John Spencer Bassett was Trinity College's most renowned faculty member. Bassett came to Trinity College in 1893 as a professor in the history department. A popular teacher who encouraged his students to publish and fostered their interests in southern history, Bassett was also an active scholar who balanced his teaching with a love of research and writing. He initiated the Trinity College Historical Society's annual series of Historical Papers; established the honorary society 9019, a precursor to Trinity's Phi Beta Kappa chapter; and founded and edited the South Atlantic Quarterly, which is still published.
In the autumn of 1903, a controversy that became known as the "Bassett Affair" erupted on the Trinity College campus. The resolution of the dispute, which lasted for six weeks, was a milestone for academic freedom in U.S. higher education.
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