The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, September 27, 1951, Image 2

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Confederate President
Coke Tried to Get Jefferson Davis
just Vanilla?
TYPICAL room at A&M is pretty bare at the first of the
year. In order to make it more than just four walls and
a small niche to study, the student has to inject some of his
personality into it.
This is also true of an education. Just an education a
student receives in the classroom is pretty bare. Something
has to be added to give it a “well-rounded look.”
Trimmings for an education are found in the extra
curricular activities available for every student. There are
at least two organizations that are set up to handle this need
for a complete education, the Memorial Student Center and
the Office of Student Activities.
In the Center are found hobby shops, cultural groups,
and other such clubs or committees. And the officials of
the Center say they will set up an organization for any group
of students who want to organize.
The second big organization is the Office of Student
Activities. Under this office come Student Publications,
Golf Course, Academic Clubs, Hometown Clubs and student
entertainment—just to mention a few of the departments.
The organization is set up—all it takes is you to get in
and take part.
(Richard Coke had moved into
the Governorship of Texas just
after the end of the Civil War.
He served at this post through
two terms which saw the re
writing of the Texas constitution
and the founding of A&M. While
still in the governor’s seat, he
was elected to the United States
Senate where he served virtually
unopposed for 18 years, but, 1
undoubtedly one of the greatest
things he did was in the pushing
of the founding of the A&M Col
lege of Texas. This is the sixth
and final issue of a six part
story written, by the Director of
Information for the A&M Sys
tem, R Henderson Shuffler.—
The Editor.)
The most lasting contribution of
Richard Coke to the state he loved
and served so well was the estab
lishment of its first tax-supported
institution of higher education, The
Agricultural and Mechanical Col
lege of Texas. Certainly it was a
project close to his heart and one
to which he devoted much of his
time and thought during his days
as Governor.
Can’t Match Polka-Dots
k FTER CONDUCTING an extensive survey, a list has been
compiled of the best reasons for failure to erect mail
boxes in College Station.
In a personal interview with Mrs. Persnickety the fol
lowing explanation was received: “Oh, my goodness, I have
tried, really I have, but I can’t find a mail box which will
blend with the color of my house.” The house was painted
with polka-dots on a black background.
Another lady related, “Well, we have an awfully small
house, and mail boxes come in such large sizes.”
The following story was told by Mrs. Economy-Wise:
“My husband and I haven’t much income. We bought our
house recently and may be forced to sell it soon. Therefore,
we can’t afford to drive nails into the walls.”
One family told how they hated birds. “We receive our
mail at the postoffice,” the spokesman related “I just know
if we put up a mail box, some nasty little bird is going to
raise its young on our porch.”
And so the stories went. Little people, thinking up big
reasons for being lazy.
He not only fostered the legisla
tion which made possible the open
ing of the College and served as
the president of its board of di
rectors during the formative per
iod when the first faculty was be
ing selected and the rules for its
operation worked out; Coke went
even further, formulating a clear-
cut educational philosophy for the
school and giving it the fundamen
tal character on which it has grown
and prospered.
The provisions of the Morrill
land-grant act had been accepted
by the Texas Legislature short
ly after the close of the Civil War,
in 1866, and in 1871 the carpetbag
ger administration of Governor
Davis had passed an act “estab
lishing the Agricultural and Me
chanical College,” but little real
progress had been made toward
getting the school opened and oper
ating until Richard Coke became
Land Grant Schools
lations and selecting the first fac
On May 10th of 1875 the beloved
Jefferson Davis, former President
of the Confederacy, visited Texas
to make the opening address at the
Sixth Texas State Fair in Houston,
after which he made a tour of
other major cities, including Dal
las and Austin. President Davis
was tremendously popular through
out the South and particularly in.
He was respected nationally as
well, it is indicated by the Gal
veston News of March 20, 1875,
which quotes the Washington, D.
C., Chronicle as proposing his
name for the Democratic nomina
tion for President of the United
When President Davis visited
Austin he was, of course, enter
tained by Governor Coke, who was
at the time deeply engrossed in
plans and problems of the College
he hoped to establish in Texas.
Both Interested In Education
It is not known whether Coke
discussed the proposed A&M Col
lege with Davis or not, although it
it highly probable, since both of
them were seriously interested in
education. At any rate, is is a mat
ter of record that when the board
of directors for the college met in
Bryan on June 1st, Governor Coke
presented the name of Jefferson
Davis for the presidency of the
college and was authorized to of
fer the position to him.
