"How can a man who loves this place as I love it realize of a sudden that he has now the liberty to devote every power that is in him to its service. You must sympathize with me, I feel sure, in the feeling with which I realize that I am to be the successor of the brilliant man who has just addressed you." - Woodrow Wilson

At the one hundred and fifty-fifth annual Commencement in Alexander Hall on Wednesday, June 11, the bachelor’s degree was conferred upon two hundred and forty-nine members of the graduating class – which breaks the record. This is thirty-one more than last year and twenty-four more than the largest former class, ’96.

Alexander Hall was packed to the roof. In addition to the usual interest, it was known that this was the last time Dr. Patton would preside at Commencement as President of the university. At the President’s right on the platform was ex-President Cleveland and at his left, President-elect Woodrow Wilson ’79. The exercises opened with prayer by the Rev. Dr. J. Addison Henry ’57, of the board of trustees.

As already noted in The Weekly, there were two first honormen this year, Harry Frank Stambaugh of Pennsylvania and Frederick Raymond Whitman of New York. The former delivered the Latin Salutatory, and honorary English orations were delivered by Robert Warren Anthony of New York, Joseph Casper of New Jersey, Bond Houser of Ohio and Russell Theodore Mount of New Jersey. After the announcement of the fellowships and prizes enumerated below, by the Rev. Dr. E. R. Craven ’42, secretary of the board of trustees, the degrees in course were conferred. In addition to the two hundred and forty-nine bachelor’s degrees, the degree of Electrical Engineer was conferred upon W. L. Upson ’99, H. H. Laughlin ’00, and H. E. Waggaman ’00; the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon T. C. Laughlin ’92; the degree of Master of Arts upon L. R. Wanamaker ’86, C. A. Morton ’98, R. F. L. Ridgway ’98, C. H. Breed ’99, W. J. Campbell ’99, W. C. Erdman ’99, S. McDowell ’00, Latta Griswold ’01, M. L. Harding ’01, C. S. Judd ’01, J. K. Mackie ’01, A. M. Miller ’01, C. L. Miller ’01, and twenty-four graduates of other colleges; and the degree of Master of Science upon G. W. M. Maier ’01 and C. S. Hudson ’01.

Eleven honorary degrees were conferred. For the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, Dean Andrew F. West ’74 presented the following candidates, the degrees being conferred by President Patton:

Richard Henry Alvey, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, District of Columbia.

William Stryker Gummere ’70, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Morris Ketcham Jessup, President of the Chamber of Commerce of New York and President of the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Henry Fairfield Osborn ’77, Da Costa Professor of Zoology in Columbia University, New York.

Judge James H. Reed of Pittsburg, PA.

Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University, New York. Conferred in camera.

Dean West also presented the following candidates for the honorary degree of Master of Arts:

John White Alexander, artist, New York City.

James Herron Eckels, ex-Comptroller of the Currency, U.S.A.; now President of the Commercial National Bank of Chicago.

The honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon the following gentlemen, who were presented by Professor Henry van Dyke ’73:

The Rev. George Francis Greene ’82, pastor of the Presbyterian church at Cranford, N. J.

The Rev. Richard Davenport Harlan ’81, President of Lake Forest University, Illinois.

The Rev. Charles Adamson Salmond of Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Valedictory was delivered by Edwin Henry Kellogg of Pennsylvania, and after the graduating class had sung Old Nassau, there were notable address by President Patton and President-elect Wilson, both of whom were repeatedly applauded. Among other things Dr. Patton said: “Personal infirmities have made it impossible for me to know men individually, but I think we understand each other and I am grateful beyond any words of mine to express it, for the confidence and the respectful treatment which I have uniformly received at the hands of the students of Princeton University. I have tried, with what measure of success others may say, but I have tried to see the students’ side of the case. I suppose that in this respect I have not always held the scales of justice with an even hand. And I think that if I were to obey the categorical imperative of the present, it is my duty here and now to hear my heart make ample apology to my head. But in this respect I stand before you a stolid and hopeless impenitent.”

The President referred to the several gifts to the university during the first years of his administration and paid a high tribute to the givers. He then announced his intention to remain a member of the faculty of the university, which was the occasion of the most enthusiastic applause, both from the audience and the trustees and members of the faculty on the platform. Referring to the latter he said: “They will give me the credit of being willing to say what I think and of being ready to defend what I think to be right on all occasions and of being content to stand, as I have often stood, in a very lonely sort of minority. We could give and take and after the freest speech and the largest license of debate we could go out of the faculty room and be as warm friends as we ever were before.” He added: “The opportunity I have prayed so long of having a leisure afternoon in life, so far as it is in the power of the board of trustees to give it to me, has been granted.”

