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Title: Faculty Minutes, June 1839: Electronic Edition.
Author: University of North Carolina (1793-1962). General Faculty
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 Sarah Ficke
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 22K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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:
2005-03-15, Sarah Ficke 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: General Faculty and Faculty Council Records (#40106), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Faculty Minutes, June 1839
Author: University of North Carolina (1793-1962). General Faculty
Author: William Hayes Owen
Description: 6 pages, 6 page images
Note: Call number 40106 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Curriculum
Education/UNC Faculty, Staff, and Servants
Education/UNC Student Associations
Education/UNC Student Life
Writings by Non-Students
Editorial practices
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Document Summary

The faculty minutes report on disturbances following the announcement of senior class rankings. Included are copies of a resolution from Philanthropic Society students refusing to accept their diplomas in protest, a subsequent resolution withdrawing the threat, and two students' letters apologizing for their role in the affair.
Faculty Minutes, June 18391
University of North Carolina (1793-1962). General Faculty

Page 269

June 1839
Statement of some difficulties had with a portion of the senior class of 1839, after the reading of the report of Scholarship and conduct in that class previously to commencement.
Shortly after the reading of the report an anonymous communication was handed to the President , who immediately called a meeting of the Faculty, by whom it was unanimously determined to return the aforesaid communication, on the ground that they could receive no anonymous communications. The paper was sent back and shortly after re-presented with three signatures.
The following is a copy of the letter, Viz.

Gentlemen of the Faculty.

At a meeting of the Philanthropic members of the senior class, the following resolutions were adopted.
Resolved 1st That we will perform no part in the exercises of the ensuing commencement, but on condition, that the first distinction, so justly due, be conferred on Mr Maultsby .
Resolved 2nd that if any one senior, being a member of the Philanthropic Society, be refused his diploma, we will refuse the acceptance of our diplomas.
Resolved 3dly That we are not actuated by a spirit of vain and causeless opposition to the determinations of the Faculty, but on the contrary, we feel sentiments of profound respect for so enlightened a body, and will strive, on every occasion to maintain its equitable

Page 270
authority; but while truth demands this avowal, justice on the other hand, compels us to support a fellow-member in his rights—rights, which are the just fruit of his industry, ability, and various literary and scientific acquirements, unsurpassed by those of any of his class mates.
Resolved 4thly That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted to the Faculty in the name of the Philanthropic members of the Senior Class.
These three young Gentlemen were summoned to appear before the Faculty, which they accordingly did, when the President proceeded to comment upon their communication. The topics chiefly pressed upon their consideration were the following Viz. That there had been much more than the ordinary unanimity in the compilation of the Report complained of, that, though the Faculty did not pretend to perfect accuracy in the distribution of honours, yet they were satisfied that they had made a nearer made in nearer approximation to justice than usual, that they could not alter their report without losing a portion of their own self respect, and deserving to forfeit theirs, if they should reverse a decision solemnly made and already announced, on account of a remonstrance, which had the appearance at least of intimidation, that, (in reference to their second resolution) the conferring of diplomas was the joint action of the Faculty and Trustees, that it therefore anticipated such action, and that it would be time enough to refuse them when offered, that if they still conceived themselves aggrieved the Faculty could afford them no redress, and that they must seek relief by appeal

Page 271
to the Trustees.
In conclusion the President solemnly called upon them to review their act, seriously to reflect upon the consequences of persistance to themselves and to the Institution.
These heads thus briefly, hinted at, and others not here mentioned, were calmly, firmly, affectionately, and at length, pressed upon their consideration.

Wm H. Owen , Clk2

The following paper was subsequently received, Viz.

"A Copy of the resolutions passed by the Philanthropic Society on Saturday the 25th May

Resolved 1st
That the thanks of this body are due to the members of the Senior Class for the noble stand they have taken in behalf of an injured class mate—that their fellow members of the Philanthropic Society are fully sensible of the justice of the cause they espoused and the pure and elevated motives which have influenced their conduct
Resolved 2nd
While the sentiments of this body most cordially sustain our fellow members of the Senior Class in the cause they have pursued, yet the Philanthropic Society earnstly desiring to establish peace and concord and to diffuse a spirit of good feeling as far as within its power, even at the expense of some concession, do request its brothers of the Society to sacrifice their just proceedings to the decision of the Faculty.

