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Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York
by John H. Selkreg, 1894; D. Mason & Co., Publisher
History of Cornell
The university opened with four classes. Students who came from other colleges brought with them naturally the traditions of the life, which they had left. The system here, however, was altogether new. The demand for lecture rooms in the two buildings which had been erected limited the number of students who could find accommodation in those buildings. Cascadilla, on the contrary, was crowded, not only with students but with professors. The corner rooms, affording somewhat larger accommodations for professors and their families, were usually occupied by some married member of the faculty. The others found quarters in the less desirable rooms, and the students were scattered in the inner rooms, which were often poorly lighted and worse ventilated. There was an enthusiastic, tumultuous life among the students of those early days. They espoused most thoroughly the principles upon which the university was founded; they were exposed to criticism in common with the university itself, and they defended themselves vigorously; they loved the freedom which they enjoyed; they had faith in their university and in its future, and happily cherished no doubt of the position which the university had already attained. One student is reported to have asked Professor Goldwin SMITH how long he thought it would take before this university would equal Oxford, who is said to have answered with grim truthfulness, realizing as he did that history and tradition are necessary to constitute a true university life, that he thought about five hundred years.
The military system which overhung, we might say overshadowed, everything in those early days, though defended as necessary from the charter, was cordially disliked. The martinet discipline of the first few years, so contrary to a university atmosphere, is a persistent memory in the minds of the students of those early days. The attempt was early made to abolish the class system, to classify students without reference to the familiar terms of Senior, Junior, Sophomore and Freshman. It was fondly believed that this illusion would cause students to forget the academic class to which they belonged and that class rivalries would be forgotten in a scholarly union.
The large liberty in elective studies which was allowed to all students caused ambitious freshmen to select courses for which they were unprepared. It was generally believed in the university world without, that the German university system prevailed here, that all instruction was by lectures, and that absolute freedom was the prerogative of every student. This loyalty to the university on the part of the students soon developed a genuine university life. Songs were written in which they proudly commemorated their alma mater. The first university song was "The Chimes," written by the Hon. Francis M. FINCH, one of the trustees of the university, who had enriched the song book of his own college, Yale, and whose poem, "The Blue and the Gray," has become more widely known than perhaps any other poem which was the product of our Civil War. The remark has been credited to President WOOLSEY that Judge FINCH is the only poet whom Yale College ever graduated.
At the second anniversary of the Cornell Library Association held in Library Hall, Ithaca, on the 21st of January, 1869, the Orpheus Glee Club sang this first college song to which Cornell University can lay claim, which was received with great enthusiasm, and which will be regarded with constantly increasing interest as it is sung by successive classes. The next song which has obtained permanent acceptance was written by George K. BIRGE and was entitled "Cornell," with the refrain
We honor thee, Cornell,
The song, however, which has perhaps become the true university song is what is now called "Alma Mater," beginning "Far above Cayuga's waters," and having a joint authorship. The circumstances under which it was composed are thus given in substance by one of the authors:
"We were seated together one evening in our room, when some one mentioned the lack of university songs at Cornell. It was proposed that we should undertake to compose one. One suggested:
Far above Cayuga's waters,
The second added:
With its waves of blue,
and so the composition proceeded to the end, the two contributing, but not always in the same order.
Thus this favorite song arose.
The entire number of students enrolled during the first year of the university was 412. In the following year this number was increased by a little more than 150, to 563; but in the third year the number reached its maximum, and from that time the decline was continuous to the year 1881-2, when the number of students was only 384, and in one term fell as low as 315. It was not until the year 1885-6, that the number of students of fifteen years before was again attained and surpassed. The decline in the number of students after the opening of the university may be attributed to various reasons, first among which is the financial crisis which followed in 1873, and secondly, perhaps, to a gradual readjustment of numbers according to the fixed and permanent relations which the university assumed, and the actual advantages which it offered. Many students flocked to it in the early clays with inadequate preparation, and under the mistaken impression that they would be enabled to support themselves while completing their education. These were necessarily disappointed.
The new university was not merely to be a university in name, but it was to embody all the features that were distinctive of other institutions of learning, and as the young American is, by birth, a public orator, societies for literary culture and oratory were at once organized. The first society to be organized, soon after the opening of the university, was the Philalathean, and soon afterwards, on October 22, 1868, the Irving. The former society held public literary exercises two months later, on December 18, in the friendly shelter of the Aurora Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The æsthetic spirit was also rife, and one of the early numbers of the Era contains a record of the Orpheus Club.
The first place of meeting of the Philalathean was in a room in Cascadilla, while the Irving met in the university; but as the university opened with four classes, many of the new students had been members of secret societies at other institutions, chapters of which were soon formed among the students here. The first secret societies to be instituted were the Zeta Psi and Chi Phi fraternities. A spirit, however, opposed to secret societies was also immediately developed and, as early as December 11, a meeting of students calling themselves Independents, who were opposed to all secret societies, was held in the parlor of Cascadilla Place. Soon after an association of independents was formally organized who regarded secret societies as aristocratic, as introducing a distinction between students of the same university, and between members of the same class, and often as possessing no claim to, existence from the literary culture imparted, being merely societies for dissipation. The college press of those days, which seems to have been under the control of members of the secret societies, ridiculed vigorously the new anti-secret organization. On May 28th of the following year, the Delta Upsilon was founded, composed mainly of the independents and those who sympathized with them. This organization, although opposed to secret societies, was never regarded as a public society, attendance upon whose exercises, literary or otherwise, was open to all students. The Christian students of the university also united to form an association, which seems to have been organized formally on January 23, 1869. The meetings were at first held in the university buildings, but often in connection with the churches in town. The Classical Association, which has had a continued existence and has formed an important feature in connection with classical study, was organized on February 2, 1869 A month later, one of the largest and most influential o£ all the scientific societies connected with the university, the Natural History Society, was organized on March 7. The Kappa Alpha fraternity appears third on the list of secret societies, having been founded about November 27, 1868. Upon April 3 three other societies claimed recognition, viz. ; the Alpha Delta Phi, Chi Psi, and Phi Kappa Psi, since which date the establishment of other secret societies has been quite rapid until the present time, when there are about twenty-six such organizations.
