This Week in Princeton History for November 28-December 4

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, tensions over the American flag are escalating on campus, Princeton’s president indicates the need to plan to educate women, and more.

November 29, 1824—Micah Hawkins’s The Saw Mill or a Yankee Trick, the first American opera on American themes, is performed for the first time in New York. Its opening act includes the lines, “But we, at sixteen, parted: you for college, at Princeton, I to Gates, in Genesee…”

November 30, 1989—More than 100 members of New Jersey’s American Ex-Prisoners of War and other veterans’ groups gather on Cannon Green to denounce flag-burning. The group engages in direct confrontation with students who have recently burned the American flag as part of protest activities. An organizer warns, “We cannot guarantee the safety of anyone who tries to burn the flag in the presence of war veterans.”

Flag-burning protests were staged in response to a federal law banning the burning of the American flag, which Congress had passed in October 1989. In United States v. Eichman (1990), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Flag Protection Act as a violation of the First Amendment. Emergency Committee to Stop the Flag Amendment and Laws pamphlet, 1989. American Civil Liberties Union Records (MC001), Box 2234.

December 2, 1790—Philadelphia’s Federal Gazette joins with other publications in urging the legislature of New Jersey to act to prevent the ongoing taxation of the funds of the College of New Jersey.

December 4, 1967—In a report released today, Robert Goheen reflects on his ten years as Princeton’s president and identifies “the far more fundamental and important issue of our facing up to the education of women” as a primary reason for the need to adjust financial priorities in spite of other major needs.

Jackie Johnson *70, Katie Marshall *69, and Mary Procter *71. Photo from the Princeton Alumni Weekly, May 13, 1969.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, an unusual Thanksgiving storm brings heavy snow to the area, a Scottish newspaper remarks on the racial composition of the town, and more.

November 22, 1967—Joshua Rifkin *70 is at work on two projects: a thesis on an early 16th-century Flemish manuscript, and arranging and conducting the album “Wildflowers” for singer Judy Collins, with whom he has recently also worked on the album “In My Life.”

November 24, 1938—An unusual early snowstorm brings nearly 9 inches of snow to Princeton—more than the entire annual snowfall during the previous winter—beginning around the time most locals are beginning to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

November 25, 1985—James Currier ’89 laments a recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision that Princeton’s eating clubs are not legally permitted to bar women from admission.

Women at Princeton who might want to join the all-male eating clubs do so because they like them better than the other clubs—these clubs have something that the girls would consider special. But having girls in the clubs will change them; they will lose this ‘something special.’ The women can’t be a part of the clubs now, obviously, because they’re all-male; but by joining they would change the essence of the all-male clubs, and they…wouldn’t be a part of what is special. So why ruin [them] for the guys?

November 26, 1877—An article in The Scotsman describes Princeton: “The township is small, containing some 3000 inhabitants, a considerable proportion of whom are black, externally.”

Unidentified residents of Princeton photographed by William Roe Howell, 1869. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP75, Image No. 3005.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 14-20

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students are setting fashion trends in nearby New York, alumni are memorialized, and more.

November 16, 1928—Lynn Carrick, Class of 1920, observes that current students are now setting fashion trends in New York.

Suffice it to point to such obvious departures from tradition as that black socks have been superseded by hose of kaleidoscopic flamboyance, that high shoes now excite derision, and that the emancipated male has acquired a plethora of new accoutrements which if worn on campus a decade ago would have been the cause of catcalls and abusive whistling and much leaning out of dormitory windows; and the articles which would have offended that austerer age are such innocent haberdashery as colored handkerchiefs, silk mufflers, spats, canes, yellow gloves, pastel shirts, and ice-cream suitings.

November 18, 1900—A memorial service is held in Murray Hall to commemorate the lives of George Y. Taylor, Class of 1882, and C. V. R. Hodge ’93, who died in the Boxer Rebellion in China.

Memorial tablet for George Yardley Taylor (Class of 1882) and Cortland Van Rensselater Hodge (Class of 1893), Marquand Chapel, Princeton University, ca. 1901. Undergraduate Alumni Records (AC104), Box 218.

November 19, 1804—A controversial resolution is proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives to exempt colleges from duty taxes on books and scientific equipment if purchased for their sole use for educational purposes. Rep. Samuel L. Mitchill of New York, who introduces the bill, says the motivation is that Princeton is expecting a large shipment of books from Europe and will be subject to paying duty taxes on them otherwise.