The Board intended at this time
to have everything in readiness
for the opening of the college in
October of 1875. With President
Davis, at its head, the institution
could easily attract a distinguished
faculty and it could be expected
that the leading families of the en
tire South would clamor to enroll
their sons under the tutelage of the
former President of the Confed
eracy. Richard Coke, as usual, had
laid his plans well. He believed
Texas deserved the best in educa
tion facilities and was determined
to see that she got it.
Letter—Coke to Davis
would enable me to co-operate
with you in the organization of a
system for the instruction of the
youth of our country, in the two
important branches to which the
colleges at Bryan are to be special
ly devoted.
I cannot too fully thank you
for the generous confidence mani
fested in offering me the presi
dency of those colleges, and it is
but a fair return that I should
cordially confess that you have
overrated my ability and in the*
consciousness that I could not sat
isfactorily perform the duties of
the office, decline to accept it.
As soon as my private affairs
will permit, I hope to revisit Texas
at more leisure than when last
among you, and will be glad then
to confer with you on the subject
of an educational system for Tex
as; and as a volunteer, to render
such service as my small acquire
ments and shattered constitution
may allow.
With best wishes for the di
rectors personally and for your
self specially, I am, with renewed
expression of thankfulness, re
spectfully and truly.
Your friend
Jefferson Davis
Coke Failed
In his message to the Legislature
on January 12, 1875, Governor Coke
recounted the previous acceptance
of the provisions of the land grant
act and enactment of laws author
izing establishment of the college.
He told of the receipt of 180,000
acres of land strip from the federal
government, sold in 1871 at 87
cents an acre, to establish the
school’s endowment. This money
had been invested in 7% gold fron
tier bonds with a face value of
$174,000, and was drawing inter
est which could be used for the
school’s operation.
Submitting to the Legislature
the report of the commission which
had been named to supervise con
struction of the college and be
responsible for its finances, the
governor said:
“It appears from this report
that the college edifice (Old Main)
is rapidly approaching completion,
and that in order to complete it
fully an additional appropriatiion
of seven thousand dollars is ne
cessary. These commissioners ask
an appropriation of twenty-five
thousand dollars to erect a board
ing hall (later to be named Gath-
right Hall), twenty-one thousand
dollars to erect three professor’s
dwellings, and five thousand dol
lars to' lay off fence and grounds,
make walks, plant trees and erect
a barn.
On June 14, Governor Coke wrote
the following letter from his exe
cutive office at Austin:
Hon. Jefferson Davis,
Memphis, Tenn.
My Dear Sir:
The Battalion
Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Founder of Aggie Traditions
"Soldier, Statesman, Knightly Gentleman"
The Battalion, official newspaper of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of
Texes, is published by students five times a week during the regular school year.
During the summer terms, The Battalion is published four times a week, and during
examination and vacation periods, twice a week. Days of publication are Monday
through Friday for the regular school year, Tuesday through Friday during the summer
terms, and Tuesday and Thursday during vacation and examination periods. Subscrip
tion rates $6.00 per year or $.50 per month. Advertising rates furnished on request.
Entered as second-class
(natter at Post Office at
College Staton, Texas,
under the Act of Con
gress of March 3, 1870.
Member of
The Associated Press
Represented nationally
by National Advertising
Service Inc., at New York
City, Chicago, Los An
geles, and San Francisco.
The Associated Press is entitled exclusively to the use for republication of all
news dispatches credited to it or not otherwise credited in the paper and local news
of spontaneous origin published herein. Rights of republication of all other matter
(herein are also reserved.
Joel Austin Managing Editor
Bill Streich News Editor
Frank Davis City Editor
Allen Pengelly Assistant News Editor
Bob Selleck Sports News Editor
William Dickens Feature Editor
T. H. Baker, E. R. Briggs, A1 Bruton, Norman Campbell,
Mickey Cannon, Monte Curry, Dan Dawson. Bob Fagley,
Benny Holub, Howard Hough. Jon Kinslow, Bryan Spencer,
Ide Trotter, John Robards, Carol Vance, Edgar Watkins,
Berthold Weller, Jerry Wizig. Raymond York News and Feature Writers
Bob Cullen, Jack Brandt Cartoonists
Frank Scott Quarterback Club Director
Jim Jenson., Photographer
Pat LeBlanc. Hugh Phillips. F. T. Scott, Chuck Neighbors,
Gus Becker, Joe Blanchette, Ed Holder Sports News Writers
John Lancaster Chief Photo Engraver
Russel Hagens Advertising Manager
Robert Haynie Advertising Representative
Recommend Appropriations
“I respectuflly recommend that
these appropriations be made as
suggested in this report, being sat
isfied that they are absolutely es
sential and that the appropriation
heretofore made is being econo
mically and honestly administered.
