(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Life and character of Hon. David L. Swain, late president of the University of North Carolina"






m 






, v : i &*Uy.Vi if"), -Mk^nf 










.M 1 



VW* 



fr'^ 



m 

\m-- 





sTVV* - ' Jc - +:^' '*- +*^W't : m!i*^xL' 



LI BR ARY 

OF THE 

NIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 



UNIVE 

Wtt 



OK 



j 

Received 
Accessions No. 



Shelf No.. 



i88.& 
' 



.. '- pi-* ' 



>AW 



x'^^ 



v i MP:c ^- 
-^ '.' * " * 



a- v \ *-\ '*. -Ji K !r* / ' JKM! a 

*i* ^v-.v ^^6iBr* 



LIFE AND CHARACTER 



OF 



DAVID t,6WAIW, 

LATE PRESIDENT OP THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA. 



BY 

GOV.ZEBULON B. VANCE, 

DELIVERED IN GERARD HALL, 

ON 
COMMENCEMENT DAY, JUNE 7, 1877, 

AT THE REQUEST OF 

THE TRUSTEES AND FACULTY OF THE UNIVERSITY, 



DUBHAM, N. C.: 
W. T. BLACK WELL & CO.'S STEAM PRESSES, 

1878. 



LIFE AND CHARACTER 



OF 




, DAVID i,SWAJfl 

LATE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA. 



BY 

GOY. ZEBULON B. VANCE, 

DELIVERED IN GERARD HALL ; 

ON 

COMMENCEMENT DAY, JUNE 7, 1877, 

AT THE BEQUEST OF 

THE TKUSTEES AND FACULTY OF THE UNIVESSXTY, 



DUBHAM, N. C.: 
W. T. BLACK\VELL & CO.'S STEAM PEESSES, 

1878. 



MEMORIAL ORATION, 

PUBLISHED IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING LETTER: 

RALEIGH, N. C., January 20th, 1878. 

SIR: At the last regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of the 
University of North Carolina, held in this city on the 16th of the 
month, it was unanimously 

"Resolved, That the thanks of this Board are hereby tendered to 
His Excellency Governor Vance, for his able, eloquent and instruc- 
tive oration on the life and character of the late Hon. David L. 
Swain, delivered at the last annual commencement; that the 
Excellency the Governor be requested to furnish a copy of the 
oration for publication, and that the Secretary of the Board be 
instructed to notify him of the adoption of this resolution." 

In accordance with the instructions of the Board I have the 
honor herewith to notify your Excellency of the unanimous adop- 
tion of the foregoing resolution. Very respectfully, 

W. L. SAUNDEES, Sec'y Board Trustees. 
To the Excellency Governor Z. B. Vance, Raleigh, N. C. 



THE ORATION. 

That great range of mountains, extending from the St. Law- 
rence to the plains of Alabama, called by De Soto APALACHIAN, and 
by the Indian tribes ALLEGHANIES, which,* in their tongue, signifies 
the Endless, attains its greatest elevation in the Black Mountain 
group, in the Western part of this State. 

This group lies partly within the counties of Yancey, McDowell 
and Buncombe; andthe tallest peak of the cluster, and of ah 1 the 
peaks east of the Rocky Mountains, is Mt. Mitchell. From its 
dominating summit there is thrown off a ridge which runs west, 
south, and southwest, in a zigzag shape, alternated with deep gaps, 
taU summits and frightful precipices, until it melts away in the pe- 
ninsula of plain which is enclosed by the waters of the Swannanoa 
and the French Broad in the county of Buncombe. 

In this range, about seven miles from where these waters meet, 
there is a little gorge-like valley scooped out of its western slope, 
which spreads its narrow bosom precisely in the face of the setting 
sun. The tall dome of Mt. Mitchell literally casts its shadow over 
this mountain-cradled vale, as the sun first comes up from the 
Eastern sea. 

Great ridges hem it in on either side, gradually melting on the 
south into the sloping hills on which stands the town of Asheville. 



A bold fresh brook from springs high up in the heart of the moun- 
tain, ripples through the bottom of this vale, reinforced by a hun- 
dred smaller streams pouring from the ravines on the right and 
left, and empties its bright fresh floods into the French Broad, five 
miles below the county seat. Near the very head of this valley is 
a charming little homestead, consisting of fertile bits of meadow 
on the brook-side, above which are open fields swelling upwards 
to the skirts of the mountain forests. In the midst of these fields, 
where the ground slopes gently towards the brook, there stood, 
about the beginning of this century, an old-fashioned log-house of 
the kind familiarly known to our mountain people as a " double- 
cabin." An orchard of a growth and fruitful luxuriance peculiar 
to that region, surrounded the house and curtilage, imparting that 
air of rustic beauty and abundance which constitutes a special 
charm in simple country homes. 

This spot at the period indicated, was the home of an honest, 
upright and intelligent man, whose name was George Swain; and 
here, on the 4th day oi January, 1801, was born the child w r ho 
became the man to whose memory we desire to do honor this day. 

DAVID LOWRIE SWAIN was the second son and child of George and 
Caroline Swain. His father was of English descent, and was born 
in Eoxboro, Massachusetts, in 1763. He came South and settled 
in Wilkes, now Oglethorpe county, in Georgia, served in the Leg- 
islature of that State five years, and was a member of the conven- 
tion that revised the Constitution of Georgia, His health failing, 
he removed to Buncombe county, N. C., in 1795, and was one of 
its earliest settlers. He was for many years Postmaster at Ashe- 
ville, and until within two years of his death; becoming insane a 
year or two previous to that event. Soon after his settlement in 
Buncombe, he was married to Caroline Lowrie, a widow, whose 
maiden name was Lane, a sister of Joel Lane, the founder of the 
city of Raleigh, and of Jesse Lane, the father of Gen. Joe Lane, 
late U. S. Senator from Oregon, and Democratic candidate for 
Vice-President on the ticket with Gen. Breckinridge in 1860. This 
lady had three children by her first husband, one of whom, the 
late Col. James Lowrie, of Buncombe county, lived and died a 
citizen of most excellent repute. By her last husband she had 
seven children. All of these are now dead. 

George Swain was by trade a hatter, but like all the thrifty men 
of his day, he combined farming with his shop, and was a success- 
ful man in both, as success was then measured. Whilst his hats 
were famous all the county over, his little farm on Beaver Dam, 
the name of the stream on which it was located, was considered a 
pattern in that period of rude agriculture. His apple-trees, under 
the shade of which young David was born and reared, were the 
product of cuttings brought all the way from Massachusetts a 
great and tedious journey then and some of the varieties which 
he thus imported stul remain in that region by the names which 
he gave them. 



He was a man of some learning and much intelligence, mixed 
with a considerable degree of eccentricity. Like all New Eng- 
landers he believed much in education, and struggled constantly 
to impart it to his children. He was possessed of a most wonder- 
ful memory, and I have heard it said by a lady who, as a girl, was 
intimate in his house, that he often entertained her and other 
visitors for hours together with the recitation of poems, without 
book or manuscript. 

In this humble but instructive home, secluded from anything 
that could be termed fashionable society, but trained to industry, 
and instructed in the ways of integrity, young David Swain's 
early youth was passed. I cannot subscribe to the phrase so 
usually employed in describing such biographical beginnings as 
this, when it is said that the subject of the memoir was "without 
the advantages of birth." In fact, for a child to be born amid such 
surroundings, and with such blood in his veins as coursed through 
those of young Swain, constitute the very highest advantages 
which could surround the birth and bringing up of a young man 
who was to fight his way in a country like ours. 

The surest elements of success are commonly found in the 
absence of indulgences in youth, and the most successful warriors 
against fate are those who are taught by stern necessity to fight 
earh'. 

Gov. Swain was fond of recurring to the scenes and influences of 
his early life, and always felt that he had been fortunate in pos- 
sessing a father to whom he could look with respect and confidence. 
He maintained a close and confidential correspondence with him 
from the time he left his roof to make his own way, and often re- 
ferred- to it as having had a most beneficial influence upon him. 

In the summer vacation of 1852, he visited Buncombe, and I 
accompanied him out to Beaver Dam to see once more the place 
of his birth, then and now in the possession of the Rev. Thomas 
Stradly. On a spot not very far from the house, he stopped and 
told me that near this place was the first time he ever saw a wagon. 
This wondrous vehicle, he said, belonged to Zebulon and Bedent 
Baird, the grandfather and great uncle of your speaker; 
Scotchmen by birth, who came to North Carolina some time pre- 
vious to 1790, by way of New Jersey. 

There being no road for such vehicles, this wagon had ap- 
proached the house of Mr. George Swain, he said, in the washed out 
channel of the creek, and the future Governor of North Carolina 
stood in the orchard waiting its approach with wonder and awe, 
and finally, as its thunder reverberated in his ears, as it rolled 
over the rocky channel of the creek, he incontinently took to his 
heels, and only rallied when safely entrenched behind his father's 
house. He enjoyed the relation of this to me exquisitely. As a 
palliation of his childish ignorance, however, he added that this 
was the first wagon which had crossed the Blue Ridge. 



With healthful labor at home, and healthful instruction by the 
fireside, the days of his early childhood passed, till he attained the 
age at which Ms careful father thought he should be placed under 
other instructors. At the age of 15 he was accordingly sent to the 
school near Asheville, called the Newton Academy. Its founder 
and first teacher was the Rev. George Newton, a Presbyterian 
clergyman of good repute, who was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Porter, 
another Presbyterian clergyman, and then by the late Wm. Smith, 
of Georgia, familiarly known as "long Billy." This Academy was 
justly famous in that region, and educated in whole or in part 
many of the prominent citizens of that country beyond the Blue 
Ridge, and elsewhere. Gov. B. F. Perry and Hon. Waddy Thomp- 
son, of South Carolina, M. Patton, R. B. Vance, James W. Patton, 
James Erwin, and many others of North Carolina, were classmates 
of young Swain at that school. A lady who is now living and was 
also a schoolmate of his there, tells me he was a most exemplary 
boy and diligent student, soon and clearly outstripping all his asso- 
ciates in the acquisition of knowledge. This superiority was 
doubtless due to the aid of an exceedingly strong and tenacious 
memory which he inherited from his father, and which character- . 
ized him through life. Mr. M. Patton informs me that young 
Swain taught Latin in the same school for several months. 

I am not aware that he attended any other school till he came 
to the University in 1821 ; in that year he entered the Junior class, 
but only remained some four months. Want of means most prob- 
ably prevented him from graduating. In 1822 he entered upon 
the study of the law in the office of Chief Justice Taylor, in 
Raleigh. He obtained license to practise in December, 1822; and 
referring to that event in his address at the opening of Tucker 
Hall, August, 1867, forty-five years afterwards, he gives a most 
entertaining picture of the Supreme Court which granted his 
license, and of the great North Carolina lawyers who at that time 
were practicing before its bar. 

Returning to the mountains, with his license in his pocket and 
a sweetheart in his eye, he went hopefully to work, and became 
almost immediately in possession of a lucrative practice. The good 
people of his native county were quick to perceive his talents and 
integrity, and in 1824 he was elected a member of the House of 
Commons from Buncombe. So great was the satisfaction which 
his conduct in that capacity gave to his constituents, that they con- 
tinued him as their member by successive elections until 1829. 

In his character as Legislator he was most distinguished for his 
industry and attention to details, especially in the department of 
statistics and taxation, in which he soon became the highest 
authority in the body of which he was a member. He was promi- 
nent in getting the bill passed for the building of the French 
Broad Turnpike, a measure which revolutionized the intercourse 
between Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina, bringing an 
immense stream of emigration, travel and trade through western 



North Carolina, and adding greatly to his own popularity among 
the people of that region. 

In 1829 he was elected by the Legislature Solicitor of the 
Edenton Circuit, a circumstance remarkable in our legal annals, 
both on account of his extreme youth at the time of his election to 
so important an office, and because the Edenton Circuit was in the 
most distant part of the State from his residence, and it had been 
the custom to select for that office a lawyer residing in the district 
for which he was elected. This compliment to his learning and 
ability was conferred upon him without solicitation, under the fol- 
lowing circumstances: 

A bitter contest had sprung up between two candidates for that 
position, one of whom w r as the notorious Robert Potter, and the 
friends of neither consenting to give way, by common consent both 
sides agreed to take young Swain. 

He rode only one circuit, when the next Legislature elected him 
a Judge of the Superior Court over Judge Seawell, then an able and 
eminent practitioner at the Raleigh bar. Swain was at that time 
the youngest man ever elevated to the Bench in this State, except 
Judge Badger, who was elected at the age of twenty-six. He had 
ridden four circuits as Judge with great acceptance, when in 1832 
he was elected by the Legislature to be Governor of the State over 
several competitors, and was inaugurated on the 1st day of Jan- 
uary, 1832. Under the Constitution of 1776 the term of the Gov- 
ernor was only one year, and Gov. Swain was re-elected in 1^33 
and 1834 successively. Just previous to the close of his official 
term in 1835 he was elected President of the State University, 
under the following circumstances: 

It is said that he would have continued in politics if the way had 
then been clear for him to go to the U. S. Senate; or that he would 
have continued in the law, could he then have returned to the 
bench. But the way to neither being at that time open to him, he 
had no desire to return to the practice of law, or to continue fur- 
ther in State politics, in which he had already attained the highest 
honors which his State had to bestow. Under these circumstances, 
he turned his eyes towards the Presidency of the University, va- 
cant since January, 1835, by the death of the venerable and la- 
mented Dr Joseph Caldwell. But great as was his reputation as 
lawyer and politician, his character as a scholar was by no means 
so established, nor had public attention been directed to him as a 
fit person to take charge of an institution of learning. He one day 
called his friend, Judge Nash, into the Executive office and told him 
frankly that he desired to be made President of the University; 
and seeing that the Judge did not express much approbation of the 
project, he asked him to consult with Judge Cameron, and if they 
two did not approve of it, he would abandon the idea. Nash 
promised to do so, and on meeting Judge Cameron, gave him hif 
opinion that Swain would not do for the place. Cameron, however, 
dissented at once, saying that Swain was the very man; that though 



it was true he was not a scholar, yet he had all the other necessary 
elements of success; and that the man who had shown he knew so 
well how to manage men, could not fail to know how to manage 
boys. So, at the next meeting of the Board of Trustees, Judge 
Cameron nominated him and secured his election to the Presi- 
dency. This closed his political and judicial career. 

