Edwin L. (Edwin Luther) Green.

A history of the University of South Carolina online

. (page 17 of 38)
Online LibraryEdwin L. (Edwin Luther) GreenA history of the University of South Carolina → online text (page 17 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

expected to study extra hard before examination and make
up any deficiency: too much emphasis was thrown on the

The bylaws of 1867 announce besides the intermediate
and final examinations an examination for graduation con-
ducted in each school in the last month of the session in the
presence of the professor in charge and two other professors
as a committee. This examination was searching "in all
the topics treated of in the Lectures and correlated texts,"
chiefly in writing, but in some schools partly oral. All can-
didates for graduation had to stand an examination on their


ability to use the English language. The examinations con-
tinued for six hours and might extend over ten days. Can-
didates for graduation in the schools had to give notice of
their intention within one month after the opening of the
session, except by special permission of the faculty. The
professors kept special watch on the daily recitations of the
candidates and reported on them to the faculty at the
monthly meetings. Candidates for degrees presented a satis-
factory essay on a literary or scientific subject six weeks
before the close of the session. For the Master's degree there
was a general examination before the faculty on all the
subjects required in the curriculum.

When the college was reopened in 1880, the rules in regard
to examinations were formulated in close accord with those
in use in 1873. Slight changes have been made from time
to time. For the last decade the examinations have ranged
from five to three hours in length, and there have been two
examinations on each day, except for a few years before 1910.
Since 1908 the catalogues have carried the schedule of exami-
nations. The regulations after 1882 in regard to the exami-
nation of graduate students required a final examination
under a committee, of which the president was chairman.
This has not been in the regulations since 1891. Graduate
students have to stand examinations under the professors
concerned and present a satisfactory thesis.

The early system of marking is not preserved in the records
or laws of the college. An old catalogue of 1854 was used
by Professor Henry to make up the mark of his classes, and
in it are still preserved the figures he had placed opposite
each boy's name. It shows that the system of marking with
9 as a maximum was then in use. It is also evidence that
Professor Henry looked with a lenient eye upon the recita-
tions of the students under him, for nearly all have high
grades. In the catalogue of 1855 appears a list of the
students meritorious at the public examination of the fol-
lowing year. This list disappears from 1861 to 1870 and
has been left out of the catalogue since 1907.

Below the list is the statement that the standing of the


students is "made up by reducing the examination marks
to a fraction, and multiplying this by the average value of
the recitations in which 9 is the maximum. Every one whose
joint average in all the departments shall reach 6, shall be
published as meritorious. When the standing of a student
is below 1.25 2.50 in 1858 in any department, he shall be
noted and reexamined; but if any student fails to be sus-
tained in a majority of the departments in which he may be
examined, he shall not be permitted to go on with his class."
For the purpose of determining honors and distinctions the
laws of 1853 prescribed a division of studies into two depart-
ments, General Literature and Science. The students were
arranged into three divisions : 1. Those who had distin-
guished themselves in both departments of study; 2. Those
who had distinguished themselves in only one department
or in single branches of both; 3. Those who simply passed.
The first division received honors; the second received dis-
tinctions. The first man in the first division won First
Honor ; the Second Honor was given to the next highest man ;
then through the first division. Men in the second division
were announced in order of merit. The first division men,
to the amount of 10, received appointments to speak at com-
mencement. The first honor was the Latin Salutatory
Address; the second honor was the English Valedictory
Address. Prior to 1821 these two honors had been reversed.
A student who had not been approved in examination
received a note apprizing him of the fact. If he received no
note, he understood that he had passed.

