Primary Source Document,
transcribed by Kathy B. Lauder.
On November 9, 1889, members of the State Board of Education and the University of Nashville Board of Trustees met in the office of Governor Robert L. Taylor to plan a banquet in honor of the Peabody Board of Trustees. William H. Payne had been Chancellor of the University and President of the recently-named Peabody Normal College for two years. One of his frequently stated goals was for the college to become the sole recipient of Peabody funds, which would allow it, as he said, to become the major educational institution in the South.
Following a recent conflict with the Tennessee Legislature over educational appropriations, Payne was also eager to secure a permanent, dependable source of funding for the school. Having hung large portraits of Peabody Board members in prominent locations in the chapel, he now persuaded the State Board of Education to produce a huge banquet for visiting Peabody Board members. The State Board rushed into action, checking on rates at both the Maxwell House and the Hotel Duncan and arranging for lodgings and carriages for the visiting Peabody representatives.
By November 12, arrangements were nearly finished. A banquet for 100 of Tennessee’s most prominent citizens would take place at the Duncan (which finessed the Maxwell House by offering the meal at $3.00 a plate), on November 21, 1889, at 8:00 p.m. Committees rushed around arranging details. It is interesting to note that, although the male faculty members of Peabody College were invited to take part in the festivities, no women, including the female faculty members, were present.
On November 22 the Nashville Daily American carried this comprehensive description of the evening:
Compliment Extended the Visiting Peabody Trustees.
The Hotel Duncan a Scene of Brilliancy.
Who Were Present, Who Made Speeches and What They Ate – The Meeting Yesterday.
It was a most distinguished gathering of gentlemen who met at the Duncan last night at a banquet given by the trustees of the University of Nashville and the State Board of Education in honor of the committee from the Peabody Board of Trust. Nashville has known few such assemblages, and has extended the hearty hand of genuine welcome to few such visiting delegations.
The occasion illustrates, if nothing else, how dear to the heart of this city is the cause of education, and how eagerly our people grasp at every opportunity that is offered to make manifest their earnestness in the cause.
The honorees of last night were ex-President Hayes, Bishop H.B. Whipple, of Minnesota; Hon. Samuel A. Green, of Massachusetts; Hon. J.L.M. Currey, ex-Minister to Spain; Hon. James D. Porter, ex-Governor of Tennessee.
The hosts of the occasion were the members of the State Board of Education: His Excellency Robert L. Taylor, President; Frank Goodman, Secretary and Treasurer; Dr. W. P. Jones, Hon. Frank M. Smith, Hon. Thomas H. Paine, Rev. J.W. Bachman, Superintendent Charles S. Douglass.
Also the following Trustees of the University of Nashville: Hon. James D. Porter, President; Edward D. Hicks, Secretary and Treasurer; Hon. Edwin H. Ewing, LL.D., Hon. Abram Demoss, Hon. John Overton, Hon. Edward H. East, LL.D., John M. Thompson, Hon. Mark S. Cockrill, Hon. Campbell Brown, C.D. Berry, H.M. Doak, Edgar Jones, Hon. William B. Reese, Hon. W. F. Cooper, LL.D., Hon. Frank T. Reid, Hon. Robert B. Lea, Hon. Charles G. Smith, LL.D., Hon. Samuel Watson, John M. Bass, Hon. Thos. D. Craighead, and William H. Payne, LL.D., Chancellor of the University and President of the Peabody Normal College.
The very handsome new hotel was the fitting scene for such a gathering. The parlors on the second floor were thrown wide open for the reception of the guests. They and the hallways and the dining-room were brightened by a tasteful and bounteous array of potted flowers and chrysanthemum decorations.
In the dining-room covers had been spread for more than 100 guests and nearly every seat was occupied.
There were two long tables and one cross table. At the head of these sat ex-President Hayes; at his left was Gov. Taylor, and on his right was Hon. J.L.M. Currey. At one foot of the table sat ex-Gov. Porter, with Hon. Mr. Green to his right; at the other foot sat Judge D.M. Key, with Bishop Whipple to his right.
