Dear Dartmouth

What do J. Edgar Hoover, George Washington, and Ray Kroc have in common? All wrote letters to the College. A deep dive into the archives

Malicious Snarlings
Jan. 25, 1772

Rev. and Dear Sir,…Dartmouth College has many bitter enemies, who stick not at the most horrid falsities to injure us; but perseverance will overcome their malicious snarlings. Truth will prevail. Their newspaper publications are infamous, and deserve no answer. Indeed, they are so flimsy and apparently spiteful that they are despised. After this year I think all your difficulties are done….I beg leave to assure you that no man whatever can be more happy in the establishment of the College or in promoting your personal happiness than, dear sir,            
Your very affectionate friend,

J. Wentworth 
Portsmouth, NH 

NOTE: The author was the royal governor.


A Work In Progress
April the 7th, 1776

Most Honored and Revrind Sir, I tack a graid deil of Plaishire writing to the Doctor at this time. I am well at Presait, thanks be to god for it. I hoap these Fue lines will find the Doctor in good health. I staid at Cambridge till after Boston was takin, and then our Regt was ordert into town, and I dident Lick to stay thear….we Expect to imbark to Night For Newyork, and from thence to Phelledelfe, and then to Verginey, and from thence to Carreliney, and then to Fort Pit. thrue the goodness of god, our Ennemies Fleeth when no man Porshueth….I had Privet inteligints from a worthe gentleman that King Gorge has geen up Quback and Novecoshe to the frinch, and I Ernistly wish it may be For our good….Pray, Revrind Sir, Remember me in your humbil Prayers. I, most Revrind Sir, with all Respect and Submition, your Verrey humbil Servint, 

Joseph Verrieul

NOTE: Verrieul came from Quebec to Hanover in 1771, when he caught the attention of Eleazar Wheelock. The president later wrote that he was “determined to carry [Verrieul] through a collegiate course at his own expense” due to his “lively, ingenious” personality. Instead, Verrieul joined the colonial army and, after this letter, was heard from no more.


Not In My Backyard
Spring, 1777

Docr Wheelock: Sir, I should take it as a grait Favour if you would put up your small pigs, for they Daly Do me Damage; and as you are knowing to it, I shall take it unkind if you don’t take care of them.

From your humble Servt., 

George Eager


Green Mountain Boys 
14th of June, 1778

Reverend Sir, Your [proposition of secession] to the General Assembly of the State of Vermont appears to me Reasonable….[I] Shall use my Influence that this Assembly Take the College under their Patronage, and Invest yourself with Civil Authority in the manner you Desire….

Permit me, reverend sir, to assure you that in all things I will exert myself to strengthen your hands; and I pray that the Blessing of God may accompany your Labour, to the Great Happiness and building up of this State and the Eternal Well-being of many Souls in the world to come.

I am, Reverend Sir, with Due Deference,
Your most Obedient & Most Huml Servant,

Ethan Allen
Bennington, Vermont

NOTE: Allen schemed to create the state of Vermont to thwart New York’s acquisitive territorial interests. For a time, Wheelock threw in with Allen, thanking him for his “friendly and Charitable Patronage.”


American Fabius
22d day of August, 1789

Gentlemen, In assigning so important an agency to the endeavors of an individual, as mentioned in your [invitation to visit Dartmouth], you render a tribute to my services which a sense of propriety forbids me to assume. For the flattering terms in which you are pleased to express your sentiments of those services, and for the kind wishes which you [proffer] in my behalf, I thank you with grateful sincerity.

To the animated spirit of freedom that pervaded our country, and to the firm temper of our citizens, which braved all dangers in defence of their privileges (under the protecting care of Divine Providence), are we indebted for the blessings of political independence. To the enlightened policy which has directed our publick councils we owe the reform and establishment of our Federal Constitution. Under its auspicious influence, aided by the industry of those citizens who compose the great family of our Union, we may hope for the substantial enjoyment of individual happiness and national honor. From your superintending care, Gentlemen, as the guardians of a seminary and an important source of science, we are to derive great assistance in accomplishing these desiderata.

That your labors may be crowned with success and render you happy in its consequences, is my sincere prayer.

George Washington

NOTE: The nation’s first president had been elected in March. He had planned to visit the “interior country” of the Granite State in November 1789 but could not make the trip after visiting Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The College’s second president, John Wheelock, Eleazar’s eldest son, had prepared a speech for the occasion. It concluded with these words: “Guarded and directed by the auspices of our divine parent, you have justly merited these sublime and endearing epithets: the savior of your country and the founder of a new empire.” 


A Simple “No” Would Suffice
Revd Nathan Lord D.D.
President of Dartmouth College
8 Nov., 1838

Dear Sir, The obliging terms in which your Letter of the 15th ult. urges my acceptance of the invitation tendered me by the two Literary Societies of the undergraduates of Dartmouth College to address them on their next Anniversary, demand my grateful acknowledgements.

They increase also my regret at finding myself compelled to meet so flattering a request with any other answer than immediate and cheerful compliance.

