Administration of Samuel Wait I 381
It was not to Baptists alone that the committee made appeal for
patronage, since there was neither in the administration and teaching
nor in the discipline any taint of sectarianism, and young men of all
denominations or of none would feel at home there.
To these difficulties as set forth by the committee was added before
the end of the year the bitterness caused by the loss of Armstrong, and
a full sense of the staggering burden of debt that rested upon the
institution. As both of these matters have been discussed in other
sections of this work nothing further of them need be said here.
There is nothing to indicate that any of the Northern men on the
Wake Forest faculty was in any way obnoxious to the students or the
Trustees. Wait soon became a slaveowner, and so remained until the
slaves were emancipated. White also owned some slaves. But the
mere fact that the members of the faculty were from the North gave
much dissatisfaction to patrons of the College. Many expressions in
the public prints of the time indicate the impatience of the people of
North Carolina and other States at having their sons under the
instruction of men from Abolition territory. Writing in the Biblical
Recorder of April 19, 1845, a member of the Board of Trustees of the
Furman Theological Institution said: "We admit that the Board, like
most Southern Institutions erred by pursuing for years the wretched
policy of electing as professors strangers from the North." A few
years later Professor W. H. Owen, in summing up the qualifications
of Rev. J. J. Brantley for the presidency of the College, said: "To sum
up all in one sentence-he meets and answers a loud public call for a
Southern President to prepare Southern youth for Southern fields of
One other more general reason for the decline in the number of
students which had already set in 1839 was the general financial
depression of the time which brought disaster to many of the
mushroom educational institutions of the day.4 Though Wake Forest
escaped the worst, it doubtless suffered also.
3 Biblical Recorder, October 12, 1852.
4 Ibid., December 15, 1843, letter of "Amicus," probably Professor White.