Popular Science Monthly/Volume 75/August 1909/Jane Lathrop Stanford
|JANE LATHROP STANFORD|
By President DAVID STARR JORDAN
I AM to tell you to-day the story of a noble life, of one of the bravest, wisest, most patient, most courageous and most devout of all the women who have ever lived. I want to give to those of the university to whom its founders are but a memory some lasting picture of the woman who saved the university, which she and her honored husband founded in faith and hope, and who thus made possible the education you are receiving. I want to make my story as impersonal as I can, as though I spoke not for myself but for all of you, men and women of Stanford, with all gratitude towards the many who have helped in the great work, and with all charity towards those whose interests or whose conscientious convictions ranged them on the other side. If I am successful, you will see more clearly than ever before the lone, sad figure of the mother of the university, strong in her trust in God and in her loyalty to her husband's purposes, happy only in the belief that in carrying out her husband's plans for training the youth of California in virtue and usefulness she was acting the part to which she was assigned.
We have often said that Stanford University belongs to the Stanford students. It was the free gift of the founders, man and woman that were, to the students, the men and women that were to be. It is your university, yours and yours only, as once it was theirs.
But we must not interpret this gift too narrowly. It is not yours, you students of to-day, to have or to hold in any exclusive way. The university belongs to all the students, those who have been here, some ten thousand in all, those who are here to-day, seventeen hundred more or less, and those who are to come. Before these we count as nothing, for the students to come will number for each century about a hundred thousand. And there are many of these centuries, for the world is still very young, and a university once firmly rooted is as nearly eternal as human civilization itself can be. The university stands for the highest thought and wisest action possible for man, and the need of a university must endure so long as man exists; and that will be for a very long time. Man is bounded by the limits of space, but the race once established on this planet of ours, we see no limit of time, no prospect of a twilight of gods in which the darkness shall fall on the world because universities are no longer needed. The center of gravity of Stanford University, of its student body, and of its influence on civilization, is hundreds of years, thousands of years ahead.
To the students of to-day, the professors of to-day, and the trustees of to-day, the university to-day belongs, but not as a personal possession; only as a sacred trust. It is our first duty to see that its good name and its good work are kept untarnished and unimpaired. It is for the students to see that no custom of idleness or of dissipation, no fashion of cynicism or of disloyalty ever becomes hardened into a tradition at Stanford University. It is for the professors to strengthen them in this decision, and to point out the best that men have ever thought or done, to lead the way to gentle breeding and the enthusiasm of noble thought. Now, as ever, "the university must welcome every ray of varied genius to its hospitable halls," that their combined influences may "set the heart of the youth in flame." It is for the Board of Trustees and for the university executive to act as the balance wheel, guarding jealously the funds of the institution, that the generous present may not starve the future, and to see that no neglect or perversity of student or teacher shall work any permanent harm to the university whole. For the university must ever be infinitely greater than the sum of all its parts. For its largest part is never present for our measurement, and this part we can not measure is the sum of all its future influence.
This university was founded on love in a sense which is true of no other. Its corner-stone was love—love of a boy extended to the love of the children of humanity. It was continued through love—the love of a noble woman for her husband; the faith of both in love's ideals—and as an embodiment of the power of love Stanford University stands to-day.
It is fitting that these statements should not stand as mere words. I wish that in your hearts they may become realities. Not many of you as students have seen Mrs. Stanford. The last of the freshmen classes which she knew shall graduate as seniors a few weeks hence. None of you have known Leland Stanford, broad-minded, stout-hearted, shrewd, kindly, and full of hope, a man of action ripened into a philosopher. Our university has now reached its eighteenth year. During the first two years of its history, it was the hopeful experiment of Leland Stanford. The next six years its story was that of the heart throbs of Jane Lathrop Stanford, and the ten years following, with all their vicissitudes, have been years of calmness and certainty, for the final outcome is no longer open to question.
It is my purpose this evening to tell a little of the story of the six dark years, the years from eighteen ninety-three to eighteen ninety-nine, those days in which the future of a university hung by a single thread, but that thread the greatest thing in the world, the love of a good woman. If for an instant in all these years this good woman had wavered in her purposes, if for a moment she had yielded to fear or even to the pressure of worldly wisdom,-you and I would not have been here to-day. The strain, the agony, was all hers, and hers the final victory. And so any account of these years must take the form of eulogy. Eulogy, in its old Greek meaning is speaking well, and my every word to-day must be a word of praise. It is proper, too, that I should speak these words, and even that I should give this history from my own standpoint, because there were few besides myself who knew the facts in those days. Most of these facts even it is well for all of us to forget. For the rest, the facts in issue will appear only as needed for the background, before which we may see the figure of Mrs. Stanford.