The college edifice is estimated to
have capacity for six hundred
students, and from a personal vis
it to and examination of the work
I can testify that it is exceeding
ly well built, of the best material,
and is a solid and most imposing
and handsome structure, modeled
with fine taste, and with inter
ior arrangements and divisions ad
mirably suiting it for the purposes
for which it is built.
“It is a four-story building, made
of brick, on a foundation of hard
limestone, and covered with slate,
is seventy-eight feet wide by one
hundred feet long. It is beautiful
ly located (on the site now occupi
ed by the domed Academic Build
ing) in sight of the Central Rail
road, and about four miles from
“I hope it will please your hon
orable bodies to make the neces
sary appropriations to complete
and put in condition for active op
erations this, the first State in
stitution of learning in Texas ....
The money already expended there
must be supplemented with the
appropriations suggested to utilize
it, and I have no hesitation in say
ing that the entire cost of all the
building and grounds is a judicious
expenditure, in that it furnishes
the means of supplying immediate
ly in Texas the great want of an
institution of learning of the high
est grade.”
Appropriations Made
The appropriations were made
and at Coke’s insistence further
provisions for the operation of the
College were included in the Con
stitution of the State, which was
adopted the following year. As
Governor Coke was named ex-offi
cio president of the College board
of directors, and took the lead in
setting up the first rules and regu-
At a meeting of the Board of
Directors of the Agricultural and
Mechanical College of Texas, held
June 1st, at Bryan, in Brazos Coun
ty, near which the college is locat
ed, it was unanimously resolved,
that the Presidency of the College
be tendered to yourself, with a sal
ary of four thousand dollars per
annum, with residence properly
furnished, and as much land at
tached as might be desired for
yards,, garden, etc.
As President of the Board, I
was instructed to communicate im
mediately with you, present the of
fer, and urge its acceptance. I now
perform that most pleasing duty,
as the representative, not only of
the Board of Directors of the Ag
ricultural and Mechanical College
of Texas but in behalf of the State
of Texas and all her people ask
that you come and live with and
be one of us, and make your home
and resting place, after a long and
eventful public service, among a
people who will never cease to love
and honor you.
Nor are we entirely unselfish
in making this request. We desire
to build up the Agricultural and
Mechanical College, an institution
which shall be a prominent fea
ture in the educational system of
the great State which founds it,
and worthy of her pride and foster
ing care, and we know of no liv
ing man whose name and efforts
can do so much as yours toward
accomplishing that purpose.
The duties to be performed by
the President of the College have
not been defined, and will not be
until you are heard from, and,
should you accept, as we trust you
will, your wishes will be consulted
in fixing them.
It it hardly necessary for me
to assure you that it gives me
great pleasure, personally, to be
the medium through which this
communication is made.
Hoping to hear from you at your
convenience, I am
Most respectfull and truly yours
Richard Coke
Governor of Texas and ex-officio
President, Board of Directors, Ag
ricultural and Mechanical College.
Answer—Davis To Coke
Thus, Coke failed in one of his
plans for the college which by now
had become one of his principal in
terests. If he had been able to per
suade Jefferson Davis to head the
new institutiion, this great man’s
personal prestige and strong lead
ership would have given the in
fant college a tremendous advan
tage in, its early years and would
have precluded many of its early
disappointments and failures.”
Jefferson Davis, as President of
the college, would have made it
from the start a popular and re
spected project, just as the presi
dency of Lawrence Sullivan Ross
was to make it in the 1890’s.
The Davis refusal and some de
lays in building postponed the
opening of the college for a year.
It was not until the summer of
1876 that faculty, headed by Tho
mas S. Gathright, had been em
ployed and the final date for open
ing the school could be set.
To Open Oct. 4
In a meeting of the college board
at Austin from July 15th to 25th,
the long preparations were com
pleted and the date set for open
ing at October 4, providing that the
College should be formally opened
by an address from the Governor.
