Edwin L. (Edwin Luther) Green.

A history of the University of South Carolina online

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indeed has been the happy result in the present instance, that
whatever ignorance may imagine or calumny invent to the
contrary, it may be safely asserted that few similar institu-
tions can boast of a more ready and cheerful obedience to
every salutary regulation."


The principle of honor that was the guiding principle in
the home and in the affairs of life was introduced into the
life of the campus: the professor was not a tyrant spying
on every action of trembling and rebellious subjects. But the
development was slow. The trial of a fight between two
students in 1814 was conducted as if in a police court, each
side producing its witnesses, and no man's word being taken.
That in a few years the word of a student was not to be
buttressed by the testimony of another was due in large
measure to the efforts of the young men themselves. Of
course, conventions arose, and there was much hairsplitting.
Near the beginning of Dr. Cooper's administration (1823)
a most serious offence was committed in the chapel. The
faculty instructed the president first to lay the case before
the students assembled in the chapel and try to have them
purge themselves of the persons who had committed so dis-
graceful an act. The students refused. The faculty "under
the law of the College" required each man to exculpate him-
self by propounding to him the following question : "Were
you guilty of the offence 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" exonerated and permitted to retain their
standing. In a communication to the faculty the suspended
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." The students always objected to the faculty's
calling up the entire body and by a process of elimination
run down the culprit; such procedure was never a success.

Dr. Cooper, who did not understand the youth of the
South, wrote to Thomas Jefferson that the students were
banded together to protect each other, that they would not
stickle at falsehood, and that if their word was questioned,
at once they regarded their "honor" as called into doubt.
He also wrote that the senior class had decreed that none
of its members should have intercourse with the professors

17 H. U.


outside of the classroom, as this savored of "boot licking."
In consequence there was no visiting at professors' houses
or offices, although nowhere had he seen the faculty take more
pains to reinforce the class work by personal instruction.

Two years later one of the trustees introduced a resolution
at a meeting of the trustees to have the faculty interrogated
as to the lack of discipline in the college, as he thought,
and urged greater strictness. Dr. Cooper replied: "But,
in fact, the system of government by mildness and remon-
strance, by treating the students as gentlemen and worthy
of confidence, has succeeded so well that the faculty have no
good reason to change it."

The laws of 1836 declare that whenever the faculty shall
have "sufficient ground of reasonable suspicion" that any
student has been guilty of any misconduct, he shall be called
up and put "on his denial or exculpation." If he refuses to
answer, he shall be considered guilty; if he deny that he is
guilty of the offence of which he is charged, "that shall be
considered prima facie proof of his innocence." This has
always remained the method of procedure in the treatment
of a student accused of a misconduct.

By the forties it had become the custom for the students
to handle certain kinds of breeches of honor, for instance,
lying. The offender was tried by the members of his class
and if adjudged guilty, he was expelled from the class which
meant his leaving the college. Once, according to the recol-
lection of an alumnus of the period just before the close of
the institution by the war, a student was tried by his class
for stealing and was found guilty, but refused to leave the
campus. The faculty passed the case over and he graduated,
although not a man of the student body would have any
communication with him as long as he remained in the col-

Francis Lieber recorded in his diary for May 15, 1837,
that the students had a high sense of honor. Said he, "The
students behave perfectly well. Not once have I yet appealed
to their honor and found myself disappointed. If you treat
them en gens d'arme, of course they not only try to kick,


but you give a zest to resistance." Professor Lieber made
this note in his diary apropos of the month he had to board
at the Commons and preside at the table, which month he
regarded as entirely thrown away.

Joseph LeConte wrote in his autobiography of the young
men at the South Carolina College, "The students here were
very high-spirited and honorable, but also quite turbulent.
They had been accustomed to being governed not so much by
law as by the personal influence and eloquence of Thornwell,
the previous president." "I have said," he writes some pages
further on, "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 honor among students in their relations to one another
and to the faculty. No form of untruthfulness among them-
selves or toward the faculty (such, for example, as cheating
at examinations) was for a moment tolerated. Any student
suspected of such practices was cut by his fellow-students
and compelled to leave. When a student was brought up
before the faculty for any offence, no other question was
asked but, 'Did you have anything to do with this affair?'
The answer was 'Yes' or 'No/ and he was condemned or
acquitted on his own statement. Sometimes a student might
on some technical ground refuse to answer, but no one ever

