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Title: Letter from David L. Swain to Charles Manly, October 25, 1856 [Containing Enclosures from Henry Harrisse, Elisha Mitchell, Charles Phillips, James Phillips, Solomon Pool, Joseph Blount Lucas, Fordyce Mitchell Hubbard, Manuel Fetter, William Robards Wetmore, and Ashbel Green Brown]: Electronic Edition.
Author: Swain, David L. (David Lowry), 1801-1868
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. 52K
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:
2007-04-02, Caitlin R. Donnelly 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 David L. Swain to Charles Manly, October 25, 1856 [Containing Enclosures from Henry Harrisse, Elisha Mitchell, Charles Phillips, James Phillips, Solomon Pool, Joseph Blount Lucas, Fordyce Mitchell Hubbard, Manuel Fetter, William Robards Wetmore, and Ashbel Green Brown]
Author: D. L. Swain
Description: 18 pages, 26 page images
Note: Call number 40005 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Swain, David L. (David Lowry), 1801-1868

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Chapel Hill, 25. Oct. 1856.

My dear Sir ,

On Monday after reading the Resolutions in relation to Mr. Hedrick & Mr. Herrisse , I read to the Faculty in the presence of the latter the accompanying letter from him to Gov. Bragg I then remarked, that if there was a single person present, who understood me as making the threat charged in the letter, I wished him to answer it. There was no reply. I then stated that I would expect as a favour, from every member of the Faculty, present a written statement of his recollection of what I did say on the occasion referred to.
At a meeting of the Faculty, the next day I called upon Mr. Herrisse , to state the words I read. He gave the following which I immediately reduced to writing, and read over to him to be certain of absolute accuracy. "If that memorial were read to the classes where would you be now? This is a part of what you said but these very words are ringing in my ears." Last night at the regular meeting of the Faculty the accompanying statements were given in, and at the same time, Mr. Herrisse placed the enclosed note upon my table.
The letter to Gov. Bragg was written with no expectation, on his (Mr. H. ) part that I would ever see it, or have an opportunity to contradict it. How many communications with similar motives have been made to Mr. Bryan , Mr.

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Mr. Moore , and Judge Saunders , I have no means of ascertaining. From the consultation of the keen mind, it is unreasonable to suppose that oft repeated statements and insinuations can be listened to without some impression.
Take another case. Turn to the memorial which I returned by Dr. Mitchell and read his account of the Sophomore rebellion in Sep. 1855. Finding himself at issue with every one, he makes this attempt to sustain it in his "Key and Appendix to Memorial No. 2".
30. "However, not very long since, our students burnt one of the Professors in effigy amidst the reels and stamping of three hundred and fifty young men, dancing by the glare of the funeral pile, to the music of their own yells and vociferations!"
"It was Prof. Charles Phillips on the 9th. & 10th. October 1855.
"The fact itself is unquestionable. I apprehend however, that I may have committed a lapsus permae in giving the number of students. For instead of 350, I understand there were only 330 on the Hill; and it is barely possible they should all have been engaged in the riot. I have heard it cited as one of most formidable disturbances ever known here; and Tutor Lucas tells me, that he heard Gov. Swain himself make remarks to that effect."
When the foregoing was read I requested Mr. Lucas to state in writing what he had at any time heard me say on the subject. His

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recollection and that of Mr. Hubbard were given last night. I wrote at the bottom of Mr. Lucas's note, my recollection which agrees in substance with that of Prof. H. and read it to the Faculty in the presence of Mr. Herrisse . Please read it, and see how few Mr. Hs. allegations, are sustained by his proofs.
I will not hereafter reply to any thing he may say or write. I withdraw the note written to you on Tuesday evening last, but beg you to say as my friend, and the friend of the University whether some action on the part of the Committee is not merely necessary but indispensable. Hedrick the only member of the cabal, who rendered any efficient aid in the maintenance of discipline, and he was really efficient, never present but always energetic, has been dismissed. His offence was no greater a departure from our usages than that of Herrisse , in the Hughes case. The proceedings of the Faculty, was bairely sustained when religious interference, was in question & more than maintained in a matter of party politics.
I beg pardon for taking up so much of your time in relation to this matter & will endeavour not to trespass again. I do not think I ask too much of the Committee, in requesting simply that they will determine, on the issue before them who are right, and who are wrong. In the language of the Resolutions of the whole Faculty, if you shall not be satisfied from the evidence before you that the Memorial of Mr. Herrisse is without substantial foundation, then you owe

