of our great universities are sowing the tares of lawlessness and
I refer especially to the brutal habit of "hazing," or drag-
ging new students out of their beds at the hour of midnight,
tying their hands, blindfolding them, drenching them in mud
or water, encasing them in coffins, and other things that would
disgrace Comanche Indians. I also refer to stealing chickens
and turkeys, robbing bee-gums, tearing down gates and sign-
boards, hauling away buggies and carriages, etc.,. which are
tolerated and laughed at as college tricks in many of our great
institutions. Secret societies are justly regarded as the chief
and fountain of many of these degrading habits in college life.
Especially as their acts are shrouded in profound darkness and
secrecy. I remark, first, secret societies in colleges are ab-
solutely hostile to the true model of every college.
Every college should be a great literary family, to guard
and nurture inexperienced sons and daughters and prepare
them for the struggles and joys of life. The President and
152 The Life and TTkitixgs of
every teacher should be "in loco parentis," aiid should guard
"\vith parental tenderness every student, rich and poor, in sick-
ness and health, in or out of study hours. The students should
form a great literary family of brothers and sisters. For this
reason all true colleges are called Alma Maters, or fostering
mothers. And every college that does not thus tenderly guard
her students is a disgrace to the name of Alma Mater, and is
only a step-mother, or as Horace says, Injusta iSToverca.
Everyone will see what a monster a secret society would be in
the family. How utterly destructive it would be to all fam-
ily relations for the father and part of the family to form
one secret society and the mother and the remainder of the
family to form another. But it has been argued that Masonry
and Odd Fellows are secret societies and they confer great
blessings on individuals. But the nature and pm-poses of
Masonry and Odd Fellowship are utterly unlike secret soci-
eties in colleges. Their great object is to protect their mem-
bers among strangers even in foreign lands. And to protect
the -widows and orphans of deceased brethren. And these
noble societies when thus conducted, separate from church
and State, become a blessing. But secret societies in colleges
can have no such purposes. College boys are not expected to
wander far away among strangers and have no orphans and
widows to protect. Secret societies are as useless appendages
as the fifth wheel of a wagon. iSTot only useless but liable to
entangle and upset the wheels that are necessary. Every col-
lege student knows that societies separate and apart from the
regular class room, to draw students closer together and discuss
freely literary topics, are essential and form an oasis in col-
lege life. These societies give the college student all the
social enjoyment and literary culture he needs and has time
to enjoy. Bvit secret societies always impair and often destroy
the usefulness of the regular literary societies.
The origin of secret societies in America will indicate
their nature and purpose. Thomas Jefferson introduced in
William and Mary College, Virginia, the first secret society,
called "Phi Beta Kappa." This society was imported from
skeptical France. And the three Greek letters are indexes of
three Greek words for "Philosophia biou kubemetes," and
means philosophy is the guide of life.
De. Eufus C Burleson. 153
France was at that time preparing to banish or burn the
Bible, and wished to introduce into all colleges the infidel
notion that philosophy and not the Bible was the guide of life.
The next secret society was introduced in Yale in 1780, and
the third in Harvard in 1781. The names as well as the
origin bear the taint of skepticism. The names of many of
the secret societies indicate their degrading tendency. The
following are examples, "Skull and Bones Society," "Skull
and Key Society," "Spade and Grave Society," "Ax and
Coffin Society," "Owl and Padlock Society," "Skull and Ser-
pent Society." But it may be said that all these arguments
are a priori and not conclusive unless sustained by experience
or a posteriori. We therefore confidently appeal to facts
and experience as reported by the greatest educators and insti-
tutions of America and Europe. Before giving the expe-
rience of great men and institutions I would be glad as a Texan
to introduce my own humble experience. When I became
President of Baylor University, forty-seven years ago, it was
strictly ''universitas in ovo." 'No library, no apparatus, no cur-
riculum of studies, no college classes, no literary societies. It
became my duty to map out everything essential for the foun-
dation of a great university. In performing this arduous duty
I sought the ad^dce of the greatest educators in America, such
as Dr. Francis Wayland, Dr. K. E. Pattison, Dr. Howard Mal-
come, Dr. Basil Manly and others. In this earnest examina-
tion of everything essential for laying the foundation of Bay-
lor University on a solid rock, the subject of secret societies
was discussed. After the most exhaustive examination, I
decided secret societies were injurious to colleges, and refused
all the importunities for their organization. But after several
years, one of the most learned professors was an ardent friend
of secret societies and plead that all the greatest colleges in
America and Europe had them. And that Baylor University
could not take rank unless she followed the example of these
great institutions. Finally some leading trustees and patrons
joined in the pleading of the professors and students for secret
societies. I concluded it better to allow them to make the
experiment. Two secret societies were immediately organ-
ized and pressed with great enthusiasm, to the injury of the
154 The Life and Writings of
two literary societies that had been doing noble work. Soon
the bitter fruits I predicted were realized. There were more
heart-burnings, secret whisperings, and conflicts among our
students than had ever been kno^vn in Baylor University.
