The Swarthmore Case:
An Addendum on Freedom
A LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE located outside of Philadelphia at Swarthmore was small, peace-loving, and Quaker. The time was 1907. The Swarthmore incident came about during the turmoil surrounding football ethics and brutality. While Swarthmore was not one of the athletic powers of the east, it was represented at the original MacCracken meeting to "ban or reform" football late in 1905, and had voted with the 8-5 majority to reform rather than abolish the game. It sent a delegate to the original meeting of the NCAA that same December, and it was a charter member of the NCAA. Unlike Columbia and Union colleges in the east, Swarthmore continued to play football under the reformed rules.
Anna T. Jeanes decided she might accomplish at Swarthmore that which Harvard President Charles Eliot could not—ban football. Jeanes, a millionaire heiress in her mid-eighties and without relatives, wrote Swarthmore, among other charitable organizations, into her will. She bequeathed large sums of land or money for a women's hospital, Quaker homes and infirmaries for the aged, and schools for blacks. Swarthmore College, according to her will, was to inherit her coal lands and mineral rights, worth what was believed to be between one and three million dollars. It was contingent upon whether or not Swarthmore "shall discontinue and abandon all participation in Intercollegiate athletics, sports, and games." 1
When Jeanes died in 1907, Swarthmore had a momentous ques