The guests were all seated at 9 o’clock. From that hour until about 1 o’clock in the morning when the last toast was spoken the royal banquet proceeded. During those hours the speeches were spoken and wit and wisdom was the order.
The following is a full list of the invited guests:
Senator Wm. B. Bate.
Hon. Benton McMillin, member Congress.
Hon. J. E. Washington, member of Congress.
Hon. D. M. Key, United States Federal Judge and ex-Postmaster General.
Hon. Howell E. Jackson, United States Circuit Judge.
Hon. H. H. Lurton, Justice of State Supreme Court.
Hon. Andrew Allison, Chancellor.
Hon. G. S. Ridley, Judge Criminal Court.
Hon. W. K. McAlister, Judge Circuit Court.
Hon. N. Baxter, Sr., Clerk Supreme Court.
State Treasurer M. F. House.
State Comptroller J. W. Allen.
Secretary of State Charles Miller.
Hon. B. M. Hord, Commissioner of Agriculture.
Gen. Laps D. McCord, Adjutant General.
Chas. L. Ridley, Coal Oil Inspector.
Hon. John Ruhm, United States District Attorney.
Maj. A. W. Wills, Postmaster.
Hon. Carter B. Harrison, United States Marshall.
Maj. J. W. Thomas, President Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway.
Maj. W. L. Danley, General Passenger Agent Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway.
Maj. E. B. Stahlman, Vice President Louisville & Nashville Railway.
Hon. W. L. Clapp of Memphis, Speaker House of Representatives.
Hon. Benj. J. Lea, of Brownsville, Speaker State Senate.
Hon. J. B. Killebrew.
Hon. Leon Trousdale, Sr.
Gen. W. H. Jackson.
H. C. Hensley, President Merchants’ Exchange.
Lewis T. Baxter, President Commercial Club.
Dr. J. Berrien Lindsley, Secretary State Board of Health.
Col. P. P. Pickard, ex-Comptroller.
Dr. Wm. Morrow.
Col. A. S. Colyar.
Judge John M. Lea.
Wm. M. Duncan.
Hon. T. O. Morris, Chairman of Legislative Educational Committee.
Dr. C. D. Elliott.
Geo. W. Fall.
Gen. G. P. Thruston.
Dr. J.P. Dake.
Hon. Robert Ewing, President Board of Public Works.
Col. E. W. Cole.
Jos. S. Carels, Librarian Howard Library.
Hon. Nathaniel Baxter, Jr.
Anson Nelson, ex-City Treasurer.
Col. Jeremiah George Harris, Paymaster United States Navy.
Judge Jas. Whitworth.
Judge Thos. J. Freeman.
Hon. Jere Baxter.
Gen. Jno. F. Wheless.
Hon. Jno. Allison, ex-Secretary of State.
Dr. J.H. Callender, Superintendent State Insane Asylum.
Col. B. F. Wilson.
J. W. Childress, E. W. Carmack, Walter Cain, J. D. Campbell and W. H. Peck, of THE AMERICAN.
G. H. Baskett, Robt. J. G. Miller, David G. Ray and James Clark, of the Banner.
Col. Duncan B. Cooper, Geo. H. Armistead, R. A. Halley and W. B. Palmer, of the Herald.
Rev. O. P. Fitzgerald, of the Christian Advocate.
Dr. D. M. Harris, President Art Association and editor of the Cumberland Presbyterian.
Rev. David Lipscomb, of the Gospel Advocate.
A.H. Landis, Jr., of the National Review.
J. H. McDowell, of the Toiler.
Geo. W. Armistead, of the Issue.
Rev. B. J. Moody, of the Baptist and Reflector.
A. E. Baird, of the Southern Lumberman.
Dr. Chas. W. Dabney, Jr., President University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Chancellor L. C. Garland, of Vanderbilt University.
Judge N. Green, Chancellor Cumberland University, Lebanon.
Dr. W. J. Darby, General Manager Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House.
Rev. Telfair Hodgson, Vice Chancellor University of the South, Sewanee.
Dr. Geo. W. Jarman, President Southwestern Baptist University, Jackson.
Dr. John Braden, President Central Tennessee College.
Dr. A. Owen, President Roger Williams University.