I have omitted to mention, however, in its chronological order, 
a most important part of that career. In 1835, whilst Governor, 
he was elected a delegate from the county of Buncombe to the 
Convention of that year which amended the Constitution. Per- 
haps no portion of his political service was of greater importance 
to the State than that which he rendered as a member of that 
Convention. His sagacity, liberality, and profound acquaintance 
with the statistics of the State, and with the history of the Consti- 
tutional principles of Government contributed very largely to the 
formation of that admirable instrument, the Constitution of 1835, 
a more excellent one than which, our surroundings considered, was 
never framed by any English speaking people. Few men in our 
annals have risen in life more rapidly than he, or sooner attained 
the highest honors in every branch of the Government, Legislative, 
Judicial and Executive. In making an estimate of his character 
and capacity in these offices, we shall be compelled, beyond doubt, 
to conclude that it required very substantial abilities to enable him 
thus to reach and sustain himself creditably in them all. 

His practice as a lawyer was a very lucrative one to have been 
acquired at so early an age. As an evidence of the esteem in which 
his abilities and learning were held, he was, at the age of twenty- 
seven, when he had been a lawyer but four years, retained as 
counsel for the State of North Carolina with Geo. E. Badger, in a 
most complicated mass of litigation, involving the title to more 
land than was ever sued for under one title in our State (except 
perhaps, that instituted by the heirs of Lord Granville in 1804.) 
Several hundred thousand acres of land had been granted to 
William Cathcart, Huldeman, andElseman, citizens of Pennsylvania, 
lying in the counties of Burke, Buncombe, Haywood, and Macon. 
Subsequently, these same lands in great part were sold in smaller 
lots to settler citizens by the State, under the belief that when 
patented originally by Cathcart and others, they were not subject 
to entry, for the reason that they were within the boundaries which 
had been reserved to the Indians by various treaties. One hundred 
suits in ejectment were brought against these settlers in the Circuit 
Court of the United States by the heirs of Cathcart. All these 
actions were dependent on similar facts, and each one involved the 
validity, accuracy and definite character of various surveys made at 
sundry different times during a period of nearly half a century 
previous thereto, under treaties between the State and the Cherokee 
Indians, and between the United States and the same Indian tribe. 
The State resolved to defend the titles it had given to its citizens, 
and employed Badger and Swain to contend with Mr. Gaston who 



was for the plaintiffs a very high compliment to both of them. 
Here was a field wherein Gov. Swain had no superior, and where 
his peculiar talents came specially into play. A complicated maze 
of long forgotten facts was to be resurrected from buried docu- 
ments, dimly traced surveyors' lines and corners through hundreds 
of miles of tangled mountain forests were to be established, 
partly by the evidence of old grey -haired woodmen, and partly by 
the fading outlines of the rude maps and indistinct field-notes of 
the surveyors of that day; and old treaties and musty statutes were 
to be brought out of the dust and made to speak in behalf of the 
rights of our people. 

In such a work his soul delighted, and to his faithful labors and 
indefatigable energy must the final success of the State be mainly 
attributed. For though he was put on the bench, and from the 
bench was made Governor before the test case was tried in 1832 
and the victory won, he never ceased his labors in this behalf, and 
his official letter-book of that period is filled with evidences of his 
zeal and research. Judge Badger, who was as generous as he was 
great, and who followed the case up to the Supreme Court of the 
United States, where he was assisted by Mr. Webster, frankly 
acknowledged that the cause was won mainly by the careful 

E reparation of Swain. Another circumstance connected with this 
tigation, worth the mention in these days is, that notwithstanding 
the vast amount of valuable work he had done already, yet because 
the cases were not concluded when he was made a judge, Gov. 
Swain voluntarily returned half of his retainer into the Treasury. 
All of which goes to show that in selecting him out of so many able 
and older lawyers to assist Mr. Badger, the State had chosen wisely 
indeed. There were giants in those days, and the giants were 
honest. 

During his service in the Legislature no great or exciting issues 
were before the people, and his career there displays no extraordi- 
nary effort in any direction. He soon acquired, however, a high 
reputation for learning and industry in dealing with the practical 
questions of the day, among which then was the very vexed one 
of the ratio of representation in the Legislature between the East, 
where were many slaves, and the West, where there were few. 
This finally forced the calling of the Convention in 1835. It was, 
however, an era of great political importance, viewed in the light 
of subsequent events. The great political parties Whig and 
Democratic which have shaped the destinies of these United 
States for full half a century, were then crystallizing from the 
confused and crude opinions of our early American politics. All 
thinking men began about this period to range themselves with 
one or the other of the schools which undertook to construe the 
Constitution of the United States, to ascertain its meaning and its 
powers, and to define its relations with the States. A gigantic, 
and as it would seem, an endless task indeed. Swain sided with 
Adams, Clay and Webster, whose followers began to be called 



"NVhigs. Of the prominent men of that day, who agreed with him, 
or with whom he agreed, were Gaston, Morehead, Badger, Man- 
gum, Cherry, Graham, Stanly, Moore, Miller, Outlaw, Rayner, and 
many others. Of those who adhered to the school of Jefferson and 
Calhoun, were the venerable Macon, Ruffin, Haywood, Saunders, 
Branch, Edwards, Seawell, Shepherd, Donnell, Fisher, Craige, 
Venable, and many more of equal talents. It is not practicable to 
enumerate all the mighty men of that day, who controlled our 
affairs, and gave tone and character to our society. No State in 
the "Union had a larger list of very able citizens, and we can pay 
no higher compliment to Gov. Swain than to say that he rose up 
among such, and was the peer of them all. 