I first saw the Governor and Mrs. Stanford at Bloomington, Indiana, in March, 1891. At that time, Governor Stanford, under the advice of Andrew D. White, the President of Cornell, asked me to come to California to take charge of the new institution which he was soon to open. He told me the story of their son, of their buried hopes, of their days and nights of sorrow, and of how he had once awakened from a troubled night with these words on his lips: "The children of California shall be my children." He told me the extent of his property and of his purposes in its use. He hoped to build a university of the highest order, one which should give the best of teaching in all its departments, one which should be the center of invention and research, giving to each student the secret of success in life. No cost was to be spared, no pains to be avoided, in bringing this university to the highest possible effectiveness.
In all this Mrs. Stanford was most deeply interested, supporting his purposes, guarding his strength, alert at every point, and always in the fullest sympathy.
Mr. Stanford explained that thus far only buildings and land had been given, but that practically the whole of the common estate would go in time to the university, when the founders had passed away. If he should himself survive, the gift would be his and hers jointly, though the final giving would be left to him. If the wife should survive, the property would be hers, and in her hands would lie the final joy of giving. Mr. Stanford gave his reason for not turning over the property at once, for this might leave his wife no controlling part in the future. It was not his wish that she should sit idly by while others should create the university. So long as she lived, it was his wish that the building of the university should be her work.
This attitude of chivalry in all this needs this word of explanation, for it shaped the whole future history of the university endowment. It was the source of some of the embarrassments which followed, and perhaps as well of the final success.
The university was opened on the first day of October, 1891, a clear, bright, golden, California day, typical of California October, and full of good omen, as all days in California are likely to be. There were on the opening day 465 students, with only 15 instructors, and the first duty of the president was to telegraph for more teachers, laying tribute on many institutions in the east and in the west.
Two years followed, with their varied adventures, which I need not relate to-day. It was on the twenty-second of June, 1893, that the university community was startled by the sudden death of Leland Stanford.
It is not my purpose now to praise the founder of the university. One single incident at his funeral is firmly fixed in my memory. The clergyman, Horatio Stebbins, in his stately fashion told a story of the Greeks doing honor to a dead hero; then, turning to the pall-bearers, stalwart railway men, he said: "Gentle up your strength a little, for His a man ye bear." A man, in all high senses, in that noblest of words, a man! was Leland Stanford.
After the founder's death, the estate fell into the hands of the courts. The will was in probate, the debts of the estate had to be paid, the various ramifications of business had to be disentangled, and meanwhile came on the fierce panic of 1893. All university matters stopped for the summer. Salaries could not be paid until it was found out by the courts by whom and to whom salaries were due. All incomes from business ceased. There was no such thing as income visible to any one, least of all to the great corporations.
After Governor Stanford's death, Mrs. Stanford kept to her rooms for a week or two. She had much to plan and much to consider. From every point of view of worldly wisdom, it was best to close the university until the estate was settled and in her hands, its debts paid and the panic over. Her own fortune was in the estate itself. Outside of her jewels, she had practically nothing of her own save the community estate, and this could not be hers until the payment of all debts and legacies had been completed. These debts and legacies amounted as a whole to eight millions of dollars. In normal times, there was hardly money enough in California to pay this amount; but these were not normal times, and there was no money in California to pay anything.
After these two weeks, Mrs. Stanford called me to her house to say that the die was cast. She was going ahead with the university. She would let us have whatever money she could get. We must come down to bed rock on expenses, but with the help of the Lord and the memory of her husband, the university would go ahead and fulfil its mission. It was no easy task to do this, as one incident will show. There could be no regularity in the payment of salaries. In the eyes of the law the university professors were Mrs. Stanford's personal servants. As such, it was finally arranged that they receive a special allowance from the estate. This allowance as household servants paid their salaries, and a registration tax of twenty dollars per year on each student had to cover all other expenses. But these two sources of income did not come at once, and the great farms run as experiment stations were centers of loss and not of income.
