As a component of the 19th century curriculum, Davidson seniors were required to give orations before the faculty and students. In 1890, the occasion of Senior speaking was expanded, the Davidson Monthly recounts, to make “the occasion of the Senior Speaking a holiday, and invitations are to be sent out as for commencement.” The occasion was declared “Maxwell Chambers Day” in honor of Davidson benefactor Maxwell Chambers, although as Mary Beaty declares, the name did not catch on, but the concept of a large event in mid-April certainly did (Beaty 154).
Beaty describes the first Maxwell Chambers day (April 1890) as a “four-day affair which began on Friday night with an hour-long lecture on ‘The Ancestral Creed of the Ancient Graeco-Romans’ and, perhaps to make amends, refreshments afterwards. All the seniors made speeches on Saturday and were entertained at lunch and a reception given by Professor Currell, with the ‘College band’ serenading at intervals and a baseball game to vary the program. Special services on Sunday and public debates on Monday, followed by a reception with serenading by ‘our College Glee Club,’ rounded out the events. A train carried visitors away on Tuesday morning.” (Beaty 154)
Beaty, Mary. The History of Davidson College. Briarpatch: North Carolina, 1988.
Author: Jim Harris
Date: 5 March 2012
Cite as: Harris, Jim. “Maxwell Chambers Day,” Davidson Encyclopedia, 5 March 2012 <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/maxwell-chambers-day/>.