Chairman’s Journal for Session of 1836–7 (September 3 – November 22, 1836)


In entries to the Chairman’s Journal, date September 3 to November 22, 1836, John A. G. Davis, professor of law and chairman of the faculty at the University of Virginia, logs the comings and goings of students and faculty and recounts the open rebellion of some students beginning in November.


September 3rd 1836

Professor Rogers today informed me, that the Executive Committee, on application made to them through himself, had exempted Mr. George Wickham, who proposed to become a student, from the Uniform law, on the ground of his being a naval officer.


The wood-sellers having raised the price of wood from $2.50cnts to $3.00 a cord, and it being doubtful whether we can obtain an adequate supply even at that price, I requested Col. Woodley (The Proctor) to obtain three or four coal grates, to be placed in some of the dormitories, & coal to burn in them, in order that we may make the experiment of the comparative cost & comfort of wood & coal. The Proctor has not yet entered on the discharge of his duties—but as he will go through Richmond on his way to the lower country, I thought it advisable to make use of the opportunity to obtain grates and coal.


Mr. White, a student, obtained leave of absence for a fortnight.


Col. Woodley having to day entered on the discharge of his duties, I requested him to have the Pavilion lately given up by Dr. Emmet, put in repair, at the cost of Dr. Emmet; to require the hotel-keepers to provide some place for students to put their hats when they go to meals; and to direct the Janitor to commence his morning visits to the rooms of the students.

Yesterday, Mr. Jas. R. Watson, the accountant appointed by me to settle the accounts of the late Proctor, made his report. By that report there appears a balance due Mr. Pendleton, after deducting the allowances made to him by the Board of Visitors for clerk hire etc., of $26.75.

In connection with the accounts of the late Proctor, I may mention, that on the 12th. inst. Mr. Blakely Williams, a student of the University, last session, informed me that on the 4th. of July he deposited with Mr. Pendleton, as Patron, the sum of $300, to defray his expenses this session; but that on that day going to matriculate, he would told by Mr. Garrett, acting Patron, had rendered him no account of this deposite, nor paid it over to him.

I advised him to go immediately to Pendleton, who is in Charlottesville, & demand his money. The next day he informed me that on calling on Pendleton, he had paid him $105, & given him his note for the rest, taking in his official receipt. I advised him to return the note immediately, & demand the restoration of the receipt; & to say to Pendleton that if the money were not paid to him in 3 days, he would apply to me to compel its payment. Two other students, Mr. Naugle & Mr. Stanard, so stated to me, that they deposited about the close of last session, the former, $100, & the latter $24, with Pendleton; which he has rendered no account of to the Patron pro tem; and that in consequence, they cannot matriculate. I gave them the same advice that I did Mr. Williams. And they have all succeeded in getting their money. It may be proper to mention also, that to enable him to restore the funds he had received on deposite from the students (see ante pa. 74,) he borrowed of Mr. Oldham upwards of $1000, to be repaid the beginning of this session—as I have since learned; which sum, with the sums received by him of Messrs. Williams, Stanard & Naugle, and various drafts on the Bank, by him as Patron, returned protested, of which I have been informed, makes nearly $2000 — for which he was in default, as Patron, as the time of going out of office.*


Mr. Eppes, a student, having complained of his bedding, and I having ascertained by inspection that his complaint was well founded; I requested the Proctor to require Mrs. Gray, with whom he boards, to furnish him better beddings.

Mr. Gray, a student, applied for leave to go to a dancing party at Keller’s, the subscription price of which he says is $4.00—leave was refused.


The Proctor informed me that he had, on Mr. Pendleton’s application, paid him the amount which Mr. Watson had reported to be due him from the University; under the belief that the report entitled to him to it, and not knowing that the sanction of the Chairman & Executive Committee was requisite.


Col. Ward reported Mr. Grigsby for striking his servant; and Mr. R. Carter for throwing a glass at the same servant, during dinner. On being

sent for, both admitted the charge of Col. Ward, but alleged that the servant was insolent. Mr. Carter was informed that his case would be brought before the Faculty; & Mr. Grigsby was informed that his also would be, if he had subjected himself to the laws by matriculation, which he has not done, owing, as he says, to his not having received his funds. Being thus exempt from punishment, the request of Col. Ward that he shall not be assigned as a boarder to his hotel, is considered reasonable; and he was informed that application would be made to the Faculty to remove him, on account of his misbehavior, from Col. Ward’s district.