A distinguishing feature of university life in its later development has been the growth of chapter houses. From the very earliest date it was natural that the members of the different secret societies should arrange to secure rooms together, and many chapters rented private houses, which were used for fraternity purposes. This practice gave way subsequently to the erection of beautiful buildings for fraternity purposes. These buildings contain lodge room, library, parlors, reception rooms and studies, and bed rooms for the members. In some cases board is also provided by a steward within the chapter house. The fraternity which first possessed an independent chapter house was the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, which was erected in 1878, when a large portion of the students still roomed in the city. Its convenient site on Buffalo Street, half way up the hill, was favorably situated for the needs of that time. Later, the authorities granted lots to societies which should wish to build upon the university grounds. The first fraternity to avail itself of this privilege was the Psi Upsilon fraternity which chose the site at the entrance of the university grounds on the borders of Cascadilla ravine. It was followed by the Kappa Alpha fraternity, which erected a chapter house directly north, on the opposite side of the bank, in 1886-7. Since then, fraternity houses have been erected by the Sigma Phi, Delta Upsilon and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternities on the university grounds. Other fraternities have chosen to erect lodges off the university grounds, and the Chi Phi fraternity has erected a picturesque chapter house in Craigielea place, while the Zeta Psi has erected a large and very fine building upon Stewart Avenue, and the Chi Psi fraternity has purchased and refitted a large building on Buffalo street. The attitude of the university to secret societies has, perhaps, been different from that of other institutions. The secret societies as established here have received students during the freshman year, who have retained their connection with their society through the four year's course. In some other institutions full membership practically exists for only one or two years at the most. Here no arguments or influence has been used against their establishment. The faculty has insisted that all ceremonies connected with the admission should be without practical jokes, or anything like hazing. In many cases members of the faculty have been members of some one of these societies during the period of their own student days. In a few cases professors have accepted an honorary membership in societies with which they had not been previously associated. The frankest relations have always been sustained between members of the faculty and members of the various societies, while to the uninitiate a certain awe attaches to their mysterious names and mottoes. In the university world they are regarded rather as private clubs. The character of the influence of a secret society depends entirely upon its membership, and societies whose standing is high in other universities, and who have a long list of illustrious graduates, possess naturally an ambition to maintain the reputation which they have inherited. It cannot be denied that occasionally, through the influence of a few bad members, a society may exert upon its membership an influence that is positively disastrous, and such influence may continue for more than a single year. Similarly, when the tone of scholarship in a chapter is low, and when its leading members are devoted to society, a low standard of scholarship may prevail. On the other hand, many societies have preserved uniformly for a series of years a reputation for distinguished scholarship. Membership in such societies is a badge of character and ability. It must be premised that a student upon entering an institution of learning, must have some companionship. He cannot, and it is not to be desired that he should, live alone. Indeed, the most effective, perhaps the most influential part of a student's education is obtained from contact with his fellows. Through association, he acquires a knowledge of men, and becomes courteous and friendly in his dealings with them. His ambition is quickened by contact with brilliant scholars, and the social side of his nature is developed in connection with the intellectual. Assuming these facts, if a student can join a society of high standing early in his course, he is kept from the dangers and accidents which are associated with the promiscuous fellowship of the university world. His reputation and scholarship become a part of the reputation of his society, and care is exercised over his life and studies The influence of the faculty, which is felt by the members of a secret society in its public receptions, tends to preserve them from decline, and the more fully the influence of the faculty is felt in the various chapters, the more perfect is the guarantee of the character of their members. It has often been found that where official influence was powerless, the personal influence of an instructor could be exerted advantageously to effect the reform of a student. It has not been of isolated occurrence that chapters themselves, for the sake of their own reputation, have severed the connection of undesirable members, and relieved the university indirectly from the incubus of unworthy students. Every year at Commencement and at other times, receptions are given by various societies to their alumni, members of the faculty, visitors and friends. Such invitations are gratefully responded to by members of the faculty, and their influence upon the student world can only be favorable.
Another fact in connection with the establishment of chapter houses is not unworthy of notice. Early in the history of the university, President WHITE expressed himself very decidedly against the dormitory system. Many educators have regarded the dormitory system, by which large numbers of students were gathered together in one building, as a fruitful source of disorder. The introduction of society halls, which are owned and governed by the students themselves, guarantees a certain self government in their own interest. It may perhaps be stated that one-fourth of the students of the university find homes in the various chapter houses at the present time. The evils which are usually ascribed to secret societies are found in the clannish and exclusive spirit which is fostered by them. They have been held to be opposed to a broad republican spirit, to the association of students on a footing of perfect equality, and to an enthusiastic and common participation in the public and literary interests of the university. Such evils cannot perhaps, be absolutely disavowed. But in this university, where so large a portion of the work in laboratories, shops and seminaries brings students into intimate personal relations with one another, apart from mere association at lectures and recitations, a spirit of utter separation is impossible.
