Category Archives: From the Archives

Today in Princeton history, 1912: Wilson wins!

One hundred years ago today, Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, won the U.S. presidential election, becoming the second Princeton alumnus to earn the nation’s highest office. The next issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, dated Nov. 6, 1912, described the scene on election day:
“The election of Ex-President Woodrow Wilson ’79 to the Presidency of the United States was jubilantly celebrated in Princeton. President Hibben ordered the bell rung and the national flag raised on Nassau Hall, suspended the exercises of the University and made Wednesday a holiday, and sent the following message to the President-elect: ‘In the name of Princeton University I extend to you the congratulations and best wishes of your Alma Mater upon your election to the Presidency of the United States.’ ”
The Nov. 6, 1912, issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly.
Faculty, students, and local alumni awaited election updates in Alexander Hall, and when the telegraphs began to indicate that Wilson’s victory was secure, the undergraduates embarked on a campus parade, first calling on Hibben at Prospect and then marching on to Cleveland Lane, where Wilson and his family were receiving the returns. Wilson greeted his supporters from the front porch, speaking with the professorial eloquence that had served him well on the campaign trail.
“The lesson of this election is a lesson of responsibility,” Wilson said, according to PAW. “I believe that a great cause has triumphed, but a cause can not go forward by the activities of a single man or a single Congress; it must be done by prolonged efforts. I summon you for the rest of your lives to work to set this government forward by the processes of justice, equality, and fairness.”
Wilson’s election earned top billing but shared PAW’s cover with another important event: the Princeton-Harvard football game.

From the Archives: Nassau Hall in the nation’s service

June and July are among the slowest months of the year on Princeton’s campus, with no classes in session and only a scattering of students in the libraries and labs. But in the summer of 1783, the University – then the College of New Jersey – was filled with activity. Anti-government protests by Continental Army veterans in Philadelphia forced Congress to leave the city and reconvene at Princeton’s Nassau Hall, beginning on June 30. In the excerpt below, taken from a 1956 issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly that celebrated the 200th anniversary of Nassau Hall, history professor Thomas J. Wertenbaker explained the building’s brief role as the nation’s capitol.
From the “Nassau Hall Issue” of Princeton Alumni Weekly
Sept. 12, 1956
Historic Events

By Thomas J. Wertenbaker

… As Nassau Hall had been the first capitol of the state of New Jersey, in the summer of 1783 it became the capitol of the United States. As the Revolutionary War drew to a close rumors spread among the Continental troops that they were to be dismissed without receiving their back pay. Congress had been making desperate efforts to raise the money, but it was handicapped by the fact that it was not empowered to levy taxes. Late in June 1783, things took a serious turn, when a body of troops stationed in Philadelphia sent a threatening letter to Congress.
When Congress failed to meet their demands, they marched on the State House, two or three hundred strong, and stationed themselves around the buildings. Some of them went so far as to point their guns at the windows, and several actually laid hands on President Elias Boudinot. Congress was alarmed and deeply incensed at the insult to the authority of the United States. After it had made urgent appeals to the Pennsylvania Council for protection, and that body refused to call out the militia, it decided to move to Princeton.

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From the Archives: Princeton’s masters of March


For college basketball fans, March is a magical time of year, and Princeton could have two reasons to celebrate this month, if both the men’s and women’s basketball teams reach the postseason. In honor of Tiger hoops teams present and past, we flipped through the archives to find PAW covers that celebrated great seasons on the hardwood.

Click any photo below to view as a slide show.

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From the Archives: Jason Garrett ’89 at Princeton

How big of a star was Jason Garrett ’89 in his Princeton days? Well, big enough to land on the cover of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. Garrett, officially named head coach of the Dallas Cowboys Jan. 6, was a focal point of “A Season in Seven Days,” which offered an in-depth look at the week leading up to the Princeton-Yale game in his senior year.
Led by Garrett’s sharp passing, the Tigers beat the Elis in New Haven for the first time in more than two decades. Garrett won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League’s most valuable player, but Princeton fell short of an Ivy title. A year later, brother Judd Garrett ’90, a star running back, would lead the Tigers to a championship.
Below, read more about Jason Garrett and his teammates from the 1988 team.
From PAW, Dec. 7, 1988
A Season in Seven Days
By David Williamson ’84 
Sunday, November 6
FOR A FEW anxious moments late one recent Saturday afternoon, Princeton’s head football coach, Steve Tosches, saw his worst nightmare come true. His Tigers had a three-touchdown lead over Colgate when Princeton’s star quarterback, Jason Garrett ’89, scrambled around left end on a broken play. In similar straits in the first quarter, Garrett had slipped over to the left sideline and scampered for a sixty-one-yard gain. This time, he turned upfield and was promptly hammered by the Colgate safety. Garrett crumpled to the ground and didn’t get up.
On the Princeton bench, the players and coaches fell silent. Garrett was the team captain and had been the quarterback on every offensive down during the season, so the Tigers would miss him badly if he were seriously injured. Finally, Jason staggered to his feet, weaving like a punch-drunk boxer. The field judge called over to Tosches: “Hey coach, you gotta get him out of here. He got his bell rung pretty good.”
By the time Garrett reached the bench, he was insisting that he was fine, even if he was still a little woozy. “It was a stupid play on my part,” he said later. “I should have slid under the tackle.” Brian Barren ’89, the backup quarterback, replaced Garrett, and the Princeton offense promptly scored on its next drive to push its lead to four touchdowns.

