In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a member of the Class of 1922 tries to avert nuclear war, a brawl breaks out in chapel, and more.
October 24, 1914—Princeton University plays its first game in the newly constructed Palmer Stadium, defeating Dartmouth 16-12.
Palmer Stadium during a game played on November 14, 1914. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP73, Image No. 2907.
In October 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Adlai Stevenson spoke the most famous line of his career. The former Illinois governor and two-time presidential candidate was the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations.
After a series of provocative political moves and a failed US attempt to overthrow the Cuban regime, Nikita Khrushchev proposed the idea of placing Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt in May 1962. By October 14, American spy planes captured images showing sites for medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles under construction in Cuba.
Tensions mounted quickly. Concurrent with other negotiations, the United States requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on October 25. There, Adlai Stevenson confronted Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin, challenging him to admit the existence of the missiles. Ambassador Zorin refused to answer.
“Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba? Don’t wait for the translation! Yes or no?”
“I am not in an American courtroom, sir,” Zorin responded, “and therefore I do not wish to answer a question put to me in the manner in which a prosecutor does–”
“You are in the courtroom of world opinion right now,” Stevenson interrupted, “and you can answer yes or no. You have denied that they exist, and I want to know whether I have understood you correctly.”
“You will have your answer in due course,” Zorin replied. “I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that’s your decision,” countered Stevenson. “And I am also prepared to present the evidence in this room.”