Skip to main content
Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Elisha Mitchell's Leadership on Campus

Elisha Mitchell's watch

Mitchell enforced discipline on a rowdy student body, and he served as bursar, accountant, and occasionally acting president. He was also in charge of grounds and buildings, he increased the variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees on the campus and with slave helpers built the rock walls in the historic campus. Although not a native southerner, he published a defense of slavery in 1848. He is best known for measuring the height of Black Mountains in western North Carolina, which contain Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. On a trip to the mountain in 1857, he fell down a steep bank into a pool and drowned. A classroom building was named for him in 1964.