A single incident will make this condition vivid.
At one time in August, 1893, Mrs. Stanford received from Judge Coffey's court the sum of $500 to be paid to her household servants. It was paid in a bag of twenty-five twenty dollar gold pieces. Mrs. Stanford called me in and said her household servants could wait; there might be some professors in need, and I might divide the money among them. I put the money under my pillow, and did not sleep that night. Money was no common thing with us then. Next morning, on Sunday, I set out to give ten professors fifty dollars apiece. I found not one who could give change for a twenty dollar gold piece, and so I made it forty dollars and sixty dollars.
The same afternoon after I had gone the rounds $13,000 was brought down from the city for us other household servants. This sum was distributed, and then Mrs. Stanford sent word that as we had some money now perhaps we could spare her the $500. I drew a check for the sum against a long-vanished bank account, and covered the amount in the morning with the aid of some of my associates.
This incident again will explain why for six years the professors were paid by personal checks of the president, and why these were not always issued regularly, nor for the full amounts. We were all struggling together to be able to issue them at all. There was no certainty ahead of us. Most of the property was of such a character that it could not be divided, but must go in blocks of millions, if it went at all, and no one with millions at his disposal seemed inclined to invest it anywhere. The estate held a one fourth interest in the Southern Pacific System, and of all its many ramifications. Kept together, it could maintain itself, but if any division were made the smaller part might be subject to the process known as "freezing out."
I pass by many minor incidents of struggle and economy. The farms had to be abruptly closed, and then to be made to yield an income. This required wise management and rigid economy at the same time, but for all this Mrs. Stanford proved adequate. She learned her lessons as she went along, and came to take a wholesome pleasure in the Spartan simplicity of her life. If all else failed, there were the jewels to fall back upon; and she steadily refused to consider the advice (almost unanimous) of her counsel to close the university or most of its departments until some more favorable time. In 1895 she invited the pioneer class, then graduating, to a reception in her city home, one reason being that it was the last class that could ever graduate. We had nothing to run on, save the precarious servant allowance, then fixed at $12,500 per month, and liable to be cut to nothing at any day. Our expenses for 1893 had been nearly $18,000 per month. Sometimes we could sell a few horses from the stock farm, but it was never clear that the stock farm belonged to the university and not to the Stanford estate, and every dollar we gained this way piled up the possibilities of litigation. All these days were brightened by the steady support of her friends and advisers, Samuel F. Leib, Timothy Hopkins and Russell Wilson. Mr. Hopkins furnished the Library of Biology and paid unasked many minor expenses, his left hand not taking receipts for what his right hand was doing. No one can tell how much the university owes to these men, who in the darkest days planned to make the future possible. Very much too the university owed to the fraternal devotion of Mrs. Stanford's brother, Mr. Charles G. Lathrop, who cared for with sympathetic hand the scanty receipts and scanty fragments of these harassed days. The warm sympathy of Thomas Welton Stanford came from across the seas. His gift of the Library Building came as a shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
At last, adjustment of one kind after another being made, there was a glimpse of daylight, when we were thrust without warning into still darker night.
The government suit for fifteen millions was brought for the purpose of tying up everything in the Stanford estate until the debts of the Central Pacific Railway were paid. It was not claimed that the university owed anything, or that the Stanford estate owed anything, or that the railway owed anything, on which payment was due, and as a matter of fact the Southern Pacific Company paid in full every dollar it owed to the government as soon as it became due, and with full interest. There was never any reason to suppose that it would not do so, and never any reason to suppose that it could not afford to pay this debt, for the power to control the line from Ogden to San Francisco, called the Central Pacific, was in itself an enormous asset, worth the value of this debt. Failure to pay this debt would have meant loss of control of the most valuable single factor in the great railroad system. The claim of the United States was secured by a second mortgage on the Central Pacific. It was supposed that it would be sold to satisfy the first mortgage, and that it would realize no more than this sum, leaving, as a railway manager cynically expressed it, nothing but "two streaks of rust and the right of way." The government proposed, by a sort of injunction, to hold up the Stanford property, which would then be seized, in case the Southern Pacific Railway system should at some future time be found in debt. There was no warrant in law or in good policy for this suit. One United States judge spoke of it as "the crime of the century." It is not easy to work out the motives, political or personal or what not, which inspired it. Fortunately, just now it makes no difference.
