In recent years, the liberal left has been on a crusade to erase history and rename those schools they deem offensive, but one descendent of a major donor to a Virginia law school is demanding that the institution pay back $3.6 billion after the school decided to strip his great-great-grandpa’s name from the institution he helped to establish.
Back in the 1880s, T.C. Williams was a wealthy businessman, according to Fox News Digital.
The owner of tobacco companies, Williams was a graduate and trustee of the University of Richmond. When he died, his family donated $25,000 to fund the law school.
Williams’s estate continued to make regular donations to his namesake, the T.C. Williams School of Law, but after the school passed a new policy last year “prohibiting any building, program or entity to be named for a person who engaged in or advocated for slavery,” things got awkward.
“According to tax records, Williams’ business owned 25 to 40 enslaved people,” the Richman Times-Dispatch reports.
“We recognize that some may be disappointed or disagree with this decision,” university President Kevin Hallock and the board stated in a letter to the Richmond community. “We also recognize the role the Williams family has played here and respect the full and complete history of the institution.”
Then things got even more awkward.
You see, T.C. Williams’ great-great-grandson, Robert C. Smith, is a Virginia lawyer, and, in a blistering five-page letter to University of Richmond President Kevin Hallock, he said, “The woke, ingrate University of Richmond leadership should give the money back.”
The Williams family, Smith wrote, were “educated and erudite people, schooled in classical history, literature and philosophy whose guiding principles were based on lessons derived from holy scripture.”
“Being aware of their many blessings, most importantly the hope that endures by way of salvation, they ‘gave back,'” Smith continued. “They gave their tireless devotion, wise counsel and treasure to the city they loved and its institutions, many of which they founded.”
“Your decision to ‘dename’ (a new word in the English lexicon closely associated with lack of appreciation and ignorance) the T.C. Williams Law School is shameful,” Smith stated. “Thus, the university needs to be exposed for its lack of GRATITUDE and infantile, woke reasoning.”
Smith detailed the history of the Williams family and the contributions the members have made to the community.
T.C. Williams, he wrote, was “a quiet, unassuming and bookish man” who gave “much of his wealth away anonymously.”
Although he served on the board of the University until his death in 1889, we cannot possibly know all of his anonymous gifts. We know he was a contributor in 1865 and also during the Reconstruction. The records at Richmond College in the 1880s mention a “donor” who had made regular and repeated anonymous gifts, this donor was later identified as T.C. Williams, Sr. In addition to these gifts, he established the Ella Williams Student Aid Fund to pay tuitions for needy students. He also fully funded an endowment for a speakership program. We know in 1888, he gave $10,000 to re-establish the Law School and at his death in 1889 his estate contributed $25,000 to the Law School. A conservative estimate of these gifts, just from the end of the War to his death exceeds $65,000. To give one perspective of the magnitude of this benevolence, in 1880 land in nearby Hanover County sold for an average of $9/acre.
At his death, he was the largest contributor in the history of the University.
The descendant also talked of Willams’ son, T.C. Williams, Jr., who died in 1929.
“It was said of him that ‘his life was guided by the principles that education and religion meant the most for mankind, and in this regard his two biggest loves were his church ( First Baptist) and the University of Richmond,'” Smith wrote.
Also a graduate, trustee, and, later, the volunteer Chairman of the Executive Committee, of the University of Richmond, Williams Jr. saved the school from financial ruin.
“During very difficult financial times on the eve of the First World War, the university was moving its campus from the City of Richmond to its present Westhampton campus,” Smith wrote. “Facing tremendous financial problems that could have bankrupted the University, T.C., Jr. guaranteed all of the university’s debts with its lenders. Not only is he solely responsible for the Westhampton campus, but the school could have easily gone bankrupt without his loving efforts.”
Evidence indicates T.C. Williams, Jr. made over $350,000 of gifts to the university from 1900 until his death in 1929. He like his father was particularly interested in the Law School. Upon his death, he contributed another $100,000 towards the law school’s endowment and $100,000 towards the endowment for the University. It should be noted that in the 1920s tuition for the law school was approximately $125/year. At approximately 65 full time day students, the yearly investment return from this one gift could pay the yearly tuition for the whole student body.
At T.C. Williams’ death in 1929, he was the largest contributor in the history of the University.
The entire family has, for generations, supported the University “for nearly 200 hundred years, and the City of Richmond much longer.”
“You moved to Richmond two years ago,” Smith told Hallock. “Besides being a carpet bagging weasel and spitting on the graves of my family, what have you done for the University or the City of Richmond?”
“It is clear that woke activists at the University orchestrated a ‘Tony Soprano’ hit on the Williams family,” he stated. “You won’t release any of the documents we have requested because it will expose this deceit. Radical Leftists hate people of accomplishment; they are jealous of them, and therefore they must be destroyed.”
“The Law School was not named the T.C. Williams, Sr. Law School,” he pointed out. “If your board had any gratitude, it could have easily left well enough alone as certainly T.C. Williams, Jr. had no ‘connection to slavery.’ Indeed, the 1934 Law School catalogue contains a full-page portrait of T.C. Williams, Jr. and lists him as its ‘chief benefactor.'”
“The university’s endowment is $ 3.3 billion,” Smith noted. “Since you and your activists went out of your way to discredit the Williams name, and since presumably the Williams family’s money is tainted, demonstrate your ‘virtue’ and give it all back.”
“I suggest you immediately turn over the entire $3.3 billion endowment to the current descendants of T.C. Williams, Sr.,” he wrote. “We will use it all to fulfill the charitable purposes to which it was intended. We will take a note back for the remaining $300 million, providing that it is secured by all the campus buildings and all your woke faculty pledge their personal assets and guarantee the note.”
“Give the money back,” he demanded.
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