Hinton James Hall is traditionally home to Carolina first-years, housing almost a thousand students each semester. HoJo is more than just an old building with a bustling interior, however, and the dorm home to first-years is fittingly named after the first student to attend UNC.
Hinton James arrived in early February, back in 1795. He reported to campus, which then consisted of just one building, and began his classes – which he attended alone for nearly two weeks.
James was from what is now Pender County, in the Eastern part of North Carolina. He was born in 1776, and at 18 years of age he travelled the road between his home and Chapel Hill alone, a distance of well over 150 miles. Legend maintains that he traversed the entire distance on foot, but common sense says that he most likely rode on horseback, selling his horse before his arrival at the university.
James wrote essays on “The Motions of The Earth,” “The Slave Trade,” “The Pleasures of College Life,” and “The Commerce of Britain.” He was a member of the first literary club at UNC, as well as the first debate team. James graduated with the first class out of UNC with a degree in civil engineering, accepting his diploma along with seven other students in a ceremony on July 4, 1798. In his career, he worked to ease navigation of the Cape Fear river by dredging and deepening channels, served three terms in the General Assembly and was even elected mayor of Wilmington.