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Title: Letter from Cushings B. Hassell to the Board of Trustees, December 4, 1860: Electronic Edition.
Author: Hassell, C. B.
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 Bari Helms
Text encoded by Sarah Ficke
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 18K
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:
2005-11-11, Sarah Ficke 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 Cushings B. Hassell to the Board of Trustees, December 4, 1860
Author: CB Hassell
Description: 8 pages, 8 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from Cushings B. Hassell to the Board of Trustees, December 4, 1860
Hassell, C. B.

Page 1
Raleigh N.C. 4th Decr. 1860

Mr. President
And gentlemen of the board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina.

At a meeting of the board held last evening at the Governor's office, the question of Chapel Service arose, by reason of a memorial on that subject from the Episcopal Convention, held in the early part of this year; but as there were very few trustees present last evening it was decided to postpone the consideration of the subject to a future meeting.
The day of meeting designated was Wednesday the 12th instant.
Upon signifying my inability to be present on that occasion, the board kindly suggested that I might be heard in writing.
I proceed therefore to state my views accordingly.
At a meeting of the trustees held at Chapel Hill in 1848, if my memory serves me, the same subject was mooted, viz. whether all the students in college should be compelled to attend Chapel services on Sunday. And as some of the professors were encouraging disobedience in this respect & appeared to be driving an opposition line, another question arose at that time, viz. whether all the members of the faculty as well as the

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students should be required to conform to the college rule in this particular.
It was unanimously agreed at that time after a full discussion of the subject that both faculty and students should conform to the college rules in relation to chapel service, and a resolution to that affect was entered on the minutes.
Since that period I heard of no complaints on the score of Chapel service, until the last meeting of the board held at Chapel Hill, when the present memorial from the Episcopal Convention was handed in and referred to the annual meeting.
It prays, if I remember correctly, for an exemption from attendance on divine service at the College Chapel, on Sunday of all students who signify their desire in writing, if of age, to be thus exempt for the purpose of attending religious services elsewhere — and also of those under age whose parents or guardians signify the same thing in writing for them.
I consider the ordinance requiring attendance on chapel worship an excellent one. It has operated advantageously to the institution, I learn for sixty years, and as a police regulation simply, is almost indispensable, to its government and prosperity.

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But if this police regulation can be carried out as effectually to the students and as easily to the faculty by permitting a portion or all to attend divine service elsewhere, than in the College Chapel, I should think there need be no objection to such an arrangement.
The alteration might be made, and if it does not work well, the trustees might abolish it at any time & restore the ancient order
If it is well known to the faculty that all the students attend religious service at about 11 oclock in the forenoon somewhere in the village of Chapel Hill on each & every Sabbath I suppose that will be deemed all sufficient. For if at church, they cannot be elsewhere at the same time: and if at church at the regular hour of forenoon service, very little opportunity is given them to ramble far off or engage in any very disorderly conduct on that day, either before or after meeting.
There are considered to be at this time four churches in Chapel Hill with regular pastors, viz. Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist & Baptist. These would probably meet the wishes of nine tenths of the entire number of students, provided they desired to leave the services in the Chapel; and the pastors of these churches, could have a

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care of those who attended their ministry, and report to the president as to their behaviour &c. Perhaps it might be sufficient to leave it with the young men themselves to say whether they had attended worship on the Sabbath and receive their statement as true until the contrary appeared.
One advantage in this arrangement perhaps would be to make those members of the faculty, who were ministers, and whose turn it might be to preach to the students, to bestir themselves a little and endeavor to deliver such interesting discourse as to prevent their hearers from leaving them to sit under the ministry of others.
The course of religious instruction, given by way of preaching publicly in the college chapel on the Sabbath, has no doubt been very proper & free from what might be termed sectarian bias. Ministers of different persuasions officiate there, and alternate, and no apprehension need be entertained, that an improper sectarian turn will be given by the public ministrations on that arena.
The great danger of sectarian bias is to be found in the recitation rooms of the Bible Classes. Where the professor is surrounded by his pupils only and feels called on to explain the Sacred text

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he is much more likely to inculcate the particular dogmas of his own church than when addressing a mixed assembly in public. Hence the real danger lies; and if there has not up to this day been any abuse of the professor's prerogative, in this department, it is very remarkable to say the least, and there must continue to be danger in the future, so long as the Bible course of study is continued in college.
With my own convictions of its impropriety, I should feel willing to have it dispensed with entirely; but I prefer leaving the question for the present with those gentlemen, members of the board, who have passed through a college course in our University and are therefore better prepared to judge of its propriety or impropriety from actual experience.
The object of the Bible Course, is I understand, to impart a historical knowledge of that Sacred Book only and not to interfere with those religious tenets that divide the Christian world.
But it is quite apparent to the board, how readily the occasion of hearing a Bible Class, might be embraced by a very zealous professor to give the recitation such a turn as to enforce on the minds of his pupils the

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peculiar doctrines of his own church. Need I say that such a course would be highly improper on the teacher's part, when we take into consideration the fact that it is done within the walls of a literary institution and a literary institution only, created and endowed by the state of North Carolina for the common benefit of all her sons who may seek for science within her halls, irrespective of any religious cast or persuasion that might surround them at home?
Most of the Christian denominations have religious schools of their own; to these they may send their sons, for that kind of religious instruction, which they desire them to receive; and no one else has any right to complain of such a course.
But our University is common ground for all to occupy, and every thing of a sectarian nature should be strictly avoided.
I object to the Bible course for the following reasons, viz.
1st In order to obtain a distinction on the Bible, it requires about two hours hard study on each Sunday; which I conceive to be rather a profanation than an observance of the Sabbath.

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2d Because a compulsion to study the Bible without veneration and love for its truths, is repulsive to the mind. In such case the student is apt to place it on a level with his other text books, and loathe it more than any other. And when the restraints of College life are withdrawn, he is apt to close his bible, with the purpose of never opening it again. In this way it is probable that more infidels than Christians are made.
The Christian Religion is a thing of persuasion not of coercion, and the mind must first be impressed by a supernatural power, before it can readily receive and properly appreciate the Sacred and Sublime truths of the Bible.
3d Because such religious impressions and doctrinal instruction as the preceptor could impart to the student might be very exceptionable to the mind of his parent or guardian.
But as I said before, I do not propose to press this question now against the wishes of any member of the board of trustees, my object being chiefly to call their serious attention to the subject.
I think it important, however, that the board should now pass a resolution, declaring their disapprobation

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of any sectarian tenets being inculcated on the minds of students in college, either in the recitation rooms or elsewhere.
I feel assured from information received entitled to my belief that such has been the case; I trust the occurrence has been seldom however, and hope it may never be repeated.

Hoping to be excused for the length of this communication, I beg leave to remain respectfully and truly yours

CB Hassell