I was dismayed by the letter of Ricshawn A. Roane ’96 (Inbox, July/August issue) seemingly dismissing efforts by the Rev. Kevin DeYoung to differentiate President John Witherspoon’s treatment of his slaves or the manner in which he acquired them as “irrelevant” and “an oxymoron.” To the contrary, the determining factor in whether Witherspoon’s statuary should be removed from campus because of his ownership of slaves at a time when slavery was legal in every colony should be whether Witherspoon mistreated his slaves outside the bounds of contemporary accepted standards. One cannot impose 21st-century mores upon those living within the accepted norms of the 18th century without engaging in an ex post facto rewriting of American history.

Edmund C. Tiryakian ’78
Hillsborough, N.C.