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L.Q.C. Lamar and Henry Adams

It’s exhilarating to stumble upon unexpected relationships. Reading The Education of Henry Adams on New Year’s Day, I found a surprising Emory connection in this memoir by a consummate Boston Yankee.

Great-grandson of John, grandson of John Quincy, and son of Lincoln’s minister to Great Britain, Henry Adams rose to his own heights of achievement and renown as a journalist, historian, and memoirist.

Henry Adams, photo by Marian Hooper Adams, courtesy of Massachusetts Historial Society
Henry Adams. Photo by Marian Hooper Adams. Courtesy of Massachusetts Historical Society.

Boston-born, Harvard-educated, he made Washington, DC, his home for the last half of his long life. His mansion at Lafayette Square, now the site of the Hay-Adams Hotel, was a social gathering place for the most eminent intellectuals of his day.

During the Civil War, the young Adams served in London as private secretary to his father, Charles Francis Adams, whose job it was to keep the British from recognizing the Confederacy. While there, Henry briefly met a man whom he would get to know well in Washington after the war — L. Q. C. Lamar, Emory College class of 1845.

LQC Lamar
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, 1845C. Photo by Matthew Brady. Library of Congress.

Georgian by birth, Lamar served as a Congressman from Mississippi before the Civil War but resigned when Mississippi seceded. The Confederate government sent him abroad as minister to Russia, with a brief stay in London. After the war and amnesty, Lamar again served in Congress. (See Emory Makers of History.)

Lamar’s defense of secession and slavery before the war is indefensible. His reputation now rests on his post-war efforts toward reconciliation between North and South and on his integrity at the risk of his political career (he is the only Deep Southerner profiled in JFK’s Profiles in Courage).

Henry Adams, writing in 1907, had this to say about Lamar, who died in 1893: He “had grown to be one of the calmest, most reasonable and most amiable Union men in the United States, and quite unusual in social charm. In 1860 he passed for the worst of Southern fire-eaters, but he was an eccentric by environment, not by nature; above all his Southern eccentricities, he had tact and humor. . . . He would have done better in London [than the Confederacy’s actual minister to Britain]. . . . London society would have delighted in him; his stories would have won success; his manners would have made him loved; his oratory would have swept every audience; even [those unsympathetic to the Confederacy] could never have resisted the temptation of having him to breakfast between Lord Shaftesbury and the Bishop of Oxford” (from Chapter XII).

It would have been fascinating indeed to hear these two — one a former slave owner, the other an ardent slavery-hater, both of the highest intelligence and mutual respect — in dinner conversation at Lafayette Square circa 1885.

 

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Love at first photo op

Dateline: Church School Building Fellowship Hall, April 12, 1956 —

The four years in Emory College had challenged Clint Rodgers, but he had done well. Emory’s Air Force ROTC had prepared him for a career flying jets. His major in Spanish had satisfied his delight in language. So here he was, weeks away from picking up his diploma at the Emory Commencement exercises in the Church School Amphitheater.

Meanwhile, there was work to do in the Language Lab, in old Fishburne Hall (where the Goizueta Business School now stands). He tutored students, set up instruction tapes, and plied his expertise in Spanish. Leaving the lab one April day, he turned to make his way to the Church School Building. There, Emory faculty would mingle with the best language students from each Atlanta-area high school, who had been invited to “Language Day” to learnĀ  more about the university.

As he set out, Clint encountered two young women who were lost. Did he know where the Language Day program was being held? Why, yes he did, and he was headed that way himself. He’d be happy to accompany them.

One of those young women was Susan Russell, a student at Girls’ High School in Atlanta. Clint and Susan sat together at the program, and a friendship bloomed. Then a romance. And then marriage. After her freshman year at Emory–during which Clint worked while awaiting an Air Force commission–they tied the knot and headed to Lackland Air Force Base for their honeymoon.

But it all began at Language Day.

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Language Day, April 12, 1956. Clint Rodgers and Susan Russell are shown in circle. Judson C. “Jake” Ward, then dean of Emory College, is seated fifth from the left in front. This room, in the Church School Building, is now named for Ward, who taught Sunday School there for 50 years.

