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Title: Letter from Joseph Caldwell to William Neill, January 5, 1815: 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. 17K
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:
2005-07-20, Brian Dietz finished TEI/XML encoding.
Source(s):
Title of collection: Joseph Caldwell Papers (#127-z), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Joseph Caldwell to William Neill, January 5, 1815
Author: Joseph Caldwell
Description: 6 pages, 7 page images
Note: Call number 127-z (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Editorial practices
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Letter from Joseph Caldwell to William Neill, January 5, 1815
Caldwell, Joseph, 1773-1835



Page 1
Chapel Hill Jany 5, 1815

Dear Sir,

I received your letter at the proper time after its date, and must now apologize for not answering sooner. It arrived at the time of our publick examination which was on the first of December. As soon as the business of the session was over, I was compelled to go to Raleigh without delay to attend to some business of the bible society, which was to meet in two or three days afterwards. A vacation of a month succeeded, during which all regular business was suspended with me, except the preaching of the gospel on the sabbath.
The explanations I shall give on the subjects of your inquiries will be made as much as possible of facts. The college here has subsisted since the year 1794. I came to it in the year 1796, which was the time when degrees began to be conferred. Since that date there have been disorders of an open and aggravated nature on four different occasions. The last time was four years ago, when mischief was done by combination, with the persuasion in the minds of the perpetrators, that the number would operate with the Faculty as a reason for declining to punish. Impelled by the emergency, and by the hope of breaking up this ground on which inexperience and shortsightedness had made them calculate, a sentence of suspension was firmly pronounced and perseveringly carried into

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effect against 37 students. From that time the spirit of subordination has been confessed and uniform. It has been the fixed principle of the Faculty to maintain in as great perfection as possible the discipline and scholarship of the best northern colleges. We hold that at no college south of New Jersey, are the government and morals in a practical view, to be compared with what are supported at the University of North Carolina. I state this, having present to my mind the publicity and conspicuousness of the subject, and with a wish to invite inquiry, without a distrust of the result, provided it be derived from the dispassionate and informed. The Faculty consists at present of two professors and two tutors, besides the president. The number will probably be soon increased with another professor before long, for the Trustees are intent on success, and have ample funds. The members of the Faculty are well united, and well disposed, aware of the necessity of strict examinations, punctual attention to the classes, a stedfast adherence to the laws, and a conscientious and exemplary attention to scriptural religion and morality. The funds of the institution have been hitherto directed on the erection of buildings. The library and apparatus therefore have not been greatly enlarged. We have not perhaps more than a thousand volumes, but these are mostly selected for their immediate usefulness, and with a view to divinity. There are two societies which have a thousand volumes apiece, many of which, though you might not suspect it, are religious books of the

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best sort. The Faculty have at their disposal $160 a year for the purchase of such books as they choose. But it is probable the time is not far off when the Trustees will make an appropriation of money for enlarging the library to three or four thousand volumes.
The number of communicants in this place is about 20; three of whom are members of the Faculty, one a student of divinity not belonging to the college, two students of the college, and the rest of the vicinity. The professor of languages we hope and believe is as truly pious as any of our professors of religion, but his distrust of himself has prevented him from communing. I believe I shall be correct in stating that the people of this vicinity are generally well informed on religious subjects, and predisposed to attend publick worship. Their advantages have never been such as are commonly enjoyed in the northern states; their habits and manners are not so correct, and by many the sabbath is not well observed. It is apprehended in the northern country that the people of the south are hostile to religion. I believe that this was formerly true, but there has been a remarkable change within a few years. In our village and the neighboring country, but especially among ourselves, no open violations of of the sabbath are customary, nor would they be permitted, except that you will sometimes see a

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wagon or a traveler passing through. In this state our church has a synod called the Synod of North Carolina, composed of the three presbyteries of Orange, Fayetteville, and Concord. The number of our ministers, the congregations, and a general view of the presbyterian church within the bounds of this synod, are presented in the minutes of the General Assembly of the last year, to which I would refer you. Hillsborough is our county town, and is 17 miles from this place. The inhabitants of that town are building themselves a brick meeting house, the old one which was of wood, having gone to decay. There is a congregation about 7 miles from us, to which Doctor Chapman preaches once a month in its own meeting house.
I have now lived in this place 19 years; am a native of N. Jersey; was educated at Princeton where I took a degree as you will see by the catalogue, and where I studied divinity, and received license. I came to N. Carolina at the age of twenty three. I was then young; the college was beginning here; men of our profession, fitted to act as superintendents, were not to be had in this State. I consented to take charge of the institution while it was rearing for some years, but was at length indulged by the Trustees with the appointment of another person to act as President, and I have since continued as professor of mathematicks. Having grown up thus far with the institution, I shall probably die in its service.

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The sentiments commonly entertained of the climate of N. Carolina by the people of the north, are not applicable to this part of it. They are true of the lower part of the State, that part which lies between Raleigh and the sea. In our lower country I would not consent to live, if the whole were offered as an inducement. The site of the university is chosen for its healthiness. In traveling from the sea to this place you change the temperature much faster than by going northward the same distance. From the sea to the western limit is probably 450 miles. We live about the middle of this distance. One hundred miles remove us sufficiently from the influence of the marshes and swamps that relax the bodies and minds of those who have not been enured by time to their effects. The winters here are generally mild, but often cold and sometimes severe. There is scarcely a sabbath in the winter when we are not willing to press back with speed to our fires after publick worship. The waters we drink are pure, well tasted and healthy. We live among the hills; the country is rougher than you would wish it, and springs are breaking out on every side, without any limestone to render them disagreeable to the taste, or unfit for washing. Our summers are lasting; the atmosphere is genial; and our vernal and autumnal seasons continue long pleasant. I should apprehend from the description you give of your debility, it would hardly be effectually modified and terminated by a

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climate less soft than this. We live in the latitude of Portugal, whose character you know, for its beneficial effects upon northern constitutions.
Here is undoubtedly opening a scene of usefulness. If any where I hope it is here that an invasion has been effected into the region south of Virginia, bringing reformation into the manners, customs, and principles of society. The progress of improvement is like that of an army, it must have its prisoners. But these must be followed up by a force, or their labours is lost. We who have yet acted, have been prisoners; but we can promise you, and in making this promise, I anticipate the time when your presence may charge me if it be not true, the road is now opened for others to advance with safety and success.
But I will push this long letter no further at present. Be so good as to let me hear from you soon.

I am, Revd & Dear Sir
your's most respectly & sincerely

Joseph Caldwell


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