Dr. E. M. Cravath, President Fisk University.
Dr. J. N. Waddell, President Clarksville Presbyterian University.
G. M. Fogg, President Nashville Board of Education.
Z. H. Brown, Superintendent Nashville Public Schools.
Capt. W. R. Garrett, Secretary National Educational Association.
Rev. Geo. W. F. Price, President Nashville College for Young Ladies.
Prof. J. B. Hancock, President Ward’s Seminary.
Prof. S. M. D. Clark, Principal Montgomery Bell Academy.
Dr. Duncan Eve, Dean Medical College, University of Tennessee.
Dr. W. T. Briggs, Dean University of Nashville Medical College.
Dr. Thos. Menees, Dean Vanderbilt Medical College.
Dr. Wm. H. Morgan, Dean Vanderbilt Dental College.
Prof. S. A. Link, Superintendent Tennessee Blind Asylum.
Dr. J. S. Cain, University of Tennessee Medical College.
Dr. R. E. Freeman, Vanderbilt, Dental College.
Col. J. W. Barlow, United States Army.
Profs. B. B. Penfield, J. L. Lampson, A. L. Purinton, E. C. Huntington, Geo. F. James, H. A. Vance, Peabody Normal College.
J. L. Pearcy, Warden State Prison.
Hon. T. B. Harwell, member Legislature from Giles County.
Dr. T. A. Atchison.
Col. J. W. Stone.
Gen. H. B. Lyons, member of Congress from Kentucky.
Col. J. M. Hamilton.
Dr. T. L. Maddin, of the Medical Department of Vanderbilt University.
Capt. John Demoville.
Prof. Wharton S. Jones, Memphis.
The following was the menu:
Blue Points on Shell.
Boston brown bread.
Cutlets of chicken aux truffles.
Sliced tomatoes. Baked sweet potatoes.
Fillet of beef, larded, mushroom sauce.
Potato croquettes. French peas.
Punch, a la Cardinal.
Mallard duck, currant jelly.
Plum pudding, brandy sauce.
Neopolitaine ice cream. Assorted cake.
Florida oranges. Grapes. Pears.
The toasts were introduced by ex-Gov. Porter, who presided over the banquet and introduced each speaker in that happy manner characteristic of him.
In introducing the first speaker he extended to the visitors the hospitality of Nashville and of Tennessee in most graceful style. “Among our visitors,” said he, “is a man who has filled the most exalted place in the gift of his countryman, a man who has been distinguished in all the walks of life, as a private citizen, as a member of the bar of his State, as a Representative in Congress, as a distinguished soldier, twice the Governor of his State from which high place he was called to the highest within the gift of the people, where he signalized himself by a display of honesty of purpose, by maintaining the dignity of his high office, by furnishing a clean administration, by restoring their citizenship to the disfranchised people of Louisiana. In his retirement he has maintained the same dignity, and has attached himself to the people of Nashville and the South by his efforts in the great educational work upon which he is now engaged. I introduce the Hon. Rutherford B. Hayes.”
Mr. Hayes was roundly applauded as he arose. Addressing himself to the “Peabody Trust,” as the toast propounded, he referred to the donation of Mr. Peabody made twenty-three years ago, and repeated his grand words when he said: “I make this gift to the suffering South for the good of the whole country.”
He referred in the highest terms to the President of the Board of Trustees, Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, and complimented the great work of Dr. Sears, the first agent of the fund. He alluded to the visit of the Prison Congress to Nashville and asserted that every member left Nashville with feelings of unmixed satisfaction at having been present. He said he ought to make acknowledgements for the kindness which he had received while here.
The committee of the Peabody Board had with unanimity made the largest appropriation to the Peabody Normal College in Nashville that it had ever made for such a purpose.
This could not be taken as a pledge of the action of the Trustees in disposing of the fund amounting to $2,000,000. The trust might run six or seven years and “if it shall be that this structure authorized to be built in Nashville shall turn out to become the first step towards the establishment of a final monument to Mr. Peabody by the donation of the whole sum to the institution in Nashville, I have to say that not one of the committee who are your guests will ever regret that fact.”