November 20, 1863—All of Princeton is reportedly dissatisfied with local train service:

The farmer, the mechanic, the merchant, the scholar who is not cloistered, the clergyman who goes from home, the professional man—the public man, the private gentleman, all join in speaking not with pride and satisfaction of “our railroad” as other communities speak of their railroads, but with sober and earnest dissatisfaction—nay, indignation at the treatment which Princeton has received in the matter of railroad facilities for years and years past.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 7-13

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a senior visits the U.S. President, a junior achieves football fame, and more.

November 7, 1878—Students “respectfully protest against having recitations and lectures on election day.”

November 9, 1937—Fumitaka Konoye ’38 visits U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to deliver a goodwill message from his father, Prince Fumimaro Konoye, Premier of Japan.

Fumitaka Konoye ’38, ca. 1930s (alternative spelling: Fumitaka Konoe). Undergraduate Alumni Records (AC199).

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This Week in Princeton History for October 31-November 6

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a professor urges locals to vote for Abraham Lincoln, a woman attending a football game feels unsettled, and more.

October 31, 1864—Mathematics professor John Thomas Duffield, Class of 1841, speaks at a Union meeting in the town’s Mercer Hall. He says he voted against Abraham Lincoln in 1860 but will vote for him this year with hopes others will do the same, and that any negotiations to end the war with the Confederacy via compromise would be sinful.

John Thomas Duffield, ca. 1860s. Historical Photograph Collection, Individuals Series (AC067), Box 134, Folder 35.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 24-30

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, Cherokee students draw attention, answering machines are becoming popular, and more.

October 25, 1838—A letter to the editor of the New York Commercial Advertiser praises the Cherokee Nation’s Ross brothers (John McDonald Ross, Class of 1841; William Potter Ross, Class of 1842; and Robert Daniel Ross, Class of 1843). “When these young gentlemen graduate from Princeton, which College they are about to enter, they will indeed be an acquisition to their persecuted nation, for they will have the talent, if I am not mistaken, to vindicate their rights, and eloquently, too, against injustice and oppression.”

William Potter Ross, Class of 1842, ca. 1880. Ross was founder and editor of the Cherokee Advocate and held various roles in Cherokee government throughout his life, including serving as principal Chief 1866-1867 and 1872-1875. Princeton University Collection of Western Americana Photographs (WC064).

October 26, 1984—The Daily Princetonian reports that answering machines are growing in popularity on campus. Those who use them say they appreciate being able to screen calls before answering and being able to call back at a more convenient time.

October 29, 1924—The Class of 1928 poses for the annual “Flour Photo.”

October 30, 1947—A survey of members of recent graduates in the Class of 1947 finds that most have had no trouble finding jobs. Though most have headed into corporate life, journalism, science, the military, or graduate school, one stands out for his unusual path into animal husbandry.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 17-23

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a U.S. president visits his student son, a building gets a name, and more.

October 17, 1882—Sitting U.S. president Chester Arthur visits his son at Princeton (Chester Alan Arthur II, Class of 1885) and gives a brief address from the steps of James McCosh’s home expressing his confidence in the institution, as will be reported in the Hartford Daily Courant.

October 21, 1904—The Board of Trustees formally approves the naming of Seventy-Nine Hall in honor of the Class of 1879.

Class of 1879 Hall postcard, ca. 1900s. (Colors digitally enhanced.) Historical Postcard Collection (AC045).

October 22, 1846—A fireworks display puts “Dickinson” and “Carnahan” in lights to celebrate Princeton’s centennial. The Spirit of the Times will report, “As the first name appeared there was considerable excitement, but as this died away, and the magic name of ‘Carnahan’ burst into view, the sky was rent with acclamations…”

October 23, 1957—On the first anniversary of the beginning of the unsuccessful Hungarian Revolution, refugee student Charles R. Legendy ’59 tells an audience of 500 at a special ceremony at Nassau Hall how the events of the previous year have impacted him. “In those days a little people which was thought by the world to be coward and communist defeated the occupation army. … Everyone was shouting loud: We are free; we are free again after more than 400 years of oppression.” As Steven Rockefeller ’58 will observe at the same event, however, the Hungarian Revolution has become “a symbol of failure and tragedy” because Hungary “was sacrificed in the name of world peace…”

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This Week in Princeton History for October 10-16

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, Princeton has begun actively seeking Black applicants, a soldier reflects on the American Revolution, and more.

