380 History of Wake Forest College
under its charter as a college, in February, 1839, it was already in the
midst of difficulties which were to increase rather than diminish
during the next half-dozen years. The condition at this time is
indicated in the "Circular" already spoken of put out by a Committee
of the Trustees, consisting of Thomas Meredith, Samuel Wait, and
Alfred Dockery, and published in the Biblical Recorder of January 5,
1839. At that time there was widespread criticism of the College
because it was apparent that it would not be a charitable institution
and provide education at a nominal cost. People were saying that the
Board of Trustees had violated a moral obligation because they had
raised the price of board from $60 a year to $80 for the ten months,
and were complaining because the cost of instruction was too great. In
chapter twelve above may be found the answer given to these
complaints.
The serious aspect of this critical attitude was that the institution
was not receiving a proper number of students. It had no endowment
or other source of revenue; it was on patronage alone that it must
depend for the expenses of operation. Accordingly, the committee
appealed most urgently for patronage in these words:
To the Baptists of North Carolina the Board would respectfully state, that having
succeeded in rearing a school adapted, in all respects, to the existing wants of the
denomination, they now make this appeal to the denomination for their prompt
cooperation and support. Brethren the question is now confidently and solemnly
submitted to you-whether the seminary at Wake Forest shall move on, gradually and
steadily, to usefulness and distinction; or whether it shall pine away and eventually
expire-to the extreme disappointment and mortification of its friends. Should you
think proper to yield your patronage, thereby exercising such state and
denominational partialities as are exercised by the people of other states and
members of demoninations, the school cannot fail to receive adequate support.
Should you think proper, however, to bestow your patronage elsewhere, it may as
well be known at present as at any other time, that the school will not, cannot be
sustained."
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of the College and the Literary Societies, minutes of the Baptist State Convention,
and manuscripts. Records, however, are briefer than one could wish.
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