Algebra, Southern Style

by Dave Hunter

As all Riflemen know, D.H. Hill authored an algebra textbook in 1859 while he was teaching at Davidson College. From earlier examples printed in the newsletter, we are well aware Hill’s bias against all things Northern. One of Hill’s friends, C.D. Fishburne, noted that the anti-Yankee slant to the text limited its acceptance. Hill listened to these comments and replied he did not care about that (see Bridges, Lee’s Maverick General).

Several “testimonials” are printed in the introduction to the book. Here’s one from someone you will know …

From T.J. Jackson, Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy, Virginia Military Institute: “From an examination of various portions of Major D.H. Hill’s Algebra, in manuscript, I regard it as superior to any other work with which I am acquainted on the same branch of science.”

Well, boys, here’s some more classic Hill, straight from Elements of Algebra (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1859). You can bet Junior won’t be seeing these problems on the math portion of his SAT.

1.   Milk sells in the City of New York at 4 cents per quart. A milkman mixed some water with 50 gallons of milk, and sold the mixture at 3 cents per quart without sustaining any loss by the sale. How much water did he put in the milk?

2.   In the year 1692, the people of Massachusetts executed, imprisoned, or privately persecuted 469 persons, of both sexes, and all ages, for the alleged crime of witchcraft. Of these, twice as many were privately persecuted as were imprisoned, and 7 and 17/19 as many more were imprisoned than were executed. Required the number of sufferers of each kind.

3.   The year in which Decatur published his official letter from New London, stating that the traitors of New England burned blue lights on both points of the harbor to give notice to the British of his attempt to go to sea, is expressed by four digits. The sum of the first and fourth is equal to half the second; the first and third are equal to each other; the sum of the first and second is equal to three times the fourth, and the product of the first and second is equal to 8. Required the year.

4.   The year in which the Governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut sent treasonable messages to their respective Legislatures, is expressed by four digits. The square root of the sum of the first and second is equal to 3; the square root of the product of the second and fourth is equal to 4; the first is equal to the third, and is one-half of the fourth. Required the year.

5.   Some of the New England States were fully, and some partially, represented in the Hartford Convention, which, in the year 1814, gave aid and comfort to the British during the progress of the war. If 4 be added to the number of States fully and partially represented, and the square root of the sum be taken, the result will be the number of States fully represented; but if 11 be added to the sum of the States fully and partially represented, and the square root of the sum be taken, the result will be equal to the square root of 8 times the number of States partially represented. Required the number of States fully and partially represented.

6.   In the year 1637, all the Pequod Indians that survived the slaughter on the Mystic River were either banished from Connecticut or sold into slavery. The square root of twice the number of survivors is equal to 1/10th that number. What was that number?

7.   In the year 1853, a number of persons in New England and New York, were sent to lunatic asylums in consequence of the Spiritual Rapping delusion. If 14 be added to the number of those who became insane, and the square root of the sum be taken, the root will be less than the number by 42. Required the number of victims.

8.   A man in Cincinnati purchased 10,000 pounds of bad pork, at 1 cent per pound, and paid so much per pound to put it through a chemical process, by which it would appear sound, and then sold it at an advanced price, clearing $450 by the fraud. The price at which he sold the pork per pound, multiplied by the cost per pound of the chemical process, was 3 cents. Required the price which he sold it and the cost of the chemical process.

9.   In the year 1853 there were a certain number of Women’s Rights conventions held in the State of New York. If 6 be added to the number and the square root of the sum be taken, the result will be exactly equal to the number. Required the number.

10.The field of battle at Buena Vista is 6 1/2 miles from Saltillo. Two Indiana volunteers ran away from the field of battle at the same time; one ran half a mile per hour faster than the other, and reached Saltillo 5 minutes and 54 6/11 seconds sooner than the other. Required their respective rates of travel.

11.A northern railroad company is assessed $120,000 damages for the contusions and broken limbs, caused by a collision of cars. They pay $5000 for each contusion, and $6000 for each broken limb; and the entire amount paid for bruises and fractures is the same. How many persons received contusions, and how many had their limbs broken?

12.A Yankee mixes a certain quantity of wooden nutmegs, which cost him 1/4 cent apiece, with a quantity of real nutmegs, worth 4 cents apiece, and sells the whole assortment for $44; and gains $3.75 by the fraud. How many wooden nutmegs were there?

13.At the Women’s Rights Convention, held at Syracuse, New York, composed of 150 delegates, the old maids, childless-wives, and bedlamites were to each other as the numbers 5, 7, and 3. How many were there in each class?

14.A gentlemen in Richmond expressed a willingness to liberate his slave, valued at $1000, upon the receipt of that sum from charitable persons. He received contributions from 24 persons; and of these there were 14/19ths fewer from the North than from the South, and the average donations of the former was 4/5ths smaller than that of the latter. What was the entire amount given by the latter?

Give yourself a gold star if you can do these … and then apply for a job with NASA.

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