The hardest feature of the matter lay in the attitude of those jointly interested in the ownership of the Southern Pacific System. These men declined to give any assistance in the struggle for justice and for the endowment of the university. All were financially concerned in the final outcome, but they left her to make the fight alone and at her own cost.
It should be said that none of the present owners or managers of the Southern Pacific were in any way concerned in this matter. It is also fair to say that this attitude was only the business man's point of view. It seemed impossible to save the estate and the university together. All receipts of the railroads (there were no profits) were needed to continue its operations, and the outlays of the university seemed to tho other owners of the railway system to involve a dangerous policy. On the other hand, to Mrs. Stanford the estate existed solely for the benefit of the university. To save the estate on these terms was to her like throwing over the passengers to lighten the ship. And as matters turned out, the university, the estate and the railway were all saved alike.
Perhaps we can get at the nature of this suit from a couple of letters written at the time. I find on our files a letter sent in November, 1894, to President Eliot of Harvard. In this letter I said:
The grounds of the government suit, in brief, are these. The Central Pacific Railroad was regarded as an impossibility by most of the people of California. Its builders exhausted their funds and their credit and tried in vain to get help from every quarter, even after receiving large donations of land then worthless. The U. S. government came to their aid, whether wisely or not . . . . it does not matter at present. The road when finished bore a first mortgage, covering all that it is now worth. The government took a second mortgage upon it as security for the payment of the debt due for the bonds it had advanced in aid of the corporation. . . .
There is a law in California, by which the original stockholders in a corporation are personally liable for its debts, if suit be begun within three years after the organization of the corporation. This law was intended to check "wild-cat" speculations.
It is claimed that under this law the estates of Stanford and Huntington are still liable for the amount of the second mortgage, to come due in a few years. It is claimed that the three-years' limitation does not hold against the government. This question of liability had not been raised when the estates of the two remaining partners were distributed, and its enforcement would be possible as against the Stanford estate alone, as Mr. Huntington, being alive, can withdraw his interests to Mexico, should the suit against Mr. Stanford be successful. Meanwhile, by the way, the question is tested for him at the expense of the Stanford estate, the railroad interests of which are in his hands as president of the road. . . .
It is believed by all jurists whom we have consulted, that the government has no case. The limitation of three years being an integral part of the statute in question, must hold against the government as against others. Furthermore, the aid extended by the government was not a debt incurred in business of the corporation.
However this may be, the courts will decide justly. Our anxiety is that they may decide speedily.
As to the various criticisms which you mention, permit me a word. In all personal matters, Mr. Stanford was perfectly truthful and just. Except in matters pertaining to the division of the earnings and bonds of the Central Pacific and the fact that its affairs were not made public, I have never heard his railroad career seriously criticized. In California, he had a very wide following among the best men, men who liked and respected him, not on account of his wealth and railroad connections, but rather in spite of them. In all the railroad war through which this state is passing, no responsible person has uttered a slur against Mr. Stanford or against the university.
It is not true that Mr. Stanford pretended to give the university a dollar more than he gave. He gave the three farms, formerly valued at $5,000,000, in these times worth much less; all the movable stock upon them, about $1,000,000 more; the university buildings costing $1,250,000; and by will $2,500,000 in cash. It was agreed by Mr. and Mrs. Stanford that each should be the residuary legatee of the other, and that whichever should survive should devote the rest of his or her life and estate to the university. The Stanford estate is therefore the university's endowment. Not in law but in fact the estate is the university. It was Mr. Stanford's feeling, and I was fully aware of it, that should his wife survive him, she should be free to endow the university and to control it as he had done. No one has ever struggled more loyally to do so than Mrs. Stanford. Since her husband died we have not received a dollar of his money, but the university has gone on without check or hindrance, though at times she has been forced to give up luxuries and to limit her expenses in every conceivable way. As a matter of fact, she has each year given me a personal bond for all she thinks that she can raise from the farms and from her own small personal property. Her devotion to the work is absolute and she is giving her life to it. When she loses, she will die.
The lands are unsalable only because the deed of gift prohibits their sale. In Mr. Stanford's lifetime they were conducted as parks. When they came into our hands, their products fell short by $10,000 to $20,000 per month of meeting the pay-rolls. This year under Mrs. Stanford's direction, they have yielded upwards of $150,000 above expenses. The sale of colts is a source of revenue now that the reputation of the Palo Alto stud is made.
