58 History of Wake Forest College
such as these, historical questions of a past age or generation. It was
no offense to try to determine whether Mary Queen of Scots and
Charles the First were justly executed, and the relative value to the
country of Jefferson and Jackson, Clay and Webster, might be
appraised in hot debate; it was safe to discuss the actions of those
whose tombs were already shrines, but it was thought dangerous or
inexpedient to call in question the acts of men like Stanton and Thad
Stevens or Governor Holden or to try to determine the justice of the
impeachment of Andrew Johnson, or to point out the merits and
demerits of the Civil Rights Bill, or have any view on the Thirteenth,
Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution, or
to voice an opinion on whether or not North Carolina should have a
new constitution. At times, some rash query committee would
propose to add to the list of debatable questions one such as, "Was the
murder of John Wilkes Booth justifiable?" and "Has the government
of the United States the right to interfere with the actions of any
State?" but they were uniformly rejected. As far as either Society ever
ventured was to debate whether or not the former slaves were
benefited by their freedom. The Societies, however, felt it safe to
show their preference for men and things Southern. In their selection
of men for honorary membership they elected Lee and not Grant, and
Southern men generally. They also subscribed for "Mr. Hill's
magazine, The Land We Love."
It is probable too that in all this avoidance of any show of interest in
the political affairs of the time the young men were conforming to the
wishes of the faculty and Board of Trustees. The Trustees on June 10,
1869, expressed their disapproval of the students attending political
gatherings of any kind. On one occasion, however, the
Philomathesian Society made bold to indicate its attitude. On March
1, 1867, it ordered the name of Governor W. W. Holden to be stricken
from the list of honorary members. This was all. On October 4,
following, the Society voted that Mr. Holden be informed of "his
expulsion." For some reason, the corresponding secretary, A. H.
Hicks, did not heed the request of the Society. After the lapse of
almost another year this fact was discovered and aroused such anger
that one
Previous Page Next Page