As before stated, he rode but four circuits as Judge. From all 
his decisions during that time, there came up but eighteen appeals. 
Of these, thirteen were sustained by the Supreme Court, consist- 
ing of Ruffin, Henderson and Hall, and in one other he was 
sustained by the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Ruffin, leaving 
but four in which he was unanimously overruled. This, says Mr. 
Moore, who is now our highest living authority in matters relating 
to the law, is an evidence of judicial ability more satisfactory than 
could elsewhere have been furnished among our Judges, and no 
higher compliment could have been paid him. Mr. Moore also 
informs me that Swain was very popular as a Judge, even in those 
days when the only road to popularity in that office was the honest 
and able discharge of its exalted duties. In the contest for Judge, 
when he was elected over Judge Seawell, he first acquired a nick- 
name which stuck to him till after he retired from politics. Re- 
peated attempts with various candidates had been made to defeat 
Seawell, who was obnoxious to the party to which Swain belonged, 
but all these efforts had failed until his name was brought forward. 
"Then," said an enthusiastic member from Ireclell, "we took up old 
' 'warping bars' from Buncombe, and warped him out." After the 
Governor became President of the University he lost this humorous 
and not ill-fitting sobriquet, and acquired from the College wits the 
geographical descriptio personae, "Old Bunk," which adhered to him 
through life. 

The official letter-book of Gov. Swain during his administration 
shows that his time and labors were principally devoted to the 
questions of constitutional reform; the coast defences of North 
Carolina; the claims of the State against the general government; 
the removal and settlement of the Cherokee Indians; the adjust- 
ment of land titles in the West, and other matters of domestic 
concern. 

During this time, however, many letters of literary and historic 
importance were written by him. There is found on those pages 
a letter written by Mr. Jno. C. Hamilton, of New York, son of 
Alexander Hamilton, propounding eleven inquiries relating to the 
History of North Carolina; more particularly with regard to the 
system of her Colonial and early State taxation; and the reasons of 



9 

certain action of her Convention in regard to the adoption of the 
Federal Constitution, and kindred topics. Gov. Swain's replies to 
these queries show a wonderful amount of information and re- 
search into the minuter sources of our early history; clearly indi- 
cating that he was possessed in a high degree of those peculiar 
talents which constitute the true historian. Most of his literary 
labor throughout his life was in this department, and his collec- 
tions were especially rich in the early history of North Carolina. 
Who is there left now in our State able to use the material for its 
History which he had been accumulating through so many years ? 
To this great work he had intended to devote the closing years of 
his life. What stores of information perished with him ! He was 
the special vindicator of that much-abused and much-misunder- 
stood class of men, the Regulators of our colonial times. No man 
in the State has done so much to clear their fame few have been 
so competent. The papers contributed by him to the N. C. Univer- 
sity Magazine on the subject, would form a volume if collected, and 
their great value is indicated by the numerous inquiries instituted 
for them by men in various States of the Union. His lecture before 
the Historical Society in 1852, may be said to have settled the 
question of the merits of the Regulators, and their service to liberty. 

It was during his administration that the only white woman was 
executed who ever suffered the extreme penalty of the law in 
North Carolina. This was a Mrs. Silvers, of Burke county, hung 
for the murder of her husband. So far as my knowledge extends, 
but one other, a colored woman, has ever been hung in this State. 
As Governor of the State, in 1833, he laid the corner stone of the 
present capitol amid imposing ceremonies; a building designed 
with perhaps as pure and simple taste as any in America, and as 
solid and enduring as any in the world. 

On the 12th of January, 1826, he was married to Miss Eleanor 
H. White, daughter of Wm. White, Secretary of State, and grand- 
daughter of Gov. Caswell, a union productive of great domestic 
happiness to a man so fitted as he by nature, and by a life of 
unsullied purity to appreciate the ties of home, and the love of 
wife and children. By this lady there were born to him several 
children, of whom but three, two daughters and a son, ever reached 
maturity. His oldest son, David, who died in childhood, was a 
boy of great promise. His eldest child and daughter, Anne, died 
unmarried in 1867. The second daughter, and now only surviving 
child, Eleanor Hope, married Gen. S. D. Atkins, of Freeport, Illi- 
nois, where she now resides. The son, Richard Caswell, was killed 
a few years since, near his home in Illinois, being crushed to death 
by falling between two railroad cars while in motion. There is 
now no male representative of the name surviving. 

From the time that Gov. Swain entered upon his duties as 
President of the University, his career is marked by few notable 
events of which his biographer can make mention. Although the 
work he did here was undoubtedly the great work of his life, it is 



10 

impossible for us to compute it. As with the silent forces of nature 
which we know to be the greatest that are exerted in this world, 
but which yet elude the grasp of our senses; so is it impossible for 
us to measure the power of the able and faithful teacher. The 
connections between moral cause and effect are much more diffi- 
cult to trace than those between physical cause and effect, but 
although in either case the lines are dim the wise do not fail to see 
that they are there, and that the results are powerful. It is con- 
ceded that the imperceptible and benign force of light and heat 
which lifts the mighty oak out of the earth, and spreads its branches 
to the skies, is infinitely greater than that of the noisy whirlwind 
which prostrates it in the dust. 

Says Mr. Herbert Spencer: "In every series of dependent 
changes, a small initial ctifference often works a marked difference 
in the results. The mode in which a particular breaker bursts on 
the beach may determine whether the seed of some foreign plant 
which it bears, is or is not stranded, may cause the presence or 
absence of this plant from the Flora of the land, and may so affect 
for millions of years in countless ways, the living creatures through- 
out the earth. The whole tenor of a life may be changed by a 
single word of advice, or a glance may determine an action which 
alters thoughts, feelings and deeds throughout a long series of 
years." 

We know that the moral tone of a community is the main-spring 
of its glory or its shame; that that tone is to a great extent im- 
parted by its educated men; we know, too, that no man has ever 
lived in North Carolina whose opportunities for thus influencing 
those who control her destinies have been greater than Gov. 
Swain's were ; and I am quite sure that no man ever more diligently 
and earnestly improved those opportunities. There is this too, fur- 
ther and better to be said, that in the whole course of his contact with 
the young men of North Carolina and of the South at this "Univer- 
sity for a third of a century, the whole weight of every particle of 
influence which he possessed was exerted in behalf of good morals, 
good government, patriotism and religion. The sparks of good 
which he elicited, the trains of generous ambition which he set on 
fire, the number of young lives which his teachings have directed 
into the paths of virtue and knowledge, and colored with the hues 
of heaven, who but God shall tell? If we could see events and 
analyse destinies as only the Most High can, how wondrous would 
appear the harvest of David L. Swain's sowing ! How many great 
thoughts worked out in the still watches of the night; how many 
noble orations in the Forum stirring the hearts of men; how many 
eloquent and momentous discourses in the pulpit; how many bold 
strokes of patriotic statesmanship; how many daring deeds and 
sublime deaths on bloody fields of battle; how many good and 
generous and honest things done in secret; how many evil things 
and sore temptations resisted; in short, how much of that which 
constitutes the public and private virtue of our people, the pros- 



11 

perity, the honor, and the glory of our State might not be traced 
to the initial inspiration of David L. Swain ! Say what you will for 
the mighty things done by the mighty ones of earth, but here is 
the truest honor and renown. 