Of late years the feeling in favor of attractive, well arranged and well lighted dormitories has increased among the faculty. A university spirit is cultivated, when the students reside upon the university grounds. The friendships of students constitute one of the most beautiful features associated with their lives, and are remembered with ardor and gratitude, when the mere acquisitions of the four years of study have been lost in later professional life. Such friendships among students are certainly fostered more when they are associated in a hall, and, weighing the advantages and the disadvantages, it seems unquestionable that such a life is far preferable to the isolated existence and dreary lodgings and possibilities of temptation, which are associated with boardinghouses scattered throughout the city. In the first report of President ADAMS, the attention of the trustees was called to the expediency of the erection of dormitories, who presented in a very able manner the reasons for their introduction from an educational as well as a financial standpoint. President SCHURMAN in his inaugural address speaks in favor of the dormitory system, and it is hoped that at no distant day dormitories erected by friends of the university will constitute an important feature in university life.
Among student organizations, the Students' Guild requires mention. Professor HEWETT published an article in the Era of December 1, 1876, entitled "Students' Relief Association," in which he called attention to the numerous cases of illness among students and the need of some systematic effort on the part of the university as a whole to provide assistance. He said: "The university has appealed from the first to students of limited means, who are in part dependent upon their own efforts to secure an education. Such students, in case their health is preserved amid the arduous task of self-support and study, may succeed with many sacrifices in accomplishing their noble purpose; but in case of illness, many occupy rooms remote from the university, with no one to whom they can appeal for skillful nursing or care, and have to trust to the friendly and often accidental offices of some room mate or fellow student; such kindly services are not always possible, and the student's recovery is often hazarded or postponed by the lack of sufficient care. In case of recovery, the student is burdened not only with the cost of his maintenance, but also with that of his sickness. Some students come from families whose circumstances are not adequate to meet the extra expense of an illness away from home. Students of larger means are also exposed to the dangers of sickness, without the comforts of home or scientific care. It was proposed in the article that the students should form a relief association or guild, and each contribute a limited sum, which could cause no burden to any one, to constitute a fund which could be used in behalf of invalid students. It was hoped that all students would unite cheerfully in the enterprise of relieving distress among their number, and that this organization would be recognized as a students' institution for the relief of those in need. It was proposed that the faculty should form, in union with representatives from different classes, an executive committee to whom should be referred all cases of need and all applications for aid, whose duty it should be to investigate any cases of sickness or distress which might come to the attention of any member of the university.
The suggestion for an organization like this came from the system in vogue in the German universities, by which every student is assessed a limited amount every semester for hospital dues, and in case of illness has the right to demand medical attendance and care in a special ward of the hospital. Such a system was impracticable here, and the method proposed was deemed the best for meeting the existing need. A generous co-operation attended this appeal. A large and representative meeting of the entire university was held in the chapel February 16, 1877, at which a permanent organization was effected. A general interest was felt outside the university world in the purposes of this organization, and among those who sent letters promising co-operation was Miss Jennie McGRAW, who requested that in case of any special demand being made upon the guild she might have an opportunity to contribute to meet it. It is probable that her attention was first called definitely at this time to the need of a university hospital, and a few months later, in drawing up her will, she made provision for the erection of such a building by a gift of forty thousand dollars for that purpose.
Since its foundation the Cornell University Guild has constituted a permanent factor in university life. It has appealed to a generous interest on the part of students in behalf of one another, and has exercised a wide and beneficent influence. No year has passed when cases of distress have not occurred which have been relieved by its kindly ministrations. In some cases the entire expenses attending the sickness and funeral of students have been met from its funds. The ladies of the faculty have united to furnish and defray the cost of maintaining a student ward in the City Hospital, which has been recently established; but the need of a university hospital, well lighted, with ample accommodations, with operating rooms, wards, libraries and pleasant parlors, where students can relieve the tedium of slow recovery, is constantly felt. The proposition of Miss McGRAW to found a university hospital was, perhaps, the first which was made in this country. Several universities now have such institutions admirably equipped, such as Yale and Princeton Universities.
Scientific and literary societies have been formed by professors, the purpose of which has been to enable the members to become familiar with the various investigations which are being carried on by their colleagues in different fields of study. The most notable organization of this kind was a Philosophical Society composed of all members of the faculty, of which Professor WILSON was president, which met regularly for the reading and discussion of papers in all fields of knowledge. In the autumn of 1892 a Modern Language Conference was established by the professors in the departments of French, English and German, whose membership embraces all the instructors in those departments, and graduate students. It meets regularly six times a year, when papers presenting original investigations, and reviews of current literature and criticism are read.
THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
The establishment of a University Press, after the example of the English universities, took place early in the history of Cornell. One of the early gifts was a Hoe printing press. It was expected that all the university publications, and works by the various professors, would be printed here, and that the university would become a center of publication. A related purpose, cherished more warmly by some, was that it would open to students a valuable means of self-support who would, at the same time, acquire a valuable craft. Professor FISKE's experience in journalism led to his appointment as "Director of the University Press." The University Press was installed first in the basement of Morrill Hall, and the motive power was supplied by a small engine placed to the north. When the first building erected in connection with Sibley College was completed, the printing establishment found ample accommodations in a large room on the first floor. A stereotype foundry was added in the rear. For many years students found profitable employment at the expense of the university. Many books were printed here for publishers in the large cities, also the college papers, examination papers, etc. This experiment demonstrated, however, that material profit was impossible in philanthropy, for a deficit occurred every year which the university treasury had to make good. The hope of success in maintaining a University Press was only abandoned reluctantly. In one of the extensions of Sibley College, as late as 1884, provision was made for rooms for printing and stereotyping.
Soon after the opening of the university, a prospectus was issued for the establishment of a weekly paper to be devoted to the interests of the university, and to represent the voice of the students in all questions of educational policy. At the hour of midnight on December 1, 1868, "just as the clocks were striking twelve, just at the dim witching hour of midnight, a new Era came into existence," and the Cornell Era, representative of the spirit of the young university, was issued. By three o'clock in the morning the seven hundredth copy had been printed and folded and laid away, and the editors were on their way to their rest. The first Era, however, bears the date of November 28. The Era was first published by members of the secret societies. The volume for 1874-5 was issued by editors chosen from the senior and junior classes. The paper thus issued has maintained a continuous existence to the present time. For several years, it was the sole organ for the publication of university news. At no period of its existence has it manifested more enterprise than, during those early years. There was a pervading atmosphere of enthusiasm in the university, and in the ideas which it represented, in those early days. The ills and discomforts of the student world in a university insufficiently equipped, the hardships consequent upon a pioneer educational life were borne easily, and dismissed humorously, in the columns of the Era. The limited number of chairs of instruction which had been established gave a unity and common interest to university matters, which has never since been surpassed. All questions of university policy were frankly presented and discussed. Co-education as a phantom to be feared was criticized in advance; the wisdom of a non-resident lecture system praised and disparaged; the interests of the university were stoutly defended against foreign attack, and the students proved themselves vigorous champions of the principles upon which the university rested. One noticeable feature of those first years was the active participation of the faculty in the support of the Era. We find a review of current "Events in Europe," by Professor Goldwin SMITH; "Concerning Food," by Professor WILDER; "The Relations of High Civilization to Poetry," and "Children's Books," by Professor CORSON; "A Day's Ride in Spain," by Professor CRANE; "The University of Edinburgh," by Professor LAW; "The Land of Fire," by Professor FISKE; "Canoe Life on the Tapajos," by Professor PRENTISS: "Etymological Reveries," "Universities and Colleges in Japan" and "Buddistic Morality," by Professor ROEHRIG ; "The Nature and Method of Teaching Mathematics," by Professor WILSON; "Modern Athens," by Professor HEWETT; "A Chair of Didactics," by Professor SPRAGUE; "Eton," by Professor SMITH; "My Studies in the University of Cairo" by Professor FISKE; several translations of articles on "Academic Study and its Mission," by Professor J. M. HART; also translations and original articles, by Professors MacKOON, WAIT and RUSSEL and others. Professor Goldwin SMITH contributed translations from his favorite Latin poets. Some of these have recently been included in his recently published volumes of translations from the classics.
One of the most interesting features of the Era for many years was a series of Cornellian notes by Professor FISKE. These notes discussed almost every question connected with university policy; oftentimes they presented the first announcement of appointments and gifts. Many interesting sketches of foreign university life and experience are contained in these notes. The Cornell colors, the Cornell adjective and the Latinized name of the university were all treated by his versatile pen. He sought to rouse the university muse to write college songs and he himself led the way. These articles were published under a convenient and harmless anonymity. They furnish everywhere evidence of a skillful journalist, interesting in his individuality, and gifted in his power of description. The Eras of that day did not confine their attention primarily to local university news. A wide range of information, and comment upon university life, and educational questions in other colleges, was also manifested. Discussions of popular questions were frequently quoted, and formed the basis of interesting comment. The enthusiasm of the students for their studies found expression in frequent translations from the German poets, and occasionally from the French and the Swedish. Professor Charles Fred HARTT contributed fascinating accounts of explorations in Brazil, and interesting translations from the Portuguese poets. The Era, in short, mirrored at that time the whole life of the university world; its interests, enthusiasms, sports, jokes, as well as the wider educational life around. But the Era was not destined to pursue an entirely even tenor. Questions regarding its control, or the representation of the different classes upon the Era board came to disturb its supremacy, and one day the Cornell Times appeared, published to sustain one side in a university contest regarding the constitution of the Era. It was not long-lived, and few copies are in existence. A compromise, or readjustment of the method of choosing the editors, secured the objects for which it was founded and it quietly ceased to exist. During the first years of the university, a large body of Brazilian students were attracted hither, mainly through the personality of Professor Charles Fred HARTT. These published in the Portuguese language the Aurora Brasiliera for a short time in 1873-4. The Cornellian was the recognized organ of the secret societies and appeared first in 1870. Since that time its scope has been greatly enlarged, and the artistic element in it increased, while retaining all those features which are so representative of the life of the student world, classes, secret and literary societies, clubs, contests, victories and obituaries.
In October, 1873, a new publication appeared, the Cornell Review, designed to be the repository of original articles, essays, stories, Woodford orations, elaborate discussions and poems. It was published first by representatives of the literary societies, the Irving, Curtis and Philalathean, for which latter there was substituted in 1880 an editor from the Debating Club. From 1883, editors from the Irving and the Debating Club, and three appointed by the retiring board from each of the upper classes, conducted the Review. It was issued first as a quarterly; but after the first year as a monthly. It existed from October 1873 to June 1886. One of the most interesting features of this Review, as well as of its successor, the Cornell Magazine, has been a series of interesting notes by Professor, CORSON upon "English Literature," containing felicitous notes and interpretations of Shaksperian verse and thought which; have appeared for many years, and form a valuable collection of "Shaksperiana."
In 1880, a daily paper was issued the first number of which appeared on September 16, 1880, the Cornell Sun, containing a daily résumé of university news.
The increased development of the Department of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering led the students pursuing those studies to issue in March, 1887, The Crank, the brevity of whose title as well as its ambiguous character has been since changed into the Sibley College Journal of Engineering. It has afforded a valuable medium for presenting the history of this important department of the university, and has contained original investigations, and often full reports of lectures which have been delivered before the Sibley College, a record of various scientific excursions instituted by the college, and interesting discoveries and inventions in the technical departments. The Cornell Magazine, which was issued as the successor of the Cornell Review, appeared first April 13, 1888, and has been issued regularly ever since, has maintained the character of its original. The editorial direction of the Review has devolved upon instructors in the department of English, and students, who have constituted a joint editorial board. A single illustrated paper is worthy of mention as being the only effort to issue and sustain a comic weekly. This was published first April 1, 1878, and though it continued but a term, it exhibited during its brief existence great artistic skill and humor which was the delight of the university world. The cost and labor of issuing a paper of this kind led, however, to its early abandonment.
Publication in connection with investigation constitutes an essential feature of the life of a university. In addition to the Philosophical Review, which has been mentioned in the description of the department of philosophy, a Review was founded to be the organ of the secondary schools called the School Review. This was published at the university under the general editorship of President SCHURMAN from 1891 to 1893, when its publication was transferred to Colgate University, following the appointment of Instructor THURBER, who had been its managing editor, to that institution. President SCHURMAN, however, still appears as editor-in-chief. The fact that no Review existed in this country devoted to the investigation of questions in physics led the university to establish the Physical Review, under the editorship of Professor NICHOLS and his colleagues in the department of physics. This Review has been issued bi-monthly and has appeared both in England and America and is recognized as a valuable organ for disseminating a knowledge of investigations in physics. The department of classics has issued several important philological papers under the title of Cornell University Studies in Classical Philology. The latest university publication is The Cornell Law Review, which appeared June 1, 1894.
INTERCOLLEGIATE LITERARY CONTESTS.
On February 19, 1874, the delegates of fourteen colleges met in Hartford, Conn., to form an intercollegiate literary association. Of these colleges, Amherst, Bowdoin, Brown, Wesleyan and Williams were in New England, while the others were from the Middle States. Yale was not represented on account of the small interest which was manifested there. It was decided to form an association to be called the Intercollegiate Association of the United States, the object of which should be to hold annual competitive exercises and examinations. Col. T. W. HIGGINSON, who participated actively in the proceedings, said: "At present the esprit du corps of the college is confined to athletic sports. No one hears of the smart men, the best orators, lawyers, writers, and thinkers in our colleges, but if this movement succeeds, the better minds will be developed because there will be a strife to gain laurels for their representative colleges. We must show that oratory is not a mere outside show. In some colleges oratory is made a matter of training, others believe it to be a thing that cannot be taught. So long as the present state of affairs lasts, so long will each college think its own system the best; but an immediate test, that will bring graduates together in actual trial, will inevitably open up the matter and show which is the best method." The representatives of Cornell at this meeting were Messrs. R. H. WILES, G. R. VANDEWATER, and G. H. FITCH, all of whom, both in college and since, have won distinguished honor. Mr. WILES, while favoring an oratorical contest, regarded the true culture of colleges as the main object, and hoped that in due time written examinations in Greek, Latin, literature, mathematics and science would be held. He opposed the introduction of declamations as school-boyish. The first contests for which provision was made were in essays and oratory, and the public exercises were appointed for January 7, 1875, in New York. The contest in oratory was held in the Academy of Music, which was filled, on this occasion. Ten colleges were represented in this contest. Mr. James Frazer GLUCK delivered his successful Woodford oration of the preceding year. Representative men had been chosen as the judges in both contests. Cornell University was successful in the literary contest, receiving two out of the four prizes which were awarded. Two subjects for essays had been announced, viz., the "Utilitarian System of Morals," and the "Clowns in Shakspere." Princeton won the first prize for the best essay on the former subject, while George H. FITCH won the first, and James F. GLUCK the second prize for essays on the second subject. The judges were Thomas Wentworth HIGGINSON, James T. FIELDS and Richard Grant WHITE. The value of the first prize was one hundred and fifty dollars. For the following year the competition was extended to include not only oratory and essays but Greek and mathematics, and a special prize was offered for the best essay on "Arbitration as a Substitute for War." The prizes had been increased in value for this occasion. Eleven colleges competed for the prize in oratory. Hamilton College received the first prize, and D. J. TOMPKINS, of Cornell, the second prize of one hundred and fifty dollars. The two subjects announced for the regular prize essays were "Dickens and Thackeray Compared," and the "Advantages and Disadvantages of Universal Suffrage." Seven colleges competed for these prizes, and Mr. Frank E. HEATH of Cornell University received the first prize of two hundred dollars for the best essay on the first subject announced. Eleven colleges had been represented in the contest for the mathematical prize, which had been held in New York, the committee being Admiral C. H. DAVIS, Professor Simon NEWCOMB and Professor Peter MICHIE.
The first prize of three hundred dollars was awarded to E. H. PALMER of Cornell; Princeton received the second prize. The committee upon oratory were William Cullen BRYANT, George William CURTIS and Whitelaw REID. Eight colleges were represented in the contest in Greek. The examiners were Dr. T. W. CHAMBERS, Dr. William R. DIMMOCK and Charlton T. LEWIS. The first prize was awarded to Miss Julia J. THOMAS of Cornell University. Great enthusiasm was manifested in Ithaca upon the reception of the news of the success of the university. A public meeting was held in Library Hall, participated in by the citizens and students, at which the successful oration was delivered and the successful essay read, and special gifts bestowed upon the competitors by the enthusiastic citizens.
For the third intercollegiate literary contest, which was held in the Academy of Music on January 3, 1877, one additional subject had been announced for competition, viz.: "Natural Science." The committee in oratory consisted of Bayard TAYLOR, Gen. J. R. HAWLEY and the Rev. Dr. E. H. CHAPIN. Cornell University was not represented in the oratorical contest, Mr. C. H. ESTY, who had been announced to appear, being unable to be present.
The committee on essays awarded honorable mention to N. A. RANDOLPH and S. H. COON, both of Cornell, for essays upon the first subject announced, "Hawthorne's Place in Literature," and the first prize for an essay on the "Federalist Party in the United States," to C. J. BREWER, also of Cornell. In the competition in Latin, the first prize was awarded to Emil SCHWERDTFEGER of Cornell, and the first prize in Greek to Eugene FRAYER of Cornell. In mathematics the two papers were found to be so nearly equal that the prize was divided, C. A. VAN VELZER, of Cornell, being mentioned first in the award. For the competition in Greek five colleges sent representatives; in mathematics, only two; in mental science, five; in oratory, ten; in Latin, five; in essays, five.
At the fourth annual contest held in New York, January 18, 1878, Cornell University was represented in the oratorical contest by Joseph NESS, who had changed his subject from "The Power of Ideas," the subject of his Woodford oration, to "The Catholic Church a Blessing to Civilization," which was regarded as less effective. The first prize for the best essay on "The Growth of Political Parties in the United States," was awarded to Charles W. AMES of Cornell University. The second prize in mathematics was awarded to A. S. HATHAWAY of Cornell University.
The fifth annual intercollegiate oratorical contest was held in Steinway Hall, New York, Friday evening, January 10, 1879. In the oratorical contest Mr. A. C. WAKELEY represented Cornell University. The second prize in Greek was divided between Mr. J. A. HAIGHT of Cornell, and M. W. NOURSE of Wesleyan. A. S. HATHAWAY, of Cornell, received the first prize in mathematics.
Several wealthy persons in New York had contributed during the first years to pay for the prizes which were awarded. When this support of the Intercollegiate Association ceased, it was proposed to make the organization a college affair, to be supported by a tax of fifty dollars from each college which sent competitors, which was later lessened to twenty-five dollars. This change introduced an element of uncertainty in the support of the organization. The large number of colleges which had become members lessened the interest, and created uncertainty as to its future, and led to its final abandonment. Its judges from the first had been men of the highest reputation, whose decision upon the merit of any question would be universally recognized as of authority. Had the support of the society been more skillfully arranged, and participation in the various contests limited, it is probable that it would still have a useful existence. The success of the university in purely literary and scientific contests emphasized the solid character of the instruction which was given in its various departments. In Greek, Latin, mathematics and essays, it had won distinguished recognition; in oratory, Hamilton College; in mental science, Princeton; in Latin, Rutgers; in mathematics, the University of the City of New York attained especial honor.
As soon as the enthusiastic students of the university had familiarized themselves with their new home, they undertook the organization of the various athletic interests. During the summer of 1869, Harvard had gallantly sent a crew to England to contest with Oxford the in dominion of the seas, and during the same year the Undine Boat Club was formed here, which was more a prophecy of future success than an achievement, for it did little to promote practical boating. During the visit of Mr. Thomas HUGHES to Ithaca in the autumn of 1870, he gave a personal narration of his own experiences as an oarsman, with which the students were in part familiar in "Tom Brown at Oxford." Discussion at once became rife, which, on April 17, 1871, resulted in the formation of the University Boat Club, composed of all classes of undergraduates. In May following, the name Cornell Navy was opted as the final name for the boating interests of the university. A boathouse was erected on the inlet near the steamboat landing, and a clumsy eight-oared barge, the "Cornell," built in Ithaca, and a four-oared outrigger, "Buffalo," constituted the university fleet. A little later a six-oared lapstreak barge with blue and white stripes, called the "Striped Pig," was purchased. Tradition says that at the first meeting, the chairman's request that those gentlemen present who had ever used the spoon oar would rise, was answered by one individual, rising modestly and remotely, and also that upon the first trip in the "Buffalo" the crew was covered with disgrace and water in about equal proportions, by capsizing in the inlet at the order "oars a-peak." The responsibility for this difficult and intricate manoeuver was long disputed; some maintaining that, the commodore being present, the command was given in his honor, the captain maintaining that the disastrous command was given by the commodore himself. On June 1st this redoubtable craft, the "Buffalo," encountered a tow-boat and sunk, which ended the naval experience of the first year.
Just before the organization of the Cornell Navy, a University Boat Club had been formed, somewhat exclusive in its membership, but, sustained by vigorous supporters, it became formidable to the regular organization. In the middle of May a six-oared outrigger, known as the "Green Barge," also from an Ithaca shipyard, was launched, the home of which was a barn at the corner of the lake. In honor of Mr. HUGHES this club received the name of the "Tom Hughes Boat Club." Mr. HUGHES acknowledged the honor by sending a silver challenge cup, to be known as the "Torn Hughes" cup. On May 12, 1872, Cornell joined the Rowing Association of American Colleges, a step promoted by that most enthusiastic Cornellian, Mr. J. B. EDGERLEY, whose early death has a pathos which will always appeal to those who knew him. On May 2, the Tom Hughes Boat Club became part of the Navy, and a six-oared cedar shell was purchased from Yale and a professional trainer secured. The first regatta was held on Cayuga Lake on May 10 and 11, 1872. It was proposed to send a crew to Springfield, but the necessary funds were lacking, and at Commencement the crew disbanded, after several months of vigorous training.
The university first entered a college race, at Springfield, Mass., on June 17, 1873, with a new cedar six-oared boat, the gift of President WHITE. The crew had, been carefully trained by the oarsman, Henry COULTER, and was composed of excellent oarsmen. It drew a position in an eddy with an up-stream current, behind an island, around which it was forced to row. It, however, won fourth place beside Yale, Wesleyan and Harvard, in a competition with eleven colleges. At the first contest in Saratoga, held on July 16, 1874, the crew won only fifth place among nine competitors. The arrangements for the race had been imperfect, the condition of the crew wretched, and their training probably crude.
Four class clubs had been formed in the university which united September 18, 1874, to form the Sprague Boat Club, the two organizations together constituting the Navy. Mr. J. B. SPRAGUE of Ithaca presented a challenge cup to be awarded to the successful crew. Under Captain OSTROM in the spring of 1875, boating in the university began to be a science. Training throughout the winter in the gymnasium was continued, and as soon as the ice left the inlet, practice upon the lake began. A new paper shell, built according to the directions of Captain OSTROM, was obtained. The crew consisted of GILLIS, JARVIS, GARDINER, BARTO and WATERMAN. The freshmen determined also to send a crew to Saratoga, and Jack LEWIS, later a familiar name in Cornell annals in boating, was elected captain, with GARDINER, GRAVES, SMITH, CAMP and PALMER as associates. The victory which the university crew won over COURTNEY and his crew of Union Springs gave them great confidence. On July 13, 1875, the freshmen race was rowed on Saratoga Lake in which crews from Harvard, Brown and Princeton were defeated. Here, it is said, the Cornell yell was first invented. On an omnibus crowded with Cornellians driving from the city to the lake, Charley RAYMOND suggested trying a version of the Yale refrain-"eli, eli, eli, ell"; and an inverted form of it was attempted, Cornell! i-ell, i-ell; ell, ell. When, however, the Cornell crew passed that of Harvard, pressing on swift and straight to victory, a yell burst forth, caught up, by the groups of students throughout the vast company of spectators and by the spectators themselves: "Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! Cornell ! I yell, yell, yell, Cornell !" which has since been adopted as a battle cry of the university on many closely contested fields. No university race has perhaps ever surpassed that which occurred on Saratoga Lake on July 14, 1875. Thirteen college crews were in line, each with a narrow lane marked out through the water before it. Three crews led from the beginning, Cornell on the left, Columbia in the center and Harvard on the right. When the goal was first reached, four thousand spectators rose from their seats, lifted the crew from their boat, and bore them on their shoulders in triumph. A palace car was placed at their disposal on their return and the crew was greeted by enthusiastic throngs at every station through which they passed. They were met at the railway station in Ithaca by processions of students and citizens, and rode upon a platform, proudly bearing the shell with which their victory had been won, amid fire works and beneath a triumphal arch, through the streets to the university. On July 17, 1876, a second race at Saratoga between Cornell, Harvard, Columbia, Union, Wesleyan and Princeton was won by Cornell. In a single scull race which immediately followed, Charles S. FRANCIS, now a chosen trustee of the alumni, was victorious over Harvard, Columbia and Princeton in a two-mile race, and on the following day the Cornell freshmen defeated both Harvard and Columbia. This triple victory was received with enthusiasm equal to that of the preceding year. With the regatta of 1876, the Rowing Association of American Colleges dissolved. Yale withdrew early, Harvard remained to contest once more the supremacy of the waters. Cornell's friends raised in New York in a few days five thousand dollars to send the crew to England to row a four-oared race with cockswain, with Oxford and Cambridge. The crew would have consisted of OSTROM, KING, MASON and LEWIS with Fred WHITE as cockswain, but neither Oxford or Cambridge would accept the challenge. A challenge was sent to Harvard and Yale for an eight-oared race, which was, however, refused. In the fall of 1877 a freshman race was arranged with Harvard, which challenged Cornell. This race was rowed on Owasco Lake on July 17, with Harvard alone, and the university again won. In 1879, the university sent a crew to the national regatta in Saratoga where, however, it had no competitors and rowed over the course alone. The single scull race was won by LEWIS without competition. A race on Lake George during the same year with Columbia and Wesleyan, entered upon hastily, was lost. In 1879, a crew was again organized to contest supremacy with Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania on Lake George, and Cornell again won. During the summer of 1881, a race was arranged in England to be rowed on June 31, 1881 for the Steward's Cup at Henley. The crews with which they contested on this occasion were veteran oarsmen of the Thames Rowing Club and the London Rowing Club. The position of the Cornell boat was bad and they were less familiar with the course, which was exposed to adverse currents and wind, and they were defeated by both opposing crews. On July 2, a second race was rowed with the Hertford College Boat Club of Oxford over the Henley course. Cornell led until it approached unexpectedly a shallow, when its boat grounded where the boat of the Thames Rowing Club had stopped on the preceding day, and again victory was lost. A third race for the Thames Challenge Cup in the Metropolitan Regatta on July 14, with two leading London clubs was lost by bad steering. A fourth effort for success was made upon the Danube at Vienna. Cornell led until victory seemed assured, when the sudden illness of one of the crew checked the speed of` their boat and the race was lost. These England races were accompanied by charges of treachery and unprofessional conduct on the part of one member of the crew. Whatever the truth may have been, the charges made, though they could not be demonstrated, were generally believed, and left a painful impression in connection with this experience of our crew abroad. In 1890, a new boat house with excellent accommodations was erected by funds raised by the students, on ground generously leased to the navy by the Delaware and Lackawanna Railway.
Mr. Charles S. FRANCIS, the accomplished oarsman of 1876, thus writes of later boating:
The Cornell 'varsity crews have won twenty-four races, lost six, and had one foul. The freshmen have won seven and lost none, while our single scullers have won nine and lost two. Among these we have world's records for one and one-half miles in 6.40, three miles in 14. 27 1/2, besides the two mile intercollegiate record of 13.42 3/4.