Some of my dear students became greatly offened with
me because it was whispered I was partial to one of these socie-
ties. When, indeed, I had nothing to do with them, except
to counsel moderation and good order.
These bitter strifes came very near breaking up one of
the best graduating classes we ever had. Fortunately, about
this time I, with the other teachers and professors, decided to
move to Waco, and establish Waco University. The three lit-
erary and three secret societies resolved to go with us. For-
tunately the managers of the secret societies in ISTew England
that granted the charters demanded that they be returend to
Baylor University, at Indepenlence, and they would gladly
give us charters for societies in our new university at Waco.
We returned the charters, as requested, but I declined
ever to inaugurate a secret society in any college where I pre-
sided. I would not ask you to ask or even to consider my
experience if I stood alone. I beg you to hear the experience
and the facts, as reported by the greatest institutions and
educators in America.
In 1873, Dr. Hitchcock, President of Amherst College,
after a long experience in regard to the evils of secret societies,
sought their removal. In this arduous struggle he addressed
letters to the presidents of all the colleges in IlTew England,
to get their opinion in reference to such organizations. All
responded. The first said :
"Could these societies be wholly removed from our col-
leges, I would think it a result in which the friends of learn-
ing would have great occasion for rejoicing."
The second said: "As soon as the faculty ascertained
that secret societies were in existence, they ordered their stu-
dents to break off connection with them."
The third said : "We are unanimously and decidedly of
the opinion that it would be desiarble to have all secret societies
rooted out of our colleges."
De. Kufus C. Burleson. 155
A fourth said : "I have made one, nay, more than one,
ineffectual attempt to rid this college of secret societies."
A fifth said : "I suppose that it would be desirable that
secret societies be rooted out of our colleges."
A sixth said : "I am of the opinion that the tendency of
such societies is bad of necessity."
The seventh said : "Their influence was not suspected at
fe-st, but found to be bad, and nothing but evil results are
likely to follow."
Only two new college presidents in N'ew England were
found to be favorable to secret societies, and while the leading
presidents of ^e\v England colleges were thus expressing
themselves. Dr. Crosby, Chancelor of the University of I^ew
York, and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presby-
terian Church, in 1873, published an article, assigning various
conclusive reasons why secret societies should not exist in
Princeton, in New Jersey, issued an order abolishing
eleven secret societies from that institution. But not only
individuals, but great universities have made similar declara-
tions. In 1874 the Executive Committee of the National
Christian Association sent requests to 245 American colleges,
in twenty States, to obtain their positions on secret societies in
colleges. Pteports were received from twenty States, and
forty-eight colleges. All expressed decided opposition to such
-organizations, except three, a military school in Vermont, one
in Alabama and one in Mississippi. Time and space allow
us to give only a few samples of these utterances of great insti-
tutions. Yale College, New Haven, said "that there are ser-
that they accomplish some good is equally clear." McKen-
ious evils connected with secret societies cannot be questioned;
societies a damage to tlie public societies and tending to form
â– cliques among students and in no way promoting of scholar-
ship." Union Christian College, Merom, says: "We are
the uncompromising foes of secret societies in any form."
Eminence College, Kentucky : "We tolerate no secret socie-
ties." Clinton College, Mississippi: "No secret societies
tave ever been organized in this college till last year; we havo
156 The Life and Writings of
taken measures to prevent it making any progress, and it Avill
soon die out." Oberlin College : "l\o secret society has ever
existed here." Mai-y ville College, Tennessee : "We believe
secret societies are fraught with mischief and should be dis-
couraged in our inf:titutions of learning." Secret societies
have also been condemned at Harvard, Princeton, Union, Jef-
ferson and West Point. From all these expressions of our
greatest educators and institutions of learning, we may justly
conclude that secret societies, though possessing peculiar fasci-
nation to young minds, will prove injurious to the best inter-
ests of our colleges. And I trust that all the members of the
Texas Educational Association will give this question earnest
attention, and remove everything from our institutions of
learning that will be injurious to the youth of Texas; and also
adopt every means and use every power to cultivate and de-
velop all that will enoble and develop the sons and daughter?
of our Empire State."
In the preparation of this work we here depart from our
plan in following .'n Di: Burleson's footsteps as far as possible^
in order to make a connected story of the war he inaugurated
at this early time In his college experience against the practice
of hazing among students, and anticipate his career in other
A great majority of the college presidents in the United
States were unalter-ibly hostile to the practice, but were pessi-
mistic as to the success of any plan for its suppression.
A distinguished journalist had just returned to the i^orth
from a visit to Texas, in 1872, and found a bad state of affairs
existing at Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Princeton and some
institutions on account of this outrageous practice. The presi-
dents of these schools were unreserved in their condemnation
of the practice, but said it could not be prevented, and quietly
submitted. This journalist, who was in close touch with these?
officials, replied :
"This is a mistake. Hazing, and every other form of
outlawry among students, can be prevented. I have just
returned from a visit to Texas, and there I found on the bor-
der of civilization. Dr. R. C. Burleson, at the head of a univer-
sity of 750 students, among whom, for forty years, there ha?
Dr. Rufus C. Bukleson. 157
never been but one cas^ of hazing. To this he applied heroic
measures; he outhazed the hazers so badly that the practice
ceased at once." This statement was widely published in the
N'orthern press, attracted the attention of those having the
control of great institutions of learning in hand; as a result
of which, the Executive Committee of the ISTational Educa-
tional Association addressed Dr. Burleson a letter inquiring
if the statement was true. He answered that it was, and war-
invited to deliver an address before the association in St. Paul
in 1873 on this subject.
The invitation was accepted, and Dr. Burleson was intro-
duced to 8,000 teachers by the presiding officer of the associa-
tion as the first college President in America -that had suc-
ceeded in eradicating this relic of barbarism from the school
over which he presided. Prominent educators from Canada
were present during the sessions of the St. Paul convention,
and were so much impressed with Dr. Burleson's methods of
preventing this practice that he was urged to discuss the same
subject before the Canadian Teachers' Association at Toronto
in 1875. This invitation was also accepted; the address deliv-
ered. A chord was struck that vibrated through all educa-
tional circles in America, and, while it has not resulted iu
removing hazing, and kindred reprehensible practices, from
the student population of the land entirely, has resulted in a
perceptible diminution of these so-called sports.
158 The Life and Writings of
De. Bueleson's Foeesight â€” Peedicts Futuee of Texas aish)-
Baylor University in a Lettee to His Beother Rich-
ard IN 4854 â€” Creation AND Ceiticism â€” Similaeity
and dissimilaeity between r. c. and e. b. burleson
â€” Baptism of General Saivi Houston â€” Baptistry of
Independence Chttech â€” Coffin Shaped â€” ^Filled With
Logs â€” Place Changed â€” Description of this Historic
Spot â€” Photographed for the First Time, for This
Volume, by Thomas A. Holland.
Tj X THIS, as well as in all the past ages of the world.
^-^ men have lived who were splendid logicians when
the affairs that had already transpired were undei-
discussion. It is not difficult for a man of average intelli-
gence to perform something that has been done under his own
eye. Men marvelled when Columbus announced that he
could stand an egg on its end; but all could do the same thing
with as much ease as Columbus after he had shown them how.
