Christian Recorder: August 29, 1863
Mr. Editor:--For the first time in the history of these United States, can the colored man boast of having a University in his possession, and under his direct control; and, indeed, I am not sure that I would contradict history, if I were to say that a similar occurrence had not transpired for nineteen hundred years; for that assertion, however, I would not in this hastily written article risk my voucher.
But I will say, that it is an event in our history which will tell for ages to come, either to our credit or disgrace. 1st. Because such a feature as college being in the possession of colored men, is unknown to any of the historical annalists of North America. 2d. Because it is to exhibit our literary appreciation, and make notorious our regard for those elevating and embellishing principles, upon which is suspended the characteristics of those who have hitherto most loudly clamored for a chance to evince their equality and force of genius to that extent which would demand and irresistibly claim, an equal liberty to any other enlightened people. 3d. Because the trustees of the University consist of the great leaders of the day, among us. Theologically, such as Bishop Payne, Garnet, Brown, Revels, &c. Politically such men as Douglas, McCune, Smith, &c. Scientifically, such as Prof. S. G. Brown, Prof. E. Basset, &c., and several others in no respect inferior to some named. All these great names, which must be handed down to posterity as the paragons of our race, are inseparably coalesced in his great effort now being made, and their coalition will speak with an impressiveness, which will disable all the efforts of disguise, to shade the true intellectual status of our literary appreciation. 4th. The collections which have been taken up in all parts of the country, will argue a unity of sentiment on the part of our people on that subject. And a forfeiture of principal, or a disannulling of integrity, when and where the sequences would be so disastrous to a people struggling for distinction, would manifest a meanness degrading to the dust of the dead. 5th. The denominational unity would make a failure the more to be regretted. On the Wilberforce University has been blended the anxieties and the eagerness for success of the most intelligent portion of all denominations. Every Conference of the A.M.E. Church have most heartily endorsed the measure, besides the Baptist, Presbyterian, Congressional, Episcopalian, and Campbellite denominations, have not only endorsed the measure, but have given some of their ablest men as it trustees.
Now, these, and many other arguments could be brought to bear, to show the ineffaccableness of that dark stigma and infamous blot, which would follow time’s revolving wheel, and tell the story to nations yet to be born. Therefore, in view of these, and many other facts not here adduced, I wish, if I can feign the hope of influencing any one, to call attention again to that inestimable domicile of literature. Having very recently returned from there, I propose to speak of some of the advantages accruing to the parties who may tender it a liberal patronage.
1st. It is in the hands of men who are not only physically, but sympathetically colored:--colored men, who both love and work for their race, and have for years stood like the sturdy oak, unawed by fear, and unchanged by the whirl of popular sentiment.
2d. These lion-hearted and right defenders of our race, have done enough to merit our confidence. And incredulity in their acts, when our destiny as a people is at stake, would be an open declaration of a want of reason.
3d, To support this Institution, is to honor ourselves, and to bless our once cursed and dejected people, as well as to give an eternal contradiction to that miserable defamation or reproach, which has too often borne the semblance of truth, that a “unity of acation is not characteristic of the negro race.”
4th. The terms of tuition have been reduced to the lowest living sum, so as to meet as near as possible the poorest condition of our people. The terms per session are as follows: Preparatory department, $3, Academical $4.50, Collegiate, $0. Board, room rent, &c, $1.75 per week.
These are some of the rates at which a person may educate their sons and daughters for any department life, at a University. Greater facilities cannot be found anywhere.
5th. The teachers are colored, and yet cannot be excelled, likely, anywhere, so far as an acquaintance with their literary requirements, and singular peculiarities of our people.
Bishop Payne, who is the President, needs no commendation to bring him to public attention; but I do wish to speak of Prof. J. G. Mitchell, whom the trustees unanimously elected Professor Extraordinary. Prof. Mitchell is one of the most accomplished and scholarly gentlemen I have ever seen, and yet one of the most modest and unassuming. He is tall, and partakes rather of what is known as the spare made order; has an imposing, and yet an attractive appearance; exhibits great self-possession in any literary contest; though his opponent may regard him flanked, and all retreat cut off, when he finds himself, next, it is only to realize his forces put to flight, before the desperate assaults and terrible bombs of an intellectual army, aroused from the strongholds of a mental caliber, whose overwhelming gallantry devours, and eats up his opponent, to such an extent, that whatever may remain tells only that a fool was crushed at the will of a wise man.
6th. The attractiveness of the place. Nature could have done no more than she has, for any spot on earth. The green verdure of those ravines, the curative properties of those springs, the salubrious atmosphere which fans those mounds and valleys, the sweet music which the songsters of heaven enrapture the soul with, the bushy-headed trees, which spread their branches in romantic profusion over those yards, the blooming roses and pinks, which resemble the flower-pots of heaven, the odoriferous fragrance which enlivens the whole, go, indeed, to make this place, nature’s elysium; time will not permit us now to any all we would like, but, as I shall hereafter speak of it, I will defer the balance till then; only, let colored men and women remember Wilberforce University.