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Title: Letter from Thomas Y. How to Joseph Caldwell, December 27, 1796 :Electronic Edition.
Author: How, Thomas Y.
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text scanned (OCR) by Brian Dietz
Images scanned by Bari Helms
Text encoded by Amanda Page
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 18K
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:
2005-06-15, Amanda Page finished TEI/XML encoding.
Title of collection: University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Thomas Y. How to Joseph Caldwell, December 27, 1796
Author: Thos. Y. How.
Description: 5 pages, 6 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Editorial practices
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Text transcription of this document was produced by OCR (optical character recognition) from R. D. W. Connor's A Documentary History of the University of North Carolina 1776-1799 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953), Vol. II, p. 113-116. Used by permission of the publisher (
Page images were made from the original manuscript held in University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Connor's transcription was compared against the original document and in the case of any discrepancy we have been faithful to the original.

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Letter from Thomas Y. How to Joseph Caldwell , December 27, 1796
How, Thomas Y.

Page 1
Princeton December 27th 17[96]

Dear Sir:

I received your agreeable letter on [the] 18 th Ins t , and proceed with pleasure to fulfil the agreem[ent] which we made when you left this place for North Car[olina.] A literary correspondence between two persons engaged [in the] pursuit of science can not fail, if properly conducted, to tornly entertaining and instructive. And, I confess, when [I he]ard of your intention to forsake Princeton, the pain [felt] at the idea of parting with an old friend, was torn alleviated by the reflection that I should de[rive] improvement and pleasure from your letters. This [is not] the language of flattery. It is not a compliment [of] course. It is what I really think and feel.
Your letter contains an account of a conversation with Gener[al Da]vie on the evidence of Christianity. The manner in which [you] reasoned with him was very judicious and forcible. [I hope] it will prompt him to enquire with accuracy into the subj[ect.] The progress of Deism in the Southern States is a most atorning and melancholy circumstance, and it is the du[ty of] every friend to virtue to exert himself with incessant torn in opposing a system that will corrupt our morals and torn our liberty. The general prevalence of Atheism and Deis[m] among a people is a sure mark of a corrupted state of soci[ety.]

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[Wh]en men are extremely addicted to soft and luxurious plea[sures] they soon become Infidels, in order to remove every obstacle [to the g]ratification of their passions. And as soon as religion is open[ly and] generally ridiculed, Society will go to decay with incredible tornty. The Romans, in the pure times of the republic, were re[mark]able for a most sacred attention to their religion and an in[torn]ble regard for their oaths— But when the violence of factorn had destroyed their morals, and the Asiatic wars by ac[quain]ting them with the riches of the East, had introduced lux[uries] and rendered them extravagantly fond of effeminating [pleas]ures, the doctrines of an overruling providence, and of a torn state of rewards and punishments soon gave way torn the [At]heism and the mortality of the Soul. After it became [the gen]eral belief that there is no invisible Judge of our actions [and no] existence beyond the grave, the Roman manners hasten[ed to] that state of profligacy and debauchery which we rea[d of in] the time of Cicero. And, how could it be otherwise? Man [is na]turally prone to the gratification of his passions. Take [from] them the powerful restraints which are imposed by the fear [of futu]re punishment, and what is there to curb his irregular [appe]tites and desires! The sanguinary monsters that have de[luged] France with blood, in order to prepare the people for the [comm]ission of every crime, and thereby carry their nefarious [purpos]es into execution, wrote over the burying grounds "This torn place of eternal sleep." It had the desired effect. It torn [a]way all restraint upon the vicious passions of the heart. illegible Frenchmen to commit the most horrid crimes without

