10-17-1852: Dr. Mudd's Teenage Misadventure at Georgetown College.
Source: Letter from Fr. Callaghan to Fr. George, Georgetown University Lauinger Library, Special Collections Division, Washington, D.C.
Georgetown College, Oct. 31st, 1852
Rev. & Dear Father George,
... The most exciting thing that we have had lately was a disturbance among the boys. It is entirely settled now, so that I can give you a full account of it...
Last Friday week a boy a refused a punishment which Mr. Tehan had given him for going out of studies without permission. Fr. Maguire therefore gave him his choice to submit to the punishment or leave the College. He chose the latter. When the boys heard of the affair, they murmured about it, and complained of the regulation that prefects have about going out of studies. They held a sort of indignation meeting, and decided that the boy ought to be excused from his punishment, and the rule abolished. They tried an appeal to Fr. Maguire and to Mr. Tehan, but to no purpose. When the bell rang for free studies at 12 ¾ (this was Friday noon) none of them went. Mr. Clark, who kept those studies, went up to the study room, and finding no one there, walked down as cooly and naturally as he does everything else. At the time for regular studies, he rang the bell, but none of the boys moved. Their resolution held for about five minutes, and at length one started, and another, and finally they all went. The middle studies were undisturbed. All was quiet from that time till the recreation after school which was spent in indignation, like the one after dinner. In night studies there was a good deal of stamping in the beginning. Mr. Brady kept these studies. He bore with the noise for a little while, and then said a few calm words to them which had the effect of producing quiet for the rest of the studies. The next day some of the larger ones apologized in the name of all to Mr. Brady, explaining to him that the indignation was only against Mr. Tehan. He answered them bluntly that he required no special regard from them, he entirely approved Mr. Tehan’s course, and would do the same thing himself if he were in Mr. Tehan’s place. The next morning Mr. Tehan kept studies, and then the grand row took place. At the beginning of studies they saluted him with a hip, and when he said the prayers, they answered with a howl. He did nothing but ‘keep cool’ which was all that he could do, and was not a very easy task, for during the whole studies they kept up a regular beating on their desks to a tune prepared for the occasion. During both of the studies the prefects were on the watch and secured the names of many and especially of six who took a principal part in the meetings and the noise. A great many in the house thought the best plan would be to expel those six immediately and publicly, but Fr. Maguire judged it more prudent to wait a little. It is probable that if the ring leaders had been expelled immediately, a great many of the others would have followed them.
When they came down to breakfast after studies, they were all in the humors of uproar. Fr. Maguire met them in the refrectory, and addressed them in a quiet but decided manner. He mentioned to them that six of their leaders had been noted, and that he would deal with them as he thought they deserved. The effect of his words was that the noisy doings were stopped, and those who were conscious of having been notable, were put on their good behavior, hoping to save themselves.
Fr. Maguire wrote immediately to the parents of the six, and requested them to come and take their children home. This was on Saturday. The next Tuesday five of the parents or guardians came, and the boys were despatched at very short notice. The way of proceeding was this. The parent or guardian came. The whole matter was explained to them, the prefects were called in to testify, the boys clothes were packed, and he went away in the carriage that had brought his father or guardian.
Those sent the first day were Samuel Mudd from Maryland, Coleman from Cincinnati (the boy who came to Holy Cross with Fr. Blox 4 summers ago), Rogers from Baltimore, Ned Campbell and Mooney from N. York. The boys were pretty well sobered down by these dismissals and those who had done anything were quaking, for fear their turn should come next. Tuesday night, one of them went to Fr. Maguire, and asked to go of his own accord. He was allowed to go of course. The next day the sixth one, Miller of N. York went. His father is a lawyer in New York with whom John Devlin is in partnership. Devlin came for the boy, with a message from his father, that before leaving the College, his son should apologize to Fr. Maguire for his conduct. The next day, Thursday, the boys were made perfectly quiet by being told that those who were to be dismissed had all been dealt with, that if any remaining in the college were dissatisfied, they might apply to the president and he would permit them to go home, that if they made any further trouble, they were watched, and would be immediately sent home. Now that their fears are removed, they are quite orderly. The whole affair has been advantageous to the College. Some of those who would have been most troublesome during the year have been got rid of (the prefects say the selection could not have been better made). The parents are satisfied, and the disorderly fellows that remain know that they are watched, and know what they may expect if they commit themselves...
Truly yours in Christ,
J.G. Callaghan, S.J.