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Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History: Electronic Edition.

Johnson, Guion Griffis, 1900- 1989


Table of Contents



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           MORE influential upon the daily lives of the people of antebellum North Carolina than the theory, the laws, and the reforms of education were the conditions under which children learned to read, write, and cipher; the teachers they had; the textbooks they used; the schoolhouses they attended. "We can never forget . . . the rude cabins in which we studied our lessons," said a North Carolina newspaper editor in 1857, recalling the school days of his youth, "the long and weary walks to school; the books we thumbed, . . . the pothooks and hangers we constructed, . . . the rivalry in spelling, . . . the master's looks, . . . the rustic play-ground, and the mossy spring, by which, in the thick shade, we took our meals at noon; the ghosts we thought we saw, returning home late in the biting or the mellow eve." 1


           Some of the best school buildings in the State housed the academies. When the first building of the Raleigh Academy was erected in 1803 at an expense of $600 it compared favorably with the best academy buildings in the State. It was "two stories high, pillared on Brick . . . 2½ feet from the Ground, 40 feet long, 24 feet wide, . . . with a Brick Chimney at each end, two Doors and eight Windows below, . . . and 10 Windows in the second story, . . ." The first floor was one large room, but the second floor was divided into three rooms. The timbers were "of the best kind," and the building was "ceiled with Plank throughout, painted Inside and Outside, and finished in a workmanly manner." 2

           The Fayetteville Academy, which also offered room and board to "the scholars," was a more pretentious institution. In 1825 the Raleigh Register described it as follows:

           A few academy buildings were of brick. In 1812 the trustees of Hyco Academy in Caswell County completed "an elegant Brick House Building" for their school. 4

In 1821 the trustees of the Hillsboro Academy advertised for bids for the erection of a brick building "large enough to contain about 150 students," and in 1824 the trustees of Lincolnton Female Academy "resolved unanimously that the building be brick." 5

           The rural academies were often simple frame buildings set in "quiet groves . . . where our boys can read or play under a canopy of oaks . . . skirted with a shrubbery of chinquepins and birches," the academies being more fortunate in their location than in the construction and furniture of their buildings. 6

The first building which the Union Institute Educational Society erected for Union Institute, later Normal College and still later Trinity College and Duke University, was a log house, thirty by twenty feet. The next year the society "resolved to erect a frame building fifty feet by twenty-five, one-story, with an eight feet passage through the center, dividing the building into two rooms of equal size, each room to have two fireplaces." The society then turned over the log house to the use of Brantley York, the principal. 7

           Brantley York had come to that neighborhood in the spring of 1838 to teach a subscription school in Brown's Schoolhouse. It was "a very inferior building, built of round logs, and covered with common boards. The floor was laid with puncheons and slabs. The chimney was made of wood with little or no clay in it, tapering up in the form of a partridge trap. The hearth was dirt, and

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the whole in bad repair; for, when it rained, it was with difficulty that the books and paper could be kept dry." 8 The house was too small to accommodate all the students; consequently York built a bush arbor in front of the south door and seated some there. The little red schoolhouses of ante-bellum days received their names from the fact that the cracks between the hewn logs were chinked with split timber and red clay. The buildings which housed the subscription schools were, for the most part, rude cabins, poorly lighted and ill equipped.

           The public schoolhouses 9

were little better. In 1851 Thomas H. Williams, author of the first law on examining committees, described them as being either "Calcutta holes" where a large number of scholars are "huddled together in a small, pent-up, contracted schoolhouse, built so from mistaken notions of economy," or loosely constructed buildings, "enabling not only the cold winds of winter to whistle through the crevices to the manifest coldness and shivering of the little urchins as they sit with chattering teeth and benumbed bodies around the embers and smoking chunks of the fireplace, but actually permitting the boys to go in and out through the large spaces between the logs." 10 In 1859 the school visitor of Craven County reported that the county had in its forty-nine districts twelve frame houses, sixteen which were "poor specimens of architecture," and ten which were good. But at least two of the ten houses which the visitor listed as good were "unfit for civilized persons to inhabit," so a correspondent of the North Carolina Journal of Education declared. In fact, one of the houses looked more like "a boy's deadfall than a district schoolhouse. From the props around it one would think it a bear trap." 11 "Calamus," writing in the Journal of Education in 1860, regretted that many public schoolhouses which had been started had never been finished. Many more were "utterly unfit for workshops."

