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Title: Letter from Thomas Ruffin, Jr. to his father, Thomas Ruffin, February 20, 1843: Electronic Edition.
Author: Ruffin, Thomas, Jr.
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Bari Helms
Images scanned by Caitlin R. Donnelly
Text encoded by Caitlin R. Donnelly
First Edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: ca. 16K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
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:
2007-02-09, Caitlin R. Donnelly finished TEI/XML encoding.
Title of collection: Thomas Ruffin Papers (#641), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Thomas Ruffin, Jr. to his father, Thomas Ruffin, February 20, 1843
Author: Thomas Ruffin
Description: 3 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 641 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from Thomas Ruffin, Jr. to his father, Thomas Ruffin , February 20, 1843
Ruffin, Thomas, Jr.

Page [1]
Feb. 20th 1843

My dear father

As you bid me to do, I write you this to give you an idea of the temperament of college. But first father permit me to clear myself of one accusation viz going to Thompsons when I was aware that it was to be a riot, this was not the case, for there were no invitations given, as you supposed, either secretly or publicly that I knew of. But I was not aware that there was to be any supper untill supper time, when one of the students came over to my room & invited me go to eat something with him, without mentioning the nature of the entertainment. This was the first I knew of any supper to be given & I supposed that it was to be such as are given every night. to which everyone goes, both students & some of the Faculty.
Believe me also father that it is not from any dislike to another lecture that I complain of a Saturday recitation. But it is because it compels our Societies to abridge their regular duties, which duties are equally as profitable as one single recitation. especially one before breakfast, when we have but from a quarter to a half of an hour to recite in & when sometimes not more than two from the whole class are examined.
Now as regards my own inclination I would rather prepare & attend any three recitations that to attend

Page [2]
on the Society once. another objection to it is that it will cause us to alter our constitution & laws. Now really papa there could not another such code be produced from the combined endeavours of all the members. We are compeled now to be directed by the strict letter of the laws, for there is not sufficient comprehension amongst us to enable the members to form any idea of their spirit.
And Papa it is the general opinion of the world, that all is fair & honest at a college. that there it profits no one to conceal his real character, & that is useless there to assume the mask of dissimulation. But how mistaken are they, for here is practise more meanness & rascality than at any place of my acquaintance. Here every thing is ruled by prejudice & here virtue honesty & sense can never succeed. They may say that it arises from thoughtlessness, but no! it comes from low mean & dastardly principles naturally implanted in the heart.
What Student, or rather what member of a Society, ever thought of telling a lie, in your day, in order to save himself of a fine? I can answer that then no one thought of such a black deed, but listen to the excuses given, at every one of our meetings, for delinquencies & hear members declare that they were Sick at our last meeting, when you yourself know that they were at that very moment around the card table. Is not this sufficient to disgust any one? Why one who wishes to be thought honest is obliged to submit to fines though inocent. Is it not calculated to make any one misanthropic to see so much foul playing carried on here when there is said to be the least? What am I to think of the world then? Does it not appear that man was placed here to play some dark part in

Page [3]
a blacker tragedy, to deceive his fellow creatures & to dupe almost his God & then to disappear beneath the sheet, to pass off & unthought of except for his dark deeds,?
But it seems hard & unnatural that I should have to undergo so much, to linger out a weary life & "still to be that nothing that I was ere born to life & liveing woe" Yes I do not want to die "unwept, unhonoured & unsung."!
As regards the state of college now. the only answer that I am able to give is that there is no fixed state. Every breeze brings with it some change in their opinions, & some new cause of complaint & though the other circumstances may change. Yet their complaints never cease & the only change which takes place is in the causes of complaint & the great increase of curses imposed on the Faculty.
Mr Brodnax was here on thirsday. He came to [unrecovered] Fred. All are well in Rockingham. He went home from here & brother William accompanied him home. November1 came from Haw River to day. All are well there.
The bell is about ringing & I must stop here
Give my love to Mrs Taylor & my best respects to all at Judge Camerons & My Boylans & also my love to Martha Cain

Believe me dear father to be your affectionate & loveing (would that I could add obedient) son

Thomas Ruffin.

P.S. I break open my letter that I may request you to send me a Norton' s Astronomy & some candles, for I am entirely out & there is none here lower than 40cts lb. Please send them by the first opportunity.

Thos. Ruffin

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Possibly the slave Davidge [1791-1872], also known as "Dr. November," who was the carriage driver for Dr. Joseph Caldwell .