When the members of the Memorial Society place a wreath on the statue of John Harvard today, expecting to honor the memory and the image of the founder of Harvard College, they will be honoring the likeness of another man and the name of a man who was not the legal founder of the college.
On the first line of the inscription is the statement that the statue is a likeness of John Harvard. This is a myth, for since Daniel Chester French, the sculptor, could find no portrait of Harvard, he modeled the figure after Sherman Hoar '82, and gave his figure an idealized head, representing only his concept of the scholarly preacher.
The second and third lines, declaring that John Harvard was the founder and that the date was 1638, are equally unique and ungrateful, for on October 28, 1639 the Massachusetts General Court appropriated *400 "towards the founding of a scheale or college." Though only *50 was actually paid over, that does not nullify the colony's good intents. The demand for a place to train "godly men" was equalled only by the demand of the various places for the new establishment. The legislature fixed on Newtowne, lately known as Cambridge, for the site.
Fortunately for the college, a young minister named Harvye or Harvard settled in the town and became so interested in the future of the school that at his death he left half his estate and all his library, consisting of *779, 17 s and 9 d and 400 books. The state recognized his assistance and in March, 1839, six months after his death, ordered that the college should be called by his name.