This Week in Princeton History for September 14-20

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, John Maclean defends the expulsion of students, Quadrangle Club opens, and more.

September 15, 1870—James McCosh interrupts a brawl between sophomores and freshmen on Nassau Street over canes with a shout of, “Disperse, young men, or the bailiffs will be after you.”

September 16, 1861—John Maclean writes to the editor of the New York Evening Post to explain the unpopular decision to expel some students from Princeton for attacking another student who had expressed sympathy for the Confederacy: The faculty “will not permit the utterance of sentiments denunciatory of those who are engaged in efforts to maintain the integrity of the national government; nor will they allow of any public expression of sympathy with those who are endeavoring to destroy the government,” but “it must be evident that the Faculty could not permit his fellow-students to take the law in their own hands…”

Pencil drawing of the parade local residents gave for the three students dismissed in the “Pumping Incident,” September 1861. Pyne-Henry Collection (AC125), Box 1, Folder 18.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 13-19

After an unscheduled but unavoidable delay, we are returning with our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni. In this week’s installment, a rising sophomore is unable to avoid being drafted despite his opposition to the Vietnam War, a recent graduate’s senior thesis provides suggestions for improving bridge safety in town, and more.

July 13, 1972—Brian K. Kemple ’75, unable to escape the draft by any legal means, is compulsorily inducted into the U.S. Army. Kemple, who will train to be a Russian-language interpreter, is opposed to the Vietnam War.

July 14, 1964—A new local ordinance banning the purchase of alcoholic beverages for minors means Princeton University will no longer throw a beer party for the underclassmen who participate in the Cane Spree.

July 15, 1991—Janet McKay *74 becomes president of Mills College.

July 16, 1985—Elizabeth Jones ’83 is vindicated: Though no immediate action followed after she sent her senior thesis to the Mercer County engineer, the Harrison Street bridge is now closed for repairs. Jones, a civil engineering major, had inspected the bridge and found a broken support strut, rusted bracing, and other hazards that rendered the entire structure dangerous.

Harrison Street Bridge, ca. 1910s. Historical Postcard Collection (AC045).

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 28-November 3

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, sophomores organize a battle against freshmen for canes for the first time, the ACLU urges Princetonians to support the impeachment of Richard Nixon, and more.

October 28, 1983—Princeton’s Director of the Center for Visitor and Conference Services, Bill O’Brien, receives a call from his section chief in the Army Reserves letting him know he will be on active duty soon. He will spend three weeks in Grenada.

The United States invaded Grenada on October 25, 1983 after a military coup removed the island’s leadership. The U.S. invasion drew international condemnation, but most Americans supported it. Bill O’Brien’s duties included the distribution of aid to civilians and helping to restore their tourism industry. O’Brien thought it was important that their flag be restored, so he joined with others to canvas the island for the original flag to use as a model to construct others. In the photo above, O’Brien showed the flag to Jacquelyn Kneen, a writer for the Princeton Weekly Bulletin. Photo by Robert Matthews, 1983, Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 225.

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