This Week in Princeton History for May 17-23

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Asian American Students Association denounces anti-Asian and antisemitic prejudices on campus, local residents band with students to take revenge on a traveling show, and more.

May 17, 1942—Philosophy professor Theodore M. Greene condemns tutoring as “immoral and unpatriotic.”

May 21, 1990—The Asian American Students Association denounces harmful portrayals of Chinese and Jewish people in Triangle Club’s “Easy Street” and expresses concerns about the motivations in choosing these groups for mockery. “In the future, we hope that the same ‘consideration’ shown to ‘other minorities’ will be accorded to Asian Americans as well.”

Playbill for Triangle Club’s “Easy Street,” 1989. Triangle Club Records (AC122), Box 281. Lyrics to “Chinese Jewish Cowboy” were particularly troubling to some audience members, with lines like “they told me I filled all their quotas/Yes, I’m a demographic planner’s dream . . ./Well who needs a real resume/When looks can deceive/Who would ever believe/That he’d get into Princeton, oy veh!” and “Where never is heard a discouraging word/When you’re Chinese, or Jewish, or gay.”

May 22, 1874—James McCosh explains why he doesn’t believe higher education should be publicly supported and should instead rely on private donations, which he believes encourages greater freedom of thought: “Would Professor White have a college a mixture of Protestantism and Popery, and partly Christian and partly Atheistic? Now, sir, we have these colleges, and let them go on; let us call forth the liberality of the people, and I believe you will get that liberality.”

May 23, 1851—Students and local residents of Princeton, disappointed in Barnum’s traveling menagerie and museum, call it a “humbug,” join forces, seize one of its wagons, and throw it into the D & R canal.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.