Vol. 1, Issue 17, September 9, 2003
Dr. Watson Cures All.
The Dept. of Social Scrutiny

Harvard Not Founded By Pirates, Say Experts

A recent study by Harvard University historians has found that the school was not founded by pirates, contrary to popular belief.

"We have thoroughly reviewed all relevant documentation from the earliest days of the University, and can conclusively say that John Harvard, for whom the University is named, was not the same person as the 'Hell-Born Harvard' who was the scourge of the Atlantic in the early 1600's," said Harvard History Professor Alan Fremont.

Harvard College was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was named for its first benefactor, John Harvard of Charlestown. Harvard was allegedly a young minister who, upon his death in 1638, left his library and half his estate to the new institution. However, historians have for centuries debated how a minister could possibly have acquired the nineteen chests of Spanish doubloons that served as the foundation of the College's endowment.

"Letters between Harvard and his contemporaries clearly demonstrate that he was bequeathed these chests of gold coins by wealthy parishioners," said Fremont. "Likewise, the fleet of frigates was a gift and used strictly for educational purposes." Fremont also clarifies that the traditional Harvard crimson does not in fact represent "the blood of our enemies."

"It rather defies belief that Harvard should deny its heritage in this manner," said Richard Levin, president of Yale University. "Now, we're an institution formed by buccaneers, and we're proud of it. Take the Skull and Bones Society, for example. Besides, how on earth does this study purport to explain Harvard's possession of so many Caribbean islands?"

John Harvard has long been a mysterious figure. His alleged swordfighting talents, documented in numerous French letters of the period, are difficult to reconcile with his vocation as a mild-mannered pastor. As the College grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, its curriculum was broadened, particularly in the sciences, and the College produced or attracted a long list of famous scholars, but the physical education department kept fencing and swashbuckling as mandatory requirements until 1848.

Charles W. Eliot, who served as president from 1869 to 1909, transformed the relatively small provincial institution into a modern university and is generally credited with sweeping allegations of the University's piratical past under the rug. In recent years they have resurfaced, however, and Harvard President Lawrence Summers has worked hard to combat them.

"This study should put to rest any notion that we have ever been associated with piracy, in the seventeenth century or the twenty-first," he said in a press conference, pounding the podium with his cutlass for emphasis. "You'll remember that if you know what's good for you."

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