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Some had too few windows; others had smoky chimneys; while nearly all were "deficient as to blackboards, seats, maps, &c." 12


           The school equipment was usually of the meagerest sort. Few schools had playgrounds 13

and many did not even have outhouses for the accommodation of the children. The desks were "small, narrow benches, without backs," of such a height that the children's feet could scarcely touch the puncheon floor. The writing desks were rude planks erected in an inclined position in front of the benches. 14 John C. Wharton, a farmer who lived near Greensboro, has described the interior of the ante-bellum log schoolhouse in which he received his education: The teacher had three pieces of apparatus with which to conduct his school: a switch, a ferule, and a pocket knife. The ferule served a double purpose, the flat side for inflicting blows upon the palm of the hand and the straight edge for marking lines upon unruled copy books. The knife was for cutting pens from goose quills.

           Fortunate was the subscription or public school which had globes and maps or even blackboards. In 1854 Wiley thought that it was not impossible for the common schools to have "blackboards

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for mathematical recitations," 16 and in 1859 Professor W. H. Owen, writing from Hillsboro, urged "ye sinewy farmers, fathers, with ample means, and frame barns which cost more than the schoolhouses," to equip the district schools with a few essential articles. "Let there be an ample blackboard in front, or on the side of the teacher--globes upon a centre table--a planetarium pendant from the floor overhead--the walls covered with gay colored, but innocent and thought-causing prints and paintings." 17 But this was an ideal not to be achieved in the public schools of North Carolina until the twentieth century.

           The academies were usually better equipped. Indeed, William Hooper of the University of North Carolina considered that the Newbern Academy and the celebrated Round Hill School of Massachusetts approached nearest his "beau ideal of a school room." Hooper insisted that "every pupil should have before him all accommodations for reading and writing, a separate desk under lock and key, where he may secure all his books and his stationary, which, in our schools now, is anything but stationary; his pens, ink, ruler and pencil having to travel all around the room for the accommodation of his fellows." Hooper thought it the duty of the parents to provide their children with chairs and desks when the trustees of the academy failed to do so. 18

           Trustees sometimes equipped their academies with a few maps, globes, and a blackboard or two. In 1803 the trustees of Caswell Academy announced with emphasis: "A pair of Globes and a complete Set of Maps have just come to hand." 19

Two years later the Academy had bought "some Geometrical apparatus." Before 1817 the Raleigh Academy had some chemical apparatus, and in 1819 the trustees spent $500 for a "Philosophical Apparatus," which Professor Mitchell of the University of North Carolina selected in the North. The Raleigh Register, much pleased with the purchase, pointed out that the teachers would be able "to illustrate the principles of Natural Science, by many useful pleasing

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experiments, all tending to facilitate the progress of the students in this important branch of Education." 20

           In 1824 the trustees of Oxford Academy spoke of having provided the school "with globes, maps, and other usual apparatus," 21

but in 1839 a correspondent of the Raleigh Register declared that there were only two institutions in the State, one of which was the University, "possessed of philosophical and chemical apparatus; . . . There are not probably a dozen Academies prepared to give instruction in the use of Maps and Globes, or half of this number furnished with Libraries." 22 As late as 1860 Wiley declared:


           If the son of a middle-class farmer wished to "get educated" he attended several terms of a subscription school to learn his three R's, attended several more terms of a near-by academy for a smattering of Greek and Latin, and finally reached the University or one of the denominational colleges where he might spend three or four years on the classics, philosophy, and higher mathematics. 25

The subscription schools made no pretense at offering more than "the rudiments" of an "English Education": spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic. The favorite textbooks of the old-field teachers were Webster's Speller and Primer, Dilworth's Speller and The School-Master's Assistant, and Pike's Arithmetic. 26 In 1857 William W. Holden recalled that he had studied at a subscription school as a boy: "Pike, Webster, the Columbian Orator--all, besides the Bible, that we had." 27

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           By Act of 1840-1841 common schools were to teach "any branch of English education; and all white persons over the age of four years 28

shall be permitted to attend . . . as scholars, and receive instruction therein." 29 Superintendent Wiley interpreted the law to mean that the first duty of the common school system was to furnish an elementary English education to the white children of the State, excluding Latin and Greek "unless by the general consent of the parents in districts concerned"; yet he constantly urged the schools to widen "the range of practical studies." 30 He encouraged teachers to include grammar and geography in the subjects taught and obtained a special edition of Mitchell's Intermediate Geography for use in North Carolina.