Col. Ward also reported Messrs. Morris, Duncan & Watkins for wearing their hats at meals. These students, on being sent for, stated that they had worn their hats owing to forgetfulness, and on giving assurance that they would not continue the practice, were excused.

October 3rd.

I requested the Proctor to inspect the bedding of the students particularly, on his first weekly visit of the dormitories.

Some of Col. Ward’s boarders, styling themselves a committee of his boarders, reported him for failure to comply with the bill of fare.


Mr. Skinker obtained leave of absence for a fortnight.


I sent for Mr. Sheilds whom I saw out of uniform in Charlottesville yesterday. He stated that he had not been able to obtain his uniform clothes from the tailor’s. He was excused.


The Proctor reported Messrs. Briscoe & Dodson for having guns in the precincts. On being sent for, they stated that they had borrowed the guns with which they were seen from persons out of the University, & had not fired them within the precincts. They said also that they had returned them to their owners. They were admonished for the impropriety of brining guns within the precincts, & I told that if they repeated the offence they would be brought before the Faculty.


Mr. Pope, of Georgia, obtained leave to withdraw on account of bad health.

Last night between 10 & 11 Oclock there was an illumination & some noise, on the lawn. I went out & took down all the candles which

were so placed as to blacken the walls. The noise parties dispersed on my approaching them; and order was soon restored.


Mr. Gordon obtained leave of absence for 12 days.


Mr. Ross obtained leave of absence for a week.


Mr. Pearce, of Alabama, obtained leave of absence till March on account of bad health.

Mr. J.L. Walker obtained leave of absence till Tuesday.


Having seen Mr. J. Clarke out of uniform at church yesterday, I sent for him. Mr. Clarke said he had sent his coat to the tailor’s to alter, saturday morning; who had failed to return in by sunday morning as he promised. That wishing to go to Church he had worn an overcoat, supposing that he would in that way conceal his being out of uniform. He was excused.

The Proctor reported Mr. Duncan as having been out of uniform in Charlottesville yesterday. Mr. Duncan, on being sent for, stated that his uniform coat was at the tailor’s. He was informed that that was no excuse for going to Charlottesville out of uniform, without leave; and that if the offence were repeated, the case would be brought before the Faculty.

Having some days ago requested the Proctor to inform all students whom he should see with white hats on, that they were not allowed by the enactment to be worn, and after allowing them a reasonable time to provide black hats or caps, to report those who should continue to wear white hats;—-he to day reported Mt. Belsches for continuing, in disregard of his repeated warning, to wear a white hat. Mr. Belsches, on being sent for, had no other excuse to offer but that he could not obtain a cap to fit & suit him, & was waiting until he could do so. He was informed that his case would be brought before the Faculty.

Mr. Boys obtained leave of absence for 4 days.


Mr. Wm. B. Johnson obtained leave of absence for 4 days.


Having seen Mr. Peter Carr out of uniform in respect to pantaloons in Church in Charlottesville yesterday, I sent for him to day. His


excuse was that his pantaloons were old & a kind of gray. He was told that his case would be brought before the Faculty.

Mr. Powell called on me to complain that Mr. Conway had no fire in his dining room during meals, and that he being just recovering from sickness, suffered much from cold in consequence; that he & other students had requested Mr. Conway to have fire in the room, but that he had refused. I visited Mr. Conway’s at dinner; to inspect the fare, & enquire into the subject of Mr. Powell’s complaint. I found the room without fire, and very cold and uncomfortable from that cause and in consequence of their being 5 or 6 broken panes of glass in the windows of the room.

I represented to Mrs. Conway (Mr. Conway not being at home) the necessity of making the room more comfortable. She positively refused to have fires, because the students had complained to me — and said that was no law which required it. I told her that I should report the case to the Faculty this evening, for their action.

November 1st.

I reprimanded Mr. P. Carr, according to the sentence of the Faculty.


I admonished the following students for violation of the law regarding early rising — they having been reported for twice violating the law during the last month—(their rooms having been 4 times visited.) viz. Messrs Boyce, R. Chapman, R. J. Cocke, Conway, Jacob Davis, Drew, Dupay, Early, R. Fields, J. Field, Flood, Gilmer, Haskins, Hicky, Hite, Jackson, Jones, Joynes, Madison, Moore, Sims, Sneed, Upshur, & Watkins.


