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
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.
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. The Virginia legislature's debate was a response to Nat Turner's slave rebellion of August 1831. While his position was convincing to many southern readers, Jesse Burton Harrison of Lynchburg, Virginia, wrote a robust response that argued that colonization was possible and that slavery was economically inefficient. Dew's largest work was Digest of the Laws, Customs, Manners, and Institutions of Ancient and Modern Nations (1853). It drew in some ways on works like P. Austin Nuttall's A classical and archaeological dictionary of the manners, customs, laws, institutions, arts, etc. of the celebrated nations of antiquity, and of the middle ages
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 advocated the beating of slaves who absconded from their duties or became idle. He co-authored The Pro-Slavery Argument with Harper, Hammond and Simms.
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 courage and boldness are man's attributes. Dew also described women as passive (not active), emblematic of divinity, dependent and weak, but a spring of irresistible power. His family papers and 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.
He died of bronchitis in 1846.
Commentary on Dew
Professor Thomas R. Dew, of William and Mary College, based a long argument on the proposition that "slaves are entirely unfit for a state of freedom among the whites."
- Ely, Melvin Patrick; Loux, Jennifer R. "Thomas R. Dew (1802–1846)". Encyclopedia Virginia/Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- Alfred L. Brophy, University, Court, and Slave: Prolsavery Thouht in Southern Courts and Colleges and the Coming of Civil War (2016): 21-47 (discussing Thomas Dew's response to Virginia debates).
- Alfred L. Brophy, "The Nat Turner Trials", North Carolina Law Review (June 2013), volume 91: 1817-80.
- "Considering William and Mary's History with Slavery: The Case of President Thomas R. Dew" (PDF). Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- William Harper, Thomas Roderick Dew, James Henry Hammond, William Gilmore Simms, The Pro-Slavery Argument Lippincott, Grambo, & Co., (1853) p.35
- "Dew Family Papers". Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- "Office of the President. Thomas Roderick Dew". Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Hymowitz, Carol; Michaele Weissman (1984). A History of Women in America. Bantam. ISBN 0-553-26914-3.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.