with few books and no apparatus. We have however, been greatly relieved by the resource furnished in the library money, with which we have had it in our own power to furnish some supplies of that species of food on which as instructors, we are called upon to subsist and grow. We used at first, and for some time to take opportunities of ordering purchases from Booksellers in the Northern States, as our funds were able to pay for them. We afterwards instituted a correspondence in New York, so as to have our books imported annually, if they could not be had in this country. We had found it often difficult, and for the most part impossible to get such books as we wanted, in the American market; and a number of those books which appear in the later lists, had been often ordered before, but could not be obtained for want of a correspondence providing for importation. Our books cost us high prices however, when obtained in this manner, and in the detail in which they are procured. We need very much an interest to be created in the minds and feelings of some gentlemen, in whom we could confide for consulting our wishes, and the efficacy of our funds, in London, and Paris, and Hamburg, and perhaps some other places. We are in hopes of having our business arranged before very long, upon some better plan than any which we have been able to effect heretofore.

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We are informed recently by an intelligent gentleman in Massachusetts, who has had much opportunity of experience and information upon this subject, that if a special agency can be employed to go from this country for laying out $6000 in books, one or two thousand in such a sum may be saved by it. I had before been thinking of offering or suggesting to the Board for its consideration the expediency of going myself upon this business. The business of a voyage to the eastern side of the Atlantick, is at present reduced in such a manner, as to imply very little more than what it was not long since, to travel to Boston. On this subject, I had some conversation with Judge Cameron, as you have probably learned from him. This agency evidently implies a personal inspection, and sufficient trial of all the instruments and machines which enter into the composition of the philosophical apparatus to be procured. This indeed is a matter of so much importance, that we need not be surprised, if our apparatus, chosen and purchased in an ordinary way, should upon its arrival at Chapel Hill, be found of very little worth. It is quite evident that a special agency on whose intelligence and fidelity upon this particular subject, we can absolutely rely, is indispensably necessary, before we proceed to the purchase of apparatus. An Astronomical clock, a Transit instrument, an Astronomical Telescope are articles of high cost, and if they be not really good, they are so much money thrown away, only to tantalize us with standing objects chagrin and disappointment. The same may be said indeed, of every part of philosophical apparatus, as to the purpose they are to answer. If the purchaser does not subject them to an intelligent, and scrutinizing and in some cases a patient examination it will in every instance be perfectly accident, whether they shall not be found articles worked off by the seller, by arts which he well knows how to practice in his own trade. The reason of this is, that these are instruments of great delicacy in the construction, and they are very liable when finished, to prove subject

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to defects and imperfections. They must not be lost however to the maker; they are mingled in the mass of his instruments of the same kind, and talked off upon the terms of the best. With respect to Books, we have catalogues to show that the prices of a large portion of such as we want are double in London of what they will cost us upon the Continent. Every proper inducement also ought to be presented to the sellers for effecting purchases upon the most advantageous terms to us. It is not to be understood that I have thought of such a thing as deducting the expense of traveling and agency, in my own case from the $6000 to be disbursed by order of the Board. My idea has been to answer the bill for all my personal movements in the business from my own resources. I should have in view very much, such opportunity of personal improvement and accession of strength, in regard to the affairs of the University, as might issue both in advantages to myself and to the institution. By taking pains to contract personal acquaintance in the places visited for the transaction of business, any future expenditures for the University, in books and apparatus, might be conducted without the necessity of an expensive or unsafe agency.
And now with respect to this matter of going myself, I hope you will view it as suggested only for consideration, and not as entertained by me with any feelings or opinions which will not hold themselves entirely and at all times, at the discretion of my friends, and of the members of the Board. I believe I can say, that whatever they shall judge to be best and most advisable, I shall be prepared to admit in a moment, and to settle upon it with the utmost complacency and conclusiveness.
The Trustees it seems provided for the printing of the plan of education, as it has been recently modified and adopted. This would be a business probably for Mr. Manley to transact with a printer. It is of some consequence, that it should be done if possible without delay, that the teachers of Academies may be aware of the particulars in which the old plan has been modified. I do not know whether the determination

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of the Board will authorize the printing of it, on a separate sheet. This is the manner in which it is but to have it done, that it may be sent specially to Instructors and to all other persons who may need it, to be kept by them for their continual guidance in the preparation of students for the classes. If it was contemplated to insert it in the newspapers only, perhaps it would not cost much more to have it separately printed. I send you an example of the manner in which the former plan of studies was printed. I suppose 200 or 250 would be a sufficient number. Mr. Gates is, I have thought, apt to charge highly, and needs to be induced to work upon reasonable terms, judging from other printers. A refuge may be had in Heartt of Hillsborough, or in Bell and Lawrence, provided the proof sheet be submitted to a careful examination, before they proceed to strike off. Possibly D. McPheeters would lend us his assistance in this business of the printing. The copy of the present course is among Mr. Manley's papers, and may probably be had by writing to him, to know where it may be found. A note should be subjoined like that upon the back of the printed list which accompanies this. If this be not done, students may be prevented from coming next session, under the impression that they may be excluded, because they are not strictly prepared according to the present system. It would not be proper in us to insist upon it rigorously, until time is allowed for falling in with it.

I am Dear Sir,
Yours most sincerely & respectfully

Jos. Caldwell



* Please excuse the reference. Small things may be compared with great, for illustration.