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THE CLASS of 1919 will be comfortable in Dunster House this week. All of the floors and walls and steps have been scrubbed and there are flowers in the courtyard. Some of the current members of the House may even teach the alumni to throw frisbees on the grassy banks of the Charles.
But the Class of 1919 also will understand coming to Harvard while the country's at war. The agony of graduating into the Army is perhaps more real to them because they feel it each time they return to Harvard.
Their 25th Reunion was held in 1944 at the peak of the mobilization for World War II. At that time 92 members of the class were fighting their second world war. All of the class reunions were pared down and the Class of 1919 confined itself to a dinner at the Parker House.
Their "First Reunion" actually was held on Class Day of their senior year. By then, most of them had returned from the war. Some 400 of the original 724 members of the class had served in the military during the 19 months the U.S. fought in World War I. Nineteen of them had died.
During the summer of 1918, the Army decided that all college students would wear uniforms, and so everyone but the flat-footed and the near-sighted took the Military Science course.
Armistice was declared in November 1918, and the University was left to count its losses. More than 11,000 Harvard men fought in the Great War and Harvard lost 375 of its students and former students, more than any other University.
Reports of Harvard men killed in action were on the front page of the CRIMSON all year. Captain Hamilton Coolidge '19, is an example of their bravery. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by General Pershing for heroism in action while serving with the 94th Aero Squadron near Grandpre, France on October 27, 1918.
While leading a patrol, Captain Coolidge went to assist two observation planes which were being attacked by six German fighters. Observing this maneuver, the Germans on the ground filled the air with anti-aircraft fire. Disregarding the extreme danger, Captain Coolidge dived straight into the barrage and his plane was struck and sent down in flames.
Seven of the 63 American "Aces" who had downed five or more enemy planes were Harvard men. Harvard men received 93 Croix de Guerre and four medals of the Légion d'Honneur.
But by January 1919, men were coming back to the College and the military slowly retired from the campus. After Christmas 1918, Harvard students to longer took military instruction and the University had returned to a purely academic basis for the first time since the University Regiment was established in January 1916.
Nevertheless, Harvard, Yale and Princeton were down to half of their normal enrollment. All three schools decided to give academic credit for military service with Yale and Princeton giving a full year's credit to anyone who had missed the first trimester.
AFTER A LONG debate at Harvard about the academic merits of military training the Corporation decided to grant "War Degrees" to any student who had completed 12 of the 16 1/2 required courses, provided he had served in the military for a least six months. Almost all of the 2502 students at Harvard had military discharges.
The Business and Law Schools started special programs beginning in January and extending through summer 1919 for soldiers who wished to catch up. Both accepted soldiers without A.B. degrees.
Harvard Yard, which had been literally taken over by the Naval Radio School, the Ensign's School, and the Officer's Material School, was returned to its pre-war uses.
The Naval Radio School, which had started with a small group of University scientists in the Cruft Laboratory, had expanded by the fall of 1918 to 6300 students occupying Memorial Hall, Pierce Hall, Hemenway Gym and specially built barracks on the Cambridge Common. By spring 1919, however, the school was on its way to Chicago.
Only slowly had the country comt to accept the war in Europe. But by 1919, America glowed with a patriotic fervor and wanted a permanent system of national defense. The 1914 CRIMSON had denounced the "Jingoistic patriots" who had marched through the streets of Boston. By 1917 though, they had accepted the war as just.
"Imperialism will perish before democracy without fail and inevitably. The day of the failure of the imperialism of Germany was forewritten from that time when she made her enemy the greatest democracy of the world."
In January, with the war won and a rgeat democracy to protect, Charles William Eliot '53, Harvard President Emeritus, proposed a system of Universal Military Training based on the Swiss Army plan. He said that the Army should no longer be the class or professional army it was before the war.
Eliot said the Army should operate without pay for servicemen, for "the idea of a man's doing it for pay is absolutely revolting," he said.
"The elements of military training and discipline have had a high value for both the physique and the morale of [our] young men," Eliot said. "These values should be obtained in permanence for the American population."
