The Gamecock (Columbia, S.C.)

The gamecock. (Columbia, S.C.) 1908-2006, October 16, 1908, Page 2, Image 2

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HIS TORY OF THL AT SOUTH CAr Prof. E. L. Green, in The State, March i i, 1906. The South Carolina College opened its doors to students on the ioth of January, 1805. In the preceding De cember the Board of Trustees adopted regulations for the government of the new college, which were printed by D. & J. J. Faust, Columbia, January, 1805. The first section of the seventh article is as follows: "The rewards and punishments of this institution shall be all addressed to the sense of duty, and the principles of honor and shame," which has appeared in all sub sequent editions of the by-laws. The first President of the college was Rev. Jonathan Maxcv, a native of Massa chusetts, who came to 'Columbia from New York, where ie was then Presi dent of tile Union College. To Dr. Maxcy this article seems to be due. .He was ol tile committee appointed by the Board of Trustees to draft the first by-laws, and in a letter addressed prior to this to the board, he tells them that he has sent them his plan of gov ernment, which, unfortunately, is not preserved. At his death in 1820, Prof. Robert Henry delivered a eulogy upon him in the college chapel. (An Eulogy oil Jonathan Maxcy, D. D., Printed in Columbia, S. C.), at the State Gazette Office, 1822.) Prof. Henry said: "When Dr. Maxcy first entered upon his duties here, the nature of a college and of its requisite discipline were al most wholly unknown. The youth of our country were rarely committed to the care of teachers, before a strong conviction of independence and a dis position to assert and to exercise it, had sprung tip in their minds. Dr. Maxcy had too much good sense to attempt to extirpate this elevated prin ciple; he only sought to modify it. He appealed to the honor of his pupils, and required a faithful compliance with conditions, which they themselves had voluntarily undertaken to perform. With generous minds, such appeals are always powerful and most commonly successful. Such indeed has been the happy result in the present instance, that whatever ignorance may imagine HONOR SYATEM OLINA COLLEGE or calumny invent to the contrary, it nay be safely asserted that few similar institutions can boast of a more ready and cieerful obedience to every salu tary regulator." From sudh a beginning did the honor systeill at the South Carolina College grow; for it is not to be sup posed that the system was adopted as a whole at some definite time, but that it was the result of a process of grad ual development. No copies of the by-laws printed between 1807 and 1849 are accessible, if in existence, so that it is necessary to make use of the minutes of the faculty and the Board of Trustees, and from the method of procedure in particular instances, de termine what stage the development had reached. During Dr. Maxcy's term of office, 1805 to 1820, while a student's word appeared not to be dotbted in so many words, it was necessary often for him to bring forward other students to prove his statements, so that the dis ciplining of a student took the form of a trial. Increased liberality was largely due to the efforts of the stu dents themselves, as is made evident by some of their petitions. More than once they claimed that their word should be sufficient. .It is also true that they had an exaggerated idea of their own value to society, and were in general a turbulent set. Dr. Thomas Cooper succeeded Dr. Maxcy. In 1823 a most serious offense was committed in the chapel. The faculty instructed the president first to lay the case before the students assembled in the chapel and endeavor to have them purge themselves of the persons who had committed so disgraceful an act. Nothing was done by. the stu dents, in fact, they refused to move in the matter. Thereupon, the faculty, "under the law of the college," re quired each man to exculpate himself by propounding to him the following question: "Were you guilty of the offense concerning which the present inquiry is instituted, or were you in any way accessory to it?" Thirty-one students answered in the negative and were, "of course," exonorated and permitted to retain their standing; the others were suspended. (Minutes of the faculty, April io, 1823.) In a communication to the faculty the sus pended students say that if they had not been "fully satisfied of the total absence of malice, disrespect and even levity, they would feel themselves called upon as gentlemen and mem bers of the college, to be aiding the faculty in punishing the perpetrator." Two years later one of the trustees wished to make the discipline of the college more strict. In reply, Presi dent Thomas Cooper says, in his re port to the Board of Trustees: "But, in fact, the system of government by mildness and remonstrance, by treat ing the students as gentlemen and worthy of confidence, has succeeded so well that the faculty have no good reason to change it." By 1836, in which year an edition of the college by-laws was printed, a regular method of procedure had been established for the trial of - offenders. As no copy of the by-laws of that year exists, the minutes of the fac ulty and a later edition of the by-laws which was almost a reprint of the 1836 edition, show that the faculty proceeded in a case of discipline as follows: "If there was strong pre sumptive evidence against a student that he was -guilty of the offense with which he was charged, he was sum moned before the faculty to answer 'yes' or 'no,' as to his own guilt; but he was not to incriminate anyone else .by his answer. If he answered 'no,' he was considered prima facie, not guilty. If it developed later that lie had told a falsehood, he was to be expelled for lying." Any man suspected of cheating was forced by the other students to leave college. The minutes of the faculty do not contain mention of a case of cheating. Prior to the closing of the college in 1863, examinations were oral in the presence of the faculty, and olice each year the examination was public. Prof. Joseph LeConte, writing of the '50s, says in his autobiography: "1 have said that the students in the South Carolina College were high spirited, though turbulent. I should add that I had never previously seen (nor have I since), so high a sense of