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This Week in Princeton History for September 26-October 2

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, Jewish students set aside a day for volunteering, an alum causes a stir with a political speech, and more.

September 27, 1998—The Center for Jewish Life hosts “Mitzvah Day,” sending four groups of students out on local volunteer projects. There is high participation among students, organizers believe, because the day takes place during the High Holy Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Students participating in “Mitzvah Day” by helping to build low income housing in Princeton, 1998. Photo from the Daily Princetonian.

September 29, 1807—A junior is brought before the faculty on the charge that he kicked another student. He admits to kicking him, but says he was justified because of relentless “insults and abuses” from the student he kicked. Though many witnesses corroborate the story about the verbal abuse, “he was reprimanded before the faculty for resorting to that mode of obtaining satisfaction.”

September 30, 1835—Nicholas Biddle (Class of 1801) causes a stir with his address to the alumni. He urges his audience to preserve America in the face of internal enemies (i.e., Andrew Jackson and his supporters):

Confront its betrayers, as madmen are made to quail beneath the stern gaze of fearless reason. They will denounce you. Disregard their outcries—it is only the scream of the vultures whom you scare from their prey. They will seek to destroy you. Rejoice that your country’s enemies are yours. You can never fail more worthily than in defending her from her own degenerate children. … The avenging hour will at last come. It cannot be that our free nation can long endure the vulgar dominion of ignorance and profligacy. You will live to see the laws re-established—these banditti will be scourged back to their caverns—the penitentiary will reclaim their fugitives in office, and the only remembrance which history will preserve of them is the energy with which you resisted and defeated them.

His remarks will later be published in the Hartford Times, which will italicize his conclusion.

October 1, 1892—A report in the Trenton Times describes two Princeton students at a hearing following their arrest for larceny for attempting to steal a sign: “They are two sissy-looking youths. Both had their hair banged and parted in the middle, and wore little dinky boy hats, very much resembling fried eggs.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

Fact check: We always strive for accuracy, but if you believe you see an error, please contact us.


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