Forgetting Slavery at Yale and Transylvania
There are names from America’s past that inevitably make us think of slavery. Two such names stand out—John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis. Both men were slaveholders and prominent southern political figures who stridently defended the right to own slaves. Both men also had important academic facilities named in their memory at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. The surprising part is that these buildings were dedicated generations after the demise of slavery.
Early in my days as a graduate student of history at Yale in 2001, I initiated a quixotic campaign to change the name of Calhoun College, one of Yale’s dozen residential colleges. Established in 1933, the college was named for John C. Calhoun, a member of Yale’s class of 1804 and later a U.S. senator from South Carolina who earned political notoriety for his insistence that slavery was a “positive good.”
A decade later I found myself president at Transylvania University, the third Yale alum to serve as president since the university’s founding in 1780.1 Things had come full circle: the Transylvania faculty presented me with a resolution to change the name of Davis Hall, a dormitory built in 1963 (at the height of the civil rights movement) to honor Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. Davis attended Transylvania for three years in the 1820s before accepting an appointment to West Point—an appointment he received from his mentor, John C. Calhoun.2
This essay will briefly introduce Calhoun and Davis before examining the circumstances that led Yale and Transylvania to honor them. Though the essay is focused on nineteenth-century political figures and the twentieth-century institutional honors paid to them, its object is to illuminate a twenty-first-century question: Should Yale and Transylvania change the names of Calhoun College and Davis Hall? Yale has recently answered that question in the affirmative. Transylvania has sidestepped the question. But my own answer to that very thorny question has changed since my graduate school days—indeed, it has changed more than once. I have become convinced that name changing is bad history. Such actions unjustly erase historical blemishes and unwisely forfeit educational opportunities.
Nineteenth-Century Defenders of Slavery
John Caldwell Calhoun symbolizes antebellum South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union prior to the Civil War. An accomplished statesman, he strenuously supported the “national” mission when young, only to meta-morphose into a philosophical stalwart of state’s rights when old. As America’s most prominent proslavery theorist and politician, he probably did more than any other single person to propel the South toward secession. Even more to the point, he was a proud slaveholder who tirelessly defended the institution of slavery.
A dedicated autodidact, Calhoun earned acceptance to Yale University in 1802 as a third-year upperclassman. The six-foot, two-inch farm boy lived a largely solitary existence at Yale. Despite his penchant for solitude, Calhoun took full advantage of the tutelage offered by both Benjamin Silliman and college president Timothy Dwight. Graduating with high honors among the sixty-six members of his class, Calhoun was selected to present the commencement address, which he entitled “The Qualifications Necessary for a Statesman.”3
A life-threatening illness prevented Calhoun from delivering the address, but nothing could keep him from becoming a statesman himself. Apart from his reserved nature, perhaps the defining aspect of Calhoun’s character was aggressive ambition, which earned him all but his most coveted political office. In a career that spanned the Twelfth to the Thirty-First Congress, Calhoun served in the House of Representatives, as secretary of war (1817–25), and as vice president under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Aside from his brief stint as secretary of state (1844–45), Calhoun spent the last two decades of his life in the U.S. Senate. The presidency, for which he incessantly (though not always openly) campaigned, proved beyond his grasp. So focused was he on that office that Calhoun went to his grave convinced he was a failure for not attaining it.
Senator Calhoun was probably the most notable proslavery theorist and politician in the United States, as well as one of the intellectual fathers of secession. The events of the early 1830s—Nat Turner’s Rebellion, increased abolitionist activism and antislavery petitions in Congress, the British abolition of slavery in the West Indies, and the increased might of manufacturers—all generated enormous anxiety among southerners. Calhoun rose to the challenge to articulate a proslavery interpretation of the Constitution and a pro-slavery political theory that supported a militant southern identity.4
Slavery fixed Calhoun’s attention. On February 19, 1847, Calhoun addressed the Wilmot Proviso from the floor of the Senate: “I am a planter—a cotton planter. I am a Southern man and a slaveholder—a kind and a merciful one, I trust—and none the worse for being a slaveholder.”5 Calhoun consistently spoke in such terms. A decade earlier, also from the Senate floor, Calhoun insisted that slavery was “a good—a great good.”6 His perception of slavery was predicated upon the inferiority of blacks. In arguing against allowing free blacks to serve in the navy, for example, he maintained, “It was wrong to bring those who have to sustain the honor and glory of the country down to the footing of the negro race—to be degraded by being mingled and mixed up with that inferior race.”7 Calhoun believed slavery worked to the benefit of all involved. Adamant in his position, he declared, “Come what will, should it cost every drop of blood, and every cent of property, we must defend ourselves.”8 Calhoun was never shy in making his point, and the point he cared most to make was that the South should concede nothing regarding “the peculiar institution” of slavery.9
Like Calhoun, Jefferson Davis championed slavery most of his life. More famous in his day than Calhoun, Davis was the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. A committed white supremacist, he owned slaves and defended slavery as a moral and social good. He did not believe the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution applied to black people, nor did he believe that the Constitution permitted any federal interference with slaveholding, whether in states or in territories.
While historians have evinced a grudging respect for Calhoun’s intellect and political tenacity, they have not treated Davis kindly. David Potter, for example, bluntly claimed that, had Lincoln and Davis changed offices, the Confederacy would have won the Civil War.10 Nevertheless, Davis is still lionized by many whites in the South. In the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda, there is a statue of Davis with the inscription, “Hero, Patriot, Statesman.”
