Jane Stanford

Jane Stanford

Jane Stanford (August 25, 1828–February 28, 1905), was the daughter of a shopkeeper and lived on Washington Avenue in Albany, New York. She met a young man delivering firewood from his father's woodlot and later, after he was admitted to the Bar in 1848, Jane wed Leland Stanford. They headed west, first to Wisconsin and then to California. She would eventually co-found Stanford University with her husband.

Born Jane Eliza Lathrop in Albany, New York, she married Leland Stanford on September 30, 1850. One of her direct ancestors, John Lathrop, was also an ancestor to American presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Upon the death of their only son Leland Stanford, Jr. on a trip in Italy, the elder Leland turned to his wife, Jane, and said, famously, "The children of California shall be our children." They then founded Leland Stanford Junior University in their son's honor. After Leland's death, Jane took control of the University and it was at her direction that Stanford University gained an early focus on the arts. She also advocated the admission of women.

Jane Stanford figured prominently in the issue of academic freedom when she sought and ultimately succeeded in having Stanford University economist Edward A. Ross fired for making speeches favoring Democrat William Jennings Bryan and for his liberal economic teachings. This resulted in the American Association of University Professors' "Report on Academic Freedom and Tenure" (1915, by Arthur Oncken Lovejoy and Edwin R. A. Seligman,) and in the AAUP 1915 Declaration of Principles.

She made her famous "jewel journey" to London, England during 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee to dispose of her collection of jewels to raise funds for her University, but she was not able to sell her storied ruby collection. Historian Oscar Lewis said that the Queen, from her carriage, nodded to Stanford, who was watching the parade from a rented window on Fleet Street.

Late in life, Stanford attempted to reconcile her differences with Collis P. Huntington at his offices in New York.

In 1905, Stanford was at the center of one of America's legendary mysteries. She allegedly died of strychnine poisoning while on the island of Oahu, in a room at the Moana Hotel. An account of events says that on the evening of February 28th, Stanford asked for bicarbonate of soda to settle her stomach. Her personal secretary, Bertha Berner, prepared the solution, which Stanford drank. At 11:15 p.m., Stanford cried out for her servants and hotel staff to call for a physician, feeling that she had lost sensation in her body. Robert Cutler, author of "The Mysterious Death of Jane Stanford," recounted what took place upon the arrival of Dr. Francis Howard Humphris, the hotel physician:

As Humphris tried to administer a solution of bromine and chloral hydrate, Mrs. Stanford, now in anguish, exclaimed, 'My jaws are stiff. This is a horrible death to die.' Whereupon she was seized by a tetanic spasm that progressed relentlessly to a state of severe rigidity: her jaws clamped shut, her thighs opened widely, her feet twisted inwards, her fingers and thumbs clenched into tight fists, and her head drew back. Finally, her respiration ceased. Stanford was dead from strychnine poisoning. [cite news
title=QUICK STANFORD VERDICT.; Coroner's Jury Reached Its Conclusions in Less Than Two Minutes.
work=New York Times

The source of the strychnine was never identified. Today, the room no longer exists, having been incorporated in an expansion of the hotel lobby. Stanford was buried alongside her husband Leland and their son at the Stanford family mausoleum on the Stanford campus.



Dickson, Samuel "Tales of San Francisco" 1947, Stanford University Press LC # 57-9306

External links

* [http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/neighbors/communityday/capsule/jane.html Jane Stanford--Jane Stanford's 1898 Time Capsule]
* [http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2003/sepoct/features/jane.html Stanford Magazine--"Who Killed Jane Stanford?"]
* [http://www.columbia.edu/cu/president/communications%20files/cardozolecture.htm "President Bollinger Delivers Cardozo Lecture on Academic Freedom - 2005, Columbia U.]
* [http://www.aaup.org/governance/resources/Tierney.pdf "The roots/routes of academic freedom and the role of the intellectual" --William G. Tierney, American Association of University Professors]
* [http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/566 "American Association of University Professors' 1915 Declaration of Principles"]

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