Reports were sent home to parents or guardians, appar-
ently at the close of examinations, unless a student's behavior
required a special report. The first mention in the regula-
tions of sending reports home is in the laws of 1880, where
it is made incumbent that the results of the general exami-
nations should be sent home "in the final circular of the
session." Students seem always to have found out how they
stood. Reports become more and more frequent, quarterly,
then monthly. It has long been a regulation that the exact
marks should not be communicated to the student, only the


division into which he comes. In the late 50's the grades
were posted in the library ; for a long time in the window of
the Marshal's office; latterly in the window of the dean's

"Gradation" as a division in the catalogue first appears
in the year 1882-83 with the notice that those who receive
"distinction" or "proficiency" will have their names
announced at commencement and published in the cata-
logue. Not long after this the catalogue gives the full
system, which with some changes especially as to the passing
mark, then 60, now 75, has remained in force to the present
day. The marks are made on a scale of 100. A condition
was a grade of 40. From earliest times conditions could be
made up, and generally a deficiency in one term could be
made good by an equal excess in the second. "Honors" were
assigned to those who made distinction on the general aver-
age of his entire course ; "appointments" were given to those
who had made proficiency. The former were entitled to com-
mencement parts. In recent years it has been found that
the ability of the student to speak should also be taken into
consideration in assigning parts for commencement. "Dis-
tinguished" and "proficient" students had their names pub-
lished at commencement and in the annual catalogue. Within
the past decade the custom has been abandoned of publishing
in the newspapers the "distinguished" and "proficient" at
each examination, a custom which was certainly as old as
the laws of 1853. A grade of "highest distinction" (95) was
introduced about 1890, which later became known as "double
star", 90 being a "star", on account of the use of the star
in posting the marks. The Koman figures, I, II, III, IV are
used to designate grades below distinction. Names of
students who do not make 65 are not posted on the bulletin

The first recitation of the day in ante-bellum days was
made at 7 a. m., the second at 11 a. m., the third at 4 p. m.
Freshmen, sophomores and juniors recited three times a day
for the first five days ; the seniors had two recitations daily,
not being employed before breakfast. On Saturdays the



students were dismissed after noon until nine at night. Such
were the original regulations in regard to recitation periods.
President Maxcy was censured in 1814 for not giving the
seniors enough work. Later every class recited three times
daily and once on Saturday. The catalogue of 1854 con-
tains the first published schedule of hours and studies; the
minutes of the faculty contain schedules of some years
previous. The one for 1854 is here given:

Monday :


11 a. m.

4 p. m.

Tuesday :


11 a. m.

4 p. m.

Wednesday :

7 a. m.

11 a. m.

4 p. m.

Thursday :

7 a. m.

11 a. m.

4 p. m.

Friday :


11 a. m.

4 p. m.

Saturday :













Sophomore. Junior.



Rhet. Eloc.

Rhet. Eloc.





Mor. Phil.



Mor. Phil.



Chem., Min.

Mech. Phil.


Hist., Pol. Phil.

Hist., Pol. Phil.
Chem., Min.
Mech. Phil.

Mor. Phil.


Butler's Ana.
Pol. EC., Pol.
Geol., Agr. Ch.

Phil, of Mind.


Astro., Civ. Eng.

Butler's Ana.


Geol., Agr. Ch.

Pol. EC., Pol. Eth.
Geol., Agr. Chem.
Grit., Eloc.

Astro., Civ. Eng.
Crit, Eloc.
Phil, of Mind.

Pol. EC., Pol. Phil

In most particulars this schedule is representative for
the ante-bellum college. The languages and mathematics
of the freshman year were gradually displaced by philosophi-
cal and scientific studies in the following years.

No schedule of hours for the university of 1866 is to be
found. The catalogue of the Agricultural and Mechanical
College for 1881-82 shows that the recitations began at
9 a. m., were of fifty minutes duration, and continued to
2 p. m., making six periods. On Saturdays there were six
periods of thirty minutes each beginning at 9 and ending
at 12. The next published schedule, found in the catalogue
of 1883-84, places the hour of beginning the day's work at
9.30 and that of ending at 2.30 six periods of fifty minutes.
Law classes are placed at 4-5.30 in the afternoon. Half
hours on Saturdays were continued. Other classes (machine
and field work) soon appear in the afternoon. Hour periods


were adopted when the University was formed in 1888, with
five recitations from 9 to 2, and a sixth from 3 to 5 for
laboratory work. No distinction was made on Saturday.

