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(caption title) Note to "The Influence of the University upon the State."--April No.
(serial title) The North Carolina University Magazine
Thomas Loring, at the Office of the Independent
Call number C378 UQm 1844 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
LC Subject Headings:
Since the last number of the Magazine went to press, our attention has been called to the Washington Republican of April 25th, containing a stricture upon the article to which this is appended as a note:--Some week or so before, there appeared in the columns of the same paper, some remarks upon the University which we did not see, but which we have been credibly informed, bore internal evidence of having been the production of the same gentleman. We have thought that as self-defence calls upon us to notice the last article, we might as well set the gentleman right upon all his misapprehensions as discovered in both papers.
The first assertion made by this writer which we shall notice, is that the University has studiously concealed the condition of its finances from the public; he does not seem to know that the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, a gentleman whose character is high in North Carolina, makes at every session of the Legislature an exhibition of the financial condition of the University, which report is printed as a public document. In December 1840, the following Resolution was adopted "in General assembly of North Carolina:" "Resolved, that the Governor be requested to report to this General Assembly the whole amount of property received by the University of North Carolina from its establishment in 1789 to this time, designating what kind of property received, whether of money, personal or real estate, from what source received, whether by subscription, legacy, donation or otherwise; and particularly what amount and description of property received under second section of said act, giving to said University all the property that has heretofore, or shall hereafter escheat to the State; and the expense incurred, and to whom paid in managing, selling and collecting the funds arising therefrom; the number and condition of the buildings erected; the number of Professors; and whether any addition is required to either; also, the amount of property or funds belonging to the University at this time." And yet this gentleman seems never to have heard of this resolution, or of the full and minute answers made by Governor Dudley, in his message, to every question contained in it. Such ignorance of passing events is, in any case, unpardonable. What then shall we say of it when it is made the foundation of remarks which, if they were true, would be calculated deeply to injure the Institution against which they are directed?
Another assertion is that of the studies pursued at the University, chemistry among other things is neglected for rhetoric: how does R. know this? he left here according to his own statement eight years
since; he is sufficiently condescending in his second article to allow "that reform and amendment have already begun under the auspices of its able President;" and yet, he makes this assertion roundly and without qualification. We pass over all consideration of that modesty which should guide young men in expressing differences of opinion with able and honest gentlemen who occupy high public stations; such considerations would not have been without weight upon some minds, but as they seem to have been neglected by R. we do not feel ourselves warranted in calling his attention to them. The Senior class since we have known it, has spent during each week, six hours in the lecture and recitation room, upon the subjects of chemistry, geology, and mineralogy, the last two being minor studies, occupying together hardly a third of the time. Now, whether this is a neglect of chemistry may very well be a matter of opinion, but we are certain that in our whole college course, we have never heard this charge made, even although chemistry is a favorite study.
We will now pass to the second article, being that in which we are more personally interested. And surely it has caused us to wonder not a little that a gentleman who wields a polished pen and whose style displays no little vigor, should have thought it worth his time to take up the cudgels with a collegian--no matter what might have been the subject involved in the discussion. More especially has it astonished us that this gentleman should have thought proper to be bitter in the general current of his remarks. He says that our "method could only yield flattering but most fallacious conclusions;" as well as we remember, we came to the conclusion that Senators Mangum and Haywood, Governor Morehead, Judge Daniel, &c., were alumni of the University--that they were influential men and therefore the University was an influential institution. Where is the fallaciousness of such an argument? how is this a truism? If the present minister to France is a fallacy, then our argument was fallacious; otherwise in justice to ourselves we cannot admit that it was. R. asks, "How many of our Presidents and other distinguished national officers have been alumni of this Institution," &c.? It appears to us rather strange that this gentleman after seeing that our remarks were restricted to the Influence of the University upon the State, should blame us for not noticing its influence abroad. We are not disposed to give R. very much credit for acquaintance with the biography of our Presidents, if he does not know that all of them excepting Mr. Tyler, had passed the years generally devoted to collegiate education before this University had gone into operation; and this remark might be well extended to the large majority of the Secretaries, &c. The University of North Carolina has certainly no claim to be the distinguished alma mater of Mr. Tyler, but she can point with considerable pride to the eminent individual who fills the second seat in the Union as one of her worthy Alumni.--
Had we been disposed to enlighten R. upon the subject of the influence of the University abroad, we could have directed his attention to Secretaries Branch, Eaton, and Mason, to the present Minister to France, and to an ex-Minister to Spain, and to a Speaker in the House of Representatives. But we contend that there is no just ground for expecting that the councils of the nation should be filled with the University Alumni. Men are generally old before they are called on to hold high offices under the United States, and therefore, it would be very obviously unfair to trace the progress of this young University, as if its influence should have been equal to that of Institutions whose fame had been established before it was incorporated--such as Harvard, founded in 1638; Yale, 1700; Princeton, 1746; Columbia College, New York, 1754; and Dartmouth, 1769. Thirty years ago, the University had but little moral weight any where; now she has considerable influence in the State and a little through the nation. Thirty years hence will be sufficient time for comparing her with other institutions.
"Perhaps the next article of this complacent eulogist, if less confident, may be better fitted to convince those of their error who believe that the Institution, far from meriting any applause has repulsed the intelligence of the State fifty years behind that of the country at large, by the shallow and misdirected education it has given to her youths." We must beg R's pardon; but, if there be any one within the bounds of North Carolina, who believes what is expressed in this assertion, he is entirely too deeply steeped in prejudice for us or for any body else to reason with. We might as well be directed to solve a sum in Algebra for him who steadfastly asserts that three will go into four five times and six over; both gentlemen are equally destitute of the fundamentals of right reason. Take the University alumni as a body; are they better or worse informed than the rest of the State? If, as cannot be doubted, they are more intelligent by a great deal than their fellow-citizens, we cannot see how "intelligence has been repulsed by the University." They may not possibly be as well informed as the average of the eleves of Northern Colleges, but this fact does not prove "intelligence to have been repulsed." "Shallow and misdirected education;" the writer, of course, means in comparison with other Institutions in our land: we have one fact in answer to this bold assertion: a member of any class in this University, if accompanied by the recommendations of the Faculty, can join the same class in any Institution at the North; this certainly could not happen, were education here either "shallow or misdirected."
The component parts of this second article are bold, injurious and unsupported assertions. It is a great mistake to suppose that any reputation is to be gained by such unwarranted attacks upon the University; there may be men in the State who are pleased with such articles, but in the eyes of all the intelligent of North Carolina, not only does
the Institution come forth unscathed from such attacks, but its unfair antagonist suffers by the rebound of his own weapons. We invite R. cordially to attend the next Commencement, and rectify his errors. Let him not be mistaken; we claim no charity for the University, but we do claim for it justice. It invites scrutiny, but not scrutiny of that kind which R. would persuade North Carolina he has made into its affairs, and which he has made public in an article consisting entirely of confident and groundless assertions on matters--ignorance of which is wholly unpardonable in a gentleman who voluntarily brings them forward.
If the writer who has chosen to throw down his glove in proof of the imbecility and unworthiness of this Institution, will accept of our invitation to attend the approaching commencement, we pledge ourselves to show him that his allegations with reference to the Trustees are unsustained by the records; that he has shown himself not only unkind, but unjust towards those instructors of whom he has any personal knowledge, and that though he makes no exceptions, he knows absolutely nothing of the qualifications or modes of instruction of seven out of the nine members who constitute the present Faculty. In conclusion, we hope that we may hereafter, find R. among "those friends of the Institution who seek for its amendment and reform;" we hope, sincerely, that this friendship will be evinced publicly; for we must say that the proofs which we have before us of his feelings towards it, are those, if not of a persecuting, at least, of a very equivocal character.
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