The by-laws that were published in 1853, during the admin-
istration of President James H. Thornwell, contain the fol-
lowing extract, which has been inserted in the annual
catalogue since 1893 : "As the end of the College is to train
a body of gentlemen in knowledge, virtue, religion and refine-
ment, whatever has a tendency to defeat this end, or is
inconsistent with it, shall be treated and punished as an
offence, whether expressly mentioned in the laws or not.
The sense of decency, propriety and right, which every hon-
orable young man carries in his own bosom, shall be taken
as a sufficient means of knowing these things and he who
pleads ignorance in such matters is unfit to be a member
of the College. The Board expects and requires the students


to maintain the character of refined and elevated Christian
gentlemen. It would be ashamed of any man, who would
excuse breaches of morality, propriety and decorum, on the
plea, that the acts in question were not specifically con-
demned in the College code. It earnestly desires that the
students may be influenced to good conduct and diligence
in study by higher motives than the coercion of law; and
it mainly relies, for the success of the institution, as a place
of liberal education, on moral and religious principle, a sense
of duty and the generous feelings which belong to young men
engaged in honorable pursuits."

When written examinations were introduced in 1854, a
pledge was required of the author of the papers that he had
received no assistance in any form. This pledge became
less and less elaborate and finally disappeared a few years
ago: the signature of the student is sufficient evidence for
the honesty of the paper.

The same high standard of honor prevailed after the open-
ing of the University in 1866. An alumnus of that period
was author for the statement that one student did not even
in fun use the word "lie" to another, unless he was "seek-
ing trouble."

There was no "system" of honor; it was the "honor prin-
ciple," as it has been rightly phrased by Dr. Edward S.
Joynes, which was introduced from the every day affairs of
life into the life of the campus. The institution reflected the
life of the people from whom the students came, at least the
mass of them. From early times, certainly from the early
40's, the custom arose of the separate classes dealing with
offenders as members of a class. Appeal was allowed to the
student body. In the case of cheating witnesses were neces-
sary. After the class system was abolished when the univer-
sity was established in 1906, there was a short period of
uncertainty, which resulted in the "system" as described in
the following paragraphs.

By the Honor System, says the Students' Handbook for
1913, "is meant simply this that every man is accounted
a gentleman until he proves himself not to be one, and every


man's word is accepted as true, unless there is clear evidence
that it cannot be so taken. When a man violates this prin-
ciple of honor, his college-mates quietly request him to leave
the campus, and the request is always effective." At a meet-
ing of the student body, March 15, 1909, the following rules
governing the workings of the Honor System were adopted :
"Article I. There shall be elected at the beginning of each
year one student from each academic class and one student
from each law class, who shall constitute, in session, the
Honor Committee of the University of South Carolina. The
representatives from each class shall be possessed of equal
powers on the Committee, and each representative shall be
entitled to one judicial vote at the trials.

"Art. II. The representative elected by the fourth year
academic class shall be chairman of the Honor Committee.
He shall call meetings at the request of any other representa-
tive or at his own volition. He shall preside at all meetings
of the Honor Committee, shall order ballots taken at the
end of all trials, and shall announce to the Committee the
result of the said ballot.

"Art. III. It shall be the duty of the Honor Committee
to inquire into all improprieties of conduct in the classroom
and in the examination hall : said improprieties to be limited
to such matters in regard to which the Faculty have sur-
rendered to the students the right of supervision and of
discipline; to all matters in which a student shall obtain
from a professor by fraud credit for work he has not done
or knowledge he does not possess.

"Art. IV. It shall be the duty of each and every student
to observe all such improprieties in the classroom and in
the examination hall and to report them at once to one other
student, who shall be present at the time; and, provided the
observation of the two shall justify it, the breach of honor
shall be reported to the Honor Committeemen of the class,
who shall in turn request the chairman of the Honor System
Committee to call a meeting of said Committee.

"Art. V. The Committee shall hear all testimony offered
and find the accused guilty or not guilty. A unanimous vote


of the Committee shall be necessary to convict. The unsub-
stantiated testimony of one witness shall be insufficient to
convict. No committeeman who is competent as a witness
shall sit in a judicial capacity at a trial.

"Art. VI. The accused shall be allowed to bring to the
trial any testimony in his own behalf which he shall deem
material. He shall be allowed to select any two students
who shall act as his attorneys before the Committee.

"Art. VII. Upon finding a verdict of guilty, the accused
shall be requested to withdraw from the University and to
leave the campus for all time to come. There is reserved to
him, however, the right of appeal to the student body.

"Art. VIII. In case of an appeal, the evidence taken at
the trial before the Honor Committee shall be presented
to the student body by the chairman of the Honor Com-
mittee, and the student body shall affirm or reverse the
decision of the Committee. A two- thirds majority of the
total number of students present shall be required for a
reversal of the decision of the Committee.

"Art. IX. At this hearing before the student body the
accused may be represented by any two students whom he
may select as his attorneys. These attorneys shall be limited
to a discussion of the value of the facts presented as evidence
and shall make no appeal to the emotions or prejudices.
The making of any such appeal shall be considered contrary
to the spirit of the Honor System.

