THE COLLEGE AND RECONSTRUCTION
Wake Forest College, like all other educational institutions and
agencies in North Carolina, was greatly affected by the political
movements known as Reconstruction.
Perhaps even more than was realized at the time, the colleges
suffered from the poor state of schools of lower grade. Although it
was the boast of Superintendent Calvin H. Wiley that the common
schools were kept open till the last gun of the War had been fired,
they were increasingly deficient owing to the lack of other things,
such as proper textbooks and especially of trained teachers.1 For the
next four years the public schools were almost completely suspended.
Of them there was only a trace.
In his report for 1866-67, General Nelson A. Miles, Assistant
Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedman and Abandoned
Lands for North Carolina, said:
"The indifference of the white people of this State to the importance
of free schools is deplorable. As far as I have been able to learn there
are but three free white schools in the State; there are, however, many
private institutions." Biblical Recorder, December 18, 1867. The
editor said in reply: "The white people are reduced to poverty and
have no means of sustaining schools." As an evidence of that poverty
the editor said: "More than 250,000 acres of land have been sold at 25
cents an acre. Some improved farm lands have sold at one dollar an
acre. An immense amount of land can now be bought at 15 cents an
acre." General Miles recognized the poverty in these words: "Their
specie, bank and rail road stock, school fund, produce, &c. were all
swept into the whirlpool of rebellion, and the people were left at the
close with simply their lands, and upon the very brink of ruin."
General Miles also mentions Rev. F. A. Fiske as Superintendent of
Education. In some counties, it seems, small amounts were raised
Noble, History of Education in North Carolina, I.