This declaration was received with much applause.
Judge Edwin H. Ewing, who had been announced to respond to the toast “The University of Nashville,” was absent, and Dr. J. Berrien Lindsley was called upon to supply his place.
“No one better than myself,” said Dr. Lindsley, “recognizes the difficulty of supplying the place of such a man as Judge Ewing. The University of Nashville, so far as age goes, can claim renowned antiquity. For twenty-six years its existence shone with brilliant classic light. Its graduates took high honors at Harvard, Princeton and elsewhere. In 1861 in method of work and equipment it was second to no institution in the land. Its Board of Trustees have now placed the citizens of Nashville and Tennessee under sacred obligations and raised a monument to the memory of that great man, who will always be remembered in his efforts to advance the cause of education-George H. Peabody.” [Applause].
The next speaker was Dr. W. P. Jones, who responded to the toast, “The Tennessee State Board of Education.”
“It is said that honest confession is good for the soul,” he remarked, in beginning his address. “The vitalization of the public school system of Tennessee comes, in a great degree, through the Board of Trustees of the Peabody Educational Fund. Dr. Sears, Agent of that Fund, gave the State Teachers’ Association soon after his arrival here $1,500, to obtain a man to canvass the State in the interest of public education. James Killebrew in this capacity did great good for the people, but received little thanks.”
Dr. Jones referred to a bill prepared by Superintendent S.Y. Caldwell and himself, and revised by Dr. Sears, which passed the Tennessee Legislature and led to the foundation of the State Normal School.
“This Normal College of Tennessee has outgrown the expectations of the first agent of the Peabody Board, as well as of the people. It is not now only a State school, but of right should be the Peabody College for the whole South, and the State Board of Education recognizes the idea that the Peabody Board should have supervision over the institution. Between the State and the Peabody Board there is harmony, and will likely continue so. We of the State Board may wish that the school may be developed and nourished to be worthy of that renowned philanthropist, Geo. Peabody, who, in giving $2,000,000, said, ‘This I give to the suffering South for the good of the whole country.’ He desired that the education and elevation brought about by it should have a national reflex action. He was a patriot as well as a philanthropist. I am looking in the face of one who when occupying highest position in the country, with thousands asking what can be best done for the party, said: ‘He serves his country.’ Few more important truths have ever been uttered. Twenty years ago Dr. Sears said Nashville had all the improved means of education. If that was true, then what can be said of Nashville to-day? The tented fields around Nashville have been converted into classic grounds. I hope the visitors to-morrow will view the educational advantages for colored people, nowhere surpassed in America; the female schools, then Vanderbilt, and tell their advantages to the other members of the board. The educational centre of the South should of all places be selected for the Peabody Normal College. Build upon the beautiful campus a building which shall be a monument to George Peabody, and write upon it his immortal words. ‘This is a gift to the suffering South for the good of the whole people.'” [Applause.]
In the absence of Senator W. B. Bate, Dr. J. L. M. Currey responded to the toast, the “United States.”
“It is a high honor,” said he, “which ought to be duly appreciated to be called to stand in the shoes of the Senator of Tennessee, and a still higher honor to respond to the sentiment proposed; but as the young man who was about to be married said, I hope I will have your sympathies. I am probably more of a cosmopolite than many of you. I have been in every State of the Union except three and love our country and honor it. Patriotism begins at home, and begins with the State which throws the aegis of its protection over the dearest relations of life, and I believe in an indissoluble Union of indestructible States. While one may be a patriot at home and have his affections centered upon his own State, when he goes abroad the horizon of his patriotism widens and he looks up, not to a single star, but to the stars and stripes. I have wandered through the dilapidated streets of Palos, and I must confess that I never had before in looking upon a material object such thrilling, overpowering and tearful emotions as when I looked in imagination across to the country where have been wrought out the most beneficent questions of civilization, humanity, and good government. The foundation of our government and something which is next to Christianity, the best preservative of our free institutions is universal education, for without intelligence of the masses there can be no freedom of the masses. Before the Government it was declared that freedom of institutions depended upon education, and the Government should aid the schools.”