Jefferson Davis was born in Christian County, Kentucky, on June 3, 1808, the tenth and final child of Samuel and Jane Davis. He was named for his father’s hero, Thomas Jefferson. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Mississippi. While none of the first nine children was educated, Samuel insisted that Jefferson return to Kentucky for a proper education, first at a Dominican Catholic school and later at Transylvania University. Transylvania, Latin for “across the woods,” was the name given to the nation’s sixteenth college, the first west of the Appalachian Mountains. When Davis entered Transylvania, it enrolled four hundred students, roughly the same number as Princeton and Harvard. According to Davis’s most recent biographer, Transylvania was “a thriving and sophisticated university that offered its students a first-class education… . [It was] as much a university as any other place in the United States.”11
Like Calhoun, Davis held many positions of military and political responsibility. After attending Transylvania University and West Point, he emerged with a military commission and fought as a colonel in the Mexican-American War. He served briefly in the House of Representatives, twice as U.S. senator from Mississippi, then as secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce before becoming president of the Confederacy. Near the end of the Civil War, Davis eluded Union forces, but he was eventually captured and charged with treason. Though never tried for his crime, Davis (along with all other Confederate leaders) was prohibited (by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution) from holding public office, a stigma finally erased by special legislation from Congress in 1978.12 That Davis’s rights of citizenship were restored, the legislation noted, “officially completes the long process of reconciliation that has reunited our people following the tragic conflict between the States.”13
In 1933—exactly one hundred years after Calhoun stepped down as vice president to lead the secession movement from the U.S. Senate during the Nullification Crisis—it seems many Americans had either forgotten or ceased to care about John C. Calhoun’s proslavery politics. Indeed, it is likely that they had forgotten him altogether, dispatching the South Carolinian to the same oblivion reserved for other ex–vice presidents. Jefferson Davis, however, was still widely remembered and much revered by white southerners and Civil War enthusiasts in general. In 1933 at Yale and 1963 at Transylvania, these two venerable universities chose to name facilities honoring these stalwarts of slavery. What were the circumstances under which these decisions took place?
Through the extraordinary generosity of a single benefactor, Edward S. Harkness, Yale University was able to construct seven dormitory clusters in the early 1930s, modeled after the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge.14 A special Committee on Nomenclature, composed of senior administrators, including university president James Angell, deliberated for more than a year as to who should be honored in the naming of these colleges. From 230 years of graduates, Yale selected two men: Jonathan Edwards and John C. Calhoun. As university secretary Carl A. Lohmann explained, the two were “chosen to represent Yale’s most eminent graduate in the Church and Yale’s most eminent graduate in the field of Civil State.”15
The new housing facilities were much needed, for Yale was growing rapidly. The entering class of 310 students in 1900 had swelled to a class of 849 in 1930 and to more than 1,300 by 1940.16 Housing all the students had become the university’s single most pressing problem. The residential plan proposed by President Angell called for the construction of several dormitory quadrangles.
Although the Education Policy Committee oversaw all issues associated with the project, Angell immediately appointed several subcommittees to address such matters as personnel, student employment, and housing allocation of students. Of these various committees, President Angell was especially concerned about the Committee on Names and Terminology, chaired by the university secretary. That committee was created to consider such issues as what to call the new buildings (quads, houses, colleges, or halls), titles for senior administrators (head, dean, master, provost, principal, president, or warden), and, most importantly, the actual names for the structures. In fact, the last concern was so great that yet another subcommittee, including the secretary and the dean, was assigned solely to address it.17 President Angell wanted to name some of the new colleges after esteemed graduates, but he admitted a fear of an “acute controversial atmosphere” in dealing with “contemporary affairs.” He suggested that controversy could be avoided through the use of historical figures, the farther back in time, the better. So in April 1933 the Yale Corporation resolved, “The quadrangle which will be built at the corner of Elm and College … shall be named Calhoun College to honor John Caldwell Calhoun, B.A. 1804, L.L.D. 1822, statesman.”18
If avoiding controversy was a priority, why select Calhoun? Was the current memory of William Howard Taft, a Yale alumnus from the class of 1878 and the only American to become both president of the United States and chief justice of the Supreme Court, more apt to generate controversy than the memory of a man whose political career was dedicated to militant defenses of nullification, sectionalism, and slavery?19 Yale offered no justification whatsoever for honoring Calhoun.20 Evidently, no justification was needed. While it may strike contemporary readers as odd, the naming of Calhoun College aroused very little controversy on or off campus. The New York Herald Tribune reported the naming on October 15, 1931, in an article entitled “Three New Colleges Named in Yale Residential Plan,” noting one named “in honor of Senator John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, who was graduated from Yale in 1804.” The next day, the New York Times also carried the story “New Colleges Named at Yale,” which mentioned “Calhoun College in honor of John C. Calhoun, the statesman, Yale 1804.” Neither paper had another word to say about the man himself. A month later, the New York Times Magazine, writing about the designs of the respective colleges, offered the following: “The one college that [architect James Gamble] Rogers did not build is curiously (for Connecticut and New Haven) named after John C. Calhoun, a Yale man, though the great South Carolina nullifier.” Beyond that, the article offered no further commentary.21
Of the various Yale publications, the Alumni Weekly reported nothing relating to Calhoun College specifically, focusing instead on the larger college plan. The Harkness Hoot, a campus literary magazine, contained an editorial entitled “Colleges for Sale,” which offered the following rather curious observation: “No, away with University ideals… . [T]hey have been sold for a cathedral city of movieland magnificence and negroid taste to the wealthiest purchaser of a memorial or two.”22 The Whole Houn Catalogue, an annual brochure introducing Calhoun College to arriving students, was one of the few publications to address the memory of Calhoun directly. Calhoun, authors of the inaugural catalog wrote, had “influenced the political history of the United States more deeply than any other graduate during Yale’s first two centuries.” The catalog did not then, and still does not, specify what that influence had been.23
In the Yale Daily News, a rather strange reference can be found. The paper reported that Calhoun College had originally been intended for a location closer to Sterling Library on the site of what is now Trumbull College. But plans were changed “when the University authorities realized that J. W. Sterling, the donor of the present Trumbull, was a Yankee who had fought in the Civil War, against the principles for which John C. Calhoun had stood so strongly, and that it would be tactless to name his college in honor of a secessionist.”24 The article suggests that at least some at the time were aware of the symbolism of naming a college after Calhoun, but the emphasis seems more on reconciliation than repudiation.
Student reaction to the use of Calhoun’s memory was muted. In interviews conducted with the current class secretary of each of the first classes to live in the new residences (class of 1933 as dorms; classes of 1934, 1935, and 1936 as colleges), none remembered any controversy whatsoever about the name Calhoun. “For most of us,” according to Yale alumnus Edwin Clapp, “the moral elements of American history were simply not ingrained, slipped right by us.” Indeed, Clapp recalls that his senior thesis “advisor was startled” by his conclusion that “John Brown had been on the right side.”25
There was, however, at least one objection to Calhoun. During a formal dinner to celebrate the opening of Calhoun College on October 31, 1933, Yale professor of rhetoric and oratory Leonard Bacon read a poem he had composed for the occasion:
I suppose that I ought
To have bayed at the moon
Singing the praises of
John C. Calhoun.
