Friday, November 7, 2014

Edward Ross explains his resignation from Stanford University

Following the (at the time) infamous "Ross Affair", Professor Edward Ross had this to say about his resignation:
At the beginning of last May a representative of organized labor asked Dr. Jordan to be one of the speakers at a mass meeting called to protest against coolie immigration, and to present 'the scholar's view.' He was unable to attend, but recommended me as a substitute. Accordingly, I accepted, and on the evening of May 7th read a twenty-five minute paper from the platform of Metropolitan Hall in San Francisco. . . . I tried to show that owing to its high, Malthusian birth rate the Orient is the land of 'cheap men,' and that the coolie, though he can not outdo the American, can underlive him. I took the ground that the high standard of living that restrains multiplication in America will be imperiled if Orientals are allowed to pour into this country in great numbers before they have raised their standard of living and lowered their birth rate. I argued that the Pacific is the natural frontier of East and West, and that California might easily experience the same terrible famines as India and China if it teemed with the same kind of men. In thus scientifically co-ordinating the birth rate with the intensity of the struggle for existence, I struck a new note in the discussion of Oriental immigration which, to quote one of the newspapers, 'made a profound impression.' On May 18th, Dr. Jordan told me that quite unexpectedly to him Mrs. Stanford had shown herself greatly displeased with me, and had refused to re appoint me. He had heard from her just after my address on coolie immigration. He had no criticism for me and was profoundly distressed at the idea of dismissing a scientist for utterances within the scientist's own field. He made earnest representations to Mrs Stanford, and on June 2d I received my belated re-appointment for 1900-1. The outlook was such, however, that on June 5th I offered my resignation.

When I handed it in Dr. Jordan read me a letter which he had just received from Mrs. Stanford and which had, of course, been written without knowledge of my resignation. In this letter she insisted that my connection with the university end, and directed that I be given my time from January 1st to the end of the academic year. My resignation was not acted upon at once, and efforts were made by President Jordan and the president of the board of trustees to induce Mrs. Stanford to alter her decision. These proved unavailing, and on Monday, November 12th, Dr. Jordan accepted my resignation in the following terms:

'I have waited till now in the hope that circumstances might arise which would lead you to a reconsideration. As this has not been the case, I, therefore, with great reluctance, accept your resignation, to take effect at your own convenience. In doing so I wish to express once more the high esteem in which your work, as a student and a teacher, as well as your character as a man, is held by all your colleagues.'

Last year I spoke three times in public - once before a university extension centre on 'The British Empire,' once before a church on 'The Twentieth Century City,' and once before a mass-meeting on coolie immigration. To my utterances on two of these occasions objection has been made. It is plain, therefore, that this is no place for me. I can not with self-respect decline to speak on topics to which I have given years of investigation. It is my duty as an economist to impart, on occasion, to sober people, and in a scientific spirit, my conclusions on subjects with which I am expert, and if I speak I can not but take positions which are justified by statistics and by the experience of the Old World. . . . I am sorry to go, for I have put too much of my life into this university not to love it. My chief regret in leaving is that I must break the ties that bind me to my colleagues of seven years, and must part from my great chief, Dr. Jordan.

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