592 History of Wake Forest College
After the Institute had become a College, and the annual Com-
mencements were fixed for June, the Societies in April, 1839, indi-
cated that they were willing to participate in the Exercises, suggesting
that three in the collegiate department from each Society in addition
to the members of the graduating class should deliver original
speeches, and two from the preparatory department should declaim.
The next year another program was proposed, and for several years it
seems to have been varied to meet the demands of the occasion, but
after eight or ten years undergraduates contributed to the Exercises
only with declamations, usually ten in number, and toward the end of
the period on the day preceding the graduation Exercises. In the
earlier years, however, original speeches were made by those in the
Junior Class, especially in the years when there were none to
graduate, as in 1845, when George W. Collins of Warren County
spoke on "Beauty of the Ancient Classics"; Menalcus Lankford of
Franklin County, on "Study of the Law"; and Matthew T. Yates of
Wake County, on "The Education Called for by the Age."24
The Societies also participated in other ways in the Commencement
Exercises. In fact, Commencements were to a large extent under the
direction of the Societies and they saw to it that before
Commencement their halls underwent a thorough house-cleaning, and
the members looked to their linen and wardrobes. Each Society also
elected marshals and managers, varying in number through the years,
whose duties were somewhat more important than those of such
officers today, since they extended not only to the public literary
Exercises but also to the oversight of the social party which the
Societies gave on the evening of Commencement Day, and to matters
of transportation and entertainment. Election as marshals and
managers was eagerly sought and was considered complimentary and
possibly a recognition of one's social standing and breeding. Very
soon the Societies provided these officers with costly and sometimes
gorgeous regalias, each of the color which distinguished the Society
of the wearer,
24Biblical Recorder, June 14, 1845.
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