           "The subject of Text Books," wrote Wiley in 1853, "has caused more complaints than perhaps any other." Each year he urged teachers to use "one uniform system of good books." In 1851, before his appointment as head of the public schools, he had written The North-Carolina Reader "to sow in the young minds of North-Carolina the seeds of a true, healthy, and vigorous North-Carolina spirit; and that it may effect its end, it is designed for universal use in the State, to go, with the Bible and the Almanac, into every home." 31

Concerning history as a study in the public schools, he wrote as late as 1858 to the county examining committees, "As yet it has not been deemed proper to issue certificates containing History as a branch of study on which Common School teachers are to be generally examined." 32

           At his suggestion, some of the county boards of superintendents appointed "Committees on Common School Books" and recommended that the teachers adopt the list of books which the committees approved. The list of books which Wiley himself advised the committees to recommend was as follows: Webster's Speller, Wiley's North-Carolina Reader, Parker's First and Second Readers; Davies's Arithmetic, Emerson's Arithmetic, Mitchell's Intermediate

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Geography; Bullion's Grammar; Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary; and Wiley's Common School Catechism. 33 Yet until the close of the ante-bellum period, many schools were still using Murray's English Grammar, fifty years out of date, and Morse's Geography, which did not give even the state capitals correctly. 34

           The course of study offered by the academies placed emphasis on a classical education even at the sacrifice of teaching the students to read and write English correctly. Newspaper correspondents frequently criticised the "rage" of choosing "classical scholars" as teachers in the academies, but the rage continued throughout the ante-bellum period. 35

Classical scholars were "above" teaching English grammar to "brats." "Cervantes," writing in the Raleigh Register in 1800, criticised the course of study offered in most of the academies of the State at the opening of the century: "Neglecting everything that appears necessary to form the active citizen, all it aspires to is a smattering of the Greek or Latin, the demonstration of a proposition in Euclid, or the solution of a case in Plane Trigonometry. Geography, history and philosophy, those main pillars of science are passed by with contempt, from the erroneous opinion that they are improper subjects of scholastic erudition." 36

           Academy teachers usually divided their students into classes. In 1793 the Reverend Thomas P. Irving, principal of Newbern Academy, was teaching three classes. The first class studied reading, writing, and arithmetic; the second, "Mathematics, in the various branches of that science"; the third, "the dead languages." 37

In 1807 teachers of Raleigh Academy examined the following classes in the "Male Department" before the trustees, at the State House: a class "on Euclid, Logic, Rhetoric, Moral and Natural Philosophy and Astronomy"; a class in Virgil, two classes in Caesar, a class in Selectate Profanis, a class in Erasmus and Selectae Veteri, two classes in Corderii, a class in Virgil and Horace, a class

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in Latin grammar, a class in Greek Testament, a class in Morse's Geography, a class in Murray's English Grammar, and classes in arithmetic, English, reading, spelling and copy writing. 38

           As the ante-bellum period advanced, the academies developed more definite ideas of the organization of classes and the course of study for each. In 1834 the teachers of Raleigh Academy were grouping students into four classes.