For a short time before 1850 the period of recitation wus
lengthened to one hour and twenty minutes. In 1850 the
two upper classes were divided into two sections, each of
which recited for forty-five minutes. This division lasted
about two years.

The hours of the professors varied between 13 or 14 and
5 or 6 in the old South Carolina College. From the schedule
in the catalogue of 1854 it appears that the professor of
Mathematics, Mechanical Philosophy and Astronomy taught
13 hours ; the professor of Greek, 10 ; the professor of Latin,
10 ; the professor of History, Political Economy and Political
Philosophy, 8; the professor of Logic, Rhetoric and Phil-
osophy of the Mind, 12; the professor of Chemistry, Min-
eralogy and Geology, 6; the professor of Belles Lettres and
Elocution,* ; president and professor of Moral Philosophy,
Sacred Literature and Evidences of Christianity, 6.

Dr. Joseph Le Conte wrote of his first year at the South
Carolina College: "This was a busy year with me; I had
three lectures a week in geology, three in chemistry, and
four in algebra and geometry, ten exercises a week in all.
It was impossible to do any original work."

The hours were not increased after the University of South
Carolina opened its doors to students in 1866.

A recent resolution of the board of trustees set 18 hours
a week as the smallest number of hours in the classroom for
the professors: the limit had been thirteen for some years.
When a class contains more than 30 members, a regulation
requires that it should be divided. From the earliest days
of the institution the students have always been at liberty to
consult the professors at any hour. Outside calls of many
kinds, lectures, civic work, take up so much of the time of

*Note: Professor Reynolds did not state the number of hours in his
reports, and the printed schedules did not supply them. Belles Lettres
was an indefinite subject. Professor Reynolds reported to the board that
he had prepared the manuscript of an Anglo-Saxon grammar.


many members of the faculty that the work in the classroom
constitutes not much more than half of their duties.

The earliest regulations required constant exercise in
speaking. On Wednesdays all students had to recite in
chapel or in some other designated place pieces committed
to memory. Once each month the members of the senior
class were to deliver an original oration. On every Saturday
morning the three upper classes read compositions of their
own before the professors; the freshmen read translations
from assigned pieces of Latin; "all of which shall be in a
fair hand and correctly spelled." The seniors had a public
exhibition on the first Monday in December; half of the
sophomores and juniors had a similar exhibition on the third
Monday in March; the other half of the sophomores and
juniors exhibited on the third Monday in June. The juniors
and seniors composed their own speeches; the sophomores
selected theirs as the faculty approved. All performances
or exhibitions on the stage had to be examined and passed
on by a member of the faculty. The different professors had
certain classes assigned them; but there was always diffi-
culty in carrying out the provisions of the regulations.
Under Dr. Cooper they seem to have been largely disregarded
or carried out in the most perfunctory way : Dr. Marion Sims
relates that he had written none of the compositions and at
the last moment handed in the work of another student,
which was accepted, as Dr. Henry perhaps tossed them into
the fire without reading them. Dr. Cooper, who was intense
in his convictions, did not believe in oratory and rhetoric,
which accounts for the neglect.

According to the laws of 1836 the seniors once in each
month were to deliver in the presence of at least one of the
professors in the chapel compositions of their own in English
or Latin, which the professor was to criticise for errors of
pronunciation, accent and emphasis. Selected pieces of
English or Latin were to be delivered by the juniors once
each month in the presence of the other members of the class
and a professor, and such other rhetorical exercises as
required by the faculty. The other two classes were likewise


to be practiced in the delivery of select pieces of English
composition from "approved authors." The seniors had a
public exhibition at commencement and another at a time
set by the faculty, when there was at least one Latin recita-
tion. The second exhibition was held in the spring and came
to be known as the Spring Exhibition, extending over two
evenings, occasionally three. It continued during the life
of the old college.

