Thomas Roderick Dew
|13th President of the|
College of William & Mary
|Preceded by||Adam Empie|
|Succeeded by||Robert Saunders, Jr.|
King and Queen County, Virginia
|Education||The College of William & Mary|
|Occupation||Professor of History, Metaphysics, and Political Economy, College of William & Mary|
|Known for||Proslavery writings|
Thomas Roderick Dew (1802–1846) was a professor at and then president of The College of William & Mary. He was an influential pro-slavery advocate.
Thomas Dew was born in King and Queen County, Virginia, in 1802, son of Captain Thomas Dew and Lucy Gatewood Dew. His father was a Revolutionary War soldier and founder of Dewsville, a prosperous plantation near Newtown, King and Queen County. He attended The College of William & Mary, graduating in 1820, and subsequently spent several years studying in Europe. 1110 He was a professor of history, metaphysics, and political economy at William & Mary from 1827 to 1836, then President until his death from bronchitis in 1846. He twice declined invitations to run for political office, as well as invitations to teach at South Carolina College (today the University of South Carolina) and the University of Virginia. Shortly before his death, he married Natalia Hay. He died on their honeymoon, in Paris; his remains were later moved to the Wren Chapel on the William & Mary campus. His descendant Charles B. Dew is a professor of Southern history at Williams College, and wrote in The Making of a Racist (2016) of his Southern family's tradition of racism.:
"Dew achieved national prominence when he attacked the tariff of 1828. He backed free trade, believing export taxes hindered Southern planters at the expense of Northern manufacturers. He favored state banks over a national bank, fearing that the latter would provide the government with too much power over the economy."Dew's largest book was the Digest of the Laws, Customs, Manners, and Institutions of Ancient and Modern Nations (1853). A source was P. Austin Nuttall's 1840 Classical and Archaeological Dictionary.
In 1832, he published a review of the celebrated slavery debate of 1831–32 in the Virginia General Assembly, A Review of the Debates in the Legislature of 1831 and 1832, which went far towards putting a stop to a movement, then assuming considerable proportions, to proclaim the end of slavery in Virginia. :21–47 The Virginia Legislature's debate was a response to Nat Turner's slave rebellion of August 1831. "Like many other white southerners, he argued that whites and freed blacks could not live alongside one other in peace.... Dew dismissed colonization of freed American blacks in Africa as prohibitively expensive and logistically impractical, and he noted that the deportation of blacks would prevent Virginia from profiting as 'a negro raising state for other states' of the South." While his position was convincing to many Southern readers, Jesse Burton Harrison, of Lynchburg, Virginia, wrote a robust response that argued that colonization (returning slaves to Africa) was possible and that slavery was economically inefficient.
In his inaugural speech as President at William & Mary, "he admonished young planters to resist fanatics who wished to eliminate slavery. Dew emphasized the importance of a broad-based liberal arts education but singled out morals and politics as the most significant subjects of study."
Dew was well respected in the South; his widely distributed writings helped to confirm pro-slavery public opinion. His work has been compared to that of the Southern surgeon and medical authority Samuel A. Cartwright, who defended slavery and invented the "diseases" of drapetomania (the "madness" that makes slaves want to run away), and dysaesthesia aethiopica ("rascality"), both of which were "cured" with beatings. His 1833 Review was republished in 1849, and collected in The Pro-Slavery Argument, together with writings by Harper, Hammond and Simms.
Many people at the time credited Dew with the defeat of the proposal to end slavery in Virginia in the 1830s. He was opposed to even gradual emancipation. Dew's teaching and his writings influenced the following generations, which opposed Reconstruction and created Jim Crow. 1137–1139:
"Dew characterized women as modest, passive, virtuous, and religiously devout, attributing these traits to women's physical weakness, which rendered them dependent on male goodwill. He also asserted that men, across all cultures and historical periods, were intellectually superior to women, but he blamed the disparity on differences in the substance and duration of education rather than on unequal natural endowments. Dew argued that it was appropriate to deny suffrage to women because their intense focus on their own families impeded their ability to comprehend broader political developments."He described the hardships faced by men in the marketplace and the almost brutal strength needed to survive in such a competitive atmosphere. He stated that courage and boldness are man's attributes. For Dew, women were dependent and weak, but a spring of irresistible power.
With William Harper and Albert Gallatin.
Reprint from Washington newspaper The Madisonian. Selected Americana from Sabin's Dictionary of books relating to America ; fiches A-11,071-11,072).
A letter to Professor Millington dated Sept. 21, 1837, requesting him 'to purchase 2 or 300$ worth of books for Wm. & Mary College Library'.
Dew's family papersand papers from his time as president of the College of William and Mary can be found at the Special Collections Research Center at the College of William and Mary.
In American history, the Fire-Eaters were a group of pro-slavery Democrats in the Antebellum South who urged the separation of Southern states into a new nation, which became the Confederate States of America. The dean of the group was Robert Barnwell Rhett of South Carolina. Some sought to revive America's participation in the Atlantic slave trade, which had been illegal since 1808.
George Fitzhugh was an American social theorist who published racial and slavery-based sociological theories in the antebellum era. He argued that the negro "is but a grown up child" who needs the economic and social protections of slavery. Fitzhugh decried capitalism as practiced by the Northern United States and Great Britain as spawning "a war of the rich with the poor, and the poor with one another", rendering free blacks "far outstripped or outwitted in the chase of free competition." Slavery, he contended, ensured that blacks would be economically secure and morally civilized. Nonetheless, some historians consider Fitzhugh’s worldview to be fascist in its rejection of liberal values, defense of slavery, and perspectives toward race.
James Henry Hammond was an attorney, politician and planter from South Carolina. He served as a United States Representative from 1835-36, the 60th Governor of South Carolina from 1842-44, and United States Senator from 1857-60. He was considered one of the major spokesmen in favor of slavery in the years before the American Civil War.
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Samuel Adolphus Cartwright was a physician who practiced in Mississippi and Louisiana in the antebellum United States. Cartwright is best known as the inventor of the 'mental illness' of drapetomania, the desire of a slave for freedom, and an outspoken critic of germ theory. During the American Civil War he joined the Confederate States of America and was assigned the responsibility of improving sanitary conditions in the camps about Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Port Hudson, Louisiana.
William Goodell was an abolitionist and reformer born in Coventry, New York on October 3, 1792.
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Adam Empie was an Episcopal priest in North Carolina and Virginia, who also taught and served as President of the College of William and Mary.
Thomas Ruffin Gray was an attorney who represented several enslaved people during the trials in the wake of Nat Turner's slave rebellion.
Nathaniel Beverley Tucker was an American author, judge, legal scholar, and political essayist.
Henry Ruffner, was an educator and Presbyterian minister, who served as president of Washington College. Although a slaveholder, Ruffner became known for criticizing slavery as impeding Virginia's economic development before the American Civil War, although that controversial position caused him to resign his college presidency and retire to his farm.
William H. Brodnax, was a nineteenth-century American militia Brigadier General and American politician from Virginia.
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Jesse Burton Harrison (1805–1841) was an American anti-slavery lawyer and author.
Charles B. Dew (1937) is an American author and historian, specializing in the history of the Southern United States and the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era. He has published three books, one of which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He is the Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College.
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William Andrew Smith (1802–1870) was an American college president and clergyman.
Chapter: 'The proslavery argument revisited: Thomas Roderick Dew and the beginning of the positive good thesis'.
Chapter 2: The Rebel and the Professor: Nat Turner, Thomas Roderick Dew, and the Utility of Slavery