Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

New York university; its history, influence, equipment and characteristics, with biographical sketches and portraits of founders, benefactors, officers and alumni; online

. (page 35 of 77)
Online LibraryJoshua Lawrence ChamberlainNew York university; its history, influence, equipment and characteristics, with biographical sketches and portraits of founders, benefactors, officers and alumni; → online text (page 35 of 77)
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THE general idea of the edifice known
as the " Hall of Fame " came to the
architect of New York University as
an esthetic necessity growing out of the topog-
raphy of University Heights. To secure a
large interior campus it was necessary to place
the three buildings which form the west side
of the College Quadrangle close by the Avenue
above the Harlem River. But since the grade
of the quadrangle was one hundred and seventy
feet above the river and forty to sixty feet
above the Avenue, this would leave the exterior
basement walls of these buildings exposed and
unsightly. To conceal these walls and to
present an ornamental effect towards the
Avenue a broad terrace was suggested, to be
supported upon granite walls, and crowned by
a colonnade. The colonnade was to stand upon
the outer curve of the terrace and extend full
five hundred feet in length.

The argument for this structure upon the
ground of beauty was very strong, yet by

itself was hardly sufficient to justify a Univer-
sity of comparatively small resources in pos-
sessing so costly an ornament. It was felt
by the Chancellor, as Chairman of the Building
Committee, that an educational use must also
be found for such an edifice. To fulfill this
condition there came to him the idea of "The
Hall of Fame for Great Americans." Com-
paratively slight modifications of the architect's
plans would adapt the building to this purpose.
The educational use of such a foundation
seemed likely to be extended and enduring.

The mind of the architect had thus found
the "final cause" of the edifice to consist in
its esthetic effect ; the mind of the Chancellor
had discovered the "final cause" in its educa-
tional use. But a third more hospitable mind
was generously prepared to show fa\'or to both
purposes alike. Not for beauty only, nor for
education only, but for both together, a noble
gift was proffered to the University sufficient
to complete the entire edifice and to adapt it



to be a perpetual memorial of great citizens of
America. Accordingly in March 1900, the
following contract was made between the New
York University and the giver of the Hall of
Fame: —

A gift of one hundred thousand d(.)llars is
accepted by New York University under the
following conditions. The money ^ is to be
used for building a colonnade five hundred
feet in length, at University Heights, looking
towards the palisades and the Harlem and
Hudson River valle3's. The exclusive use of
the colonnade is to serve as "The Hall of
Fame for Great Americans." One hundred
and fifty panels, each abnut two by eight feet,
will be pro\-ided for inscriptions. Fifty of
these will be inscribed in 1900, provided fifty
names shall be approved by the two bodies of
judges named below. At the close of every
five years thereafter, five additional panels will
be inscribed so that the entire number shall
be completed by A.D. 2000. The statue,
bust or portrait of any person whose name is
inscribed, may be given a place either in the
"Hall of Fame" or in the museum adjoining.
The following rules are to be observed for
inscriptions :

(i) The University will invite nominations
until ]\Iav i, from the public in general, of
names to be inscribed, to be addressed by
mail to the Chancellor of the Universit}', New
York City.

(2) Every name that is seconded by any
member of the Senate will be submitted to
one hundred or more persons throughout the
country who may be approved by the Senate,
as professors or writers of American history,
or especially interested in the same.

(3) No name will be inscribed unless
approved by a majority of the answers
received from this body of judges before
October i of the )ear of election.

(4) Further, each name thus approved will
be inscribed, unless disapproved before Novem-
ber 1st by a majority of the nineteen members

1 The total cost of the Mall of Fame, includirg the
Museum, will reach one quarter of a million dollars.

of the New York University Senate, who are
the Chancellor with the Dean and Senior
Professor of each of the six schools, and the
President or representative of each of the six
Theological Faculties in or near New York

(5) No name may be inscribed except of a
person born in what is now the territory of
the United States, and of a person who has
been deceased at least ten years.

