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Title: University record
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University of Florida
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Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1 (Feb. 1906)-
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 359
    Front Matter
        Page 360
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
        Page 366
        Page 367
        Page 368
Full Text

The University Record

of the

University of Florida



An Address

University Auditorium
University of Florida
May 6, 1936

Vol. XXXI, Series I

No. 7 Extra No. I

July 15, 1936

Published monthly by the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Entered in the post office in Gainesville, Florida, as second-class
matter, under Act of Congress, August 24, 1912.
Office of Publication, Gainesville, Florida

The Record comprises:

The Reports of the President to the Board of Control, the Bulletins
of Information, announcements of special courses of instruction, and
reports of the University Officers.

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The applicant should specifically state which bulletin or what information is
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University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

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University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

The lectureship under the terms of which the following address was de-
livered is fittingly designed to perpetuate the memory of an eminent and
revered Floridian. It was established through the generosity of Mrs. Nannie
Yulee Noble, who bequeathed to the University of Florida a sum of money, the
income from which should be used as a memorial to her father, Senator Davij
Levy Yulee. Under this bequest the David Levy Yulee Lectureship was maM
possible. As a permanent contribution to the University's intellectual life, its
object is to bring annually before the faculty and student body of the University
of Florida some distinguished speaker to deliver an address on the general
theme of "The Ideal of Honor and Service in Politics."

No more appropriate tribute could have been designed for him whose mem-
ory is thus honored. The name of David Levy Yulee remains ever fresh in the
minds of the people of Florida, for it is writ large in the early annals of the
commonwealth. Coming to Florida in 1824, David Yulee quickly gained local
distinction at the bar. Soon, however, abandoning law for politics, he was
successively Clerk to the Territorial Legislature, Territorial Delegate, and
United States Senator. His lengthy service in the Senate, beginning with
Florida's admission to the Union in 1845 and terminating with the dignified
retirement of the Southern members in 1861, was conspicuous for fidelity, tact,
and energy. His services to his state, moreover, were not confined to the duties
of public office. As planter and railroad builder, Senator Yulee was in thy
truest sense a pioneer, who by his dauntless courage and foresight helped to he(
out of a frontier region our modern State of Florida.
This year's lecturer was Henry Nelson Snyder, President of Wofford College,
Spartanburg, South Carolina. Mr. Snyder has had a notable academic and
literary career. He received the degree of Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt
University in 1887, and that of Master of Arts in 1890. In 1898-1899 he studied
at Gottingen and the British Museum. In 1902 he was awarded the degree of
Doctor of Letters by the University of South Carolina. He has been succes-
sively Instructor in Latin at Vanderbilt University, Professor of English Litera-
ture at Wofford College, and President of Wofford College. He is the author
of several books, among which may be mentioned "Old Testament Narratives,"
"English Literature," "Persistence of Spiritual Ideals in English Letters," and
"Sidney Lanier."
The present address, "On Being Frontier-Minded," was delivered at a
special convocation of the students and faculty of the University of Florida
on May 6, 1936. In keeping with the purposes of the David Levy Yulee Lecl
tureship, it pictures vividly the transformation of American life from frontier
days to the present, describes the energy, enterprise, independence, and faith
which marked the pioneer mind, and appeals for the application of these pioneer
qualities to contemporary problems through the adherence of our American
youth to the ideals of honor and service in political, social, and economic life.



On Being Frontier-Minded

Henry Nelson Snyder

W HEN SHIFTS AND CHANGES in conditions produce new experiences
and ideas, words, the current coin of human speech, respond by either
taking on fresh meanings or by so adjusting themselves as adequately
to express the newer ideas. They thus acquire a fresh vitality. In either
case their older associations still cling to them, coloring whatever thinking is
done in the effort to develop these new ideas. The word "frontier," for in-
stance, in these recent years has emerged into popular use, alive with its past
implications and demanding a re-valuation of present conditions in terms of
the spirit and conceptions that made the frontier so significant in the history
of this country. The economic thinker, the educator, the interpreter of religi-
ous creeds and movements, the sociologist looking anxiously at social trends,
the student in politics-all, in public speech, in magazine article, in book,
viewing the American scene, with its confusion and uncertainties, are saying
with one voice that in every field we are facing new "frontiers" of experience,
and that consequently in our thinking we must be "frontier-minded."