But I cannot, although
He was virtuous and brave,
And besides my great-grandfather
Would turn in his grave,
If he dreamed of a monument
Raised to renown
Calhoun in this rank
If only we could know how this poem was received. It seems unlikely that the author intended to offend the other guests, but did he generate stirrings of discomfort? Or had Calhoun’s paternalistic perception of slavery as a “great good” somehow become palatable? At the same time, had pride in the abolitionist tradition completely vanished?
It is odd that Yale honored Calhoun while also naming a college for his university tutor, Benjamin Silliman, who vehemently criticized the senator from South Carolina. Soon after Calhoun’s death, Silliman noted in his diary:
John C. Calhoun died at Washington last Sabbath… . I have known him from his youth up… . If the views of Mr. Calhoun, and of those who think with him, are to prevail, slavery is to be sustained on this great continent forever… . While I mourn for Mr. Calhoun as a friend, I regard the political course of his later years as disastrous to his country and not honorable to his memory, although I believe he had persuaded himself that it was right, and that he acted from patriotic motives.26
But that voice was nowhere to be heard in 1933 when Calhoun College was named.
A similar story unfolded thirty years later at yet another university. In 1963, exactly a century after emancipation and just months before Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, Transylvania University, through what appears to have been a mixture of obliviousness and defiance, enshrined the memory of Jefferson Davis. The college named a new dormitory in his honor during a time of renewed neo-Confederate fervor.
Although Transylvania housed the same number of students as Harvard and Princeton in the 1820s, its subsequent growth was much slower. By the 1960s Transylvania had only doubled in size, to about eight hundred students, the bulk of the increase having been quite recent. The university responded by constructing two new dormitories, which were connected by a common room. At the opening ceremony, on November 16, 1963, Ben P. Eubank of Lexington, general contractor for the building, presented the keys to J. Douglas Gay, president of Transylvania’s board of curators (or trustees), who in turn presented them to university president Irvin E. Lunger. According to the Transylvania College Bulletin, “The dormitories have been named in honor of two distinguished Americans who had a close association with Transylvania.” Those two Americans, pictured on the cover of the dedication ceremony program, were former U.S. senator from Kentucky Henry Clay and Jefferson Davis.27
What induced Transylvania to honor Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, one hundred years after the Civil War? The answer might be found in the board of curators’ executive committee minutes from February 28, 1963, which contained the following entry: “Dr. Lunger reported an anonymous gift of $25,000 toward the new dormitory and recommended, in keeping with the request of the donor, that the new dormitory be named Jefferson Davis Hall since Jefferson Davis was a student at Transylvania … and since Transylvania is the repository of the Jefferson Davis letters. Dr. Lunger was instructed to express gratitude of the college to the donor.” In fact, Transylvania is among several repositories of Davis’s letters, and Davis never graduated from the university, having completed his studies at West Point. But those are minor details when compared to the larger issue: Who was that anonymous donor?28
At the same time the dormitory was named in honor of Davis, the college newspaper carried an article announcing that the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) had “voted unanimously to give a portrait of Jefferson Davis to Transylvania to be placed in the new Jefferson Davis Hall for men.” The article went on to observe, “The portrait, worthy of the great soldier and statesman and worthy of Transylvania, will be done by a well known portraitist and will be completed by the time the new Jefferson Davis Hall is ready for occupancy.”29 Is it possible the UDC also donated the money necessary to secure Davis’s name on the hall?30
Assuming the donor at Transylvania University was the UDC, the facts that they gave anonymously, that their gift represented less than 10 percent of construction costs, and that there was nothing like a contract formalizing their gift all make the situation at Transylvania barely comparable to the Calhoun naming at Yale. Yet there are two similarities between the naming at either institution that deserve our attention.
To begin with, Transylvania, like Yale, exhibited complete racial insensitivity. It is essential, of course, to understand the spirit of the times. First, in 1963, Transylvania College, like most small colleges at the time, struggled to attract students. It was common for these colleges to celebrate the names of famous graduates. Transylvania staff and alumni often boasted about the many historic figures who had attended (or worked at) the college; these included Henry Clay and Jefferson Davis, among many others. Actually, Transylvania bragged about Jefferson Davis until the very end of the twentieth century. The college’s primary publicity brochure, as late as 1999, opened with the observation, “Throughout its history, the University has educated leaders such as Stephen Austin, a founder of Texas; Cassius M. Clay, the fiery abolitionist; Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy … “ Readers might easily have concluded that, according to Transylvania at least, Cassius Clay was something of a troublemaker, while Davis was a dignitary. Although the task was to attract applicants, it is not hard to see that southern sensibilities die hard.