(6) In the first fifty names must be included
one or more representatives of a majority of
the following fifteen classes of citizens :

(a) Authors and editors, (b) Business men.
(c) Educators, (d) Inventors, (e) Mission-
aries and explorers, (f) Philanthropists and
reformers. (g) Preachers and theologians,
(h) Scientists, (i) Engineers and architects.
(j) Lawyers and judges. (k) Musicians,
painters and sculptors. (1) Physicians and
surgeons. (m) Rulers and statesmen. (n)
Soldiers and sailors, (o) Distinguished men
and women outside the above classes.

(7) Should these restrictions leave vacant
panels in any year, the Senate may fill the
same the ensuing year, followmg the same

The granite edifice which will serve as the
foundation of the Hall of Fame shall be
named the Museum of the Hall of Fame.
Its final exclusive use shall be the commemo-
ration of the great Americans whose names
are inscribed in the colonnade above, by the
preservation and exhibition of portraits and
other important mementos of these citizens.
The six rooms and the long corridor shall in
succession be set apart to this exclusive use.
The room to be used first shall be named the
Washington Gallery, and shall be set apart so
soon as ten or more portraits of the persons
inscribed shall be accepted for permanent
preservation by the University. The other
rooms shall be named and set apart for the
exclusive use above specified so soon as their
space shall, in the judgment of the University,
be needed for the purposes of the Museum of
the Hall of Fame. In the meantime they



may be devoted to ( :rdinary College uses. The
outer western wall of the Hall of Languages
and of the Hall of Philosophy, which look
into the Hall of Fame, shall be treated as a
part of the same, and no inscription shall be
placed upon them, except such as relate to the
great names inscribed in the one hundred and
fifty panels. Statues and busts of the great
Americans chosen may be assigned places
either in the Museum of the Hall of Fame or

science and invention. At this point the
Senate arrived at a decision to adopt a definite
method for the selection of Electors. Their
action is comprehended in the following regu-
lations : —

The Judges contemplated in the above
action are selected by the New York Univer-
sity Senate in accordance with the three
following rules :

First. They are apportioned to the follow-


in the Hall itself, as the givers of the same
may decide with the approval of the Uni-

The Senate began its work of securing one
hundred Elect()rs by choosnig first a few
eminent Presidents of Universities, Dr. Charles
W. Ttliot of ITarvard being the first chosen,
and Dr. James B. Angell of Michigan next.
After this it proceeded to select certain
eminent scholars in American History, then a
few men of science who were believed to be
con\'ersant with American achievements in


ing four classes of citizens in as nearly equal
numbers as possible :

A. University or College Presidents and

B. Professors of History and Scientists.

C. Publicists, Editors and Authors.

D. Judges of the Supreme Court, State or

Second. Each of the forty-fi\'e States is in-
cluded in the appointments. When in any State
no one from the first three classes is named, the
Chief-Justice of the State is invited to act.



Third. Only citizens born in America are
invited to act as Judges. No one connected
with New York University is invited.

Since these regulations are not part of the
contract between the giver of the Hall and
the University, they may be amended by the
Senate if good reason be found for any

The considerations which led to the appor-
tionment of Electors among the classes of
citizens above named deserve attention. It
has gratified the Senate to observe that while
many inquiries have been made as to the man-
ner in which the system adopted was arrived
at, few serious criticisms have been heard re-
specting it. The most frequent criticism per-
haps has been that what are known as the
learned professions are not emphasized by
the plan. There are no Electors specifically
assigned to the clergy, to the bar, to the medi-
cal fraternity. In regard to this three re-
marks may be made, and one is that each of
these professions must be necessarily repre-
sented according to the plan that has been
adopted. Another is that the very fact of the
devotion of any man to one of these three pro-
fessions in an eminent degree is not calculated
to qualify him for inquiry in an encyclopedic
way respecting those who have merited and
received distinguished fame in other walks of
life. Third, each of the learned professions is
represented in the New York University Sen-
ate by not less than two members. No less
than six theological schools have each a repre-
sentative. Thus these professions may exer-
cise a modifying influence upon the entire

