By Caroline Waller
Mangum Dormitory is a monument of remembrance, not only to the three men chosen as the building’s namesakes, but to the men that participated in the building’s construction and naming. The building is a relic of the Lost Cause ideology, white supremacy movement, and university building boom of the first few decades of the 20th century. The three men honored by the dormitory were Willie Person Mangum, Willie Preston Mangum, and Adolphus Williamson Mangum. By choosing Willie Person Mangum, the trustees honored a quintessential North Carolina politician and member the antebellum elite. A pragmatist and planter who used his connections and privilege to attain political power in the Jacksonian era, Willie Person was a key figure in Jacksonian politics who lived to see his only son die fighting for the Confederacy. By honoring Willie Person Mangum’s son, Willie Preston Mangum, and nephew, Adolphus Williamston Mangum, the trustees honored the generation of men that fought for the Confederacy, one a promising young man whose life was cut short at Manassas and another who spent the remainder of his life haunted by the Civil War and the death of his cousin.
Integral to the story of Mangum dormitory is the generation of men that came of age in the years following the Civil War who were sitting in the meeting of the Board of Trustees on June 13, 1922. Josephus Daniels, a former suitor of A.W. Mangum’s daughter, was a famed progressive politician and white supremacist. Others among their ranks include Bennehan Cameron, whose family had been close friends with the Mangum family since his grandfather’s generation, and at least two Mangum relatives. The choice to name the building after the three nineteenth century Mangum men reveals the attitudes and values held by the 1922 board of trustees members. The rapid growth of the university in the 1920’s accompanied by the building boom is an important moment in UNC-Chapel Hill’s history and is very relevant to the present-day discussion on campus about the understanding and handling of the university’s more controversial monuments, building names, and history.
Mangum Dormitory opened its doors to students at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1922.1 At the time of the building’s completion it was one of four new men’s dormitories on the campus, although in recent years the dormitory has been made coed.2 The dormitory was part of the university’s construction boom in the 1920s that had the goal of transforming UNC-Chapel Hill into a “modern university.”3 In 1918, under the administration of President Edward Kidder Graham the building project began.4 After Graham’s death, the new President, Harry Woodburn Chase, retained the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White.5
At the beginning of the 1920s, the university experienced rapid growth. The board of trustees estimated enrollment to reach 1,700 in 1922. “Such figures are impressive in themselves, when one recalls the rapid growth they portray, but their real significance is the steadily increasing desire for university education among the youth of the State in which they reflect” noted H.W. Chase during a trustees meeting on January 24, 1922.6
On May 9th, 1921 the Board of Trustees stated the building program at UNC-Chapel Hill “contemplated” the erection of three classroom buildings, five dormitories and several houses for the members of the faculty over the next two years, in which $1,100,000 had been appropriated.7 Later, in a 1922 legislature session, this amount was amended to $1,490,000, almost a third of this proposed budget would go towards the construction of four dormitories, which would hold approximately 500 men and would be finished by the fall of 1923.8 On June 13, 1922, the university trustees met and the Building Committee reported that “Dormitory C” would be completed in one week and all four of the new dormitories (B, C, D, and E) would be completed by the beginning of the fall semester.9 Names for the new buildings were recommended by the University Building Committee and “Mangum” was suggested for “Dormitory C.”10
As the dormitories neared construction, the Board of Trustees meeting minutes denote the men honored in the naming of the four buildings. It was decided that “Dormitory C” would honor three men from the influential Mangum family: Willie Person Mangum (1792-1861), Willie Preston Mangum (1837-1861), and Rev. Adolphus Williamson Mangum (1834-1890). Grimes, Ruffin, and Manly were the names chosen for the three other dormitories, thus the men honored by the naming of the four buildings were all North Carolina slaveholders with associations to the Confederacy.11
By September the four dormitories were completed and ready for occupancy. The final cost of these four dormitories was $402,000, according to a Board of Trustees report on November 22, 1922.12
WILLIE PERSON MANGUM