For whether there be prophecies, they shall fail ; whether there 
be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall 
vanish away; but he that helps to shape an immortal soul, and fit 
it for the service of Heaven and humanity, verily his memory shall 
endure until that which is perfect is come. 

How well do I remember the many occasions during my sojourn 
at the University, when he as my preceptor, esteeming such influ- 
ences of greater importance to the class than the texts of the 
lessons, would for the time give his whole soul to the stirring up 
of these generous and emulous sentiments in the hearts of his 
pupils. The very first recitation in which I ever appeared before 
him was one such. I shall never, never forget it. In 1851, I 
entered the University, and joined the senior class as an irregular. 
This first lesson was in Constitutional Law. A single general 
question was asked and answered as to the subject in hand, and 
then he began to discourse of Chancellor Kent, whose treatise we 
were studying; from Kent he went to Story, from Story to Mar- 
shall, repeating anecdotes of the great Americans who had framed 
and interpreted our organic law; and touching upon the debate 
between Hayne and Webster. From these, he went back and 
back to the men and the times when the great seminal principles 
of Anglo-Saxon liberty were eliminated from feudal chaos, and 
placed one by one as stones polished by the genius of the wise, 
and cemented by the blood of the brave, in the walls of the temple 
of human freedom. He told us of the eloquence of Burke, of the 
genius of Chatham; he took us into the prison of Eliott and went 
with us to the death-bed of Hampden; into the closet with Coke 
and Seargent Maynard; and to the Forum where Somers spoke; 
to the deck of the Brill where William, the deliverer, stood as he 
gazed upon the shores of England; to the scaffolds of Sydney and 
of our own glorious Raleigh. Warming as he went with the glowing 
theme, walking up and down the recitation room, which was then 
the Library of the "old South," with long and awkward strides, 
heaving those heavy passionate sighs, which were always with him 
the witnesses of deep emotion, he would now and then stop, reach 
down from its shelf a volume of some old Poet, and read with 
trembling voice some grand and glowing words addressed to man's 
truest ambition, that thrilled our souls like a song of the chief 
musician. A profound silence was evidence of the deep attention 
of the class, and the hour passed almost before we knew it had 
began. 

I afterwards learned that this lecture was intended for my ben- 
efit, as I was a stranger to the class and had entered it under some 
disadvantages, and in his kindness of heart he supposed I needed 
some encouragement. But such were frequently given us. Nor 



12 

were these digressions from the chief business of the hour always 
of a serious nature. The gayest wit and brightest humor often 
illumined the moments when not content with putting forth his 
own conceits, he exerted himself to draw forth those of the class, 
and if he succeeded sometimes in bringing forth a repartee that 
struck pat upon his own head, no one enjoyed it more than himself. 
Like a true humorist and story teller he enjoyed the taking as well 
as the giving, with the utmost good fellowship. 

From the day that Gov. Swain became the chief officer of the 
University his life was literally devoted to its interests. The same 
traits of character which had hitherto secured his success in life 
were especially needed here. His prudence, his cautious far 
reaching policy, his constructive ability, his insight into character, 
and remarkable faculty for suggesting valuable work to others and 
setting them at it, his forbearance, charity, self-control these were 
ah 1 brought into play with marked results. The reputation of the 
Institution, and the number of its students steadily and continually 
increased. In 1835, there were not over 90 in attendance. In 
1860, there were nearly 500. 

Gov. Swain was eminently a progressive man. He loved to 
suggest, and to see his suggestions taken up and carried out. 
What a number of improvements the record of his management 
here shows that he inaugurated ! The excellent system of street- 
draining in Chapel Hill, by stone culverts, the planting of elms, the 
enclosing of the college grounds, and their improvement and 
ornamentation with shrubbery; all these were planned by him, and 
executed under Dr. Mitchell's superintendance. He first employed 
a college gardener. He was the founder of the State Historical 
Society. He established, and assisted largely to support the 
University Magazine, and was himself one of its most regular and 
valued contributors. He was one of the foremost friends of the 
N. C. Central E. R., and offered to be one of a number to take the 
whole stock at once. He first introduced the study of the Bible 
into college, and of Constitutional and International Law. And he 
was an earnest advocate for humanizing the course of study, 
making science more popular and more prominent. 

He was always deeply interested in the prosperity of the village 
of Chapel Hill, believing, and justly, that its welfare was identical 
with that of the college. Circumstances since his death have amply 
proved the truth of this. He had ever a kind word, and a chari- 
table estimate for every man, woman and child in the place. 

Thirty-three years of his best days, and the sincerest labors of 
his existence were spent here in the training of young men. As 
yet, no monument has been erected in these grounds to commem- 
orate his virtues and his labors. The valley of humiliation nay, 
of the shadow of Death through which our beloved Institution has 
passed, in which she was despoiled of everything but her glorious 
memories, and I trust, her gratitude, is the apology which can be 
offered for this seeming, but not real, neglect. A simple tablet to 



13 

his memory might well be inserted in any of these walls, and fitly 
written thereon might be the words found in the epitaph of Sir 
Christopher Wren in the crypt of St. Paul's: 

Lector, si monumentum requiris, 
Circumspice I 

In very truth the University may be looked upon as his monu- 
ment. It emerged from swaddling clothes under President 
Caldwell; it passed through a vigorous youth into a splendid 
manhood under President Swain. But whilst the stranger stands 
upon the earth and beholds the monument of the great architect 
in the magnificent pile whose tall fane overtops the loftiest domes 
and spires of the greatest city in the world, he who would fully 
comprehend the great work of David Swain's life would have to 
stand upon the battlements of heaven, and survey the moral world 
with an angel's ken. 

I know of no man of his day who was surrounded by so many 
inducements to return to the paths leading to highest distinction 
in active public life, who so completely put them all away, and 
adhered so strictly to the work which he had accepted here. As 
we have seen, his career as a politician and a lawyer had been 
remarkably successful while he was yet at a very early age, and if 
he had desired further honors he had all the qualities which are 
supposed to fit men for the attainment of these objects. Had he 
been pessessed of a passion to accumulate wealth, almost any other 
course in life would have fed this desire more than the Presidency 
of the University. From all these fields of distinction and of 
wealth, the public sentiment of his time desired that the officers, 
and especially the chief officers of the University should be isolated. 
This expectation Gov. Swain filled, and more than filled. For the 
good of the Institution, he not only laid aside whatever of ambition 
he may have had in the directions usually chosen by able men, but 
he subordinated many cherished convictions, and refrained from 
the doing many things which he no doubt most ardently desired 
to do. In the nature of things, this course, so essential to the suc- 
cess of an Institution entirely dependent on popular favor, begot 
many misconceptions of his character. It has been said that he 
was undecided in his opinions, and timid in the expression and 
maintenance of them. I believe such an impression does his 
memory great injustice. His nature was essentially gentle, his 
manners were mild, his temper was cautious; but I cannot believe 
that he was either timid or undecided. I had the honor and I 
consider it both an honor and a happy fortune to be on terms of 
confidential intimacy with him from my first entrance into the 
University until his death. We were in the utmost accord on all 
questions pertaining to Church and State, and during my subse- 
quent career especially in those troublous years of war I con- 
sulted him more frequently perhaps than any other man in the 
State, except Gov. Graham. So affectionately was his interest in 



14 

my welfare always manifested, that many people supposed we were 
relatives, and I have frequently been asked if such were not the 
fact. 