The considerations in favor of the selecting
of judges among the classes above named, have
never been formulated by the Senate, but may
be easily comprehended. The University
President, the first named, is required by the
present American custom to be encyclopedic.
How can he serve well all the departments of
knowledge without knowing something of the
past achievements in each important field of
effort. He must become a lawyer to lawyers ;

to scientists he must be a scientist ; to authors
a man of letters ; to the economist and histo-
rian a scholar versed in some degree in politi-
cal science. He must be " all things to all
men that he may by all means save " the Uni-
versity from making serious mistakes.

Equally plain is the appropriateness of choos-
ing for Electors men versed in American
history. The modern writer of history is not
a mere chronicler of military or political occur-
rences. He inquires into the making of a
nation and asks who they are that ha\'e done
the most towards its upbuilding. A broad and
thorough study of national progress must ac-
quaint him with men of the past. He knows
also what judgments have been passed upon
them by those fitted to judge. He ought him-
self to be the best of all judges respecting who
are and who deserve to be the most famous

The scientist is included as an Elector
because he is able to announce with a certain
authority who have received fame in science
and that deservedly. It is true that fame con-
fined to a circle of specialists is not intended
to win an election to the Hall of Fame,
because it is not really fame. But scientists
ought to be the best historians of achieve-
ments in science, and hence they are associated
with historians, that there may be a fair con-
sideration of those who by achievement in
pure or applied science have deserved honor
from mankind.

Publicists and editors are made E^lectors for
the same reason that has been named on
behalf of Presidents of Universities. They are
encyclopedic personages. Publicists cannot af-
ford not to know what has been accomplished
by their countrymen and who have achieved
the greatest deeds. The publicist who has
been at the helm of state is perhaps second to
no person in his experience of measuring and
weighing his fellowmen. Since the statesman
Moses undertook as a publicist to choose " able
men " who should be also " men of truth such
as fear God, hating covet ousness ", publicists
have been expected to discern ability and



character, or at least to discern each wide-
spread reputation for abihty and character.
American pubHcists have seldom disappointed
this expectation.

The editor of a great newspaper must be
even more encyclopedic than the publicist.
He reminds me of what was written by St.
Basil of St. Athanasius. Basil employs a
comparison respecting the great man of Alex-
andria which was perhaps suggested by the

five states. There were a few states in which
no citizen was well known, either personally or
by reputation, to any member of the Senate.
Since, therefore, some one in high representa-
tive station needed to be selected, none loomed
up so attractively as the Chief-Justice of a
commonwealth. He could not have been
placed in that high office, it was thought,
without possessing a reputation for a judicial
habit of mind, for ability to investigate impor-







famous lighthouse of that city. It was uttered
while the latter was still alive. Basil says " He
stands on his lofty watch tower, seeing with
his ubiquitous glance what is passing through-
out the world. He is the mediator," he adds,
"between the old generation and the new."

The Chief-Justice of the nation and each
state are the fourth class from which one-
fourth of the judges ha\'e been selected. The
decision to include these was arrived at easily
after that the Senate had decided to give at
least one representative to each of the forty-


tant questions, and for fairness in his decisions.
The Senate therefore decided, in addition to
the Chief-Justice of the United States and one
Associate Justice of that high tribunal, to add
the Chief-Justice of each of twenty-three states.
In the case of three states it happened, how-
ever, that the notice of election, so far as is
known, did not reach the Chief-Justice. For
this reason Arkansas, Idaho and Washington
appear without any representative in the Board
of Electors. These are the only states un-
represented excepting South Carolina. The



President of an important College in that state
was invited to serve, but was not heard from,
no doubt for some good reason.

In the case of one Elector, ex-Senator
Edmunds, credit was given to the State of
Vermont, with which his name has ever been
associated, rather than to the state of his
present residence.