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it to yourselves to the community, and to us, to institute a searching investigation. Whilst I have no desire, to injury any one, I think great good may accrue from ascertaining the extent to which Mr. H. and those who unite, in his complaints, contribute either by night or by day to the maintenance of discipline.
Mr. Browns short comings and idiosyncrasies, are occasioned by mental disorder. He is in the main a very good and very acceptable instructor, and we may find it sufficient to obtain the service of a successor who will do as well. Prof. Hubbard , though not perfect as depicted in Mr. Herrisses series of allegories, performs his duties in the Recitation room well. His attainments and his ability as a writer contribute an important item in our stock of mental wealth. Except in the recitation room, and there he is wanting in energy and life, his direct services are not important. There is no Prof. who contributes less to the general maintenance of discipline. The enquiry you make about the damaging party, I am sorry to have to answer in the affirmative. The affair was spoken of by the wildest of our young men, as in bad taste.
If Herrisse shall do, what he has intimated times without number, resign at the close of the session, it may do to let things go on. It will not do to retain him, without an investigation, and a vote of censure, upon the evidence before you.
The official letter sent herewith you did of course read to the Com., this had perhaps better be burned.

Yours very sincerely

D. L. Swain

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To Governor Swain .


Your remarks on the day alluded to, did create in my mind the impression of a threat on your part to raise a mob against me by reading my memorials to the students.
Since you disclaim having had such an intention, I withdraw my statement so far as you are concerned.

Yours respectfully

Henri Herrisse

Chapel Hill, N.C.
Oct 24th 56

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[Recollections of Elisha Mitchell ]
When the President in the course of the reading of Mr Herrisses Memorial came to certain statements respecting the deportment of the students in the Recitation Room or elsewhere, he enquired "What would be the effect if this were to be read to the Classes — would it not produce an excitement" or words to that effect; there was so far as I can recollect no threat to read it or intimation of a purpose to read it to them.

E. Mitchell

Chapel Hill Oct 24th 1856

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[Recollections of Charles Phillips ]
My recollection concerning what Mr. Herrisse represents was a threat by Gov. Swain to raise a mob against him is as follows.
The President was protesting against Mr. Herrisse's representation of the manner in which the students received his (Govr. S's ) addresses, exhortations &c in the College Chapel. He stated that Mr. Herrisse had heard but a small part of the speeches he had made to the students &c — and at last remarked that it was a slander on our young men, that were the paper read to them they would doubtless resent it as such. Thereupon two or three other members of the Faculty declared that they wished the paper to be so read — that it would be a good thing to read it to the boys, &c. — Mr. Herrisse merely replied "If you dare." Dr. Phillips retorted that he dared to do it — that he wouldn't take a dare from a Frenchman.
There was no formal proposal, or threat from any one to read Mr. Herrisse's Memorial to the Students and least of all from the President .
On the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 18th. in conversation with Govr. Swain , I asked him what he reckoned Mr. Herrisse meant by his reply "if you dare," and was somewhat surprised to find that he had not heard the exclamation. I did not understand Mr. Herrisse as daring the President , but the Faculty to order the memorial to be read, and the fact must have escaped the

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the President's notice by the confusion prevalent in the room at the time, — two or three were speaking, or trying to speak and we were just about to leave the room. I did not at the time consider the President as threatening Mr Herrisse and it was evident from the President's manner on Oct. 18th. that he never considered himself as having threatened Mr Herrisse .
I heard Mr. Herrisse's version of this matter read to day. The matter occurred on Monday, Oct. 13h. 1856.

[Charles Phillips ]

Chapel Hill
Oct. 20h. 1856.

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[Recollections of James Phillips ]
When M. Herrisse's secret & assassin like charges against the character of the students as ignorant, impudent, indolent, & riotous in all the recitation rooms except one, where their conduct was "perfect," & the gross caricature of their behaviour to the President when addressing them was read at a meeting of the Faculty, Govr. Swain remarked, that if those libellous charges were made known to the students it would produce such a burst of indignation against the writer as might be attended with unpleasant consequences; & I then said "if I were President I would do so," to which M. Herrisse instantly exclaimed "I dare you to do it." I cannot recall the precise words of the President ; but I am very certain, that I have given their substance accurately. Threat there was none, either direct or implied. M. Herrisse's exclamation is given in "ipsissimis verbis." His version of what the President said is incorrect, & bears the stamp of a want of correctness on its surface. The Instructor's love of "allegory" has doubtless led him astray.

James Phillips.

Chapel Hill.
22dOctober 1856.