The second thing to bear in mind about the era is that some people on campus were eager to move forward with the times, to support civil rights. Many students, in particular, questioned the racial insensitivity of the era, especially as demonstrated by the Kappa Alpha fraternity. One of four fraternities on campus, Kappa Alpha held the annual Southern Ball, in full Confederate regalia, which glorified the “Old South.” The fraternity is devoted, even in the present, to the manners and memory of Robert E. Lee.31
In the 1963 Crimson, Transylvania’s annual, there is a photo of Kappa Alpha “guarding the flag on Robert E. Lee’s birthday.” The flag in question is the Confederate flag, flying atop a large flagpole on campus. But then as now, that group did not represent the whole. Then president of Transylvania, Irvin Lunger, spoke to the board of curators about the “racially exclusive character” of the college, insisting, “Transylvania has an obligation to be as tolerant in the area of race as in the field of religion.”32 By most accounts, there was a budding awareness on campus, especially among students, of racism in America. Actually, in 1963 Transylvania matriculated its first African American student, Lula Bee Morton. In a report to the board of trustees, President Lunger stated, “The policy of racial exclusiveness troubles the conscience of many of our best students and most valued faculty members. Let whatever policy we may finally endorse reflect our finest thought, our highest values and our trust in democracy.”33 Just six years later, students elected a black student, James Hurley, to be Mr. Pioneer, the college’s highest social honor for men.34
Third, in several interviews I conducted with Transylvania staff and alumni who were on campus when Jefferson Davis Hall was named and constructed, interviewees voiced a common sentiment: most people were so conditioned by their past that they just did not think clearly about “southern traditions.” One of the more articulate alumna of that era, an award-winning history major later known for her social justice work, reported: “Most of us at Transylvania were raised in the southern tradition, proud of our southern gentility and the reputations of our ancestors. Racism, often unconscious, was prevalent, even among the Transylvania students from the North. Many of us had great-grandfathers who fought with [the still revered rebel leader] John Hunt Morgan in the Confederate army.” When asked whether the Transylvania community stood in defiance to the civil rights movement, she added, “We were not so much defiantly defensive of the southern attitudes as thoughtlessly oblivious to the tides of time, to the injustices of racism, segregation, and blind to our own white privilege. Some among us were defiant, perhaps, like the Daughters of the Confederacy or the brothers of Kappa Alpha fraternity, but the majority of us were just thoughtless.”35
Finally, there is something else that gets lost when talking about southern ancestry. The same alumna also reported a discussion that took place among a number of Transylvania students during their graduate school years about the cultural racism in which they had been raised. A PhD candidate among them noted that the South was missing a generation, given how many died during the Civil War. Whereas most northerners at that time were four or more generations removed from the war, many in the South were only three (sometimes only two) generations removed from the death of family. Memories were closer, and the wounds remained deeper. “None of this is to condone racism, not even slightly,” said the alumna, “but it does provide context and help explain southern intransigence.”36
That both institutions were evidently oblivious to their racism might explain yet another similarity that exists between the naming of Calhoun College and Davis Hall, which is that these names caused almost no resistance at either university. The Transylvania University newspaper certainly evidences no resistance to the Davis name. Indeed, there appears to have been no controversy anywhere in Kentucky regarding the naming of Davis Hall at Transylvania University.
Actually, to the extent there ever was any contention over the name of Davis Hall, it came many years later due to an ugly racial incident on the Transylvania campus. In 1999 a racial slur written on the door of an African American student’s dorm room at Transylvania touched off a prolonged furor. In response, university officials decided to remove a floor-to-ceiling portrait of Jeff Davis that hung in the foyer of Davis Hall, the very same portrait donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.37 The removal so agitated some from the community that they issued threats against college officials, threats that were so upsetting to the parties involved that all correspondence related to this matter was destroyed, and the recipients would not speak to me of the matter when I became president twelve years later.38
On April 9, 2001, university president Charles Shearer submitted an article to the local newspaper, stating, “We embrace our history and those alumni who played prominent roles in our country’s past. At the same time, we want every Transylvania student to feel embraced by a campus environment that emphasized respect and civility.” A columnist for the Lexington Herald Leader suggested various solutions to the problem, including these words: “The Confederacy is a vital part of Lexington’s heritage. Jefferson Davis was a great leader, but he was misguided. We realize this now, because we have the benefit of historical perspective, which makes most failures seem inevitable. We cannot toss history aside simply because we now know better.” Indeed. Even more to the point, as Transylvania student Chris McClellan wrote in the college newspaper, “The ideas I found most challenging and uncomfortable were the ones that led me to learning the most.”39 That is clearly the spirit toward which any good university must strive.
Yet, sadly, that spirit did not inform events at Yale occurring precisely when Transylvania struggled with the memory of Jefferson Davis. Three graduate students at Yale wrote a research report, entitled “Yale, Slavery, and Abolition,” published by the Amistad Committee on August 13, 2001.40 The report claimed that Yale University relied upon slave-trading money for fellowships, professorships, and the library endowment. The university contested much of the report. At a conference in 2002, cosponsored by Yale Law School and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, most of the accusations proffered by the report went largely ignored. Curiously, very few of the claims within the report were even mentioned, the bulk of the conference having been devoted to a general examination of slavery rather than Yale’s ties to slavery.41
That report, when combined with Yale’s tepid response, motivated my campaign to change the name of Calhoun College, mentioned at the outset of this chapter. The idea I proposed was that Yale amend the name of Calhoun College to Calhoun/Bouchet College, thus adding the name of Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first African American to receive a doctorate, which he did at Yale in 1876.42 Alas, at the time I was unable to even convince my friend Jonathan Holloway, an African American historian and master of Calhoun College from 2005 through 2014. He has, however, publicly acknowledged that Calhoun College “is named for someone who I find repugnant.”43
It would appear that the naming of Calhoun College at Yale in 1933 and Davis Hall at Transylvania in 1963, as well as the controversy concerning both in 2001, are all of a piece with the American story, a story significantly shaped by racism. For over a century following emancipation, the South set the tone of American memory regarding slavery. As a nation, we have regularly tried to forget slavery, even as we fondly remember those who defended it. The myth of the Lost Cause, or what Robert Penn Warren termed the Great Alibi, romanticized the reasons for war and transformed the “rebel yell” into an underdog’s heroic cry. Organizations such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy simultaneously glorified antebellum southern gentility, vilified the era of Reconstruction, and minimized the brutality of slavery. As David Blight so effectively demonstrated in Race and Reunion, America was everywhere “forging unifying myths and making remembering safe.” Safe was defined in a way that “Southern victory over Reconstruction replaced Union victory in the war and Jim Crow laws replaced the Fourteenth Amendment in their places of honor in national memory.”44 The same pattern of compromise that enabled Americans to live with slavery also allowed them to forget it. As observed by W. E. B. Du Bois in a chapter from Black Reconstruction in America (1935) entitled “The Propaganda of History,” Americans “fell under the leadership of those who would compromise with truth in the past in order to make peace in the present and guide policy in the future.”45
By 1933, when Calhoun College was named, race relations in America were arguably as bad as they had ever been. Beginning early in the twentieth century, insensitivity and hatred toward blacks became America’s lingua franca. Stamped as inferior, black people were expected to comply with a perverse “step-and-fetch-it” etiquette. A distorted image of blacks based on a song-and-dance routine, “Jumpin’ Jim Crow,” became synonymous with a codified system intended to segregate the races.46 Worse, not only did popular literature, minstrel acts, and vaudeville shows represent blacks as buffoons, but films like The Birth of a Nation (1915) incited whites to vigilantism. Membership in the Ku Klux Klan soared.47 The anti-immigration movement (exemplified by books such as Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy ) licensed lynching. Between 1880 and 1930, thousands of blacks were exterminated. As historian Leon Litwack has pointed out, “Not even a liberal president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was willing to endanger his southern white support by endorsing [antilynching] legislation,” which was scuttled by filibustering in the U.S. Senate precisely when Yale contemplated the name of Calhoun.48 It is thus no surprise that when Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone with the Wind lamented the loss of southern culture, that wind carried away with it the reality of slavery.
