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The Influence of the University upon the State. From The North Carolina University Magazine 1 (April 1844): pp. 85-89:
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Source Description:
(article) The Influence of the University upon the State
(serial) The North Carolina University Magazine 1 (April 1844): pp. 85-89 85-89 p.
Raleigh, N.C.
Thomas Loring, at the Office of the Independent

Call number C378 UQm 1844 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

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[Cover Image of The North Carolina University Magazine (April 1844)]

Page 85


        We have concluded that were we to occupy a few pages of our Magazine with the facts on this subject, it would not be an act wholly ungrateful to the public. It appears from the catalogue for 1843-'44, that since the year 1797, seven hundred and forty-six individuals have graduated at the University. In the message transmitted by Governor Dudley to the Legislature in December 1840, it is assumed that the number of matriculates is equal to at least twice the number of graduates. This computation is probably below the truth, as the number of regular members of the two literary societies at Chapel Hill who have joined between 1797 and 1844, is about 1800. By making allowance for various mistakes which would occur in keeping the records for forty-seven years, it is probable that there have been about 1600 matriculates in the University in this interval. Of these, 350 were from other States, leaving 1250 matriculates from North Carolina, who would probably average from sixteen to twenty years of age. It is stated in the American Almanac for 1842, that in 1840 there were in this State 24819 "free white males" between the ages fifteen and twenty; that is one-twentieth of the white population. If this proportion be an average for the years 1800, 1810, 1820 and 1830; it follows that since 1797 there have been about 220,000 persons in North Carolina between fifteen and twenty, or about 170,000 between sixteen and twenty. By comparing this number with the number of matriculates given above, we find that for every 1250 of the citizens of the State who are educated at the University, there are 168,750 who do not enjoy this privilege. That is, one in every one hundred and thirty-six, and if we deduct the number of educated men who leave our State, one in every one hundred and fifty of our white male population have been matriculated at the University; such being the numerical proportion, the object of our inquiry is, does this one hundred and fiftieth of the white male population in the State wield an amount of influence greater or smaller than that indicated by this fraction.--Statistics form the only safe method of inquiry about such matters as this; our chief guides here are the catalogues published by the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies in 1841, and the American Almanac. Three of every five of the Trustees of the University have been students at Chapel Hill; but as this proportion can be easily accounted for on other grounds than the natural influence of education, if it is not supported in the other offices of our State, we wil not lay much stress upon this insulated fact.

        The present Governor of North Carolina, is a graduate of this Institution;

Page 86

so also are Messrs. Mangum and Haywood, her Senators in Congress. Five out of the nine Representatives in Congress, Messrs. McKay, Saunders, Daniel, Barringer and Clingman, have been matriculated at Chapel Hill. On the same list we may place Judge Daniel of the Supreme Court, four of the seven judges of the Superior Court: Messrs. Battle, Bailey, Manly and Pearson, and six of the State Attornies: Messrs. Whitaker, Clarke, Jones, H. C. Jones, Bynum and Outlaw. The principal officers in the service of the State who have never been students at Chapel Hill are, Chief Justice Ruffin, four of our Representatives in Congress, three of our Superior Court Judges, the Secretary of State, the Treasurer, the Comptroller, and one of the State Attornies. Nineteen, then, of our principal officers have been students in the University, and eleven have not; or a proportion rather greater than that which obtains among the Trustees. In other words, nineteen of our public men have been selected from the 1250 matriculates, and eleven from the 168,750; by pursuing this proportion to its legitimate results, it will be seen that as far as the offices above mentioned are concerned, every person who has been educated at Chapel Hill is esteemed by his fellow-citizens equal, on an average, to two hundred and thirty-two of those who were not.

        If we look back for a few years in the history of our State, we will find that five successive Attorney Generals, Messrs. Taylor, Saunders, Daniel, McQueen, and Whitaker, have at one time or another been students at this Institution. Since the year 1823, in which an alumnus of this University first entered the United States Senate from North Carolina, five of the eight Senators have been graduates of Chapel Hill. In the same period twenty-four of her Representatives have been "old students," and thirty have not; that is, four of nine. The first Governor of North Carolina, who was an ex-member of the University, was elected in 1814, and Governor Miller, has been succeeded by six others, Governors Branch, Burton, Owen, Swain, Spaight, and Morehead. Of course it cannot be expected that an Institution which is not quite fifty years old has yet attained to its maximum of influence. Its steady advance during the last twenty years would sufficiently prove this without any reference to 'a priori' arguments, and it may be doubted whether at any time in its history, it has extended more direct influence upon the State than it does at present. These statistics, hold good in their proportion when carried out to those who are at present wielding that influence which springs naturally from eminent abilities and great virtues, even though they may not be placed so constantly before the public. Among those who have once been parties to the generous emulations of the Blue and White Ribbons of Chapel Hill, may be mentioned Ex-Governors Branch, Swain, and Spaight: Ex-Senators Brown and Graham, Hon. Messrs. Toomer, Donnell, Pettigrew, W. B. Shepard, John H. Bryan; Messrs. C.

Page 87

Manly, Hugh Waddell, Bartholomew Moore, Charles Hinton, W. J. Alexander, D. F. Caldwell, Cherry, Gilliam, and many more; but fearing we may leave out the names of some to whom our limited information does not extend we forbear to mention any others. It may not be improper to say, in this place, that twelve of the seventeen candidates for Congress at the last election, were formerly members of the State University, as were the four gentlemen whose names appeared before the last Legislature, for the position now occupied by the Hon. William H. Haywood.

