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The University in the Life of the State

Primary Documents Arranged by Subtopic:
Religious Controversies
Slavery and Other Political Controversies

Although authorized, created, and funded by the North Carolina General Assembly, the University of North Carolina occasionally had a contentious relationship with the state and its citizens. In the years following adoption of its charter, critics of the university derided it as a training ground for the wealthy and powerful, arguing that it would create and fortify a permanent aristocracy. They claimed that the institution was a "public" university in name only and that it was completely inaccessible to the vast majority of citizens. Other adversaries opposed the university for financial reasons. They believed that the newly independent state could not afford such a frivolous luxury as a state-supported university. During the school's first hundred years, many other disagreements and disputes surfaced for religious, political, or sectional reasons.

Throughout this strife and adversity, the university survived and succeeded in sending out its graduates. Hinton James, who is traditionally considered to be the first student to arrive at the new university in 1795, graduated in 1798 and went on to a productive career as a civil engineer and state legislator. The graduates who followed James over the next seventy-seven years included a U.S. president and vice-president, thirteen U.S. senators, over forty U.S. representatives, over ten state governors, and around four hundred state legislators. The university's influence spread as its graduates rose to prominent leadership positions in North Carolina and throughout the country.

The documents in this section allow readers to evaluate the university's contributions to the state. They also provide insight into some of the interactions, both beneficial and controversial, between the university (including its students, graduates, and faculty) and the state. Items included range from an article extolling the university's influences to student speeches on hot-button issues to letters of complaint sent to the university's administration.

The documents in this section are arranged chronologically within the subtopics.

General | Top of Page
Religious Controversies | Top of Page
Slavery and Other Political Controversies | Top of Page