Such strained race relations cleared the way for rehabilitation of the Confederate image. Interest in the antebellum South was everywhere apparent. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation began restoration of what was to become perhaps the most famous residence in America. As Stephen Knott suggested, “Monticello was, in a larger sense, emblematic of the twentieth-century airbrushing of history by Jeffersonian politicians and scholars.” The American Mercury reported on a Confederate reunion and pondered whether a better era had long since passed: “Maybe, after all, they should have won the War… . It would have given us a technique of leisure, a calmer estimate of life’s values.”49
Yale was significantly responsible for this rewriting of history. Among the faculty at Yale—at the very time the university chose names for its new colleges—was the famous American historian U. B. Phillips, who wrote positively about the plantation culture of the Old South in American Negro Slavery (1918). According to Phillips’s account, slavery was a benign, if inefficient, labor system that lifted blacks from the barbarism of Africa. That view proved easy to accept, encouraging Americans increasingly to forgot the grim realities of slavery. Calhoun could be less remembered for his defense of slavery and more for his central role in national politics.
Yale University needed names for its new colleges, and the selection of those names provided an opportunity to emphasize Yale’s intellectual heritage and hierarchical stature. Over time, it became increasingly convenient—and easy—to forget Calhoun’s “peculiar institution.” During the 1930s students at Yale developed a local culture around the new colleges, giving each a nickname. Pierson College’s white-painted courtyard, “reminiscent of slave quarters on a Carolina plantation, suggested ‘Slaves.’” A nickname of Slaves presented little threat for young men of privilege. As the Depression dragged on, only the wealthy went to college at all, let alone to an elite private college.50 White supremacy solidified its position in America as the nation developed an intense amnesia regarding the injustices of slavery.
By 1963, when Transylvania University named Davis Hall, the racism of previous decades had turned into defiance in some parts of the country. On June 11 of that year, Governor George Wallace stood in a doorway at the University of Alabama and symbolically denied admission to two black students. In Lexington, Kentucky, where Transylvania is located, the University of Kentucky’s staunchly segregationist basketball coach, Adolph Rupp, refused to recruit black players, much to the evident approval of Confederate flag–waving fans.51 All of this is anecdotal, but it confirms southern belligerence. Whether the board and administration of Transylvania were themselves openly defiant or just casually complicit may never be known.
In my capacity as the new president of Transylvania University in 2011, I received the following petition from the faculty:
Resolved: Whereas Jefferson Davis has historical relevance as the political leader of the Confederate States of America, he also directed [as CSA commander in chief] the military effort to defend a society characterized and sustained by race-based slavery. Because Jefferson Davis is associated with the painful legacy of slavery, we find it inappropriate for Transylvania University to continue to honor him by maintaining his name on a campus residence hall. Therefore, the faculty of Transylvania University requests that the administration develop a plan to change the name of Davis Residence Hall by May 2012.
This is strikingly similar to claims I made about Calhoun College while a graduate student at Yale. It sickened me then that Yale honored Calhoun, seventy-five years after the Civil War, just as it sickens me now that Transylvania paid homage to Davis at the height of the civil rights movement. Nevertheless, by the time I received this petition, I had come to believe that it would be a mistake for Yale to drop the name Calhoun from its residential college because, like the Transylvania resolution, it would invite “bad” or incomplete history.
The Transylvania resolution is clearly correct, of course, that “Jefferson Davis is associated with the painful legacy of slavery,” perhaps more than any other person. Where the resolution is incorrect, I believe, is in suggesting that we “continue to honor [Davis] by maintaining his name on a campus residence hall.” At this point, what we must honor is the truth, and the painful truth is that racism existed throughout the twentieth century and continues in substantial measure to exist today. Most of us hate the thought of living with names like Calhoun and Davis, just as we detest the racism that made it acceptable to honor them. But until we have truly extirpated racism from our culture and society, we need these reminders. Slavery, the Confederacy, and postemancipation racism are all embarrassingly real elements of our nation’s past; it is essential that we not forget any of it. Keeping Calhoun’s and Davis’s names around makes it harder to forget the injustices of our past.
Were Transylvania to indeed change the name of Davis Hall, I would suggest something similar to what I ultimately proposed when at Yale. Let us not erase either the Calhoun or the Davis name; rather, let us hold on to them as reminders of nineteenth-century slavery and twentieth-century racism. Let us use these names as springboards for education. Complicate the names by adding to them, perhaps, but do not whitewash or eliminate them altogether.
In response to the faculty petition, I recommended a combined name, but without suggesting a particular person. I also suggested that Transylvania celebrate its fiftieth year of integration with a mixture of academic panels and ceremonies starting in the fall of 2012. As part of those proceedings, we invited our first African American student, now Dr. Lula Morton Drewes and a teacher in Germany, to deliver the 2012 convocation speech; we also granted her an honorary doctorate in what became a very inspiring and emotional commencement in 2013.
It is worth briefly mentioning that there is a name of relevance to both Yale and Transylvania that could have been added to either Calhoun College or Davis Hall: Cassius Marcellus Clay.52 Clay attended Transylvania and Yale from 1828 to 1832. Unlike his slightly older cousin Henry, “the Great Compromiser,” who taught at Transylvania’s law school, served on the board of trustees for most of his adult life, and also had a building named for him on the campus, Cassius was unwilling to compromise with slaveholders or slave states. He was an exceptional southern aristocrat who risked life and wealth for antislavery. When his emancipationist views cost him his seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives, he started an antislavery newspaper entitled the True American. His is a name that, when coupled with Calhoun or Davis, would invite a more reflective discourse about slavery and racism on our campuses. It might make even better sense to add the name of one of the enslaved men and women that Jefferson Davis once owned.
