By Thomas E. Schott
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Additional info for Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography
Heinous immoralities like fornication, dueling, robbery, blasphemy, forgery, and striking a professor were, of course, unforgivable; their commission merited expulsion. But the law also provided penalties for innumerable other infractions, from profanity to cockfighting. Moreover, the students' spiritual welfare was strictly monitored. 31 Stephens found this regimen, if not completely congenial, at least palatable. Consistently at the top of his class throughout his four-year term, he never once received a demerit from either the college or the Phi Kappas, his literary society.
The practice of "turning out," physically keeping a teacher out of school until he declared a holiday, was a universal prank. And the rule of the rod, however efficacious for the advancement of knowledge, exerted a tenuous and always challengeable discipline, its effectiveness decreasing in direct proportion to the size and belligerence of the recalcitrant scholar. With such working conditions and the generally miserable pay that went with them, the teaching profession rarely attracted high-quality practitioners.
These clubs obviously appealed to the less frivolous, for at their secret Saturday morning meetings they debated questions of philosophy, history, logic, literature, current politics, and, of course, religion and morality. Should a man be forced to marry a woman he had seduced? Did God display His wisdom or power in creation? Office in the Phi Kappa Society was the only position of honor Stephens actively sought. 33 Oratory, like salt pork and fresh vegetables, was a staple in the nineteenth-century southerner's diet.
Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography by Thomas E. Schott