Having some days ago requested the Proctor to inform those students who had not their names on their doors, that they must no longer delay obtaining signs; and to report to me those who should not in a reasonable time comply with this requisition; and he having accordingly to day reported Messrs. Boteler, Lowndes, Strother, M. Harrison, W. McLaws, L. McLaws, & Bannister, they were required by me immediately to comply with the law on this subject.

Dr. Emmet reported Mr. J. L. Smith for having had a gun

in the precincts a few days ago. Mr. Smith, on being sent for, said that the gun was not his, but was borrowed of a person not a student, and that he was on his way out of the University when met by Dr. Emmet; that he made no use of it within the precincts, & he returned it to its owner the evening. He was told that the laws did not allow the introducing or keeping guns within the University by students, though borrowed to be used out; which he assured me he would not do so again. He was therefore excused.

Faculty having on the 29th. Ult., on the application of the officers of a proposed military company formed by the students, authorised its organization, & allowed its members to keep & use muskets for their exercises, on certain conditions, which I was requested by the Faculty to reduce to writing and communicate to the company; I today prepared those conditions and communicated a copy of them to Mr. J. H. Morris, the Captain of the Company. They are as follows:

1. That no violation of the enactment be allowed whilst the company are on parade; or between the time of going on parade & being disbanded for the day.

2. That the uniform of the University be worn; and that any additional badge be simple & cheap.

3. That neither the corps nor any of its members, shall fire their muskets on the lawn or ranges or near thereto, or permit any one else to do so.

4. That the members of the corps shall not make any use of their muskets, except in their regular military exercises.

5. That it be distinctly understood, that the Faculty reserve the right of dissolving the corps for any violation of the part of the corps, or any of its members, of the foregoing conditions; and also whenever the interests of the University shall in their opinion require it.

6. That whenever; and as soon as, the corps is dissolved, the muskets shall be returned to the place of safe-keeping in Charlottesville from which they were taken.

7. That whilst the corps, & every member of it, is responsible for the fulfillment of these conditions, the officers are considered as particularly so.


The Proctor reported to me, that on his way from my office to his house late last night, in passing the dormitory of Mr. Jacob Davis on the western range, he thought he heard a party engaged in playing cards in the room; that on stopping near the door, he heard one of the persons within ask ‘what is trumps,’ and another reply ‘hearts’, and ‘play on Shannon;’ that he thereupon attempted to go in but found the door fastened on the inside; that he then demanded admittance, before obtaining which he heard cards shuffled together; that when the door was opened, he found in the room Messrs. Davis, Shannon, V.J. Steward, but saw no cards; that on charging them with having been playing cards and repeating what he had heard, they denied that they had been playing cards, but attempted no explanation of the expressions & sounds he had heard;—and notwithstanding their denial, he entertains no doubt that they were playing cards.

On being sent for, they all persisted in denying that they were playing cards, and alleged that two of them were playing drafts & the other reading — Davis said that there were no cards in his room. He & Shannon admitted that one of them had asked the other, just before the Proctor demanded admittance, ‘what is Trumps’, to which the answer above stated was given; of which they attempted no explanation. I told them that the Faculty must decide on their case — and that a meeting would be called for that purpose Monday.


Between 9 & 10 Oclock last night, six or eight very loud reports, apparently of muskets were heard on the lawn towards the pavilion of Dr. Harrison ; who, during the firing came over to inform me that some one or more students were annoying his family by firing at or near his door. I went out with him to discover the offenders; but though the firing was several times repeated, after we went out, owing to the person or persons changing their position, we could not find them out. Several reports were also heard off the lawn, towards the eastern range. Dr. Harrison informed me that some remarks which he yesterday made concerning a drunken student gave offence, & no doubt induced him or some of his friends thus to annoy him. This case of intoxication he will report today.

To day I saw in Charlottesville (at the Presidential election) the following students out of uniform, all but two in regard to pantaloons only — those two being Messrs. Lowndes & Blatterman; viz. Messrs. Pratt, J. Dodson, Wilkinson, Shepherd, J. Bryant, Boulware, Blatterman, W. McLaws, Lowndes, Slaughter, & Early.

