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Those who in their cursory glance at the late days of the Nineteenth Century see only the faded features of fin de siecle gentlemen with yellow roses in conspicuous button holes, men who can only live in history as characters in a travesty, called "The Mauve Decade", forget that more vigorous people were living and working at that time. Dartmouth College this week mourns the death of such a person, vigorous and vital.
Coming to a small New England School, fettered with all the traditional inhabitions of the early American classical college, William Jewett Tucker strove valiantly and in no fin de siecle manner to give his college the breadth and enrichment which he knew it lacked. So the Dartmouth undergraduate of today owes to Dr. Tucker the benefits which are to him Dartmouth.
No member of another college can understand quite adequately those benefits. Yet one may comprehend in some fashion just what such men as Dr. Tucker did for the educational institutions of the country as a whole. Realizing the need of an elective system, for the teaching of natural science, history, philosophy, an understanding, above all, of the maral value of liberty, these pioneeers in American education strove to create educational institutions equipped to fit the American youth for his life as an American citizen. Nor can all the petty, often diverse disquisitions of later day men upon the futility of such effort de stroy its value.
The very size of the work which is being done in educating the hordes of young men and women who come yearly to the schools, colleges, and universities of this country blends many to its effectiveness. Yet in a country whose philosophy is essentially pragmatic, one dare not admit that the work of the pioneers in education has been in any sense a tremendous failure. They gave to those who were to follow them the only medium through which education of any kind can thrive freedom. What has been done through that medium since their time is the fault or virtue of their successors. At all events they were the best of that type called American. Nor can they be forgotten.
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