Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (March 8, 1901)
Free Speech in Universities.
The report made by the educators who inves
tigated the action of Mrs. Stanford in demand
ing the resignation of Prof. Ross fully sustains
the criticism which hap been directed against her
and the university authorities. After reading the
verdict of theso distinguished and disinterested in
structors, no one will doubt that the views enter
tained by Prof. Hobs on tho silver question, Chi
nese immigration and municipal ownership led to
his dismissal. . It was a plain and unvarnished at
tempt to deny free speech to an able, honest and
courageous teacher, and it will require many jears
to remove tho stain from Stanford University.
This incident, together with similar incidents in
recont years, will tend to lesson tho influence of
those private institutions of learning which are
being supported by largo individual donations
unless such institutions are left" entirely free to
teach economic truths.
Below will ba found an extract from the re
port giving tho findings Of the committee:
While it is, of course, impossible for us definitely
to determine what facts or reports of supposed facts
may have with Mrs. Stanford, the evidence in posses
sion of the committee seems to justify the following"
(1.) There is no evidence to show that Professor
Ross gave occasion for dismissal by any defect in
moral character. On tho contrary, President Jordan
states in his letter of February 7 to the committee:
'No ground exists for any interpretation of his dis
missal reflecting- on his private character."
(2.) There is no evidence to show that Professor
Ross gave occasion for his dismissal by incompetence.
On tho contrary, President Jordan stated in a letter
of May, 1000, that ho was " a careful thinker and 'a pa
tient investigator," " a constant source of strength ''
to tho university, and uono of tho best teachers, al
ways just, moderate, aud fair."
(3.) There is no evidence to show that Professor
Ross gave occasion for his dismissal by any unfaith
fulness in the discharge of his duties.
ROSS Was On the contrary, President Jordan
Faithful. stated in a lettorof May, 1900, that
" he has been most loyal, accepting
extra work and all kinds of embarrassments without
a word of complaint," and that he was " a wise,
learned, and noble man, one of tho most loyal and de
voted of all tho band " at the university.
(4.) There is no evidence to show that in his pub
lished statements of Novembor 14 Professor Ross vio
lated any confidence reposed in him. On the contrary,
in a letter of December 21, President Jordan states:
"I wish, after conversation with Dr. Ross, to with
draw anything I may have said implying that he had
knowingly used confidential material, or in any other
way violated personal proprieties in making his state
ment." (5.) .Concerning tho point that Professor Ross gave
occasion for his dismissal by remarks derogatory to '
Senator Stanford, your committee finds, in a state
ment by Mr, 0. IT. Lummis, in the Land of Sunshine,
dated Christmas, 1900, tho following passage:
Tho proolso words Professor Ross may have used I do not
know, but I do know that ho has stated in his classes in Stanford
many things which his students understood to bo reflections on
Senator Stanford; nnd I know also that Mrs. Stanford firmly be
llovos that ho did slur her husband's momory.
In the Independent of February 7, 1901, Mr. Lum
mis repeats his charge, quoting Mrs. Stanford's
reasons for his dismissal. "He has called
my husband a thief."
The committee also finds that President Jordan
ig a letter of November 10, 1000, states: '
Mr,Koe8llng informs mo that ho and others of tho alumni
tave heard you in your classes condemn tho means by which Mr
Stanford became rich, in such i, way as to make it clearly a po
Bonal reference, nnd that some timo last year Mr,s. Stanford was
told this by a prominent alumnus, Mr. Crothcrs, if I understood
In a letter of the next day, however, President
Jordan retracts this by say ing: "Mr.
Prof. Jordan Crothers tells me that he has never
Mistaken.' mentioned the matter in question to
Mrs. Stanford. I was not sure that
I understood my informant to say so."
Professor Ross, moreover.at the time unqualifiedly
denied all such charges, and insisted that statements
to this effect are "a thorough-paced falsehood and a
disingenuous attempt to befog the real issue." In
another place he says: "The charge from any quar
ter that I have ever made any remarks derogatory
the character of Senator Stanford is false; absolutely
without foundation." In a subsequent letter he
states: "I have never referred in a derogatory way
to Senator Stenford, nor have I reflected upon the
manner in which he accumulated his fortune. Both
my sincere respect for the Senator -and my sense of
tho proprieties of my position forbade anything of
Moreover, that this charge could not have a de
termining cause in President Jordan's acceptance of
Professor Ross' resignation, is shown by the fact that,
in a letter of November 16, two days after his dismis
sal, President Jordan says, in reference to these
charges: "I never heard anything of the sort before."
(0) There is no evidence to show that in the opin
ion of the president of the university, Professor Ross,
in his utterances on the silver question, on coolie im
migration, or on municipal ownership, overstepped
the limits of professional propriety. On the contrary,
President Jordan stated in May, 1900, that his re
marks on coolie immigration and on municipal own
ership were in accord with the drift of public senti
ment on those subjects, and that even on the silver
question "he never stepped outside of the recognized
rights of a professor."