Eliot's military program, for everyone from 20 to 45 years old, needed officers. The old Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) was instituted in 1916. It was the quickest way of providing officers, but the program was at best an emergency measure. Harvard stopped all military training in the spring of 1919 to prepare a new program for the fall. The CRIMSON concurred with the postponement, despite "the desruction of enormous nations by the Bolshevicks and Reds and Sparticides."
Harvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell recommended that the new ROTC program relegate the drill and infantry practices to the summer in order to concentrate on the more technical programs during the year. Soon an entire program for concentration in Military Science was developed, requiring courses in Military Science, Physics, Mathematics, History, and a full course in Literature.
Franklin D. Roosevelt '04, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, liked the program and on June 4 announced plans for Naval units of ROTC on many large college campuses.
Harvard units were well-known during the war. Lieutenant-Coronel James A. Shannon, commandant of the Harvard ROTC during the spring and summer of 1917, was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in France. Earlier, he had served in the Philippine Islands and from 1911 to 1914 took part in several expeditions against the "hostile" Moros in Mindanao. He served in Mexico with the Pancho Villa Punitive Expedition and was selected by General Pershing to command the famous Apache Indian Scouts. After his return from Mexico, he came to Harvard as Professor of Military Science and Tactics.
Colonel Robert C. F. Goetz, the commandant of the new Harvard ROTC units, worked out many of the plans for the national system.
"One of the greatest lessons learned in this war is the absolute necessity of a great reservoir of trained officer material," Goetz said. "It was learned early in the recent officers training camps that it was well nigh impossible task to train an officer properly in the technique of his branch of the service, if, at the same time, it was necessary to teach him the basic principles of a military education."
THE HARVARD Class of 1919, however, was as concerned with the new world order as they were with the permanent defense of freedom and democracy. President Woodrow Wilson returned from the Versailles Peace Conference and spoke to a crowd of 8000 at Mechanics Hall in Boston.
"The proudest thing I have to report to you is that this great country of ours is trusted throughout the world," Wilson said.
Wilson, ex-President William Howard Taft, and Harvard President Lowell campaigned across the country for the League of Nations. The Class of 1919 was largely in favor of the League.
The Great Debate about the League took place on March 19, 1919, between President Lowell '77 and Henry Cabot Lodge '71, Senator from Massachusetts. Over 100,000 people applied for tickets for the 2900 seats in Symphony Hall and the winners were chosen by lottery. Lodge offered five "constructive criticisms," the first of which was that the League "should be redrafted and put into language that everyone can understand."
On April 15, Harvard received a telegram from Carter Glass, Secretary of the Treasury, asking the College to buy $30,000 in bonds towards the Victory Liberty Loan. Within a week the Contributions Committee, which had offered a German helmet to the best canvasser, had reached the Harvard quota. By May 12, the University had purchased $160,900 in bonds.
The American Army was still fighting at Archangel in Northern Russia, however, and the great spectre was Bolshevism. The CRIMSON wrote in an editorial:
"The past few months have witnessed the rapid spread of a movement among the industrial classes of Europe and America which threatens to undermine the very foundations of society and whose tenets run directly counter to those of a well ordered and peaceful democracy.
"An overseas correspondent of the New York Times declared that "Bolshevism is the revengeful shadow of reckless modern materialism.' . . . Native attempts to decapitate a beast of this nature by military imprisonment and misdirected propaganda results only in three heads springing up where one grew before.
". . .in reconstructing society, the classics must not be forgotten. It is in humanizing, in leavening human society that we can overcome those forces which, shooting up from the soil of a 'reckless' materialism, work adversely to the finer and nobler aspirations of human society."
In supporting the force at Archangel, the CRIMSON explanied, "Now is the time to deal with Bolshevism while it is spreading and developing its powers of evil. Next year or next month may be too late."
"But Russia is too far away from us. We are satisfied with demolishing autocracy in Germany and sit back content to see it overrun the Slavic countries and the Orient if it chooses."
The CRIMSON quoted Daniel Webster '28 about radicals in this country: "In a country of perfect equality they would move heaven and earth against privilege and monopoly. In a country where the wages of labor are high beyond parallel, they would teach the laborer that he is but an oppressed slave."