October 10, 1964—The Chicago Defender expresses curiosity about what made Princeton University suddenly change course and begin actively recruiting Black students, noting its most recent report to secondary schools includes a new section under the header, “Search for Negro Applicants.”

October 13, 2014—Professor emeritus Cornel West *80 is arrested in Ferguson, Missouri, during a “Moral Monday” march, part of ongoing protests of the police killing of Michael Brown. West explains that it is his intention to be arrested: “It’s a beautiful thing to see people on fire for justice, but I didn’t come here to give a speech; I came here to go to jail.”

October 14, 1831—A former soldier recalls the Battle of Princeton in the columns of Maine’s Eastern Argus:

The British were unable to resist this attack, and retreated into the College, where they considered themselves safe. Our army was there in an instant, and cannon were planted before the door, and after two or three discharges, a white flag appeared at a window when the British surrendered.

Afterward, however, surveying the battlefield left a deeper impression. “The ground was frozen, and all the blood which was shed, remained on the surface, which added to the horror of this scene of carnage.”

James Peale’s “Battle of Princeton,” ca. 1782. Courtesy Princeton University Art Museum.

October 16, 1980—Because Florida has recently raised the legal drinking age to 19, local Florida youths are urging college students everywhere—including at Princeton—to boycott Florida beaches in protest this season.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 3-9

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, posting bills in Trenton gets four students arrested, F. Scott Fitzgerald is not doing well, and more.

October 3, 1970—A dozen state and local feminist groups, in their first general convention, join to discuss the basic issues of the women’s rights movement in the Princeton Inn. The University is held up as an example of discrimination at the meeting, with 600 faculty but only 13 women who hold a rank above “Instructor.”

October 4, 1889—According to a report that will later appear in the Trenton Times, Trenton police arrest and take four students to their station while the students are posting bills warning “Ye Mongrel Herd of Freshmen” not to carry canes, use tobacco, sing “Old Nassau,” or wear orange and black. As there is nothing obscene in the bills, however, they are released.

“Attention Ye Mongrel Herd of Freshmen,” 1889. (Click to enlarge.) Princeton University Class Records (AC130).

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This Week in Princeton History for September 26-October 2

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, Jewish students set aside a day for volunteering, an alum causes a stir with a political speech, and more.

September 27, 1998—The Center for Jewish Life hosts “Mitzvah Day,” sending four groups of students out on local volunteer projects. There is high participation among students, organizers believe, because the day takes place during the High Holy Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Students participating in “Mitzvah Day” by helping to build low income housing in Princeton, 1998. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

September 29, 1807—A junior is brought before the faculty on the charge that he kicked another student. He admits to kicking him, but says he was justified because of relentless “insults and abuses” from the student he kicked. Though many witnesses corroborate the story about the verbal abuse, “he was reprimanded before the faculty for resorting to that mode of obtaining satisfaction.”

September 30, 1835—Nicholas Biddle (Class of 1801) causes a stir with his address to the alumni. He urges his audience to preserve America in the face of internal enemies (i.e., Andrew Jackson and his supporters):

Confront its betrayers, as madmen are made to quail beneath the stern gaze of fearless reason. They will denounce you. Disregard their outcries—it is only the scream of the vultures whom you scare from their prey. They will seek to destroy you. Rejoice that your country’s enemies are yours. You can never fail more worthily than in defending her from her own degenerate children. … The avenging hour will at last come. It cannot be that our free nation can long endure the vulgar dominion of ignorance and profligacy. You will live to see the laws re-established—these banditti will be scourged back to their caverns—the penitentiary will reclaim their fugitives in office, and the only remembrance which history will preserve of them is the energy with which you resisted and defeated them.

His remarks will later be published in the Hartford Times, which will italicize his conclusion.

October 1, 1892—A report in the Trenton Times describes two Princeton students at a hearing following their arrest for larceny for attempting to steal a sign: “They are two sissy-looking youths. Both had their hair banged and parted in the middle, and wore little dinky boy hats, very much resembling fried eggs.”

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