Don't Quibble Sybll


(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer, will names be withheld.)

To the Editor of the CRIMSON:

The quibble over the question whether John Harvard was entitled to be called the Founder of Harvard College seems to me one of the least profitable. The destruction of myths is a legitimate sport, but its only justification is the establishment of truth in place of error. The facts as to John Harvard's relation to the founding of the College are not at all in dispute nor can it, be said that the statue in front of University Hall does any violence to them. The essential facts are these:

1. The College was founded, in the sense that its establishment was authoritatively determined, by vote of the General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay on October 28 (O.S.), 1636; the same vote appropriated *400 for a building.

2. The location was fixed on November 15, 1637 and the Board of Overseers was constituted five days later.


3. To the acre and one eighth acquired in Newtowne during 1637 the town, its name changed to Cambridge on May 2, 1638, added two and a quarter acres to the College Yard.

4. The College was opened in the summer of 1638.

5. John Harvard died September 14, 1638, leaving half his estate, amounting to *779 17s 2d, and his library of over four hundred volumes, to the College.

6. Recognizing John Harvard's bequest as the first substantial endowment of the College, the General Court voted "that the college agreed upon formerly to be built at Cambridg shalbee called Harvard College."

7. Henry Dunster was appointed President in August, 1640.

8. No likeness of John Harvard having been preserved, the statue by Daniel C. French in the College Yard and the stained glass portrait at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, are both ideal representations. Sherman Hoar of the Class of 1882 posed for the sculptor but the statue does not pretend to be a likeness of Hoar.

If the founding of a university must be dated to a split second of time, then the founding of Harvard should perhaps be fixed by the fall of the president's gavel in announcing the passage of the vote of October 28, 1636. But if the founding is to be regarded as a process rather than as a single event, and more especially if in that process John Harvard's bequest gave to the College, within a month or two of its opening session, its first substantial endowment, then he is clearly entitled to be considered a founder. The General Court evidently felt that such a gift, at the very threshold of the College's existence and going further than any other contribution made up to that time to ensure its permanence, made him the founder in the sense of one who set up a foundation. They acknowledged the fact by bestowing his name on the College. This was almost two years before the first President took office and four years before the first students were graduated.

These are all familiar facts and it is well that they should be understood by the sons of Harvard. They are entirely compatible with the inscription on John Harvard's statue. There is no myth to be destroyed. Jerome D. Groene '96.   Director of the Harvard   Tercentenary Celebration.