590 History of Wake Forest College
demolish the noblest political edifice ever constructed by the wisdom and genius of
A storm dark and fearful is gathering. It may appear no greater than a man's hand,
but it is fast swelling, and threatens soon to break forth in terrible fury. The
muttering thunders even now startle us, and nothing .is wanting but the withdrawal
of God's restraining finger to plunge our country at once into all the horrors of
domestic anarchy. The last ligaments which bind us together seem almost ready to
snap, and unless there be an extraordinary interposition of providence, causes even
now so fearfully at work will shortly involve states and even the church of God in
one wild scene of convulsion and dismay.
This address was a fitting prelude to the Civil War, and was, so far as appears,
the last to be delivered before the College had suspended on account of the conflict.
For although Dr. Charles F. Deems was asked to deliver the address in June, 1861,
and had accepted the invitation, it seems that he was unable to come when on short
notice the time of Commencement was changed to May 27, 1861.
In the earlier years there was no sermon at Commencement. It
seems to have been introduced at the Commencement of 1849, when
the "valedictory sermon before the graduating class" was preached by
Rev. C. B. Jennet of Petersburg, Virginia. The time for it was on
Wednesday evening before the final day of Commencement,
Thursday, and so it continued until well into the present century. In
1850, the effort to get a preacher failed and the hour was filled with a
discussion of ministerial education in which the leaders were
President John B. White and Rev. J. L. Prichard. In 1851, the preacher
was Rev. James McDaniel of Fayetteville; in 1852 the preacher was
to have been Dr. Cushman of Washington, D. C., but he found the
train from Gaston slower than he expected and did not reach Wake
Forest in time; in 1853 the preacher, Rev. J. L. Reynoldson of
Petersburg, failed to come as expected. The sermon at the
Commencement of 1854 was by Rev. H. H. Fuller of Alexandria,
Virginia; it was published in a pamphlet with the Literary Address
and an Educational Address delivered at the same Commencement; its
subject is "The
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