80 History of Wake Forest College
From such commendations as these the manual labor feature of the
Institute had come into favor with the people of the State, especially
with the farmers. Much interest already at the time was taken in
scientific farming as it was called. But the farmers had scant means of
learning it. Agricultural periodicals with their weekly or monthly
suggestions were rare. Occasionally some information was got from a
wandering lecturer that claimed to be a "model farmer." The owners
of large estates at least were eager to find something better.
Accordingly they welcomed the opportunity to put their sons in a
school where they expected them to be trained for the successful and
profitable management of the plantations which they would some day
inherit, while at the same time they would get sufficient literary
education to fit them for places of influence in social and political life.
And it was these owners of large estates and plantations whose sons
made up the greater portion of the students during the first years of
the Institute. The tale is told by such names as Cotton, Headen and
DeGraffenreid from Chatham; Ingram, Dockery and Steele from
Rockingham; Jones, Crenshaw and Crudup from Wake; Norfleet,
Moore and Outlaw from Bertie, which are found in the list of the first
And it was owing to the fact that this expectation of instruction in
"scientific farming" was not realized, more than to anything else, that
the manual labor feature was abandoned after five years. There is no
evidence that the farmer in charge of the plantation for the first year,
Mr. Merriam, knew more of farming
youth steps into the arena of active life. In a short time the effects of his education
begin to show themselves about his home. The moral and social virtues are
cultivated. A thousand little luxuries grow up around him. His farm exhibits the
improvement of an industrious hand, and the attractions of a cultivated mind. His
influence is felt in the neighborhood-subjects of common improvement and general
interest are agitated-his expanded views are listened to, and the community is half
disposed to adopt them, shake off their apathy, and reduce them to practice. This is
a child of a Manual Labor Institute."
“There can be no doubt that it is a considerable degree owing to this
distinguishing and valuable feature of the plan, that so many of the principal men of
our State are anxious to have their sons educated at Wake Forest." From report to
Board of Trustees, Nov. 3, 1834.
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