No attempt was made to distribute the Elec-
tors according to any rule to the various parts
of the country outside of this regulation that
each state should be assigned an Elector. It
is interesting to know that the distribution of
Electors does not vary in a very great degree
from the general distribution of population. A
majority of the people of the United States,
according to the last census, are comprehended
within nine or ten states. A majority of the
one hundred Electors are comprehended within
eight states with the District of Columbia. It
must be remembered, however, that some
Electors are credited in this city who belong
rather to the commonwealths in which they
formerly resided. The same is true with those
who are credited to Washington City. The
only state which seems to have secured a body
of Electors out of all proportion to its popula-
tion is Massachusetts. This is not the first
time that the Bay State has carried off honors
because she had fairly earned them.

The summary shows that New England has
twenty-two Electors, the Middle States twenty-
five, the Southern States sixteen, and the
Western, including Ohio, thirty. The National
Capital has four, and three are in foreign coun-
tries acting there as Ambassadors either of the
American Nation or of American education.
It is believed by the Senate that without any
exact system of distribution upon their part,
the result indicates a reasonable and fair appor-
tionment of Electors to the chief divisions of
the United States in proportion to their pro-
ductiveness in the various fields from which
the Electors are called.

A part of the rules observed by the Senate
in making nominations are imposed upon them
by the deed of gift, especially the receiving by

the Senate of every nomination from whatever
source, and second the sending to the Board of
Electors of every name which any one of the
nineteen members of the Senate may choose to
second. These rules, as has been noted above,
are designed to secure the consideration of
names from every important field of human
effort. The Senate chose of its own accord to
go beyond this and to pay respect to the result
of the wide competitions instituted by impor-
tant daily papers both in the east and in the
west. These papers secured what was almost
a plebiscitum respecting the names that de-
served to be inscribed. When the twenty-nine
names which stand foremost as the result of
this plebiscitum are placed side by side with
the twenty-nine which received a majority of
the votes of the one hundred Electors, it
appears that there are twenty names that are
common to the two lists. The other nine
names supported by the Electors were four of
them included among the first fifty in the
popular canvass, two more were included in the
first sixty, two among the first seventy, while
the ninth name of a learned jurist ranked
eightieth in the popular mind.

The Senate having the highest respect for
those who were to act as Electors, further
decided to second any nomination which any
of them might propose. This invitation to add
nominations failed to reach some of the Elec-
tors because of their change of residence dur-
ing the summer. Only twenty of the Electors
availed themselves of this right of adding some
thirty or forty names. The numerical result
of these names were more than a thousand
names altogether presented for the considera-
tion of the Senate, out of which two hundred
and thirty-four were transmitted to the Board
of one hundred Electors. The criticism has
been made that the list sent to the Electors
was too large to admit of careful consideration.
A more severe criticism is that it included
many names that were of small importance.
The Senate in opening the door for nomina-
tions so widely, were aware that their list
would be open to both these criticisms. They



preferred to be censured for too long a list
that was weighted down with unimportant
names, than to be open to the charge of nar-
rowing the field of selection offered to the one
hundred judges. They had full confidence that
each of the latter in a very brief period could
dismiss the larger part of the nominees from
further consideration. Nothing was lost, there-
fore, by sending up the names of a hundred
lesser Americans save the extra printing. On

inscription. The nominations are to be left in
the possession of the judges until the last of
September, thus giving the entire summer of
more than three months for every Elector to
arrive at a decision. As was said by Thomas
Wentworth Higginson in an article which
appeared in August 1900, "The hundred
judges appointed by the New York University
to designate the first fifty names to be inscribed
in its proposed ' Temple of Fame ' on Univer-


the other hand, there was the great gain of
permitting every great profession, as for e.xam-
ple the engineering profession, to present its
favorites ; in like manner every religious de-
nomination was enabled to present its Ameri-
can saints to the notice of the judges, for
deliberate consideration. It may be noted by
anticipating a little, that more than a score of
the names placed in nomination failed to receive
a single vote from among the hundred P^lectors.
The time of nomination is appointed by deed
of gift to end on the first of May every year of

sity Heights, are supposed to be spending the
peaceful summer days in pondering on their
verdict to be rendered on the first of October."
E.xcept for this arrangement as to the times
and seasons offered the Board of Electors, it
would have been impossible to secure the assist-
ance of men who with few exceptions hold
positions of highest responsibility, and who
with hardly an exception are among the most
laborious citizens of our busy nation.

