Letters to Mary #5

Boylston Hall, Harvard, 1857

Boylston Hall, Harvard, 1857

While a student at Harvard College in 1860, Clayton Francis Becker witnessed a student rite of passage that still plagues some schools.

He wrote this note to his sister, Mary:

Yesterday seven of the sophomore class were suspended for “Hazing a Freshman” – our “run the green* off.” The rest of the class of 70 or 80 in sympathy hitched themselves to an open wagon and hauled their unfortunate brothers through the principal streets and to the President’s house where they apeared for the faculty tea. Afterwards they sent them to town (Boston) in a carriage equipped for the occasion.

          The college took swift action. The day after the event, The New York Times (November 22, 1860) reported the names and hometowns of seven young Harvard men who were suspended for one year for hazing freshmen. The apparent ringleader was suspended for a full two years.

*Freshmen have long been called “green” or “greenies,” meaning inexperienced or not yet mature

After graduating with the Harvard Law Class of 1862, Clayton Francis Becker served as a law clerk in Washington, D.C. He married and went west in 1867 to establish a St. Louis law practice. Gold fever lured him to Colorado in 1880 and he hung out his shingle in the mining town Central City. He served two terms as Gilpin County judge and one term as district judge before retiring in 1893 to his new home at 1145 Emerson Street in Denver. Judge Becker died in 1907 leaving behind his 1862 Harvard yearbook, receipts for his educational expenses, and a packet of letters his sister Mary had saved.

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Published in: on August 5, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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