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Title: Letter from Charles Phillips to Kemp P. Battle, August 12, 1867: Electronic Edition.
Author: Phillips, Charles, 1822-1889
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
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First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 33K
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:
2005-08-03, Sarah Ficke finished TEI/XML encoding.
Title of collection: Battle Family Papers (#3223-a), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Charles Phillips to Kemp P. Battle, August 12, 1867
Author: Charles Phillips
Description: 10 pages, 10 page images
Note: Call number 3223-a (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from Charles Phillips to Kemp P. Battle , August 12, 1867
Phillips, Charles, 1822-1889

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University of N.C.
Monday, Aug. 12th 1867

My dear Kemp ,

I hope that I do not intrude on time that is properly devoted to your official business by again calling your attention to the welfare of the University. Why may not its friends consult each other at any time on this subject? Prof. Hepburn notices, with admiration, that the friends of Harvard, Yale &c. criticise sharply the management of those institutions (and that in the public points). Nevertheless they rally promptly to their relief when called for. A generous & kindly criticism must always do such Institutions good. It keeps their Trustees & Faculty alive to the fact that intelligent and interested eyes are upon them. Thus one of the proper objects you have before you is attained, viz. we teachers are prevented from becoming fossils. The work we are doing is what we must appeal to for our justification, not the work we did for the last generation. And this work must be shown to be appropriate to our sphere. I have held, ever since the policy was inaugurated here, & I still hold that a University has no right to be making money. Its business is to make scholars. To make money now that we may lay up knowledge & disseminate it hereafter, is to me a wrong direction of energies, a cultivation of improper habits, an assumption that those habits can be laid by at a moment's notice. Are the authorities of the University hoping now to hire men to come here and work to pay off the debts of the University? If such a policy becomes a matter of notoriety can it be expected that such men will be found here as ought to be here? For one I think that the teachers that are here ought to be such men as can be found no where else in N.C. And e contrario the men that are here should feel that they do better work & are better rewarded for it here then elsewhere. The life, the reputation of the University ought not to be dependent on any one Man or on any one sect

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of men, if this be possible. I take it for granted that the life of this Institution has been misdirected for some years. Some may say in one direction, others in another. Some say by one mistake, others suggest another. But when the best scholars among the graduates for thirty consecutive years concur, as they do in our case, in saying that something is wrong in the education at our University, for one, I am willing to listen to their complaints & to heed their suggestions. Confidence in our scholarship here has suffered a disturbance not at all creditable to us teachers. I have many proofs that our pupils do not speak or write respectfully of us. We must have a reformation in this respect. If we who are here will not engage in this work we must give place to others who will. For one I am willing to give up my position at a moment's notice, & I will try to heartily cooperate with & sustain my successor, if he be worthy of cooperation and allow it. Kemp , we must have in N.C. one Institution where the higher education can be attained in such a degree that its possesser may feel respectable and be respected wherever he goes or by whomsoever he be compared. In these times we must be prepared to suffer in our feelings. I should feel mortified were I to go away & see another doing work of a solidity and of an acceptability that I vainly strove for through many years and in the midst of the best opportunities. But as then I ought to be ashamed of myself. I would try to say nothing & to go to work in another sphere heartily & cheerfully.
Now why does the public, or the sending sons to college part (to borrow your term) of the public feel that they do not get their money's worth of education here? You know that the public may declare a feeling, & at the same time be ignorant of the reason therefore. Drs Zoumans & Bigelow & Bowen have been discussing "Modern Culture &c" in various publications at the North lately. Some of these publications I must send for. Some

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months ago, I took bird's eye view of what we were doing here and had been doing for many years, only that the proportions represented by the following figures are more favourable to modern notions than they would have been if deduced previously to the session ending June 1867. During that session the Latin & Greek departments each gave Prof. Martin a Recitation in the Junior Class for Chemistry.
While in College a student here attends 2039 instructions. There are 40 weeks of study in a year. Of these 37 are devoted to recitations (at 15 a week) in each of the Freshmen, Sophomore, & Junior years. The Seniors have 11 a week for 34 weeks. So then for the Freshmen we have 15 X 37 (=555) Recitations. The Juniors & Sophomores get the same number each. While the Seniors (in theory the best trained & most mature Students) get but 11 X 34 (=374). Of these 2039 exercises (you see I take no note of the weeks for Examination & for Commencement) 370 (=18 pr ct.) are in Greek; 370 (=18 pr. ct.) in Latin; 222 (=11 pr ct) are in Mod. Lang.; 296 are in Pure Math. (=14½ pr ct); 145 (=7 pr. ct) are in Applied Math.; 244 (=12 pr. ct) are in Chem., Mineral & Geol.; 136 (=7 pr. ct) are in Pol. Econ. & Law; 111 (=5 pr ct) are in Moral Phil., Log. & Rhet. and 145 (=7 pr. ct) are in the Bible &c. It appears then that after all the teaching while at school a student spends more than one third of his time here in studying the dead languages and nearly half of his time in the Languages (Mod. & Anct), ⅗ of his time is devoted to Lang. & Pure Math, subjects that can be taught up to a certain point (say Anal. Geom. in my departmt) as well at school as here. (In the sphere of drilling by examples better there than here.) Only ⅕ of a Student's time here is devoted to Physics, wherein large & costly apparatus is needed (means of education out of the reach of schools). While Pol Econ. &c, Har Psychology, Log. &c, subjects where libraries are needed, & the living lecturer is indispensible, get

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only ⅛ of that time. Now I hold that to educate is to train a man to think in any department of thought. Its object is to enable one to collect and diffuse knowledge all the days of his life. But the words of Him who spoke as never a man spoke warns of attempting to put new wine into old bottles. The dead languages have too much time here. To make young folks think we must interest them in what they are thinking about especially while they are out from under the fear of the birch. Discipline by the Ant Lang. I hold to be indispensable, & I would put it where it will be most efficient i.e. in the course preparatory to the University. The authority of the teacher & the fear of the Examination at the University (i.e. for matriculation) will make a boy do at school in studying the framework of the Ant Lang. what he will not do when he has got to College. Instruction therein at the Univ. should be more liberal & of a higher style than it is now. So it need not take so much time. I see that at Harvard Greek goes no higher than to the middle of the course, & Latin but little farther. Now as suggestions towards reform here as to the distribution of time let there be given
to Greek 278 instead of 370 Recitations
[to] Latin 278 [instead of] 370 [Recitations]
[to] Mod. Lang. 240 [instead of] 222 [Recitations] In Mod. Lang. I wd include English.
[to] Pure. Math. 333 [instead of] 296 [Recitations]
[to] Appl. Math 167 [instead of] 145 [Recitations]
[to] Chem. &c. 246 [instead of] 244 [Recitations]
[to] Psycol. &. 216 [instead of] 111 [Recitations]
[to] Pol. Econ &c. 136 [instead of] 136 [Recitations] {The exercises in Pol. Econ. I would increase by giving the Seniors 3 lessons each day instead of two as now by eliminating, "Senior vacation" as a nuisance.
[to] Bible &. 145 [instead of] 145 [Recitations]
2039 2039
Of course these figures will be only approximations to the truth, of what can be done in this matter of distribution, as well as of what has been done hitherto. They are determined somewhat by the rule of giving so many recitations a week to each department, & so seem to of singular amounts.

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After a proper proportion of time has been selected, the next question to be discussed is how can it be made effective on the Students? To secure this all important result, my opinion is what it has been for many years. I would make the examinations for entrance & for exit protracted, precise and hard-hearted. I would stimulate the schools to send us good scholars. (In the Catalogue of the Univ. of Mich. they publish the name of the best prepared matriculate & that of his teacher.). How can conscientiousness in the examiners be secured? Well! this is a hard question. The plan of oversight, of checks & balances must have a limit. The last question is always the hardest. Who will oversee the supreme overseer? You must get able, learned & enthusiastic Professors. Men who work hard themselves and will require hard work from their pupils.
As to the question between what is known as the Collegiate & the Univ. systems of teaching, I confess that I have not considered it as of much importance. One thing is certain, this colligating of schools is not much if at all used at the North, where they know much more of the operation of such systems than we do at the South. Our present order of Recitations, which allows eclectics to occupy fully their time as they please, secures all the advantages of both systems. You Trustees might give certificates of excellence suited to different courses of study, reserving your Diploma for the regular & full course as prescribed. I confess to a reluctance to follow now in the wake of Wake Forest which has adapted the system of "Schools". I would abolish the habit here of having an intermission from 12 to 1. Let the system of work here be as like that in common life as possible, & this knows

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no hour of intermission just for intermission's sake. The taking a meal will require an hour's relaxation. At other colleges this school boy discipline is unknown. Let 9 to 12 & 2 to 5 belong to the "preps". Our present plan for reciting can then be thoroughly carried out so that a student in English & the modern languages may be taught without the clashing of any of his recitations.
A serious trouble is, as it always has been, here the regulating of the price & style of food. It seems to me that the competition here is more to be deplored than ever. The system at the Univ. of Va has been tried for years and has worked well. A style of table is determined, the cost of it settled & who ever will furnish food at that rate is "licensed to board". And no Student is allowed to board at an unlicensed table. Of course any boarding house is allowed to charge as much less than the fixed rate as it chooses. Miss Nancy still thinks that you Trustees & we Faculty invite Students here for her to stuff with good things of the flesh, and others imitate her extravagance excusing themselves by the reflection that by a non-compliance with the fashion they get no custom. You Trustees fix the style & the cost of mental food here, & it is as reasonable that you lay down the law for the food of the body.
Lastly, how shall this feast of fat things be provided? Where can the funds be procured to set this manufactory of thoughts, feelings & habits a-going so that it will keep a-going. Can an agent sent abroad, to collect funds & to be paid by a percentage on what he collects be successful in N.C., at such a time as this? Were we Faculty folks popular much might be done. Whether it is worth while to make the experiment is for you Trustees to decide. You must be assured of one truth, I will not be in your way for one moment. To intermit the exercises of the University

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will be to expose your property here to damage and loss. Nevertheless, as they say "Nothing risked, nothing gained" it may be wise to shut up here in order to open with a new stock of goods & a new set of salesmen. This is for you to determine.
Another plan is to appeal to the Legislature for aid, either by invested funds or by an annual donation. Here again success will depend on the confidence felt in the Trustees & in the Faculty, as well as on the felt necessity of such an Institution as this ought to be. There should be, & I suppose there will be after a while a common school system in N.C., free to all its citizens. To such a system one such an Institution as this will be indispensable. The State ought to support a University even if its fundamental law did not require it so to do. But the difficulty is to get men to do their duty. The fear of God & the love of man only will do this great work. How shall we supply these motives to our Legislators? especially at this time? These two plans are evidently not contradictory exclusive of each other. But for either to be successful (& of course for both) it seems that they to whom the funds collected are to be entrusted must be esteemed trustworthy by the public. It seems to me that we ought to be so esteemed. If we are not whose fault is it?
A third plan is to wait, either with open doors, or with closed doors for the funds for the Agricultural School, offered by Congress. Now if we should be able to float the old Ship till those funds come, perhaps they will come with the condition that you take on board as passengers or as crew men of all colors in our state. If the funds are accepted with such a condition, of what good will they be in the present diseased condition of the public mind? How many of our youths will come to "a nigger school" as this will be called?

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Kemp ! I wish that we (you & I) & our white fellow citizens could rise at once superior to the trammels of education & of habit & see in our black fellow citizens men capable of the same exaltation in matters of the soul that we possess, & so be kindly affected towards them & not shrink from association with them whenever they are worthy of association & be not prophetic concerning them of evil. None of them are fit to go to College now. But who ought to say that none ever will be fit? Why then should we continue to nurse the feelings that were engendered by & appropriate to slavery? Why should we train our children to feel as we cannot but feel because of habit, not essential, but actual. For one, I say let the negro have a fair chance to show what he can do, a chance that he never has had. As feelings are now, I take it that the opening of the doors of this Agric. School to our freedmen will close them to our white folks. Besides, how can the Univ. live till that Scrip, be available, be sold and return an income? I have never been sanguine as to the benefit to be derived from this source. After all, the feasibility of either one of the plans already suggested will depend on our ability to keep the University alive till it would bring forth fruit. Is not therefore the plan that will preserve this life the best plan? What can be done but that we are doing? although, perhaps, not in the most effective mode.
My last suggestion therefore is to provide here a body of worthy men, men who can and will teach, men who feel deeply for our old State, and then appeal through the press to State pride to support them. Gov. Swain complains of a want of proper State pride in N.C. I tell him he ought to complain of a want of something proper to be proud of. Let this be done & the pride (so much as is proper) will not be wanting. We cannot will to love untill we see

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something lovely, we cannot will to despise till we see something despicable. Let there be strength in the inner man be felt & seen in those who frequent the instructions at our University because of those instructions, and satisfaction (pride) will be abundant enough. Such men as Martin & Hepburn would have diffused such strength, they would have infused enthusiasm in their pupils. Dr Hubbard's elegant scholarship will always make him a strong man among educated men, & his love for letters might make him co-operate in the work of manifesting life & power. I have no fear that a band of single eyed, hard working men here would fail in making a support untill better times come and the public & the Legislature come to their aid and secure for their self-denying efforts a brilliant success. But the men who can succeed must be each of a buoyant power. No one of such a band can be allowed to hang on his brethren. Kerr might be one of such a band, "the Modern Post Royalists." There are men in N.C. who will encourage such an enterprise with all their power. Mr Ed. Jones Sr. of Caldwell Co. has lately written an admirable letter to his son here, in answer to his son's request for permission to leave this "farce on a grand scale", & go to the Univ. of Va Mr J. insists that this is no time to desert the Univ., & rebukes his son for his language concerning it, & enjoins on him the cultivation of a patriotic spirit among his associates & declares his intention of keeping him here as long as the Univ. lives & has somewhat to teach him. Your father says he must get the letter & read it to you all on the 22d. Kemp ! how would you like to engage In such an enterprise as this? You have youth & health & wealth in things of the mind as well as in those of the body. I hope that Hepburn might be

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got to return & cooperate with you. You & Sam were his men for the presidency here. You have been mine for a long time. So you were Martin's. I have reason to believe that you would have the hearty cooperation all the guides of public thought in N.C. One grand difficulty lies in the way of this scheme, viz. the debt of the University. I have told Govr Swain that for one I will not work here to pay that debt. Nor will any man fit to be a professor here come to do so. If there ever be a surplus of income (above a proper salary for each professor) from the labours of the Faculty it should go for books, for periodicals, for apparatus, for repair of buildings & for the care of the campus. The Bank & other creditors may sell out the Univ. if they please, they may buy in the property to establish a big school here for their own profit. Then I will take Sam's advice & go & set up a big school elsewhere for my own profit. I have a solicitation on hand to take Dr Wilson's school in hand. I can do better than I am doing for myself by going there. Did I think I could do better for N.C., I would go at once. For whom can enthusiasm be aroused in my place? For Genl Hill (D.H.)? Jem. Wheeler? Genl Wilcox? Can Genl Clingman make a respectable teacher of Mineral & Geology? I think not, especially for the scheme now under consideration.
Kemp , you must excuse my prolixity. I have no one to talk to now, & this opening of a safety valve may prevent an explosion. Kerr wrote to me that you showed him my last effusion. I would that he were near you now to discuss this epistle. You Trustees must do something decisive on the 22d. Let an appreciable policy be proclaimed & when proclaimed let it be carried out with energy & unanimity. I think that Govr S. would boldly take the ground that he will not serve here any longer at present & let another man be tried in his place. If this other fail the glory of his own return will be all the greater. We are all well. I understand Dr Deems says things are here (in College) as he foresaw they would be years ago.

I am yours sincerely

Charles Phillips