This state of our relations gave me ample opportunity to know 
him well, and I believe I can say with entire truth that whilst his 
course of life and surroundings necessarily made him tolerant and 
even liberal towards those who disagreed with him, he was as 
positive in his opinions, religious and political, and as firm in his 
adherence to them, as any man of my acquaintance. The unpopu- 
larity of which he was afraid, and which produced that cautious 
habit which some men mistook for timidity, pertained to the 
Institution which he had in charge, and not to himself. And as 
the State reaped the benefit of his prudence in the increased 
prosperity of the University, the injustice of charging this to a 
defect of character becomes all the more apparent. 

The remarkable character of his memory served him in good 
stead in many ways through life. As a lawyer it had been inval- 
uable, not only enabling him to cite cases with great readiness to 
the court, but in trials before juries, without taking notes he could 
repeat the testimony of all the witnesses examined, no matter how 
many, nor how long the trial continued. 

Perhaps he was more thoroughly versed in biography than any 
man who has ever lived in America; certainly North Carolina never 
produced his equal in this respect. His wonderful memory, com- 
bined with great industry, was stimulated by a genuine love of 
genealogical studies. Almost the first question he would ask a 
student on meeting him, if indeed he did not already know, was, 
"Who is your father ?" On being told, by a few quick questions 
he would possess himself of the boy's lineage, and would never 
forget it. Generally, however, the boys would be utterly astounded 
on presenting themselves, to find that the Governor knew more of 
them and their families than they did themselves. It was equally 
so with all strangers with whom he met, and frequently ludicrous 
scenes resulted from his insatiable desire to trace pedigree. 
Whilst a delegate from this State to the Montgomery Convention, 
which organized the Confederacy in 1861, he was introduced to a 
distinguished gentleman, and without letting go his hand which he 
took to shake, he stopped in the midst of the flow of ceremonious 
speech, and to the no small amusement of the bystanders asked 
him : "Sir, was not your mother's maiden name Jones ?" I doubt 
if there is a single family on the Atlantic coast, whose members 
have borne any prominent part in the affairs of the country, in 
regard to which he did not have more or less of information, and 
could have told all about its leading representatives at least. With 
a very little help indeed he could have supplied a "Doomsday 
Book" of North Carolina, by far more accurate than that of the 
Conqueror. It was generally understood at Chapel Hill that if you 
wanted to know what anything was, you went to Dr. Mitchell; if you 
wanted to know who anybody was, you went to Gov. Swain. 



15 

And as he never forgot face, or name, or lineage of the man once 
known to him, so he never forgot a kindness or a favor once done 
to him or his, and loved to continue such memories, and extend the 
chain of friendship to second and third generations. "Thine own, 
and thy father's friend forsake not," was one of his favorite maxims. 
He was utterly incapable of resisting an appeal for mercy, or a tale 
of distress. This was, I believe, the only objection urged against 
his conduct on the bench his leniency to criminals. It was an 
objection to his honor, if his mercy was at all tempered with discre- 
tion, as I doubt not it was. So too arose the only serious trouble 
he ever had with the Trustees of the University. 

Stringent measures had been resolved upon by the Board towards 
dissipation and insubordination among the students, which regula- 
tions were not rigidly enforced by Gov. Swain. So great was his 
forbearance with the hot blood of youth, and so strong his faith 
that time would cure these early follies, and enable the better 
natures of the young men to assert themselves, that he suffered the 
Draconian code of the Trustees to lie dormant, whilst he lectured, 
reproved, and exhorted. He shrank from branding the opening 
years of a young life with sentence of dismission or expulsion, and 
would condescend to an erring boy while there remained the last 
hope of reform. In such cases his judgment not unfrequently came 
into conflict with the opinions of other members of the Faculty, and 
finally so irritated the Trustees that they passed a resolution of 
censure upon him, which was publicly read from the platform of 
the Chapel by no less a personage than Gov. Iredell. Quite a scene 
was excited on this occasion, and when Gov. Swain arose and 
replied in his own vindication, it was with much emotion, not 
unmingled with indignation; "More," says Mr. Cameron, who was 
present, "than I ever knew him to exhibit on any occasion, before 
or since." 

The lapse of time has shown this policy to have been the best and 
wisest not only for the young men themselves, but for the Institu- 
tion, and for his own fame. Who of all the hundreds to whom he 
thus stood in the attitude of a father, kind, and long-suffering, and 
hopeful, but now recalls him with affection and gratitude; how 
many a one remembers his college life at Chapel Hill as the turn- 
ing point of his life where he was won by undeserved kindness to 
paths of honor, not repelled by judicial severity, and feels in his 
heart that under God he owes all that he has of fortune, friends or 
fame to this Institution and its wise head ! 

While the Governor remained in political life his extraordinary 
memory of persons, and names and events gave him a wonderful 
advantage. There is no more successful way of making ones self 
agreeable to the multitude than by knowing men when you meet 
them, and calling them by name. Not to recognize a man who has 
stood your friend, and fought your battles at the polls, is always an 
omission of evil omen in his eyes, and a bad memory for names will 
not always apologize for what seems to be neglect. Many and 



16 

many are the shifts of the politician to avoid this fatal predicament. 
But I venture to say that Gov. Swain was never caught in such a 
way. Once being introduced, he never forgot his man, nor his 
family connections. After the surrender of Gen. Lee in 1865, when 
Gen. Sherman had begun his march upon Raleigh, at the earnest 
request of Mr. B. F. Moore and Mr. Kenneth Eayner, I sent "an 
embassy to meet the Federal Commander, and obtain what terms 
were possible for the surrender of the Capital of the State. 

Having confidence in their firmness and discretion, I selected 
Govs. Swain and Graham, who left in a few moments after their 
appointment, on a special train, accompanied by Dr. Edward War- 
ren, Surgeon General of the State. I remarked after their depar- 
ture with my letter, as one reason for selecting him, that I had no 
doubt Gov. Swain would find plenty of acquaintances in the enemy's 
camp, or at least would prove that he knew the fathers of many of 
the officers. And so it was; on his arrival at headquarters, he not 
only claimed Gen. Sherman as an old correspondent, and fellow- 
college-president, but immediately seized upon two or three 
members of the staff whose parents and pedigree he knew, and 
was soon at home among them. 