The Hasty Pudding Theatricals produced "Crowns and Clowns," their first musical since before the war. It showed the rise and fall of a Bolshevik Prince who usurped the throne of the Kingdom of Czecho-Ptomania.
On April 1, the Hasty Pudding received a letter that police attributed to the Black Hand or "some socialistic club." The letter was written in words and letters clipped from newspapers:
"BEWARE! The SOCIETY has lerned you Milionairs are Going to Give a Show Against the Brother-hood of the Oppressed. STOP Your Show or You Will be DAM SORRY."
There was a crude black hand sketched on the paper. Nothing, apparently, came of it.
The Class of 1919 had ambivalent ideas, however, about working people. Some expressed the view that:
"Our government is by the people and for the people. Labor, through collective bargaining and similar methods, may gain its just deserts--but material destruction, which in reality defeats the end the reformers strive to obtain--cannot be justified in the United States. Suppression of the undesirable element is the solution for the present outburst, but in order that the destructive menace may not continually recur, it is necessary that the turbulent unrest be stamped out at its roots."
A CRIMSON editorial, however, congraduated those Harvard students who were going to work in factories in the summer of 1919:
"Theirs will be an invaluable opportunity to experience for a time the life of the working classes, the study their ideas of social reform and ultimately to aid intelligently in improving the living conditions of the laborers."
In April, there was a telephone strike and several Harvard students joined non-Union operators in helping to break the strike. The Mayor of Cambridge and several of the Union operators wrote letters to the CRIMSON denouncing the students.
The CRIMSON agreed that the students should not interfere, because, "Beyond the effect on themselves is the effect upon the reputation of the University. Harvard all too often is considered reactionary; too often are we named--and wrongly--a breeding place for capitalism. We need not favor the strike, but it is essential that our individual acts do not prejudice the University in the minds of the public."
The next day, the University announced the purchase of land south of Mass Ave., from Dunster St. to Plympton St. and some various plots by the river.
NO OFFICIAL athletic contests had been held since President Lowell suspended them after the declaration of war in 1917. The Game therefore wasn't held in 1918-19. But after the Armistice, winter teams reported as usual.
The hockey team practiced on the Charles River rink, which became the finest in Boston after the destruction of the Boston Arena. Though the open air facility provided no storage place for clothes and skates, the continued cold weather assured excellent skating.
In January, the Student Council voted the return of normal athletics, and everyone in the College was encouraged to turn out for some kind of sport. Many of the old expenses had been eliminated, like the southern trip for the baseball team and prolonged Red Top for the crew, so the institution of permanent athletics could benefit from the savings.
The winter was a fine one for the Harvard Hockey Team. They beat Yale 4 to 1 at the Brooklyn Ice Palace. The Elis were outclassed in every branch of the game. The 7-2 victory over Princeton left the Crimson undefeated and the undisputed champions of the East.
Lawn tennis had withstood the vicissitudes of the war better than any other sport, and as spring returned, undergrads pulled on their white flannel trousers for a quick set on the windy afternnoons.
The war had changed the College, program as much as it had changed its appearance. The Army imposed a trimester system that confused everyone. The first two trimesters ended with hour exams while the final one ended with a final exam. Trimesters proved such a burden that Harvard switched back to the semester system for 1919-20.
The exodus of Harvard professors to the Front for "reconstruction" left many courses bracketed in the catalogue, especially in the German Department. Many of the professors were serving on relief missions and boundary dispute conferences.
Chester Noyes Greenough '98, professor of English, inserted a three-and- a-half week study of Military English into English A, and a week later he was answered by a petition from freshmen protesting the program.
Many upperclassmen were horrified by the radical nature of the protest. The CRIMSON responded:
"The Freshman class has selected an unfortunately thoughtless method of presenting their case since yesterday's petition was the first word of any dissatisfaction. The better way would have been to call the attention of the Department to the matter before resorting to a petition."
In the middle of the spring term, the Boston Elevated Railway Co. lowered the rates of a ride to Park St. from 8c to 5c. Apparently to took too much time to count the pennies. The Federal Railway Commission set the price of meals on interstate rail-roads at $1.25 a plate, thus assuring that Californians would no longer have to fast on their four-day trip East.
