Author: Melvin Patrick Ely

ENTRY

Dew, Thomas R. (1802–1846)

Thomas R. Dew spent a decade as president of the College of William and Mary (1836–1846), but is also known for his works supporting slavery and opposing protective tariffs. While a professor of political law at William and Mary, Dew achieved national prominence when he attacked the tariff of 1828. He backed free trade, believing export taxes hindered southern planters at the expense of northern manufacturers. He favored state banks over a national bank, fearing that the latter would provide the government with too much power over the economy. His commentary on Virginia’s debate to end slavery in 1831–1832 showed him an ardent supporter of the institution, even opposing gradual emancipation because it would deprive the state of its wealth. Dew also argued that denying suffrage to women was appropriate because devotion to family hindered their capacity to understand politics. William and Mary’s board named him its president in 1836. During his administration the college became an important wellspring of southern thought as sectional tension heightened. Dew died of bronchitis in 1846.

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