Science, Evolution 133
who sat behind the preacher as he denounced evolution. "Why don't
you get rid of Poteat?" was a question members of the Board had to
be ready to answer at any time. There can be no doubt that they were
getting weary of this constant annoyance, but on every occasion when
it was thought proper they voted approval of Poteat both as president
and as teacher. Possibly some hoped that the way being made easy,
Poteat would resign and thus free them from the annoyance. But
Poteat himself had another notion, and withheld his resignation.
Though he had purposed to resign at the close of the school year
1921-22, when he would already be sixty-five years old, he was
convinced that to resign in the face of the militant opposition would
be to yield the fight virtually and would ultimately be harmful to the
College and the cause of freedom to teach the truth. Accordingly, he
delayed offering his
One can think of other causes of his
remaining five years longer in the presidency. He was still in vigorous
health and in full possession of his mental powers; why should he
surrender the direction of the affairs of the College to possibly weaker
and untrained hands? Finally, however, when he had reached the age
of seventy, he offered his resignation to the Board of Trustees
meeting at Wilmington, November 16, 1926, to take effect at the
close of the college year in June, 1927. His letter of resignation reads:
To the Board of Trustees of Wake Forest College, in session at Wilmington
November 15, 1926.
Gentlemen: My seventieth birthday is scarcely four weeks behind me. In the sole
consideration of my age and no other, and in conformity with a long settled purpose,
I now request you to relieve me when the present session ends of the administrative
responsibility to which you called me on June 22, 1905.
Beginning with my admission to the College, a lad of only sixteen
years, my devotion to her remains unabated and my loyalty to her ideal
8 This unwillingness of Poteat to resign in the face of opposition is referred to by
Mims, op. cit., p. 307. Speaking of Poteat's address to an alumni meeting in
Charlotte in 1925, he says: "President Poteat refused to resign, and gave as his
reason before a body of enthusiastic alumni that he could not let his Alma Mater
surrender on so vital a principle."
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