Page 272
Resolved 3rd
That should the senior members see proper to comply with this proposal, they be requested to transmit a copy of these resolutions to the Faculty of the University of North Carolina.


Whereas the Philanthropic Society has seen fit unanimously to approve the course we have pursued, suggesting at the same time a Sacrifice of our proceedings to the promotion of peace and harmony, unwilling therefore to refuse a request from such a source and made with such a view we accede to the proposal of our Society and respectfully recall the resolutions of the 20th inst.
These three Gentlemen were invited to a second interview with the Faculty, who accordingly came, when the President made a few remarks, * and concluded by stating that the whole matter would be laid before the Trustees.

Wm H. Owen , Clk.

P.S. The purport of which was that the Faculty were neither amenable to the Society, nor the Society to the Faculty—that as regarded themselves, they had only to go on and discharge their duties or abide the consequences.

Page 273
The following communications were recieved from Messrs Buxton & Ferebee relative to their participation in the affair.

Mr [William] Green ,

I desire to express to you, my3 unfeigned regret for the late proceedings, in which I was unfortunately engaged. Now that the subject has presented itself to my mind in its true light, I feel dissatisfied with the motive of withdrawal, expressed in our last communication to the Faculty. I speak for myself only, and with a grateful sense of the forbearance shown to us all. I fully acknowledge the wrong grounds assumed in the resolutions of the 20th Inst. without caring to mention a single palliative circumstance.
It will be my only regret regret in looking back to this place that I should ever have been found professedly arrayed against a just authority

respectfully yrs.

J. Buxton

Revd & Dear Sir;

As I am soon to leave this place, perhaps to visit it no more, it is proper that I should leave behind me a more sure testimony than a mere oral confession of my consciousness of error in the part I acted relative to the Senior Report. Obedience to College laws is a moral duty, I have ever felt it to be such. A love of principle, and not a fear of the results of violated law has given shape and guidance to my actions. Hence the motives that uniformly prompt me to the observance of duty, should induce me also, when these obligations are violated to

Page 274
acknowledge my error and to beg pardon for the offence. This I earnestly do in the present instance.
The thought of being charged with arraigning myself against the Faculty and the College laws will ever be grievous to me. Nothing could be more hostile to my wishes or my sense of justice than such an act. A chief source of my delight during my course here, has sprung from obedience to College laws; and my happiness has not been greater only because I have not attended to these laws with more rigor and uniformity

I remain as ever

yours affectionately

D D. Ferebee


1. Faculty Minutes 3:269-74, UA. Prior to the 1839 Commencement the faculty announced to the assembled student body which graduating seniors would receive honors. The faculty had determined in a meeting on May 17, 1839, to award the first honor to Alpheus Jones , with second honors going to John A. Maultsby and Angus C. McNeill. Third honors were awarded to Jarvis Buxton , Richard Spaight Donnell , and Dennis Dozier Ferebee . The senior class was allowed to add to these names four others, so as to have ten speakers in all at the 1839 Commencement. Maultsby , believing that he should have received the first honor, was so dissatisfied that he "applied" to the faculty to be excused from speaking at the commencement ceremonies. On May 18, 1839, the faculty denied his request (Faculty Minutes 3:262, UA). Maultsby and his friends, members of the Philanthropic Society, then sent to Gov. Swain an unsigned letter demanding that Maultsby should share first honors with Jones . Tutor and clerk of the faculty William Hayes Owen summarized the ensuing correspondence from students and the Faculty's responses.

2. William Hayes Owen (ca. 1807-ca.1877), senior tutor in 1839, also served as "Clk" or clerk of the faculty. It was his responsibility to take minutes of faculty meetings and to oversee the University's library.

3. Buxton wrote my on top of several unrecovered characters.