Another handicap of the academies of that day was the lack of
union and coperation in planning for and supporting them. Even in
a town where the more public-spirited citizens had united to erect
and equip a school building at considerable expense, a number of
petty schools each under a single teacher would spring up, and drain
it of its pupils. Its promoters would finally become discouraged,
leave off their support of the school, and send their sons elsewhere.
The result was that both teachers and their pupils suffered from
public indifference and neglect.
At this time the University of North Carolina was the only
institution of college grade in the State. It had been opened for
students on January 15, 1795, with Reverend David Ker as Presiding
Professor "and not one student," though the number of matriculates
reached forty-one by the end of the term. After a rather stormy
history in which it had undergone many changes of fortune the
University was already an excellent and respected institution in
1835, with 89 students. The number had risen to
Its great director and developer and stubborn defender through its
early years had been Dr. Joseph Caldwell, the first President, who
coming to the University in 1796, was the chief executive with short
intermissions until his death in 1835. Under his firm hand the
University weathered storms of opposition that were all but
destructive, but it was still ministering to few other than sons of men
either rich or eminent in the professions.11
In the list of its graduates are found with moderate frequency the
names of Episcopalian and Presbyterian preachers, and of five men
who after their graduation became Baptist preachers,
every step tremulously, with the hesitation and uncertainty of a man who is feeling
his way and relying on his own single experiment. The public would feel
confidence in such a teacher; and the certificate of having prepared one's self for a
schoolmaster at such an institution would be worth more than a hundred college
diplomas. It is surprising that the public has not yet seen the necessity for such an
Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, I, 63, 65, 426.
11 See statement of Dr. Hooper quoted in footnote above. The names of
graduates of the University during this period, as given in the appendix to Dr.
Battle's History, are mostly those of well known and influential families.