64 History of Wake Forest College
inquirers who seemed to expect to hear that the College was on the
point of giving up the ghost. He was needing cheering words, as he
told the Trustees at their meeting in June, 1869. "We shall die," said
he, "if our funeral is talked of so much, and the obsequies, though
accompanied by many regretful tears, are so often announced."
Such was Wingate's protest in his report to the Board in June, 1869,
which on the whole was rather optimistic and free from the dolorous
tone of his letter at the beginning of the session in the previous
August. Several things had contributed to the improved prospects of
Wake Forest like Trinity and Davidson profited in no little degree
by the changed conditions at the State University. For the year,
Trinity reported an enrollment of 125, and Davidson reported 124. All
the dormitories were full at Davidson, and there was no longer room
for preparatory students. The presence on the Davidson faculty during
the years 1868-75 of Dr. Charles Phillips, both before and afterwards
one of the ablest members of the faculty of the State University,
doubtless drew some students to that
During the fall term at
Wake Forest very few new students matriculated, but thirty were
present at the beginning of the spring term in January, 1869, giving a
clear increase of more than twenty over the enrollment of the previous
year, making a total of 98, which next year, 1870-71, rose to 116.
Doubtless much of this growth of the College enrollment into
"respectable proportions," came as Dr. William Hooper said, "from
the fertilizing decay of the University." 6
That this was the opportune time for the denominational colleges of
the State was quickly recognized by the friends of Davidson College,
and the North Carolina Presbyterian said
It is utterly impossible that the University of the State can for years to come have
any considerable influence in directing the educational interests of our people. We
must rally around our denominational institutions, and make them equal to any in
the country. They
See History of Davidson College by Cornelia Rebekah Shaw.
6 Biblical Recorder, March 16, 1870.
Quoted in Biblical Recorder, February 3, 1869.