Baseball and football have been cultivated at the university, and as these contests have now become a part of the calendar of every university year, it is impossible to chronicle their progress. The proposition to form a baseball club was made as early as February 27, 1861, and upon May 8, a petition was presented to the Executive Committee for a baseball ground. During this month the first games with rival clubs were reported.
The first efficient impulse to start a gymnasium is due to Professor BYERLY whose enthusiasm in athletic sports led him to undertake the difficult task of erecting a gymnasium by soliciting funds among the students and citizens. This enterprise was begun in the autumn of 1873, and the erection of the original gymnasium, just east of the present Sigma Phi chapter house on Central avenue, commenced in December of that year. This modest structure whose entire cost with equipment did not exceed $1,600 contained the essential apparatus for the best physical development. Parallel bars, rings, trapezes, ladders, horses, lifting machines, lifting weights, rowing machine, etc., etc.; also apparatus for expanding the chest and increasing the capacity of the lungs. The apparatus was selected by Professor BYERLY in New York, who was thoroughly familiar with the best modern equipments of a gymnasium. The gymnasium was finished and ready for use on February 21, 1874, and it formed for a long time a useful, almost indispensable element in the physical training of the students. The erection of the present Armory was authorized on April 29, 1882, and it was erected during the same year but was not finished so as to be open for use until the spring of the following year, when Dr. Edward HITCHCOCK, jr., was appointed acting professor of physical culture and director of the gymnasium. Under his inspiration the equipment of the gymnasium took place rapidly and it was used not only for gymnastic exercises, but for an armory and drill hall, under the efficient administration of the Commandant, Major J. B. BURBANK. Later additions to the gymnasium in the year 1892 furnished greatly increased facilities, swimming tank, bath rooms, running course, etc., etc.
The development of university athletics received a new impulse in the gift of an athletic field, of the value of three thousand dollars, in June, 1889, from William H. SAGE, esq., situated just north of Fall creek. Mr. SAGE has been the constant patron and promoter of all the athletic interests of the university. This field consists of about seven acres, enclosed by a high fence, with a grand stand, cinder course, dressing rooms, etc. By two gifts of J. J. HAGERMAN, esq., of Colorado Springs, amounting in all to seven thousand dollars, the necessary preparation of the field was secured. The field was named "Percy Field " in honor of a son of the donor of its equipment, who with his brother have shown an enthusiastic and generous interest in athletics. Mr. Robert H. TREMAN has contributed a valuable and active support to university athletics. The Athletic Council was succeeded by the Athletic Association of Cornell University, consisting of alumni and student representatives of the various athletic organizations.
The Cornell Athletic Association was incorporated June 5, 1889, under the laws of 1865, State of New York, chap. 368, p. 362. The incorporators were W. H. SAGE, B. I. WHEELER, H. S. WHITE, J. F. KEMP, E. HITCHCOCK, jr., F. D. DAVIS, and H. S. BRONSON. The purpose of the Association was: (1) To centralize the various athletic interests of the university. The four athletic organizations-the Navy, Baseball club, Football club, and the Athletic club-had heretofore existed in entire independence of each other, and had conducted their affairs, such as the raising of money, arrangement of games, etc., each in disregard or ignorance of the plans of the others. The gift of the athletic field (Percy Field) in 1889, made it necessary that there should exist an organization not only to own and manage the field, but to coordinate the interests of the different clubs in its use.
(2) To act as an advisory board for the managers of the athletic teams. Under the old system there had existed no check upon the powers of the managers. They expended money as they saw fit, and made no accounting. Shortly after the organization of the Association the power of choosing all managers, including the commodore, was delegated to it by the different clubs.
(3) To assume control of property that might be donated to it in the interest of athletics. In accordance with this purpose it has assumed the ownership of the Percy Field and of the boat house, with the boats and equipments therein. It now keeps the field in order, attends to repairs of fence and buildings, and regulates the assignment of its use among the different teams, deducting from the gate receipts at all the university games fifteen per cent. for the benefit of the field. The steam launch now building for the use of the navy will become, when completed, the property of the Association.
(4) To exercise oversight over the collection and expenditure of moneys on the part of the various organizations. The treasurer of the Association, who is a graduate, keeps a separate account with each organization, as well as also an account with the field. He receives all money collected by each organization, whether in the form of gate receipts or subscriptions, and pays, all bills when approved by the managers who contracted them. The different accounts are published annually in the college papers by the treasurer, thus affording the university public a reliable means of knowing how the athletic funds are expended.
The trustees of the association consisted originally of fourteen persons, viz., two representatives from the Navy, including the commodore; two from the Baseball club, including the manager; two from the Football club, including the manager; two from the Athletic club, including its president (i. e., manager); four members of the faculty, including the professor of Physical Culture; one representative from the Executive Committee of the trustees of the university; and one member chosen at large. As amended in 1894, the constitution added one representative from the La Crosse Club, namely, its manager, and provided that the eight other undergraduate members should consist of the commodore of the Navy and the captain of the crew, and the managers and captains of the three other organizations.
The Faculty Committee on Athletics, which has, by vote of the faculty, entire charge of the leaves of absence for the athletic teams, has thus far included the four faculty trustees of the association. This circumstance has contributed greatly to the solidarity of the whole athletic management, and provided a most efficient means for the regulation of athletics and the prevention of abuses. The influence of the faculty is thus exercised from within, and not from without, the central management itself. The faculty members of the Board of Trustees are at present (1894) Professors DENNIS, HITCHCOCK, WHEELER and WHITE, the representative from the university trustees is Mr., W. H. SAGE, who is also president of the board; the member at large is Mr. Robert H. TREUIAN, who has been the treasurer from the beginning.
History of Cornell - Chapter XI
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