This Week in Princeton History for October 15-21

In this week’s installment of our returning series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, tensions are boiling between town and gown, Dwight D. Eisenhower expresses thanks for the support of Princetonians, and more.

October 16, 1883—According to reports in the New York Sun, the governor of New Jersey has sent the entire state militia and police force to prevent full-scale warfare between students at the College of New Jersey and the residents of Princeton following a bloodbath on October 15. “To-night the annual cane-spree takes place and the students threaten to lynch any townsmen who appear on the Campus. The latter, on their part, declare their intention of cleaning out the College. Both parties are heavily armed. Trouble is feared. The desperate ruffianism of Princeton students is well known.”

October 17, 1952—Dwight D. Eisenhower, who is seeking election as U.S. President, notices a “PRINCETON LIKES IKE” sign among a crowd of 5,000 supporters in Princeton and says he is “really delighted to see some Princeton signs here.

Clipping from Daily Princetonian.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 6-12

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a professor helps determine election results in 30 states, a donor’s generous gift allows for the building of a new dorm, and more.

November 7, 1972—Politics professor Edward R. Tufte is one of NBC’s 10 election specialists, helping to give up-to-the-minute updates in presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial contests in 30 different states. The use of computers now allows the election specialists to predict the results of an election before the final tallies are available.

November 8, 1888—Princeton president Francis Patton reports to the Board of Trustees that he has received a gift of $50,000 from Susan D. Brown for the building of a new dorm.

Brown Hall, ca. 1900. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP07, Image No. 0147.

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Electing an American President

With the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections just around the corner, we’ve been having fun answering the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s #ElectionCollection challenges on Twitter. The timing also seemed right to put some of our elections-related memorabilia on display here at Mudd. Our lobby exhibit case now holds a variety of elections-related materials from diverse collections in the Princeton University Archives and the Public Policy Papers, with a date range spanning nearly a century from William McKinley’s 1896 campaign to Bill Clinton’s in 1992.

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William McKinley campaign badge, ca. 1896. Princeton University Library Records (AC123), Box 406.

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This Week in Princeton History for November 2-8

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, the Princetonian laments changes in New Jersey laws, Billy Graham addresses Christianity and the Civil Rights Movement on campus, and more.

November 2, 1876—In response to a new state law that banned billiard tables within three miles of Nassau Hall, the Princetonian editorializes: “Billiards exeunt. Gone! They are gone. … Oh the cruel, cruel souls who feasted on the gnat and tasted not the camel. … Ah, be still sad heart. … But law—law transcendent—law whose seat is the bosom of the eternal and locus inflictus the State of New Jersey, law’s bright eye flasheth, that eye before whose flash the common sense of man doth fade as doth a match before the lime ball of a calcium-light.”

November 3, 1963—Well-known evangelist Billy Graham speaks twice on campus, once in the University Chapel and once in Alexander Hall. He asserts the Civil Rights Movement’s need for the church and speaks of his hope that Christianity will end racism in the American South.

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Billy Graham at Princeton, November 3, 1963. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

November 4, 1987—Princeton University architecture lab technician Leon Barth awakes to discover he has been elected as mayor of Roosevelt Borough, New Jersey, against his will. Residents of the town have ignored his repeated refusals to run for mayor and have campaigned for him anyway as a write in candidate. Though not wanting the job, he says he will submit to the will of his fellow townspeople and take it anyway. As the mayor of Roosevelt is an unpaid position, he will keep his day job at Princeton.

November 6, 1869—The College of New Jersey (Princeton) and Rutgers College face off in the first intercollegiate game in the history of American football.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

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

This Week in Princeton History for November 3-9

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Penn Jillette’s joke falls flat, the town decides on Prohibition, and more.

