This Week in Princeton History for March 21-27

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a local editorial argues against suffrage for the emancipated, a Prince initiative gets attention in London, and more.

March 22, 1867—An editorial in the Princeton Standard argues that those formerly enslaved in the South should not be permitted to vote, and instead the South should be put under military rule to avoid a situation in which “black Senators become the peers of white Senators in Congress.” “It matters not that the whites have behaved badly and refused a better policy.”

March 24, 1996—Charles Cox ’97 leads a trip to the Shenandoah mountains in Virginia, away from the local lights, to observe the brightest comet to pass by in a century (the Hyakutake Comet or so-called “Great Comet of 1996”). Predictions say it will not be visible from Earth again for another 9,000 years.

March 25, 1933—London’s Sphere mentions the Daily Princetonian’s 25-cent scrip sales in a report on the American banking crisis.


Daily Princetonian scrip, 1933. Daily Princetonian General Records (AC285), Box 2.

March 27, 1904—A group of students attempt to prank the inhabitants of a dorm room with a dummy made to look like a murdered corpse in one of the residents’ beds, but it quickly gets out of hand when more than 1,000 people come to see the body. The story will end up in the Chicago Tribune.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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The Bank Holiday of 1933 at Princeton University

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated President of the United States on Saturday, March 4, 1933. Immediately following his inauguration weekend, at 1:00 AM on March 6, Roosevelt issued Proclamation 2039. This action ordered all banks in the United States to close. No one would be able to withdraw, transfer, or deposit money between Monday, March 6 and Thursday, March 9. But even after some banks were allowed to reopen, those deemed to be in danger of failing would remain closed until they were deemed sound. This emergency measure was intended to prevent runs on banks that would cause a catastrophic ripple effect throughout a fragile economy, giving Congress time to pass legislation to shore up the nation’s banking system. On March 9, they passed the Emergency Banking Act. Gradually, banks reopened, now backed by the Federal Reserve. If a bank failed, account holders were insured against the loss, removing motivation to withdraw and hoard government-issued scrip.

In the interim, citizens all over the United States scrambled to find solutions to the problems that nearly a week or more without access to currency, without warning, would cause. One popular solution was for individuals and private corporations to issue their own scrip to circulate locally. Newspapers, in particular, commonly offered scrip, because they had ready access to printing presses.


Daily Princetonian scrip, 1933. Daily Princetonian General Records (AC285), Box 2.

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