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Title: Letter from William Bagley to D. W. Bagley, February 27, 1845: Electronic Edition.
Author: Bagley, William, fl. 1842-1850
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. 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:
2005-05-26, 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: William Bagley Letter Books (#863-z), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from William Bagley to D. W. Bagley, February 27, 1845
Author: William Bagley
Description: 2 pages, 2 page images
Note: Call number 863-z (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Examples of Student Writing/Letters
Education/UNC Faculty, Staff, and Servants
Education/UNC Student Life
Personal Relationships/With Family Members
Education/Goals and Purposes
Travel and Entertainment/Celebrations and Holidays
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Transcript of the personal correspondence. Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
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Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as '.
All em dashes are encoded as —
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Bagley thanks his father for his kindnesses toward him; reports on a student's assaulting a Hillsborough, NC, hotel landlord; describes a drunken disturbance by students on the night of George Washington's birthday; and explains that he has seen "Col Josephus Chaffin alias 'Tom Thumb.'"
Letter from William Bagley to D. W. Bagley, February 27, 18451
Bagley, William, fl. 1842-1850

Page 25
Chapel Hill February 27th 1845

My Dear Pa

Your very kind and affectionate letter has been recd & I sit down with a full heart to answer it. It were vain for me to attempt to describe with what feelings I perused it. The recollections of my childhood—my boyish sports—and the many pleasant & happy hours I have spent in your presence, with the family, where you treated me not like an inferior but as a companion & equal,—all rushed upon my remembrance & I gave vent to my feelings in a flood of tears.– My Dear Father, you are too kind to me, I am not worthy of so much affection. I have not been so dutiful that I deserve so much at your heands. Neglect not your other children by lavishing kindnesses upon me, but turn me out upon the world relying on my own exertions for a livelihood.– I believe, I have never told you, but I did Ma, while at home, last vacation my expectation of going West to seek my fortune among strangers, but how can I leave you! how shall I sever those ties which have so long bound me to the place of my birth! Although I have an utter abhorrence to Williamston which "has grown with my growth and strengthened with my strength" still I feel that it would be with great difficulty that I could leave you all there & although the law recognizes me free yet I feel that I am yours & I wish still to be under your parental advice & instruction.– I have not yet chosen a vocation but my inclination leads me to be a farmer; & as for graduating I hardly know what to say to you, I expect to carry on a regular course of studies after I leave here & if I graduate it will be several years first as I should wish to be thoroughly prepared for the junior or senior class, but I am under the impression that it would be of no use to me for it is my desire to be a student as long as I live. My stay here has produced a doubt in my mind whether colleges are beneficial at all or not. The late riotous proceedings have surpassed everything that has taken place, since I have been here. A few weeks ago one of the students went to Hillsboro', became intoxicated & with his fellows, went to one of the hotels & being too noisy, the landlord ordered them off & not obeying he raised a chair at one of them & this fellow immediately shot him, the ball went

Page 26
into his arm near his shoulder. The young man that shot him is named Ruffin 2 & having a great many friends there he made off without difficulty, he roomed near where I do. I understand the landlord is recovering.– Last saturday, the 22nd being Washington's birthday, it is customary for the students to partake pretty freely of the intoxicating cup & about night I observed that they were getting unusually noisy & boisterous, I however retired about ten & had been abed I suppose about an hour when I was aroused by my room-mate inviting Dr Mitchell in & the ringing of the bell, having procured a match he left to go into other rooms of the building, I then got up & witnessed the manoeuvres of the revellers, I soon saw Gov Swain , who had come up, accost a student, who raised his stick in defence & Dr Mitchell & Mr Philips the tutor of Mathematics both being near ran up & seized him, he called lustily for help & one student ran to his assistance & I expected to see a real rencounter but the Faculty did not strike him, their only object being to discover who it was, the Governor , however lost both the buckles off his cloak in the engagement, the fellow whom he rushed upon having collared him. One of the young men was dismissed—the others suspended.3 Some of the trustees also have been sitting on the cases of two young men to-day who will be dismissed or expelled & then probably delivered over to the civil authorities.4 Seven, I believe, will be sent off in all.
I have had the exquisite pleasure of seeing Col Josephus Chaffin alias "Tom Thumb" who made his appearance here last saturday he is twenty-seven inches high, weighs twenty-five pounds & is in his twentieth year, he is very lively & talkative & appears to be very well contented with his condition, he says he has two brothers who are very large men, one weighing two hundred & the other one hundred & eighty pounds.–
I believe, I have communicated every thing to you that will be of any interest; about what I shall do hereafter we shall have ample time to confer when I return home which will be about the tenth of May. My very best love to every one of the family, Sis may expect a letter from me soon, & I may probably write to Miss Helen though I think she promised to write first, I have a geographical enigma for her to solve5

