One who would understand the history of Wake Forest College
must have some knowledge of the social, economic and educational
conditions out of which it arose. Accordingly, as I am undertaking to
write that history, I have thought it necessary to set forth as well as I
can in brief compass just what those conditions were.
The population of North Carolina was small when Wake Forest
Institute, which five years later became Wake Forest College, was
opened in 1834. The census of 1830 showed in the State 403,295
whites, 19,543 free negroes, and 245,601 slaves. In as many as
twenty counties the negroes outnumbered the whites. This
population was largely agricultural, though there were important
fisheries on Albemarle Sound, and naval stores and lumber were
produced in large quantities in the longleaf pine districts. The largest
towns were Wilmington, Fayetteville, and New
none of them
with as many as five thousand people.
The counties with a large slave population were mostly in the
eastern half of the State, extending as far west as Caswell on the
north and Richmond on the south, but not including the Scotch
settlements in Moore and Cumberland, nor the Piedmont counties of
Chatham and Orange. There was a marked difference between the
rich, slave-holding planters of the east and the non-slave-holding,
hard-working small farmers of the west who cultivated their crops
with their own hands2
1 In this work I use the spelling of names in current use today.
Rev. Calvin H. Wiley, of Guilford County, who traveled over the State a few
years later, says of the eastern section: "Among all we observe the universal
characteristics of plenty, easy manners, and hospitality. Whatever becomes of the
world, without some great changes, beggary and starvation will never here be
known; it ought always to be a land of plenty and a home of piety." North
Carolina Reader, p. 38.
Of the people of his own beloved uplands he says: "We are, in fact, among a
hard-working people, and all about us are signs of their industry, patience,