November 3, 1975—Penn Jillette (now of Penn & Teller) tries to garner publicity for his upcoming performances with the “The Asparagus Valley Cultural Society” by staging a joke attempt to jump over five Volkswagen Rabbits on a unicycle in front of Murray-Dodge Hall, where the group will later perform. The joke falls flat; 2,000 onlookers (mostly not affiliated with Princeton University) express mob outrage when he simply rides his unicycle off a ramp instead. “People were calling me a fraud, when I knew OF COURSE I was a fraud. That was the point,” Jillette later says. “I found myself playing a joke without a punch line.”

Penn Jillette Unicycle Stunt

Penn Jillette and his “Unicycle Jump” set up outside Murray-Dodge Hall. Photos from the Daily Princetonian.

November 5, 1918—Princeton voters decide whether Prohibition will continue in town after World War I is over. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ultimately renders this question moot, and national prohibition of alcohol remains in effect for approximately 14 years. When the ban is finally lifted, Princetonians will have their first legal drinks in 1933, at the Tap Room at the Nassau Inn.

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Campaign mailing, Historical Subject Files Collection (AC109), Box 354, Folder 1. Click to enlarge.

November 6, 1844—Election results for the New Jersey 3rd Congressional District are disputed on the grounds that students voted in Princeton (both from The College of New Jersey and Princeton Theological Seminary). The election was close—John Runk won by 16 votes. His opponent, Isaac G. Farlee, said that the Princeton students should not have voted; further, that since Farlee thought it could be assumed that most voted for Runk, he should win the seat instead. The House of Representatives itself ended up deciding the issue, voting that Princeton students were, indeed, legal residents of Princeton and eligible to vote in the district, setting a precedent regarding the definition of “resident.”

November 9, 1969—A fire almost completely destroys 76-year-old Whig Hall. The cause is determined to be a group of students smoking cigarettes inside at around 4:00 AM.

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Whig Hall, November 9, 1969, Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 142.

For last week’s installment in this series, click here.

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

Political cartoon exhibition reveals common themes of American presidential elections

Through Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009 · Milberg Gallery, Firestone Library

Curator’s tours of the exhibit on Sept. 28 and Nov. 2. at 3 p.m.

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An exhibition on view at Princeton University’s Firestone Library confirms through paper and ink what many American voters already suspect: Although the political candidates may change, many issues remain the same.

Titled “Sketching Their Characters: 150 Years of Political Cartoons From Andrew Jackson to George H.W. Bush,” the exhibition features primarily original pen and ink editorial cartoons dating from 1828 to 1992 focusing on presidential elections. Works of Thomas Nast, among other notable political cartoonists, are on display in the library’s Milberg Gallery until Sunday, Jan. 4.

Questions about qualifications, the service or burden of past actions, the influence of money on the political process, backroom deals that subvert the will of the people and aspersions on the candidates themselves have tickled and outraged generations of cartoonists and their readers. Curators Jennifer Cole, Daniel Linke and Daniel Santamaria have selected items from three collections held at the Mudd Manuscript Library as well as the holdings of the Graphic Arts Division.

“This was the most entertaining exhibition I have ever done,” said Linke, who has curated more than a dozen. “Reviewing political cartoons from over the decades was like an illustrated political history lesson — or a graphic novel.”

“Some of the cartoons are downright funny, but others will make you wonder if anything at all has really changed with American politics,” Linke said. He noted two from 1904 in which both parties pursue independent voters and accuse the other of being in the pockets of “big money,” which certainly could apply to today’s political landscape.

The ferocity of the attacks also has not changed, he said, pointing out those that attacked Franklin D. Roosevelt and his decision to run for a third term. “We think of FDR as a revered president, but these cartoons show that in his time, he had plenty of detractors,” Linke said.

A lecture by Rutgers history and journalism professor David Greenberg at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in 101 McCormick Hall will precede a reception for the exhibition. Greenberg’s first book, “Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image” won the Washington Monthly Political Book Award and the American Journalism History Book Award. He is the recipient of the 2008 Hiett Prize in the Humanities. Awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, the prize recognizes a young scholar whose work shows exceptional promise.

Hours for the exhibition are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

You may also see 11 of the 37 images on display at the Princeton Alumni Weekly’s website.