Dr. Patton said that “no large vision of achievement” filled his gaze, but that he hoped “to do such service to the university as limited resources and restricted energies may allow. When a man has passed as far beyond the meridian of life as I have passed,” he said, “the experiences of a life-time are of little worth if they have not taught him that his heart is the biggest and the best part of his body, and all I ever hope for and the utmost that I pray is that I may have a little share in the love of Princeton men.

“I regard it as a piece of Princeton’s singular good fortune that the day which dates my resignation of office dates also the unanimous and enthusiastic election of my successor. Himself a son of Old Nassau, he will rally the spontaneous, unrestricted and unlimited enthusiasm of Princeton men all round the world. Ordained by the laying on of hands to the office of a ruling elder of the Presbyterian Church, that great church will not feel in his accession to the presidency that there has been such a breach in the tradition of Princeton as the public prints would have you to suppose. Born in the South and trained in the North, he is a fitting representative of the fusion of those social and political forces in new America which knows no South and no North. A student of political philosophy and a representative of the highest thought of the time in philosophical jurisprudence, he will serve and carry to still greater achievement the traditions of Princeton which were established by those great men who rocked the cradle of the Republic and who had so much to do in framing the constitutional basis of our national life. A master of speech with few equals in this land, he will represent Princeton wherever he goes with unfailing distinction. It is a matter on which I felicitate myself and on which I congratulate the university, that in passing out of office I hand over the insignia of that office to my friend and colleague Dr. Woodrow Wilson.”

President-elect Wilson’s response was brief, but he said enough to indicate his endorsement of the plans already adopted for the development of the university. “There are things which we hope to add to this university,” he said, “and there are things which we hope will never be subtracted from it. We hope that men will open their hearts to us and will enable us to crown this university with a great graduate college.”

At the annual alumni luncheon on Tuesday, Professor Wilson said: “Fellow alumni, you know, you must know the feeling with which I rise upon an occasion like this. This thing has come to me as a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. How can a man who loves this place as I love it realize of a sudden that he has now the liberty to devote every power that is in him to its service. You must sympathize with me, I feel sure, in the feeling with which I realize that I am to be the successor of the brilliant man who has just addressed you. I know how great a part he has played in the councils of the church, in public opinion and in putting the truth in phrases that ring and last and cannot be forgotten. I can only speak for myself and my colleagues in the faculty when I say that I rejoice that he is not to leave Princeton. If he is not to be our leader, he is to continue to be our ornament, and therefore we shall not lose all of the brilliant service which he has rendered to this university during the fourteen years of his administration. I know that if there is any one power behind me it is the power of sympathy, the power of friendship, the power of comradeship in the great body of alumni among whom I count so many dear and personal friends. The objects that we seek in a university are not selfish objects. There is here no interest served which is a personal interest. We are here to serve our country and mankind, and we know that we can put selfishness behind us. The cordial handshakes, the unmistakably genuine look of good will and the good wishes that have come to me since this election was announced, are to me the most blessed augury for the future.”

The several hundred alumni at this luncheon received Dr. Patton and Professor Wilson with the most enthusiastic applause and cheering. In his speech, which preceded Professor Wilson’s Dr. Patton said, among other things: “I realize that this university stands face to face with new problems of development. In respect to the new administration, the policy which is to be inaugurated is a policy that ought to be inaugurated by him who has every reason to look forward to twenty or twenty-five years of administrative service. It would ill become my good sense or any reputation I may have for wisdom if I should wish to inaugurate a movement that might trammel the freedom of him who must be my successor. I hope to enter upon those quiet pursuits of which I am fond, and to serve the university in the quiet capacity of teacher. And it is fitting that the administrative leadership should pass into other hands. I feel very happy in the action I have taken and very satisfied with reference to Princeton’s future in view of the action which followed so spontaneously after the acceptance of my resignation. With my whole heart and with every element of my being I am in sympathy with the action of the trustees, in which I had the honor to participate, which has placed Woodrow Wilson in the leadership of Princeton University. God bless the university and God bless him in the great work that has been given him to do.”

James W. Alexander ’60 presided at the luncheon and the speeches were unusually good, from the few simple but impressive words of the Rev. Dr. James Curtis Hepburn ’32, the oldest living graduate, who still enjoys good health though in his 87th year, to the vigorous response of the Hon. John Glover Wilson, who spoke for the young class of ’92. The Hon. Henry Stafford Little ’44 was at the speakers’ table, and told the alumni that he had got a lot of fun out of his gifts to the university and hoped they would take his word for it and try it. The other speakers were Judge James H. Reed of Pittsburgh, the Hon. H. B. Munn ’47 of Washington; the Hon. W. C. Spruance ’52 of the Supreme Court of Delaware; the Rec. Dr. W. W. Knox ±62 of New Brunswick, N. J.; John D. David ’72, M. Taylor Pyne ’77 and J. W. Queen, Jr., ’87. It was the largest alumni luncheon ever held.

This was published in the June 14, 1902 issue of PAW.