52 History of Wake Forest College
The article reveals that like Randolph Abbott Shotwell, his
distinguished fellow-sufferer for the same offense, Ramseur was not
at all reconstructed by his prison experience. If he had it all to do over
again, under similar circumstances he would join the Ku Klux again,
he declared.
It was in the dark gloom of the days of June, 1868, that Wake
Forest graduated its first class with bachelor's degrees after the Civil
War. In 1866 and 1867 the only degrees conferred were masters of
arts. The course of political events had led many to abandon all hope
of saving the best in the civilization of the old South. President
Wingate's address to the graduating class on that occasion takes
account of this situation and shows that he himself was not free from
the general depression, but it reveals that the older men of that day
with hearts true to the South rested their one hope in the young men,
the educated young men, with high ideals and Christian faith. They
could make a New South and it is to the work of making it that
Wingate exhorts them to go, with the buoyancy of youth. Educated
young men are the South's last hope. From this point of view
Wingate's address has a historic interest not only for the College but
for the State. It was as follows:
Young gentlemen of the graduating class
It is always a painful duty to pass the diplomas into the hands of those who are so
soon to leave us, and bid them look out from the quiet retreat of preparation to the
active arena of life. But it is especially painful now. The future is not an
encouraging one. Life has not apparently the bright hopes of promise which once
our youth might feel as they turned away from their Alma Mater to enter upon its
untried duties. But seasons of adversity are never times for despondency. Old men
may be excused for indulging gloomy apprehensions of the future when the present
is dark, but young men must not for a moment permit themselves to yield to gloomy
forebodings. Hope wrested from them at that age, when its bright beams must
radiate the future, unnerves their arms, and paralyzes every manly effort.
You may indeed be mistaken. Life may be as bright now as ever. The world is
the same world. Lights and shades, joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, ever flit
across the changeful sky, but sunshine on
9 Biblical Recorder, July 8, 1868.
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