And here perhaps it is not improper in me to correct a statement 
made by Gen. Sherman in his memoirs, in relation to this embassy. 
Referring to it, that General says: "They had come with a flag of 
truce, to which they were not entitled; still, in the interests of 
peace, I respected it, and permitted them to return to Raleigh with 
their locomotive to assure the Governor (of the State) and the 
people, that the war was substantially over, and that I wanted the 
civil authorities to remain in the execution of their office till the 
pleasure of the President could be ascertained. On reaching 
Raleigh, I found these same gentlemen with Messrs. Bragg, Badger, 
Holden and others, but Gov. Vance had fled, and could not be 
prevailed on to return, because he feared arrest and imprisonment." 

This statement is uncandid, not to say untruthful, by implication 
at least. These gentlemen had, a right to the flag of truce, for it 
was sent with the consent, and by permission of Gen. Hardee, 
commanding the Confederate forces in the absence of Gen. John- 
ston, and should not have been permitted to enter the enemy's 
lines if the bearers were not entitled to carry it. It was not 
respected, for it was fired upon by Kilpatrick's men, and "captured" 
as they claimed, and the gentlemen composing the embassy were 
promptly and skillfully robbed of their surplus personalty, and 
were conducted as "prisoners" to Gen. Sherman's headquarters. 
They were not permitted promptly, as the statement implies, to 
return with their locomotive, with assurances of peace and protec- 
tion, but were detained there the entire day and night after their 
arrival within Sherman's lines, until he no doubt knew that Raleigh 
was entirely uncovered by Johnston's troops. Of course, all the 
officers of the State government who did not wish to surrender at 
discretion, left with the Confederate troops, for, the embassy not 



17 

returning and no news of its fate, except that it had been captured, 
and no reply to my letter being received, they had no assurance of 
protection. Gov. Swain states in his address at the opening of 
Tucker Hall, that on the return of the embassy that memorable 
morning, but a few minutes in advance of the Federal troops, the 
city was shrouded in silence and gloom, except for the presence of 
a few marauding stragglers from Wheeler's cavalry, showing con- 
clusively that the city was uncovered when he arrived with 
Sherman's message. It was some days afterwards, and at Hills- 
boro, when I learned from Gov. Graham the result of his mission, 
and it was then far too late for me, consistently with other duties, 
to accept of Sherman's offer of protection, had any one convinced 
me that it was best to do so, which indeed no one did. My 
inclinations, I confess, were to be with that little army, fully one- 
third of whom w r ere North Carolinians, until they laid down their 
arms. I am happy to reflect that I shared their fate to the last. 

This much to vindicate the truth of History. Throughout this 
whole transaction, as many gentlemen have testified to me, Gov. 
Swain's bearing was, in the highest degree, courageous, discreet 
and manly. 

During the war his efforts had mainly been directed to keeping 
the college alive, for such was the impetuosity with which the call 
to arms was obeyed, that of the eighty members of which the 
Freshman class consisted in 1860, but one (in delicate health) 
remained to pursue his studies. (Of the senior class of that date 
not one had remained out of the army, and fully one-fourth of them 
fell in battle.) Seven members of the Faculty volunteered, and of 
them Jive returned no more. 

Gov. Swain appealed to the Confederate government more than 
once to prevent the handful of college boys left, from being drafted. 
President Davis himself seconded these efforts in the earlier years 
of the war, declaring that "the seed-corn sheuld not be ground up." 
But as the exigencies of the country increased, this wisdom was 
lost sight of, the collegians were again and again called upon, till 
at the time of Lee's surrender, there were, but about a dozen here 
still keeping up the name and forms of a college. But even while 
the village and University were occupied by four thousand Michigan 
cavalry, the old bell was rung daily, prayers were held, and the 
University was kept going. The Governor took a pride in this, and 
hoped that he was to tell it many years after. But this long and 
useful life, devoted to the best interests of Iris country and his age, 
was nearing its close. Only three years yet remained to him, and 
these were devoted by him to earnest, unceasing endeavors to 
reinstate the University pecuniarily, and to recall its former 
patronage. Darker days, however, were in store for it, which he in 
the good Providence of God was not to be permitted to see. 

In the summer of 1868, the State passing under a new Constitu- 
tion, and an entire change of Government, the University also fell 
into new hands, whose first action was to request the resignation 



18 

of the President and Faculty, most of whom had grown grey in 
service to the State. A guard of negroes were sent to take posses- 
sion, and these halls were closed. Gov. Swain was then preparing 
for a visit to Buncombe. On the llth day of August, while driving 
in the neighborhood of Chapel Hill with Prof. Fetter, he was thrown 
from the buggy, and brought home painfully, but as was then sup- 
posed, not seriously injured. Confined to his bed for about two 
weeks, he appeared to be recovering, when on the morning of the 
27th he suddenly fainted, and expired without pain. 

He was in the full possession of all his faculties up to the last 
moment, and died at peace with all the world; a fitting close to a 
life of beneficence and integrity. The manner of his death afforded 
a melancholy coincidence taken with those of his two oldest friends 
and co-laborers in the Faculty who had preceded him over the 
river, and were "resting under the shade of the trees." Dr. Elisha 
Mitchell perished by falling down a precipice in the cataracts of 
the Black Mountain, June 27, 1857. Dr. James Phillips sank down 
suddenly on this rostrum while in the act of conducting morning 
prayers, and died without a struggle, March 14th, 1867. Thus all 
of these eminent men, worthy servants of Christianity and civiliza- 
tion died with some degree of suddeness, or violence. 

A just estimate of the talents and character of Gov. Swain, for 
reasons already indicated, is not easily made plain to popular 
apprehension. By the world the term "great" is variously applied 
and misapplied. It is often withheld when it is most richly 
deserved; not, because of the injustice of cotemporaries, for 
personal prejudice rarely outlives a generation, but because men 
rarely appreciate the full extent and character of the labors of a 
lifetime. And especially is this true when that life has been mainly 
spent in the planting of moral seeds below the surface, which per- 
haps for years make no great show of the harvest which is sure to 
come. Generations are sometimes required to elapse before the 
world can see the golden sheaves which cover and adorn the land- 
scape, the result of that patient and judicious planting. 

They who in life are followed by the noisy plaudits of the crowd, 
who fill the largest space in the eyes of their cotemporaries, and 
seem to tower far above their fellows are not always found to have 
their reputation built on the securest foundations, nor to have left 
their mark on the age in which they lived. Erasmus was esteemed 
by his generation a much greater man than Luther. One of the 
most remarkable men of his century, few indeed have equalled him 
in keenness of intellect, and in depth and extent of learning. Yet 
viewed now in the light of their labors, and the value and signifi- 
cance ot their impression on the world, what a veritable shadow he 
was by the side of the plainer, less learned, but downright monk ! 
Erasmus is known to the scholars who search for his name and 
works in the cyclopaedias; the name and the spirit of Luther per- 
vade and affect the civilization of the whole world. 



