In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, protesters are arrested at Nassau Hall, a professor urges Princetonians to buy Liberty Loan bonds, and more.
May 22, 1949—Nassau Hall’s flag flies at half mast as a tribute to James V. Forrestal, a member of the Class of 1915 and the nation’s first Secretary of Defense, who died after jumping out a window on the sixteenth floor of Bethesda Naval Hospital on this date.
May 23, 1985—A total of 88 demonstrators, most of them students, are arrested for blockading the doors of Nassau Hall in protest of Princeton University’s investments in apartheid South Africa.
May 26, 1882—An editorial in the Princetonian urges the College of New Jersey (Princeton) to adopt Decoration Day (which will later be known as Memorial Day) as a holiday.
May 28, 1917—Economics professor Walter Maxwell Adriance admonishes students to buy Liberty Loan bonds to support the United States in the war in Europe, saying, “In war time extravagant personal expenditure is akin to treason. Economy, productive activity, the payment of taxes, and the investment of government bonds are next in merit to the offering of one’s life on the field of battle.”
For last week’s installment in this series, click here.
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If Forrestal actually jumped out of the window, what could have been the purpose of that bathrobe sash found tied around his neck? The newspapers speculated that he had been trying to hang himself out of the window with the sash tied to the radiator beneath the window, but the sash somehow “gave way.” (It was not broken, according to eyewitness testimony.). The official inquiry (Willcutts Report) concluded only that the fall had caused his death but did not say what caused the fall. Your statement, therefore, has no basis in known fact.
Researchers interested in the Willcutts Report can find it attached to the finding aid for the James V. Forrestal Papers (MC051).
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