Discussion and Thought About Slavery

While enslaved voices were much less documented, the thoughts and opinions of students, alumni, and faculty remain recorded in Meeting Minutes and books written by prominent men in the University of Georgia’s history. Both on and off campus, discussion occurred over the legality and morality of slavery. The academic environment of the university campus fostered such interactions, notably through debates between the Demosthenian Literary Society and the Phi Kappa Literary Society. Minutes of the Demosthenians show such debate topics as “Ought slavery be abolished in the southern states” and “Would it not have been better had the United States never admitted slavery within her boundary?”

This exhibit displays resources regarding ideological thought on slavery from prominent members of the UGA community, as well. Both Patrick Hues Mell and Thomas Read Rootes Cobb published works in the defense of slavery in 1844 and 1858, respectively. Mell would later serve as the University of Georgia’s chancellor from 1878 until 1888. Prior to his publication, Cobb graduated from the University in 1841. He was also instrumental in establishing the UGA law school in 1859. His title would become a very important work in the law field when discussing the legality of slavery. Also included is a Southern Banner newspaper article regarding work by Senator Robert Toombs discussing the constitutionality of slavery. Toombs attended the University, but he was dismissed in 1928.

Additional Sources:

Rose, Richard Mansfield. "For Our Mutual Benefit: Antebellum Georgia College Student Organizations." Dissertation, University of Georgia, 1984.

Wright, Richard N. "Ambivalent Bastions of Slavery: The "Peculiar Instituition" on College Campuses in Antebellum Georgia." The Georgia Historical Quarterly 80, no. 3 (1996): 467-485.

Discussion and Thought About Slavery