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remorse or fear. You will perhaps stare when I advance [the] firm opinion that the government of France has sent e[missa]ries to this country for the express purpose of converting th[e peop]le to Deism. And, why! Because our people will in torn case soon lose their republican virtue, and France will torn by intrigues and bribery to govern our politics.
I promised occasionally to give you accounts of the proceedings of the Society, and as something interesting has lately happened, the remainder of this letter [will] be occupied in relating it to you. Towards the close of las[t ses]sion two parties began to be formed. At the beginning of th[e ses]sion, several of the members predicted that we should [be] torn by faction. An event soon happened which divided [the] Society and fixed the parties in battle array against [one] another. John and William Alston brothers of Josep[h Al] ston, John Forsyth and Frederick Nash were propose[d for] admission. The request of John Alston came on first, whtorn Class unanimously declared him to be a bad scholar torn unworthy of a seat. The proposal for his admission [was] then withdrawn, as was also that for the admission [of his] brother. The request of John Forsyth was next consider[ed] when four persons Bailey, Peyton, Jackson and Alsto[n evi]dently actuated by motives of revenge, spoke agains[t him.] This brought on a very lengthy and interesting debate. [The] evidence of the Class and of the oldest members was torn highly in Forsyth's favor. We at length prevailed upon [Jack]son to withdraw his opposition, and upon Bailey and

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Pey[ton to leave] the room. The question was then taken, and no person torn in opposition but the infamous Alston . I never was more torned than on this occasion. I had formed a very good [opinio]n of John Forsyth's disposition and capacity, and the torn that he should be kept out by two such contemptible torn as Alston and Jackson filled me with indignation. [I can] not describe to you my feelings when after a long an torn ated discussion, the cause of truth and justice pre[vai]led. But what followed was very mortifying. As soon torn proposal for Nash's admission was read, Alston an[d Jack]son declared they would oppose him, and nothing that torn said had any influence upon them. The pro[posa]l was withdrawn. The next evening it was again [broug]ht forward, when the rascals did not say decidedly [whet]her they would continue their opposition or not. [Fri]ends of order resolved, during the week, if the opposi[tion] should be continued, to endeavor to suspend Alston from [the] Society. The opposition was continued notwithstanding [the u]nanimous testimony of the Class, and notwithstanding [a] letter from Hobart declaring Mr Nash to be a good [scho]lar and a worthy student. Upon this John Watson torn walked solemnly to the Table, and wrote a proposal [for] the suspension of Alston. This brought on a very torn debate which ended in the appointment of a [com]mittee to consider the proposal, and to report whe[ther] or not it ought to be adopted. The Committee reported [that] the proposal was unconstitutional, Mr. Alston being [a me]mber of the Counsel, and the Constitution declaring tha[t "no of ]ficer shall be impeached or censured, while in the execution of the duties of his office under penalty of very severe punishment." The Constitutionality of the proposal was of course the first subject of enquiry. We contended both from the Spirit and letter of the law, that an Officer is protected from censure and punishment, while in the

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execution of the duties of his office, only for his conduct as an Officer.That the object of the Constitution, in specifically providing for the censure and impeachment of Officers, is to punish them for the neglect or transgression of those duties which as Officers they are required to perform. We observed that the construction for which the Committee contended is opposed by the immemorial and daily practice of the Society, the Censor, Correctors and all the officers torn censured and punished as well as the other members, [for] the neglect of their exercises, or for any indecencies during the time of order. The vote was at last taken when 15 declared the proposal to be illegal, and 26 declared it to be strictly constitutional. Then came on the main question. The evidence being taken, both sides prepared for the combat. A number of long speeches were made. Hobart delivered the most eloquent speech that I ever heard in the Whig Hall. Mercer and Watson also spoke well. On the other side Bailey fatigued us with a long speech, and Otto the slave of popularity spoke several times. At length, between the hours of 2 and 3 in the morning the question was taken, when 20 voted against and 21 in favor of the suspension. So we carried our point by a majority of one vote. Six graduates were present— Hobart, Forsyth, Comfort, John Smith, Stille and myself—We all voted for the proposal. Some of the members are much exasperated at us and threaten to deprive us of the privilege of voting—But this they dare not attempt.

—With great esteem your fd.

Thos. Y. How

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