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Half-Century Annalist Letters

Class of 1901 Letter

Richard C.S. Drummond

Delivered: June 1951

A good record, I say! Thirty men made it.
Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit.

The past 50 years, were I to review them, would be wholly creditable; but I have chosen to confine this deliverance to college days. The record was respected then, by those before us and those who succeeded us. We call up the names of Rudd, Watrous and Lee. We could call many others. Some of them are here present: Mrs. Rudd, Mrs. Watrous, Warren I. Lee.

The class that followed us, speaking for the men of that generation whom we helped to bring up, through the Hamilton Life editorials in that springtime of 1901, inscribed to us their respect, those beautiful pronouncements we will cherish all the days.

Now, after fifty years, we thank them again.

We praise again and thank our leader, Melancthon Woolsey Stryker. We should like to him treading “these loved paths,” he called them before he died, in that Commencement luncheon address which was his valedictory. I should like to hear him shout encouragement across the football field again. I should love to hear him lead in song:

To God I lift mine eyes; from him is all mine aid;
Crossing the Bar
For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest
Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott,
“Ein’ gute Wehr und Waffen”

Carissima!

But, above all, I should dearly love to hear him give in spring-term Sunday

Chapel, and lead us in singing, that latter hymn wrote for seniors which we heard first our freshman year, and with increasing solemnness that reached its acme in our own last college term:

By all true sons who’ve loved these walls,
The living and the dead,
We sing our happy College halls,
And days too quickly sped.

Thy smile, O God of wisdom, still
Enlarge all labors here.
Let joy Thy gracious plans fulfill
With every ampler year.

Let generous hope and high behest
These brightening ways adorn —
Our Mother’s ancient honor rest
On children yet unborn.

What toil and trust whilere begun
Increase from more to more,
‘Till all the tasks of Time are done
And Man’s long march is o’er.”
M.W.S. 1896

Nevertheless, even as I could then, and can yet, stand on this hilltop, and, looking north, in imagination hear the musketry of Oriskany on that 7th day of August, 1777, as it rolled through the forest towards the villages of the Oneidas, with the eye of faith I can see, and the ear of faith I can hear, our beloved President does these things as he did them when he was with us, in the prime of his strength and greatness, though he now rests from his labors. But his works do follow him. May he rest in peace; and may light perpetual shine upon him!

This is probably our last official appearance on this stage. But our hearts are strong; and despite the 50 years that we passed, we say to our Mother – our potnia meter, of Old Greek’s hymn to her:

We will still be thy boys.
We will still be thy boys.

May it not be regarded out of place if I make mention of a few men just before us, whom we especially remember, and few men that came just after us, whom we helped to bring up and hold in special regard:

Warren I. Lee, Class of 1899. He is here. Congressman Lee, will you please stand.

My friends: behold one of the great members of the Class of 1899 and the Hamilton College of our day. He was a good friend of ours. We owe him much. I could introduce him as a Congressman — two terms; as a member of the New York State Assembly — two terms; as First Assistant District Attorney of Kings County, First Deputy Controller of the State of New York, great trial lawyer of the metropolis, noted for his public and political service.

But I content myself for this moment by recalling that in this time at Hamilton he was one of the fine orators and debaters, outstanding figure in College activities, and the distinguished holder of an unbroken series of first-prize victories in what was then a great track event, the mile walk. Sir: we salute you!

It occurs to me to wonder, Congressman Lee, whether you can yet remember that sentence from the speech of Senator Roscoe Conkling at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, 1880, placing in denomination for the office of President of the United States, the former General of the Armies, Ulysses S. Grant. You do. Would you be so kind as to deliver it to us again.

Congressman Lee:
“Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Convention: And if asked what state he hails from, this our sole reply shall be: From near Appomattox Courthouse, with its famous apple tree.”

Well done! That sounds as it used to sound 50 years ago.

Mr. H. Dorsey Spencer, Class of 1900. Would you be so kind as to stand? Here, friends, is one of the outstanding patent lawyers of the United States, but in college he was a good friend of ours and set us the finest sort of example in diligence, good conduct and conscientiousness. He was probably the greatest mathematician that was ever graduated from this college. He was editor of the Hamilton Literary Magazine. He was Valedictorian of his class. And it was said of him that he could really read Scientific German sight. We owe him much.

Were there present Charley Gilbert of the Class of 1902, I should ask him to stand also, and be recognized as The Right Reverend Charles Kendall Gilbert, 25years Suffragan Bishop, 1947-1950 Bishop, of the Diocese of New York, the greatest Anglican Diocese in the world, understudy of Bishop William T. Manning, and participant in the construction and management of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; now honorary Canon of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

But I would record of him some of the activities hat endeared him to us when he was a student at Hamilton College; one of the best-loved men in College, possessor of a beautiful baritone voice, prominent member of Choir and Glee Club, eloquent public speaker, fine debater, distinguished member of the Dramatic Club, fine student; and also — without depreciation of the doughty warriors who filled the position before and after him, the greatest center who ever played on a Hamilton football team. In every sense of the words — to use a phrase of our day — “a gentleman, a scholar, and an all-round athlete.” We regard him as one of our star pupils.

Clark H. Minor, Class of 1902.
For his largeness of heart and his generous benefactions, the College has loaded him with honors. I need not review these. They are richly deserved. I present him, however, as one of our pupils of 1902 of whom we are very proud indeed — very much because, although in his modesty he would deprecate the suggestion and would allow no one to write the details, we know him to be one of the very most important and most trusted men in the whole world — not merely in Hamilton College or New York State or the United States of America, but with all peoples in whose midst he has worked, with all governments and all political leaders he has dealt with, from Joseph Stalin to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. We remember him, however, chiefly on this occasion for what he was in college — a modest, clear-eyed, sound-thinking boy, even then commanding widespread respect.

Clark, before you sit down, I’d like to ask you one question if I may: What was your week’s salary on the first job you took after your graduation?

Mr. Minor:
“Ten dollars per week.”

And, although they are not here, I must note some other friends of ours, Mrs. Joseph Rudd and Mrs. George A. Watrous. They and their gallant husbands, Joseph Rudd of Class of 1890 and George A. Watrous, Class of 1894, now dead and gone, were among our very best friends in those days when we were here. They went with us on that West Point trip — they and the Strykers and Dr. and Mrs. V.B. Hamlin. They always went to see us play.

Although Joseph Rudd and George A. Watrous are gone, as are the Strykers and the Hamlins, Mrs. Rudd and Mrs. Watrous are still with us, and shall never forget them, any more than we shall forget their husbands.

To Mrs. Rudd and Mrs. Watrous we say:
The memory of your interest in us, your thoughtfulness, your loyalty and gracious hospitality and respects the Football Team of 1900, and your labor and devotion on behalf of Hamilton College, generally, in our time and ever since, will forever enrich our recollections. In the name of the Class of 1901, and of the Football Team of 1900, I thank you.