The War of 1914-18 89
To these college groups of soldiers was given the name Student Army
Training Corps, or, an early instance of using initials, S.A.T.C. In this
corps two classes of students might enlist: first, students eighteen
years of age and under twenty-one, with the consent of their parents.
Though subject to call to active service it was the stated policy of the
national administration not to call them until they reached the age of
twenty-one, and not until the close of the college year those who
became twenty-one during that year. The second class was young men
under eighteen, who with the consent of their parents were
encouraged to enroll in the unit without acquiring the status of
soldiers of the army. For the first class support and college fees were
provided by the national government.
Such was the plan proposed by President Wilson. It was the only
plan under which many colleges, possibly Wake Forest among them,
could hope to operate during the coming year. Everybody knew that
Wake Forest would accept the plan and be grateful besides, but there
were some sticklers who contended that for the College to have a unit
of S.A.T.C., would be a violation of the Baptist principle of
separation of church and state. One of these, Dr. J. J. Taylor, one of
the ablest of Southern Baptists who at the time had a pastorate in
North Carolina, wrote a forceful–and convincing–argument to
President Poteat in support of his views.2
President Poteat himself was in later years regarded as a mild pacifist, but in
point of fact, in this period, at least, he maintained a balanced judgment in regard to
war. He was opposed to foolish wars, and for peace, an honorable peace. In an
address before the North Carolina Peace Society, Greensboro, October 14, 1908,
published in the Bulletin of Wake Forest College, III, 155ff., he had two main
points. He began by saying: "I am for war," and he continued: "War has been an
effective agency for the suppression of evil intrenched in backward stages of culture
and for pushing forward the moral progress of the race. For some obstructions
require dynamite." He began the second half of his speech with the proposition, "I
am for peace," and he went on to deplore the increase of armaments by nations large
and small, and advised the teaching of ideals of peace to the young, and the
extension to nations of the moral code recognized among individuals. "But we shall
need," said he, "our army and, navy probably down to the last chapter, need them as
policemen are needed in the most progressive communities. And they must be
adequate and well trained, and we must willingly
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