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CAMBRIDGE, Oct. 9, 1882.
At a meeting of the Harvard University Boat Club, held in Cambridge on Oct. 3, the Harvard-Columbia race was thoroughly discussed, and it was unanimously voted that the crew be exonerated from all blame in the matter, and be justified in having taken the course it did. It was also voted that the secretary of the Boat Club prepare an account of the facts as stated at that meeting, and cause it to be published in the New York and Boston papers. In accordance with this vote, I have prepared the following statement, which gives the facts of the case (so far as they were known to the Harvard crew), and thoroughly explains Harvard's position. Mr. Hammond, the captain of the Harvard crew, and Mr. Goodwin, the coach of the Columbia crew, met at Boston in the office of Mr. Watson, the referee, and agreed that the race should be rowed on Saturday, June 24, at 3.30 P. M. Mr. Goodwin says that it was agreed to row the race at half-ebb tide, but Mr. Hammond says that no such agreement was made, and at the time he thought that the tide would be high at about 3 P. M. After the crew had arrived at New London Mr. Hammond suggested to Mr. Goodwin and Mr. Cowles, the captain of the Columbia crew, that the race should be rowed at 5.30 P. M., as the tide would then be half down, and there would be a better chance of having smooth water. This was agreed to, and the race was set for 5.30 P. M. In drawing for positions, Mr. Goodwin said that he thought the two courses so nearly equal that he would not like to have to choose between them, and therefore he suggested that two pieces of paper, marked "East" and "West" respectively, be placed in a hat and drawn. Accordingly this was done, and Columbia drew the west course, and Harvard the east. On Friday afternoon, June 23, Mr. Benjamin, the Columbia coxswain, was drowned. No official notice whatever was sent to the Harvard crew, until Monday - Saturday, June 24, the day of the race, having passed. On Monday the Columbia men came over to the Harvard quarters, and said that they could not row before Wednesday, on account of the funeral of Mr. Benjamin, and did not feel like asking Harvard to row so soon before the Yale race, and therefore left the race entirely in Harvard's hands, and would row whenever Harvard pleased, The Harvard men, after discussion, found that they could not row on Wednesday, on account of the nearness of the Yale race, and therefore Monday, July 3, was the first available day. Some of the Harvard crew were unwilling to stay as long as that, on account of previous engagements, but upon its being understood that the tide was high at about 11 A. M., and that if the race were rowed at 11.30, they could get away in the afternoon trains, they agreed to stay until July 3. Capt. Hammond notified Columbia that Harvard had decided to row on Monday, July 3, at 11.30 A. M. To this Columbia made no objection, and left the quarters, Harvard understanding this to be the time of the race.
The day after the Yale race Columbia asked again at what time the race was to be, Harvard answering that it would be at 11.30, as they had both already agreed. Columbia then for the first time proposed that the race be rowed at 2 P. M., and as the tide was high a little after 11, it would then be about half out. No agreement was reached that afternoon. On Saturday evening Mr. Goodwin and Capt. Cowles came over to the Harvard quarters, and, Col. Bancroft being away, Capt. Hammond talked with them. They offered to row either at 10 A. M., against the tide, or at 2 P. M., when half down, or at dead low water; but they said they would not row at either 11.30 or 12. The reason they gave was that if they rowed when the tide had just turned, and Harvard won in slower time than had been made in the Yale race, Columbia men would think Harvard had won easily. And yet when they refused to row on the first of the ebb, when both courses were equal, and fast time could be made, they offered to row against the tide, or at dead low water, though, of course, it is apparent that it was impossible to make fast time with these tides. No agreement was arrived at on Saturday night, and Harvard promised to send over the decision Sunday morning. The Harvard men talked the matter over, and having understood that after the first postponement Columbia had left all arrangements to them, they decided to abide by their former decision. But, having found the tide to be high at 11.15 A. M. instead of at 11, they decided, in order to have the same conditions, to row at 12 or not at all. Col. Bancroft crossed the river to the Columbia quarters, and went with Messrs. Goodwin, Cowles and a third member of the Columbia party into a room apart from the other men, and, in accordance with his instructions from the Harvard crew, stated that Harvard would row at 12 or not at all. Mr. Goodwin said that the Columbia crew would not row between the hours of 10 and 1. Col. Bancroft then said, "Well, what are we going to do?" Mr. Goodwin asked whether it was Harvard's ultimatum. Col. Bancroft said that it was. Said Mr. Goodwin, "Then I suppose there will be no race." To this Col. Bancroft said, "I suppose not, and our men will not observe the rules of training any longer." Mr. Goodwin remarked, "I can't help that," and gave it to be understood that his crew would stay in training longer for some other purpose. Col. Bancroft then left the Columbia quarters, saying, "I am very sorry that we could not row. I have nothing further to say; I have done my errand." On his return to the Harvard quarters he told the crew that the race had been given up. They then made their arrangements to leave that night, unless something further was heard from the Columbia men during the day. During the day the Columbia men were met twice by the Harvard crew, both being in launches at a wharf at the same time, and as Columbia offered no explanation of any kind, Harvard supposed that they still stood by their decision. Therefore, after supper, the crew disbanded, owing to the understanding that there would be no race. If Mr. Watson gave the race to Columbia, understanding that the hour for the race was fixed for half-ebb tide, and that there had been no subsequent agreement changing the hour, Harvard admits that Mr. Watson's decision was logically correct, and in any event, of course admits to the decision. But, in fact, there was no agreement to row at half-ebb tide, but there was, as Harvard supposed, an agreement to row at 11:30 A. M. On this supposition, Harvard refused to give way, when asked by the Columbia men to change the hour. Nothing at that time was said by Columbia of any agreement to row at half-ebb tide.
Harvard's reason for leaving New London was because the crew supposed in good faith that the race had been given up. To sum up, it is claimed that, technically, Harvard could have claimed the race on the day for which it was first appointed; that had Harvard acted in a professional spirit, it would have so claimed it; that upon hearing of Columbia's sad misfortune, Harvard voluntarily and as a matter of courtesy kept off the course on June 24, at the hour named for the race; that when, two days later, Harvard agreed to row Columbia after the race with Yale, it did so with the full understanding that the time was to be set to convenience the Harvard crew; that Columbia, disregarding this understanding, insisted upon putting the Harvard crew to so great inconvenience that had the Harvard men known in the first place that such would be the claims of the Columbia men, they would have been obliged to give up the race altogether, owing to the necessary disbandment of the crew on Monday afternoon, July 3; and, lastly, that Harvard left New London with the distinct understanding that Columbia agreed to give the race up.
WALTER C. BAYLIES,Secretary H. U. B. C.
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