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[Recollections of Solomon Pool ]
At an informal meeting of the Faculty, after reading "Memorial No. 2, Mr. Herrisse ," the President remarked in substance: "If that had been read to the students where would you now be?" The President made no threat, neither submitted anything further in that relation. Some one else suggested that it to be read to the students; whereupon Mr. Herrisse dared him — not the President — to do so.
This is my confident recollection, and in strict accordance with a statement made, a few hours subsequent, by me to Prof. Shipp who was absent from the meeting at noon.

Solomon Pool .

Chapel Hill, Oct. 23rd /56.

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[Recollections of Joseph Blount Lucas]
Chapel Hill, N.C. Oct. 23d 1856.
In compliance with a request from Gov. Swain I make the following statements.
1st. I have no recollection of having heard Gov. Swain make any remark about reading Mr Herrisse's Memorial to the Students. I was sitting near Doctor Phillips and Prof. Fetter , whilst it was reading, and at its conclusion heard both of them say, aloud, "that it (the Memorial) ought to be read to the young men, and that Mr Herrisse would then get what he deserved." It was at this time that Mr Herrisse replied "I dare you to do it," but to whom the remark was addressed, I know not.

Jos. B. Lucas

2d. It is my impression that I have heard Governor Swain , in speaking of the "Sophomore Rebellion" last year, more than once characterize it, as "one of the most serious disturbances, that has ever occured since his connexion with the University."

Jos. B. Lucas

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[David L. Swain's Reply to Joseph Blount Lucas's Recollections]
I have never on any occasion, made a remark to Mr. Lucas, or to any other person, which by any fair construction, can be used to sustain the statement of Mr. Herrisse , in relation to the outrageous excesses, which he represents to have been exhibited, by the students, the night after the Sophomore rebellion in October 1855.
I have repeatedly said that the combination of the class, not to recite to Prof (C) Phillips until the requisition was complied with, was the most formidable and difficult to overcome I have ever encountered.
The burning in effigy I considered a comparatively trifling affair, I was present and actively engaged in suppressing the tumult, from the beginning to the close and know

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Mr. Herrisse's statement in relation to it to be a gross exaggeration. He was not there, did not see, what he undertakes to describe, and had no part, in subduing the conspiracy.

D. L. Swain

24. Oct. 1856.

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[Recollections of Fordyce Mitchell Hubbard ]
Chapel Hill Oct. 24th 1856
I remember very well that I heard Gov. Swain remark, about the affair & about the time when Prof. Phillips was burned in effigy, that "that was the most formidable combination" he had been called to encounter, since his connection began with the University.
In regard to Gov. Swain's alleged threat to read Mr Herrisse's memorial to the students, I do not well recall the language he used, but it did not make on me the impression that he intended a menace. The impression which Mr. Herrisse received was aimed more naturally from words which dropped at the time from other members of the Faculty, and I understood the defiance, which he uttered then & there, to have been aimed rather at them & their remarks than at the President .

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[Recollections of Manuel Fetter ]
When the President had finished reading Mr. Herrisse's Memorial, he remarked upon the gross injustice of its secret charges, & characterized it as an outrageous slander both upon the Faculty & the students. Mr. H. attempting to justify the charges in very strong language the President , addressing himself to him, said, if this Memorial were to be read to the students what would become of you? This was the language used by him on that occasion, as nearly as I can recollect. No threat — not even the semblance of a threat was uttered by him at that or at any other time. Dr. Phillips then observed that he thought it (the Memorial) ought to be read to the students, in which opinion I expressed my concurrence. Dr. Phillips & myself

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were at the time sitting close together at some distance from the President , when Mr. Herrisse , who was seated near us, looking at us, said, I dare you to do it. I considered these words as addressed to the Doctor & myself & not to the President & was very much surprised to hear that they had been transferred from us to him. The fact of our answering Mr. Herrisse shows that we both understood his remark as intended for us. I am confident from what then took place & from subsequent information, that the President did not even hear what he said.

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[Recollections of William Robards Wetmore ]
The President said in substance to Mr Herrisse that he believed if his Memorial were read to the students it would raise a mob against him. Dr Phillips thereupon said, in substance that is exactly what ought to be done and he believed it would raise a mob against him. Mr Fetter repeated Dr P's remark. Mr Herrisse then said "I dare you to do it."

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[Recollections of Ashbel Green Brown ]
I certify that I heard the President remark to Mr Herrisse in substance that it would be worse for him, if his memorial to the Trustees should be read to the students. I cannot state his words, but did not understand him to threaten that the paper should be actually exposed to the young men. Nothing that he said impressed me with the idea that he had an such intention.

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