Great battles have been fought in which great mistakes
were made. Men of a very low order of military genius can
see the mistakes after the fight is over and lost. The finest
preachers sit in the pew; provided they are judged by the
readiness with which they point out the defects in the sermon
after it has been delivered.
The best musicians are never in the choir, because the
least discord could have been prevented, if the leader had con-
sulted some one in the congregation, after the song had been
Dr. Eufus C. Burleson. 159
Here is a building of magnificent architectural skill, but
it is faulty. These faults could be detected by people who
could not "saw a scribe" after the house had been finished.
Creation and criticism are very different propositions.
Creation looks forward; criticism looks backward.
What we have learned by observation and experience,
and what we know by prescience are vastly different processes
of acquiring knowledge.
It is an easier matter, in 1901, to see that Texas is a great
country, and Baylor University a great institution of learning,
than to have foreseen these things fifty years ago.
Dr. Burleson was gifted with foresight, and saw, in 1851,
what Texas and Baylor University would be to-day, and, for-
tunately for his forethought, he drew a pen picture of present
conditions, in a letter to his brother, Kichard B. Burleson,
which is reproduced :
Independence, Texas, February 6th, 1854.
Ilr. R. B. Burleson, Decatur, Ala.:
Dear Brother â€” Early in life, when our hearts were pure,
and our hopes were bright, we often expressed a desire to each
other to live, love, labor and die together. This was also the
ardent wish of our sainted mother. But for many years these
hopes have been darkened, and I fear these former desires have
grown cold, but heaven knows not on my part.
:N'ow I offer a test to see how the case stands with you.
You are naturally fond of mathematics; that professorship is
now vacant in Baylor University; the salary after this year
will be $1,000, one-third to be pa^d in advance. If you Avill
accept the position, it shall be yours at the end of 1854.
You have so entirely misconceived, and have formed such
erroneous impressions of the real conditions and future gi'eat-
ness of Texas that you will probably regard this offer as a
small affair, but if you live ten years, you will see Texas the
I^ew York of the South, and Baylor University the brightest
ornament of Texas.
In one of your former letters you spoke of Texas as a
wild, savage country. My dear brother, there are more
learned men, classic scholars, regular graduates in Union Bap-
160 The Life and Writings of
tist Association, than you are aware of. Bro. Hiickins is a
graduate of Brown University. Brethren Baines, Maxey and
Cleveland of Alabama University. Bro. Creath of Richmond
College. Prof. Stiteler is a graduate of both Pennsylvania
University and Hamilton Theological Seminary. Bro.
Graves, the first President of Baylor University, a graduate
of the University of ISTorth Carolina and also of Hamilton
Brethren Baxter, Baylor and Chilton are not graduates,
but are men of extensive information, and the two last named
were distinguished Congi-essmen. Bro. Baylor is now a great
Judge, as well as Baptist preacher.
Our laity are proportionately intelligent.
You may ask how is it that I hold such a prominent posi-
tion among such men? Well, I assui'e you it is not from supe-
riority, but from my sleepless vigilance and untiring energy.
I have traversed the whole State, and know eveiy prominent
person in our church.
I also see the wonderful possibilities of the country.
The prospect of our institution is fine. We will have not
far from 250 students in both departments this year, among
whom will be seven or eight young ministers. * * * *
Please write me immediately.
Your affectionate brother,
RUFUS C. BURLESOX.
These brothers were near the same age, bom in the same
place, and were so intimately associated in childhood, boy-
hood and manhood that something more than a passing notice
of Dr. Richard B. Burleson is deserved.
He was born near Decatur, Alabama, January 1st, 1822.
His boyhood was spent amid the active duties of his father's
plantation. He received his academic preparation from his
mother, and at the country schools conducted in the commu-
nity. The natural bent of his mind was toward a military
life, and his early preparation was made with this end in view.