According to a special telegram
to the Galveston News from its
correspondent in Bryan, published
on October 5, 1876, only two of
the college director, Governor Coke
and Major Davis, were present for
the opening day ceremonies, along
with the faculty of six, a crowd of
three or four hundred citizens and
“not more than 50 cadets”.
At two o’clock in the afternoon
Governor Coke made his address,
a carefully thought-out master
piece in which he stated clearly
the purpose for which the college
was created and the needs it was
expected to serve in the years to
This address in its entirety has
been recently republished by the
Davis replied as follows:
Memphis, Tenn.
July 8, 1875.
His Excellency Governor Coke:
My Dear Sir:
With sincere gratitude I acknow
ledge the honor tendered me by
the Directors of the Agricultural
and Mechanical College of Texas,
as set forth in your letter of the
14th ult.
No occupation would be more ac
ceptable to me than that which
UKoAA, (Ml!
Exchange Store
“Serving Texas Aggies”
College and will not be duplicated
here. The keystone of the philoso
phy which prompted those early
Texans to establish the college and
which has given the school its
basic character since, was express
ed in these words from the Gov
ernor’s address:
“It has been the aim of the
board, especially in fixing the
rates of tuition and the expenses
of students, to bring down to
the lowest possible figure the
cost of an education which shall
be at the same time thorough,
liberal and practical. Texas is
preparing to embrace and be
worthy of the great destiny
which the big years of future
have in store for her.”
Gov. Richard Coke launched the
A&M College with a clear under
standing of its worthwhile mission
and a foundation for the strength
and character to perform that mis
sion. Many of the virtues which we
claim for this school, its demo
cracy; its respect for industry, in
tegrity and courage; its strong
patriotic flavor, and finally, the
thoroughness, liberality and prac
ticality of its educational offerings,
can be traced back to this one
great Texan, who dreamed the
dreams of such a school, and laid
the careful plans to make those
dreams come true.
Richard Coke was the father of
the A&M College of Texas and it is
a relationship of which all sons
of the college can well be proud.
Shared Powerful Secret
The ponderous young man and
the spirited youngster who- graced
the rough-cut puncheon floor of
the Waco House veranda that hot
afternoon in 1850 held between
them a powerful secret which no
one except the Fates could share.
Between them they were destined
to create and nurture through its
hazardous infancy a mighty insti
tution which we enjoy and benefit
from more than a hundred years
Despite the difference in their
ages, these two were life-long
friends. They fought together in
the Civil War; each enjoyed the
affection, respect and highest of
fice of their state. Each in his
own time and way served greatly
the purposes of the A&M College,
and each left on this school a last
ing mark of his personality and
accomplishment. It is a strange
coincidence that the same sorrow,
ing Texans who buried ’“Dick"
Coke at Waco in May of 1897 were
gathered at the same cemetery only
eight months later, in January of
1898, for the last rites of "Little
Shortening 85c
Pink Salmon ....... 57c
Grated Tuna 59c
Pink Grapefruit Juice . 22c
Apple Sauce 29c
Elberta Peaches 61c
Tomato Catsup 21c
Tomato Sauce 17c
Green Limas 43c
Whole Beans . . .
Whole Kernel Corn . . 35c
Tender Peas 29c
12-OZ. PKG.
12-OZ. PKG.
l ord Hook Limas . . . 27c
Bacon lb. 49c
Ham Slices lb. 79c
Ham Hocks lb. 25c
Loin Steak lb. 93c
Porter House Steak, lb. 83c
Cheese . . 2 lb. carton 89c
Tomatoes . . .
. . etn. 17c
Lettuce ....
2 heads 19c
Yellow Squash
. 2 lbs. 27c
Tokay Grapes .
. 2 lbs. 27c
. 2 lbs. 25c
Specials for Friday & Saturday — Sept. 28th & 29th
Charlie's Food Market
North Gate
College Station
A Walking Menu
By A1 Capp
*26, ’41 Classes
To Hold Reunion
More than 100 Aggie-exes of the
classes ’26 and ’41 will attend a
fall reunion on the campus Oct.
26 and 27.
Fifty-five graduates of the ’26
class and 65 graduates of the ’41
class have mailed in their appli
cations for reservations. Ninety-
five of this number are bringing
their wives. The activities of the
reunion will include a reserved
section at the A&M-Baylor game.