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Title: Letter from Henry Harrisse to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, October 9, 1856 [Containing a Postscript to the Memorial of September 29, 1856] : Electronic Edition.
Author: Harrisse, Henry, 1829-1910
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. 36K
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:
2007-03-19, 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: Letter from Henry Harrisse to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, October 9, 1856 [Containing a Postscript to the Memorial of September 29, 1856]
Author: Henri Herrisse
Description: 9 pages, 10 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from Henry Harrisse to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, October 9, 1856 [Containing a Postscript to the Memorial of September 29, 1856]
Harrisse, Henry, 1829-1910



Page 1
Chapel Hill, Oct. 9th 1856, 11 P.M.

To the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the University.

Permit me, Gentlemen, to subjoin to each of the allegations contained in my communication of the 27ulto, a few references to the Journal of the Faculty.
1o "The discipline is lax, and impunity an occurrence of every day life"
Last Friday week, a student,1 notorious for his improprietry of conduct and who had been once suspended for drunkeness, was reported for having gone to Hillsboro without the knowledge or consent either of his parents or Faculty; and there, in a drunken brawl, insulted, cursed, and I think struck, a quiet and respectable citizen of the place. The case was so plain that the Faculty had to dismiss him; and yet, in the very face of the late resolutions passed by the Trustees, and which so clearly pointed to offences of this description, in less than one week thereafter; a majority of the Faculty actually reinstated him in all his rights and privileges.
About a fortnight ago, another student,2 was brought and admonished before the Faculty for the FIFTEENTH time! — and for no trivial offences.

1 Mr. William Murphy, of Salisbury.

2 Mr. J. Hargrave of Wilmington


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2 o. "If in addition to his manifold tribulations, we add a disposition on the part of his colleagues to drive him to a resignation by withholding their support, or if such a belief is current among the students . . . "
The first part of this sentence must not be taken in an absolute sense; for, indeed, I have in the Faculty, friends who have always supported me. This is a mere inference, the truth of which must be drawn from the following cases, and the treatment which I have always received at the hands of some of my colleagues.
As to the alternative "or if such a belief is current among the students . . . " I must be permitted to say that it does not admit of any doubt. The belief is and has been current for sometime, that the Faculty is not disposed to sustain me in the enforcement of the college discipline; and it is to this opinion that I and several of my friends of the Faculty, ascribe chiefly the difficulties which I find in the discharge of my duties.
3o "Strange as it may appear to those who are not familiar with the proceedings of this Faculty such a letter was accepted."
The facts set forth in the letter of the 27th ulto, speak enough of themselves; but to give an idea of the latitude with which students are permitted to treat the Faculty, as a Faculty, I beg leave to give the following instances.
Not long since, Mr Benjamin Smith , an old offender, was called before the Faculty for neglecting his duties and

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not attending recitation.
— "Mr. Smith , why do you so rarely attend recitation?
— "Because I choose to do it!"
No notice whatever was taken of that reply.
Last week, he was summoned again, and there in the presence of all the officers he would constantly replicate, interrupt his admonishers, speak and retort and not in the kindest manner. The President tells him to be silent — No, I won't! — I wish you to retire — I'll go when I am ready!
Mr. Smith is still a member of college and is daily complained of. It must be said, however, that the next day, when called upon, he endeavored to explain his remarks: But what an explanation!!!
As to the style of Mr. Whitaker's letter, — I have lost the copy; but as you may well imagine, I kept a lively recollection of it. Judge Battle , however, was present when read; his memory is a faithful one, and I have no doubt but he will corroborate the version I give of it.
In regard to the four cases cited, I will content myself with quoting the Faculty Journal
1.a. Thursday Oct. 4th 1855
"Messrs Ringo and Whitaker appeared before the Faculty and were admonished for disorderly conduct and disrespectful language to the instructor at Mr. Herrisse's recitation room. Mr Whitaker having made an insulting remark

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about Mr. Herrisse before the Faculty, was required to send a written apology to-morrow on pain of being dismissed, if he should fail to comply with this injunction."
Perhaps it will not be amiss to repeat here the words of that letter:
"Gov Swain ." I have been told by Dr Mitchell that if I do not retract what I said yesterday, I shall be dismissed. I therefore retract."
2.b. November 13th 1855
"Mr Whitaker was reprimanded for impertinence to his instructor in the same Department (French). After he retired, it was moved, in consideration of his repeated offences of this kind, that he be dismissed. This motion was ordered to be upon the table, and Prof. Mitchell was directed to inform him that it would be taken up and carried, if he should appear before the Faculty again upon a similar occasion."
3.c. Feb. 15th 1856.
"Mr. Whitaker of the Soph. Class appeared and was admonished for impropriety at recitation. A motion was made to dismiss him in consideration of his repeated offences of this description. It was ordered that this motion should be laid upon the table and that he be informed of the fact as a warning against further transgressions.
4:d. Aug. 14th 1856.
"Whitaker of the Junior Class appeared before the Faculty reported by Mr. Herrisse , to answer for impertinence to him at recitation. A motion was made to dismiss him which was lost by the casting vote of the President.