He received from the Representative in Congress from the
district in which he lived in ISTorth Alabama, the appointment
Dr. Kitfus C. Burleson.
to a cadetship in West Point Military Academy. Capt. Jona-
than Burleson, his father, however, induced him to decline the
appointment, in favor of the son of a widowed neighbor. The
young man in whose favor he withdrew was General James
G. Long-street, one of the most renowned commanders in the
Confederate army in the war between the States.
Kichard entered Somerville Academy, where he pursued
a course of instruction for one year. In 1840 he entered
Xashville University, at ITashville, Tennessee, completed the
course in three years, and graduated with honor.
In 1839 he was converted, and received the ordinance of
HICUAKD 1!. lUJRLESON.
baptism at the hands of Rev. W. H. Holcombe. In 1841,
while a student in Nashville, he was licensed to preach by the
First Baptist Church, of which Dr. R. B. C. Howell was pas-
tor. In 1842 his ordination was called for by the church at
Athens, Alabama. He accepted the pastorate, and served the
church with marked satisfaction for two years.
He was called to the care of the church at Tuscumbia in
1845, where he remained until 1849, when he was elected by
the Trustees, President of Moulton Female Institute, wdiich
position he filled for six years. This institute was raised to a
high standard under Prof. Burleson's Avise management.
162 The Life axd Writings of
He was called to the pastorate of the Baptist Church in
Austin, TexaSj in 1855, and conducted a female school in that
city in 1856, while filling the pastorate. In December, 1856,
he was chosen by the Trustees of Baylor University, at Inde-
pendence, on the recommendation of his brother, Professor
of Moral and Mental Philosophy and Belles-Lettres. This
professorship he held until 1861, when he was elected Vice-
President of Waco University and Professor of ISTatural
In 1875 he was appointed to a position on the Geological
Surveying Corps by Gov. Richard Coke, but resigned at the
expiration of the first year of service, and returned to his
former position in the faculty of Waco University. He died
December 21st, 1879.
An unqualified endorsement is placed on the following
estimate of his character, taken from a "Brief History of the
As a teacher, thousands can testify that his zeal, ability,
punctuality and conscientiousness were never surpassed.
Neither private interest, nor rain, nor heat, nor bodily pain
ever detained him from the post of duty for twenty-three
years. The great success of Baylor and Waco Univer-
sities is due in eminent degree to his management of their
internal affairs, while his brother. Dr. Rufus C. Burleson,
watched after the financial and general interests abroad.
Teaching and his classes had become a part of his being.
N'othing was more affecting during his long and painful suffer-
ing, especially in a feverish, dreaming state, than to call a
class roll of fifteen or twenty, and go through whole lessons
in his favorite sciences, geology, botany and astronomy, often
mingling with the exercises his tender admonitions to the
tardy, and his commendations to the diligent. Who can tell
the power of a life so conscientious and devoted ? It is need-
less to state, in regard to one so Avidely known, that Prof.
Burleson was no ordinary man, this having been abundantly
evinced in a public career of nearly forty years. To talents of
a high order were added wealth and family influence. A bril-
liant future, so tempting to youthful ambition, was opened
to him. But to be useful to, not to gain the applause of, his
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 163
fellowman; to serve truly his day and generation, inspired hii
ambition and determined his life-work. Convinced before he
had reached his majority, when, as yet, most young men ot"
his talents are dazzled by visions of pleasure or prospects of
ambition, that his noble and unselfish purpose would be most
successfully achieved by devoting himself to the ministry and
the instruction of the young, his resolution was formed. Ir,
was no idle resolve. It was a life purpose. Every other con-
sideration w^as made subordinate. It absorbed all the energies
of his being; was pursued with an ardor that suffered no remis-
sion, and which only the cold breath of death could chill. Of
his character as a preacher, it may be stated that no one could
listen with the least attention to his preaching without taking
away with him the conviction that he was eminently thought-
ful, intellectual, profoundly learned in Kis profession,
intensely in earnest; that his pulpit instructions were not
merely perfunctory, to gain applause or benefit himself, but
free from every taint of modern skepticism, so common with
the most intellectual class, even in the pulpit; that his teach-
ings were the outgro^vth of convictions that controlled his will
and governed his own life.
As an orator, his style was gentle and persuasive, logical