The old physical frontiers have long vanished. What, then, is meant by
the frequent use of this word, by its so lively revival at this particular time?
This question has had the effect of recalling to memory an old picture which
I once saw, and has impelled me to a re-reading of Frederick J. Turner's
thought-provoking book on "The Significance of the Frontier in American
History." This book interprets graphically the meaning of what are perhaps
the most important movements of population in human history. First, there
was the Atlantic seaboard frontier, followed by other frontiers until at last the
Rocky Mountains were crossed, and the United States of America had reached
the Rio Grande on the southwest and the Pacific Ocean toward the sunset. The
conquest of this richest domain ever offered to man for his possession and use.
in successive waves of immigration is an epic story unmatched in the record
of mankind. In fact, there is nothing like it anywhere in the number and
variety of the people involved, in the nature and completeness of the conquest,
in the quality and wealth of the civilization that resulted, and in the social,
political, and spiritual standards and ideals that were forged on the anvil of
frontier experiences-ideals and standards that come in the end to be not
English, not German, not Irish, not Scandinavian, not even a composite of all of
them, but something so different as to be essentially American.

But of what sort were these people of the older European stocks, and why
did they leave settled, safe, comfortable conditions to face the hardships and
perils of the wilderness; and what did their struggle and their final conquest of
the last frontier make of them as a folk? If we are to be "frontier-minded"
today, the answer to the first question will give a clue to the answer to the
second one. First, then, why did these men of the frontier leave the comforts,
the safety, the ease of civilized surroundings in response to the appeal of the


West, and what were the compelling motives that drove them out? In that
mighty host of restless peoples were, of course, the ne'er-do-wells, the failures,
the discontented, the merely adventurous, seekers after change-types to be
found in every group everywhere. Then also there were the under-privileged
who felt that for them there was no way out and up from under the pressure
of a more or less fixed order of society, and therefore westward there beckoned
a better chance, a more inviting, a freer opportunity. Others were naturally
moved by the ancient land-hunger of the race-beyond the mountains, down
into the Great Valley, across the mighty stream that drained the continent,
and up the slopes and over the mountains again lay fairer and richer lands in
plenty, and to be had just for the taking. However, there were others still,
the real leaders of progress who had dreams of an empire, in the building of
which the enterprising, the intelligent, the energetic might have a creative
share. These may have had something of the constructive imagination that
visions a larger future not only for themselves but for all others as well. They,
knowing what they were about, reaped the richest rewards both in the process
and in the completion of the conquest of the frontier. They became the real
builders of the Nation.

K EEPING IN MIND these various types of westward-moving immigrants
and remembering that there followed after the first wave of men of
English stock, successive waves of other races and cultures-Irish,
Scotch, German, Scandinavian-let us look at that old picture of "The Wilder-
ness Trail" in order to approach our subject in a little more concrete, a more
picturesque way perhaps. There he stands, as I recall him, gazing with a far-
away look in his eyes, down a faint pathway that soon loses itself in the dimness
of the forest. There is a coon-skin cap on his head; fringed deer-skin clothes on
his long, lean body; on his feet are the beaded moccasins after the fashion of
his Indian enemies; in his belt are axe and knife; he is leaning upon the long
rifle he has made famous by his deadly skill. By his side, though a little behind
him, is his woman with a babe in her arms and the same intent look in her eyes.
To the right of them both is a raw-boned horse with a pack on his back, from
which protrude rude implements of future toil-the hoe, the axe, the plow, the
mattock, and behind them all is the dog, that immortal friend of man. In this
group, civilization is once again on the march to new and distant places to
transplant an old culture where none has been before.

He and his kind are the "rear guard of the American Revolution and the
advance guard of western civilization." And what does he carry behind those
far-gazing eyes and beneath that coonskin cap-this frontier man? Being of
the so-called Anglo-Saxon stock he is the heir of certain rights and privileges
slow-won with bitter struggles through the long centuries. He is a free man,
and knows it-free to work out his own destiny in his own way and by his
own skill. His immediate forebears had left behind them the limitations of
class and rank, and this new land had opened to him opportunities that promised
release from the age-hardened crust of ecclesiastical, political, and hereditary
oppressions. Besides, but yesterday it had been affirmed for him by a new
prophet that all men are born free and equal and endowed by their Creator


with certain inalienable rights-such as the right to life, liberty, the possession
of property, and the pursuit of happiness.

And the realization of these he saw in his mind somewhere down the
Wilderness Trail. For the time it was a cabin set in a forest clearing, a few
nicres of planted land won from hostile nature with hard toil, and then more
land and a larger and better house after a while-a home like the best that
had been denied him, though possessed by others with inherited privileges.
With this dream in his heart he dauntlessly faced the dangers, endured the hard-
ships, and labored without stint through the wilting heat of summer and the
bitter cold of winter. He had the courage to make the great adventure, how-
ever it might be set about with peril, the fortitude to carry on against diffi-
culties that might wear away a less stubborn fibre of character, and, above all,
a faith and a hope in a larger and finer future for him and all like him every-

Those like him, with the same courage, the same fortitude, the same spirit,
the same undying faith and hope followed, millions strong, until the wilderness
trails all gave way to the highways of commerce, and the last frontier disap-
peared within the memory of those now living, but leaving in its stead a vast
complex industrialized civilization with the confusing, baffling tangle of eco-
nomic, social, political, and spiritual complexities we now know. And looking
down a strange and unfamiliar wilderness trail of a very different kind, we
seem to be pioneers again in a new world of experience and are therefore
asked to be once more "frontier-minded."