The Mangum family has colonial Orange County origins. Willie Person Mangum’s grandfather was recorded in Orange County in 1760.13 Willie Person was born in 1792 near Red Mountain, Orange County, NC.14 He was privately tutored by well known educators and attended one of the finest preparatory schools that prepared him for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which he attended from 1811 to 181515. Mangum was a member of the Dialectic Society at UNC-Chapel Hill, and these connections followed him throughout his political career.16 In comparison to most backcountry North Carolinians, Mangum was a child of privilege and thus received a good education and was able to make invaluable social connections, including developing a close relationship with the Bennehan-Cameron family, one of North Carolina’s wealthiest and most powerful families.17 According to one historian, “the foundation set at Red Mountain and elsewhere enabled him to move comfortably in elite social circles and provided him access to the highest reaches of power.”18 In 1819 Willie Person Mangum married Charity Alston Cain, great-granddaughter of John Alston (1673-1758) an important political and social figure in colonial North Carolina and Justice of the Colonial Supreme Court. Together they had four daughters and one son, William Preston Mangum.19
Willie Person Mangum is most remembered for his long and influential political career. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1823 until 1826 and in the Senate during the years 1831-37 and 1844-53.20 Willie Mangum wielded “tremendous” power and influence over national politics and over the course of his political career served as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, oversaw political campaigns in every state, and advised other important political figures.21 According to historian Joseph Thompson, Mangum and his political peers “orchestrated the development and consolidation of modern political parties and fashioned the legislation and the compromises that define the Age of Jackson.”22
Willie Person Mangum is an example of a typical antebellum politician, a politician of the “Age of Pragmatism” during the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s who avoided divisive issues, created broad coalitions, fashioned compromises, and built a national party system.23 One historian calls such politicians men “more concerned with power and position than with social uplift.”24 According to William Hoffman, Willie Person Mangum was the most “chameleon-like figure in North Carolina politics.”25 One article written by his political enemies ran in the June 7, 1842 edition of the Raleigh North Carolina Standard stated that “Mangum has been Federal and Anti-Federal; Jackson and Anti-Jackson; Calhoun and Anti-Calhoun; Clay and Anti-Clay; Nullifier and Anti-Nullifier. . . . [There is no politician in the state] who cannot remember the period when Mr. Mangum has been upon his side and upon the other also.”26
At UNC-Chapel Hill, Mangum was a Federalist and after the collapse of first party system, Mangum affiliated himself with the Democratic party, until 1834 when he denounced Andrew Jackson and declared himself a member of the Whig party.27 Mangum’s participation in the presidential election of 1824 demonstrates his “chameleon-like” political prowess. Initially, Willie Person opposed Andrew Jackson and supported William H. Crawford; however, after a stroke forced Crawford out of the running, Mangum reluctantly pledged his support to Andrew Jackson.28 In 1828, he was an elector of the Jackson ticket and an “ardent champion” of the man.29 Still he was dissatisfied with Andrew Jackson’s policies and Mangum was among the founders and leaders of the Whig Party and received South Carolina’s electoral votes for President in 1836.30
Willie Person Mangum and Slavery
As most southern politicians during the Jacksonian era, Willie Person Mangum defended slavery and sided with fellow southerners on many questions pertaining to the subject.31 However, like most members in his party and other politicians during the “Age of Jackson,” Mangum did his “utmost” to not let such divisive issues enter his politics, instead focusing on “less volatile” questions in order to build national coalitions in a regionally, socially, and economically diverse nation.32 Away from the political arena, William Person Mangum established himself well within the ranks of the North Carolina planter society with over 2,300 acres of land and at least 21 slaves.33
Like many southern planters, Mangum’s slaves were important economic assets that fell victim to his fluctuating economic circumstances. In 1828 Mangum reported owning 16 slaves, which he sold to pay off his debts due to bankruptcy.34 In the 1840s Mangum was required to hire out his slaves to planters in Georgia and Alabama.35 Again in 1850 Mangum sold off his slaves to pay his debts.36 According to the 1860 Census, shortly before his death, Mangum owned 11 slaves.
Crisis of 1850
After the end of the war with Mexico (1846-1848) Congress entered a two year deadlock over the question of slavery in the newly acquired territories, causing normal political proceedings to come to a standstill until the Compromise of 1850.37 This pivotal moment in antebellum American politics marked the demise of Willie Person Mangum’s political influence and career.
Personally, the years 1849-1852 were difficult for Mangum because his brother and many friends died, his political career was suffering, and he was in ill health.38 Many people noticed his excessive drinking and he was condemned “for being drunk in the Senate chamber” while young politicians “mocked his overbearing nature and gossiped about his womanizing.”39 Mangum’s political career took a hit not only by his personal life, but also by the national political environment of the early 1850s. After the Compromise of 1850, the national Whig party leadership was weakened by their apparent weakness on the issue of slavery expansion while the Democratic party had aggressively asserted “southern rights.”40 By 1856, the Whig party had fallen apart due to sectional tensions in regards to the expansion of slavery, although the party hung on in North Carolina until the beginning of the Civil War.41 In 1853 Willie Person Mangum returned from Washington to his home in Red Mountain, where he stayed until his death.42
Mangum’s Final Years
According to one historian, “when South Carolina seceded from the Union he cursed them, but when Northern warships fired on Fort Sumter he followed the state out of the Union.”43 Although Mangum had originally opposed secession, he encouraged his only son, Willie Preston Mangum, a recent alumnus of UNC-Chapel Hill, to volunteer for the Confederate Army.44 Mangum’s son was mortally wounded at Manassas and died in 1861.45 When Willie Person heard the news of his son’s death he was utterly heartbroken and “rode with his favorite slave to the family graveyard” and silently “pointed to the spot where his son was to be buried.”46 Apparently he never spoke again and died a little over a month after the death of his son on September 7, 1861.47
Willie Person Mangum Remembered
Josephus Daniels, future trustee of UNC-Chapel Hill, remembered the “distinguished orator Wiley P. Mangum” in a speech in 1891.48 In 1922, the University Building Committee listed Willie Person Mangum as the first man honored as a namesake for the new dormitory. According to the Committee, Willie Person deserved the honor because he was a member of UNC’s Class of 1815 and served as a university trustee for 43 years (1818-1859).49 Willie Person was also chosen as an honoree because of his political career, in which he served as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, a Judge of the Superior Court, a Representative in Congress (1824-1826), and as a United States Senator.50
WILLIE PRESTON MANGUM
Willie Preston Mangum was born in 1837 and was the only son of Willie Person Mangum. Like his father, his privileged upbringing allowed him to receive education from esteemed educators and institutions. Willie Preston attended the school of Mr. Graves in Hillsborough, Graves’ son was the Professor Graves of UNC-Chapel Hill and he later studied at the Academy at South Lowell under Rev. Dean from Wesley College.51 Willie Preston Mangum entered UNC-Chapel Hill in 1855-1856, where he earned a law degree.52 Willie Preston delayed his practice of law to attend to his father’s plantation because of Willie Person Mangum’s failing health.53
Willie Preston volunteered for the Confederate army in 1861 at the urging of his father and became a Second Lieutenant in Company B., Sixth North Carolina Regiment under Colonel Charles F. Fisher.54 Shortly after his enlistment in Confederacy, he was wounded at Manassas. According to his cousin, Adolphus Williamson Mangum, Willie Preston carried a New Testament in his breast pocket and a bullet glanced off of the book and pierced his skin during the battle.55 Although the wound did not look mortal at first, the lack of medical care caused his injury to become fatal. Adolphus attended to his dying cousin, who died from the chest wound on July 28, 1861, and then Adolphus carried Willie Preston’s body home to the family plantation, Walnut Hill.56
Remembering Willie Preston Mangum
Willie Preston Mangum was remembered in Mangum family histories as “modest and reserve, although warm, generous, and unselfish, he was richly endowed in intellect which he seemed to conceal rather than display.”57 Future trustee, Josephus Daniels remembered the family’s loss in 1891. Of Manassas, Daniels wrote of the bravery of Col. Fisher and the men killed in the battle, including “Lieut. Preston Mangum,” and the tragedy of the death of the “lovable and aspiring young son of a noble father.”58
The trustees chose to honor Willie Person’s only son in the naming of Mangum dormitory in 1922 because he was a member of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Class of 1860.59 Shortly after his graduation from the university, the board noted that Willie Preston served as a lieutenant of the 6th N.C. Regiment and was killed fighting for the Confederate cause at Manassas.60 The inclusion of Willie Preston Mangum as an honoree is interesting because he did not significantly contribute to the university like people typically honored as university building namesakes. Instead, the Board of Trustees seemed to want to commemorate Willie Preston Mangum’s sacrifice for the Confederate cause.