The speaker referred in glowing terms to Mr. Peabody’s gift, and said he could not think of anything that contributed more to the establishment of friendly relations between the sections. His act was the first to bring about a reconciliation. It would be one of the justest and most magnanimous acts for the Southern States to erect in the hall of the National House of Representatives a monument more lasting than brass to their greatest benefactor. Referring to the Peabody memorial school, he inquired why should there not be in Nashville, in the centre of this great country, established the great normal school of the United States? Applause followed his remarks.
Gov. Robert L. Taylor responded to the toast “The State of Tennessee.” “Tennessee,” said he, “lies on the happiest lines that girdle the globe, on the golden lines of God’s favor to man. I have thought that when God turned our progenitors out of the Garden of Eden, loth [sic] to destroy the beauties of Paradise he transplanted them to Tennessee. Our mountains are higher than other mountains, our valleys more fertile, our sunlight as beautiful as Mahomet’s vision of heaven. Our men are brave in battle, and our women are the sweetest that ever presided at home except the women of Virginia, and New York and Ohio and North Carolina, where I got my wife. [Laughter.] Tennessee is the richest country in the world. She has never had her proper place in public estimation. Her resources, capabilities, and possibilities have never been measured. Lying between the great cereal and cotton regions, their peculiarities are wedded on her own fertile soil where each is produced in profusion.
“The chemical forces elsewhere at war, here in harmony blend and produce results nowhere else reached. We have the happiest people in the world and the brightest atmosphere except about this time in November. Beneath the rich soil you find mines of wealth never dreamed of even here in Tennessee. More mineral wealth is found here than in any other State in the Union.
“A State of universities and good common schools-only one thing was needed to make Tennessee’s people happy. That was a great central normal college at Nashville, where teachers might be turned out to instruct the land, and live a monument to the memory of George Peabody. He did not believe the day was far distant when the visitors present and their fellow members of the board would in this great school complete the school system in Tennessee.” [Applause.]
Judge D. M. Key, of Chattanooga, was called upon and responded by saying that he thought he was on a side-track, as there was nothing on the programme set down against him. To Mr. Porter he had past obligations, but the force of the present ones he did not feel. There was a kind of honorable rivalry between Federal and State courts, and he did not think it would be kind for him to praise the Federal judiciary system in the presence of one of the State’s most honored justices who sat in silence. Like Webster “Here are the Federal officers. Behold them; they speak for themselves.”
The toast “The Schools and Colleges of Tennessee,” was responded to by Dr. G. W. F. Price, who said the gentlemen who had spoken seemed to have preempted and preoccupied the territory. He did not know what ground to stand upon unless he stretched a hawser from the Rocky Mountain peaks to the blasted projections of the moon, and performed aerial Blondin feats among the blazing stars and wheeling comets. He referred to Mr. Peabody in the highest terms and commended the Peabody Normal College as an institution of magnificent design and worthy of the most extended development.
In the enforced absence of Mr. E. A. Carmack, Mr. G. H. Baskette responded to the toast “The Press.” He said the weary, dry hours of the night had been reached and the party could, no doubt, appreciate the ingenuity of the man who tacked the Lord’s prayer over the wall and on cold nights jumped into bed, saying, “Lord, them’s my sentiments.” The press was a tremendous engine for potency and influence-one which had a great field for opportunities. It was, however, open to abuses. It was courted and feared, praised and denounced. It is the moulder of sentiment, the framer of public policy. It was a great educational power.
It has not done its whole duty in the uplifting of a Christian civilization, but is doing much for education, and with a united influence, will contribute to an educational development of the country more rapid than ever before seen. His remarks were liberally applauded.
The company dispersed at 1:30 o’clock. The following are the committees who were in charge of the banquet. Committee on Reception – Gov. Robert L. Taylor, Hon. William F. Cooper. Committee on Visitations – Hon. William B. Reese, Hon. Frank M. Smith. Committee on Invitations – John M. Bass, Frank Goodman.
To all is due the very highest compliment for their success. Especial mention is tendered Prof. Frank Goodman, the very efficient Secretary of the State Board of Education and Secretary also of the local Peabody Board for his interest in the work of making the affair a success.