...Comes this magnificent piece of news, via Theresa P.
(This post is a follow-up to Scoundrels of Philadelphia.)
Haverford College—which is on the outskirts of, yes, Philadelphia—has restored to its rightful owners a valuable 1641 letter by René Descartes that was only recently authenticated. It rightfully belonged to the Institut de France, from which it was stolen by the infamous (and ironically named) Count Guglielmo Libri some 170 years ago.
The last time one of the stolen letters turned up, the current owner held it for a huge ransom that the Institut couldn't afford to pay. So guess what Haverford did with theirs?
They gave it back.
"Haverford values social responsibility and commitment to community as much as we value rigorous academics,” said Haverford president Stephen G. Emerson, '74. "While we’ve certainly benefited from having the Descartes letter in our collection [...] there was really only one possible course of action: do the right thing, and offer to return the letter. We certainly hope someone else would do the same for us if the shoe were on the other foot."
Emerson gets TOP's mensch award for that. (Okay, TOP doesn't have a mensch award, but if it did, he'd get it.) Haverford, not surprisingly, has one of the oldest honor codes of any American college. What a shame that more of the movie villains from The Art of the Steal were evidently not exposed to concepts like "honor" and "doing the right thing" back when their minds were still impressionable.
(Jeez, and after all this time, I find the college I should have attended. Only 35 years too late. You know what they say: oh well.)
Haverford's president again: "In our ever-shrinking world, when strangers become friends and then partners at the click of a mouse, we want to do all we can to show, by example, what it means for scholars and citizens to collaborate for the common good."
(Thanks to Kent and Theresa)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.