ADOLPHUS WILLIAMSON MANGUM
Adolphus Williamson Mangum was born in Orange County at Locust Grove, the old Mangum home on Flat River in 1834.61 Adolphus was the son of Ellison Goodloe Mangum, the brother of Willie Person Mangum.62 Ellison had a large plantation in Orange County at Flat River. He owned many slaves and on the side he ran a store.63 Adolphus was the youngest of his eight children.64 The property of Willie Person Mangum, Walnut Hill, adjoined the Ellison Mangum home, Locust Grove, which is about six miles away from Durham.65
Adolphus’ father did not have a formal education and he therefore wanted his son to receive a good education. Adolphus, like his uncle and cousin, was educated by exemplary academies and tutors before he entered Randolph-Macon College in Boydton, Virginia, a school allegedly chosen against his wishes.66 He was a good student and graduated at the head of his class in 1854 and decided to take up the ministry, to the disappointment of his father, who wanted him to be a lawyer.67 Adolphus married Laura Jane Overman in 1864 and the couple had five children.68
Early Career and the Civil War
After his graduation, Adolphus became a circuit rider, working in Hillsborough, Chapel Hill, and Roanoke.69 In 1861, Adolphus joined the same Confederate regiment as his cousin William Preston Mangum, the Sixth North Carolina Regiment under Colonel Fisher.70 Adolphus saw action at Manassas, the battle that claimed the life of Willie Preston. Adolphus brought home the body of his cousin, and the death of Willie Preston appears to have haunted him for the remainder of his life.71 At his death in 1890, Adolphus was working on a history of his cousin’s short life.72 After Manassas, Adolphus became a pastor in Salisbury and administered to the prisoners in the Confederate prison there.73 Prison conditions were terrible and he wrote a paper describing the situation in the hopes that reforms could be made.74 After the end of Civil War, Adolphus continued as a circuit rider and pastor.75
Adolphus at UNC-Chapel Hill
In 1875 UNC-Chapel Hill opened after ten years of inactivity (due to Reconstruction) and Adolphus W. Mangum was elected as the chair of Mental and Moral Philosophy, where he taught literature, law, science, and religion.76 Many sources noted Adolphus as being a good teacher. According to his daughter, as a teacher he “was frank, unaffected, sincere, and his students respected him.”77
Remembering Adolphus Williamson Mangum
After Adolphus’ death, Josephus Daniels honored his life with a memorial address. In this address Daniels celebrates Adolphus as an intense believer in the Lost Cause.78 According to Daniels, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus had once found Dr. Mangum in Phi Hall, looking at portraits of Confederate leaders, “his eyes were filled with tears.”79
Daniels’ remembrance of Adolphus also reveals the Lost Cause doctrine of the 1890s and the persisting sectionalism and belief in southern morals and values. Daniels speaks of Adolphus’ “love of his section and belief in its superiority” which “strong in his mature years, was naturally more intense and deep-seated in the ardor of his youth.”80 According to Daniels, Adolphus had “not patience with the advocates of abolition” and “he then believed that the best place for the negro was in slavery, and that there was no conflict between slave-owning and the Bible, provided masters were kind and just; and most of them were.”81 In addition, Daniels spoke of some of Adolphus’ other beliefs, including that the place of women was in the home and his dislike for the “publicity of women” even for public good.82 Ultimately, Daniels concluded Adolphus Williamson Mangum’s legacy as follows: “He believed in the University, and deprecated any movement that threatened its growth and greatness. . . . For one hundred years this University has exerted greater influence upon the destiny of the people of North Carolina than any other agency. Dr. Mangum was firmly of the opinion that his church should be as strong as possible at the University and should sustain it.”83
Thirty years after Josephus Daniels’ memorial address, he was a member of the 1922 Board of Trustees that approved the naming of Mangum Dormitory. According to the Board of Trustee records, Rev. Adolphus Williamson Mangum was honored in the naming of the dormitory alongside his uncle and cousin because of his service in the Confederate Army, his time as a professor of Moral Philosophy, History and English Literature (1875-1885), and his time as a professor Mental and Moral Science (1885-1890).84
WHITE SUPREMACY, THE LOST CAUSE, AND THE UNIVERSITY
At the moment of the naming of Mangum Dormitory, the Board of Trustees was comprised of men that supported Lost Cause ideologies and were active in the White Supremacy movement during the 1890s. Josephus Daniels in particular was instrumental in the White Supremacy movement of the 1890s. During 1896-1897, the Democratic press, led by Daniels, propagated that the rape of white women by black men would be the fruit of African American political power, leading to lynchings and the loss of black political power.85
As result of the white supremacy campaign, Democrats gained political power in North Carolina and World War I “brought important changes.”86 The Klu Klux Klan was “reborn” during the war years into a “modern version” and Klan organizers found a receptive audience and attracted many members.87 Perhaps because of this political and social climate, the Board of Trustees decided to name another building, Saunders Hall, after a KKK leader and the other buildings after men related or connected to the Civil War.