Among the learned Seminaries of education in the land, Dartmouth College stands in the line of the highest rank. To be deprived of the opportunity of adding a word of encouragement and exhortation to the pursuit of liberal studies, and generous morals, to which her youthful pupils are daily stimulated by the precept and example of their immediate instructors, is a disappointment to me which I hope will plead my excuse to them.

I am, with great respect, Dear Sir,
your very obedt Serv

John Quincy Adams


“Moral Welfare”
May 2, 1887

To the President and Faculty of Dartmouth College:
Gentlemen, I am now keeping a strictly Temperance Hotel, and, provided the prohibition which prevents College students from boarding at my Hotel shall be removed, I hereby promise that no intoxicating drinks of any kind shall be sold or furnished to any one, directly or indirectly, on or about the premises, and that the Hotel shall be kept free from whatever is objectionable and incompatible with the moral welfare of the community. 

G.F. Kibling

NOTE: Kibling received the following unsigned reply: “In view of the above pledge the President and Faculty withdraw the prohibition.”


Forecast: Showers
Nov. 25, 1891

My dear [President Bartlett]: A few gentlemen, Alumni of the college, had some talk or conversation here yesterday as to [how] the gymnasium is now practically of little use, especially in winter for want of heat, and that there are no accommodations for bathing in the building; That it is not properly protected against the use or abuse by the town boys, and on the whole the building is not now accomplishing the purpose for which it was erected, to the extent at least that it ought to.

Statements were made to the effect that Dartmouth is falling so far behind other colleges in this matter of athletics, that young men go to other colleges for that reason. It is of course true that it is not the chief object, or the first purpose of the college to turn out physical athletes, at the same time it is said to be true that as a matter of fact opportunities for athletics now play quite a part in the decision of the question with young men, where they shall go to college. It was not so in your or my day, but if it is the fact, it is the part of wisdom to acknowledge it and act accordingly…[to] (try at least to) raise $30,000….It is the desire of the Alumni Association to go to work at once if their proposition is favorably considered.

Very Truly Yours, 

J.B. Richardson


Prodigal Son
Nov. 22, 1897

To the President and Faculty of Dartmouth College: 
Gentlemen: Fully realizing the seriousness of the offence which has brought me into the unfortunate position which I now occupy; and deeply regretting the fact that I have been influenced against any better judgment to compromise my honor as a student of Dartmouth College, by committing a dishonest act while under examination, I do petition you, The President and Faculty of Dartmouth College to allow me to resume, at once, my former place in college and to place myself under the recent act of the student body—the adoption of the Honor System. Should your honorable and just body see fit to grant this, my prayer for reinstatement, I promise to the system an earnest, faithful and conscientious support and to the College a never failing loyalty in the observance of all its laws, rules and regulations.

Very respectfully,

Walter T. Sumner


Prosperous Son
Febr. 12th, 1902

My dear [William Jewett] Tucker: Your letter of December 20th followed me to Egypt where we spent the most of December on the Nile, returning to Italy in January and coming gradually via Naples, Rome and Florence to Monte-Carlo….

I have received the photographs you sent me and am glad to see the handsome and substantial building, “College Hall.”

The physical improvements in [Hanover] are going on evidently hand in hand with the increase in influence and usefulness of the College. It is a pleasure to see the old institution marching forward in line with all that is modern and liberal, after its period of lethargy that lasted for fifty years or more. I hope your Board of Trustees will be strengthened as opportunity offers, by the election of men of position and ability, and of action, who will do their share to help on the good work of which you bear the brunt….

I am glad to see that it will be the aim of the [Tuck] School to bring the student in touch with practical business men. There is much that can be taught young men regarding the essential conditions of success, zeal, promptness, indefatigability, exactitude, seeking always to be more useful, the consciousness that in business to forget a thing is a crime, etc., etc., which, up to this time, successful men have had to learn by experience, unless they knew them by instinct.

I believe these qualities can be cultivated in many, when they might otherwise lie dormant….

Yours Ever,

Edward Tuck
Monte-Carlo, Hotel de Paris

NOTE: Philanthropist Tuck, class of 1862 and Tucker’s former roommate, donated $300,000 in 1899 to endow the Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance, since renamed the Tuck School of Business.


Pin Action
March 10, 1904

Dear Sir: Have you personally, or in your mind has the College, any objection to a Bowling Alley in Hanover? Bowling is now a recognized sport in New England, in Hanover it would, as an athletic sport, fill in the gap in the dull Winter between the outdoor sports.

An alley would give employment to three or four college men. Any questions will be cheerfully answered.

Respectfully yours,

Frank E. Cudworth ’01
Portsmouth Bowling Alleys
Portsmouth, N.H.


Great Leap Forward
27 March, 1909
Mr. E.M. Hopkins,

Dear Sir: We are shipping you today another No. 12 Hammond on which we believe you will find the special spacing, together with the No. 26 type shuttle, a perfect match for your multigraph work. The ribbon sent on the machine may be a trifle too light to satisfy you. If so, drop us a card by return mail, and we will at once send you on spools a more heavily inked ribbon that may blur a little, but perhaps will not be very noticeable in simply filling in so few words as you usually fill in, we believe.