Neither Yale nor Transylvania followed my suggestions. In 2014 I stepped down as president of Transylvania. In 2015 Transylvania demolished Jefferson Davis and Henry Clay Halls, replacing them with Bassett Hall and Pioneer Hall. Bassett Hall is named for James E. “Ted” Bassett III, a longtime member of the board of trustees who provided the project’s initial leadership gift. Pioneer is a reference to the school’s mascot. No public acknowledgment was made of the earlier controversy about Jefferson Davis.53 In 2017, following the removal of Confederate flags and monuments around the country in the wake of the June 2015 white supremacist shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, and extensive student protests that fall and into 2016, Yale University renamed Calhoun Hall for Grace Murray Hopper. Hopper, a Yale graduate, was a leader in developing the earliest computer languages. She served in the navy during World War II as a naval reservist and then on active duty again at age sixty until her retirement as rear admiral at age seventy-nine, the oldest serving officer of the U.S. Armed Forces at the time. In addition, Yale named a newly built college for Anna Pauline, or Pauli, Murray, an African American civil rights activist and the first black woman to be ordained a priest in the Episcopalian Church.54 It is hard to imagine that these names will ever invoke the same enmity as Davis and Calhoun.
But honoring and remembering are not the same. Not so long ago, the leaders of Yale and Transylvania honored John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis. Today, we are embarrassed by the memory of them both, but that does not give us license to forget. Insofar as their names on our campuses make us squirm, they also invite us to confront the legacy of racial injustice that we inherit from them. We not only have to contend with the fact that men like Calhoun and Davis defended slavery; we also have to explain how their successors comfortably accepted, decades after emancipation, buildings whose names evoked that repulsive institution. In changing the names, do we evade that challenge?
The very soul of a nation is rooted in memory. But memory, like history, is a complicated and fallible narrative, vulnerable to error and manipulation. As a monument describes a subject from the past it also defines the values of the present. Stated another way, memorials speak of the past but to the present and future. There is no limit to the myriad forces—government officials, academics, corporate chieftains, journalists, historical societies, to name but a few—vying for control of a nation’s collective image.
The natural impulse for any group or organization is to marginalize, reconfigure, mock, or simply dismiss any reflection that undermines its legitimacy. Ernest Renan highlighted what is perhaps the defining element in this process. “Forgetting,” he suggested, “is an essential factor in the creation of a nation, and that is why progress in historical research is often a threat to nationality.”55 Americans purchased their nationality at a great cost. By honoring Calhoun and Davis when they did, Yale and Transylvania dishonored themselves and committed a true disservice to the nation. By forgetting the inhumanity of slavery, both universities perpetuated racism and postponed racial justice. In erasing the evidence of these twentieth-century acts, do we leave ourselves open to twenty-first-century forgetting?
1. The rather short path from graduate school to the president’s office can be partly explained by the fact that I started graduate school at the age of forty-eight after a twenty-four-year career in investment banking. Transylvania University is located in Lexington, Kentucky. During the Civil War, Kentucky was a Border State with intensely divided loyalties. As in America at large, families fought within and among themselves over whether to side with the Union or the Confederacy. Historians often jest that Kentucky joined the Confederacy only after the Confederacy lost the war.
2. Secretary of War John C. Calhoun appointed Jefferson Davis to the United States Military Academy in 1824. The two men’s relationship remained close throughout their lives. Indeed, Davis sponsored Calhoun for president in 1844.
3. For biographies of John C. Calhoun, see especially Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun: Nationalist, 1782–1828 (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1944); Wiltse, John C. Calhoun: Nullifier, 1829–1839 (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1949); Wiltse, John C. Calhoun: Section-alist, 1840–1850 (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1951); Margaret L. Coit, John C. Calhoun: American Portrait (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950); and John Niven, John C. Calhoun and the Price of Union (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988). The disease that kept Calhoun from the graduation ceremony was most likely yellow fever (Wiltse, Nationalist, 1782–1828, 34). According to Niven, “Calhoun was obsessed with the issue of slavery” (John C. Calhoun, 3). Calhoun’s father owned thirty-one slaves in 1790, when John was eight years old (ibid., 11).
4. As Charles Wiltse observed, “Calhoun had become by 1840 a man with one fixed idea about which all else revolved. He would save the Union if he could, but first he would save the South” (Sectionalist, 1840–1850, 22). For a more complete understanding of Calhoun’s political philosophy, see Merrill Peterson, The Jefferson Image in the American Mind (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960), chap. 1; Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1955), 132–81; Richard Hofstadter, The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It (1943; New York: Knopf, 1996), 67–91; William Freehling, Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816–1836 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965); August O. Spain, The Political Theory of John C. Calhoun (New York: Bookman, 1951).
5. Richard K. Crallé, ed., The Works of John C. Calhoun, 6 vols. (New York: D. Appleton, 1864–74), 4:348.
6. Reg. Deb., 24th Cong., 2nd sess., 718–19.
7. Cong. Globe, 27th Cong., 1st sess., 806.
8. Calhoun argued against the evil of slavery with Senator Rives from Virginia on February 6, 1837 (Papers, 13:390). On another occasion, he argued with Senator King from Georgia regarding the threat of abolitionist petitions (Papers, 13:73). For quotes on slavery, see Papers, 13:390, 63, 108, 24:252–53.
9. It has become common to link the expression “peculiar institution” with Kenneth Stampp’s 1956 book of the same name, but it was Calhoun himself, in several speeches of the 1830s, who coined the term.
10. David Potter, “Jefferson Davis and the Political Factors in Confederate Defeat,” in Why the North Won the Civil War, ed. David Donald (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1960), 91–114.
11. William J. Cooper Jr., Jefferson Davis, American (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), 24.
12. Restoration of Citizenship Rights to Jefferson Davis, S. J. Res. 16, October 17, 1978.
13. Restoration of Citizenship Rights to Jefferson F. Davis Statement on Signing S. J. Res. 16 into Law, Pub. L. No. 95-466.