The first two classes were by the laws of 1848 exercised at
least once a month in the manner above prescribed. No men-
tion is made of the juniors; the senior exhibitions were
unchanged, but the monthly compositions were not pre-
scribed. No student was at liberty to decline the performance
of the exercises. On several occasions seniors refused to
perform at commencement, and as a penalty were deprived
of their diplomas.

The laws of 1853 prescribed the evenings of Thursday and
Friday after the first Monday in May as the time for the
May Exhibition; Saturday might be added, if necessary.
All exercises were to be submitted to the president for his
approval, and in case of failure to do so at commencement
the offender forfeited his honor and degree; if at the May
Exhibition, he was otherwise punished. Refusal to perform
at either exhibition brought forfeiture of honors, appoint-
ments and degree.

President McCay had speaking and composition put on a
par with the other studies, which caused them to cease to
be mere formal exercises.

Diplomas were first given in 1809, although the first class
to graduate was in 1807, and the form of the diploma had
at that time been made, perhaps by Professor Parks. The
wording of the diploma for both the bachelor and the master
of arts degrees has changed but little in the more than a
century since they were first awarded. They are written in
Latin. The signature of the president, professors and
trustees appear at the bottom: the professors' chairs are
appended to their names, not unfrequently in Latin in former
days. Certificates of graduation in schools have been in


English and have been signed by the professors of the schools
in which they were given and by the president or chairman
and sometimes by the secretary of the faculty. The L. I.
and C. E. degrees have their diplomas in English. Diplomas
have not always, especially in recent years, been given to
the recipients of honorary degrees. A petition from the
students was presented to the trustees in May, 1820, praying
that the diploma should be on parchment and not on paper.
Privilege was granted to purchase either kind. The order
for the first diplomas called for parchment, and a diploma
of 1811 appears to be written on such material, while the
later diplomas that have been preserved use a parchment

Commencement exercises were held on the first Monday of
December during the life of the old college. With the change
to the university in 1866 came a change of date for com-
mencement, which has been from that time in June except
that once in Radical days (1875) and once afterward
( 1883 part of the exercises were in December, part in June,
1884) the commencement was held in December. When
asked the reason for the change, Professor Rivers said that
he knew of none except that as the University of Virginia
had been the model in the organization of the University she
had been followed in the time of commencement.

Ante-bellum commencement was always a great occasion
coming, as it did, at a time when the legislature was in ses-
sion and all classes of the population were most at leisure.
There was a grand procession from the State House to the
college chapel, the order of which was early determined and
fixed. The Reports and Resolutions of 1846 of the legisla-
ture contain the "Order of Procession at the College Com-
mencement." "The Procession," according to them, "will
be formed at 10 o'clock A. M. on Monday December, in

front of the State House, under the direction of
who will act as Marshal of the day. It will then move to the
College Chapel, in the following order :


Cadets of the Military Academy.

Students of the Freshman Class.

Students of the Sophomore Class.

Students of the Junior Class.

The Graduating Class.
Former Graduates of the College.

Citizens generally.
Officers and Students of the Theological Seminary.

The Reverend Clergy.

Officers of the State, Civil and Military.

The House of Representatives, with the Speaker, attended

by its Officers.

The Senate, with its President, attended by its Officers.
The Committee appointed by the House.
The Committee appointed by the Senate.

The Professors of the Institution.
The Superintendents and other Officers of the Military

The Trustees of the College, and the Board of Visitors of the

Military Academies.

The Governor and Suite, the Lieut. Governor of the State.
The President of the College.

When the Procession arrives at the College Chapel, it will
open to the right and left, forming two lines fronting each
other. The rear will then close and march into the Chapel,
the lines closing at the rear, until the whole Procession shall
have entered in inverted order."

