From the Archives

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A Speech to the Student Body, 1893

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jun• 14•12


The Rev. J. Marion Boyd was, in the fall of 1893, a member of Wofford’s Board of Trustees and a Methodist minister in South Carolina.  At the time that he gave these remarks in chapel, he was the presiding elder of the Spartanburg District, an office that we today call the district superintendent.  His parsonage was just a few blocks from the college, on North Church Street near Central Methodist Church.  He must have been a well-regarded leader in the South Carolina Methodist Conference, because he was in his eleventh year as a presiding elder, having spent 4 years in the Marion District, 4 years in the Charleston District, and was soon to begin his fourth and final year in the Spartanburg District.  As it happened, he died less than five months after making these remarks, on February 25, 1894. A copy of these remarks was recently given to the archives by Dr. Bill Whetsell ’62, who is Rev. Boyd’s great-grandson. Many of these observations remain as true today as they were in 1893.  

These students would have heard the welcome address in chapel earlier in the semester.

Two days ago, I had the pleasure of worshipping quite near the grave of Benjamin Wofford, the founder of this institution; and as I greeted his relatives and friends on the spot where he once mingled his voice in song and prayer, I remembered with increasing admiration that good man, through whose marvelous gift we are here to welcome you tonight, and to greet you, as part of a mighty host whose views of life and duty and privilege have been broadened and rendered more certain.

I know not what are the powers and enjoyment and employment of those who have rendered faithful service to their generation and have passed away.  I know not whether they have knowledge of events still happening among the living. These are hidden things. But if this be so, that they still take interest in the affairs of men, who can doubt that the illustrious founder of Wofford is more than a silent spectator of this scene! One thing we do know that his master remembers his deeds and will compensate at the resurrection of the just.

What an outflow from a single act of a good man! Think of the thousands of young men who have thronged this hall at its annual opening, and of their equipment for life received here. Some of them have completed their work and others are still prosecuting theirs! What mighty streams of intellectual and moral forces have flowed from this fountain of knowledge, and each student has been a tributary helping to widen and deepen the augmenting current.

You are here, young gentleuen, not to take part in “hazing” the freshmen or in suffering the indignities which freshmen once endured on entering an institution of learning. You are here as serious students of Wofford. Welcome the timid freshman or sophomore, to extend a junior’s – yes, a brother’s hand, with song and good cheer to prepare the way for a most successful and pleasing year’s work.

Already you have felt the clasp of friendship and received a cordial welcome from —–, the representatives of the —–, and I, now as a member of the Board of Trustees, bid you thrice welcome. I do this more really as a friend of the fathers and mothers of many of you, and again I bid you thrice welcome. In years past I have often been entertained in the homes from which many of you come. I have kneeled with your parents in prayers and it does my heart good to know that the Lord has blessed them and you so that you are here tonight, a favored group of young men, whether you be a senior, a junior, a sophomore, or a freshman, I congratulate you. Indeed I do.

Remember that you are now and henceforth to conduct yourself in keeping with your high ideals. Don’t disappoint the expectations of your parents, your friends, and your fellow students. Yes, “look after my boy,” write Christian fathers and mothers. You are the subjects of their prayers and Christian solicitude.

Honor this institution, this earnest and competent faculty, your parents, and above all, yourselves, by honoring your God in a life of good and faithful service.

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