No cash has ever been set aside in advance, for very simple reasons. I could not ask for it. Mr. Stanford was not expecting sudden death, financial panics, nor an attack from the government. He paid in cash all salaries and all bills, placed no limits on me, and on his sudden death left no debts against the university. There are now no debts left against his estate, which is appraised at $17,000,000, except the government claim which acts as an injunction tying everything up. It is not true that Mr. Stanford tried to "rear a personal monument by a good use of ill-gotten money." No one ever gave money in a more generous spirit, and there have not been many great givers who placed so few restrictions on their gifts. Personal vanity does not give without restrictions in its own interest. He claimed that no man in California was the poorer for his wealth, which was true. It never occurred to him that it was "ill-gotten" or needed any apology.
I know better than any one else, except his wife, can, how genuine Mr. Stanford's interest was. He treated me, and through me, the university, with perfect truthfulness and justice. For my part and that of the faculty, we have tried to make the fund in our possession, count every dollar for a dollar to the best advancement of higher education.As to the public at large, in time they will judge us by our fruits, if we are allowed to live to bear fruitage.
To a loyal friend of Governor Stanford, Senator Hoar of Massachusetts, I wrote this on June 20, 1894:
You who knew Senator Stanford well know that the recent attack of Mr. Geary on his motives was without foundation in fact. The feeling of revenge at any real or supposed slight on the part of the legislature in connection with the State University, had nothing to do with his actions. He was not a man to cherish that kind of feelings. The sole basis that accusation had was this: Mr. Stanford acted for a few days as a member of the State Board of Regents. He was very much surprised to find that this board ignored the recommendations of the president of the university, and in general were disposed to treat the university chairs as personal "spoils." This led Mr. Stanford to doubt whether, if he should endow a university for California, it would be wise to place it in the hands of a political board of regents. These conditions in the State Board have now changed for the better. Mr. Stanford always spoke most kindly of the State University. He frequently consulted with its professors and it was a great pleasure for him to know that the new institution has in every way helped the old one. The friendly rivalry has been most salutary to both. Instead of 450 college students in one school as in 1890, there are now 1,700 students in the two, besides the professional classes.
As a matter of fact, Mr. and Mrs. Stanford founded the university with the sole purpose of putting their fortune to the best use of their country. I know Mr. Stanford's motives in this regard as well as one man can know the motives of another, and I know that no feeling of revenge and no selfish feeling entered into these motives.
The university has now safely passed every other serious difficulty. Mrs. Stanford has no other purpose in life than that of carrying out every detail of her husband's purposes. Her devotion has shown itself in maintaining the work of the university unimpaired during this period of hard times, while the estates are in probate, and therefore not available for university purposes.
It would, I believe, be a great national calamity if this great fund were lost to higher education. It would be almost as great a calamity if it were exposed to the delay and loss of prolonged litigation.
I assure you that the great majority of the self-respecting people of California are very grateful to you for what you have done towards the protection of the university endowment.
The story of the passing of the great suit is known to all the old students of the university.
It was brought to trial in San Francisco in the United States District Court, and the university side of the question had the strong support of the great jurist, John Garber.
The decision of Judge Boss was against the claim of the government. It was appealed and came before Judges Morrow, Gilbert and Hawley, who again found no merit in the government contention. It was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, and here our case seemed hopeless. The Supreme Court moves slowly, and our lifeblood was ebbing fast. It takes money to run a university, and our money was almost gone. To delay the matter was to destroy us, and no one but ourselves had any interest in pushing along the decision. Finally Mrs. Stanford went to Washington to appeal to President Cleveland. She told him our story, and beseeched him to use his influence for a speedy settlement. Once for all, let us know the future and we will stand by it. At last, President Cleveland saw his duty, and through his influence the Stanford case was placed on the calendar of the United States Supreme Court for speedy trial. Joseph Choate, whose name every Stanford man should hold in grateful memory, supplemented the work of John Garber. The case came to trial, and by a unanimous decision, the work of Justice Harlan, Stanford University was again free!