19 

On the 21st of February, 1677, there died in a small house in the 
Hague a man whose greatness could not be measured, says his 
biographer, until humanity had moved to the proper prospective 
point at the distance of more than a century. The view enlarged 
as time rolled on, as it does to men climbing high mountains; in 
1877, the world agrees to number him among the undoubted sons 
of genius, and benefactors of mankind. His admirers erect a 
monument to his memory just two hundred years after his death 
in the same city where he was persecuted, excommunicated, and 
his works destroyed. His name was Spinoza. Modest, and pure, 
and upright, he had the misfortune to live two hundred years 
before his age, and to put forth fruits of genius which his fellows 
could not comprehend, and so they stamped him and them into 
dust as being unorthodox. Two centuries of progress have brought 
the world up to where Spinoza died, and it builds him a monument. 
At last, his work is seen. 

The Earl of Murray, Lord Regent of Scotland, was not esteemed 
a great man in his day. His behaviour was modest, his abilities 
were apparently but moderate, and for more than two hundred 
years he has figured in History as an ordinary man, overlaid by 
the more violent and intriguing spirits of his time, and his char- 
acter obscured and distorted by the glamour which surrounds the 
name of his beauteous but abandoned sister and murderess, Queen 
Mary. And yet when two centuries afterwards the spirit of 
philosophic History comes to trace cause and effect, and to show 
the result of his life's work upon Protestant Christianity and what 
he contributed to the domination of the English-speaking races, we 
agree at once with Mr. Froude that he was in truth one of the best 
and greatest of men, a benefactor of mankind. 

And so it may be said of Bunyan, of Wesley and of many more, 
whose beginnings were esteemed but of small account, but whose 
fame has continued to grow continually brighter and brighter, as 
the world has been forced to see how wisely they build ed. 

In many senses of the term Gov. Swain was not a great man. 
As an author, though a man of letters, he neither achieved nor 
attempted anything lasting. As a politician, though he rose rapidly 
to the highest honors of his native State, he did not strikingly 
impress himself upon his times by any great speech, nor by any 
grand stroke of policy. In this respect he was inferior to many of 
his cotemporaries who constituted, perhaps, the brightest cluster 
of names in our annals. As a lawyer and a judge, he occupied 
comparatively about the same position; and as a scholar he was 
not to be distinguished, being inferior to several of his co-laborers 
in the University. 

But in many things he was entitled to be called great, if we mean 
by that term that he so used the faculties he possessed that he 
raised himself beyond and above the great mass of his fellows. In 
him there was a rounded fullness of the qualities, intellectual and 
moral, which constitute the excellence of manhood, in a degree 



20 

never excelled by any citizen of North Carolina whom I have personally 
known, except by Wm. A. Graham. If there was in Swain no one grand 
quality of intellect which lifted him out of comparison with any but the 
demi-gods of our race, neither was there any element so wanting as to sink 
him into or below the common mass. If there were in him no Himalayan 
peaks of Genius piercing into the regions of everlasting frost and ice, neither 
were there any yawning chasms or slimy pools below the tide waters of 
mediocrity. ' He rose from the plain of his fellow men, like the Alleghanies 
in whose bosom he was born, by regular and easy gradations, so easy that 
you know not how high you are until you turn to gaze backward every step 
surrounded by beauty and fertility until he rested high over all the land. If 
there be those who singly tower above him in gifts, or attainments, or dis- 
tinctions, there are none whom as a whole we can contemplate with more 
interest, affection and admiration, none whose work for North Carolina will 
prove to be more valuable, or more lasting, or more important to future 
generations; none to whom, at the great final review, the greeting may be 
me/re heartily addressed: "Servant of God, well done!" 

No estimate of Gov. Swain's walk through life should omit the considera- 
tion of his Christian character. It was especially marked by catholicity of 
feeling towards all good men of whatever name. He was accustomed to refer 
this to the circumstances of his bringing up. He would say: "My father was 
a Presbyterian Elder, and an Arminian, my mother was Methodist and a 
Calvinist, who loved and studied Scott's commentary. Their house was the 
home for preachers of all sorts west of the Blue Kidge. Bishop Asbury 
blessed me when a child. Mr. Newton, a Presbyterian, taught me when a 
boy, and Humphrey Posey, a Baptist, used to pray for me when a youth. So 
I love all who show that they are Christians." 

On his death-bed, he spoke often of "the communion of Saints" with one 
another, and with their Head. 

He was a decided Presbyterian, however; he admired what he called "the 
symmetry" of the ecclesiastical system of his church ; he dwelt on its history 
with great delight, and was accustomed to find support for his soul in times 
of deep distress in its interpretations of the bible. He was a praying man, 
and not ashamed to be known as such. He first introduced the practice of 
opening the regular meetings of the Faculty with prayer. The night before 
he died, he said of the Lord's prayer: "The often er I use it the more precious 
it is to me; it contains a whole body of divinity." 

In private life he was most upright, kind, social and hospitable. An 
excellent financier, he left a handsome estate, even "after the war." He had 
a proper conception of ^Ue value of wealth, and all his life practised a judi- 
cious economy, but he knew well both how to lend and how to give. His 
conversation was delightfully interesting and instructive, replete with 
anecdote, genial humor, historical incident, or literary quotaiion. Few men 
of his associates equalled him in these respects, even after the infirmity of 
deafness had cut him off from much social enjoyment. 

His remains lie buried in Oakwood Cemetery near Raleigh, and close 
beside the sleeping soldiers of the Confederacy, and the soil of our State 
holds the dust of no son who loved her more, or served her better. Peaceful 
be his rest, as he waits for the clear breaking of the day over the brow of the 
eternal hills. 

The daisies prank thy grassy grave, 

Above, the dark pine branches wave; 
Sleep on. 

Below, the merry runnel sings, 
And swallows sweep with glancing wings; 
Sleep on, old friend, sleep on. 

Calm as a summer sea at rest, 

Thy meek hands folded on thy breast, 
Sleep on. 

Hushed into stillness life's sharp pain, 

Naught but the pattering of the rain, 
Sleep on, dear friend, sleep on. 



RETURN CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 
TOJ5^ 202 Main Library ^642-3403 


1 LOAN PERIOD 1 
1 HOME USE 


2 

5~~ 


3 
6~ 



ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS 
1 -month loans may be renewed b*y (calling 642-3405 ^J 
6- month loans may be recharged by bringing books to Circ^a44on Desk 
Renewals and recharges may be made 4 days prior to due date 

DUE AS STAMPED BELOW 



JUL091996 



DEC 



SENT ON ILL 



FORM NO. DD 6, 40m, 6'76 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 
BERKELEY, CA 94720 



.'..- : 
I U.C. BERKELEY LIBRARIES 







600111=3135