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Title: Report to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the [Faculty] Committee Charged with Investigating the Burning of the Belfry, Prepared by William H. Battle, Elisha Mitchell, and David L. Swain, October 4, 1856 : Electronic Edition.
Author: University of North Carolina (1793-1962). Board of Trustees. Executive Committee
Author: Battle, William H. (William Horn), 1802-1879
Author: Mitchell, Elisha, 1793-1857
Author: Swain, David L. (David Lowry), 1801-1868
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 Caitlin R. Donnelly
Text encoded by Caitlin R. Donnelly
First Edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: ca. 16K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007
© 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:
2007-03-03, Caitlin R. Donnelly 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: Report to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the [Faculty] Committee Charged with Investigating the Burning of the Belfry, Prepared by William H. Battle, Elisha Mitchell, and David L. Swain, October 4, 1856
Author: Will. H. Battle
Author: E. Mitchell
Author: D. L. Swain
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Report to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the [Faculty] Committee Charged with Investigating the Burning of the Belfry, Prepared by William H. Battle , Elisha Mitchell , and David L. Swain , October 4, 1856
University of North Carolina (1793-1962). Board of Trustees. Executive Committee
Battle, William H. (William Horn), 1802-1879
Mitchell, Elisha, 1793-1857
Swain, David L. (David Lowry), 1801-1868



Page 1
To the Executive Committee of the Trustees of the University of North Carolina
The undersigned, to whom was referred the subject embraced in the following preamble and resolution "Whereas, in the account rendered to the Executive Committee of the burning of the belfry lately at the University, there seems to have been a want of proper care in preventing or extinguishing the fire, and of investigating the cause of the fire,
Resolved that the President of the University, Dr. Mitchell , and Judge Battle , be appointed a Committee to investigate in what manner, and by whose agency, accidental or designed, the belfry was burnt, and what measures were taken to prevent or extinguish the fire, and whether there was neglect on the part of any person, and if so whom, in attempting to extinguish the fire, and that said committee report as soon as may be convenient," have had the same under consideration, and ask leave to submit the following report.
In the communications heretofore made to your body by the President and Faculty, are contained all the reliable information in relation to the burning of the belfry which has come to the knowledge of the undersigned, or, so far as they believe, of any member of the faculty. From this information which is manifestly very slight, there

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is no clew which can enable the undersigned with their limited powers to ascertain the facts connected with the transaction. It is understood, and it certainly has long been the established rule, that in the investigations made by the Faculty, of offences alleged to have been committed by the students of the University, no student shall be compelled to give testimony against his fellows, or to criminate himself. It is true, that if any student be found by a member of the faculty under circumstances of suspicion in connection with a violation of the laws of the University, he may be called on for an explanation, and, his silence, if he refuse to answer, may sometimes afford strong evidence of his guilt. In times of disorder or disturbance, the Faculty have often felt the aid afforded them by the following ordinances: "A student seen in the campus after the ringing of the notice bell at night, may be held to account therefore, and if found there at the time of a disturbance, shall be deemed a participator." "After the ringing of the bell at night till breakfast on the following morning, the time not devoted to sleep is due to study, and it is the duty of the student, if not engaged in the preparation of his lessons, to be in his room and to maintain order and quiet there."
By virtue of these ordinances the Faculty can and do call to account every student who, at the time of a college riot or disturbance, is ascertained to be

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out of his room; and in this way they often discover offenders, who could not be detected in any other manner. The undersigned have not, in the present instance, any such means of investigating the alleged offence of burning the belfry. The fire occurred so late at night, and was attended with so little noise that those members of the faculty who live in the village were not aroused by it, and those of them who have rooms in the college buildings have made written statements in relation to the matter, which are already before you.
While the undersigned are entirely satisfied that it is not in their power to make any effectual investigation, they believe that all the material facts attending the transaction can be brought out by an enquiry before a grand jury of the country. If the belfry were burnt willfully, it was, as we think, a misdemeanor, under the 103rd section of the 34th chapter of the Revised Code. We suppose that it was a misdemeanor also, if the extinguishment of the fire was wilfully prevented, even supposing that it originated by accident. The students, whose statements are now before you, could no doubt give such information as would lead to a full discovery of all the facts of which you wish to be informed. The undersigned, therefore, submit it to you as the proper persons, to decide whether a criminal prosecution shall not be instituted. In doing this, they are aware that an examination may, under certain

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circumstances be had before a magistrate out of court, but in order to that, we suppose there must be some person or persons charged with the offence. In the present case neither of the undersigned, nor any member of the faculty, can make the oath necessary to procure a warrant for the apprehension of any particular person or persons. Indeed the undersigned do not understand your resolution to contemplate any such proceeding. They conclude by expressing their confident belief that in no other way, than by an enquiry before a grand jury and a trial upon a hill of indictment which they may find, can the object indicated in your resolution be accomplished. All which is respectfully submitted.