Campus & Community

This month in Harvard history

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March 27, 1737 – President Benjamin Wadsworth dies in office.

March 1770-March 1773 – Seeking refuge from the political tumult of Boston, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony temporarily moves to Cambridge and convenes in Harvard Hall. The first of these sessions takes place within days of the Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770). Students take a lively interest in the proceedings. This arrangement earns Cambridge an oblique reference in the Declaration of Independence as a place “uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records” where King George “has called together legislative bodies […] for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”

March 1, 1775 – Tory students casually bring India tea into Harvard Hall and nearly come to blows with others still boiling over the tea tax. In the interest of “harmony, mutual affection, and confidence, so well becoming Members of the same Society,” the faculty passes a resolution advising students “not to carry [Tea] in for the future,” so that “peace and happiness may be preserved within the Walls of the College whatever convulsions may unhappily distract the State abroad.”

March 27, 1828 – Corporation Fellow Nathaniel Bowditch lambastes President John Thornton Kirkland, who has in practice ignored many recent cost-saving measures that Bowditch had set in motion. To everyone’s surprise, Kirkland submits his resignation on March 28. The Corporation accepts. Students register shock and indignation over the loss of one of Harvard’s most beloved presidents, and seniors write him an eloquent farewell: “We thank you for the honors which your award has made more sweet, and we thank you for the reproof, which has been tempered with love.[…] We thank you, sir, for all the little, nameless, unremembered acts of your kindness and authority.[…]”

– From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower