Thursday, May 08, 2008


Washington Politicians Willingly Bestow President Upon Harvard.

Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, June 3. – The common, coarse politician here is wild with joy and staid Senators are chuckling at the horror expressed in Harvard circles at President Roosevelt’s offer to take charge of that institution. Nay, more; at Lansing President Roosevelt said, “In a year and eleven months I expect to be a member of the (Harvard) organization,” and when he speaks like that and shuts his jaws, snap, the politicians know what it means. Moreover, they submit. But Dr. Henry Pickering Walcott, senior member of the Harvard Corporation, rushed into print with evident alarm to say: “There is no possibility of his ever becoming President of the university. President Roosevelt is not what you would call an academic man.”

It was when this came out that the politicians cried, “It is our turn now.” They have long complained that the President brought into Washington a lot of long haired, spectacled doctors of philosophy and ex-football captains – mostly from Harvard – to shoulder them out of fat jobs. There is Attorney General Bonaparte in the Cabinet, Assistant Postmaster General Hitchcock; there are Harvard members of the Tennis Cabinet and Judges and District Attorneys, to say nothing of revenue and custom collectors.

“If Roosevelt has made up his mind to be President of Harvard,” the politicians say, “he will be. Did we want him for our President? Well, he is, ain’t he? That’s the answer.”

If the President should be satisfied to merely take a chair on the Harvard Faculty, leaving Dr. Eliot in peace, the politicians tell the Harvard men with grins that the Roosevelt chair will cover so many fields that other professors of the “academic” type will be killed by competition. With the Roosevelt works for texts, the elective courses will cover history, economics, sociology, politics, religion, anthropology, zoology, biology, literature (special Irish saga course), government, &c. The President has treated all these topics with authority.

“We are glad it’s Harvard,” say the politicians.

(The New York Times, June 4, 1907)

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