Each elector received from the Senate early
in the summer, a printed sheet containing the



first two hundred names which had each
received the second either of the Senate or of
some individual member of the same. Each
judge was requested to transmit within thirty
days any nominations of his own. When the
month had expired, a .second printed sheet con-
taining also these additional names, making two
hundred and thirty-four altogether, was for-
warded in duplicate. In general the Electors
made their reports each by returning one of
these sheets with those names underscored
whom he deemed the more worthy of com-

On October 10, igoo, the three principal
officers of the Senate, namely, the Chairman,
the Secretary, and the Superintendent of the
University Press, the place of the last-named
being filled in his absence by a sub.stitute,
began the canvass of the returns which con-
tinued October nth and 12th.

Upon October 12th the Senate 'acted upon
the report of its officers by adopting the follow-
ing resolutions :

First. — The thirty-one names that have received each
the approval of fifty-one judges or more shall be inscribed
in the Hall of Fame.

Second. — The cordial thanks of the Senate of the New
York University are returned to each of the judges for this
service rendered to the public. While it has demanded
no little thought and acceptance of responsibility on their
part, it must receive abundant reward in the knowledge of
important aid given thereby to the cause of education, par-
ticularly among the youth of America.

Third. — The official book of the Hall of Fame, the publi-
cation of which is authorized by the Senate, shall be sent to
each of the 100 judges as memento of this service.

Fourth. — The Senate, acting under the rules of the Hall
of Fame, will take action in the year 1902, towards filHng at
that time the vacant panels belonging to the present year,
being twenty in number.

Fifth. — They invite each member of the Board of Judges
to serve as judge in 1902. Should any one of the present
Board of Judges at that time have laid down his educational
or public office, his successor may by preference be invited
to serve in 1902.

Sixth. — Each nomination of the present year to the
Hall of Fame that has received the approval of ten or more
judges, yet has failed to receive a majority, will be con-
sidered a nomination for 1902. To these will be added any
name nominated in writing by five of the Board of Judges
or by the New York University, in such a way as it may
find expedient. Any nomination by any citizen of the
United States that shall be addressed to the New York
University Senate, will be rxeived and considered by that

The following are the twenty-nine names
approved by a majority of the one hundred
Electors. The numerals following each name
denote the number of electors by which it was

George Washington 97

Abraham Lincoln 96

Daniel Wee,ster y6

Benjamin Franklin 94

Ulysses S. Grant 9^

John Marshall 91

Thomas Jeffer.son 91

Ralph Waldo Emerson 87

Robert Fulton 86

Henry Wad,s\vorth Longfellow 85

Washington Irving S3

Jonathan Edwards 82

Samuel F. B. Morse 82

David Gi.ascoe Farragut 79

Henry Clay 74

George Peabody 74

Nathaniel Hawthorne 73

Peter Cooper 69

Eli Whitney 69

Robert E. Lee 68

John James Audubon 67

Horace Mann 67

James Kent 65

Henry Ward Beecher 64

Joseph Story 64

John Adams 62

William Ellery Channing 58

Gilbert Stuart 52

Asa Gray 51

The Senate further took note of the many
requests that foreign-born Americans should
be considered, by adopting a memorial to the
University Corporation, as follows :

The New York University Senate, for a number of
reasons, cordially approves the strict limitation of the Hall
of Fame to native-born Americans. At the same time it
would welcome a similar memorial to foreign-born Ameri-
cans, as follows :

A new edifice to be joined to the north porch of the

Online LibraryJoshua Lawrence ChamberlainNew York university; its history, influence, equipment and characteristics, with biographical sketches and portraits of founders, benefactors, officers and alumni; → online text (page 35 of 77)