In the "Regulation of Detail" in regard to the commence-
ment in the College laws of 1853 it is stated that "On Com-
mencement day a procession shall, at 9% o'clock A. M., be
formed in the College campus, under the direction of the
Professor of Mathematics, consisting of the Professors of
the College, Librarian, Resident Graduates, graduating class
and under-graduates in the order of their classes. It shall
march with music to the Governor's quarters, where it shall
join the general procession organized under the resolutions
of the Legislature.


"If any member of the graduating class shall fail to join
the procession and continue in it until it reaches the Hall,
he shall, without a good excuse, to be approved by the Presi-
dent of the College, be deprived of his Diploma and reported
to the Board. If any other student of the College shall so
fail to join and continue in the Procession, he shall, without
a good excuse, be suspended at the discretion of the Faculty."

A band was always hired for the period of commencement,
the cost of which was paid out of the college funds amount-
ing for some years to $135, or more, for the May exhibition
and commencement.

The platform was filled with the dignitaries as far as
possible. The president delivered the baccalaureate address
to the graduating class and conferred the diplomas, which
he did in Latin during the later history of the college. This
language was also used by Chairman Barnwell of the first
University. After the South Carolina College was reorgan-
ized in 1882 there arose the custom of inviting some distin-
guished man to deliver the address to the graduating class:
this was first done in 1884. At this time also began the
custom of inviting a minister of the gospel to preach the
baccalaureate sermon.

The exercises to be performed by the seniors had to be
prepared several days (6 or 10) before commencement and
submitted to the president for his approbation. A salutatory
or welcome in Latin was the first speech, followed by several
speeches by men to whom the lower honors of appointments
had been given. The valedictory or second honor was the
final speech. A program of the commencement of 1858 has
this order of exercises: Prayer, Salutatory, Music, Speeches
of the students who held appointments (eight in number),
Conferring of Degrees, Awarding of Medals, Address by the
President, Speech by the Second Honor Man, Music, Vale-

Commencement exercises were held in the library most of
the time during the existence of the University of South
Carolina from 1866 to 1873. Since the reopening in 1880
they have taken place with rare exceptions in the chapel.


The procession lost its importance and was confined to the
campus, from the library to the chapel; it was reduced to
students, faculty, alumni, citizens (occasionally), trustees.
The custom of opening the ranks and entering in reverse
order is still observed. The president of the University, the
speakers, the trustees and the graduates, as far as possible,
occupy the stage. The order of exercises is not held to in
the strictest manner: the speaker who delivers the bacca-
laureate address may be placed near the first. At present
only five students appear on the program: one elected to
represent the law class, one elected by the academic students
to deliver the valedictory and three appointed by the faculty.
These last three are selected with referenc to their ability
to speak as well as for scholarship. The valedictory is placed
at the close of the speeches from the students ; the president
does not always address the graduates.

The two literary societies held celebrations on separate
evenings immediately preceding commencement. In 1859,
to give a specific instance, the Euphradian Society adver-
tised its celebration for Thursday, December 1, at 7.30 p. m.,
when the valedictory oration was to be delivered and
diplomas presented to the graduating members; the Clario-
sophics made a similar announcement for Friday evening.
On Saturday evening there was the annual oration before
both societies by Bishop Elliott. Beginning with 1883 there
has been a joint celebration of both societies on Monday
evening of commencement week. Since the same year Tues-
day evening has been given over to the alumni ; there is some-
times a banquet or smoker. Commencement ball has always
taken place on the evening of commencement day. It was at
first danced in the State House; but an act of 1814 forever
forbade the use of the building for that purpose by students
of the South Carolina College on account of the danger to
the building and to the records. The ball of 1860 was to
have been danced at Kinsler's Hall. The hall of the House
of Representatives and various other halls have been used
since 1880; at present the ball is danced in the gymnasium
under the direction of the German Club.

14 H. U.





The trustees and the faculty constitute the governing
body of the University. The trustees are and have been
partly elective and partly ex-officio. At the opening of the
South Carolina College the trustees consisted of the governor,

Online LibraryEdwin L. (Edwin Luther) GreenA history of the University of South Carolina → online text (page 17 of 38)