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What’s In A Name?

During the semester just ending, I followed my custom of starting each class with a prayer and then a roll call. In History 204 (“Lincoln and His Legacy”), the process was unexceptional until the home stretch, when I lectured on Reconstruction following the Civil War. Among the chief players in that process was Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, one of a group of radical Republicans who were adamant in their insistence on full equality for the men and women recently freed from slavery. After class that day, Thaddeus S. Logan IV ’12 came up to tell me that he is named for Thaddeus Stevens–the fourth in his family line, starting with his great-grandfather. To complete the connection, his middle name is Sumner, after Charles Sumner the Massachusetts senator who was severely caned on the floor of the US Senate in 1856 after delivering a passionate denunciation of proslavery tactics in the Kansas Territory. I reflect with satisfaction on Thaddeus Sumner Logan’s connection with America’s antislavery past and its personal representation in the current senior class. At a time when the campus community has been celebrating the publication of Diane Brady’s FRATERNITY and the inspiring story she describes, it is gratifying to have had in class a gifted young man whose very name connects him with heroes of the past–men whose efforts reached a culmination of sorts on Mount Saint James in 1968 and the years that followed.

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