Although the general values and sentiments of the Trustees seem fairly transparent in the naming of the buildings in the UNC-Chapel Hill building boom, the exact feelings and thoughts of each man are more difficult to pin down. Perhaps the Trustees of UNC-Chapel Hill were simply memorializing the university’s past as they worked to prepare the university for the anticipated rapid changes about to occur at the university and across North Carolina. Or perhaps the Trustees were insidiously expressing their desire for a return to the past they romanticized with their Lost Cause ideology. Regardless, Mangum Dormitory embodies a much larger history of North Carolina than a single moment in 1922, stretching back through the political, social, and economic upheavals of the 19th century. The dormitory is an important part of a the current discussion of historical memorialization at UNC-Chapel Hill and must be remembered as we try to understand, contend with, and move forward in regards to the legacies that continue to haunt the campus landscape.
1“Willie Person Mangum (1792-1861), Adolphus Williamson Mangum (1834-1890), Willie Person Mangum, Jr. (1827-1881), and Mangum Residence Hall” Names Across the Landscape, The Carolina Story, Feb. 27, 2017. https://museum.unc.edu/exhibits/show/names/mangum-residence-hall
2Minutes, 1789-1932. Series 1. January 1917-January 18, 1924 (Reel 4).Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina Records, 1789-1932, #40001. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
3Willie Person Mangum (1792-1861), Adolphus Williamson Mangum (1834-1890), Willie Person Mangum, Jr. (1827-1881), and Mangum Residence Hall” Names Across the Landscape, The Carolina Story, Feb. 27, 2017. https://museum.unc.edu/exhibits/show/names/mangum-residence-hall
4Hewitt, Joe A. Louis Round Wilson Library: An Enduring Monument to Learning. UNC University Libraries (October 21, 2004). http://library.unc.edu/wilson/about/wilsonhistory/.
5Minutes, 1789-1932. Series 1. January 1917-January 18, 1924 (Reel 4).Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina Records, 1789-1932, #40001. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
13Mangum, Ariana Holliday. A Short History of the Mangum Family of North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC: A.H. Mangum, 1956. (2)
14Mangum, Willie Person. The Papers of Willie Person Mangum. Raleigh: State Dept. of Archives and History, 1950.
15Thompson, Joseph Conan. Willie Person Mangum : Politics and Pragmatism in the Age of
Jackson. 1995. Print. (26-27)
19Mangum, A Short History of the Mangum Family of North Carolina, 8-9.
21Thompson, Willie Person Mangum : Politics and Pragmatism in the Age of
25Hoffmann, William S. Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions. Baton Rouge, La.: Southern Historical Association, 1956. (339)
26Hamilton, Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac. “Party Politics in North Carolina, from 1835-1860.” The Charlotte Observer, February 17, 1915.
27Thompson, Willie Person Mangum : Politics and Pragmatism in the Age of
Jackson, 29.; Mangum, Willie Person. The Papers of Willie Person Mangum. Raleigh: State Dept. of Archives and History, 1950. xxiv.
28Hoffmann, William S. Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions, 339.
31Thompson, Willie Person Mangum : Politics and Pragmatism in the Age of
34Mangum, Willie Person. The Papers of Willie Person Mangum. Raleigh: State Dept. of Archives and History, 1950. xxiv.
37Link, William A. North Carolina : Change and Tradition in a Southern State. Wheeling, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 2009.
38Thompson, Willie Person Mangum : Politics and Pragmatism in the Age of
40Link, North Carolina : Change and Tradition in a Southern State, 182.
42Thompson, Willie Person Mangum : Politics and Pragmatism in the Age of
47Mangum,The Papers of Willie Person Mangum.
48Daniels, Josephus. Adolphus Williamson Mangum : Memorial Address Delivered in the Chapel of the University, Sunday, May 31st, 1891. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies, 1891.
49Minutes, 1789-1932. Series 1. January 1917-January 18, 1924 (Reel 4).Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina Records, 1789-1932, #40001. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
51Mangum, A Short History of the Mangum Family of North Carolina, 11.
58Daniels, Adolphus Williamson Mangum : Memorial Address Delivered in the Chapel of the University, Sunday, May 31st, 1891.
59Minutes, 1789-1932. Series 1. January 1917-January 18, 1924 (Reel 4).Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina Records, 1789-1932, #40001. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
61Mangum, A Short History of the Mangum Family of North Carolina, 8.
78Daniels, Adolphus Williamson Mangum : Memorial Address Delivered in the Chapel of the University, Sunday, May 31st, 1891.
84Minutes, 1789-1932. Series 1. January 1917-January 18, 1924 (Reel 4).Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina Records, 1789-1932, #40001. The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
85Link, North Carolina : Change and Tradition in a Southern State.