It says something more than a little disturbing, I suppose, about my scholarship that I'm reading a book that -- before the books.google crowd arrived in Widener library to scan it -- was last checked out in 1887. Or at least the most recent due date is 1887. Ah, well, that's one of the hazards of working on legal thought before the Civil War.
I'm doing a little reading this evening on jurisprudence in pre-war literary addresses at Davidson College. Reverend Sparrow's address, "The Duty of Educated Young Men of this Country," which I linked to in the last paragraph, is pretty typical of addresses in the 1830s -- moderate and focused on the role of education in moral and economic progress. (Rather more practical than Emerson's American Scholar address from two years earlier, but in the same vein.) President R.H. Morrison's inaugural address and Sparrow's inaugural address as professor of languages in 1838 are similar.
There were, however, already hints on that campus of the more extreme views that were brewing in the next several decades. James Henley Thornwell -- who was a key figure in South Carolina during secession -- gave an address there in 1838 that was an early formulation of such key southern constitutional ideas as the need to calibrate a people's freedom to their social condition. (It was also an attack on Utilitarians like Bentham.) This becomes very important by the 1850s when southern political theorists emphasize how not everyone is fit for freedom, so it is not surprising, but I have not seen a lot of statements like that on college campuses in the 1830s. Thornwell, you may recall, was an important pamphleteer during the South's secession debates. Already in 1838 there are the seeds of Thornwell's ideas in that speech at Davidson.
I think the Davidson addresses will make a nice comparison with those at the University of North Carolina, where the addresses seem to have been a little more moderate than either Davidson or Wake. Davidson, close followers of the faculty lounge may recall, is where D.H. Hill was teaching when he published his college algebra text, which has questions like
A Yankee mixes a certain number of wooden nutmegs, which cost him 1/4 cent apiece, with a quantity of real nutmegs, worth 4 cents apiece, and sells the whole assortment for $44; and gains $3.75 by the fraud. How many wooden nutmegs were there?
Fun in math class, eh? (Am I right in thinking that 4x-1/4x=375?)
Also, on the issue of emancipation and the generosity of North and South, try this problem:
A gentleman in Richmond expressed a willingness to liberate his slave, valued at $1000, upon the receipt of that sum from charitable persons. He received contributions from 24 persons; and of these there were 14/19ths fewer from the North than from the South, and the average donation of the former was 4/5ths smaller than that of the latter. What was the entire amount given by the latter?
Hill also gave an interesting address at Davidson in 1855 when he was hired there, on "college discipline." It explained Washington College's honor system (and Davidson's as well, I guess) as part of Protestant thought that encouraged individuals to take responsibility for their actions rather than imposed rules from above. Or some such.
B.H. Palmer, who gave college literary addresses all over -- including UNC -- gave one there in 1852, "Baconianism and the Bible." So did George Howe of the Columbia Theological Seminary (where Palmer and Thornwell also taught.) Judge John Belton O'Neall gave an address at Davidson in 1850 (sorry I don't have a link to this on the internet) and Senator Robert Strange gave one in 1847. This will come as no surprise that the addresses at the antebellum University of Alabama were more extreme in their proslavery views than those at UNC, Wake, and Davidson, and even more so I think than UGA. Never ceases to surprise me what we can learn from reading a people's literary output.
And as I was sitting here using the library catalog to see just how many Davidson addresses there are -- a surprisingly large number, actually -- I realized that one was in a volume of addresses that patrons could check out. Then I realized; wait a minute, I've checked it out! In fact, it's sitting next to me on my desk. So scanned it in and here is Reverend Archibald Baker's 1845 address, available no where else on the internet. It's a pleasantly moderate speech.
The image at the upper right is of Davidson's Philanthropic Literary Society building, which was constructed in 1850 I am reliably informed. The image on the lower left is of the Eumenean Literary Society Hall, which is directly across from the Philanthrophic Hall. I had a lovely time there yesterday talking with John Wertheimer's American legal history class and also his honors students.