At the Faculty meeting this evening, called to consider the case of Messrs. Davis, Shannon & Stewart, Dr. Harrison reported to me that he yesterday saw Mr. Grigsby drunk, in the University, about 1 Oclock. Mr. Grigsby was also rude & disorderly


The Proctor reported the following students as having been out of uniform in respect to pantaloons yesterday, in Charlottesville; viz. Messrs. Curtis, R. Carter, M. Johnston, & J. Chapman.

I sent for Mr. Grigsby—who admitted that he was very much intoxicated Sunday — so much so, that he recollects nothing he did for a considerable time. He drank at a tavern in Charlottesville. He was informed that there would be a meeting of the Faculty on his case this evening.

Having been informed by the Janitor that Mr. J. Dodson was seen at Vowle’s tavern Sunday, I sent for him. He admitted that he was there, and with Mr. Grigsby; but said he drank nothing, & staid but a short time. Whilst he was before me, observing that he had on a pair of apparently new pantaloons, not in uniform; I enquired of him whether he had not bought them since he became a student, in violation of the law. He admitted that he had. He was among those out of uniform in Charlottesville yesterday; but in excuse for that offense, he stated, that his uniform pantaloons being torn, he had borrowed a pair which he supposed were in uniform. He was told that his case would be brought before the Faculty tomorrow evening.

I sent also for all the students whom I & the Proctor observed out of uniform in Charlottesville yesterday. The most of them endeavored to excuse themselves on one ground or another—-generally upon the ground that the merchants from whom they purchased their pantaloons, had sold them as uniform. As they should take the law, & not the opinion

of the merchants, as their guides, I could not admit any of their excuses, but told them all that their cases would be brought before the Faculty this evening.

I am informed by the Proctor, & by others, that there was considerable disorder among a number of the students in Charlottesville yesterday evening, after I left there. Many of the students applied to me yesterday morning for leave to dine at the taverns in Charlottesville yesterday; which I refused in every instance; knowing that besides the expense thereby incurred, there was great danger that on such an occasion, with so many together, they would be likely to drink to excess, if permitted to visit the taverns, & much more if permitted to dine there. Thinking it probable that some would dine without leave, I requested the Proctor to remain in Charlottesville & report all who should do so. He did remain with that view; but found that the leave refused by me, they all, or so large a number as to render discrimination impracticable, obtained from individual Professors, who gave leave to all that applied to several of them, and without regard to the restriction in the enactments by which their right to do so is limited. As I foresaw would be the case, if such indulgence were given, the students were noisy & boisterous in the evening, evidently from the effect of drink obtained at dinner. The Proctor states, that though he observed the disorder & some indications of intoxication, there were none whom he could report as drunk, or as having committed any specific act of disorder or impropriety.


Mr. Selden obtained leave of absence for a fortnight.

I reprimanded all of the students against whom the Faculty passed that sentence Monday — and I communicated to the parents & guardians of those suspended, the sentences passed.

To day I heard accidentally that the conditions of organization communicated by me to the Captain of the Military corps, on being communicated by him to the Company last Saturday, were rejected by them. On learning this I sent for the Captain, (Mr. Th. H. Morris) to enquire into the truth of what I had heard; but he was out of his room, & I

could not see him. I may mention, that I sent for him Monday to enquire about the violation of one of the conditions, committed by the firing Sunday night. He stated that he and all the members of the company with whom he had spoken were ignorant who had so fired. I told him that if the conditions were not better observed, the Faculty would certainly disband the company; – to prevent the necessity of which, I advised that he & the officers should represent this to the members, & use their influence to induce a strict observance of them; which I understood him to say they would do. Monday night, four or five reports of muskets were again heard in the University — which I have only been prevented from inquiring about, by my constant engagement since.

At the faculty meeting this evening, on being enquired of respecting the conditions which had been prescribed to the military corps, and their acceptance & violation of them, I communicated to the Faculty a copy of the conditions, and mentioned what I had heard in respect to their rejection, but as I had not been able to see the Captain, (though I had sent for him as before stated) I could not inform them whether the conditions had been rejected or not. Several of the members, however, believing from what they had also heard that the conditions had been rejected by the company, it was proposed by one of them & determined by the Faculty to send for the captain, to enquire as to the grounds of the rejection, if it had taken place.

Mr. Morris, on appearing before the Faculty, stated that he had read to the company last Saturday the conditions which I had handed him; but that they had neither accepted nor rejected them, because they did not acknowledge the right of the Faculty to prescribe to them terms of organization; and he farther stated, in answer to the enquiry whether it was not probable that they would re-consider the subject, that he believed the students would take no farther action until the Faculty should have acted. The Faculty thereupon adopted a resolution requiring the immediate removal of the arms out of the precincts.

