Continued from Valedictory: Part One

Stray observations

My attention was caught by a few items in particular.

  • Princeton University faculty voted to approve Janeway’s nomination, and thus bequeath to him the honor of class valedictorian, on Sunday, 11 April 1965. They did so, despite Janeway’s obvious inability to effectively manage the Response event. The Princetonian does not mince words; “embarrassing failure” is an accurate description for leadership of an event that publicly embarrassed an Assistant Secretary of Defense, a Republican Congressmen and a Democrat senator. These events transpired on the prior day, 10 April 1965.
  • Further complicating matters include Janeway’s status as a member of the editorial staff of the The Princetonian, the very same publication in which all activities and events were reported.

Unproven, unsubstantiated conjectures

It is difficult to draw any conclusions. I will list a few possibilities, each of which is based on nothing other than speculation on my part. William Janeway may have been a beneficiary of his social status and family background, or he may have been a victim.

Perhaps The Princetonian has sterling standards of journalistic integrity, thus factually reported on the morass of simultaneously occurring yet logically contradictory events of that weekend in April 1965? The lack of situational analysis, and consequences vis-a-vis young William Janeway, could have been due to Ivy League tact, tradition and noblesse oblige.

Discretion is the better part of valor

Alternatively, it may have been intended as discrediting innuendo while taking care to avoid blatant defamation.

Perhaps the faculty of Princeton University weighted lightly this one organizational and leadership blunder by Janeway, when contrasted with his many achievements during the prior four years? Maybe so, yet there was precedent. I am referring to a passage quoted in my previous post. 1965 was the second year in a row that Response attendance was inordinately low, with a count of 200 or fewer. In prior years, typical attendance was approximately 2000. It bears mentioning that William Janeway was the selected leader of Response for both the 1964 and 1965 events.

Response was even the beneficiary of corporate sponsorship, in the form of an annual stipend of $2000 by ummm, I forgot. Proctor & Gamble or similar.

Perhaps this was the manifestation of a nefarious plan to sully young Bill Janeway’s reputation and future prospects? Why would anyone wish ill on W. H. Janeway, first-born son of Eliot and Elizabeth Janeway? I know little of Eliot Janeway, whose legacy is less publicly visible than his activities while alive. Eliot Janeway was born into a Jewish‡ family, though he disavowed his heritage for many years.

Perhaps Eliot Janeway and his son William were the focal point of bias and discrimination in the Ivy League milieu of that era? Such speculation is fraught with yet further uncertainty.

If there were bias, it may have been motivated by fear as much as antipathy or envy. This is why: Eliot Janeway was a consummate political insider with no apparent agenda nor ideology, as observed (by me) with historical hindsight, and minimal context, admittedly. For example, he was an initial supporter of Lyndon B. Johnson, then later criticized the LBJ Presidency. The same could be said regarding his interactions with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 20 years earlier.

Eliot Janeway was well-educated, but his avocation as political columnist does not seem commensurate with his apparent wealth e.g. as endowing benefactor of the famous Princeton University Economic Lecture Series, one of the most acclaimed of which was delivered by eminent economist James Tobin in 1972.


I was also born into a Jewish family. I also disavowed my heritage for a few embarrassing years when growing up as an outlier in New Mexico. I continued to disavow while studying math at Swarthmore College, where it was cool to carry The Marx-Engels Reader everywhere. It wasn’t cool to acknowledge that Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky were Jewish, much less be Jewish oneself.

Next, I had the misfortune to like an attractive mechanical engineering PhD candidate while I attended graduate school at Stanford University. He was a wannabe-Communist. Thankfully, I later met an even more attractive Stanford Graduate School of Business PhD candidate who liked how I looked. He was not a Communist! He was from rural Iowa, tall and platinum blonde, son of a Friesian farmer (not sailor… although there were numerous other similarities with former CIA Director Petraeus, but I will save that story for another day). After that, I no longer felt inclined to disavow my Jewish heritage.

Times were different for me in Palo Alto (1990), than for Eliot Janeway in the Northeast Corridor (1940) though.

To be continued in Part Three: A Keynesian Mystery