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Daguerreotype of the sophomore class at the University of North Carolina, mid 1850s.

Daguerreotype of the sophomore class at the University of North Carolina, mid 1850s. Ruffin, Roulhac, and Hamilton Family Papers (#00643), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Overview: 19th-Century Controversies

During the pre-Civil War era, faculty and students in American universities were not protected by the concept of academic freedom. In fact, the concept as we understand it today had yet to be defined. Nevertheless, there are numerous examples in UNC's history when faculty and students invoked their right of freedom of conscience and speech.