Skip to main content

Office of the President. Thomas Roderick Dew Records

Identifier: UA 2.05

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence from Dew as well as an account book.

Note, dated October 16, 1837, written by Dew to Judge Abel P. Upshur, concerning the granting of credit to students by merchants. The note is handwritten on a printed Resolution by the Board of Visitors, adopted July, 1836.

Letter, dated October 18, 1837, written by Dew to William H. Harrison, principal of the Academy at the Wigwam in Amelia, Virginia, and defends the institution of slavery in the United States. The letter begins "I am glad to find that you agree with me on the subject of slavery. Every day convinces me of its blessings in southern latitudes, & I think you are right in regard to Liberia - Man cannot be uplifted from barbarism to civilization without the aid of slavery. All history demonstrates this proposition." Most of the letter concerns a list of books related to slavery and where they can be acquired, including Edmund Ruffin, a strong proponent of slavery. Dew also discusses life at William & Mary, noting the enrollment of 100 students and that most of the brightest pupils were sent from Harrison's academy.

Letter, dated July 13, 1842, written by Dew to George Southall, concerning violations of the law prohibiting the dealing with students on credit.

The account book includes stocks and bonds owned by Dew (1833-1846), notes on anatomy, the account of William & Mary College with Dew (1836-1840), personal accounts of Dew (1836-1844), names of students in Dew's junior and senior classes (1836-1846), the diary of an unknown person (Sept. 1, Oct. 9, 1852), a quotation from Thomas Moore, notes on farming, and William & Mary College graduates (1835, 1839-1846).


  • Creation: 1833-1852


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical Information:

Thomas R. Dew was born on December 5, 1802, the son of Thomas Dew and Lucy E. Gatewood Dew. Dew graduated from William & Mary in 1820. He was appointed to teach political law in 1826 and in 1836 was made president of the university. He died in 1846, shortly after his marriage to Natalia Hay. A free-trader and a pro-slavery advocate, Dew's works included Lectures on the Restrictive System, Review of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature of 1831 and 1832 (later incorporated into the Pro-Slavery Argument) and Digests of Laws, Customs, Manners, and Institutions of the Ancient and Modern Nations. Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki: .


1.4 Linear Feet (1 box) : 1 volume and 1 folder

Acquisition Information:

Acc. 1983.121 was delivered to President John Stewart Bryan by F. H. Moore on February 15, 1939.

Acc. 2013.026 was purchased from eBay in February 2013.

The Southall letter was removed from the College Papers collection as was the communication with Abel Upshur. The Upshur item was removed from the Tucker papers and placed in the College Papers by previous SCRC staff.

Related Materials:

Dew Family Papers, Mss. 65 D51, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

Processing Information

Collection was reprocessed prior to 2019 and inventory updated in 2022. Some items from the original inventory were moved to other collections and have not been located as of 2022: Photocopies and notes on the portrait of Thomas Dew owned by William & Mary; unidentified book with inscription: "Presented to W. S. Peachy by his friend, Thos. R. Dew, prof. Wm & Mary College"; Letter of introduction for Col. C. de la Pena, professor of modern languages at William & Mary, 22 February 1830; Thomas R. Dew, Dewsville near New Town, King & Queen, Virginia, to Prof. J. Millington, Philadelphia with lists of the books Dew has recently purchased for the college library;corrections for a publication and additional footnotes To be inserted, on public speeches in France, England, and America, and on Mr. Randolph's process of composing speeches. On same leaf as end of a letter draft, signed, dated 1 June 1841; T. R. Dew praises conditions and new buildings at Eastern Asylum of Virginia under Dr. Galt, 13 March 1846; material gathered by Dr. Stephen S. Mansfield during the preparation of his dissertation "Thomas Roderick Dew: defender of the southern faith" and correspondence between Mansfield and persons, including collateral Dew descendants, regarding the dissertation; published article on Dew; and miscellaneous printed matter containing information on the Dew family; and the original letter from Thomas Dew to William H. Harrison, Acc. 2013.026.

Guide to the Office of the President. Thomas Roderick Dew Records
SCRC staff.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository