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Title: Letter from William R. Davie to John Haywood, September 22, 1805: Electronic Edition.
Author: Davie, William Richardson, 1756-1820
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 Sarah Ficke
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:
2005-06-15, Sarah Ficke 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 William R. Davie to John Haywood, September 22, 1805
Author: W.R.
Description: 7 pages, 7 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from William R. Davie to John Haywood , September 22, 1805
Davie, William Richardson, 1756-1820



Page 1
Halifax,Sept. 22nd 1805

My Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure to receive by the last post your letter of the 10th Inst. and those of the 26th of June and 8th of July in the course of conveyance, these two last I should have answered sooner, but I wished to decide, before I wrote, whether I should pass thro' Raleigh on my way to So. Carolina as you had kindly proposed to meet me somewhere if I did not. My arrangements are now made to pass thro' Raleigh about the 7th or 8th of November when I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you.
The late unfortunate occurrence at the University is much to be lamented on many accounts, and most of all for the ill advised measure of the ordinance which gave birth to the conduct adopted by the students. You will remember, no doubt, that an Ordinance of this kind was rejected several years ago on a full consideration by the Board, on the ground that the principle was improper. These Monitors under the ordinance are not a species of Magistrates but real spies, and human Nature revolts from the principle of Espionage in every shape: The corruption and depravity of London, Paris, and other large cities render its adoption necessary by the police, but the most degraded wretch in the sinks of depravity could not be induced to accept it as a public office, and

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always stipulates for the most profound secrecy with regard to his employment. I do not believe that the duty of Monitors or Censors has ever been carried further in any literary Institution than to note absences from prescribed duties such as attendance on recitation, prayers, Church, &c.
With regard to my advice as to this unhappy occurrence itself, I should have advised that the ordinance should have been suspended as to its operation till the annual meeting of the Board, when it would probably be repealed altogether. And with regard to the Students whose conduct in this instance forms a most dangerous precedent; I think, with proper deference to the late act of the Trustees, that discrimination with regard to readmission should have been adopted on some principle such as the degree of guilt, or the age, or the standing of the student.
I have reflected much and seriously since this event on the causes of this spirit of insubordination and the means of preventing it. It has always existed in a considerable degree, the ordinance may be considered as only an accidental cause; I think the real causes may be found in the defects of Domestic education in the So. States, the weakness of parental authority, the spirit of the Times, the arrangement as to vacation, and some errors of

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the Board which I will notice hereafter.
Every man of discernment, who has lived 40 or 50 years, must have observed and lamented the general decay of parental authority, and the consequent presumption and loose manners of our young men. Boys of 16 or 17 years, without judgment, without experience or almost any knowledge of any kind arrogantly affect to judge for themselves, their teachers, and even their parents in matters of morality, of Government, of Education, in fact in every thing. The effect of the other general cause is visible throughout the whole of their remonstrance. Nothing can be more ridiculous than Boys at school talking of "a sacred regard to their rights," "the high and imposing duty of resistance," and of "denouncing laws," &c., &c., the genuine Slang of the Times culled from the columns of Newspapers; yet these very sounds are attended with the most mischievous consequences. Over all these causes however the Board of Trustees have no power or influence, but they must be considered to be counteracted as far as possible.
I have understood and observed ever since the establishment of the University, that the disturbances have generally manifested themselves about this period of the second session, and that when a general resistance to authority did not take place, a spirit of Insubordination always shewed

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itself more or less at this season: This I attribute to the great length of time the students have been confined at Colledge; they become tired and disgusted with study, their minds gradually acquire a sour, gloomy, and restive temperament producing a general predisposition to any measure that may break up the session, or interrupt business and distress the Faculty. Two or three fellows more daring and unprincipled than the rest seize on this Disposition and artfully turn it into the channel of a general revolt against all authority: To Remedy this Evil I would earnestly recommend than an ordinance should be passed at the next annual meeting establishing the vacations exactly on the same footing as they are at Princeton whatever they may be, and Mr. Caldwell can give the necessary information, they are the result of Experience & have been found to answer the purpose and give satisfaction to parents. For this purpose, if you approve of this, I would advise that President Caldwell should be requested to prepare so much of the ordinance as may relate to any alteration in the division or the course of studies, Examinations, &c.
The Difficulty we have continually experienced in the management of youth at this Institution has often

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obliged me to reflect on the means we have used, and the nature of the Government of such Institutions. I am now perfectly convinced that the best governed Colleges are those which have the most respectable Faculties, and the fewest written Laws, and that we have committed a serious error in making an ordinance for every thing, or in other words legislating too much. It is now my opinion, that after describing the kind of punishment to be used on the Establishment, and reserving in all cases the punishment of Expulsion to be confirmed by the Board, all the rest should be left to [the] discretion of the Faculty. It may perhaps require some reflection to see the justness of this remark, [owing] to certain habits among us of acting & thinking, and I will only add, that the principles of the parental Government are the true model for that of literary Institutions for youth of all kinds from the University down to the common school: The parental Government has no written laws, and I would observe that no mortal man could govern his family if he adopted that mode. If he did, his whole Household would become, like these students, lawyers and legislators, discussing his ordinances, chattering about "their rights," "despotism," "duty of resistance,"

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&c., &c. They would form themselves into revolutionary committees, and be always deliberating, remonstrating, and revolting.
I have also been lead to doubt whether our practice of publishing in the newspapers annually the Distinctions made at examinations may not be attended with consequences which if not the immediate causes, operate at least powerfully with other remote causes to produce many of the difficulties we have experienced; the objects of this measure were to excite emulation among the students, gratify the parents, and attract the public attention to the Institution: but I apprehend that it has also had the effect of filling the young men with presumption, and a vain imaginary consequence, which tend an ill effect upon their own conduct afterwards, and gave them a pernicious influence among their fellow students; and thus the mischief it produces greatly overbalances any good to be expected from it: and perhaps it would be better to adopt hereafter the practice of other Colleges who notice in the papers the commencement honors only: and other reasons of considerable weight might be given for this measure. That it is dangerous to depart from the paths of Experience is a Truth I am more and more convinced of every day I live.
I was sorry to see a long piece in the [unrecovered]

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[unrecovered]the only [unrecovered]ing [unrecovered] if these reflections [unrecovered]they will be [unrecovered] by your experi[ence] [unrecovered] I shall be happy should they [unrecovered] [unrecovered] service.
[unrecovered]this post you also receive [unrecovered] respecting Mr. Jones's letter [unrecovered][be]lieve me with highest [unrecovered]

of regards and [unrecovered]

your Wm R. [Davie]



It will be [unrecovered] post before I can write to [unrecovered]the land of Mr. Jones [unrecovered]to see Gen l Jones [unrecovered] of your letter, but [unrecovered] too sick to do. [unrecovered]