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Title: Letter from Henry Harrisse to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, September 27, 1856: Electronic Edition.
Author: Harrisse, Henry, 1829-1910
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 Brian Dietz
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 12K
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:
2005-07-06, Brian Dietz 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 Henry Harrisse to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, September 27, 1856
Author: Henri Herrisse, A.M.
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from Henry Harrisse to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, September 27, 1856
Harrisse, Henry, 1829-1910

Page 1
To the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina


It is a difficult matter at all times to command the attention and respect of a large class of College Students; but when the discipline is lax, and impunity an occurrence of every day life, the task of the instructor becomes altogether impossible. If to his manifold tribulations, we add a disposition on the part of his colleagues to drive him to a resignation, or if such a belief is current among the students, a due sense of self-respect makes it incumbent on him to apply for redress to those to whom the individual welfare of the members of the Faculty is entrusted.
Without referring to the difficulties which of late have been a cause of great annoyance and mortification to me, I shall limit myself to the case which today, and for the last time, brings me before you.
Mr. William Whitaker of the Junior Class had often been guilty of disorder and impropriety in my recitation room. I was at last compelled to resort to stringent measures, and on the 4th of October last, summoned him to appear

Page 2
before the Faculty. There, in the presence of all the officers of the Institution, he grossly insulted me. An explanation was demanded of him; and here are almost the very words of his communication:
"I have been told by Dr. Mitchell that if I do not retract what I said yesterday, I shall be dismissed.
I therefore retract."
Strange as it may appear to those who are not familiar with the proceedings of this Faculty, such a letter was accepted.
A few weeks afterwards, Mr. Whitaker's improprieties of conduct became again so intolerable that I had to reiterate my summons.
Mr. Whitaker was heard, and the Faculty decided that if he ever was guilty of such an offence again, he would be dismissed.
He kept on! The whole section became very difficult to manage; several members of the same class had to be admonished for disobedience to me, but finding that I could no longer command the respect of the students if Mr. Whitaker's conduct was tolerated, I ordered him to come before the Faculty.
No notice was taken of the determination of the 13th of November, although it was of record and stood unrepealed. "A motion was made to dismiss him," says the journal, "in consideration of his repeated offences of this description," and it was laid on the table

Page 3
with the special warning, that if he ever was guilty of the same impropriety of deportment, he would be removed from the Institution. This was also recorded.
With due respect, I ask whether this was not carrying forbearance to the extreme, and if perchance I submitted once more to such a course, I had not the right to expect that Mr. Whitaker should be made to treat me with the respect due to a gentleman and a teacher; and if he failed to do so, that the Faculty was in duty bound to remove him? Knowing, however, how much I had at stake, and how precarious were my hopes of redress, I took pains to avoid all further collisions with Mr. Whitaker .
To-day, when called to recite, he replies in a very impertinent manner, refuses to comply, and by mimicking my imperfect pronunciation of English, throws the whole class into a violent and protracted fit of laughter. In accordance with the regulations of the University which say, (Chapt. IV. 6.) that "for gross and persevering violation of the rules of decorum, the student may be forthwith dismissed when the instructor shall deem it necessary." I quietly tell Mr Whitaker to retire. He ridicules me again, and peremptorily refuses to obey. Incensed by his language and demeanor, I reiterate my summons, adding by way of threat, that if he does not leave the room, one of us two shall have to leave the Institution. "Then it will be you," says he," and he sinks back into his seat.

Page 4
Six members of the Faculty voted that Mr. Whitaker be dismissed; five against it, and were joined by Gov. Swain , which caused the motion to be lost. After the vote had been taken and result ascertained, the President, little willing, as I imagine, to bear the responsibility of such an unjust measure, found that the motion was out of order. Dr. Phillips was then instructed to see Mr. Whitaker's parents. And this, in the very face of his repeated offences, and of the two recorded resolutions of the Faculty, is the only punishment which is to be inflicted on him!

P.S. Sept. 27th 1856

Mrs. Whitaker having asked time to write to her husband, in reply to Dr. Phillips' remarks, and an answer having been received; the letter was read, and as Mr. Whitaker showed no disposition whatever to withdraw his son from College, the vote was again taken whether he should be dismissed. The motion was lost by a majority of one, and none substituted in its place. The intention of this vote is so manifest, that I shall abstain from all comments. I can only add that thereby I am left powerless to meet two hundred and thirty students.
In the hope and sincere belief that justice will be done to me, I appeal to your well-known impartiality.

I remain, Gentlemen, with great respect, your obedient servant.

Henri Herrisse , A.M.