        As the large majority of all in our State who have collegiate educations have received them at Chapel Hill, the foregoing remarks may, with a slight alteration, be made to apply to the influence of the educated men in North Carolina, irrespective of their place of education. It is true that we might have made this the subject of our remarks with but a trifling increase of the trouble involved; but in pursuing the present course, we have effected a double purpose, in pressing the great claims of a collegiate education, and in turning the attention of our readers to the importance of the University of North Carolina merely as a State Institution. By enlarging the usefulness of men, the number of men is in effect increased; if a man can by any means be made twice as useful, it is as if another man was added to the population of the State. This increase is of course only relative, but it has all the effect of an absolute increase so long as there are some members of the great family of civilized nations so far behind others in education. Great Britain with her twenty-five millions of population wields an influence greater than that of Russia with fifty millions, simply because the education diffused through her territory makes each of her citizens twice as valuable as those of Russia. Russia may bring each of her citizens to the same pitch of enlightenment and thus assume her natural station of superiority; but until she actually takes this step, she must remain in her present secondary situation. Mutatis mutandis, the same is true of any two of the United States, and being true is of much greater importance. One great object in the eye of the Constitution is the preservation of equality among the sovereign States, whilst at the same time a due gradation among them as parts of a great confederacy is attempted. But here we have an anomalous case setting at defiance the regulating skill of man, and distributing moral influence, which is equally as powerful as physical force, without any reference to sovereign equality or the principles of apportionment. An instance in which Connecticut with her population ten times as intelligent as those of Georgia, wields much more influence in the Union than this latter State, even though she have but the same number of Senators and half as many Representatives in Congress; where North Carolina with 750,000 inhabitants must stand second, at a great distance to Massachusetts with 730,000. No general law could have provided against this

Page 88

inequality; it is left to the Legislatures of the several States to raise or depress them in the Federal scale; and when the results of a neglected education are those just mentioned, no one can hesitate to believe it criminal--almost treasonable--in the Supreme Power of a State to leave it far behind the other members of the Union in point of real influence. The duty as it should be performed in North Carolina is two fold; by one branch the point of general education through the State should be directly raised by means of Common Schools; by the other, the State Institution should be made capable of doing more good. If this course should be pursued, much greater benefits would follow than can be anticipated from a superficial glance at the plan. The direct benefit to be derived from the University, can not be very greatly increased in our present situation: the fraction which represents the college-bred must always be small. But the indirect benefit to be derived from an "addition to the mass of general information caught from collegians in the intercourse of society and diffused through the body of our citizens" would be incalculable. Some degree of intelligence is required before the minds of men are awakened to a desire for information; in order that this point should be reached, some plan of forcing must be resorted to. In the lowest stage of mental activity, man assumes that "ignorance is bliss" and directly concludes it "folly to be wise." From this situation he must be aroused by compulsion, for ordinarily no other means will succeed: a certain degree of intelligence, however, once attained, he feels inspired with new desires--with an appetite more worthy of his station and destiny. It is this degree of enlightenment that is required in North Carolina;--if it should ever be reached, we firmly believe that it will be the commencement of a totally new era in the State. Then will be discovered to our fellow-citizens the "vast importance of education;" then, to use the language of Chief Justice Ruffin, will be developed "its influence upon individual happiness; its tendency to enlighten and purify the mind, to chasten and correct the evil passions and propensities of our nature and soften the affections; to enlarge the sphere of human action, and promote enterprise and the arts; to multiply useful men, and increase their capacity for usefulness; and, in a popular government, to inform the community at large, and dispose them to cherish, and qualify them to defend their free institutions." We would not do our State the injustice to deny that she has taken initial measures towards the attainment of this object. After the State had been without Common Schools for sixty years, the Legislature of 1838, made some provision for their establishment in those counties which should accept the scheme then offered. The influence which these have as yet exerted upon the intelligence of North Carolina is of course small; much remains to be done, but even the small advance that has to this time been made, give us good grounds to hope that hereafter the merits

Page 89

of our University will be better appreciated. More especially may we hope that the census of 1850 will not present so mortifying a view of education in our State, as was given in 1840, and that it will never again be heralded throughout the Union that one in every seven of our white population above twenty years of age can neither read nor write.

        If it had fallen within the compass of our remarks to speak of the distinguished men "who have sought employments and homes in distant sections of the Union after having been educated under the patronage of North Carolina," we would have taken pleasure in recording the names of Senator Benton, of Missouri, Senator King, and Judge Hopkins, from Alabama, Hon. John H. Eaton, Hon. Thomas Williams, Gov. Polk, Bishop Otey, Ex-Senator Nicholson, and Judge Ridley, of Tennessee, Judge Mason and Hon. George Dromgoole, of Virginia, Dr. Hooper, of South Carolina, Dr. Hawks of Mississippi, and Bishop Polk of Louisiana.

        Many also of the illustrious dead who "live in the influence which their lives and efforts, their principles and opinions, now exercise and will continue to exercise" on the character of the State, were once familiar with the woods of Chapel Hill. But we must put an end to an essay whose great length we had not anticipated; if we have not wearied him who has followed us to the close, we must say that we are eminently satisfied with the result of our efforts.



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