To this resolution, at this stage of the business, I was decidedly opposed, upon the grounds, that Mr. Morris might not fairly have represented

the views of the members of the company; that our conditions had not been rejected according to his testimony; that the action, or rather neglect to act upon them, probably proceeded from ignorance as to the laws & our rights, & did not involve a deliberate resistance of our authority requiring such a measure, the consequence of which, (considering the nature of students & the principles by which they are usually governed,) would probably be to array the whole company in opposition to the Faculty, so that we should be compelled to dismiss them all. Instead of the measure adopted, I proposed that the students should be informed, that under the laws they could not keep arms without leave on the conditions which had been prescribed, which were the usual conditions, and that unless those conditions were immediately acceded to, they would be required to carry their muskets out of the precincts. I thought that if this course were pursued, the majority of the company would accede to the terms proposed, or as all events that it would afford the well-disposed students an opportunity to withdraw from the company if they were out-voted; and if, contrary to my expectation, the company should then resolve to resist our authority, we should stand fully justified in any measures which might be necessary to enforce it. I was no less determined than the Faculty to maintain our authority; but I did not think it proper, in advance of deliberate resistance, without explanation as to the grounds on which their obedience was required, and without warning of the consequences of resistance, to adopt so summary a measure as that proposed.

Only one Professor Mr. Rogers) concurred with me in these views.


I communicated the resolution of the Faculty (by sending a copy of it,) to Mr. Morris, the captain of the Company.

To night about 9 Oclock, the following students, Mr. Morris, Mr. J.G. Field, Mr. W. M. Boyce, Mr. A. Walker, Mr. Crichton, & Mr. R. R. Carter, assuming to be a committee appointed by the company at a meeting held to night & just adjourned, handed to me the following as resolutions adopted by the company.

1st. That the company is not disbanded.

2nd. That the company will attend & drill as usual what the Faculty may say to the contrary notwithstanding.

3rd. That every member of the company pledges his honor to stand by his comrades, & that action of the Faculty against one shall affect every individual.

Just before the committee called, a large number of students commenced shouting & firing muskets on the lawn. The committee remained with me a half hour or more, during which time, I endeavored to convince them that they had no shadow or right to keep muskets within the precincts without the leave of the Faculty, which leave having been refused, it was their duty to remove their muskets out of the precincts. I explained to them the consequences which muse ensue if they refused to comply with the order of the Faculty — a consequence which the present riot, so far from preventing, would, if possible, render more inevitable. They left me in doubt as to whether they contemplated resistance to the order of the Faculty, or not. During the interview, the roar of musketry was several times so deafening as to interrupt the conversation. They disclaimed any connection with the rioters; but did not deny that the rioters were members of the company. The riot continued between one & two hours; and would probably have been kept up much longer, but for a heavy rain which came on.”


I requested the Proctor to call on the members of the company, beginning with the officers, & enquire of them whether they have removed their muskets out of the precincts, and if they have not, whether they intend to do so. He soon reported, that he had seen the officers & many of the members, & that he had been informed by them all that they had not complied, & did not intend to comply, with the order of the Faculty, and that they would meet & drill on the lawn, with their arms, tomorrow evening, as usual.

During the day, many members of the company called on me, to all of whom I fully explained the grounds on which the Faculty had acted, & urged every argument and motive that I could to induce them

to recede from the untenable ground which they had taken. I learned from several of them, that at their meeting last night a few leaders had induced the rest to adopt the resolutions communicated to me, by inflammatory appeal founded on misrepresentation as to their rights & the course of the Faculty; that those who were for more moderate measures were hissed down, those who hesitated to give the pledge required, insulted, & finally the desired pledge obtained from all, nine tenths of whom were totally ignorant not only of the law but of the facts of the case;—many indeed had never heard of the conditions, for the failure to accept which they had been required to carry their muskets out of the precincts, nor of the statement which their Captain had made before the Faculty. Several of the students with whom I conversed, expressly themselves satisfied by my explanations, & convinced of the impropriety of their resolutions; but their pledge having been given, they could not retract it. Some of them were much distressed on account of the difficult in which they had imprudently involved themselves, & even shed tears. An attempt was made by these students to get another meeting of the company to day, for the purpose of rescinding the resolution of last night; but they could not succeed—the majority being led & controlled by a few desperate students who are ambitious of the honor of heading a rebellion.

