Curriculum 373
Common Schools of the State for twelve
Much to the
surprise of Baptist friends of the bill it failed of passage. It was urged
in opposition to it that while Wake Forest and Davidson were
sectarian institutions, Normal College was not, and it seems to have
been this consideration that led to its defeat. This was the subject of
some bitter reflections by the editor of the Biblical Recorder, who
declared that those who held that view ought to inform themselves; to
support his contention that the Normal College was as much a
sectarian institution as any he quoted a strong recommendation of it as
such from the Richmond Christian Advocate, which at that day served
the Methodists of this State as their denominational
From the
facts given in the footnotes it may well be doubted whether the bill
had the support of the Normal College. By courting the favor of
President D. L. Swain of the State University, then the most powerful
man in politics in North Carolina, Rev. Braxton Craven, on November
21, 1852, had his institution chartered as a normal school with the
semblance of being a State institution, and was granted a loan
A copy of the bill was printed in the Biblical Recorder of January 14, 1853.
The plan had been maturing for some months. Reference to it is found in an
editorial note in the Biblical Recorder of November 12, 1852, which reads: "The
Trustees of the Normal College in the county of Randolph have unanimously agreed
to unite with Wake Forest College and Davidson College in application to the
Legislature of the State for a grant from the Literary Fund. The States of Georgia,
Pennsylvania and New York have made similar liberal grants to all their
incorporated colleges." Wake Forest had taken the initiative at the meeting of the
Trustees in June, 1852.
The Normal College was chartered in 1851. In that year Rev. Braxton Craven,
its head, made an agreement with the Methodist Conference meeting at Salisbury
"to educate young men preparing for the ministry without charge." In the "general
principles by which the College should be regulated and controlled," written by
Craven, the statement is made that it must be "denominational without being
sectarian." Brooks, Trinity Alumni Register, I, 89 ff., in article, "The First State
Normal School Becomes Trinity College." In 1854 the Conference "gave the
institution its strongest endorsement, and the movement was begun to make Normal
College the Methodist Institution of North Carolina." Ibid. It seems then that the
editor of the Biblical Recorder was right in regarding Normal College as fully
sectarian as Wake Forest and Davidson.
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