The Long Family, Wyatt Outlaw and Complicity
The Long Building is located on Elon’s historic central campus and includes classroom and academic departments. The building is between East Lebanon Avenue and the Alamance Building. The Long Building is named after Dr. William Samuel Long, founder and first president of the college. Dr. Long served as the president from 1889-1894 and resigned to become Alamance County’s school superintendent.
The Long brothers occupy a prominent place in the early history of Elon University, then Elon College. Clergyman William S. Long served as president and professor of natural science and history in the Graham Institute and Graham Normal College from 1871 until he assumed the presidency of Elon in 1889. He steadfastly lobbied the Southern Christian Convention to invest more in education and — as a denominational stalwart and proven educator — was the natural choice to serve as Elon College’s first president (1889–94). Long, however, was not the only member of his family to invest time and treasure into Elon. His older brother, Daniel A. Long, was the chief fund- raiser for the Southern Christian Convention’s educational initiatives in the 1880s (“the General Soliciting Agent”) and helped raise almost $10,000 for Graham Normal College. W. S. Long’s younger brother, Jacob A. Long, also devoted substantial attention to the school. He lobbied hard to keep the convention’s college in Graham and offered to put up $2,670 of his own money if they did so. After the 1889 move to what is now the Town of Elon, J. A. Long resigned to the new location and purchased a lot as part of the original fundraising plan.
The Long brothers grew up in a slaveholding family in Alamance County. The 1860 census lists six people enslaved within the household of Jacob Long, Sr., along with his wife and seven of his children. The social dynamics of the Long house- hold are unknown but hint at some of the sexual violence that often accompanied the practice of slaveholding. In 1852, an enslaved Black woman in the household, aged 22, began bearing children whom the census taker enumerated as “Mulatto.” W. S. and J. A. Long were still in the household at this time and therefore finished their young adult- hood with four enslaved children who likely had a White biological father.
In their adulthood, the Long brothers acted in ways that supported White supremacy. Those who were of age fought for the Confederacy, as a matter of course. After the war, J. A. Long was the most strident White supremacist of the family and helped lead efforts by Alamance County’s White leaders to turn back gains made by Black North Carolinians following emancipation. In 1868, he formed the “Constitutional Guard” in Alamance County, a local manifestation of the Ku Klux Klan. The Constitutional Guard committed escalating acts of White supremacist violence before murdering Wyatt Outlaw on February 26, 1870. Outlaw was not only the most prominent Black leader in the county (he served as constable, town commissioner, Union League organizer and small business owner, among other roles) but also, in a way, a “Son of Elon.” His father, Chesley Faucette, was a trustee of the Graham Institute. J. A. Long did not cease his White supremacist campaigning as long as he lived; in 1914, he presided over the dedication of a Confederate statue in Graham. Likewise, D. A. Long remained devoted to the “Lost Cause” throughout his life. For example, he penned in 1921 a passionate defense of President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, including the claim that the section of the country with the highest “percentage of native-born White people” necessarily boasted the most “true and loyal Americanism.”
Elon’s chroniclers have avoided the Long family’s entanglement with violent White supremacy, partially because W. S. Long himself did not leave a clear record of anti-Black racism. The family’s record of racial violence and strident White supremacy, however, is part of the institution’s story, and should elicit searching questions about the nature of complicity rather than relief at the absence of a “smoking gun.” When, in 1871, J. A. Long was perjuring himself denying his involvement in Outlaw’s murder, he turned to his elder brother for an alibi. J. A. Long claimed to have been asleep in his law office in downtown Graham when the assailants startled him from his sleep and to have “waked up [his] brother.” “What was his name?” the Chair- man of the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee who was conducting the investigation asked. “W. S. Long, a minister of the gospel and principal of the high school,” J. A. Long responded. Years later, in 1930, J. A. Long’s son, Ralph, recalled both the courage of his father in helping organize the Klan and the harmony of interests and ideas among the Long children. There was “not a semblance of a Black sheep in the half-dozen,” he wrote.
Committee on Elon History and Memory, pages 14-15.
Materials collected on or about William S. Long can be found in University Archives & Special Collections in the William S. Long collection.