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January 30, 2023

Mr. Kevin Hallock

President of the University of Richmond

410 Westhampton Way,

Richmond, VA 23173

Dear Mr. Hallock:

One of the most basic tenets of our Judeo-Christian heritage is gratitude, a concept that is apparently unknown to you and the Board of the University of Richmond. However, this concept was not unknown to the Williams family, 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.” 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. Thus, the university needs to be exposed for its lack of GRATITUDE and infantile, woke reasoning.

Before discussing Thomas C. Williams, Sr.’s contributions to the University, let me briefly discuss two preceding family members, Jesse Williams and James Thomas, Jr.

Jesse, T.C. Williams’ father, was born in 1796. He too was very learned and a devout Baptist. He developed much of early Richmond, built many houses and owned a construction materials firm which primarily manufactured and sold brick and masonry products. He was known for his generosity. He contributed (i.e. “gave”) much of the building materials and all of the masonry materials for First Baptist Church at 12th and Broad as well as the masonry and other materials for the neighboring First African Baptist Church.  He made similar contributions to the building needs of the University of Richmond when its campus started in the City of Richmond.

James Thomas, Jr. was T.C. Williams Sr.’s uncle, mentor and business partner. He was an extremely wealthy man, totally devoted to his Baptist faith and the University of Richmond. His contributions to the University of Richmond were heroic, estimated to be $50,00-$60,000, an enormous amount of money at the time. He served on Richmond’s board from 1840 until his death in 1883. During the “War,” First Baptist planned to melt down its iconic bell to make bullets for the Confederacy. Thomas bought the bell for $5,000 in gold, likely a thousand times its value, such that it could be preserved for posterity.  It now sits in the First Baptist courtyard on Monument Avenue. He advised the University’s board not to put its endowment (to which he was a major contributor) into Confederate bonds. The Board did not heed his advice, and despite not listening to him and wasting all of its endowment and liquid assets, he bailed the university out in 1865 when it was bankrupt at the end of the War. In addition to his own money, in 1865 he solicited money from others (including his relative and business partner T.C. Williams, Sr.) such that the university could continue after the ravages of war. No one had any money in 1865, except very astute businessmen like Thomas and Williams who understood financial markets, monetary issues and made plans accordingly. At Thomas’ death, he was the largest contributor in the history of the university. You and your cowardly, ungrateful board denamed James Thomas, Jr.

T.C. Williams, Sr. attended the university from 1846 to 1849. He was a scholarly man, who read the law and used his great intellect to excel in business and was probably the wealthiest man in Virginia at his death in 1889. He taught Sunday School at First Baptist for 40 years. There is hardly a Richmond institution that does not owe its survival to him due to his generous inter-vivos gifts. Since my October 11, 2022 letter to you went viral, I have been contacted by several Richmond philanthropic institutions to inform me that T.C. Williams, Sr. and other Williams family trusts are still in existence today doing good work, and being appreciated by the institutions holding these funds.

 T.C. Williams, Sr., a quiet, unassuming and bookish man, avoided public engagements and preferred to give much of his wealth away anonymously; no doubt as a result of the teachings of Matthew 6:1-4. 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. 

A.D. Williams, Jesse’s son and T.C. Sr’s brother, 1833-1884 was purported to be one of the largest land holders in Virginia. Being a wealthy man and from a fervent Baptist family closely associated with the University, it is likely that he contributed to the University; however, I have not researched this issue.

Ella Peatross Williams, T.C. Williams Sr.’s wife died 12 years after he did in 1901. A benefactor of many charitable causes, it would be unusual if she did not carry on her husband’s legacy by contributing to the University.

Mary Thomas Williams was T.C. Sr.’s daughter, born in 1867 and died in 1920. We don’t know the extent of her inter-vivos gifts she made to the university, but numerous references indicate that she contributed to the law school endowment as well as to the University from 1890 forward. She made numerous testimonial gifts to various hospitals and nursing homes in Richmond.

T.C. Williams, Jr. was born in 1864 and 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.”  He attended Richmond College in 1882-83. He became a trustee in 1889 and served in this capacity for 40 years. He later became Chairman of the Executive Committee where he devoted himself to the finances and investments of the college on an almost daily basis. He of course received no compensation for his efforts. 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. 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.

Around the turn of the century, the University was all but bankrupt and a plethora of correspondence exists of then President Boatwright begging for money to keep U of R’s doors open. 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.