ON JANUARY 7, Theodore Roosevelt '80 died, and eulogies filled the Boston papers for weeks. He had been especially fond of the Harvard community and had served as on Overseer and President of the Alumni Association.
The Officers Material School left their mess hall on the second floor of the Union and the room was quickly reconverted to a living room. The Union advertised "the best board possible at the cost." It was run on the American plan, but "delicacies" could be ordered from an extra order list.
There were many other restaurants in Cambridge where the Class of 1919 ate regularly, including the Athens Cafe, which was probably the largest Greek restaurant in the country.
The Union operated as a club for Faculty and students, and elected officers planned the activities. The Class of 1919 missed its Junior Dance because of the war, and envied the one held by the Class of 1902 in the Union. Lowe's orchestra thrilled everyone with such hits as "Rainy Day Blues," "Hindustan," and "On the Level You're a Little Devil."
The Class of 1919 did have its April smoker, however, with long rows of wooden tables on the second floor of the Union and plates of cheese and pretzels. The Class Committee showed Douglas Fairbanks' "He comes Up Smiling" on a wrinkled white sheet hung at the end of the living room. Sendel's Jazz Band rendered selections on request.
The class picnic, financed by the Freshman class, was held on Downer's Landing near Weymouth. Everyone dressed in overalls and class caps and brought along sand pails and shovels. Kannick's 12-piece brass band entertained on the yacht for the excursion.
In the April issue of Vanity Fair, John Hay Chapman complanied about the composition of the Harvard Corporation in an article titled "Harvard's Plight." He said that Harvard is run by State Street bankers and that they have caused a spirit of "commercialism" to pervade Harvard's formerly intellectual atmosphere.
Despite the sunny svring days, Seniors began wearing their caps and gowns on May 1, College tradition required them to wear the old student attire for the last six weeks of their senior year.
The CRIMSON hailed "The Passing of John Barleycorn" in an editorial on the day the requisite number of states ratified Probihition:
"John Barleycorn had a long life and served his purpose well--after his fashion. On cold nights he made us warm; on hot days he made use cool.
"But in spite of his many good qualities, we must acknowledge that his death is one of the greatest blessings ever bestowed upon this country. He was dangerous, not to be trifled with. To his door can be attributed the cause of more sorrow, misery, and disease than any other single factor in American life. The war only too clearly showed there is no place for him in a serious nation. By cutting out the heart of the cancer, only can the cancer be cured. The necessary operation has been performed."
They were serious, for as national agitation rose among the working class for repeal of the amendment before the first dry day, July 1, 1919, the CRIMSON made only the slight concession that light wines and beers should be removed from the ban.
In June, 10,000 representatives of organized labor paraded in Washington as a protest and Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, warned the Senate that nothing could do more to bring about the repetition of the conditions in Russia than keeping beer from the laboring man.
The demobilization of the Army and Navy flooded the country with unemployed, and many in the College realized that Prohibiton would throw many more out of work.
For the most part, however, the Class of 1919 continued to enjoy Boston's places and people. President and Mrs. Lowell held receptions for students every Sunday, except when he was away campaigning for the League. Al Jolson played "Sinbad" at the Boston Opera House and D. W. Griffith's "Broken Blossoms" had an exceptional run at the Colonial Theater.
The class was spread out all around Cambridge, for the class of 1920 was the first post-war class to enjoy the privilege of living together in the Yard during their senior year. The joint concerts of the Harvard and Radcliffe Glee, Banjo, and Mandolin Clubs served to unite most of the class at various times. Many spent hours at the Rialto, across the street from Widener, playing billiards at the six deluxe tables.
Late in the spring, the Harvard Magazine published the first copy of its literary review. Some well-meaning pranksters published a parody of the magazine on the day it first appeared, and caused the biggest uproar of the year. They were accused of being undemocratic and were warned by the local press not to bring out another parody.
When the parodied the second issue of the magazine, the response was so unfavorable that the Lampoon parody of the Boston Transcript passed almost unnoticed in the tumult.
FIFTY YEARS bring changes. But when things seem just the same. Perhaps it is part of the great cycle. At any rate, the class of 1919 is back
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