Should be glad to hear how you like the machine….

Very truly yours,



Data Quest
January 22, 1914 

Dear Sir: As the chairman of the Board of Advisers to foreign students, I am gathering some information about the distribution of the foreign students in American universities and their choice of work….

How many countries are represented by your foreign student body? Which countries?....

—Are there any foreign students enrolled in the Graduate School?....

—Do you have a special committee in charge of these students?

—Do you have a Cosmopolitan Club? Chinese Club? Latin-American Club? Etc.

—Have the foreign students any difficulty in finding agreeable and suitable rooms?

—Do you have special classes in English for foreign students?

Thank you in advance for your kind cooperation, 

I am very sincerely yours,

J.A.C. Hildner
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, Michigan

NOTE: The following reply was sent.

Dear Sir, In reply to your questionnaire of Jan. 22nd I submit the following information. Seven countries—Canada, Dominican Republic, Armenia, Japan, Egypt, Greece, Hawaii. Each country sends 1 student except Canada which sends 2.

—No foreign Graduate Students

—No special committee

—No clubs

—The foreign students have no difficulty in finding rooms

—No special classes in English are held for the foreigners

Please send us the result of your investigation.

Secretary to the President


November 17, 1941

Dear Dr. Hopkins: I wish to acknowledge receipt of your communication of November 10, 1941, and to thank you for your courtesy in communicating with me.

In order that additional information may be obtained concerning the activities to which you have referred, arrangements have been made with Mr. V.W. Peterson, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Justice, 10 Post Office Square Building, Room 1016, Boston, Massachusetts, for you to be interviewed by an Agent from our Boston Office. In this manner we will be able to obtain a full and complete picture of the activities to which you refer.

Sincerely yours,

J. Ed. Hoover
Washington, D.C.

NOTE: The FBI director was responding to the following letter from President Ernest Martin Hopkins.

Dear Mr. Hoover: Some number of us who are not, I think, given to hysteria and who are likely in general to look on charges of fifth columnist activities with agnostic eye are curious about some of the activities going on here in the upper Connecticut Valley and to the north of us in some of the White Mountain resorts.

There isn’t, I think, the slightest question about where the sympathies of some of the people are who are coming into the region or who have established organizations within it, but whether these sympathies go further than mental attitudes, we do not know.

At any rate, I have some data that I should be glad to turn over to responsible parties if you would advise me to whom to go. Might I ask for your counsel in this matter?

Yours very truly,

Ernest Hopkins


April 25, 1969

Gentlemen: In these most trying times, when true courage is needed, let us not forget that “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

Dartmouth College[’s] undergraduate body, selected with great care, contains, unfortunately, some subversive elements, probably inspired and supported by those who would destroy not only the College, but our Nation and our intellectual freedom. Basically, I believe that it is the Communists, including the international organization as well as those who follow the party line, who would destroy America….

Let me urge you to expel from the College all who would destroy it, regardless of the position of the individual, whether that of undergraduate, graduate student, or in any other manner connected with the College….

Be courageous! At the risk of losing a majority of the student population, expel those who, through violent means, would destroy the College and the intellectual freedom which the College has always believed in and provided the forum for.


George V. Parkhurst
Class of 1930, former member, Alumni Council


Paternally Grateful
May 8, 1969

Dear Sir: I regret to state that my son [name redacted], a sophomore, was involved in the recent demonstration or sit-in. This situation is painfully embarrassing and reflects a paternal failure to engender a stimulation towards positive dissent with an appreciation for law and order.

Your reaction was most dynamic and positive and met completely the demands of the confrontation. I am certainly proud that my son has the benefit of your type of leadership.

Naturally I would prefer to avoid any publicity. This note is of a personal nature to express my admiration and compliments for a job well done.

[name redacted]


Bare truth
May 3, 1974

Dear Mr. President: Although I have never thought of Baker Library as being a House of Humor, exactly, I find I have another anecdote to pass along to you, emanating from these precincts, which has struck me as hilariously funny and may, indeed, amuse you, as well.

With regard to the recent incident in which, as you know, three “streakers” made a nocturnal dash through the Reserve Corridor of Baker, one of my administrative colleagues went down, the next morning, to check with the staff member—a woman aged sixty-plus—who had been in charge of the Reserve Desk the night before. The supervisor, after making a few general inquiries about the matter, said: “I understand from the news accounts that the ‘streakers’ were wearing ski masks.”

“Oh,” replied the Reserve Desk lady, with evident surprise; “I didn’t notice the ski masks!”

Yours ever,

Edward Connery Lathem
Dean of Libraries and Librarian of the College 


Egghead McMuffin
July 26, 1977

John [Kemeny]….You have restored my faith in higher learning. I don’t like eggheads—you are one of us and a regular guy. God bless.

Ray Kroc

Letters to Dartmouth presidents are sealed at Rauner Library for 25 years following the end of an administration. President James O. Freedman’s records will be unsealed in 2023.


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