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Prof. Phillips was then appointed to see his mother and inform her of his conduct and of his peculiar relation to the Faculty."
The following statement, which is on the margin of the book, was inserted about two weeks after the vote had been taken, and at the instance of Gov. Swain who, in presence of the Faculty, handed it to the Secretary.
"because there was not a full meeting of the Faculty, and no application had been made according to the usages of the Institution to have one summoned.
The Ayes were — Profs. Hubbard , Hedrick , Mess Pool , Lucas, Battle and Wetmore
Nays: Profesr. Phillips , Wheat , Fetter , Shipp and Brown .
Prof. C. Phillips declined to vote."
I wish to state here, that if such be the written rule, it is not always the rule of practice. Oftentimes, (as the Journal will show — for there are three cases as mine to one according to the strict rule—) the delinquent is brought before the Faculty; a motion is made to dismiss him; and then one of the members moves to postpone the case until there is a full attendance of the Faculty. I have, within the last two sessions, heard Dr Mitchell make at least three such motions under such circumstances.
This last case, occurred during the recitation from 5 to 6 P.M; and Mr Whitaker appeared before the Faculty in less than a half an hour thereafter.
But I ask, with due respect, if the motion was so

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irregular, and Gov. Swain was aware of it, why did he permit the vote to be taken upon it?
This however is of no importance whatever and does not at all touch the merits of the case; for, on the very next Friday, when there was a full meeting of the Faculty, the motion was again made — quite in order, this time, and lost by the same vote. i.e.:

Appendix Second to the minutes of August 15th. 1856: which the Faculty directed to be placed on record Oct. 9th. 1856

The motion to dismiss Wm Whitaker being now renewed, the following vote was taken
Nays — Messrs Hubbard , Hedrick , Pool , Lucas, Battle and Wetmore .
Prof C. Phillips declined to vote.
A true copy.

A. G. Brown
Secretary of Faculty

Having reported the case, I did not vote.

Page 7
It was to avoid the argument." Why — the case is still open" — that notwithstanding the above vote, I waited until a reply had been received from Mr Whitaker. The Journal does not mention the fact, but it is denied by no body that I know of, that a letter from Mr. Whitaker refusing to withdraw or showing no disposition to withdraw his son from college, was read and listened to, at one regular meeting, about three weeks ago.
"No motion was substituted in its place."
According to the rule of practice here, as well as elsewhere, the privilege to move for a reconsideration of a vote, belongs exclusively to those who form the majority. As they did not move in the matter, and let two or three meetings pass without doing so, my friends and myself considered the matter as brought to a close.
Now, I ask — what else could I do, but to appeal to the well known impartiality of the Trustees?
I have heard it urged this way, that they voted against the motion on account of the threat or comittal I had made. But it seems to me, that sound logic requires that the Faculty should first vote upon the merits of the case. If the charge is proved, let the delinquent be punished. If the charge is not proved, then it is time to consider whether the Faculty

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is bound by my committal. But, without speaking of the six gentlemen who voted for the motion to dismiss: Prof. Fetter and Dr Wheat declared, the latter in presence of the whole Faculty, that Mr Whitaker deserved to have been sent off!
It is also alleged that I have had many difficulties with the students.
Had I been willing to submit to the whims and indolence of our students, it is self evident that the Faculty would never have heard of any such difficulties. We see that every day! But, these difficulties are chiefly to be ascribed to the prejudice which exists here against foreigners in general. As a prof, I beg leave to state, that in the three years and a half I have been connected with the University, with the exception of the Whitaker 's affairs, I can recollect only Four personal difficulties. Two arose in the discharge of my duties; and the classes themselves acknowledged individually to me that I was not to blame; and the other two, were with men whom I did not teach, that I had never seen or spoken to in my life! One1 looked at me; and I beheld his features for the first time when brought before the Faculty by somebody else; The other,[2] whom I did not even know by name, cursed me in the public streets

1 Mr William Montfort of Onslow.

2 Mr. Eust. Hunt of Pittsylvania. Va.


Page 9
If I may be permitted to speak again of Mr Whitaker , I ask leave to say that I am not the only member of the Faculty who ever summoned him; and that after having often disturbed Tutor Lucas' recitation; he is to this day, guilty of the same offence in Prof. Hedrick's room. I hold this piece of information from these two gentlemen themselves. And indeed, it is an amusing episode in this case to see the endeavors now made to clothe Mr Whitaker with the four cardinal virtues!
The Faculty, or some of its members, appeal to the fact that when they used to recommend my services, they never availed themselves of the privilege of turning me out. But I must say in reply, that nearly two years have elapsed since they had a chance, and but for the kind intercession of the Executive Committee, I am "morally certain," that I would have been dismissed at the very next closing meeting of the Faculty; Further, I have been told over and over again, even by the direction of the Faculty that my renomination always hung by a thread; and — I must say, that those who voted against me then, are the very ones who vote against me now.
I have appealed to you, Gentlemen, because you have always treated me kindly, justly and with generosity. And at this very moment, in the stillness of the night, I feel that you will do me justice!

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