David Starr Jordan.

The days of a man : being memories of a naturalist, teacher, and minor prophet of democracy online

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part of a very lengthy ancient break probably ex-
tending through Bering Sea on the north to Pata-
gonia on the south. 2 Our particular disturbance From
visibly concerned only a stretch of 192 miles in a
straight line (mainly on land) running from the
mouth of Alder Creek in Mendocino County to
San Juan Bautista in San Benito.

As a natural phenomenon it decreased progressively
in violence from Mendocino down. Beyond San Juan
its effects could be traced by the fall of chimneys as
far as Priest Valley, forty miles to the south; and the
town clock at San Bernardino, on the same line but
400 miles farther on, is said to have stopped at just
thirteen minutes after five on the morning in ques-
tion. The great earthquake of 1868 was caused by a Rift of
rift which extended from above San Francisco still l868
farther southward through the Carisa Desert in San
Luis Obispo County to the mountains of Los Pinos in
Ventura County. The ancient break, however, really
runs by way of Cajon Pass, San Bernardino, San
Jacinto, and Imperial Valley, to and through the
Gulf of California.

In the San Andreas fault as probably in all
similar breaks hundreds of thousands of earth-
quakes, large and small, have taken place in geologic

1 First traced and studied (so far as I know) by Dr. Branner in the '90*8.

z Such, at least, is the view maintained by Dr. F. Omori, a distinguished
seismologist of Japan, who came to California immediately after the earthquake
and who regards the great temblor in Chile which followed on August 17 as
occurring in the same rift.



The Days of a Man 1906

time; the aggregate vertical displacement, as shown
by the rock strata on either side, exceeds half a mile,
although in the last two outbreaks there has been no
change of level on either side. In 1906, displacement
was purely horizontal, the west side moving north-
ward a distance ranging from about one foot in Mon-
terey County to twenty-four in Mendocino. From the
Lava rift in past eras masses of molten rock have flowed
out; serpentine, basalt, and black lava appear at
intervals from San Francisco southward. Such out-
flows, being harder than the bordering sandstones,
heal the tear in a fashion, so that each succeeding out-
break occurs a little farther west.

Within a few days, accompanied by Mrs. Jordan,
I started out to trace the new crack southward from
Tomales Bay near its northern limit on land
and to secure a goodly number of photographs.
During this process one came to have some under-
standing of primitive psychology, for it was difficult
not to think of the general devastation along the
sinuous line as the trail of a monster bent on destruc-
Skock in- tion. As a matter of fact, however, the event must
neouTfor nave been instantaneous for the whole 192 miles, and
192 miles the damage wrought throughout was greatly aggra-
vated by the interference of waves spreading from
every point in the total length of the rift. These
augmenting, neutralizing, overriding, and otherwise
modifying one another, the final result was a violent
twisting motion, the most remarkable feature of the
disturbance. The belt of destruction extended from
twenty to fifty miles on either side, with gradually
diminishing effect. At Stanford we are about four
miles from the fault which lies along the base of the
Sierra Morena.
C 182 3



1906] Following the Rift

Its surface appearance everywhere depended en- Surface
tirely on the nature of the overlying soil, and was
thus locally subject to all sorts of aberrations. In
marshy ground ponds were formed. On hillsides the
lower edge of the crack fell away like a driveling lip,
leaving an open chasm. Often it assumed the aspect
of a great raw furrow. On hard level ground it clapped
tightly together and was marked by only a low track
suggesting the burrow of a mole.

Parallel cracks toyed with miles of the North Shore
Railroad, which runs along Tomaies Bay. At Mar- Bay
shall, the most northern point of our observation, the
humble hotel was thrown bodily and upright
into the Bay, its guests escaping without serious in-
jury. One of the fishermen said that the water first
went out, leaving his boat in the mud, then came
back in a great wave "which looked a hundred feet
high, but which was probably not more than ten."
At Point Reyes Station 1 the 5.15 for San Francisco
was about to start, with the conductor just swinging
himself aboard, when the coach gave a great lurch
away from him, followed by another in his direction
and throwing the whole train on its side.

