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 crypt under 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 came to national prominence in 1828 when he attacked the tariff passed that year (also known as the "Tariff of Abominations"). He was a proponent of free trade,arguing that export taxes benefited Northern manufacturers at the expense of Southern planters. He supported state banks over a national bank,stating that centralized banking would give the government too much control 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. Dew's 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
In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography ,Dew's views on the differences between the sexes are described as follows:
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.
This section of the Timeline of United States history concerns events from 1820 to 1859.
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Proslavery is an ideology that perceives slavery as a positive good or an otherwise morally acceptable institution, something to be extended further, rather than abolished.
The history of the College of William & Mary can be traced back to a 1693 royal charter establishing "a perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages, and the good arts and sciences" in the British Colony of Virginia. It fulfilled an early colonial vision dating back to 1618 to construct a university level program modeled after Cambridge and Oxford at Henricus. A plaque on the Wren Building, the college's first structure, ascribes the institution's origin to "the college proposed at Henrico." It was named for the reigning joint monarchs of Great Britain, King William III and Queen Mary II. The selection of the new college's location on high ground at the center ridge of the Virginia Peninsula at the tiny community of Middle Plantation is credited to its first President, Reverend Dr. James Blair, who was also the Commissary of the Bishop of London in Virginia. A few years later, the favorable location and resources of the new school helped Dr. Blair and a committee of 5 students influence the House of Burgesses and Governor Francis Nicholson to move the capital there from Jamestown. The following year, 1699, the town was renamed Williamsburg.
Thomas Dew was a Virginia landowner and politician.
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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.
Robert Saunders Jr. was an American politician and school administrator who served as president of the College of William and Mary from 1847 to 1848. Prior to that, Saunders served as professor of mathematics from 1833 to 1847. He also served as mayor of Williamsburg, Virginia in 1859 and 1868 as well as the head of Eastern State Hospital. His family papers are held by the Special Collections Research Center at the College of William and Mary.
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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