 

 

 

Hidden and half-forgotten time capsule

Mere yards from one of the busiest pedestrian thoroughfares at Emory, and just steps from the DUC terraces, lies a treasure obscured by holly and time. It’s the Sesquicentennial Time Capsule.

On December 10, 1986, immediately after the Sesquicentennial Convocation in Glenn Memorial, a procession wended its way across the campus to the relatively new Dobbs University Center, whose terraces are visible in the photo below. The site from which this photo is taken is the location of the time capsule.

View from the time capsule to DUC terraces
View from the time capsule to DUC terraces

Here you see the holly bush that has grown up over the time capsule.

View from DUC terraces to the bush hiding the time capsule
View from DUC terraces to the bush hiding the time capsule

And here is another view, courtesy of Bob Hamilton in Campus Life.

DUC time capsule

Once the procession had made its way to the “grassy knoll” in front of the DUC, a crowd gathered around Dooley, present for the burial of something other than himself into the gaping hole prepared for the ceremony. A time capsule planned for the 150th anniversary of Emory’s founding was filled with 150 items, including cans of Classic Coke, Cherry Coke, and Diet Coke. (The controversy over New Coke had recently filled the newspapers–clippings from which were also included in the time capsule.) A commission appointed by President Jim Laney to review the university’s investments with regard to South Africa’s apartheid struggle had recently issued its report; a copy was placed in the time capsule. President Laney had delivered an attention-getting speech at Harvard titled “The Education of the Heart.” Into the capsule. Someone thought to include a copy of a Chem 141 exam and a videotape of a Rathskellar performance (but not technology to play it on). A tee shirt from the local watering hole, P.J. Haley’s, was included; the time capsule already has outlasted the pub. Emory’s first intercollegiate basketball team had played its first away game days before, losing to NYU; a team photograph, signed by all the players, went into the time capsule.

And then the things was buried, to be dug up in fifty years.

Burying the time capsule

Within a couple of decades, however, a little holly bush soon grew up to hide the marker indicating the time capsule’s location.

Bush that hides the time capsule
Bush that hides the time capsule

DUC time capsule 3

If you know where to look, you can find it–though you may have to scrape away leaves, pine straw, and dirt to read the plaque.

Time capsule

Here it is, photo inverted to make the text readable.

Time capsule inverted

Sesquicentennial Time Capsule

buried here on December 10, 1986

to be opened in 50 years on

Emory’s 200th Anniversary

I hope to be present at the opening!

Meanwhile, there’s a plan afoot to raze the DUC and rebuild a magnificent new university center in its place. Let’s be sure to work around that time capsule.

Gary Hauk

Two Woodruff letters seven decades apart

Who knows how a disgraced student will respond to adversity? In Robert Woodruff’s case, the full impact of the response took seventy years.

In the fall of 1908, Robert W. Woodruff, scion of Atlanta businessman and banker Ernest Woodruff, enrolled as a freshman at Emory College, which was still in Oxford, Georgia. His letters home complained of eye strain from reading, leaks in his ceiling, and shortness of funds. By the turn of the calendar to 1909, his prospects at Emory looked bleak. So much so, that the president of the college, James E. Dickey (no relation to the later poet and novelist), wrote to Ernest Woodruff to suggest that a pause in Robert’s studies might refresh him.

Dickey letter to Ernest Woodruff

More than a pause that refreshed, of course, this was the end of Robert Woodruff’s collegiate career. He began work shoveling sand at the General Pipe and Foundry Company, then earned several promotions and soon was hired by his father as the purchasing agent for Atlantic Ice and Coal. Robert’s part-time stenographer was William B. Hartsfield, who was studying law and later would become mayor of Atlanta.

The story of Woodruff’s rise from laborer to head of the Coca-Cola Company has been told many times. Fascinatingly, seven decades after Emory’s president wrote a letter dismissing him from Emory, Robert Woodruff would write to Emory’s president with another aim.

Woodruff letter of November 1979

This letter conveyed $105 million dollars to Emory for unrestricted use. The letter was read to Emory’s board of trustees at their meeting on November 8, 1979, by his younger brother George, an emeritus trustee of the university and the instigator of the idea for the transfer. It was the closing of a circle begun seventy years previously.