T HIS CONSIDERATION raises again the question as to just what kind of
mind it was that created that marvelous growth and expansion stretching
beyond the Appalachian chain of mountains, up and over the Rockies, and
halted only by the Pacific Ocean. In less than a hundred years, teeming with
an energetic, enterprising, hopeful, buoyant population, it became, as Emerson
said in 1850, the real America in spirit and in material power. In the first
place, that mind was independent and individualistic. It had to be as the
product of the conditions that created it. None but an invincibly self-reliant
folk could have mastered the conditions that fronted it in terms of such vast
accomplishments. Then, as Dr. Turner affirms, there was also in the mind of
this older frontier a faith in the common man, and a conviction of the essential
equality of opportunity, which nothing could shake. This conception wrought
mightily in the direction of cooperative efforts for the common good-each
and all must have a share in the fair and worthy things of life. Moreover,
there was a quality of daring in the mind of the builders beyond each fron-
tier-they ventured to take risks, even if at times their courage was that of
ignorance. Its leadership in every field added to these qualities a constructive
imagination which now and again reached heights of creativeness in achieve-
ment. Finally, in working out its destiny in these attitudes and in this spirit
the frontier mind was inclined to ask few favors of government. It wanted
very much to be let alone. It was sensitive with reference to government
interference and suspicious of all centralizations of power anywhere.


Again, we should be reminded with emphasis of what this frontier mind
accomplished. It created the greatest industrial empire the world has ever
seen; it heaped up wealth beyond the dreams of man at any other time in his
history; it established standards of living above those of any other people; it
set up a noble system of free education for all from kindergarten to university
in each of the great states it carved out of the wilderness. Jefferson was their
political saint, and they expressed their political theory and practice when they
sent one of their kind to sit in the White House-a lean frontiersman himself
with heart and soul aflame to rescue them from what they thought was the
oppression of the money-changers. In literature they answered the gentle sweet-
ness of Longfellow with Whitman's raucous paeans of emancipated democracy,
and the thin polished glitter of Emerson's incisiveness with Mark Twain's
robust, gusty, full-blooded picture of themselves when they were on the move
or had hardly built shelters for themselves in struggling villages. In their effort
to set religion free of its entangling alliances with forms and ceremonies they
stripped it rather bare in order to make it as plain as they could for the plain
people, holding on, however, to the essential fundamentals of faith, though
they might split themselves into many varieties of creed and doctrine.

T HE ELEMENTS, THEN, that made up the older frontier mind, to have
wrought so mightily in the development of the Nation must have been
immensely potent and held values of immeasurable and enduring worth.
They went wrong, to be sure, the frontiersmen, in all too many instances, and
smeared the history of their country with not a few pages of the black ugliness
of corruption and the terrifying misuses of power; the corruption and misuses
being defects, however, in the very virtues of the frontier mind. Now, when
we are told with an urgent insistency that we have come again to new frontiers
and that to conquer them, we must be "frontier-minded," knowing the weak-
nesses in the thinking and practice of yesterday, we shall have to try to discover
afresh the values that lay in them to see of what worth they are to the uses
of the frontiers we seem now to be facing. Rugged individualistic self-reliance
and independence-yes, frontiers of any kind, are never won without it; a
faith in the common man, the average man, and a passion to give him a chance
at all that adds worth and dignity to human personality, and a willingness to
cooperate to guarantee by every lawful means his chance to him-any other
conception than this is un-American and denies, with a suggestion of treason,
one of the major forces that have made the greatness of the Nation; daring,
enterprise, energy, the adventurous courage even to take risks, faith, hope,
optimism. Caution, timidity, fear, despair, cynicism, defeat, distrust of the
people, their institutions, and their ultimate beneficent destiny-never con-
quered the frontiers of yesterday, nor will they win these of today for better
ways of living tomorrow. A suspicion of government that it may do too much
for us, may enter so intimately into our experiences as subtly to undermine
individual resourcefulness and debilitate our power to initiate, taking from us
certain qualities of self-reliance that have marked us as a distinctively Ameri-
can race-the newer frontier-mind shall not be of the same stuff with the
old if it does not preserve a full measure of democracy's historic uneasiness in
the presence of the invasion of private interests of any kind by the compulsions