At Skinner's Ranch near Olema, a row of large
cypresses formerly stood in front of the house, from
which they were separated by a little rose garden,
while to the south of all, four tall eucalyptus trees
were set in an oblique line. The rift having opened
directly east of the house, under the front doorstep
and between the third and fourth eucalyptus, the
whole building and the last tree were violently jerked
to the north, a distance of sixteen feet and seven
inches. Thus, had Skinner chanced to look out at the

1 At the head of the bay, some miles east of Point Reyes itself.

c 183 3



The Days of a Man 1906

right instant he would have seen the whole row of
cypresses apparently file past, and the rose garden
go with them, giving place to some raspberry bushes.
At the neighboring Shatter Ranch the earth yawned
in a corral where the men were engaged in milking
cows, one of which was engulfed, a pathetic tail
only indicating her fate, from which the superstitious
Portuguese dairymen made no attempt to rescue
her.

On Bolinas Bay the pretty Flagstaff Inn was
ca psi ze d into the water and completely wrecked.
r alley From there to Mussel Rock, southwest of San
Francisco, the rift lies under the sea four miles from
the Golden Gate. At Mussel Rock the cliff was torn
off, carrying down with it 4000 feet of newly graded
railroad. In the narrow valley of San Andreas,
holding the three great reservoirs of Crystal Springs
and San Andreas, the water mains were all wrecked,
though the dam separating the two (Crystal Springs)
lakes across the fault was so well built that the visible
crack dodged it by passing around along the bank at
its side and then returning to the former line of
direction.

From the Springs to Monte Bello, a distance of
about eight miles, devastation in the fertile valley of
Portola consisted of wrecked houses and the shifting
of line fences, both characteristic over the whole
course. In the hills to the southward along Los
Gatos Creek, roads were torn up and landslides
thrown down. On the Feely Ranch, some ten acres
of slipping land carried a herd of cattle into the
creek.

The long railway tunnel cutting under the saddle
from Wrights to Laurel was entirely wrecked, as was

C 184 H




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19063 Further Devastation

to be expected; it had from the first been the source
of much trouble because the rock through which it
passes has been crushed again and again by earth-
quakes. At Merrill's fruit ranch on the hill above, the
crack ripped up through the orchard, shifting the
rows of trees from six to eight feet and utterly ruining
the large, hospitable farmhouse, which stood over
the track and was split in two.

Farther on, at Skylands, Fern Gulch was filled with
wreckage, redwood trees four and five feet through, a
century or two old, having been snapped off like
whiplashes. Hinckley's Gulch, a narrow gorge a
hundred feet deep, was filled by landslips thrown
down from either side, completely burying the Loma
Prieta sawmill and nine mill hands to the depth of Buried
125 feet. Over the havoc towered intact a redwood men
tree one hundred feet high. During the clearing
away of the debris, the bodies of the foreman
and his Siberian mastiff were found smothered in
mud but erect and obviously caught in the act of
running.

Beyond the wooded hills the rift tore through the
cement railway bridge over the Pajaro River, shifting
a pier about eighteen inches (only) to the northwest.
Here the surface line became obscure, ceasing two End of
miles southwest of San Juan, at which place occurred the "f*
the partial wreck of the venerable Mission San Juan
Bautista. Shortly afterward I accepted with pleasure
an invitation from Catholics resident in that region
to speak in the old garden for the benefit of a restora-
tion fund, my topic being the story of the Franciscan
Missions. The following year, under the head of
"The California Earthquake of 1906," I edited a
volume containing my own account and that of

C 185 1



The Days of a Man D 9 o6

several other geologists, structural engineers, and
eye-witnesses. 1

As a remote consequence of the earthquake, San
Francisco inadvertently precipitated an international
complication. Chinatown having been wiped out by
fire, in the course of a year a new schoolhouse was
hastily provided for the district; but rebuilding was
slow, residents had not returned, and the teacher had
virtually no pupils. She therefore appealed to her
patron, Abraham Ruef, then unquestioned "boss"
of San Francisco, and according to the best informa-
tion I can secure the subservient school board promised
to provide a class. She accordingly asked that the
Japanese children of the Post Street region be sent
to her for instruction.
An In granting this request, the board announced the

esta blishment of an "Oriental school" for both
Chinese and Japanese children. Apparently they had
no thought of the storm to be provoked by this move,
taken, I am sure, without the least idea of discrediting
anybody. But the Japanese are very sensitive at
being in any way identified with the Chinese; the
local colony appealed to the newspapers at home,
some of which, after the fashion of yellow journals
everywhere, were eager for a new sensation, and the
affair thus assumed an international aspect. Never-
theless, it was the work of a purely local school board
over which neither state nor nation had any juris-
diction unless its action should be contrary to some
general law or treaty. The Japanese, however,
claimed that it did violate the "most favored nation"

1 Published by A. M. Robertson, San Francisco. The list of contributors
includes John Caspar Branner, Charles Derleth, Jr., Grove Karl Gilbert,
Stephen Tabef, 'F. Orhori, Harold W. Fairbanks, and Mary Austin.

E 186 3



19063 Complicated Misunderstanding

clause of an international agreement. In that case,
the natural remedy was to be found in the nearest
United States Court, not in appeals to the press
of Japan.

Meanwhile, to justify themselves, the board
invented the plea that separation of Japanese
children from American was in the interest of
morality, because half-grown Japanese boys had been
put in the same classes with little girls, to the injury
of the latter. In support of that contention an agent
went to the Clement Grammar School and photo- tactics
graphed Japanese lads from the upper grades
alongside with little ones of the kindergarten. But
even had such conditions existed, they could have
been easily remedied by a general ruling applicable
to all pupils.

Heated newspaper discussions now stirred up much
loose talk of war, and militarists cried for more
dreadnoughts. Then Roosevelt, being greatly an-
noyed by the whole matter, issued a warning to
California, excellent in purpose but unfortunately
threatening in tone, and therefore naturally resented Roosevelt's
by the people of the state, who were as a whole in no
way responsible. Finally, the President asked the
mayor, Eugene E. Schmitz, a henchman of Ruef, to
come to Washington to talk things over, meanwhile
canriily arranging to have him entertained by Vice-
President Fairbanks. The result of the conference
was the repeal of the offensive ordinance, the question
of its legality never being tested.

3

In 1906 Andrew Carnegie endowed "The Carnegie
Foundation for the Improvement of Teaching,"

C 187 3



The Days of a Man 1906

Carnegie devoting to it the sum of ten millions of dollars, the
Found*- earnings of which were to be used for the establish-

tionjor r . r i T r r

the im- ment of a pension system tor the relief of institutions
prwement of higher education (in the United States and Canada)

of Teach- > t i r

ing under private management and at the same time free

from direct control by any religious denomination.
With the exception of his nephew, Thomas Morrison
Carnegie, and two business associates, Frank A.
Vanderlip and Robert Franks, the original board of
trustees appointed by the donor was composed of
university presidents, among whom I had the honor
to be one.

At the first meeting, held on Carnegie's birthday,
November 25, at his personal request Dr. Henry S.
Pritchett, then president of the Massachusetts Insti-
tute of Technology and formerly head of the Coast
and Geodetic Survey, was elected president of the
board for life, other officers to be chosen from year
to year. Dr. Eliot served as first chairman, I as vice-
chairman, and Dr. Charles F. Thwing of Western
Reserve as secretary for several years. In 1909 and
1910, however, after the withdrawal of Eliot as
pensioner under the Foundation, I served as acting
chairman. On August i, 1916, having reached the
age of sixty-five and become myself a pensioner, I
automatically retired from the board.

At the first meeting we framed a series of rules to
govern the pension system. The leading one provided
in substance that to each professor in accepted
institutions reaching the age of sixty-five, and having
taught in a college for thirty years or having for
twenty held a title of professor, should be granted an
annual pension of about half his average salary for
the five years previous, the maximum limit being
C 188 3



19063 The Pension System

fixed at $4000; to their widows one half the stipulated
amount. A certain provision, moreover, was made
for teachers who had broken down prematurely.
It was also arranged that pensions might be granted
under special conditions to men not yet sixty-five
who were engaged in definite research work. 1 With
some modifications from year to year, the origi-
inal provisions are still in force for those who began
to teach prior to 1915. Meanwhile, however, before
any important changes had been made, at the
earnest appeal of the state universities Carnegie
arranged to include them also, although adding to
the endowment only five million dollars, while the
expense was necessarily doubled.

In 1912 Pritchett raised certain objections to the
pension system and proposed a radical change. By
this plan the Foundation was to furnish insurance
policies or endowments carrying no overhead charges
but to which an individual must contribute from his
own savings, assisted by his institution, provided of
course that the latter retained membership under the
new arrangement.

In favor of the change but one main argument was
officially advanced : "as a matter of psychology,
pensions everywhere tend to reduce activity, it being
a case of getting something for nothing." The answer
to this is absolute denial so far as college professors
are concerned. Carnegie himself said to me that he
thought the Foundation the best and most far-
reaching of all his public gifts.

As to the current statement, never officially made,
however, that the endowment of fifteen millions was

1 This provision, so far as I remember, was granted but twice, the recipients
being Simon H. Gage of Cornell for research in Physiology, and Melville B.
Anderson of Stanford for Dante study. After a few years it was withdrawn.

C 189 H



The Days of a Man 1906

inadequate for the pension system, I may say that
this was by no means the limit of Carnegie's inten-
tions. For when at our first meeting and once or
twice afterward I raised the question in personal
conversation, he assured me that adequate funds
would be forthcoming when needed. The greater
part of his estate, some $100,000,000, he explained,
would be placed in trust for the maintenance of his
benefactions and other public services, so that on the
Funds earnings of that vast sum the Foundation could draw
adequate whenever necessary, its president being ex officio one
of the directors of the trust.

But even in case the funds should become actually
inadequate, the trustees had the power to exclude,
after proper notice, very rich institutions which could
pension their own and the very poor which might well
give up trying to do university work. Furthermore, as
I urged at the time, the proposed change could not
be consummated for at least twenty-five years, until
the just expectations of all eligible teachers then in
service should have been met. But long before 1940
all the original trustees would have retired, and we
ought not to tie the hands of our successors. It would
accordingly be sufficient to indicate the contemplated
changes, reserving to the future board the right to
make fundamental alterations in the original plan at
some fixed date.

From Nevertheless, in spite of hesitancy on the part of

pension certain trustees, the insurance plan was finally

ance adopted. Of the actual usefulness of the pension

system as devised by Carnegie there is no question.

Very few college professors (or even presidents) in

the past, at least, have been able to lay up adequate

provision for old age or for their families in case of

C 190 3



19063 Simplified Spelling Board

premature death or breakdown. An assured income
has enabled many men to continue scholarly activity
in other lines of service long after retirement. It has
also allowed universities to bring in new blood without
the necessity of consigning to dependence or penury
worthy men in failing health.

Stanford University being an original member in Age limit
the Carnegie Foundation, the faculty early passed a f^
resolution terminating at the age of sixty-five all
appointments of professors eligible for the Carnegie
Pension, but leaving the trustees free to renew any at
their discretion on the president's initiative. In
adopting the general proposition, however, the board
omitted the clause providing for possible continuance,
feeling doubtless that discrimination would be likely
to prove invidious.

In 1906 Mr. Carnegie established also "the Sim-
plified Spelling Board" made up of a group of
writers including myself who should study the
matter of English orthography with a view to raphy
proposing changes to remove the most glaring eccen-
tricities. Our language owes much of flexibility and
strength to its complex origin, but for that very
reason it has grown up without rule, and vagaries in
spelling and pronunciation make it especially difficult
for foreigners to acquire. The board now (1920)
includes most of our leading philologists, with
Professor Charles H. Grandgent of Harvard as
president. We do not expect sweeping changes to be
immediately accepted, but feel sure that real better-
ments will find their way into the dictionaries and
thence into common usage. By such means the words
"honor/' "favor," "demeanor," and the like, through

C 191 3



The Days of a Man 1906

the efforts of Noah Webster lost in America the
superfluous u still retained in England.

Expecting Yet the founder apparently expected the impos-
too much s ibi Cj assuming that obviously desirable changes could
be put through by the force of organization and by
the fiat of President Roosevelt, a member of the
board. Linguistic reforms, however, move slowly, and
Carnegie seemed later to lose his interest in simplified
spelling, as he provided no endowment for it. From
1917 on, therefore, official conferences and publica-
tions have been necessarily limited for lack of
funds, although individual effort is actively con-
tinued.

