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Nicholas MiraculousThe Amazing Career of the Redoubtable Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler$
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Michael Rosenthal

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231174213

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231174213.001.0001

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“Dear Tessie”

“Dear Tessie”

(p.198) Chapter Nine “Dear Tessie”
Nicholas Miraculous

Michael Rosenthal

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the scandal involving Harry Thurston Peck, one of Columbia University's most illustrious faculty members, and his former stenographer, Esther Quinn. Peck, an old college friend of Nicholas Murray Butler's, was sued by Quinn for breach of promise. Peck had allegedly proposed marriage in September 1908, the very month in which he divorced his first wife. Quinn learned, according to the action she was currently bringing in New York's Supreme Court, that Peck had instead married someone else in August 1909. Quinn and her attorney claimed Peck had written her letters during their ten-year friendship. Having read the sampling of the letters, Butler “was morally certain that Peck had written them.” When he summarily dispatched Peck from Columbia, the latter refused to resign, and instead gave virulent interviews to newspapers accusing Butler of moral and administrative failures. This chapter also considers Butler's dispute with Joel Elias Spingarn, a professor of comparative literature.

Keywords:   faculty, Harry Thurston Peck, Columbia University, Esther Quinn, Nicholas Murray Butler, letters, Joel Elias Spingarn

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