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This Week in Princeton History for November 27-December 3

By April C. Armstrong *14

In this week’s installment in our recurring series, Princeton’s colors are controversial, a farmer seeks help finding a poultry thief, and more.

November 27, 1888—San Francisco’s Daily Evening Bulletin summarizes remarks made by David R. Sessions, Class of 1870, at a recent alumni dinner at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco. Sessions spoke on how welcoming Princeton had been to a former Confederate soldier, the Bulletin reports:

After four years’ service in the war, forgetting everything else except that which seemed right for his country, Mr. Sessions said he returned to Princeton rather doubtful as to the kind of a welcome he would receive. But Dr. McLane [Maclean] had received him with open arms.

November 30, 1895—Allan Marquand, Class of 1874, has the campus and alumni abuzz with his argument that the institution should abandon orange and black as its colors and switch to orange and blue, a more historically accurate combination than the one that was adopted 20 years earlier.

Image of two tigers holding a shield with an image of a cannon and pipes; text reads "Class Day Exercises June 21st, 1886"
Though orange and black were ultimately the predominant color scheme at Princeton, this was by no means a fully settled issue in the late 19th century, as may be seen in the graphics on the program for 1886’s Class Day exercises. Here, orange, black, and blue together represent Princeton. Princeton University Class Records (AC130), Box 24.
John D. Sweeney '36
John D. Sweeney ’36. Photo from 1936 Nassau Herald.

December 1, 1936—John D. Sweeney ’36 is named “Pensioner No. 1” in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s new social security program for the elderly. In 42 years, he will be eligible for the $85 per month pension. (Unfortunately for Sweeney, his untimely death in 1974 at the age of 61 will mean he will never actually receive social security benefits, though his widow will collect benefits based on his work until 1982.)

December 3, 1846—A local farmer from whom a reported 17 turkeys, 10 chickens, and four ducks have been stolen decides to solicit help in apprehending the culprit by putting an ad in the Nassau Monthly. He promises a reward of $1.75 to students who return his poultry or provide information leading to the thieves.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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