Slavery and the Making of the University University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Manuscripts Department Slavery and the Making of the University

[Source Description: 3 December 1844. Elisha Mitchell to David L. Swain. University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.]


Chapel Hill Dec 30th 1843

To Hon D. L. Swain

Dear Sir,

Supposing that it will be agreeable to the Trustees to have this matter of the walls arranged and settled at an early date I have since you left been engaged in some measurements with reference to that object.

According to these the whole length of the wall put up by me is 212 rods in which however I do not include

1. The wall built in the first summer vacation when the business was commenced for which there was I believe a vote of the Trustees to give me a strip of land adjoining my lot.

2. One half of the wall along the side of the said strip where the ice house stands. As this wall is a boundary between my lot so enlarged and the Trustees I bear half the expense of building it.

3. The wall in front of the necessary for which as it was rendered necessary by my own want of judgment and bad management I cannot ask the Trustees for any payment.

In regard to the allowance that shall be made for the wall, I have looked to the wall built by Tinney around your garden as a standard. Those built by me are heavier - contain more cubic feet to the rod in proportion - of about 6 to five on an average. Supposing mine to be paid for at the same rate per rod as his it would amount to $742.00 which is more than I supposed or expected.

Money has been borrowed from the Treasurer of the University



to the amount of $1500.00. Of this sum I received $500.00. It was obtained at about the time that these walls were built. Some were built before and some after. I have looked to them to pay that debt. If I am not allowed as much for them as will pay that debt I shall be likely to grumble. If I get so much I will make no complaint. If either the Trustees (in case you shall refer the matter to them) or yourself as their agent (if you shall think it best that you and I shall talk the matter over and determine what shall be done - as has been directed by the committee) shall see fit to allow anything now I shall of course submit to such award with the firmness of a Stoic and the patience of a martyr.

The Trustees have lying between two and three miles of the village a tract of land containing I suppose one hundred acres - though land of the Trustees having other land capable of cultivation lying adjacent to it is very apt to diminish in quantity as was the case of the 100 acres sold to Mr. Potts. That in question is fortunately very poor so that there has been little temptation to encroachment. It is all in wood with few if any trees large enough to be employed in building. I do not know that half a dozen persons besides myself are aware that the Trustees hold this property. The only use that has been made of it in half a century is to get wood for making some brick from it once. It is adjacent to property of mine. Will the Trustees be disposed to sell it at a reasonable rate? I send you this letter of which please dispose as you shall judge best and am very respectfully yours - E. Mitchell

Dec 3d 1844 in continuation. The above is a copy of a letter written about a year since as you know by which I am



still willing to abide. You proposed to me to make out an account. If I were to do so and charge so much per cubic foot at the same rate that Tinney was paid the walls that have built around the college grounds exclusive of those mentioned on the first page as not taken into the account would come to very nearly 900 dollars. Now perhaps some of them are larger than they need be. The Trustees have dealt liberally with me - and I am willing to hash out old accounts in the manner proposed but I will not bring in an account for this work at some[th]ing like half its real value and be laughed [at for] a fool.

Mr. Polly desired me to consult you about the arrangements for conveying off the water from the south building. When I stated to him the objections to his plan of pipes running through the building he said it would not answer - and when I stated farther what my own plan was he said that his assistant had suggested that as the best that could be adopted. The pipes will not remove the water thrown out by the occupants of the rooms from their windows and that is what makes the puddles in which the hogs wallow and make a stink. I propose a blind ditch which the college [drawing inserted] hands could dig in a week 6 feet deep at a distance of perhaps 15 feet from the front of the building the bottom to be filled with small loose rock to the height of perhaps 3 feet and then covered over so as to make all smooth. Smaller ditches made in the same way would run up to where the water might be expected to collect and then have their mouths covered with a cut stone and small grating [drawing inserted]. It could not but keep everything neat and dry - nor could the cost be much. Over.



The circular for Benjamin has no entry for scholarship - can you direct me so that I can get the book and will you authorize me to take it. Also I do not see any circular for Strange.

Yours. E. Mitchell

For Hon. David L. Swain Raleigh

Dr. E. Mitchell on Stone Walls

Paid