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The University of Mississippi

A Sesquicentennial History

David G. Sansing

Publication Year: 1999

"There is a mystique about Ole Miss," David G. Sansing says in his new book The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History (University Press of Mississippi, cloth $37.00).

Sansing, a professor emeritus of history, says the University and its story hold a special attraction for those who have learned there. "Some have called it holy ground, others hallowed ground. During a recent Black Alumni Reunion Danny Covington called Ole Miss addictive."

Few Southern institutions have such a storied past. After its founding, the University assembled one of the finest scientific collections in the antebellum South. Closed during the Civil War, the University endured and re-opened to expand from a liberal arts institution to one with highly developed professional schools. In the civil rights struggle Ole Miss became a battleground. Since 1963 the University has made remarkable progress in serving the racial and ethnic diversity of its constituency.

Working with the university libraries, the Department of Archives and History, and countless alumni, Sansing unfurls this 150-year history in The University of Mississippi, a book he labored on since 1995.

Capturing dramatic changes was key to Sansing's efforts. The University that began with four professors and boasted electric power in 1901 is now listed by the internet site Yahoo! as one of the nation's most "wired" universities, referring to the University's level of hardware and internet access.

African American historian John Hope Franklin, who had visited the campus during the civil rights struggle, visited again in 1998 and found "a complete revolution in race relations on campus" and declared, "we don't have quite as far to go as we thought we did."

Sansing says, "In a world of ravishing change, when Ole Miss Alumni come back to Oxford, they do not just stroll across the campus and through the Grove, they retrace the steps of their forebears, not just over place and space, but back through time as well.

"For many alumni Ole Miss is more than their alma mater; it is a link, a nexus to who they were and are, to where they came from," Sansing says. "This sesquicentennial history is written for them, the students, faculty, friends, patrons, and alumni of the university."

David G. Sansing is the author of A History of the Mississippi Governor's Mansion (with Carroll Waller), Making Haste Slowly: The Troubled History of Higher Education in Mississippi, and Mississippi: A Study of Your State (with Ray Skates). In 1990, he was named Teacher of the Year at the University of Mississippi.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Cover/Title Page/Copyright/Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Across the contours of time the University of Mississippi has become a special place, to some it is like a sacred space. Some have called it holy ground, others hallowed ground. During a recent Black Alumni Reunion Danny Covington called Ole Miss addictive. ...

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Chapter 1. Founding the University, 1802-1844

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pp. 3-19

He was not even old enough to vote when he built his log cabin in the land of the Longtown. Thomas Dudley Isom, perhaps the first white settler in Lafayette County and one of the founders of Oxford, was only nineteen years old when he came to work in his uncle's trading post among the Chickasaws ...

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Chapter 2. Oxford and the University, 1844-1848

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pp. 20-44

In early February 1840, Representative James Alexander Ventress, chairman of the house committee on the seminary fund, introduced a bill "to provide for the location of the State University." The house passed the bill on February 10 and sent it to the senate. ...

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Chapter 3. The Formative Years, 1848-1856

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pp. 45-74

On January 11, 1848, the board of trustees of the University of Mississippi convened in Jackson to "devise and adopt a system of learning" for the nation's newest state university. When the Reverend John N. Waddel, chairman of the committee to design the "system of learning," ...

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Chapter 4. Universitas Scientarium, 1856-1861

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pp. 75-105

President Longstreet's resignation excited "a great scramble" for the presidency. The Methodists supported Reverend George W. Carter. The Presbyterians thought Reverend John Waddel should be and would be appointed. The Episcopalians endorsed Reverend Frederick Barnard, the parish priest of St. Peter's in Oxford. ...

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Chapter 5. Students and Soldiers, 1861-1870

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pp. 106-124

"No one knows how the University Greys began. Most likely it was in a dormitory room in December 1860," writes Howard Bahr, "before a meager fire lit against the cold; a circle of lads... pledging fealty to one another and to a cause {that] would consume them all, one way or another in the end — but this was the beginning and they couldn't know that yet." ...

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Chapter 6. A Republic of Letters, 1870-1887

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pp. 125-149

In 1871 the University of Mississippi was transformed from a liberal arts college with a prescribed classical curriculum to a university with an elective curriculum, an undergraduate college, and several professional schools. That transition began with the inauguration of Chancellor Waddel. ...

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Chapter 7. Ole Miss, Football, Pretty Women, and Rhodes Scholars, 1887-1907

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pp. 150-182

At its commencement meeting in June 1887, the board of trustees commended the faculty for their cooperation during the difficult year following Chancellor Stewart's resignation. The trustees were especially pleased with the harmony and good will displayed by the faculty, at least on the surface. ...

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Chapter 8. A Democratic University, 1907-1927

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pp. 183-214

Andrew Armstrong Kincannon was installed as the university's seventh chancellor on September 19, 1907, in an elaborate ceremony attended by collegiate officials, faculty, students, alumni, and public officials. John W. T. Falkner, a local banker, a member of the board of trustees, and the grandfather of William Faulkner, presented Kincannon to the audience. ...

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Chapter 9. Bilbo and the Greater University, 1927-1935

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pp. 215-246

In the 1927 governor's election Dennis Murphree, the former lieutenant governor who succeeded Governor Henry Whitfield, was seeking a full four-year term. Also running were Representative Albert C. Anderson, Martin S. Conner, and former governor Theodore G. Bilbo. ...

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Chapter 10. A Modern University, 1935-1960

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pp. 247-280

Alfred Benjamin Butts was the University of Mississippi's best educated and most visionary chancellor since Frederick Barnard. The forty-five-year-old North Carolinian moved with his family to Starkville, Mississippi, when he was a small child. He earned his baccalaureate degree at Mississippi State in 1911. ...

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Chapter 11. Conflict, Change and Continuity, 1960-1968

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pp. 281-313

In a speech at Greenwood in early July 1962, Chancellor J. D. Williams asked Ole Miss alumni to help him preserve academic freedom at the university. Six months later he was asking them to help him save the university itself. Ten days before his Greenwood speech, the fifth circuit court of appeals had ordered the admission of James Howard Meredith, ...

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Chapter 12. On the Eve of a New Millennium, 1968-1995

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pp. 314-342

In the aftermath of the Meredith crisis Chancellor J. D. Williams conceded that "riot and lawlessness" is Americas image of Ole Miss. "I will not try to brighten that picture," he said, "but... that is not the whole picture." The public perception of the University of Mississippi, shaped during a long night of racial violence ...

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Epilogue: A Great Public University, 1995-1998

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pp. 343-352

As the board of trustees was initiating a traditional search for a new chancellor in the spring of 1995, Robert Conrad Khayat emerged as a consensus candidate. As soon as Khayat's name surfaced, he received nearly unanimous support from the state's political establishment, including Mississippi's two United States Senators ...

Notes and Sources

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pp. 353-386


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pp. 387-412

E-ISBN-13: 9781621038474
E-ISBN-10: 1578060915
Print-ISBN-13: 9781578060917

Publication Year: 1999