(7.) There is evidence to show,
(a) That Mrs Stanford's objections to Professor
Ross were due, in part at all 'events, to his former
attitude on the siver question, and
Silver Question to his utterances on coolie immigra
One Cause. tion and on municipal ownership;
(b) That while the dissatisfaction of Mrs. Stan
ford, due to his former attitude on the silver question,
antedated his utterance on coolie immigration and
municipal ownership, her dissatisfaction was greatly
increased by these utterances.
As to (a), This is shown by the fact that Presi
dent Jordan at first attempted to deter Mrs. Stanford
from taking any action for such reasons, stating, in a
letter of May, 1900: "I feel sure that if his critics
would come forth and make their complaints to me in
manly fashion, I could convince any of them that they
have no real ground for complaint." President Jor
dan, moreover, intimated' that to dismiss him for such
reasons would be improper in the extreme, for "no
graver charge can be made against a university than
that it denies its professors freedom of speech."
As to (b). This is shown by tho fact that not until
immediately after the delivery of the coolie immigra
tion speech did Mrs. Stanford force Professor Ross'
resignation, as well as by the fact that in a letter of
June, 1900, President Jordan stated: "The matter of
immigration she (Mrs. Stanford) takes most se
riously." In the same letter, while Mrs. Stanford's objec
tion is declared to be due to the fact that the reputa
tion of the university for serious conservatism is im
paired by the hasty acceptance of social and political
fads, it is added, that these "local criticisms" which
weighed with Mrs. Stanford "unfortunately are based
on chance matters and obiter dicta, not at all upon
our serious work."
We have not deemed it wise to publish in full tho
letters upon which wo have based our conclusions,
but we stand ready to publish them if such a course
is necessary to establish the truth in this matter.
. We are aware that owing to the failure of Presi
dent Jordan to give definite replies to all our ques
tions, there may be important facts with which we
are unacquainted. On the other
Refused to hand, we cannot but feel that a re-
Fumish fusal to furnish specific information
Evidence. ln a case, of such importancein
-which it is charged that the freedom
of speech is at stake is itself a fact of significance,
which, to say tho least, is much to bo regretted.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Edwin R. A. Seligman, Professor of Political Econ
omy and Finance, Columbia University.
Henry W. Farnam, Professor of Political Economy,
Henry B. Gardner, Professor of Political Economy,
The undersigned have examined the evidence sub
mitted by the above committee and believe that it
justifies the conclusions which they have drawn:
Horace White, Editor of the Evening Post, New
John B. Clark, Columbia University.
Henry 0. Adams, University of Michigan."'
Frank W. Taussig, Harvard University.
Richard T. Ely, University of Wisconsin.
Simon N. Patten, University of Pennsylvania.
Richard Mayo-Smith, Columbia University.
John C. Schwab, Yale University.
Sidney Sherwood, Johns Hopkins University.
Franklin II. Giddings, Columbia University.
William J. Ashley, Harvard University.
Charles H. Hull, Cornell University.
Davis It. Dewey, Massachusetts Institute of Tech
nology. Henry C. Emery, Yale University.
Henry R. Seager, University of Pennsylvania.
The clever characterization of Horace' Greeley in a
recent popular novel has called forth manj' anecdotes
and remininiscences of that famous editor of the
benignant soul and countenance, and familiar chin
whiskers. A neighbor of the G.reelej' family in New
York contributes one quaint little scrap to the col
lection. Mrs. Greeley had, at one time, become much dis
satisfied with the house in which they were living.
There really were many objections to it, and one day
she poured them all forth in a long aud rather ex
cited complaint to Mr. Greeley. He heard her out
with undisturbed tranquility, and when she had
quite finished said simply:
"Well, ma, move."
She took him at his word. As he evidently did
not care to be consulted, consulted he was not. For
several days there was more or less confusion in the
house, as the packing went on, and room after room
was dismantled, but the living rooms were left till
the last, and Mr. Greeley did not even notice it.
At length, one evening he came home and found
no home to come to. The house was dark and empty,
ne stood for a few moments on the door-step in ami
able bewilderment; then, deciding what to do, he be
gan calling upon the neighbors in turn, inquiring of
each, with an appealing smile and unruffled sweet
ness: "Do you khow where ma is? She's moved."
Some one did know at last, and "pa," the one
thing left behind, moved also, and rejoined his house
hold in their new and more comfortable quarters.
Ah to "Soolnl Advantages."
O, ye gods and little fishes!
a -, , Sh,ould we yield to Sampson's wishes,
And bear down upon the man behind the gun;
Should we tell him he could never,
Though his work be e'er so clever,
Reach the grade that men like Farragut have won;
Should we tell him lack of polish
Would his merit marks abolish,
And prevent him from attaining high degree,
We at once would quench the fire
Of each patriot's desire
lo serve his country well upon the sea.
But we still retain that organ
We call sense, and Gunner Morgan,
Jiiven though not versed in social etiquette,
Will be given, by the nation,
a 1 1 Chance to reach a higher station,
Am, by faithful service win an epaulet. -II.
Wm. Smith, in Nebraska State? Democrat.
Powered by Open ONI