Three Presidential Inaugural Addresses

45th President Donald J. Trump recently delivered his inaugural address, a speech which occurs every four years and represents the issues of the day.  Although this most recent address came at a time in which there is much division within the United States, 2017 pales in comparison to the year 1861.  The political climate was a “powder keg” as two presidents, Confederate and Union, were sworn in.

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Click image hear the call to arms in “Everybody’s Dixie.”

Confederate President Jefferson Davis delivered his inaugural address in February of 1861, stating the case for secession and the need to establish an army and navy.  Two weeks later, 16th US President Abraham Lincoln delivered his first speech in the executive role, arguing that secession is the essence of anarchy.  Northern and Southern differences erupted into war within 10 weeks at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Parham Buford’s senior year at La Grange Synodical College was accelerated that year, so he and his classmates could answer the call to arms in Dixie.

Readers are encouraged to view each of the three before mentioned speeches for insight on some of the weighty issues which have shaped the American experience.

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Click image to hear first inaugural address by USA President Abraham Lincoln, given on March 4, 1861.

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Click image to hear inaugural address by  CSA President Jefferson Davis, given on February 18, 1861.

La Grange Synodical College

In a previous post (see http://wp.me/p40u7G-qS), the blogger incorrectly concluded Parham was a student at the University of Mississippi based upon a fraternity pin with his name engraved upon the back.  Just because no information is known about the Tau Eta Phi fraternity apart from the University of Mississippi, it does not mean he attended there.  A follower was kind enough to point this out and provide a source which shows Parham was a student at La Grange Synodical College; a Presbyterian school of higher education; in La Grange, Tennessee.

Click image of La Grange Synodical College to learn more.

Click image of La Grange Synodical College to learn more.

Based on the names listed for the sophomore class on page 9 of the Second Annual Catalogue of the Trustees, Faculty and Students of the La Grange Synodical College, Session of 1858-59;  it is clear Parham attended this Presbyterian school. There are other recognizable names of students from Lafayette County, Mississippi listed in this catalogue (e.g. Henry C. Buford, John W. Doak, and George W. Hope). By automobile today, La Grange is a little more than one hour drive north of Oxford, just above the Mississippi / Tennessee border. The blogger does possess two pre-war letters from Parham, one of which contains the word “La Grange” at the top right corner of the first sheet; however, it was not understood until recently what La Grange meant.  In the letter, Parham writes of the cost of the boarding house, washing, and candles.  Interestingly enough, the expenses mentioned by Parham coincide exactly with what is listed on page 24 of the before mentioned source. If Parham was a sophomore during 1858-59, it is quite feasible he graduated with the senior class in 1861.  Class of 1861 at La Grange Synodical College had an accelerated senior year because of the outbreak of war.

Click image to listen to

Click image to listen to “God Save the South.”

It is no surprise Parham attended a Presbyterian College. Presbyterianism ran deep into the lives of individuals on that side of the family tree.  It was a Buford that provided land for the building of College Hill Presbyterian Church; many by the name Buford, including Parham’s parents, are buried in that old presbyterian church yard.  Parham writes of providence in a letter, a doctrine well known to Presbyterians of that day who subscribed to reformed theology.  Parham’s sister, Mary, eventually married a Confederate dentist and surgeon of Ulster-Scotch (i.e. Scotch-Irish) ancestry related to Rev. Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, a Presbyterian who studied under U.S. Declaration of Independence signer Dr. John Knox Witherspoon. Mary’s daughter married a man descended from Rev. Cephas Washburn, a Presbyterian missionary to the Cherokees displaced to reservations via the Trail of Tears.

La Grange Synodical College closed its doors after graduating the class of 1861 and never opened them again.  During the following years, U.S. Federal troops occupied the property as a strategic location to run raids across the border into Mississippi; used the college as a Union hospital and prison; tore bricks off the school to make stoves and fireplaces for soldiers; and eventually burned down the institution.