"Art. X. In consideration of the importance of the
matters to be considered by the Committee, and of the
gravity of the charge under which the accused rests, the
trial shall be conducted with the greatest secrecy possible,
and no member of the Honor Committee and no other
student who shall obtain knowledge of a trial in any way
whatsoever shall at any time divulge the name of the accused
or any of the proceedings at the trial before the Committee
or before the student body.

"Art. XI. Provided any committeeman is for any
reason unable to sit in a judicial capacity at the trial, his
class shall be represented by one of its officers, in the fol-


lowing order of prominence: President, Vice-President,
Secretary, Historian, who shall assume all the regular
powers of the committeeman.

"Art. XII. These rules and regulations shall be read in
a meeting of the student body on the second Monday of the
first term, and on each Monday one week before the regular

As a natural result of the honor idea the government of
the campus has passed largely into the hands of the students,
and although there are of course those who are sources of
disturbance, the life of the campus is on the whole well




Shortly after the opening of the South Carolina College
in 1805 the students formed among themselves a literary
society, to which they gave the name of Philomathic. It
existed until the beginning of 1806, when it was decided
that the interests of the institution demanded the establish-
ment of two literary societies. The constitution of a
"Synapian Convention" still in existence apparently pro-
vided the rules for the formation of these two new bodies.
Two persons from the same district, reads the first article,
were to be chosen to divide the members and the funds of the
Philomathic Society. The second article provides for the
formation of two independent societies. According to
another article a joint meeting of the two societies was to
be held every seven weeks called a "Synapian Convention."
Reputable persons might be admitted as spectators. Further,
both societies had to adopt the constitution of the parent
society. Names for the two societies were incorporated in
another article, the present names, which is inexplicable in
the light of the minute of the Clariosophic Society for
February 21, 1806, the date of the selection of the name.

In accordance with the provision that two persons from
the same district should divide the members of the old
society, two brothers, James and Joseph Lowry, were chosen
to perform this duty. Of these two brothers Dr. LaBorde
says: "They were poor, and their necessities compelled
them to board in their rooms. One of the brothers was
appointed bell-ringer, and the other librarian. The College
had just opened, the public eye was steadily directed to it,
and the heroic efforts of these young men to secure the
advantages of a liberal education, excited the warmest
interest. Col. Taylor, Judges Trezevant and Grimke and
others frequently visited them in their rooms with the view


of testifying their respect, and giving them encouragement;
and the judges, upon their visits to Columbia, often invited
them to dine with them at Dr. Green's Hotel, their usual
house of boarding. Nor were they less esteemed by their
fellow students. Their studious habits and rare virtues
commended them to all, and soon they reached a position
of commanding influence. They were selected by the
students in the scheme of dividing the Society." These two as
"captains" among the students assembled on the campus
"threw up heads and tails for the first choice." "In this
way the selection was made, and the roll of the Clariosophic
and Euphradian Societies determined. This was truly a
fraternal parting, for there is a tradition that in every case,
brothers attached themselves to different societies."

Judge Hudson declares in his address as centennial orator
for the Euphradian Society at the centennial of the Univer-
sity in 1905 that Dr. LaBorde was "in error as to brothers
upon entering College separating in selecting societies. It
may have been so in the early days of these societies, but the
precedent was not followed in my day, and has not been
since, so far as I am informed, and I think it is natural and
well that the precedent was soon discontinued."

"For many years," continued Judge Hudson, "it is said
that there was great rivalry between the two societies in
securing recruits from the newly matriculated students, but
as time rolled on it came to pass that the society which a
student joined upon his entering College was determined
by the district (county) from which he came, for the dis-
tricts (counties) of the State became divided nearly equally
between Euphradian and Clariosophic. The student coming
from a so-called Euphradian district was expected and was
bound in honor to join the Euphradian Society, and those
from Clariosophic districts were expected to join the Clar-
iosophic Society. This became the unwritten law of the
College, and was rarely interfered with or departed from."
However, a district might change from one to the other
society, as was illustrated by the district from which Judge
Hudson came, Chester, which had changed from Clariosophic


to Euphradian. The strength of the custom was also strik-
ingly shown in his case. He was offered his expenses by
an old alumnus of the college, the proviso being added that
he become a member of the Clariosophic Society; but when
his Chester classmates and friends learned of it, they
explained to him that he would be counted a renegade and
be dishonored and prevailed upon him to reject the gen-
erous offer, which he did, vindicating the honor of old
Chester and preserving his own. There is a tradition that
the State was first divided between the societies by a line
running north and south through Columbia.