14. Edward S. Harkness was the son of Stephen V. Harkness, original investor with John D. Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Company. Edward donated $20 million to his alma mater, Yale.
15. Of the seven colleges opened in 1933, only two were named after graduates of Yale College. There are a total of twelve residential colleges at Yale, two of which opened in 1935 and one in 1940. The final two (Morse and Stiles) were constructed in the 1960s. Some colleges were named to honor important figures from the early years in the New Haven colony (Trumbull) or because they helped give rise to Yale (Berkeley and Davenport); some were named for faculty or administrators (Silliman, Pierson, and Dwight—two Timothy Dwights graduated from Yale, the first in the class of 1769 and then his grandson in the class of 1849, and both went on to become presidents of the university); while other colleges were named to honor significant places in Yale’s history (Branford and Say-brook). Of the total twelve colleges, six are named for graduates of the college. Secretary Lohmann’s quote is taken from Minutes of the Education Policy Committee, RU 24, box 70, file 716, Minutes of Meeting February 6, 1931, Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Library, Yale University. (Hereafter only the file and not the archive will be noted.)
16. The class of 1933 enrolled 849; class of 1934, 846; class of 1935, 882; and the class of 1936, 838. These were the first classes to occupy the residential colleges.
17. This committee was also referred to as simply the Committee on Names or the Committee on Nomenclature. For terminology, see February 8, 1930, letter to Harkness and February 25 Seymour letter to Malcolm Aldrich, Provost Files, RU 38, box 5, file 72. For establishment of committees, see Minutes of Education Policy Committee, April 10, 1931, RU 24, box 70, file 716.
18. Minutes of Yale Corporation, April 11, 1931, and May 9, 1931 (microfiche), Yale Manuscripts and Archives. It is curious that the Education Policy Committee had voted to provide the corporation with five, not just four, names, including a name that was ultimately selected, Jonathan Edwards, but was not among those reported to the corporation. See Minutes of Education Policy Committee, RU 24, box 70, file 716. It is also important to note that the subcommittee on names did not keep records or minutes, so the specifics of their deliberations are unknown. According to George Wilson Pierson, Yale: The University College, 1921–1937 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1955), 406, the committee “kept no minutes as they found themselves in ready agreement and the thing carried itself along.” Given the total lack of notes, Pierson is obviously speculating about the presence or lack of consensus.
19. William Howard Taft was the twenty-seventh president of the United States, from 1909 to 1913, and the tenth chief justice of the Supreme Court, from 1921 until his death in 1930, just months before the naming of Calhoun College. Not only was Taft the first Yale grad to reach either office, he had a long record of service to the university that went well beyond the two years Calhoun spent in New Haven as a student. Taft was a member of the Yale Corporation, or board of trustees, from 1906 to 1913 and again from 1922 to 1925. Though Taft was the most obvious civil servant Yale might have honored instead of Calhoun, there were others: Oliver Wolcott, secretary of the treasury; John Middleton Clayton, secretary of state; and Samuel Jones Tilden, governor of New York and Democratic candidate for president in 1876.
20. The record is quiet as to the actual deliberations over names. We do not know which names (other than those selected) were considered nor which were rejected. Given that it was the New Deal era, it is certainly conceivable that some members of the naming committee wanted to celebrate Calhoun’s repudiation of federal authority, but there is no evidence available to make that case.
21. New York Times Magazine, November 19, 1933, 5.
22. Harkness Hoot, October 7, 1931, italics mine. To characterize bad taste as “negroid” obviously speaks volumes about the times, as will be considered below.
23. The brochure pertaining to Calhoun College could be found in the master’s office at the college, which is where I found it in 2006. For various reasons (building renovations, changing of the college name, and turnover in the master’s office), it seems the document no longer exists.
24. While archivists at Yale believe this article is indeed from the Yale Daily News, there is no evidence of either date or authorship, nor are there official files at Yale that corroborate the story. Yet the original article can be found within a scrapbook collection housed in the Calhoun master’s office.
25. These observations come from a telephone interview I did with Edwin Clapp, class of 1936, in 2006. Like many of his classmates, Clapp had been previously educated at a boarding school; in his case at Andover.
26. Silliman’s diary, April 7, 1850, as taken from George Fisher, Life of Benjamin Silliman (New York: Scribner, 1866), 97–99, italics mine.
27. For part of its 232-year history, from 1915 to 1965, Transylvania University went by the name Transylvania College. For the opening ceremony program and Transylvania College Bulletin 36, no. 6 (October 1963), see Special Collections, Transylvania Library.
28. John D. Wright Jr., author of Transylvania: Tutor to the West (1975; Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2006) and the college historian of note, told me in an interview on February 20, 2012, that he has no knowledge of the donor’s identity. He did attend the naming ceremony for Davis Hall and confirms that there was no resistance to the name of the hall from anyone, including the many northern members of the faculty at Transylvania.
29. Rambler, April 15, 1963, Special Collections, Transylvania Library.
30. While we cannot know for sure, it seems more than possible that the UDC orchestrated the naming of Davis Hall. They had certainly funded construction of dormitories at other colleges. In 1933, for example, during the Great Depression and at the same time Yale was honoring John C. Calhoun, the UDC provided $50,000 (one-third of the construction costs) to build Confederate Memorial Hall at Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, to benefit female descendants of Confederate veterans. It is worth briefly noting that, after acquiring Peabody College in 1979, Vanderbilt University conducted a $2.5 million renovation of Confederate Memorial Hall and considered dropping “Confederate” from its name. But no change took place until, in 2002, newly installed President Gordon Gee dropped “Confederate” from Confederate Memorial Hall, thus generating a lawsuit that forced Vanderbilt to reinstate and preserve the full name. For the full story of Confederate Memorial Hall and the resulting lawsuit, see Alfred L. Brophy, “The Law and Morality of Building Renaming,” South Texas Law Review 52, no. 37 (2010): 46–51. While instructive for Transylvania, this case is sufficiently unusual as to not apply as relevant precedent.
