568 History of Wake Forest College
State is in a better condition to act liberally on this subject, and a liberal policy is
imperiously demanded to render valuable what has been begun. With a half million
of white population, we have not a single institution for any of the learned
professions, not a single well endowed high school, where the intermediate
branches of Education may be taught. One College endowed by the State, and two
recently commenced under individual patronage is all of which we can boast.
The address at the Commencement of 1843 was by Colonel John
Hill Wheeler, the author of the History of North Carolina, a native of
Murfreesboro, but later a resident of Lincoln County, and in 1842-43
State Treasurer. His subject was, "The Appropriate Pursuits of
American Youth." His matter was interesting but not very well
arranged, and in the end he turned to exhortation and advice. In the
body of his address he defended the interest of young men in politics,
since this interest was necessary to the welfare of the State in a
republican form of government; he also warned his hearers against the
custom of the young men of the South to enter only one or two lines
of work, saying:
I allude to the rush to the learned profession of Law and Medicine, which
characterizes the present age, and particularly among Southern young men. We
have become too much a people of consumers, and not enough of producers. This is
the true cause of the superiority of the North over the South. Every man who is too
lazy to become an industrious farmer, or who has not ingenuity enough for a skillful
mechanic, is supposed by the fondness of doting parents to be intended for a lawyer
or a doctor. Under our wretched system of multiplying laws and lawyers, the
practice of law is becoming so cheap as to be profitless, while the bar continues to
be crowded by the rising generation; and annually our medical schools turn out so
many young doctors they they are becoming as numerous as Brandreth's or
Beckwith's pills.
Even more interesting, however, was his tribute to President Wait,
in whose classes he had been in Columbian College. In his
introduction to the main topic of his address he said:
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