Freedom of Thought in the Old South

By Clement Eaton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
ACADEMIC FREEDOM BELOW THE POTOMAC

IN BRIGHT CONTRAST to the apathy of the Old South toward the education of the masses was her record in collegiate education. Realizing the need for training leaders, the Southern States were the first to establish state universities. As the economic prosperity of the land of Dixie increased and as the religious denominations entered into an aggressive rivalry, new colleges were founded and the older ones increased their enrollment. This notable expansion occurred despite the fact that many sons of wealthy planters were attracted to Northern institutions. According to the census of 1860, Virginia had twentythree colleges with an enrollment of 2,824 students, Georgia, thirty-two colleges with 3,302 students, while New York had only seventeen colleges with an enrollment of 2,970 students, and Massachusetts eight institutions of higher learning with 1,733 students.HHH1GGG Undoubtedly some of the institutions designated as colleges in the South were not much more than academies, or "log-cabin colleges." It should be noted, however, that aristocratic Virginia annually spent fifty thousand dollars more than Massachusetts on colleges, indicating that she realized the need of trained leaders. In 1857 there was one college man to every six hundred and sixty-six white inhabitants in Virginia as compared with one to every nine hundred and forty-four white inhabitants in Massachusetts.HHH2GGG The enrollment at Harvard in 1856 was three hundred and sixty-one students, while the University of Virginia had five hundred and fiftyeight students!HHH3GGG

____________________
1
The Eighth Census of the United and Miscellaneous Statistics, p. 505.
2
Southern Literary Messenger, XXIV, 165-166 ( March, 1857).
3
Catalogue of the Students of Harvard University for the Academical Year 1855-56 ( Cambridge, Mass., 1856), p. 23, and Catalogue of University of Virginia, Session of 1855-'56 ( Richmond, 1856), p. 16.

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