The boys celebrated the victory as Stanford boys can. The United States Post office on the campus, a wooden shack now removed, was painted cardinal red, to its great improvement in appearance, and once for all and forever the future of the university was assured. This was the end of the dark days, but not of the days that were difficult. There were still eight millions of dollars to be paid. There was still the uncertainty as to whether Mrs. Stanford could survive to pay it, and the estate must come into her hands before she could give it to the university. She made many attempts to facilitate this transfer. At one time, we have the pathetic figure of the good woman going to the Queen's Jubilee in London, with all her own possessions, half a million of dollars worth of jewels, in a suit case carried in her hand. She hoped to sell these to advantage, when all the world was gathered in London. But the market was not good, and three fourths of them she brought back to California again.
And this seems the appropriate place for the story of the jewel fund. It is told in an address made at the foundation of the Library Building, and again and finally in a resolution of the Board of Trustees. On May 15, 1905, 1 said:
As the years passed a great sorrow came to them; their only child died in the glory of his youth. In their loneliness there came to these two the longing to help other children, to use their wealth and power to aid the youth of future generations to better and stronger life. They lived in California and they loved California; and because California loved them, as she loves all her children, this man said, "The children of California shall be my children." To make this true in very fact he built for them a beautiful "Castle in Spain," with cloisters and towers, and "red tiled roofs against the azure sky"—for "skies are bluest in the heart of Spain." This castle, the Castle of Hope, which they called the university, they dedicated to all who might enter its gates, and it became to them the fulfilment of the dream of years—a dream of love and hope, of faith in God and good will toward men.
In the course of time the man died. The power he bore vanished; his wealth passed to other hands; the work he had begun seemed likely to fail. But the woman rose from her second great sorrow and set herself bravely to the task of completing the work as her husband had planned it. "The children of California shall be my children"—that thought once spoken could never be unsaid. The doors of the castle once opened could never be closed. To those who helped her in these days she said: "We may lose the farms, the railways, the bonds, but still the jewels remain. The university can be kept alive by these till the skies clear and the money which was destined for the future shall come into the future's hands. The university shall be kept open. When there is no other way, there are still the jewels." Because there always remained this last resource, the woman never knew defeat. No one can who strives for no selfish end. "God's errands never fail," and her errand was one of good will and mercy. And when the days were darkest, the time came when it seemed the jewels must be sold. Across the sea to the great city this sorrowful, heroic woman journeyed alone with the bag of jewels in her hand that she might sell them to the money changers that flocked to the Queen's Jubilee. Sad, pathetic mission, fruitless, in the end, but full of all promise for the future of the university, founded in faith and hope and love—the trinity, St. Paul says, of things that abide. But the jewels were not sold, save only a few of them, and these served a useful purpose in beginning anew the work of building the university. Better times came. The money of the estate, freed from litigation, became available for its destined use. The jewels found their way back to California to be held in reserve against another time of need. A noble church was erected—one of the noblest in the land, a fitting part of the beautiful dream castle, the university. It needed to make it perfect the warmth of ornamentation, the glory of the old masters, who wrought "when art was still religion." To this end the jewels were dedicated. It was an appropriate use, but the need again passed. Other resources were found to adorn the church—to fill its windows with beautiful pictures, to spread upon its walls exquisite mosaics like those of St. Mark, rivaling even the precious stones of Venice. In the course of time the woman died also. She had the satisfaction of seeing the buildings of the university completed, the cherished plans of her husband, to which she had devoted anxious years, fully carried out. Death came to her in a foreign land, but in a message written before her departure to be read at the laying of the corner-stone of the great library, she made known the final destiny of the jewels. She directed that they should be sold and their value made a permanent endowment of the library of the university.
And so the jewels have at least come to be the enduring possession of all the university—of all who may tread these fields or enter these corridors. In the memory of the earlier students they stand for the Quadrangle, whose doors they kept open, and for the adornment of the church, which shall be to all generations of students a source of joy and rest, a refining and uplifting influence. To the students who are to come in future days the message of the jewels will be read in the books they study within these walls and the waves of their influence spreading out shall touch the uttermost parts of the earth.They say there is a language of precious stones, but I know that they speak in diverse tongues. Some diamonds tell strange tales, but not these diamonds. In the language of the jewels of Stanford may be read the lessons of faith, of hope and good will. They tell how Stanford was founded in love of the things that abide.
It was resolved by the Board of Trustees on May 29, 1908, as follows:
Whereas, the pressing financial needs of the university compelled her temporarily to forego said plan, and to sell many of said jewels in her lifetime in order to raise money to maintain the university; and
Whereas, by communication delivered to this board at its meeting, held February 22, 1905, Mrs. Stanford declared:
"In view of the facts and of my interest in the future development of the University Library, I now request the trustees to establish and maintain a library fund, and upon the sale of said jewels, after my departure from this life, I desire that the proceeds therefrom be paid into such fund and be preserved intact, and invested in bonds or real estate as a part of the capital of the endowment, and that the income therefrom be used exclusively for the purchase of books and other publications. I desire that the fund be known and designated as the "Jewel Fund." I have created and selected a Library Committee of the Board of Trustees, under supervision of which all such purchases should be made."
Now, therefore, in order to carry out said plan of Mrs. Stanford and to establish and maintain an adequate library fund, and to perform the promise made by this board to her, it isResolved, that a fund of five hundred thousand dollars, to be known and designated as the "Jewel Fund" is hereby created and established, which fund shall be preserved intact, and shall be separately invested and kept invested in bonds or real estate by the Board of Trustees, and the income of said fund shall be used exclusively in the purchase of books and other publications for the Library of the Leland Stanford Junior University, under the supervision and direction of the Library Committee of this Board of Trustees.
It was in these dark days that I was asked by President Cleveland through Mr. Charles S. Hamlin, to go to Bering Sea to help settle the fur seal disputes.
Before I started, in 1896, Mrs. Stanford said: Now that our affairs are looking so much better, do you not think that I might afford to bring back my housekeeper?" Her servants then were her secretary, her Chinese cook, and an old man, a servant of other days, who served as butler, without salary.
It was in these days, too, that Mrs. Stanford, going to Washington to settle up the household affairs of the mansion occupied while Mr. Stanford was senator, took four hundred dollars with her, lived in the private car owned by the Governor, attended to the packing of her goods, and the rental of her house to a senator from New York, and brought back $340 of the amount, which she turned over to me, to be used for the university. I have given this and other details private and personal, but full of meaning as showing her devotion to the university, and her utter unselfishness in carrying out the plans made by herself and her husband for the welfare of the men and women of the coming generations of California and of the world. While matters inside the faculty and the details of instruction were left to those supposed to be experts in these lines, for this was her husband's wish, she had always before her his purposes. "What would Mr. Stanford do under these conditions?" was always her first question; and in almost every instance this question led to a wise decision.
To outside suggestions as to this or that, she used to reply: "I will never concern myself with the religion, the politics or the love affairs of any professor in Stanford University." And this resolution she religiously kept.
With the passing of the government suit, conditions looked brighter. The payment of the eight millions went on very slowly, because the railway holdings could not be broken and must be sold as a whole if at all. The taxes on properties yielding no income became an intolerable burden. Besides, it was apparent that the original enabling act under which the Board of Trustees was organized contained grave defects, which might invalidate the actions of this Board. For this reason, mainly, the Board of Trustees existed in name only, Mrs. Stanford being in fact the sole trustee.
In 1899 the railroad holdings were sold, to good advantage, thanks to the good offices of a well-known German banker whose name I am glad to speak, James Speyer, and the estate at once passed out of debt. Finally, piece by piece, it passed into Mrs. Stanford's hands, and each piece was at once deeded to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees was legalized by a change in the State Constitution. The university was by the same means relieved of part of the burden of its taxes. At the earliest possible moment, Mrs. Stanford again and in full transferred the whole estate to the board, reserving for herself a relatively small sum "to play with" as she said, but in fact to give her occupation and means to carry out in her own way other plans of strengthening the university and of helping mankind. The Board of Trustees was then organized as a working body. Mrs. Stanford became its president, and this history passes over into the bright days of the dawn of the twentieth century.
Mrs. Stanford then left the university for a trip around the world by way of Australia and Ceylon. This was not that she wanted to see the world, or to be absent from her beloved Palo Alto, but that she wished to give to the Board of Trustees absolute freedom in taking up their great responsibilities. She wished them to handle the accumulated funds on their own initiative, without suggestion from herself.
The rest of the story can be told by others, for it is an open record. The whole may be summed up in these words of Mrs. Stanford in a letter written to me September 3, 1898:
Every dollar I can rightfully call mine is sacredly laid on the altar of my love for the university, and thus it ever shall be.
