Alma Mater's scepter and Columbia University's seal bear crowns because Columbia University was established in 1754 as King's College. Situated in lower Manhattan, it was a leading Anglican educational institution. Anglicans were associated with the English monarch, since Henry VIII had created the Church of England and named himself head of it some 200 years earlier. In the 1760s, students and faculty at King's College tended to be Tories.
Students at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), a Presbyterian institution, were often pro-American rebels. Alexander Hamilton meant to attend Princeton. He might not have been spurred to such eloquence on behalf of the American cause had he not instead attended King's College, where he honed his skills against pro-British factions. A year after the British evacuated New York (see Washington at Union Square), King's College was renamed Columbia.
A Second American Revolution?
In a symposium printed in the Sunday New York Times on May 17, 1970, six intellectuals were asked, "Are we in the middle of a second American Revolution?" Most of them praised students for promoting, or at least bringing to public attention, a set of noble goals: peace, clean air, redistribution of wealth, justice and freedom for all. Several interviewees considered violence an acceptable means to achieve these ends, although others warned that such violence might produce a repressive counter-revolution. The odd woman out was Ayn Rand, who condemned the student rebellion as the "Anti-Industrial Revolution": "the revolt of the primordial brute - no, not against capitalism, but against capitalism's roots - against reason, progress, technology, achievement, reality." Rand's essays on the roots of the radical ideas and the violence of the 1960s (still relevant today) are available in Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, ed. Peter Schwartz.
Daniel Chester French
French (1850-1931, b. Exeter, N.H.) was one of America's most notable sculptors. He studied with John Quincy Adams Ward and with Thomas Ball in Florence. Among his most notable works are the Minuteman, 1875 (Concord, Mass.); the Milmore Memorial, 1893 (copy at the Metropolitan Museum); the enormous Republic for the 1893 Columbian Exposition (smaller reproduction still standing on the south side of Chicago); the doors of the Boston Public Library, 1904; the Melvin Memorial (Mourning Victory, 1908; copy in the Metropolitan Museum) and the Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, 1922 (Washington).
Aside from works in the Metropolitan Museum, Manhattan has the Hunt Memorial, Alma Mater, and Four Continents. Brooklyn has allegorical figures of Brooklynand Manhattan, ca. 1900 (in front of the Brooklyn Museum), and a lovely relief of Lafayette, 1917 (9th Street entrance to Prospect Park).
Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante