The Loan from the State 205
At Wake Forest, among faculty and students, it was a time of
gloom, but also a time of prayer. Major Sanders M. Ingram writing
more than fifty years later,3 gives this account of affairs in 1840-41:
Mr. Wait once announced from the rostrum on Sabbath that the College building
was about to be sold for the balance of the debt that was due on it-about ten
thousand dollars. This news fell amongst us like a bomb or a clap of thunder in a
clear sky. He preached one of the most impressive sermons I ever heard from him,
and remarked that if the building was sold it would stand as a monument to the folly
of the Baptist churches of North Carolina. He prayed fervently that God would put
into the hearts of the friends of the institute to do something in that time of need,
that it might ever be a holy plot of ground and go on for ages working for the
Master. He prayed for the students-that God would keep us as in the palm of his
hand and the apple of his eye. He requested us to write to our friends and prevail on
them to do something for the College. This was Wake Forest's darkest hour.
Such was the situation4 when the Executive Committee reported
that they had borrowed two thousand dollars from the Literary Fund
of the State. The Trustees approved the action of the Committee and
assumed the debt. But it did not seem to occur to them immediately
that with a larger loan from the Literary Fund they might be able to
tide the College over its financial breakers. It was not until a meeting
in October, 1840, at the Johnston Liberty church that the proposition
was adopted to ask the Legislature for the loan of the money they so
much needed. They now appointed a committee to prepare a petition.
This was read and approved by the Board at a later meeting on
December 17, 1840. By this time the Trustees had been in com-
3 Wake Forest Student, XIII, 477 ff.
4 The students of the College rallied to the suggestions of President Wait, and in
addition to writing to their friends devised other schemes of helping the College. On
the suggestion of Mr. Wait that the granite of Wake Forest could be sold for enough
in New York to pay the debt, the young Ingram proposed that the students should
quarry it and build a railroad track to the quarry to get it away. Wait himself hoped
to get some money from the sale of mulberry plantings. Ingram addressed a letter to
Washington Irving, and received an encouraging reply. Ibid.
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