That all this may seem more real, I venture to quote a few paragraphs from personal letters of Mrs. Stanford written in the dark days from 1893 to 1899.
On the same day she said:
On July 20, 1896, she wrote to a candidate for a professorship:
The university still is restricted and limited in its ambitions and its aims, because of my inability to increase the number of students or the number of professors. The gift of $2,500,000 in bonds which I have by the grace of God been enabled to give to the trustees for the present and future maintenance of the university brings in a monthly income of $10,000, while the actual expenses for the faculty and the president and the necessary matters bring the sum total of expenses per month to $19,000; This $9,000 1 am obliged to furnish myself, through the strictest economy and the husbanding of resources; consequently I am not increasing expenses but on the contrary shall retrench in the future.
On December 28, 1895, she said:
I must confess to a feeling of great pride in our entire body of students, both male and female, and I think we are all in a way under obligations to them for their uniformly good conduct, and a desire, as my dear husband once expressed it, to be ladies and gentlemen.
On July 29, 1895, she wrote:
I send a precious letter from Mr. Andrew White for you to read. I read it with a heart running over with various emotions. Mr. Stanford esteemed him so highly I could not but feel like asking God to let my loved ones in heaven know the contents of this letter. I prize this letter beyond my ability to express. It lifted my soul from its heaviness. My heart is one unceasing prayer to the Allwise, All Merciful one, that all will be well for the future of the good work under your care. When the end of our troubles is over, all (these letters) will be placed in your hands for future reading by our students, a story for them when I have passed into peace.
Soon after, she wrote:
I return herewith Mr. Choate's kind letter. God bless him, for he was a friend indeed.
After the decision of Judge Ross (July 6, 1895), she wrote:
I dare not let my soul rejoice over the future. It must be more sure than it is now. I hope and pray that the final decision will be as sure as the first. It means more to me than you or the world have dreamed. It means an unsullied, untarnished name as a blessed heritage to the university. My husband often used to say: "A good name is better than riches." God can not but be touched by my constant pleading, and this first decision by Judge Ross makes me humble that I so unworthy should have received the smallest attention.
From Paris, August 30, 1897, she wrote:
I wish the rest of my responsibilities caused me as little care as does the internal working of the good work. I am only anxious to furnish you the funds to pay the needs required. I could live on bread and water to do this, my part, and would feel that God and my loved ones in the life beyond this smiled on the efforts to ensure the future of my dear husband's work to better humanity.
Again, in 1897, she writes to her trusted solicitor, Russell Wilson:
In July, 1898, she said:
If I am able to keep the university in the condition it is now, I shall be more than thankful. $15,000 a month is a great expenditure, and exhausts my ingenuity and resources to such an extent that had I not the university so close to my heart I would relieve myself of this enormous burden and take rest and recreation for the next year. But I prefer to see the good work going on in its present condition, and I am not promising myself anything further for the future until the skies are brighter than they are now.
On December 14, 1900, she repeats:
I could lay down my life for the university. Not for any pride in its perpetuating the names of our dear son and ourselves, its founders, but for the sincere hope I cherish in its sending forth to the world grand men and women who will aid in developing the best there is to be found in human nature.
These extracts, largely from business letters, will show better than any words of mine her spirit and her faith. These must justify and make live the words I used on February 28, 1905, the date of Mrs. Stanford's sudden death in Honolulu.
Hers has been a life of the most perfect devotion both to her own and her husband' 8 ideals. If in the years we knew her she ever had a selfish feeling, no one ever detected it. All her thoughts were of the university and of the way to make it effective for wisdom and righteousness.No one outside of the university can understand the difficulties in her way in the final establishment of the university, and her patient deeds of selfsacrifice can be known only to those who saw them from day to day. Some day the world may understand a part of this. It will then know her for the wisest, as well as the most generous, friend of learning in our time. It will know her as the most loyal and most devoted of wives. What she did was always the "best she could do. Wise, devoted, steadfast, prudent, patient and just—every good word we can use was hers by right. The men and women of the university feel the loss not alone of the most generous of helpers, but of the nearest of friends.
To these words spoken when the shock of the death of the mother of the university first came to her children, I added later a single thought as to Mrs. Stanford's conception of the future development of the university.
- Founder's Day address at Stanford University, March 9, 1909.