History of the CAV

Julie Anne Herrick, CAV’s past historian, researched the origins of our humble organization and submitted the following report:

The very first meeting of the Classical Association of Virginia took place on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1910, at John Marshall High School in Richmond.

Prior to this meeting, Professor Thomas Fitzhugh of the University of Virginia sent a letter, dated November 11, 1910, announcing this meeting to the editors of several leading Virginia newspapers. In this letter, he invited all educators and citizens who held an interest in the classics to attend an organizational meeting to be held in the music room of John Marshall High School in Richmond at 9:30 A.M. on November 24, 1910. The object of this Classical Section of the Association of College and Secondary Schools in Virginia was to be the promotion of classical teaching and culture in Virginia. Fitzhugh went on to add:

“This cause is a great and good one, because it upholds cultural standards and academic sincerity, which are everywhere being imperiled by the American spirit of academic commercialism, with its inevitable lust after numbers and consequent cheapening of academic standards.”

In response to Fitzhugh’s letter, several editors and prominent educators wrote letters of support. For example, the editor of the Charlottesville Daily Progress wrote on November 12, 1910: “Let no man deceive himself: some culture will result from studying anything, but no one can be generously cultured without studying Latin.”

Those present at the first meeting elected an executive committee: President – Professor Thomas Fitzhugh of the University of Virginia; Vice President – W. Gordon McCabe, former headmaster of Richmond High School; Secretary/Treasurer – Clement Carrington Read, instructor at Richmond High School; Professor Edwin W. Bowen of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland; and William M. Black, principal of Lynchburg High School.

This organization agreed to meet annually under the auspices of the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of Virginia. The next meeting was set for the fall of 1911 in Norfolk.