This Week in Texas Methodist History July 24
Visitor to Rutersville Commencement Ceremonies Praises Methodist School July 28, 1841
The end of a school term in 19th century Texas often consisted of a three or four day exhibition of the skills and knowledge of the students. Students performed musical numbers, recited poetry, demonstrated their oratorical skills, and sometimes required the students to stand before an audience and answer questions from the audience.
Someone who signed his name as “Visitor” wrote an account of his attendance at the Rutersville Commencement in July 1841. The letter was published in the Telegram and Texas Register, July 28, 1841. Here are some excerpts
Rutersville College is an institution of which every Texian has cause to feel proud. It is emphatically a Texian Literary Institution, and is designed, so far as it can, to extend its benefits to citizens of all parts of the Republic. It seeks to accomplish no sectarian or political purpose. And although the principles and doctrines of the Bible, as they are received and taught by all orthodox Protestant christians , are made the basis of the moral instructions imparted at this institution, the peculiarities or tenets of no one church are attempted to be inculcated upon the minds of the students. . . .As an evidence that it is not the design of the trustees to render the institution subservient to sectarian purposes. . .they have elected to the office of tutor a very worthy young gentleman who is not a professor of religion. . .
The “Visitor” continues in the same vein, praising the non-sectarian nature of Rutersville College.
What is left unsaid is the fact that the Congress of the Republic of Texas refused to charter sectarian schools. When Rutersville trustees first submitted their charter to the Congress, it was rejected. Only after the sectarian clauses were removed, did Rutersville receive its charter. The move also made it possible for the Congress to approve a land grant in support of the school.