D.W. Bagley

Williamston N.C.

Very Sincerely YrSon


1. William Bagley Papers, SHC. The letter appears on pages 25 and 26 of the letterbook (Volume 2).

2. The student remains unidentified. The Hillsborough Recorder does not report the incident, possibly because Hillsborough was the home of the influential NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin , who also was a University trustee.

3. Faculty minutes for February 24, 1845, report the incident as follows:
On Saturday night (22. Feb.) some riotous persons assembled in the Campus, rang the college bell, entered Tutor Browns recitation room, threw his table out through the window, proceeded thence to the chapel and did considerable injury to the pulpit.
A portion of the Faculty repaired promptly to the scene of disorder and made the proper examination to ascertain what persons were absent from their dormitories.
In the course of this examination J. M. Morphis (a beneficiary) and J. W. Burton a member of the Freshman class were found in the campus in a state of intoxication, the former had been engaged in ringing the bell and threatened to shoot the member of the Faculty who approached, and the latter assisted by J. L. Bozeman, resisted the attempt of that member of the Faculty who approached them to arrest Burton. The latter was seized and both identified.
An individual at the moment the President was entering the east door at the north end of the East building attempted to strike him with a chair, and another on his approaching the East door of the South building threatened to shoot him (and had previously threatened the Senior Professor) but fled when advanced upon.
W. R. Miller Freshman and T. E. Skinner sophomore were found in their rooms in a state of intoxication, both had been in the campus, and the former wearing another persons hat was suspected of having rung the bell.
The following individuals were absent from their rooms, Viz, Messrs Burton (of the Senior) Bryan and Newby (of the Junior) Clanton and Pettigrew (of the Sophomore) Haughton, Hooker, & Iredell of the Freshman Class." (4:236-38, UA)
At a meeting the following Monday, February 24, 1845, the faculty voted to dismiss John W. Burton and James M. Morphis from the institution. In addition, "Mssers W. R. Allen suspended for four and T. E. Skinner for three weeks, and J. L. Bozeman (having given evidence in extenuation which produced marked effect on the Faculty) was also suspended for three weeks.—   [. . .] and Messrs Burton (Senior), Bryan, Newby, Clanton , Pettigrew , Haughton, Hooker and Iredell were directed to be admonished in presence of the Faculty of the necessity in order to escape censure of being found at their rooms at any period of disturbance" (Faculty Minutes 4:238-39, UA).

4. Faculty minutes for February 27, 1845, indicate that Edward B. Sumner was dismissed for "having committed in connexion with others, a Riot" (4:239, UA). Thomas I. Sharpe, who had been censured by the faculty several times, also was expelled (4:226, 233, 239, UA). On March 13, 1845, the Board of Trustees approved "the institution of criminal proceedings by the Faculty [. . .] for the purpose of eliciting the truth in relation to the commission of a riot by T. I. Sharpe, E. B. Sumner, and others [. . .]" (Faculty Minutes 4:244, UA).

5. Bagley wrote to Margaret and Helen on March 6, 1845.