On the 6th of February, 1806, the two new societies met
for the first time at different hours in the old chapel. Here
they continued to meet on Saturday alternately after dinner
and after supper until 1820, when they moved into new
quarters. The Clariosophic Society opened with a roll of
twenty-four members, which must have also been the number
in the sister society. The minutes of the Clariosophic
Society have been preserved almost intact from the meeting
of February 21, 1806, while those of the Euphradian Society
have suffered greatly in the lapse of time.

The relations of the two societies towards each other have
always been friendly; a generous rivalry was maintained,
which was rarely interrupted. Dr. James H. Carlisle, who
graduated in 1844, wrote that: "Traditions reached us of a
time when after adjournment on Saturday night the mem-
bers, drawn up on opposite sides of the campus, would
indulge in guerilla warfare with sticks and stones. There
was nothing in our time to make these stories credible. The
symbols of the watch-keys and reading stands gave Clario-
sophics a chance to say to us, 'Our union is of hearts, your
Euphradian union is of hands.' In selecting room mates
or friends society lines were not considered. A good speech
in one hall was noised abroad in the other." Until recent
years the cheers of the members of one society just adjourned
have been answered, each side eager to outshout the other.

The whole proceedings of the societies have been secret.
This secrecy was removed in the spring of 1915. The penalty


of violation was severe. Members of different societies
rooming together had to be careful not to speak "their
thoughts aloud," which is the excuse given by one accused

A victory of one society over the other has always been
the occasion of celebration. These celebrations often in
former days took the form of drinking liquor to excess. It
is related of the distinguished divine, James H. Thornwell,
that he was carried away by the spirit of one of these occa-
sions and became intoxicated. A treat of some sort is gen-
erally given the victor. Perhaps always during the contest
a speaker's fellow members gave him most vigorous applause,
outdoing if possible the applause of the rival society.

In the ante-bellum days the two societies embraced the
entire student body nearly equally divided between them,
although there was no requirement that a student should
join either. For some years, since the college was reopened
in 1880, the life of the societies has not been as vigorous as
in earlier days: many men do not join. Speaking was the
great road to success, every man who wished preferment
had to make an orator of himself, so that the students
became members of the societies as a matter of course. Since
the avenues to distinction have been multiplied and speaking
is not so necessary, many students stay out of the societies.
Judge Hudson, himself a member of the Delta Kappa
Epsilon (D. K. E.) fraternity, assigned the decay of the
literary societies to the introduction of the Greek letter
fraternities, which ate "the life out of the two grand old
Literary Societies, giving nothing in return, but vicious
social distinctions and extravagances." He declared that
"the time consumed in attending to its the fraternity's,
which Vas purely literary and of a high order' literary
demands was to that extent robbing our great societies of
the time and attention that should have been devoted to
them." The same devoted Euphradian says that for
"decorum, dignity and the orderly transaction of business"
the Euphradian Society was not surpassed by the Senate


or House of Representatives of South Carolina. This society
was nearly as large as the House of Representatives.

Both societies have enrolled honorary members from the
beginning, many of them distinguished men like the Marquis
de Lafayette, General Winfield Scott, General Robert E. Lee.
The author of a French grammar published in Columbia
in 1834 records among other titles to distinction that he
was an honorary member of the Clariosophic Society. The
professors have regularly been placed on the honor roll.
When the war was breaking over the South, the Euphradian
Society called an extra meeting on the 25th of October, 1860,
for the purpose of erasing the name of Professor Lieber
from its rolls and removing his portrait and bust from the
hall because he had been active in aiding abolition. There
is a tradition that the bust was hurled from the window
and dashed into fragments. In the sister society the name
of General Winfield Scott was erased. During reconstruc-
tion days the Euphradians expelled two alumni members
and denounced them in the public prints because they had
become "scalawags." All members, it should be observed,
continued after graduation to be regarded as retaining their

Portraits and busts of distinguished men, who had been
members regular or honorary, adorn the walls of both
societies. These have been for the most part secured at the
expense of the societies.

A movement was started in 1837 to publish a monthly
periodical under the auspices of the two societies. A joint
committee made a report on the cost and on the staff, but
the matter went no farther.

There are two publications which are the property of the
societies: "The Collegian", later changed to "The Caro-
linian", founded as a monthly in 1882, and "The Gamecock",
a weekly, begun in 1906. The name "Gamecock" was given
in the early years of this century to the Varsity players,
especially to the football and baseball teams. The annual,
"Garnet and Black", issued for the first time in 1899, is
published by the student body.


In the spring of 1900 W. Gordon Belser won the medal of
the Southern Intercollegiate Oratorical contest; the same

Online LibraryEdwin L. (Edwin Luther) GreenA history of the University of South Carolina → online text (page 22 of 38)