31. The Varlet: Kappa Alpha Order, 12th ed. (Lexington: Kappa Alpha Order National Administrative Office, 2010). From the very first page comes this: “Kappa Alpha Order seeks to create a lifetime experience which centers on reverence to God, duty, honor, character and gentlemanly conduct as inspired by Robert E. Lee, our spiritual leader.”
32. Report of the President to the Board of Curators, December 10, 1960, Transylvania Archives.
33. Quote taken from the Transylvania Rambler, “Transy Integrates in ’63,” February 15, 1996, a copy of which is in the “Jefferson Davis” file in Special Collections.
34. John Wright, Tutor to the West (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1980), 416–17.
35. Conversations and emails exchanged with alums on January 26, 2013. Not wanting to bring attention to themselves or fearful they might alienate others in the community, these people asked not to be named.
36. This alumna asked not to be named. Fear is still a constant for many people on this issue.
37. In my communications with former president Charles Shearer, he requested that mention be made of the rehanging of the portrait in Mitchells Fine Arts Center, elsewhere on campus, so as to make clear that “we did not take it down and store it.” Letter of February 6, 2013, now in Jefferson Davis File, Special Collections.
38. Only a few of those communications—either the letters and/or anonymous communications written on scraps of paper—can be found in files on the incident housed at Special Collections, Transylvania University. One such note, addressed on the envelope to “President of Jefferson Davis Hating Transylvania University,” depicts a hand-drawn Confederate flag with the words “Honor it, or Resign. Honor Jefferson Davis. Shame on you.” A letter from a commander of the Kentucky division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans dated April 13, 2001, boldly insists that removal of the portrait “has greatly distressed and offended Southerners.”
39. These articles are on file in Special Collections at the Transylvania Library. Charles Shearer, Herald Leader, April 9, 2001; Cheryl Truman, April 7, 2001; Chris McClellan, Rambler.
40. Antony Dugdale, J. J. Feuser, and J. Celso de Castro Alves, “Yale, Slavery and Abolition,” Amistad Committee, New Haven, Connecticut, 2001. For more on the report, see “Slave Traders in Yale’s Past Fuel Debate on Restitution,” New York Times, August 13, 2001.
41. I attended every session of that conference and, like many other present, was shocked by the extent to which the university obfuscated.
42. Edward Alexander Bouchet was the sixth American to receive a PhD in physics and the first African American nominated to Phi Beta Kappa.
43. “Naming a New Yale,” Yale Herald, October 12, 2012.
44. David Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001), 9, 361. Gaines Foster suggested that the Lost Cause, what he called the “Confederate celebration,” “allowed southerners to distance themselves from the issues of the war without repudiating the veterans.” Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865–1913 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 196. Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War (1961; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 53–55.
45. W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880 (1935; New York: Free Press, 1998), 721, 722, 727, italics mine. There is an African proverb that seems appropriate here: “As long as the lion does not have his own historian, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
46. The song “Jumpin’ Jim Crow” was created a century earlier by a white minstrel named Thomas “Daddy” Rice. Leon Litwack, Trouble in Mind (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), xiv.
47. Membership in the Klan grew from five thousand in 1911 to five million in 1925. The Ku Klux Klan most likely takes its name from the Greek word kuklos, meaning “the circle.” It is more popularly believed to come from an onomatopoeic representation of the three separate sounds made when loading a breech-loading rifle.
48. Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (New York: Scribner’s, 1920). Postwar movements like “the Red scare,” which thanks to people like Stoddard had a large following in the early 1920s, contributed significantly to the growth of the Ku Klux Klan. Leon Litwack, Trouble in Mind (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), chap. 6; this chapter can also be found in Without Sanctuary (Santa Fe: Twin Palm Publishers, 2000), 33. Stephen Knott pointed out that “Franklin Roosevelt’s desire to secure the support of the South for a transitory political coalition” prompted him to champion celebrations of Thomas Jefferson. Stephen Knott, Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002), 213.
49. Knott, Persistence of Myth, 211; American Mercury 18 (March 1929): 358.
50. Pierson, Yale, 430. Slightly more than 75 percent of all Yale students during those years had gone to (northern) private preparatory schools, 50 percent from just eleven institutions. Furthermore, more than one in four Yale students had fathers or grandfathers who had also attended Yale. Department of Personnel Study, December 15, 1932, RU 38, box 3, file 38.
51. I am told by former sports writer Billy Reed that Rupp, who saw that times were changing and was tired of losing to teams that included black players, recruited a black player from Louisville, Westley Unseld, in 1964. According to Reed, that did not stop the local paper, the Herald Leader, and its editor, Fred Wachs, from relegating “black news” to one column buried in the paper. Reed, who worked at the paper at the time, states that Wachs “told his editors to either not run or play down stories about the civil rights movement, and the riots in the cities, because he figured that if Lexington’s blacks didn’t read them, they wouldn’t be inclined to follow suit. It apparently never dawned on him that blacks owned TV and radio sets” (email from Reed, February 2, 2013).
52. Yale University grants Cassius Marcellus Clay Fellowships, one of which I was fortunate enough to hold, but the profile of that program pales in significance to the prominence of Calhoun College.
53. “New Transylvania Residence Hall to Be Named after Former Keene-land President,” News@Transy, April 13, 2015, http://www.transy.edu/news/new-transylvania-residence-hall-be-named-after-former-keeneland-president.
54. Andy Newman and Vivian Wang, “Calhoun Who? Yale Drops Name of Slavery Advocate for Computer Pioneer,” New York Times, September 3, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/03/nyregion/yale-calhoun-college-grace-hopper.html. In an opinion piece in the Yale Daily News, Jonathan Holloway, dean of Yale College, stated, “After so many years of taking the increasingly uncomfortable position that the name of the college should not be changed, I am certain that the Corporation made the right decision” (“Looking Back on Calhoun,” Yale Daily News, February 13, 2017, https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2017/02/13/holloway-looking-back-on-calhoun/).
55. Ernest Renan, Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? (Paris: Ancienne Maison Michel Levy, 1882), chap. 1, penultimate paragraph: «L’oubli et je dirai même l’erreur historique, sont un facteur essential de la formation d’une nation, et c’est ainsi que le progrès des études historiques est souvent pour la nationalité un danger» (my translation).