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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Thomas Ruffin

Thomas Ruffin (1787-1870)

Discipline was a problem for most antebellum colleges. With young, all-male student bodies and no athletic teams or activities, college life offered few outlets for energetic, aggressive young men. Often under the influence of alcohol, students openly and sometimes violently rebelled against university administrations. The University of North Carolina was no exception. In 1824, drunken students attacked the acting college president, Elisha Mitchell, and other faculty members. The trustees, including Thomas Ruffin, who later became the chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, personally appeared on campus to hand out punishments.