12 History of Wake Forest College
A. W. Clopton, Aaron G. Spivey, William Hill Jordan, T. R. Owen
and William
The latter after graduating in 1809 had first
become an Episcopalian minister but was converted to the Baptist
faith and baptized in 1832. Clopton and Owen did not labor in North
Carolina. When in the first quarter of last century the Baptists began
to desire educated ministers for their churches no suggestion was
ever made that they might be trained at the State University. There
were several reasons for this.
When the University was founded, many of the scholastic in-
stitutions of this country were shot through with a contempt for
religion and indeed with actual atheism, originating probably from
the unsettling of religious thought by the French Revolution. This
was a condition that held at our University. Its first Presiding
Professor, Dr. David Ker, in spite of the fact that he had been a
Presbyterian preacher, was "an outspoken infidel," and Samuel
Allen Holmes, a Baptist preacher of Warrenton, who became a
member of the University faculty in 1796, at once became "an
apostate and skepticized, and embraced the wildest principles of
licentiousness," words which Dr. Battle quotes from President
Caldwell. And evidence is not wanting that religion was either
neglected or actually scoffed at by professors and students.13
Again, the social life of the University was not such as was
approved by the Baptists of that day. In July, 1796, the students
were authorized to attend dancing schools with the permission of the
faculty. General William R. Davis, the founder of the University,
desired that his sons should be taught to dance well. In 1833 the
Trustees granted permission to the students to use the University
buildings for their Commencement Ball, being convinced by the
plea that "the intellectual improvement and gentlemanly
accomplishments caused by dancing would justify a
A student of about 1830 who did not graduate was George W. Hufham of
Duplin County, father of Dr. J. D. Hufham. He became a Baptist minister. Ibid., I,
792. Rev. John Monroe also was said to have studied at the University,
but his name is not in the list of students.
13Ibid., 101, 113-144. Foote, Sketches of North Carolina, 545 ff., a full and
illuminating statement.
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