Beginnings of the Literary Societies 149
beneficial influence, in that it brought strong support for the Societies
and an eager desire on the part of every student that his Society
should have the best trained debaters and writers, and the best
scholars. Up to a certain limit the degree of this rivalry has been a
good index of the vitality of the Societies. When it wanes interest in
Society work also wanes.
For the first quarter of a century the Societies did not have a public
celebration of the anniversary of their foundation. The chief
celebration during the years of the Institute was that of the Fourth of
July. The Orator of the day was a member of one the Societies. In
1835 this was J. C. Dockery, Phi.; in 1836 Hiram K. Person, Eu.; in
1837, W. W. Childers, Phi.; in 1838, Josiah H. Brooks, Eu. The
Societies saw that their speeches were published in pamphlet form
while the Board of Trustees requested that Mr. Dockery's should be
published in the Biblical Recorder. All may be found in the College
Library. They are fair student productions, Dockery's perhaps the best
of all.
For several reasons much interest attaches to the celebration of
Independence Day in 1835. The program, in the preparation for which
the students had the advice and direction of Professor Armstrong, was
well carried through; the Society banners were presented and publicly
displayed for the first time; and by happy reference to each of these
banners Mr. Dockery in closing his speech aroused great enthusiasm;
and for the first time the students had the young ladies of the
community as their social guests. All of these things, especially the
fact that they had seen some of their own number surprisingly able
and successful in public functions, kindled an enthusiasm in the
young men, of which we can, as we read the accounts of the
celebration, still feel the warmth. For a description of the events of the
day we are indebted primarily to a writer in the Raleigh Register of
July 28, 1835, over the signature "A Friend."6
A digest of this article with some new matter added was made for
the Biblical Recorder of August by "A student." I am giving the first
part of the article from the Register:
―――――――
6 Alban Hart, tutor in the
Institute.
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