of too many governmental regulations and activities, however benevolent in
purpose. Finally, that leadership that represented the frontier mind at its
best-imaginative, constructive, creative, dreaming great dreams and making
large plans for the whole land, unscrupulous, ruthless, selfish, gigantically
greedy at times, but yet that somehow with an uncanny understanding, or may-
be intuition, visioned the future of the Nation and labored to make their visions
real-yes, unless the frontier-mindedness of this troubled hour can produce
a leadership of this type for the high service of democracy as it looks down its
Wilderness Trail, then poverty-stricken beyond measure is the mind with which
it faces its new frontiers. Without much of the mind of the older Frontier,
whose achievements, as we look back upon them, are a romantic epic of heroic
proportions, the conquest of the newer frontiers is a hopeless undertaking, and
American ideals of satisfactory and happy living will go lost in a confusing
welter of alien conceptions of economic, social, and political organization.

ERHAPS THOSE who are to-day talking and writing so glibly of new
frontiers and calling on us to be frontier-minded are not thinking of the
nature of the old frontiers nor of what was in the minds of the men and
women who conquered them. What many of them doubtless mean is that we
are to clear our minds entirely of old ways of looking at things, have a sort of
mental house-cleaning, get rid of the cluttering antiques of yesterday in order
to take a quite new start on another Wilderness Trail. When they ask this,
they are asking the impossible. As I have been trying to emphasize all along,
we have a heritage of something that has come to be essentially American, and
we have such a faith in its unfailing potency and in the values inherent in it
that we are not willing to give it up even now for something alien and foreign.
The frontiers we face are just as strange and unfamiliar as those that they
who went ahead of us faced. But they are not so strange and unfamiliar that
they can dispense with the spirit, purpose, and aims of that frontier mind that
created the civilization called American. Our duty, our task, our privilege
is to apply with what intelligence we have the older principles to the newer
conditions, believing that we shall work out a nobler Republic for those who
come after us.

Now what has all this to do with those on a university campus who to-day
are to be inducted into positions of trust and honor? It has much to do with
them. The University, with its extraordinary record of significant civic service,
is itself a product of that frontier mind we have been discussing. It exists to
offer to the youth of the Commonwealth an equal chance to acquire the arts
that confer grace and light and wisdom upon human personality, and to secure
that practical training that enables them not only to live happily but also to
make a living. To these great ends it is dedicated, and is supported by the
taxes of all the people. This Campus, therefore, ought to be a sort of perfect
democracy where every opportunity is free to everyone, where rank and caste
do not count for much, but where courage, initiative, self-reliance do; where
there is displayed the spirit of cooperative effort to common ends that 'are
worthy; where aspiring youth may live for a time in an atmosphere congenial
to the ideal that what is good enough for any man is not too good for every


man, and what is not too good for every man somehow every man ought to
have-a campus where there may be bred a generation of men who will fur-
nish to the State a leadership that finds honor in disinterested service to things
that are true, and just, and honest, and of good report.

A ND THEY WHO ARE today set apart to direct student affairs for the
coming year must know that "honors" become honor not by being listed
in the University annual nor in fraternity records, but only by the quality
of service rendered to the whole student body. It was a great democrat who
said that a public office is a public trust, and this holds on a college campus as
well as on the wider field of local and national politics. For a student officer
is a trustee of important interests committed to his care, and the honor of his
position does not consist in the fact that he has the position by the suffrages of
his fellow-students, but rather in the method and spirit in which he administers
its duties.
All this is to suggest that here on the campus, in this more or less free
democracy, perhaps really without knowing it, we are acquiring in practice and
theory the kind of frontier-mind needed as we take our way down the Wilder-
ness Trail toward the new political, social, and economic frontiers that seem
to so many a tangled forest, in the shadowed depths of which lurk the foes of
the civilization that others have built for us. I believe we shall conquer our
frontiers as they conquered theirs if we shall appropriate to our use the best
we may discover in the ideals of this institution, and keep faith with the spirit
and purpose of what is genuinely American in the life and history of the
This spirit and purpose, moreover, the students of the University of Florida
may discover in the character and achievements of the man to whose memory
each address on this occasion is dedicated. David Levy Yulee came to this
State from the West Indies by way of Virginia in 1824. Delegate to the
United States Congress from the Territory of Florida, member of the conven-
tion that framed its constitution, Senator from the State from 1845 to 1861,
member of the Confederate Congress, lawyer, agriculturalist, railroad presi-
dent-with a high sense of honor and service, he was as of those who, with the
true frontier mind-daring, constructive, self-reliant, rich in hope and faith-
helped to lay the foundations of this great Commonwealth.

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