Adolphus Dill Williams, T.C. Jr’s brother was born in 1871 and died in 1952. He too attended Richmond (1887-89).  He gave $93,000 to construct the law school building; and besides this gift, we know he made further substantial inter-vivos gifts to the university. At his death in 1952, his will included two $100,000 gifts in trust to the endowment of both the Law School and the University.  In addition, 1/3 of his residual estate passed to the University. Published reports stated that this amount, after pecuniary gifts previously made, was $2,700,000.   Like his father and brother, he was shy and retiring and preferred to stay out of the limelight. He was a brilliant financier and businessman, and like his brother and father, a scholarly “man of letters.”  He made massive gifts to the Medical College of Virginia. As a collector of fine art he left his collection along with a nearly $ 3 million endowment to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). I have been told that the VMFA’s collection might easily exceed $3 billion. A significant portion of all the museum’s pre-modern art is comprised of the Williams collection.  It was said of A.D. “probably no man in the history of Richmond contributed more to the civic, cultural and educational life of the city, and probably no man of his business ability was less known by the people of Richmond.” Retiring in nature, he lived a quiet life at 800 West Franklin Street and shunned public activities. At A. D.’s death, he was the largest contributor in the history of the University.

Wilkins Williams was A.D.’s wife, born 1868 and died in 1950. The extent of her inter-vivos gifts are unknown, but even she left $50,000 to the University at her death.

The University of Richmond was spawned out of the Baptist Church and more particularly First Baptist Church. Whatever contributions the Williams family made to the University, they likely contributed an equal or greater amount to various Baptist organizations which in turn supported the University.

Using historical rates of return, I have calculated the present value of Williams Family contributions to the University of Richmond. Money is fungible and thus one must calculate what the value of the University’s endowment would be absent Williams family contributions.  As I have not fully researched contributions of other family members, I have not used any contributions that T.C. Williams, Sr.’s brother A. D. Williams, his wife Ella Peatross Williams, his daughter Suzanne Williams Massie or grand-daughter Ella Williams Smith may have made to the University. In order to be extra conservative, I have only used 80% of the historical yearly rate of return since 1865, and I have not included any contribution prior to 1865 and none that might have been given after 1952. I also checked my work against actual secured debt instruments I have that belonged to T.C. Williams, Sr. to see how those rates matched up to the historical delta between lending rates and investment returns.  Using these conservative values, the present value of these gifts is $ 3.6 billion. 150 plus years of compounded returns add up. Numbers don’t lie. It might be worthwhile for you to require every woke activist to take a course in finance to appreciate those for whom they want to cancel.

I have outlined how the Williams family gave their time, treasure and devotion to the University, but I have left out something that sadly revisionist academics lack the comprehension and desire to understand.  T.C. Williams, Sr., his brothers Elisha Williams, A. D. Williams and William Henry Harrison Williams all served Virginia and the Confederacy when their country called upon them. They did their duty to protect their wives, children, homes and public institutions from a voracious and plundering invader. Elisha was killed in 1864. In true Visigoth fashion, the Union Army burned dozens of southern colleges and universities. The University of Richmond could have easily been a casualty of war had not brave men sacrificed their lives (and many did, i.e. Elisha) to protect it. Perhaps you could instruct your Gender Studies and Sexuality Department of the benefits of male virility when opposing armies wish to kill you and burn your campus to the ground.

It is often said that one can judge a man by viewing what he reads. I encourage you to view T.C. Williams, Sr. and Jr,’s library collection at Agecroft. These books are evidence of scholarly, enlightened men; cultured, well-traveled and intelligent. I also encourage you to go to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) and view the A.D. and Wilkins Williams collection.   The University should be proud to have these rare men of substance and learning call U of R their alma mater. Instead, you and the Board have sh#t on them. We have pulled the social media accounts of many of the “Low IQ” woke mob members that you and the Board grovel to. How ironic that these superficial imbeciles, who in their posts literally cannot properly conjugate simple verbs sit in judgment of these honorable and accomplished men.     

Exercising quiet humility and modesty, the Williams family’s contributions have served the University for nearly 200 years, and the City of Richmond much longer. You moved to Richmond  two years ago. 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. 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 Williams family represents everything the Left hates; religious, upright, learned, accomplished and wealthy.  The Law School was not named the T.C. Williams, Sr. Law School. 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. 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. 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.

Robert C. Smith is Managing Partner of Chartwell Capital Advisors and likes to opine on the Rob Is Right Podcast and Webpage.

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