In some way or other, the students have taken up the impression, that several members of the Faculty were in favor of allowing them to keep their arms — and this impression has, as I learn, operated very injuriously. It happens singularly enough, that the disbanding resolution, (as they term it,) is ascribed to me; whilst the Professors whom they regard as favorable to them, are the very individuals who would be satisfied with nothing less than that resolution. However, I presume that there can be but one opinion in the Faculty now, as to the course to be pursued.


In the hope that if time for reflection were allowed, the students would not persist in their rash determination to keep their arms, I had concluded not to call a meeting of the Faculty until monday (today being Saturday.) But the Proctor informs me that

the motive of delay would be misconstrued; and that if action is postponed until monday, there will be probably 100 members in the company instead of 70 – great efforts to being now making to get recruits. Of the 70 now in the company, some 8 or 10 have been persuaded to join in the Cart two days. I therefore determined to call a meeting of the Faculty this evening, to act upon these students whilst flagrante delicts.

After the adjournment of the Faculty, I prepared a circular letter, to be addressed to the parents & guardians of the dismissed students, setting forth the grounds of our sentences. (A copy is annexed).

Immediately on the sentence being made known, a scene of great disorder & violence commenced, which was continued until 2 Oclock Sunday morning. About 11 Oclock at night, 10 panes of glass were broken in my dining room by the discharge of muskets at the window—whilst I was writing in the room. The person who did it immediately went off, and I was no otherwise particularly disturbed during the night.


This morning about 6 Oclock, my family were awoke by the throwing of stones against the blinds of the chamber windows, beating with sticks against the front door, & firing muskets before the door. The party, after remaining 10 or 15 minutes at my home, proceeded to Dr. Magills, whose door they broke; and then went to the Rotunda, & continued ringing the bell until near breakfast. During almost the whole day, there was considerable disorder by firing, ringing the bell, etc. in & about the University. Even during religious service, a party were on the Rotunda, ringing the bell.

To night at about 8 Oclock, a large body of students, believed to me chiefly if not altogether of those dismissed students, assembled on the lawn, & proceeded first to my house, on which they made a most violent attack, by throwing stones, beating at the door, & breaking window blinds & glass. After leaving my house, they went to the houses of the other Professors, except Dr. Magills, & committed some violence at all, though very little at most of them. They even went over to Dr. Emmet’s, to whom they did some damage by

breaking windows, etc. After their return from Dr. Emmet’s, no farther violence was committed; and after a bon-fire on the lawn they dispersed. I have been the principal object of their fury, because they regard me as author of the disbanding resolution, the immediate cause of the difficulty. This impression arose from my holding the office of Chairman & officially acting & speaking in reference to that resolution as if I had approved it, & has been confirmed by the erroneous explanations made by a Professor to the students, in his own vindication; the effect of which (without I believe being intended by him) has been to throw upon me the odium removed from himself.


I have to day been informed, by those who know, that the rioters last night intended renewing the attack upon our houses after coming back from Dr. Emmet’s, and even spoke of offering personal violence, but were prevented by the return just at that time of the students who had been sent to see Mr. Randolph & Mr/ Rives, (members of the Executive Committee,) and who represented to them that by such violence they were defeating the object proposed by the application to the Executive Committee.

This evening, Messrs. R. R. Carter & C.C. Cocke, two of the dismissed students, called to inform me, that Mr. Rives & Mr/ Randolph would be at the University tomorrow. During the interview, they stated to me that unless relief were obtained from the Executive Committee, other & far greater outrages would be committed by the dismissed students than had yet been. They spoke as knowing what was intended, without approving it. They disclaimed any design of attempting intimidation, & assured me that their object was to enable me to be prepared for what was contemplated.

As consequences much to be deprecated would probably ensue from any attempt at personal violence, or even from a renewal of the outrages already committed (several of the Professors are now arming themselves for the defense of themselves & their families;) and public property is also in considerable danger; I think it best, and indeed my duty, to call in the civil authority. I therefore, late this evening, wrote to two justices of the peace & the deputy sheriff, requesting them to attend

at the University tomorrow morning at 9 Oclock, to enquire as to the breach of the peace & riot which have occurred here. I propose proceeding under the riot Act.