           Academies sometimes advertised that they followed "the system of courses" pursued at the State University. For instance, in 1820 the trustees of Hyco Academy announced that "the Academy has been rendered strictly preparatory to the University; the Board having ratified this adoption of the course of studies requisite for entering the three lower classes at the College." 39

           Nearly every academy board of trustees in the State considered that some instruction in religious training was one of the foremost duties of the school. Those schools which did not actually teach regular classes in Bible study required their students to attend a Sunday lecture or recite "Bible Questions . . . as a Sunday exercise." 40

In 1807 Salisbury Academy examined a class of pupils on the Assembly Catechism and another on the Church Catechism. Sampson's Beauties of the Bible was a textbook in the preparatory department of the Raleigh Academy in 1813. At various times during the life of the academy, classes were examined at the close of the session on Westminster Catechism, the Methodist Catechism, Bible questions, and Scripture History. In 1831, however, James Grant, Jr., the principal, announced that, while he would pay the strictest regard to teaching the morality and truths of the Christian religion, he would keep in mind "that this is a literary, and not a theological school." 41 When Caldwell Institute opened in Greensboro in 1837 the board of trustees announced that "the Bible will occupy its proper place, and the paramount claims of a Christian Education be duly and fully recognized." 42

           The courses offered by the high schools, which Wiley described in 1854 as "a very useful kind of Seminary intermediate between Colleges and Academies," were practically the same as those offered in the academies. High schools began to be established in

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the State about 1840 upon the same plan of organization as academies. In 1842 Brantley York was principal of Clemonsville High School, teaching elementary courses, organizing a debating club and a temperance society. 43


           The lack of good teachers was one of the chief causes that retarded the progress of education in North Carolina throughout the ante-bellum period. Old-field teachers, common school teachers, and frequently even academy teachers were unfitted for the positions which they held. There were, of course, notable exceptions; as, for example, Presbyterian ministers, graduates of Princeton, who conducted schools to supplement their salaries as ministers. Fortunate, indeed, was the academy or neighborhood who could obtain the services of such a man.

           Few persons considered teaching a respectable profession. "Our teacher has fallen out in some measure with his employers, and is about to leave us," wrote Joseph Brevard to his brother in 1803. "He is a young man of good education & morals; but . . . not as attentive as he ought to be, . . . He has views beyond his present employment: & therefore is not very solicitous to acquire a reputation as a schoolmaster; regarding the present business only as a means of advancing himself to some other." 44

But such a teacher as this was far superior to the drunken profligate who frequently offered his services as village schoolmaster. "Persons that generally have the care of our common schools, are not qualified for that important office, either as to morals or capacity," wrote "A Recluse" in the Catawba Journal in 1824. Frequently, they could not even write their own school "articles," and their habits had "a blighting influence" on the character of their pupils. Why did parents entrust their children to the care of such a master? Because they were too poor to raise a sufficient salary for a competent teacher. They had either to accept teachers "who are too lazy to follow any other occupation, and too ignorant to teach, but who have acquired sense enough to deceive the . . . yeomanry; or . . . suffer their children to grow up in ignorance." 45

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           The act which created the office of state superintendent of common schools also gave the superintendent authority to issue annually a circular letter of instructions and suggestions to examining committees as to the qualifications of teachers. In 1846 Thomas H. Williams, representative of New Hanover County, asked for a law creating county committees "whose duty it shall be to examine into the qualifications, both moral and literary, of applicants for schools." 46

The act of 1846-1847, passed through his influence, "authorized and empowered" county boards of superintendents to appoint examining committees. An act of 1852-1853 made it the duty of the board to appoint examining committees and the duty of the committees to examine teachers every year. 47 In Wiley's first letter of instruction to examining committees, he said:

           When Wiley was appointed superintendent "any one who could get employment from a district committee was allowed to teach--not ten counties in the State had examining committees, and in those which had, teachers were examined but once in a lifetime--very few teachers ever improved from one year to another--still fewer felt that they owed any responsibilities to the public, and fewer still ever conceived of a uniform Common School system, operating by fixed and certain rules all over the State, of which system every teacher was an integral and essential part." 49

One of Wiley's first tasks in 1853 was to issue letters of instruction to examining committees insisting that they enforce the act of 1852 which provided that no person should teach in the public schools without a certificate from the examining committee and that no certificate was valid for more than one year or beyond the county which issued it. By 1857 Wiley estimated that less than

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fifty of the 2,500 teachers employed in the public schools were teaching without certificates.

           Wiley also conceived the idea of licensing teachers. He prepared a form of certificate which was to indicate the grade or rank of the teacher on spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and grammar, and sent these forms to the examining committees with the instruction that each teacher appearing before them should be given a graded certificate, figure 1 signifying the highest grade of scholarship and figure 5 the lowest. He encouraged teachers to continue their education; he urged the establishment of normal schools for the training of teachers; he recommended the creation of district libraries, the erection of district teachers' halls, and the organization of county teachers' associations. 50

In 1858 he was still looking forward to the time when "every teacher in the State . . . will, annually, be carefully examined, and have his mental and moral character fully tested," 51 for he was still receiving such complaints as the following from Wadesboro: "The great obstacle to public schools in this county is the small number of persons who are qualified and willing to teach." 52

           It is little wonder that teaching was held in contempt when one considers that a subscription or common school teacher seldom received more than fifty or sixty dollars for three months' work, the sum to be collected at the end of the term. The money was often harder to collect than it was to make, frequently paid in barter 53

and just as frequently not paid at all. For the small fee of perhaps $6, the subscription-school teacher often found that he had to instruct as many as five or six children in one family. It was customary for families who could not afford to send their children for the full term of three months to subscribe "half a scholar," thus dividing six weeks of schooling among several children, giving each a week or ten days in school. 54 As the antebellum period advanced, teachers' wages slowly increased. In 1855 Wiley reported that men teachers in the public schools were receiving $21 a month and women $18, the highest rate paid female

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teachers in the United States, according to his report. In 1860 he reported that the average salary of teachers was "at least twenty-eight dollars per month." 55

           The teaching methods pursued in the elementary schools were as varied as were the character, qualifications, and salaries of the teachers themselves. Wiley described the method of the old-field teachers as being "extremely primitive." The pupils studied aloud while the teacher roared above the bedlam. "To be a good scholar one had only to look on the book and make a decent, droning noise, of any kind," in harmony with the others, and he was thereby entitled to pursue his studies out of doors if the weather permitted. "Among the white heads with which the sunny landscape would blossom," perhaps one in ten would be puzzling over Dilworth and Pike. He would work out the sums for all the others who would then take turns running in, holding up their slates for an approving nod, and returning to their amusements outside. "There were no lectures, few explanations, no oral instructions; to get through the book, was the great end, and to whip well, the paramount means." 56

The school day stretched out until nearly dusk. In a school of fifty pupils, the teacher might have as many as forty classes.

           Although some teachers in the elementary schools divided their pupils into classes, most of them did not. "There is no greater purgatory to which teachers can be sent than many of our common schools," declared Professor C. W. Smythe to the State Educational Association meeting in 1860. "Children of every age, from lisping ABCdarians, and those who are sent to get them out of their Mother's way, up to those bold youths who are exploring the mysteries of the Rule of Three or Cube Root, are huddled promiscuously together, each confounding the other and adding to the teacher's distraction who flutters from one to another like a bewildered bird." 57

As soon as Wiley came into office he insisted that no school could be well taught unless the pupils were divided into classes 58 and he constantly called the attention of teachers to that fact. In 1860 he delivered so stirring an address in Wilmington

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upon that "very dry subject" that the Library Association appointed a committee to consider the establishment of a graded school system and to call a town meeting when prepared to report. 59

           Toward the close of the ante-bellum period, teaching methods in the elementary schools showed some improvements. 60

Wiley constantly advocated a graded school system, a school day of seven hours and ten recitations, and the practice of "oral instruction." County teachers' associations and the North-Carolina Journal of Education, which Wiley began in 1858, helped to inform teachers of improved methods. 61 In 1860, for instance, W. H. Doherty, principal of the Graham Academy, gave a two-day "course of instruction" on "normal methods of teaching" to the Alamance County Teachers' Institute. He explained "his methods of teaching; commencing with the preparation of the school house, the organization of the school, and the means of securing order and punctuality. He then took up the Alphabet, Spelling, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, &c., successively, making free use of the blackboard in every study and pointing out the great advantages of using written, in connection with oral exercises. He also gave some Chemical and Philosophical experiments, by way of showing teachers how to impart life in the school room and awaken a desire of knowledge in the minds of their pupils; showing them, at the same time, that a man of some ingenuity may perform interesting experiments, without expending much in apparatus." 62

