Jan 062012
 

I’ve turned up some letters that shed a little light on the closing paragraph of the memorial I posted the other day. In July 1940, Frances sent a copy to Ralph Lutz at the Hoover War Library at Stanford. She wrote:

Here is one of the documents I said I would send you. You will note an expression, in the last paragraph, of the bitterness some of Bob’s friends here feel at the opposition he had. It was quite natural, I think — the sort of thing that would be expected when rather dull and timid people encounter a man like Bob. He had an unusually loyal and devoted group of friends on the Mather faculty.

What with one thing and another it looks as if the opposition are taking things over, now. This grieves me and makes me want to go away. Not, however, if I am being driven away. So I put up a sort of rear guard action here.

Lutz responded:

I read the memorial for Bob and was very much impressed by it. … My study of history has firmly convinced me that the works of able men survive in institutions long after any temporary opposition is even remembered by posterity. It is perfectly natural, of course, for Bob’s friends to feel that certain of his enterprises are not being carried out. Of one thing I am, however, convinced, namely, that Western Reserve will for all future time regard him as one of the really great men connected with the institution.

The closing paragraph of the memorial, while couched as a confession, was intended as a more or less open criticism of some members of the university. Who were they? It may be interesting to try to sort out the academic politics.

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