154 History of Wake Forest College
elaborate. The Euzelian Society put forward their first man, Mr.
Hiram K. Person of Chatham County. His subject was "Religious
Slavery Incompatible with Civil Freedom." It was thought to measure
up well to the high standard set by the speech of Mr. Dockery the year
before. An even larger audience had been invited to hear it, and the
people from all the country round were there. A dinner consisting in
part at least of barbecued pig was served to all the company in the
grove. One of these pigs though roasted to a crisp brown still held in
his mouth a large red June apple. The records of the Euzelian Society
show that this celebration cost that society $28 plus 82½, though it is
not quite evident whether the 82½ is cents or dollars.
At night a new feature was introduced, a play written by Professor
Armstrong. As no account of it was published at the time we are
dependent upon tradition for what we know of it. But this tradition
was collected from eye witnesses both by T. H. Briggs and Dr. E. W.
Sikes.8
I give here Mr. Briggs's account:
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8 Briggs's account may be found in the Wake Forest Student of May 1896; Sikes's
in his "Genesis of Wake Forest College." Briggs is mistaken in thinking that the
play was given in 1835, at what he called "The First Commencement of Wake
Forest." He says, "The facts in the following article were gained mainly from Mrs.
P. A. Dunn, who, as a girl of thirteen, attended the Exercises, additional information
was added by Mr. Richard Bullock Seawell, of the Company Players; Major John
M. Crenshaw, a student at that time, and from Mrs. Brewer, the daughter of
President Wait." Sikes misled probably by Briggs's statement that Brooks delivered
the Oration put the play in the year 1837 when he supposed that Brooks was
speaker. But Brooks did not speak until 1838, when Professor Armstrong had been
a year in Europe. The matter of date and speaker of the year is settled by the
following notes from Brooks's Diary under date of July 4, 1836: "Met in the grove
this morning for the purpose of celebrating the anniversary of our Independence;
had quite a large and respectable company; performed the duties of the day with
much credit to ourselves; had fine music; good marching; a first rate oration
delivered by H. K. Person; spectators generally well pleased; ladies beautiful and
agreeable; had but little time to spend with the ladies; formed but a very limited
acquaintance. At night. Had quite an interesting time. Performed an exhibition
which did us much credit. Ladies and gentlemen well pleased with the performance.
Little interruption with rain at the close of the scene; quite inconvenient for
neighbors to go home; very dark night." Brooks has notes on the celebration of 1835
and 1837 but says nothing of an "exhibition."
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