           The first convention of teachers which assembled in the antebellum period was that which met in Chapel Hill during the commencement exercises of the University in June, 1831, and organized the North Carolina Institute of Education "to diffuse knowledge on the subject of education, and by every proper means to improve the condition of common schools and other literary institutions

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in our State." 63 After 1833 the Institute ceased to exist, and newspapers had no more to say about teachers' meetings until about 1850. In that year the Guilford Association of the Friends of Education was holding quarterly meetings for an "inter-change of their views. . . ." 64 Other counties organized associations slowly. In 1859 the "fraternity of Teachers in Forsyth County" met with thirty-four teachers present. 65 In 1860 several other counties formed associations and Wiley stated in the North-Carolina Journal of Education that he hoped many counties in the State would follow the example of "our northern states" and hold "what they call Teacher's Institutes." In 1852 the New Era of Raleigh issued a call for a state teachers' convention to meet in Raleigh, July 29. 66 It was not until 1856 that Wiley was able to organize the Education Association of North Carolina which the Legislature chartered in 1860.


           Academy teachers were far superior to those in the subscription and district schools. Graduates of the University of North Carolina, such as Bartlett Yancey, Willie P. Mangum, and Josiah Crudup, found temporary employment as principals or assistants in the academies of the State; others began there a long and distinguished career in the teaching profession. College graduates from other southern states and from the North found employment in North Carolina for a few years or settled permanently in the State to become useful and intelligent citizens. The first teacher of Raleigh Academy was the Reverend Martin Detragny, "late of Princeton College." Chesley Daniel, graduate of the University of North Carolina, succeeded him. In 1803 Thomas Barron, "from the University of Cambridge in Massachusetts" was principal of Hillsboro Academy. Charles A. Hill, Methodist preacher, graduate of the University of North Carolina, and author of the law which created the Literary Fund of 1825, was principal of various academies in the State, of Warrenton Academy from 1818 to 1820, of Midway Academy from 1824 to 1828, of Franklin Academy in Louisburg in 1828.

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           Academy teachers received far better remuneration for their work than did the common school teachers, for, as Wiley pointed out in 1854, academies were "founded with exclusive reference to the wants of the rich." 67

Academy trustees in advertising for teachers usually agreed to pay "liberal" salaries. A small school near Rutherfordton offered to pay a teacher in 1808 $200 "and $20 more which are promised" in cash for a year of work. 68 In 1820 the trustees of Hyco Academy assured "a well qualified teacher" of the use of a large house for his family, "a great abundance of fire-wood on the spot . . . free from expense" and "a handsome income." 69 Pomona Academy, fourteen miles from Raleigh, offered to pay in 1831 a salary "equal in amount to $300" and in 1838 the trustees of Greenville Male Academy advertised that "the School, it is supposed, will be worth $700 per annum, at least." 70

           The methods of academy teachers were far superior to those used by teachers in the elementary schools, yet they fell far short of present-day educational methods. It was customary to place a premium on memory work. Indeed, the teaching of English grammar, geography, and even arithmetic, Latin, and Greek was based almost entirely upon memory work. In 1827 the teachers of Lincolnton Academy examined a class on "memorizing English Grammar" and another on "Reciting the Rules of Arithmetic." In 1834 the examining committee of the Episcopal school in Raleigh reported that the students in Latin and Greek rendered promptly "all the general rules of grammatical construction" and "the multiplied exceptions to these rules, even in the minutest particulars." The committee asked questions in geography, "rapidly passing from one section of the Globe to the other." 71

           In 1824 the trustees of Raleigh Academy announced a new method of studying Greek and Latin which the Reverend William McPheeters, the principal, would follow:

The Reverend J. O. Freeman, principal of Salisbury Academy, in explaining his method of teaching the classics, said:

           "A Visitor" in the Asheboro Female Academy in 1839 came away much impressed with the "correct principles" which Miss Eliza Rea, "a Lady from Boston," used in teaching arithmetic. She considered it "of vastly greater consequence" that the student understand the principle of a scientific rule, "than that she should be able to repeat the rule verbatim et literatim." In presenting a new rule to the scholars, Miss Rea explained and illustrated it orally. When the scholars worked a problem on slate correctly, she was not content simply to say, "It is right." She made the pupil explain the reason of each operation and thereby prevented cheating. Had the academy been equipped with blackboards, Miss Rea's teaching, so the "Visitor" thought, would have been perfect. In teaching "Grammar, Philosophy and the higher branches," she was equally careful and made sure that the pupils understood thoroughly everything that they passed over. 74

There had been much complaint in the thirties about teachers hurrying pupils through their books for the mere sake of covering pages. 75

           The academy school year was usually ten months in length, divided in two sessions of five months each, one closing in June, the other in November. At the close of each session it was customary

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to have a public oral examination conducted by the teachers, the trustees, or "a committee of gentlemen." It was not unusual for the examinations to last three days. They were attended by "a brilliant assemblage of ladies and gentlemen." There were orations; the presentation of gold medals; the exhibition of booklets, copy-book writing, and fine needlework; "the execution" of pleasing numbers "upon the Piano Forte." There was occasionally music by an amateur band, a ball and refreshments. In 1823 the semi-annual examination of the students in Raleigh Academy began June 28 and continued through July 2. "The Trustees had never better reason to be satisfied with the progress in learning of the Students of both the Male and Female Departments." In the evening of the second day "Mr. Goneke's Pupils in music exhibited their attainments in that polite art, to a crowded auditory." Gold medals and certificates were conferred upon five young ladies after which "the Graduates were addressed in an appropriate manner by William H. Haywood, Jr., Esq. The students generally, both male and female, were then addressed by William Ruffin, Esq., whose excellent address, added to his venerable appearance, was highly impressive." 76

           Some schools had weekly examinations as well as semi-annual ones. The trustees of Clemonsville High School, "according to an arrangement made by themselves, visited the school every Friday afternoon" and briefly examined the students on their week's work. The principal in 1843 thought this practice had "a happy effect, as it excited the students to greater diligence." 77


           One of the most serious problems which confronted the teacher was the management of his pupils. The pupils seemed in some subtle way to have the upper hand; teachers were constantly expecting to be outdone. "Idle, dissolute, and profane young men, who may think of resorting to this Institution, are hereby forewarned, that neither at the Academy, nor in the town, will immorality meet with the least countenance," threatened John Rogers, principal of Hillsboro Academy in a public advertisement in 1823. 78

William Hooper in 1832 thought that parents were somewhat to blame for the improper relation existing between teacher

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and pupil. Children who were not required to obey at home were not prepared for "an orderly subjection to the rules and requisitions of scholastic life." 79

           In 1841, the Standard, after remarking on "the amendment in the manners of many of the boys in our streets," announced, "We have a school in Raleigh at last. . . , During the last 10 or 12 years we have had instructors for our children, who with one or two exceptions have all failed, . . . they were not Disciplinarians; they could not govern Boys." But at last there had come to Raleigh Robert Gray, a man who could "govern a School of 40 or 50 Boys, who have never been under control at home or elsewhere," who could "inspire Boys possessing little or no self-respect, with a rational and self regulating pride," who could "remove bad habits of long standing, and substitute others of an opposite character," and that, too, without the aid of corporal punishment. "To be sure, Boys can be awed into a Slavish obedience by fear of the lash, but no solid, lasting good ever came of such a degrading system." 80

           Whipping was sanctioned in all elementary and preparatory schools in North Carolina throughout the ante-bellum period. Teachers of the elementary schools were especially prone to resort to the whip on the slightest infraction of the rules, if a pupil was tardy, if he did not prepare his lessons, if he did not learn quickly. W. A. Chaffin, who taught a school in Stokes County in 1848, listed forty-seven offenses for which he would inflict lashes. The highest number of lashes which he proposed to give was ten, and the least, one. He would give ten lashes for playing cards at school, "for Playing Bandy," or "for Misbehaving to Girls," and one lash "for Every word you mis in your Hart leson without Good Excuse." "For Drinking Spirituous Liquors at School" he gave eight lashes; for "Making Swings & Swinging on Them," seven lashes; for "Not Making a bow when you Come in or go Out," two; for "Bloting Your Copy Book," two; for "Telling Tales out of School," eight; for "Caling Each Other Liars," four; for "Fighting Each Other in time of Books," two. 81

