136 History of Wake Forest College
in sections where little attention was paid to education and where
there were no academies or other schools above the common school
grade. Few of their sons were prepared to enter even the preparatory
classes of the College. Again few of the Baptists of the State at that
time had incomes sufficient to pay the expenses of their sons in
college and the sons had no place to borrow money on their own
account. Again, with the developing South and the rise of new towns
there was a constant demand for young men in industries and
business. Nearly all of these who remained at the College only one or
two years during this period became farmers or engaged in business
of some kind, being content with education sufficient to fit them for
this work. And it was not Wake Forest College but Davidson College
whose student enrollment was affected in any appreciable degree by
the "fertilizing decay" of the State University. In 1866-67 Davidson
had only 27 students, and in 1867-68 only 54, but in 1868-69, the year
of the reconstruction of the University of North Carolina, the number
of students at Davidson rose to 121, of whom 76 were new men. The
next year, at the commencement of 1871, Davidson graduated 31, and
at the commencement of 1873 graduated 26, a total for the two years
of 57, more than Wake Forest College graduated during all these nine
years. With the reopening of the University, however, our college
suffered much less severely in loss of students than did Davidson; the
enrollment of Wake Forest for 1875-76, the first year of the new
University, was 82, only nine less than that of the previous year, while
that of Davidson was 88, a loss of 34. The number of students at
Wake Forest was seriously diminished by the financial panic of 1873.
The enrollment which had reached 106 in 1872-73 fell to 90 the next
year and did not reach 100 until 1878-79 when it became 117.7
Wingate repeatedly complained of the tendency of the students to drop out after
a year or two in college. "The trouble with the colleges in our State has been that
they could not hold their students. The number of new students coming in would
justify the hope that large classes would be graduated, but the great majority
commence with no such object and will leave after a few months." Biblical
Recorder, December 2, 1874.
This story had also been told to Dr. Pritchard two years before: "The Faculty tell
us that the students come and study well for a few terms and fail
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