Founder’s Day Address -- 1938 by Dr. N. Y. Gulley


In his Founder's Day address Dr. N. Y. Gullley (right) declared that Dr. Charles E. Taylor (left) Wake Forest's president 1884-1905 "did more for public education in North Carolina than any man who ever lived in it, and did more for Wake Forest College than any other man has ever done." Dr. Gulley's remarks were electrically recorded and will be on sale in the form of phonograph records at the forthcoming commencement exercises. The address, made extemporaneously and with neither notes nor manuscript, follows:

Dean Bryan, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have met here this evening to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of this institution. It is well that we should stop and pause a moment in the bustle and swerve of things around about us and think about those who have gone before us. We are too prone to take things that we have, those that we have inherited, and never stop to think about what they cost or who paid the bills.

Probably the most thrilling passage in the New Testament scripture is Paul's roll call of the heroes of faith; and as we think about them, and what they accomplished, our minds are lost in wonder. When we think about Noah building an ark that should preserve all the life, all the animal life, that could not live in water or air, building such a vessel that the fiercest storm that has ever struck this globe could not after forty days and nights wreck it, or injure it, or in an, way mar it—a wonderful piece of work; when we think about Abraham, called from his native land, getting up and going away under the promise of God that he should be made the father of the greatest nation on earth. We see the man as he has waited year after year and his wife is now approaching her hundredth birthday, and he goes out one night and talks with God about why he had not fulfilled his promise. But we see that the promise was fulfilled. When we think about Moses who had the great job of leading a band of runaway slaves and making a nation out of them preparing them for the nation birth, we lose ourselves in wonder at the greatness of these men.

But when we begin to look nearer home, we find that there are some men who have in some slight measure, at any rate, done something somewhat similar. I am thinking now of some of the presidents of this institution who have made their impress on it and through it on the rest of the world. I shall not take your time, because my time is very limited, to discuss the doings of Dr. Wait. Dr. Paschal in his book has set forth those, and they are now more familiar to us than some of the others.


I wish first to call your attention to President Manly Wingate, a man standing some six feet six inches in stature. As the result of measles when a twelve-year-old boy, he contracted some spinal disease and his spine curved forward instead of backward, which made him almost perpendicular in the back and a very peculiar looking man—straight coal-black hair without a speck of gray in it—a beard about an inch long over his face pith a sprinkle of white on one side there when he died. I shall not take time to talk about the things that happened here in his administration before the war, but I want you to go with me briefly to the close of the War. That was a time that nobody can form any conception of, now at the present time. Only those of us who were there, those of us who knew something about it, can have any idea of what it meant. The government was gone, the law was dead, society had changed, everything was gone; in other words, it looked like dire calamity had overtaken the South. We know now that it was the greatest blessing for us that had ever happened, but we couldn't see it then. Under those conditions, Dr. Wingate, on one occasion, went into his room and shut the door, and refused to allow anybody to come in, and there for hours he wrestled with God, and wanted an explanation as to why the things were as they were. God satisfied him, God gave him the duty to pick up the broken threads of this institution, ruined by the war, and weave them back again into a web life, and put it on its feet and get it going. He did that so well that it is not necessary for me to comment upon it.

He was a remarkable man. He had one thing about him different from anybody else I have every known— that when he wanted something done, he always went and told somebody else something about it and made the other fellow think that he was doing it; and therefore he worked through men always in that way. I know now that he made me do things just that way.

There is one other day in his life that I wish to call your attention to. He was lying in his house down yonder, his daughter came in and felt his feet and found them cold, warmed a blanket and put them on it. He said, "Daughter, it's no use, they'll never be warm again." And then he turned his attention to Brother John M. Brewer. Reading from one of the Psalms, he said, "Brother Brewer, I knew He would be with me, but I didn't know that it was going to be so sweet," and within an hour his soul was gone. Those two days in the life of that man will suggest to you how he lived, how in his last days he couldn't walk from his home to the college without stopping to rest, but still he kept right on the job.


There is one other man who has never yet had credit for what he has done, and never will, I suppose, in the history of this country. That other man is Charles E. Taylor. I make the assertion without fear of contradiction that he did more for education in North Carolina than any man who ever lived in it. I repeat, he did more for education in North Carolina than any man that ever lived in it. He did more for Wake Forest College than any other man has ever done. In the fall of ‘75 he left his class room here and spent eighteen months in canvassing for the endowment of the college, and raised it to $100,000. If he had been here, I might have known more Latin, but he did a much better job than anything he could have done for me.

When he became president of the college, there was a time in our history that most of you know something about. There had come to pass this condition of things. There were quite a number of people, quite a huge number of people who said that the denominational colleges had no place in North Carolina education, and that they ought not to exist, and competition became opposition, and in that condition of things, Dr. Taylor wrote that wonderful article on "How Far a State Ought to Undertake to Educate." He opened and alleged that the State had no right to spend all its money on institutions for higher learning while there was nothing being done for the helpless boys and girls that couldn't read and write, scattered over the state from one side to the other. It was hailed by the opposition as an attack on the University of North Carolina. Far be it from me to want to reopen and set to bleeding afresh a wound of that day. But facts are facts. And that thing went over North Carolina. In every Baptist Church in North Carolina, there was somebody talking about that matter. If you can get somebody to stand up and advocate it in all the Baptist Churches in North Carolina, it will be pretty well published. And it was that much of Dr. Taylor in that day that prepared the ground for the coming of Aycock and free schools. Had there been no Taylor, would there have been an Aycock? I don't know, but I do know that he would have found a very- different soil for the delivery of his seed that was to bear fruit.

I would not detract anything from anybody else, but I say unto you that the salvation of Wake Forest was secured by the endowment secured by the work of that man, and that North Carolina owes him a debt that it will never pay because of the fact that the circumstances were such as they were under which the things took place.


Now I shall have to hurry on. I should mention in connection between those two men, Dr. Pritchard with his short presidency, the most lovable man I think I ever knew. But he loved to preach, and he didn't stay long in the college presidency, but went back to the pulpit where he ought to have gone. You have noticed that I have mentioned the name of no living person thus far. That has not been an oversight. It has been done with premeditation and deliberation. It's not wise to sum up the work of a man so long as he is alive. If we offer constructive criticism, we are liable to be misjudged and our motives impugned. If we do nothing but sing his praises, why, it becomes so fulsome as to be mere flatery. Another thing, the life of no man can ever be summed up until it is ended. The biography of Judas Iscariot could not have been written until that last night, and until the last hour of that last night. When I have seen the things that have come about that have marred the lives of otherwise fine men and women, I have often felt that necessity of praying "Oh God, keep your people, keep them in the right way, do not let them go astray." And so I say we ought never to sum up the influence of a man until the last check has been cashed in.


So far as I am concerned, it was sixty-three years ago, the last of this past month, that I first saw this institution. For these three score and three years, this institution has loomed large in my life, it has meant much to me. Tomorrow morning at eight o'clock, I shall enter upon the final lap of the last round-up of my active connection with this college. I should think about it largely in the past, but I shall also think about it in the future. What will it be? What will it be?

"Oh, Father, may the denomination acquire a new consciousness of its worth for the work of the church and for the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the earth. May its alumni be loyal to it, and not be led astray be the glitter of greater institutions, but may they always be faithful to their Alma Mater. May its trustees and its faculty never exploit it for their own personal aggrandizement or for the acquisition of filthy lucre. And, Oh Father, if it shall remain knit in Thy great heart and protected by Thy great love, who can be against us if Thou shalt be for us."

(NOTE: Transcribed from actual recording by Walter B. Peyton.)

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