           Early in the century, protests began to appear in the newspapers against the use of "whips, ferulas, cudgels and cowskins" in

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the schools, and academy trustees sometimes found it wise to announce that the behavior of the principal toward "the scholars, while firm, has been marked with humanity and benevolence." 82 But flogging continued. In 1837 the Supreme Court of the State handed down the opinion that "the law confides to schoolmasters and teachers a discretionary power in the infliction of punishment upon their pupils, and will not hold them responsible criminally, unless the punishment be such as to occasion permanent injury to the child; or be inflicted merely to gratify their own evil passions." 83 There were few who doubted the expediency of corporal punishment. 84 Thomas H. Williams, author of the school law creating examining committees for teachers, while opposed to "the habit of whipping children for not knowing their lesson," thought that an ounce of hickory was often worth a pound of logic. 85 Parents who could not control a wilful child at home frequently sent him to a subscription school or to an academy so that the teacher might "break his spirit."

           It must not be understood that all teachers were severe or even that those who had a reputation for using the cowhide freely maintained a rigid discipline in the schoolroom. Behavior which might be considered reprehensible in a schoolroom today often went unnoticed in the ante-bellum school. "I give the small ones frequent intermissions about 1/2 of the time," wrote Benjamin Herring from Duplin County in 1856, ". . . let them occupy any position while in the house, they frequently lie down or sit on the top of the desks, they assume any position that strikes their fancy." 86

W. W. Holden, editor of the Standard, recalled in 1857 with a great deal of sentiment the old-field teacher who taught him to spell and cipher. He could never forget "the master's looks, with well-brushed clothes, his watch fob, with shining silver key; his face, so gravely kind, checking the wayward, encouraging the diligent, and drawing out the timid; his conscientiousness, doing his whole duty by the boys, and by the red-lipped bright-eyed girls." 87

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           The "laws" for the government of Newbern Academy published in 1823 indicate the relation between teacher and pupil maintained in most of the academies of the State. The student, before admission to classes, was required to present the treasurer's receipt for his tuition, and no student who had been expelled or suspended from another academy might enter at Newbern. The hours of study were from eight to twelve o'clock in the forenoon and from two to five o'clock in the afternoon. The pupils were assigned their seats "with regard . . . to merit and literary improvement." They were not permitted to disturb other pupils or to leave their seats without permission. "All unnecessary conversation, laughing, whispering, or improper gestures" were "strictly forbidden." Pupils were required "to preserve their books and manuscripts from being blotted or torn." At all times they were expected to "conduct and express themselves respectfully towards the Faculty, and towards every member of it," or to be "punished accordingly." The authority of the faculty over the students also extended outside the schoolroom. Students were not to loiter after school, to use profane language, to profane the Sabbath, to play cards, or to fight. 88

           Trustees and instructors often had difficulty with students because of running up bills at the neighborhood and village stores. In 1808 the trustees of Raleigh Academy forbade students contracting debts without the written consent of their parents and requested parents not to pay bills incurred contrary to this regulation. 89

In 1821 John Mushat, principal of Statesville Academy, announced in the Western Carolinian that "every student shall be confined to one particular store for the purchase of those articles of which he may stand in need; his account in said store to be carefully examined once in every month." 90

           During the first sixty years of the nineteenth century the prevailing attitude in the State toward education had undergone a vast change. One no longer heard so frequently on the political platform or over the teacups that the lower classes were better off without education. The friends of education had won the argument, but there were still a goodly number who were resisting the benign influence of education. Long after Murphey outlined his

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progressive system of public instruction, children in North Carolina were still chanting aloud their A. B. C.'s in log cabins ruled over by old-field teachers, too ignorant to read smoothly in the very books they taught. Long after the Legislature passed the act requiring common school teachers to obtain licenses, district school committees were employing unlicensed men and women to conduct their schools. Teachers were using textbooks fifty years out of date and were whipping their scholars "cl'ar through." But a movement for reform was definitely underway when War and Reconstruction burst upon the State.

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