“What Princeton Stands For and Should Stand For” was the subject of Dr. Wilson’s speech.

Philadelphia honored itself and President Wilson ’79 as a public man on the evening of April 14th in a manner characteristic of the loyal alumni of that city. Under the auspices of the Princeton Club the President was the guest of honor at their annual alumni dinner; then he was given a large reception, at which there were formally introduced to him about twelve hundred men and women, representing the leading professional, commercial and social interests of the city. At the alumni dinner he made a speech, which was received with enthusiasm; at the reception he stood up and shook hands for two or three hours. The Philadelphia newspapers had large displays on the president’s visit, with brief reports of his address and full lists of the guests at the dinner and reception.

Horticultural Hall was crowded with Princeton alumni and guests from six o’clock till midnight. A lifelike tiger inspired enthusiasm and the presidential parody to the tune of “Mr. Dooley” made a hit. Nearly two hundred were present at the dinner; it was the largest and most successful reunion they have had. In describing it the Philadelphia Press said:

There was one man on whom all eyes were centered, whose single personality dominated the entire assemblage.

That man was Woodrow Wilson, thirteenth president of Princeton University, who, while yet a young man, has gained fame by his warm and sympathetic government of the college over which he presides and has won a place in the hearts of its sons which bids fair to be cherished as is that of the revered McCosh.

Alexander Van Rensselaer ’71, President of the club and Alumni Trustee, was the toastmaster, and in addition to the President’s address, unusually good speeches were made by the Hon. John L. Cadwalader ’56, of New York, Alumni Trustee, and Leon M. Conwell ’92.

“What Princeton Stands For and Should Stand For” was the subject of Dr. Wilson’s speech. He took a text from a recent paragraph in The Weekly – that it is conceivable that money and population might not be able to create a university that would “do as much for the cause of higher learning in ten years as Johns Hopkins does in one term, and not as much for the promotion of manhood and citizenship in a year as Princeton does in a week.” He said that Princeton has scholarship as well as a free and wholesome life that makes men. But it is free from pedantry, knows and prefers proportion, eschews fads and extravagant discontents, and hold that the end of knowledge is life; that Princeton stands for sound thinking and an all-round release of the faculties, as opposed to a narrow, technical training; that it is individual, and not for all; but it must enhance its individuality and give efficiency by a still closer and much more intimate comradeship in study between pupil and teacher, and by giving expression to itself in the larger fields of action, thought and literature. In conclusion he said that we seek a great endowment not to change Princeton, but to give her individuality greater scope and irresistible efficiency.

Mr. Cadwalader’s address was urbane but vigorous. He said that the time for shouting and congratulations has passed and the time for serious work has come, when the alumni must ask themselves what they are going to do to support the new administration. Also he gave a humorous review of the government of the college, - “the rule of the parsons and the struggle of the clans,” and the present “despotism of the class of ’79.” He said that like South American revolutionists, this class has first seized the presidency and then laid hold on the finances. But President Wilson, he concluded, is preaching from the text “Pay me what thou owest,” and “well may he speak it, for every Princeton man is under obligation to do something for the college which bred him.”

Mr. Conwell, who was Presentation Orator in 1892, spoke for the Princeton Club, on “Trusts.” These two paragraphs are typical:

“While not able to count my first thousand I love to bask in the sunlight of those who possess millions. When I see the Steel Trust and the Standard Oil Trust and the Beef Trust with their billions I often wish that Princeton could follow the words of the poet and ‘be sustained and soothed by an unfaultering trust.’”

“Seriously, though, we all know that Princeton does stand for good citizenship and manliness and we are ready and willing to press on wherever Woodrow Wilson leads.”

The reception lasted from nine till half past eleven, Mr. Van Rensselaer presenting each of the twelve hundred guests to the President.

This was originally printed in the April 18, 1903 issue of PAW.