Shopping for Gems and Snaps

In years past, the course, Introduction to Congress, had a reputation as one of the easiest at Harvard College. Some of the 279 students who took it in the spring semester said that the teacher, Matthew B. Platt, an assistant professor of government, told them at the outset that he gave high grades and that neither attending his lectures nor the discussion sessions with graduate teaching fellows was mandatory. “He said, ‘I gave out 120 A’s last year, and I’ll give out 120 more,’ ” one accused student said.   New York Times, August 31 2012

As the College’s indelicate cheating scandal unfolds in unexpected directions (I would like to know: what is the purpose of an open, take-home final exam, anyway?) many have commented that today’s pressure to succeed fosters a culture of students shopping for classes with easy A’s, rather than subjects of material worth or interest. Such classes are called ‘gems’ by the current undergraduates. However, this practice of searching for the easiest route is hardly new. In FDR’s time, easy courses were called “snaps” (as in “Was it easy?”  “Sure, a snap”). Nathaniel Shaler’s immensely popular and notoriously benign Geology 4, which FDR took freshman year, was one such, and if the Lampoon is any guide, ‘snaps’ were as sought after as ‘gems’ are today:

The only difference between then and now would seem to be motivation: today’s students have an ever wary eye open to graduate and professional schools, while I’d guess FDR’s pals were more worried about finding sufficient time for  “chorus girls and lots of fizz.”

O tempora, o mores!


Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!

 

 

Sifting Freshmen

The Faculty Sifting Freshmen. (Click anywhere on the photo to enlarge.)

As we again welcome freshmen this week for the 376th time, I thought you might enjoy two views of the process from a 1900 Harvard Lampoon in our collections. The first is entitled “Faculty Sifting Freshmen” showing the the College administation as a grizzled old gardener sifting potting soil.

The second is a little ditty entitled The Freshman’s Meditation. I may be wrong, but this ancient verse makes a neat little modern rap:

Click anywhere on the image to enlarge

Incoming freshmen take note: the chorus girls have entirely disappeared, and you shalln’t have till next October “to make it up” should you decide to partake of the fizz.

Oh, those were the days…

I know you’ll all join me in welcoming the Class of 2016 to Cambridge, and the class of 2015 to Adams House.

Save the Date: Fifth Annual FDR Memorial Lecture and Dinner, November 10, 2012

We’re hugely pleased to announce that Professor Jean Edward Smith, author of the recently published and critically acclaimed Eisenhower in War and Peace will be our speaker at the Fifth Annual FDR Memorial Lecture and Dinner, Saturday November 10, 2012 at 4PM. Professor Smith was our guest at the First Annual Lecture – before the Restoration had even begun – upon the publication of his seminal biography FDR. He gave a hugely memorable talk on that ocassion, and we are so delighted to have him back, especially in this presidential election year.

And, yes, this is a banquet year for the Suite; a very special gourmet dinner in the dining hall, themed from the Eisenhower White House, will follow a cocktail reception and book signing.

As this event will be co-sponsored with the Harvard Alumni Association, tickets will go fast, so I will be following up with special advance notice for our supporters in September. Save the date: Saturday, November 10. This promises to be a memorable event!

 

 

 

Recent Acquisitions and News – July 2012

Hello Everyone!

Well I don’t need to tell you how warm it’s been in Cambridge, because chances are you’ve been as warm or warmer. Still, despite the heat and the bang-bang-booms coming from the Quincy House renovations next door, we’ve been quietly (or perhaps, more precisely, less-noisily) pursuing our own projects in the Suite:

For one, we’re under construction again in the bathroom, this time to retro-fit some very inconspicuous museum-style recessed lighting into ceiling. Those who have stayed in the Suite overnight have commented that it’s darker than Hades with only one 30-watt Edison bulb as your companion, and it’s true – which is precisely why gentlemen in FDR’s time shaved & dressed in their rooms, where there was better natural light. This concession to modern living – which can be turned on, or not, according to whim – will also allow us to showcase a small collection of patent medicine bottles and other personal products of dubious efficacy from the turn of the century that we’ve been assembling. It’s amazing the wild variety of nonsense that was marketed for health and beauty in FDR’s youth, and this collection, once proudly installed on the bathroom wall shelf, will elucidate this thankfully-passed aspect of late-Victorian life.

In the study, two complex projects are underway. Master craftsman Lary Shaffer and I are in the process of reverse engineering a period daybed we discovered (or rather, several, in photographs), to make a version for the Suite. Ours has to have several novel features: it needs the look and feel of an authentic period piece, yet it has to disassemble for easy movement when we film the New Fireside Chats – not to mention be both durable and comfortable for visitor use. At left, the very, very beginning of our efforts, as we start to think about how to construct the spindle back that will link the two rear lyre-shaped legs. As usual, this has turned into quite an adventure, one that I’ll be detailing in future posts. We’re hopeful that we’ll have the piece designed, assembled and outfitted for the study by the fall.

Also, thanks to major funding from the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust (and of course, viewers like you), we’ve been able to engage the services of the prestigious Pewabic Pottery in Michigan to produce a period-accurate set of tiles for the fireplace surround. Somewhere in time, no one is quite sure when or why, the tiles were ripped out from all but one of the fireplace surrounds in Westmorly, most likely as part of a general rebuilding of the fireboxes or flues. Fortunately, we still have the intact fireplace in the old porter’s lodge at the base of B-entry, which we’ll be using for a model. This, too, I’ll be documenting as the project unfolds.

Finally, we hoping to complete renovations to the hall outside the Suite to install a small FDR timeline-museum, which will help visitors place the Suite in the context of FDR’s life and presidency. With the assistance of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, we’ve selected the images for the timeline, and will be mounting them on the wall outside the Suite, along with improved lighting and seating.

See, we have been busy!

Finally, we’ve some new acquisitions to show you. Obviously as the physical restoration of the Suite winds down and we switch over to our educational and philanthropic activities (for more on that important mission, see here) the new items we acquire become fewer and fewer. Still, we’re on the active hunt for rare pieces that either have a direct Harvard/FDR connection, or that help elucidate life at FDR’s Harvard – and how very different that life is from today’s. Here are four great items we’ve recently discovered:

OK, any guess as to what this is?

Hint: it’s glass, exactly the size of a cigar, and missing a small cork on the left end…

Thinking… thinking…

If you guessed cigar flask – which I’m sure you didn’t! – you’d be correct. This type of small novelty flask was very common in the late Victorian era. Drinking hard liquor in mixed company was frowned upon, but at the same time, such alcohol was de rigueur at most social events, so what to do? Why, carry this tiny little flask in your vest pocket, that’s what, which to all the world looks like a cigar; then when the ladies aren’t looking, bottoms up!

Here’s a wonderful piece that came to us as a gift from Dr. Cynthia Koch, Past Director the FDR Presidential Library, and her husband Eliot. Though many people think of Stetsons as big floppy western hats, that was only one – albeit the most famous – of their products. Founded in 1865, the John B. Stetson Company began when its eponymous founder headed west and created the original hat of the frontier, the “Boss of the Plains.” Stetson eventually became the world’s largest hat maker, producing more than 3.3 million hats a year in a factory spread over 9 acres in Philadelphia. This particular hat, in its absolutely brilliant red box, is known as a boater, and was common apparel for young men in the warmer months from the FDR’s Harvard days well into the 20s. As it turns out, “our” hat was simply predestined to be in the Suite: I first saw this Stetson in an antiques store in Hudson, New York, and was immediately interested. The seller however named a price I thought unreasonable, and refused to haggle, which is just not “the way” in these kinds of deals –  I was put off, and left. Almost a year later, Dr. Koch spied this same hat, still on the shelf in the same store, and thought it would be perfect for us. She immediately called me, and began to describe the “wonderful hat I found, in a well-preserved red period box…” I interrupted, completely amazed: “Don’t tell me you’re at such and such antique store in Hudson!!?” And the rest, as they say is history. Dr. Koch however, proved no better bargainer than I, for the seller again refused to budge and she was forced to pay full price. I take some rather perverse satisfaction in the fact both stubborn seller and store are now gone, but not before we got our hat. Thanks again, Cynthia and Eliot!

Considering the large number of objects in the Suite –  heading towards two thousand, if you can believe it – one of the things we’re strangely lacking is period books. The reason is twofold: the first is, simply, the cost of good volumes. FDR, as you probably know by now, was an avid bibliophile who began collecting books while at Harvard. He was on the library committee for the Harvard Union, and also served as the librarian for the Fly Club. (Club libraries, though diminishing in importance by FDR’s time, were still much valued as a source of more popular, less serious reading material than was found in Harvard’s library.) Given a rather refined taste, and a hefty budget supplied by Sara, FDR proved a discriminating buyer, and we find ourselves hard-pressed financially to duplicate his acquisitions. Secondly, we’re constrained to pre-1904 volumes that reflect FDR & Lathrop’s taste and interests – not something that pops up too often at the local used-book seller. But here’s a slim little volume that meets both criteria: Two Addresses by Col H. L. Higginson (1902). Higginson was one of Harvard’s most enthusiastic benefactors, giving both the money for Soldiers Field, as well as the funds for the Harvard Union. This book contains the text of Higginson’s two dedication addresses, and is particularly appropriate for the Suite as FDR was in the audience for the Union dedication in October, 1901. This is a volume he certainly knew of, most likely owned, and most certainly helped acquire for the new Union Library, which would function as Harvard’s main undergraduate library until the opening of Lamont in 1947.

And finally:

What a stunner! This is a very rare piece, both because of size (it’s 11″ tall by 6″ wide) and function: a heavy ceramic water pitcher.  It came out of an estate in California, and is exactly of the period. How do we know that? Well in this case the pitcher is labelled on the bottom: “Royal China Pottery, England,” which sets parameters for the date. But even if it weren’t, the style and typography of the Harvard pennant would give it away. After 1910 or so, the flag font and shape changes, (and continues an every-decade-or-so metamorphosis right until the present day), giving the practiced eye a pretty precise measurement of age.

(It’s amazing the strange talents you acquire when putting together a project like this!)

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be back in touch as the weather cools down with news on our fall events, including the FDR Memorial Lecture, and our plans for the Big Game.

Until then, please remember that none of this gets done without your continuing help.

Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!

 

Six Buildings

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As you know, we have been working madly away on a joint project with the HAA, Six Buildings That Shaped Harvard History.

Well, our work is finally done, after eight months trial and travail. The film will preview to the HAA Board tomorrow, and then be promoted worldwide to our alumni beginning in May, as the last official part of the 375th celebrations. With luck it will increase not only awareness of the FDR Suite & our mission, but also how fascinating an historical resource we have in the College that surrounds us.

Thus, may I present to you, our supporters, a special pre-premiere premiere of Six Buildings:

 

Six Buildings That Shaped Harvard History from Michael Weishan on Vimeo.

Note: the entire video is 36 minutes long, and may take some time to load on slower connections. For those of you wishing to skip about, click on the video, press play, then pause, allowing the film to fully load on your PC (the status bar will progressively go gray.) You may then skip about at will. In later editions, the film will be divided into six segments for quicker viewing. You may also unclick the “HD” button on the lower right for considerably faster, lower definition viewing.

Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!

Recent Acquisitions & News

FDR's desk, with its new companion, a rotating oak bookcase. The volume sitting on top by the way, is a leather bound copy of the 1900-1901 Crimson, also recently acquired.

Hello everyone!

Well spring has certainly sprung in Cambridge, and while our weather wildly swings between days in the 80′s and nights in the teens, I thought I would take a moment to bring you up to date on a few items.

The first is a hearty welcome to our new rotating bookcase, a seemingly minor item that turned into quite the affair. We’ve been in the market for a one of these clever little space-saving gems since the beginning of the restoration; although once common (and hugely practical) unfortunately they are now rarer than hens’ teeth. After several years of searching for a case that fit our space, I finally decided to ask Lary Shaffer, the woodworker extraordinaire that built our Morris chairs, to construct one for us. Lary, always game for a new challenge, took on the project with gusto. Together he and I reverse-engineered various examples we discovered online, and then re-engineered our design to match FDR’s rolltop desk in size, material and scale. All in all we are very pleased; the case really completes FDR’s corner – which always seemed a bit bare compared to Lathrop’s rather opulent flattop (helped by the fact that Lathrop also gets an extra window). The bookcase also improves the Suite’s narrative, reflecting the fact that FDR was an avid bibliophile and book collector while at Harvard. Now all we need to do is fill it with appropriate volumes, and wait as the now golden oak fades and darkens to match FDR’s desk. (I was tempted to hurry the process along with stain but Lary insisted that wasn’t the thing to do, so patience, never my sterling trait, will have to be the byword.)

The bookcase, by the way, represents something of a milestone: we’re homing in on the end of the physical restoration. We have some small electrical work to finish, a daybed to build to better match our chairs in style and period (another project for Lary & I – we are already working on designs), and finally, the re-tiling of the fireplace surround, which for reasons never fully understood was de-tiled sometime during its history, along with all but one of the B-entry fireplaces. This is another custom job: we have a model in the sole surviving fireplace in the old porter’s lodge, but the tile is no longer made and will have to be custom fabricated for us. But that’s a story for another day. However, when these last projects are completed, the Suite will actually be finished (Deo volente) and we’ll be ready to move on to focus solely on our educational and scholarship programs.

And speaking of which: we have two more New Fireside Chats coming up, which are just waiting for me to edit: the first with Curtis Roosevelt was taped last November; the second with Father John Jay Hughes ’48, last October. Unfortunately I am way behind with getting these out; I was diverted first into finishing our video tour, Tales of a Suite, and then, to what became a ridiculously monumental project for the HAA, called Six Buildings that Shaped Harvard History. This is one of those things that you innocently agree to do, that just grow and grow and grow until it seems that it will never be finished (like the Suite!), but I am homing in on end of this one as well. I had originally agreed simply to host a video version of the popular walking tour I give each year; then I was asked to expand the project into more of television-like presentation for the 375th, then finally, to write, direct, and produce what has now become a 30 minute, PBS quality documentary. Why precisely I said I would do this I’m not sure, other than the fact that my contacts at the HAA are totally charming and hard to refuse. In any event, Six Buildings (done in a few weeks and to be announced here) will bring the Suite much added publicity, as the story involves the Gold Coast and the rise of the House system – and as part of the deal, the HAA will now be publicizing and promoting our Chats, at least when I get them finished, that is!

And finally: we’ve decided to push the Annual FDR Memorial Lecture into the fall. This was the result of several events, not the least of which was my being totally overwhelmed with other projects. The real stumbling block however has been finding a speaker of suitable note. We’ve asked filmmaker Ken Burns, who declined for this year but promised a future talk closer to the launch of his new Roosevelt documentary; David McCullough who didn’t get back to us (naughty naughty) and several other prominent persons in the political world, who for various reasons were unable to commit. Given these difficulties, and since this is our fifth anniversary and a banquet year to boot, we’ve decided to work on the event over the summer for a fall launch. If any of you have suggestions for a speaker of appropriate stature and note (and/or connections to proffer the invitation), we’d love to hear from you!

That’s all for now… stay tuned.

Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!

Just in Time for Presidents’ Day

Hello All!

Several of you have written to me in the last few weeks wondering why things have been so quiet lately.  The fault, I’m afraid, is all mine. On the professional front, we’ve had a one of the strangest, snowless winters ever, with bright sunny days and temperatures routinely in the 40s, which means, for a fellow in the landscape design business like me, a real windfall, with our projects continuing right into January. Mainly however, the reason for the gap in transmissions has been the magnum opus you see below: Tales of A Suite: Rediscovering FDR at Harvard. Since August a few of our students and I have been laboring to put together a PBS quality documentary on the Suite, one that would set its historical background, explain its creation, and (hopefully) motivate people to become involved in our future. This last is particularly important as we move into the final stages of this project, endeavoring to launch our scholarship programs and fund a permanent $750,000 endowment to maintain the Suite and its programs. To that end, I thought we needed a clear, engaging mission statement, and here it is:

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This full length film will now be shown to all guests visiting the Suite, and the HAA has expressed interest in releasing it worldwide to our alums. We’ll also be producing a short 5-7 minute version for corporate fundraising purposes. (Given the international nature of our planned programs, I’ve several candidates in mind for that: stay tuned. I’d also welcome any suggestions you may have in that regard as well.)

Finally, we’ve launched a very high profile invitation for this year’s FDR Memorial Lecture, and are waiting to hear back. I’ll be in touch as soon as we have an answer.

In the meantime, enjoy the film everyone, and Happy Presidents’ Day!

A New, New Fireside Chat with Dr. Cynthia Koch

Well, we’ve finally got a new New Fireside Chat launched, with two more taped, to be edited and released in December and January. For the next two episodes, we’re on the road, off to the historic Hudson Valley, ancestral home of Franklin Roosevelt, to speak with noted FDR scholars about the man and his times.

NB: These programs are now all filmed in high-definition, so if your Internet speed is sufficiently high, you can watch them as they were meant to be viewed. By default, the player sets to the lowest (fastest) speed. Simply hit the play button, and to your right various picture controls appear; simply adjust the number followed by “p” in the menu bar upwards to increase picture quality. (The other controls increase the picture size, which you might also wish to experiment with. Again, if your connection is sufficiently speedy, full screen, perfectly clear pictures are possible.) If you’re the patient type, you can watch these programs in high definition even with a slower connection: simply press pause early on, and let the gray buffer bar move sufficiently forward in front of the play head to accommodate your connection speed.)

If all that sounds to complicated, just press play, sit back, and enjoy!

Part I
In the first segment of this three-part program, Dr. Cynthia Koch, past director of the FDR Presidential Museum and Library at Hyde Park – and also our speaker at last year’s FDR Memorial Lecture –
discusses recent changes at the Presidential Museum, including the first ever major renovation of the exhibits, and what the visitor can expect to see in upcoming months. The conversation then shifts to Roosevelt’s upbringing in the Hudson Valley, and how spirit of the place shaped his personal and political thinking.


Part II
In part two of this three-part program, Dr. Cynthia Koch, past director of the FDR Presidential Museum and Library at Hyde Park, discusses how FDR used his Dutch heritage to for political ends; the discussion then turns to FDR as Educator in Chief, and how he used simple stories and historical examples to relate complex issues to the American people. Also revealed is FDR’s strained relationship with Hoover, and how Hoover redeemed his reputation under the Truman administration with his post WWII efforts in Europe.

Part III

The final portion of the discussion with Dr. Cynthia Koch, past director of the FDR Presidential Museum and Library at Hyde Park, concludes with the legacy of the FDR administration, and lessons for today’s political scene.

Thanks go out to Dr. Koch for hosting our filming set; Matthew Young ’12 our producer, and Joe Brancale ’13 our cameraman, and as always, to you our supporters, who make this all possible.

Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!


Harvard at 375… Make That 300

"At 7:45, nature took a turn for the worse. Just as students from Adams House — the only undergraduate House that had chosen a formal dress code for the occasion — prepared to march before the president, a downpour began. The torrent elicited a collective shriek and a sudden bloom of umbrellas," related the Harvard University Gazette. Photo courtesy the University Gazette.

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but those of you not at Harvard this past Friday for the opening ceremonies of the 375th may have been in a happy majority. The weather, as we say in New England, was fouler than foul. A muggy 70º rain descended in the early afternoon, and turned into a steady wind-driven downpour by early evening. The large crowd of spirited alumni and students, packed into the Yard and Tercentenary Theater, soon turned the place into an unholy mess.  On today’s Six Buildings Tour, as we passed in front of Widener and witnessed the cleanup from the the previous night’s proceedings, one of our alums exclaimed: “I was at Woodstock. I was here last night. This was almost as bad.” Having missed both events, I can’t compare. I can only report I have never seen such destruction to the grounds. The grass in the entire Tercentenary Theater and large part of the Yard has disappeared into churned mud several inches deep.

As if to presage the dampened mood, this past Friday the Crimson issued a special edition: Harvard at 375: The Unclear Future. Less where-to-go than where we’ve been, the issue openly wondered: what next Harvard?

Despite the ankle deep mud in the Yard & the current national sturm und drang, I think we should take heart. This has, in fact, all happened before. The 300th Celebration, presided over by FDR in 1936, was so rain-sodden that top-hatted guests sloshed across planks hastily cast over flooded pathways, equally burdened by soon-soaked woolens as by a lingering Depression and the looming war in Europe.

FDR himself lightheartedly noted the troubled mood, both national and Harvardian as he began his address:

The roots of Harvard are deep in the past. It is pleasant to remember today that this meeting is being held in pursuance of an adjournment expressly taken one hundred years ago on motion of Josiah Quincy. At that time many of the alumni of Harvard were sorely troubled concerning the state of the Nation. Andrew Jackson was President. On the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Harvard College, alumni again were sorely troubled. Grover Cleveland was President. Now, on the three hundredth anniversary, I am President.”

To go back a little further, in the words of Euripides:

“There be many shapes of mystery. And many things God makes to be, Past hope or fear. And the end men looked for cometh not, And a path is there where no man sought. So hath it fallen here.”

In spite of fears, Harvard and the Nation of which it is a part have marched steadily to new and successful achievements, changing their formations and their strategy to meet new conditions, but marching always under the old banner of freedom.

In the olden days of New England, it was Increase Mather who told the students of Harvard that they were “pledged to the word of no particular master,” that they should “above all find a friend in truth.”

That became the creed of Harvard. Behind the tumult and the shouting, it is still the creed of Harvard.

In this day of modern witch-burning, when freedom of thought has been exiled from many lands which were once its home, it is the part of Harvard and America to stand for the freedom of the human mind and to carry the torch of truth.

For centuries, the grand old saying, “The truth is great and will prevail,” has been a rock of support for persecuted men.

But it depends on men’s tolerance, self-restraint, and devotion to freedom, not only for themselves but also for others, whether the truth will prevail through free research, free discussion and the free intercourse of civilized men, or will prevail only after suppression and suffering—when none cares whether it prevails or not.

Love of liberty and of freedom of thought is a most admirable attribute of Harvard. But it is not an exclusive possession of Harvard or of any other university in America or anywhere else. Love of liberty and freedom of thought is as profound in the homes, on the farms and in the factories of this country as in any university. Liberty is the air Americans breathe. Our Government is based on the belief that a people can be both strong and free, that civilized men need no restraint but that imposed by themselves against abuse of freedom. Nevertheless, it is the peculiar task of Harvard and of every other university and college in this country to foster and maintain not only freedom within its own walls, but also tolerance, self-restraint, fair dealing and devotion to the truth throughout America.


A rain-soaked FDR on stage, speaking to Grenville Clark, '03, at Harvard's 300th in 1936. FDR would go on to say: " I am not, you will observe, conceiving of the University as a mere spectator of the great national and international drama in which all of us, despite ourselves, are involved. Here are to be trained not lawyers and doctors merely, not teachers and business men and scientists merely; here is to be trained in the fullest sense—man." Photo courtesy FDR Presidential Library and Museum


Many students who have come to Harvard in the past have left it with inquiring and open minds, ready to render service to the Nation. They have been given much and from them much has been expected. They have rendered great service.

It is, I am confident, of the inner essence of Harvard that its sons have fully participated in each great drama of our Nation’s history. They have met the challenge of the event; they have seen in the challenge opportunity to fulfill the end the University exists to serve.

As the Chief Executive of the Nation I bring to you the solicitation of our people. In the name of the American Nation I venture to ask you to cherish its traditions and to fulfill its highest opportunities.

We need in the days to come as we needed in the past from Harvard men like Charles William Eliot, William James, and Justice Holmes, who made their minds swords in the service of American freedom.

They served America with courage, wisdom and human understanding. They were without hatred, malice or selfishness. They were civilized gentlemen.

The past of Harvard has been deeply distinguished. This University will never fail to produce its due proportion of those judged successful by the common standard of success. Of such the world has need. But to produce that type is not the ultimate justification that you would make for Harvard. Rather do we here search for the atmosphere in which men are produced who have either the rare quality of vision or the ability to appreciate the significance of vision when it appears. Where there is vision, there is tolerance; and where there is tolerance, there is peace. And I beg you to think of tolerance and peace not as indifferent and neutral virtues, but as active and positive principles.

I am not, you will observe, conceiving of the University as a mere spectator of the great national and international drama in which all of us, despite ourselves, are involved. Here are to be trained not lawyers and doctors merely, not teachers and business men and scientists merely; here is to be trained in the fullest sense—man.

Harvard should train men to be citizens in that high Athenian sense which compels a man to live his life unceasingly aware that its civic significance is its most abiding, and that the rich individual diversity of the truly civilized State is born only of the wisdom to choose ways to achieve which do not hurt one’s neighbors.

I am asking the sons of Harvard to dedicate themselves not only to the perpetuation, but also to the enlargement of that spirit. To pay ardent reverence to the past, but to recognize no less the direction of the future, to understand philosophies we do not accept and hopes we find it difficult to share, to account the service of mankind the highest ambition a man can follow, and to know that there is no calling so humble that it cannot be instinct with that ambition; never to be indifferent to what may affect our neighbors; always, as Coleridge said, to put truth in the first place and not in the second; these I would affirm are the qualities by which the “real” is distinguished from the “nominal” scholar.

It is only when we have attained this philosophy that we can “above all find a friend in truth.” When America is dedicated to that end by the common will of all her citizens, then America can accomplish her highest ideals. To the measure that Harvard participates in that dedication, Harvard will be justified by her effort, her purpose, and her success in the fourth century of her life.

Such wise words, and much to take heart from.

The 400th Anniversary Celebrations are scheduled for June 2036. God willing, I will take part. I wonder who will speak, and if he, or she, is even born yet…

For now, there is no way to know. But still, would it be too much to ask for dry weather?