Thomas Roderick Dew
Thomas Roderick Dew, twelfth president of the College of William and Mary, was born to a wealthy tidewater plantation family in 1802. Dew graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1820, and returned as a professor of history, metaphysics, and political economy in 1826. Dew gained national recognition as a pro-slavery advocate following the 1831 – 32 debates on slavery in the General Assembly. In his writing, particularly An Essay in Favor of Slavery, Dew rejected Enlightenment beliefs in human rights and equality while expanding on the civilizing effects of slavery.
After his election as president of the College in 1836, Dew stressed the increasing importance of studying politics and morals as a way for Southern students to respond to Northern attacks. With a pro-slavery president and legal scholar Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, the College of William and Mary became regarded as an intellectual bastion of the Southern world view. During his ten year tenure, President Dew oversaw a period of success for the college. While still struggling financially, the quality of the faculty rose significantly. A rise in tobacco prices corresponded with rising enrollment into the early 1840s. To combat chronic financial woes, the Board of Visitors and President Dew approached the state legislature for public funding and repayment of Revolutionary War debts. While political wrangling resulted in no real financial commitment, the state legislature severed William and Mary’s connection with Hampden-Sydney to establish the Medical College of Virginia. Presiding over the traditional “golden era” of the school, when questions of survival appeared answered; President Dew was widely popular on campus and in the community. In 1845, at age 43, Dew married Miss Natalia Hay, but died while on their honeymoon in Paris. He is interned in the [Wren] building.
Thomas R. Dew published a number of works in his lifetime, including: “The Policy of Government (1829),” “An Essay in Favor of Slavery (1833),” “A Digest of the Laws, Customs, Manners, and Institutions of Ancient and Modern Nations (1853),” “Lectures on Usury,” “The Characteristic Difference of Man and Woman,” in addition to a number of other works.
Material in SCRC
- Thomas Roderick Dew, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library
- Thomas Roderick Dew "Positive Good Thesis", Link to All Academic.
Absract: Thomas Roderick Dew: Founder of the Positive Good Thesis by Erik S. Root, Ph. D Paper Presented for the Mid-West Political Science Association 65 th Annual Conference Panel: Social Movements and Political Change Chicago, Il. April 14, 2007
- "Thomas Roderick Dew: Philosopher of the Old South" by Lowell Harrison, Link to JSTOR - The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 57, No. 4 (Oct., 1949), pp. 390 - 404.
|Preceded by||College of William and Mary President||Succeeded by|
1827 - 1836
|Thomas Roderick Dew
1836 - 1846
|Robert Saunders Jr.
1847 - 1848
|A note about the information in this wiki|
|Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fire, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the SCRC's collections and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the SCRC's access tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.|