Literary Work 549
amusements. Should theatrical performances be tolerated? Not so,
said the Philomathesians in May, 1850, although in March, 1842, they
had not been convinced that circuses should be denied the right to
traverse our State. Another query, debated by the same Society in
September, 1841, "Should executions be made public or private?"
shows that our antebellum forbears were about as modern as we of
today. Betting on elections was common among college students
generally in those days, and the Euzelians thought best to have it
discussed by the Society in April, 1844.37
In the quarter of a century before the Civil War there was much
discussion in the State of the undemocratic constitution of 1776 as
modified somewhat by the amendments of 1835. Although the
amendments of that year gave the people a greater share in the control
of their State Government than they had previously had, there was
still dissatisfaction that their share was so small. At the same time the
reactionaries were complaining. In 1835, the election of governors
had been given to the people, and this gave the State what it had not
had before, a gubernatorial campaign every two years, with the
candidates setting forth their claims in public addresses, sometimes in
joint debates engaging in most spirited charge and counter charge,
extending more than ten hours.38 It was such things that doubtless
called forth the debate in the Philomathesian Society in November,
1843, on the query, "Should the practice of gubernatorial candidates
canvassing the State be abolished?" The members were about equally
divided. That at this time there was a resurgence of opinion in favor
of electing governors by the Legislature is shown by the fact that
early in 1846 both
37 Dr. T. E. Skinner, tells about losing $600 in bets rashly made while he was a
student of the University, that Clay would be elected in 1844, which his father paid
for him. Reminiscences.
38 Ashe, History of North Carolina, II, 429, gives the following account of the
debate in 1842 at Fayetteville, between Louis D. Henry, Democrat, and J. M.
Morehead, Whig: "At length Morehead and Henry met at Fayetteville in joint
debate, the Governor opening and speaking three times, and Henry twice. They each
occupied over five hours, the debate lasting ten hours and a half, and the candidates
indulging in charges and counter charges."
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