This Week in Princeton History for September 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, violence erupts at Commencement over politics, a student pitches the first known curve ball, and more.

September 23, 1947—A controversial chain letter begins sweeping the campus.

September 25, 1827—Princeton’s Commencement turns violent. Savannah’s Daily Georgian will report: “A vast crowd of citizens and strangers assembled, among whom was Samuel L. Southward Esq., Secretary of the U. States Navy, who is now on a visit to his friends in this state. … Although in general good order was observed, yet it is to be regretted that a number of acts of violence were committed; several blows passed between different parties of combatants; some were knocked down, and some, otherwise injured. The presidential question in some roused the parties and pushed them forward to pugilistic strife.”

September 26, 1863—In a game against the Philadelphia Athletics, Princeton’s Joseph P. Henry ’66 pitches what is claimed to be the first curve ball. The New York Clipper attributes Princeton’s 29-to-13 victory to this innovation: “In this match slow pitching with a great twist to the ball achieved a victory over swift pitching.”

Princeton’s 1863-1864 baseball team, officially known as the “Nassau Club” but better known on campus as the “Princeton Nine.” Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box LP26, Image No. 1978.

September 27, 1886—A letter to the editor of the Princetonian expresses concern about leaflets advertising board for students in town at a lower cost than can be offered through eating clubs potentially undermining the ability of some students to provide for themselves.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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