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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Elisha Mitchell (1793-1857)

Professor Elisha Mitchell was a student of theology and a Presbyterian minister who taught mathematics, chemistry, and geology. He became a slaveholder and prominent local property owner. In 1848, he published a defense of slavery entitled The Other Leaf of the Book of Nature and the World of God. "It is remarkable," he wrote, "how many warnings, counsels, expostulations, and commands the New Testament contains, all having reference to the danger of riches, yet God has said nothing expressly against slaveholding." Mitchell believed that slavery was beneficial for African Americans because they were a "race of inferior moral and mental endowments."