William King was offered the position of Rector (Headmaster) of a preparatory department of Louisiana College. Before he accepted he asked the Trustees to change the laws that required all boys above 12 years of age to be treated as gentlemen. He wanted the power to correct them because he knew amongst other things that the “boys would leave their rooms at night and visit neighbouring plantations for improper purposes”. (33) “Sometimes they would have company with them in their rooms feasting and drinking and having a good time generally and wholly neglecting their studies.” (32) William King would have none of that. He had the floor of small bedrooms changed into a single dormitory. One unmarried teacher slept at each end and a lamp was kept burning throughout the night so that bed checks could be made.
He also prohibited (and confiscated) the weapons that the boys brought to school: pistols and bowie knives in the hands of the French and English boys and stillettoes or Spanish daggers in the hands of the Spaniards.
In his time at the Academy King loved his nightly horse ride through the 100 acres of the college. “On these excursions I would sometimes meet students going out to the country for a spree. Sometimes I would meet the Patrol visiting the negro quarters to see that they were all in their right place and if any negro was found off the plantation to which he belonged without a written permit from his master he was whipped and sent home.” (36) On these evenings he loved the “the fragrance of the magnolia, honeysuckle and cape jasmine and the song of the mocking bird and the nightingale”. (36)
What memories does this passage stir up for you?