Thomas Roderick Dew
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 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.
Dew and slavery
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
Dew on men and women
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.
Works by Thomas R. Dew
- Lectures on the restrictive system : delivered to the senior political class of William and Mary College. Richmond. 1829.
- Free Trade Convention (to be annexed to Doc. No. 82.) : communication of Wm. Harper and Thomas R. Dew, in relation to the memorial of the committee of the Free Trade Convention against the tariff. House of Representatives?. February 13, 1832.
- Abolition of slavery : review of the debate in the Virginia legislature, 1831-'32. Washington, D.C.: Duff Green. 1833.
- An Essay on Slavery (2nd ed.). Richmond, VA. 1849. (The "first edition" is the 1833 publication cited above.)
- "The Pro-slavery argument: as maintained by the most distinguished writers of the southern states : Containing the several essays on the subject, of Chancellor Harper, Governor Hammond, Dr. Simms, and Professor Dew". Philadelphia. 1853.
- Torr, James D., ed. (2004). "Emancipation Is Impractical". Slavery. Greenhaven Press. ISBN 073771705X. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
- Z. X. W. (May 1835). "Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences of the Sexes, and Woman's Position and Influence in Society, No. I". Southern Literary Messenger. 1 (9). pp. 493–512.
- Unsigned (July 1835). "Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences between the Sexes, and Woman's Position and Influence in Society, No. II". Southern Literary Messenger. 1 (11). pp. 621–632.
- Unsigned (August 1835). "Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences between the Sexes, and on the Position and Influence of Woman in Society, No. III". Southern Literary Messenger. 1 (12). pp. 672–691.
- The great question of the day letter from President Thomas R. Dew, of William and Mary college, Virginia, to a representative in Congress from that state : on the subject of financial policy of the administration ... Washington, D.C.: T. Allen. 1840. (16 page pamphlet)
- A digest of the laws, customs, manners, and institutions of the ancient and modern nations. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1853.
Briefer pieces, letters, speeches
- Memorial of a committee appointed by the Free Trade Convention : held in Philadelphia in September and October, 1831, upon the subject of the present tariff of duties. 1832. OCLC 34565448.
With William Harper and Albert Gallatin.
- "Essay on the interest of money and the policy of laws against usury". Farmers' Register. 1834.
- "An Address on the Influence of the Federative Republican System of Government Upon Literature and the Development of Character". Southern Literary Messenger. 2 (4). March 1836. pp. 261–282.
- An address delivered before the students of William and Mary, at the opening of the college, on Monday, October 10th, 1836. Richmond, VA: T.W. White. 1836.
- The great question of the day : letter from President Thomas R. Dew, of William and Mary college, Virginia, to a representative in Congress from that state : on the subject of financial policy of the administration ... Washington: T. Allen. 1840.
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 of President Thomas R. Dew to Professor John Millington. Williamsburg, VA: King and Queen Press. 1964.
A letter to Professor Millington dated Sept. 21, 1837, requesting him 'to purchase 2 or 300$ worth of books for Wm. & Mary College Library'.
- Ely, Melvin Patrick; Loux, Jennifer R. "Thomas R. Dew (1802–1846)". Encyclopedia Virginia/Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- Brophy, Alfred L. (2008). "Considering William and Mary's History with Slavery: The Case of President Thomas R. Dew" (PDF). William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal. 16: 1091–1139. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 9, 2014. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
- Ely, Melvin Patrick; Loux, Jennifer R.; Dictionary of Virginia Biography (2015). "Thomas R. Dew (1802–1846)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities in partnership with the Library of Virginia.
- Swem Library Special Collections Research Center Archives. "Papers, ca. 1830-1967". Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
- Pitts, Leonard (September 2, 2016). "A white Southerner searches for the source of his family's racism". Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 25, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
- Nuttall, P. Austin (1840). A classical and archaeological dictionary of the manners, customs, laws, institutions, arts, etc. of the celebrated nations of antiquity, and of the middle ages. To which is prefixed A synoptical and chronological view of ancient history. London: Whittaker. OCLC 2667864.
- Brophy, Alfred L. (2016). University, Court, and Slave: Prolsavery Thought in Southern Courts and Colleges and the Coming of Civil War. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0190625931.
- Brophy, Alfred L. (June 2013). "The Nat Turner Trials". North Carolina Law Review. 91: 1817–80. SSRN 2281519.
- Harrison, Jesse Burton (1832). Review of the slave question : extracted from the American Quarterly Review, Dec. 1832, based on the speech of Th. Marshall, of Fauquier, showing that slavery is the essential hindrance to the prosperity of the slave-holding states : with particular reference to Virginia, though applicable to other states where slavery exists. By a Virginian. American Quarterly Review. Richmond, Printed by T.W. White.
- Harper, William; Hammond, James Henry; Dew, Thomas Roderick; Simms, William Gilmore (1853). The Pro-Slavery Argument. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, & Co. Archived from the original on 2014-07-07. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
- Brophy, Alfred L. (2008). "Considering William and Mary's History with Slavery: The Case of President Thomas Roderick Dew" (PDF). William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal. 16. pp. 1091–1139. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-07-09. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
- "Dew Family Papers". Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- "Office of the President. Thomas Roderick Dew". Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary. Archived from the original on 26 June 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Bryan, John Stewart (July 1939). "Thomas Roderick Dew: An Address Delivered April 3, 1939, at the Memorial Service for the Thirteenth President of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Who Died in Paris, France, August 6, 1864". Bulletin of The College of William and Mary in Virginia. 33 (8).
- Mansfield, Stephen S. (1968). Thomas Roderick Dew: defender of the southern faith (Thesis). Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia.
- Booker, H. Marshall (Autumn 1969). "Thomas R. Dew: Forgotten Virginian". Virginia Cavalcade. 19. pp. 20–29.
- Mansfield, Stephen (October 1967). "Thomas R. Dew at William and Mary: 'A Main Prop of that Venerable Institution'". Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 75. pp. 429–442.
- Dudley, William (1992). Slavery : opposing viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press. ISBN 1565100131.
- Genovese, Eugene D. (1986). Western civilization through slaveholding eyes : the social and historical thought of Thomas Roderick Dew. New Orleans: Graduate School of Tulane University.
- Austin, Clara (2000). The apologist tradition : a transitional period in southern proslavery thought, 1831-1845 (Thesis). University of North Texas.
- Root, Erik S. (2008). All honor to Jefferson? : the Virginia slavery debates and the positive good thesis. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. ISBN 9780739122174.
Chapter: 'The proslavery argument revisited: Thomas Roderick Dew and the beginning of the positive good thesis'.
- Brophy, Alfred L. (2016). University, Court, and Slave: Proslavery Academic Thought and Southern Jurisprudence, 1831–1861. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199964239.
Chapter 2: The Rebel and the Professor: Nat Turner, Thomas Roderick Dew, and the Utility of Slavery
- Dew, Charles B. (2016). The Making of a Racist : a Southerner reflects on family, history, and the slave trade. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 978-0813940397.