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On February 12, 1795, Hinton James became the first student to enter the University of North Carolina. James, who had walked to Chapel Hill from his home in New Hanover County, was the only student for the first two weeks of the school year. Academically gifted, James helped organize the first literary club and debating society on campus. He was awarded a bachelor’s degree as one of the seven students in the university’s first graduating class in July 1798.

After graduation, James became an assistant to Hamilton Fulton, a Scottish engineer hired by the state to make navigation improvements on the eastern rivers. He was put in charge of operations along the Cape Fear River, but left in 1807 upon his election to the state legislature. He served three terms in Raleigh, before serving as mayor and treasurer of Wilmington and as a magistrate of New Hanover County.

James died in 1847 and was buried at Hopewell Presbyterian Church near Burgaw. A dormitory at the University of North Carolina is named in his honor.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online at www.ncdcr.gov.

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6 Comments on "This Day in NC History: New Hanover Co. man first student at UNC Chapel Hill"

2015 years 10 months ago

The current leadership has no understanding of the proud tradition of public education in our state of North Carolina because they are not from around here!

Pat McCrory-home state:OHIO
Thom Tillis-home state:FLORIDA
Phil Berger-home state:NEW YORK

They don’t care that they’re dismantling education for OUR children. Time to vote them out and send them back to their own states!

Southern Child
2015 years 10 months ago

The University was the first university in the country supported with public funds. Hinton James walked from what is now Pender county. So sad that our current Republican legislature has forgotten the proud NC tradition of public education that began with forward thinking North Carolinians realizing education is the right of the public, not the select. Natives who understand our proud tradition of public education cannot continue to allow outsiders to destroy this tradition with vouchers, racially identifiable charter schools, frozen teacher pay, and continued major cuts to university academic programs. Maybe we all need to walk a few miles with Hinton James.

2015 years 10 months ago

It’s not vouchers, charter schools, frozen teacher pay and cuts that have ruined the public education. If public education was held to the same standards that most private schools hold themselves to, then the parents wouldn’t care about vouchers. If public education was what it was supposed to be, then parents wouldn’t need to seek alternatives in order to ensure that their children have the best education. More money thrown at it is not going to make it better. The people in charge of the purse strings need to be better stewards of the money they already have. They need to get off this kick of teaching to the test. The school I grew up in had annual testing. We had it in October. The students scored well on them. It wasn’t due to the teachers preparing us for the test. It was due to the teachers making sure that we had the education necessary for us to succeed on the tests. When the public education becomes what it should be then I will walk a few miles with Hinton James. I won’t be holding my breath.

2015 years 10 months ago

Oh, please, yall. I am a born and bred Tar Heel…. but pleeeease. why do you have to take a nice article and make it political and/or anti-Northerner?
United We Stand.

2015 years 10 months ago

you’re traveling down this path, why not include Smiley who was not a native of North Carolina?

We’re facing tough times due to the borrow and spend philosophy practiced by she and Easley.

2015 years 10 months ago

Interesting story about Hinton James; a man who worked hard and ultimately became successful. Too bad Southern Girl and yourself had to morph an uplifting story into a blame game.

My wife and I are from CT. By your standards, I guess that makes us the enemy. Years ago we started a business from nothing, worked our butts off for years, raised three great kids, got lucky enough to sell out and were able to retire somewhat early. Having visited here before, we decided to move here. We both love it here and consider it home. Almost all of our neighbors are locals and we get along with everyone. By everyone, I mean everyone except for a small number of people like you two and some others who post here, who apparently hate non-locals just because they weren’t born here, regardless of whether they’ve actually met them or not.

Thought I’d address a couple of things you two said:

– First off, no one is sending anyone back anywhere. Last time I checked, NC was still part of the U.S. and anyone can live here.
– “education for OUR children”: Regardless of where you’re from, education is important to everyone with kids in school, not just YOUR children.
– “our proud tradition of public education”: Proud tradition? There is no proud tradition. For decades, not just recently, NC has been ranked near the very bottom. For the majority of that time Democrats were in control. Instead of “allowing outsiders to destroy that tradition” (LOL), you continued to allow insiders to perpetuate it.
– Legislators from OH,FL,NY: Gee, I wonder why you didn’t list where the rest of them are from. Could it be that they’re mostly native North Carolinians? Also, if they didn’t like the outsiders, why did most North Carolinians vote for them?

Hinton James strikes me as a man who was not only a self starter, he was also a man who probably accepted responsibility for his actions. You two seem to be the type who would rather blame someone else for NC’s problems rather than accept responsibility for them.

Maybe both of you “need to walk a few miles with Hinton James.”


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