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Title: "The Influence of Climate on the Mental and Physical Constitution of Man," Composition of Eli W. Hall, June 1, 1846: Electronic Edition.
Author: Hall, Eli West, 1827-1865
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Risa Mulligan
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 16K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© 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:
2005-05-31, Risa Mulligan finished TEI/XML encoding
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Title of collection: Senior and Junior Orations, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: "The Influence of Climate on the Mental and Physical Constitution of Man," Composition of Eli W. Hall, June 1, 1846
Author: Eli West Hall
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number VC378 UO1 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Examples of Student Writing/Compositions, Examples of
Social and Moral Issues/Other Social and Moral Issues
Politics and Government/Government and Governing Bodies
Editorial practices
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Transcript of the personal correspondence. Originals are in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Hall's composition argues that climate influences temperament. Warmer climates produce sensual, passionate imaginations; cooler climates, cautious, calculating judgments governed by reason, not fancy.
"The Influence of Climate on the Mental and Physical Constitution of Man," Composition of Eli W. Hall , June 1, 18461
Hall, Eli West, 1827-1865

Page 1
The influence of Climate on the mental and physical constitution of Man.
To be convinced of the existence of a great diversity in the mental and physical constitution of various nations, we have but to look at the swarthy and obtuse African– the bronzed and enervated Asiatic– and the fair and astute European. We are naturally led to enquire into the physical causes of this difference, And the solution of this question is at once difficult and interesting.
That there exists an intimate connexion between the body and mind, is an assertion which we presume none will attempt to controvert. If the body be in a sound and healthful state, the mind will perform its functions with proportionate ease and facility, whilst if the body be diseased or debilitated, the mind is relaxed, and becomes incapable of its former exertion. We presume that it will be also admitted that climate exerts a material influence upon the physical constitution of man. To sustain this position we have only to refer to facts. Let us but look at those living under the sunny skies of Italy. Before the eye of the Italian, Nature has lavishly spread out those treasures, most calculated to ravish and entrance the senses. Here, reclining upon some vine-clad hill, his brow fanned by gentle zephyrs pregnant with perfume, and bearing upon their bosoms the melody of minstrelsy and song, he gazes with rapture upon the rays of the declining sun, as they sweetly sleep upon the bosom of the Mediteranean– gild the summits of the lofty Alps

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impart nourishment to the bright flowers and green herbage carpeting Campania s plains– and blend the hue of the rose with that of the lily on the cheek of Italia s daughters, and under all these influences we find him a being weak, effeminate, and enervated. Viewing the climate of France, we find it somewhat more bracing, and discover a corresponding change in the physical constitution of the people, from being weak and effeminate we find them imbued with more vigor, activity and spirit. Next we refer to Germany, and find that as the climate becomes more rigorous, the body is better developed, and more capable of enduring hardship, until arriving at England, we discover a race exhibiting in perfection a vigorous and healthful state of body. Then if there be, as has been stated, an intimate connexion between the body and mind; the physical constitution of man being effected by the influence of climate, it must follow that the mental constitutions, will to some extent be affected in like manner.
Climate effects the soil. If the climate be genial, the soil will be fertile; the growth will be spontaneous, and man [will be supplied]2 with not only the nescessaries but even the luxuries of life, with but a very small amount of labour. The natural result of all this is a state of idleness, and idleness produces effeminacy and vice. The converse of this proposition holds equally good. If the soil be unproductive, the people will be industrious. Industry promotes a healthful state of the body, and hence of the mind.
Observation proves that in warm climates, the sensual

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passions predominate, the sensibilities are rendered more exquisite, and Imagination usurps the throne of Reason. It is here that thrilling eloquence is most often heard, kindling upon the alters of congenial hearts flames that overleaping the feeble barriers of judgment, ignite mans fiercest passions– here, the bright spirit of Poesy loves to enchant the soul with her bewitching lays– and 'tis here that man is emphatically the creature of impulse.
The congress of the United States presents a fine theatre, whereon may be exposed the validity of our theory. There are congregated men who have been expsed to the influence of varied climates, and to the mind of the most superficial observer, by their methods of speaking, would be conveyed the knowledge of their "local habitation" if not of their "names". The passionate appeals, gorgeous imagery– and vehement action of one class evincing that theirs is the land of the 'sunny south', while the cogent argument, cautious declarations, and calculating views of the other testify that if the snows of their northern homes have frozen the fancy, they have also strengthened the judgment.
It has been believed that climate exerts but little influence, from the fact that we frequently find races and individuls living in the same degree of latitude possessing totally different manners customs and habits. This seeming anomaly can however be explained, without invalidating our theory. We do not contend that climate is omnipotent, but will admit that its influence may be weakened and even counteracted by the influence of other causes. Thus in warm climates where the body becomes enervated and disposed to languer, it

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ought to be, and is the object of wise legislators to frame institutions and laws which will counteract the influence of climate, and it frequently happens that their efforts are attended with such success, as to change the very nature of the people– and thus climate acting as an indirect cause tends to by indicating the necessity of such institutions, tends to produce an effect upon the physical and mental constitution of man, totally at variance with what we would be at first led to suppose.

Eli W Hall

University of NoCa June 1st 1846


1. Senior and Junior Orations (1842-46), NCC. In Spring 1846 thirty-seven juniors wrote compositions on the topic, "The influence of climate on the mental and physical constitution of man." A draft of Hall's composition is housed in the Eli West Hall Papers, SHC; approximately a dozen changes in wording differentiate the draft from the final version. Drafts of compositions on the same topic also appear in the Pettigrew Family Papers, SHC, and the Manly Family Papers, SHC. They are the work of James Johnston Pettigrew (1828-63), a member of the Philanthropic Society, and William Henry Manly (1827-48), a member of the Dialectic Society. Hall , Manly, and Pettigrew all entered the University in 1843 and were juniors when these compositions were written. Some of the drafts show corrections that appear to be the work of Charles Force Deems , adjunct professor of rhetoric from 1842 to 1848. Hall (1827-65?) graduated in 1847, became a lawyer, and was several times elected to the NC Senate (1860, 1862, and 1864)

2. "will be supplied" appears in Hall's draft, but Hall dropped the phrase when he recopied the essay.