02 Sep 2015

Goodbye, John C. Calhoun!

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John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850), Yale Class of 1804, 7th Vice President of the United States 1825-1832.

At the time, in the early 1930s, when Yale was creating the first ten residential colleges, John C. Calhoun was regarded as an inevitable choice for one of their names. Calhoun was only too obviously the single most illustrious statesman and political philosopher to have graduated from Yale.

Eighty-odd years ago, the political conflicts of the 19th century, the contest between Federalism and the Rights of the States, Secession and the American Civil War were viewed dispassionately as past history. Yale President James Rowland Angell was born in Vermont. Neither he not the members of the Yale Corporation of that time are likely to have agreed in the least with John Calhoun on Nullification, Secession, or the benevolence of Slavery, but they all properly regarded those matters as settled and the battles and controversies surrounding them as mere history, unconnected practically or emotionally to their own time.

Naming a Yale residential college for Calhoun simply accorded with a general American recognition of Calhoun as one of the most influential thinkers and most important statesmen in American history. As Richard Hofstader acknowledged, Calhoun was “probably the last American statesman to do any primary political thinking.”

Naming a residential college for John C. Calhoun obviously did not imply that the generally-New-England-bred authorities of that Connecticut University had suddenly converted into Confederate sympathisers. It merely signified their recognition of the accomplishments, personal stature, and historical importance of one of Yale’s most famous graduates. Doubtless, it was also intended, in a minor way, to recognize the national character of the modern university by honoring the champion of the (defeated) Southern section.

It appears, now, that the 21st Century Yale under a newer and more cosmopolitan leadership is about to reverse President Angell’s decision and to reject 80+ years of Yale history by removing the name of John C. Calhoun and renaming his residential college.

President Peter Salovey, last Saturday, welcomed the entering freshman class and announced an “open conversation” on renaming Calhoun College.

We all know what that means. Yale will accede to the loudest, shrillest, most emotionalist, and most radical voices. There will be a narrative about the injured feelings, the wounded sensitivities, of 21st Century African American students. Rational observations will be shouted down, and with complete pomposity and sanctimony President Salovey will express regret, but explain the vital necessity of bowing to contemporary political correctness. Calhoun will be out. His (previously vandalized) stained glass window pulled out and replaced. His name chiseled out of the Gothic sandstone. And you can bet that the college will be renamed, specifically in order to rub it in, for some personage of color, somebody like the world-famous Edward Bouchet, Yale Class of 1874, the first African American to graduate from Yale.


6 Feedbacks on "Goodbye, John C. Calhoun!"


Many institutions are given a special tax status under the assumption they do good things and should be allowed this benefit. I disagree in principle with this because that means all tax payers MUST support it even if they disagree with it. These institutions do not defer to us they do not take any advice or input from us but they do insist that our taxes and policies support them. In my opinion it is long past time that tax free/exempt groups become good citizens and live under the same rules as the rest of us. Pay your taxes, comply with the regulations and then I really don’t care what you choose to do.

T. Shaw

Recorded history shows that the Inquisition employed “processes” to open graves of dead heretics and burn the bones.

Fascist liberals make the Inquisition look like a bunch of cub scouts, except the liberal rack and stake are calumnious of burning books and legal/political destruction.


Hi my name is Sam and I think you have a really cool site. I run The Last Tradition blog http://www.thelasttradition.com/
and I was wondering if you’d be interested in a blog roll exchange? Check me out and if you like what you see I hope you add me to your blog roll. I’ll gladly do likewise.


I think they will rename the college after Renée Richards.


My undergraduate school used to have a policy that a person had to be dead for so many years, I think ten, before a building was named after them. (They waived it to name something after a living person who had worked there for years. Not long after, her ear indicted for embezzling from the university. He was ultimately acquitted.)

Now it seems ten years isn’t long enough, nor a hundred and sixty five…

Steve Gregg

Obviously, Calhoun College should be renamed Black Lives Matter College, as should everything.


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