The magistrates & sheriff attended this morning & a jury was summoned & convened; but owing to the lateness of the hour at which the jury was obtained, nothing was done; and the magistrates adjourned over until tomorrow, to meet in Charlottesville.


To day the students became alarmed at the proceedings of the jury; some concealed themselves, & many fled. The jury, after examining the Professors & other officers, adjourned the inquest to a day next week. To the salutary terror & dispersion caused by this inquest; & to the influence of the executive committee, may be certainly ascribed the failure to carry into execution the measures of violence which were meditated.


Order & quiet have been completely restored, and the leaders & supposed rioters have all left the neighborhood.

Mr. Marye of Fredericksburg , and Mr. Reynolds Chapman of Orange, whose sons were among the dismissed students, have come to the University, to endeavor to obtain the readmission of their sons.

To night a general meeting of the students was held, attended also by such of the dismissed students as have not left the neighborhood,) at which resolutions were unanimously adopted containing a pledge that the muskets should not be again introduced, unless with the leave of the Visitors.


The resolutions adopted by the students Saturday night, were to day communicated to me; and Mr. Marye & Mr/ Chapman very earnestly appeal to us, now that the arms have been removed out of the University, and a pledge given that they shall not be again introduced, to pass a resolutions readmitting, on application, all the dismissed students. They say that such are the pledges by which the students have imprudently bound themselves, & such the construction given to them, that no student can re-enter, without being disgraced in the opinion of his fellow students, under any resolution which makes a discrimination between the dismissed students, and that as much as they desire the re-admission of their sons, they cannot even advise them to apply for readmission, unless such a resolution as they propose

be passed by the Faculty.

After much consideration, I have concluded, by I confess not without embarrassment I doubt as to whether it be the proper course, to support such a resolution as these gentlemen recommend. My reasons are the following.

—The laws & the authority of the Faculty having been completely enforced, all resistance to them subdued & withdrawn, and the dismissed students nearly all returned home, the measure proposed can be regarded in no other light than as an act of clemency on the part of the Faculty, the propriety of which must depend on the circumstances of the case, and on whether the object of punishment will have been sufficiently answered. Now, taking into consideration the number of good students among those dismissed, and the extensive injury which will ensure if they are not allowed to reenter, and the circumstances under which they became involved in the difficulty — that advantage was taken of their ignorance, young, & weakness, to extort from them pledges which placed them at the mercy of those who had misled them, and that the precipitancy (as I think) of the Faculty, greatly contributed to the result — considering also that the sentences from its very nature does not imply perpetual exclusion, & that if now allowed to reenter they will have been so punished that they are not likely again to offend in a similar way; I am satisfied that the proposed clemency ought to be shewn to this class of the dismissed students. Others of them, it is true have no such claim; and their conduct since has been such, that so far as concerns them alone, they ought to be forever excluded from the institution. But if this discrimination be made, we are assured by Mr. Marye & Mr. Chapman, that none can, or (whilst they strongly condemn the rash pledges that have been entered into,) in their opinion ought to reenter. Besides, no one believes that those whom we would desire to exclude would apply for readmission; so that no discrimination is necessary to their exclusion; whilst a discrimination, by operation to exclude all, would enable them to attain their object of involving all in a common fate. I have little doubt that a sentence of expulsion against all, would be more agreeable to them than the proposed resolution, the effect of which will be to draw the line between themselves as the perpetrators of the disgraceful outrages, & those who did not participate in them. In addition to the other reasons which, it is supposed, will prevent the rioters from availing themselves of the resolution, the

apprehension of prosecution, and that we will compel them to appear before the grand jury to give evidence against one another, or dismiss them for refusing, (as we shall certainly do), will be alone sufficient to keep them away.


The Faculty, at a meeting convened this evening, gave permission to all the dismissed students to reenter on application to the Chairman, & disclaiming participation in the outraged committed, or if they cannot disclaim such participation, on their making proper atonement therefore. This latter clause was adopted on my motion, and was proposed not for the purpose of benefiting those who could not disclaim participation, but to prevent a discrimination which would have rendered the resolution nugatory.

APA Citation:
Davis, John. Chairman’s Journal for Session of 1836–7 (September 3 – November 22, 1836). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Davis, John. "Chairman’s Journal for Session of 1836–7 (September 3 – November 22, 1836)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 13 Jun. 2024
Last updated: 2020, December 07
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