While approving most of the changes recommended,
I for a time balked at "thru," because it does not
represent correct pronunciation and has little philo-
logical warrant. It also happened that before our
board had ever met, I made somewhere the casual
and rather stupid remark that "thru would make a
Futile pollywog sick." This trifling joke got into the press,
and I had a call (in California) from a representative
of the New York Sun, who seemed friendly and tried
to get me to comment on his own statement that
Brander Matthews of Columbia was attempting to
assume leadership of the movement for simplified
spelling. At that time I had never met Matthews,
whom I have always held in high esteem, and when
my visitor asked directly if I didn't think the pro-
fessor was taking too much responsibility, I replied
offhand: "I don't know; it may be." He then
printed in the Sun a bit of verse supposititiously
based on my words and carrying the refrain,

There is too much Brander Matthews
And not enough of me.

c 192 3



i 9 o63 Football

During this year a steadily growing dissatisfaction
or rather disgust on the part of the authorities of both
the State University and Stanford with so-called
American football led to the temporary abolition of
that sport at the two institutions. The game had been American
developed in the later '8o's from the British Rugby, & amed /-

, , . . . r / \ i i- rived from

the two mam alterations consisting or (a) legalizing R ug bywith
"off-side play" or "interference," and (b) holding the markfd
ball when down. By the latter change, to keep the ball
in hand becomes the central purpose, as only through
its possession can gains be made. Thus is lost the finest
feature, the passing of the ball from hand to hand
whenever its holder is in danger of being tackled.

As to the other modification, Rugby rules prohibit
all off-side play that is, a man's getting ahead of
the ball when held by his side. In the American game,
interference, as it was now called, became a leading
factor. This consists of other players of the same team
running ahead of the man with the ball and thrusting
aside any opponents who block the way. But inter-
ference necessitates mass play, and at nearly every
"down," all the players engaged are piled in a writhing
heap, while those at the bottom often suffer serious in-
jury. Hurts in Rugby are not uncommon, to be sure,
but they are mainly peripheral, rarely deep-seated.

The American game, moreover, is in its essence a
battle, not sport, and largely devoid of interest
except for the colorful, tumultuous partisanship
engendered by it. It depends comparatively little on
the strength or even skill of individuals but almost
entirely on the strategy of the coach. In Rugby each
individual player must be alert as well as capable,
and the coach is of minor importance; indeed, we soon
abolished all paid coaches at Stanford without

C 193 3



The Days of a Man 1906

impairing efficiency, as was shown in the recurrent
contests. And because professional coaches as a rule
(though with some honorable exceptions) take little
interest in scholarship, they constitute a distinct
obstacle to academic welfare. Again, their extrav-
agant salaries often higher than those paid to
university presidents depend on winning games,
and conspicuous success lines up the gambling
element in support. In earlier years, also, funds were
raised to hire men to play and to coax promising
athletes from one institution to another solely for the
purpose of strengthening a team; this abuse, however,
was finally done away with, largely by the device
of prohibiting the participation of first-year men.

Another serious criticism arises from the unfitness
of the American game for high school students, who
rarely have adequate physical training and supervi-
sion. In view of all this, at the instance of Angell who
r , a Z? ro ~ f had played Rugby at Oxford, Wheeler and I jointly

hibitionof J i i- i i A 11

American arranged to abolish the American game, allowing our
game men a cn oice between Rugby or "Soccer" -the
British Association game or inventing a new one.
They accepted Rugby, most reluctantly at first but
with rapidly increasing enthusiasm, playing matches
not only with California but later with teams from
Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 1

In 1916 the continued efforts of coaches at the
University of California brought back the American
game there. Football relations between the two
institutions were then suspended for three years, at
the end of which period contests in each of the three

1 While I was in Australia in 1907, the two alumni coaches of Stanford,
James F. Lanagan, 'oo, and George J. Pressley, '07, came over to get points on
Rugby. Finding this much more to their liking than they had expected, they



Online LibraryDavid Starr JordanThe days of a man : being memories of a naturalist, teacher, and minor prophet of democracy → online text (page 15 of 71)