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From the Archives: Remembering F. Scott Fitzgerald ’17

Dec. 21 marks the 70th anniversary of the death of F. Scott Fitzgerald ’17, famed novelist and loyal Princetonian (though, as many readers will recall, not a graduate – he left school as a junior and published This Side of Paradise a few years later, at age 23). Fitzgerald was reading the Princeton Alumni Weekly when he suffered a fatal heart attack at age 44.
F. Scott Fitzgerald ’17 in 1937. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection)

In the months before his death, he had been working sporadically as a Hollywood screenwriter. His literary reputation had gradually dwindled in the 1930s, but the man who famously quipped that “there are no second acts in American life” achieved remarkable posthumous acclaim, thanks in part to fellow alumni like the literary critic Edmund Wilson ’16 and author Arthur Mizener ’30, Fitzgerald’s first biographer.

Fitzgerald is among Princeton’s best known alumni, and by at least one measure, one of the most influential. He’s been featured on PAW’s cover at least twice, and his life and loves continue to fascinate Princeton readers. In 1996, to mark the centennial of his birth, the University hosted a conference that examined his work and an exhibit at Firestone Library, drawn from his papers held in the University’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.  
Fitzgerald’s legacy – or more precisely, the legacy of This Side of Paradise – has not always been regarded with warmth on campus. In a 1966 article, PAW editor John D. Davies ’41 noted that Princeton was still trying to escape the stereotypes that the novel had portrayed and quoted an unnamed admission official who said, “No one will ever know the damage Scott Fitzgerald did when he called this place a country club.” But the administration’s stance seems to have softened in the last half-century. In the Frist Campus Center, there’s even a line about Amory Blaine painted on one of the walls: “It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being.”
To commemorate Fitzgerald, we present his PAW memorial, written by his classmates and published Jan. 27, 1941:
Many of us of the Class of 1917 felt that a bright page of our youth had been torn out and crumpled up when we learned of the death of Scott Fitzgerald, who died of a heart attack in Hollywood, Calif., on December 21. Scott’s whole early career is typified in his very first face to face encounter with the authorities at Princeton. He needed extra points to be admitted to the freshman class, and, on his unconventional plea before the faculty committee that it was his seventeenth birthday, the members of the committee laughed and admitted him.

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From the Archives: Captain Hobey Baker 1914

Captain Hobart A. H. Baker 1914, in a photo from the Jan. 15, 1919, issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. Click on any image to view as a slide show.

On Nov. 11, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame will induct Hobey Baker, Class of 1914, a legendary football and hockey star at Princeton. That Baker would be honored on Veterans Day seems appropriate: A World War I fighter pilot, he died in a flying accident the month after the Allies and Germans signed the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice that ended the war.

Baker, a native of Bala-Cynwyd, Pa., was an agile and swift open-field runner on the football field. He also earned acclaim for his kicking skills. But it was in hockey that he truly dazzled, earning a reputation as the greatest player of his era. At the time, hockey was a relatively minor sport on campus, in part because Princeton did not have its own rink. Varsity games were played in New York City.

Baker’s athletic exploits were well known to his contemporaries, but shortly after his death, the Princeton Alumni Weekly took a closer look at his contributions as an aviator with an article written by Maj. Charles Biddle 1911, a flying ace and one of Baker’s former commanders. In it, Biddle describes Baker as “a striking example of the finest that America can produce” – courageous, unselfish, and modest.

The full text of Biddle’s article is included below.

From PAW, Jan. 15, 1919

Captain Hobart Baker’s career in the service

By Maj. Charles J. Biddle 1911

To the many friends of Captain Hobart A. H. Baker 1914 the news from France that he was killed in an accident while flying at the Toul aerodrome on Saturday, December 21st, came as a great shock. With the fighting at an end we had all been hoping to see him home before long, where we could personally do him the honor which he so richly deserved, for no one ever knew Hobey Baker who did not admire him for his many splendid qualities and the work he had done, and love him for the man he was. His death makes us realize more than ever that the great war did not end with the signing of the armistice, nor will it end for many years to come, and we know that our friend has laid down his life for a cause to which his whole heart was devoted, just as surely as though he had gone down in combat on the lines.

After a long and phenomenal career as an athlete at Princeton, Hobey Baker took up flying more than a year before America’s entry into the war, with the idea of fitting himself for the service should the need arise. As might have been expected of probably the best and most successful athlete this country ever produced, he excelled in flying as he had in football and hockey. 

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