On Goodwill Versus History and the Potential Renaming of Franklin Pierce Law School

By Gene Quinn
July 9, 2020

“It was trademark malpractice to remove the name Franklin Pierce— which had become synonymous with excellence in IP— in the first place. It would be negligent to rush to judgment, caught up in a whirlwind, and remove it a second time.”

https://law.unh.edu/centers-institutesAccording to the Concord Monitor, the University of New Hampshire is being petitioned by several students to drop the name of Franklin Pierce from the law school. And although the decision will not rest with the faculty of the law school, sources tell IPWatchdog that 12 of the 25 full-time law school faculty support the petition.

“With the movement that we’re currently in, it felt like an opportune time to take the name off there,” Adrián Coss, a rising third-year law student at the law school who is involved with the petition told the Concord Monitor. “It’s wrong to begin with. This is racially insensitive.”

Why is the name “Franklin Pierce” racially insensitive? In a nutshell, Pierce, who did not himself own any slaves and abhorred slavery, did not do enough to put an end to the practice of slavery during his turbulent one term as President of the United States.

“I consider slavery a social and political evil,” Pierce said, “and most sincerely wish that it had no existence upon the face of the earth.” See Franklin Pierce.  Unfortunately for the legacy of Pierce, he saw as his primary responsibility the preservation of the Union, and made several compromises to keep the Union together, which ultimately failed and pleased no one. History teaches that Pierce did not live up to his own convictions because he did not think the Union could survive the abolition of slavery, see Id., a prophecy that unfortunately turned out to be true.

What’s in a Name?

This story matters to me because I graduated from Franklin Pierce Law Center more than a generation ago. This matters to many within the intellectual property community in the United States and all across the world because Franklin Pierce Law Center, which was subsequently acquired by the University of New Hampshire, was one of the top intellectual property institutions in the world. A tradition carried on by Franklin Pierce Law School, the school has never been outside the top 10 rankings for intellectual property law schools since the rankings began. In the early years while I was walking the halls, FPLC enjoyed the status of the top school in the nation three years in a row. In recent years, the school has been again rising.

Once upon a time, many hundreds of international students would descend upon FPLC in Concord every summer to learn about intellectual property at the Intellectual Property Summer Institute (IPSI), which the school just relaunched this summer in virtual form due to COVID-19. Some 50 to 100 students from abroad would stay throughout the academic year. Indeed, a more diverse institution would be hard to find, with students from America, Asia, South America, Europe and Africa. That is what Franklin Pierce means to me and so many others. These international students would take turns each week sharing their stories, their culture and food from home with the school community. It was a most inclusive place.

Over time, Franklin Pierce Law Center and then the University of New Hampshire lost its focus on intellectual property—and even lost the name Franklin Pierce for nine years, when it was acquired by UNH in 2010—but somehow still managed to maintain a top 10 ranking. This lost focus caused many alums to distance from the school. With the recent hire of Dean Megan Carpenter, the school has become rededicated to intellectual property, has restored the name Franklin Pierce, and many alumni are cautiously reengaging with the school in hopes that the diverse law school that focused on intellectual property in New Hampshire named after the only President in the State’s history might regain its mojo.

Trademark Malpractice

And therein lies the issue. Robert Rines was the founder of Franklin Pierce Law Center. He was a patent attorney, Hall of Fame Inventor with more than 60 patents to his name, and a composer of both Broadway and off-Broadway productions. Rines chose the name “Franklin Pierce” precisely because he was the only President from the state of New Hampshire. Are we at the point in American history where institutions cannot be named after former Presidents? Perhaps we are. Princeton University made the decision to remove the name of Woodrow Wilson from its School of Public and International Affairs, a decision supported by some, and questioned by others as setting a bad example.

If we are going to judge who can have a school named after them based on the worst, most difficult or most complicated decisions the individual ever made, will we ever be able to name anything after anyone anymore?

When it comes to names, there is so much good will that attaches over time that has nothing to do with whether the name is, was or should be defined in totality by one, a few, or a series of decisions or actions devoid of consideration of the complete picture. When the University of New Hampshire removed Franklin Pierce from the name of the law school in the first instance, it severed ties with a past that had nothing to do with slavery, or racism, or even Franklin Pierce the individual. Instead, UNH severed ties with what Franklin Pierce had come to mean to those who attended a quirky and shockingly diverse institution that just happened to be named after the only President in the state’s history.

When UNH removed the name Franklin Pierce it severed itself from the memories many alums had of a genuinely good place, with genuinely good people who genuinely cared, and signaled it was something different. It lost the good will it had accumulated. Alumni openly and mockingly joked that they “attended the school formerly known as Franklin Pierce”, and student resumes made obvious notations to make sure employers knew that the University of New Hampshire was really the old Franklin Pierce Law Center. Why? Because the name Franklin Pierce had become synonymous with excellence in the field of intellectual property, wholly devoid of any association with the man who was President during the most difficult period of time in U.S. history.

It was trademark malpractice to remove the name Franklin Pierce—which had become synonymous with excellence in IP— in the first place. It would be negligent to rush to judgment, caught up in a whirlwind, and remove it a second time in order to appease what appear to be a small group of petitioners that in the words of Mr. Coss admit their actions are purely opportunistic (i.e., “it felt like an opportune time,” he told the Concord Monitor).

Cooler Heads Should Prevail

In the heat of the moment it is impossible to reflect with the proper perspective. Franklin Pierce’s name was on the school for over 35 years, it was removed for a handful of years, and now it has been reinstated after great deliberation and much celebration by alums because it has always been synonymous with excellence in IP education.

As the U.S. Senate was created as a cooling saucer for the hot passions of the House of Representatives, greater perspective ought to be brought to bear and alumni consulted before another change is made. The reputation for excellence the school rightfully deserves was built by the hard work of alums all over the world. Shouldn’t they be at least consulted?

 

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 72 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. Pro Say July 9, 2020 5:45 pm

    Let s/he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  2. Anon July 9, 2020 5:47 pm

    Makes me curious. Are there any law schools named after any of the Justices involved in the Dred Scott decision?

  3. Ricky Bobby July 9, 2020 6:52 pm

    Indeed. Cooler heads ought to prevail.

    Leave the legacies for the elitist schools and save the IP for the folks at UNH Law. There will still be plenty of IP students, including international ones, when they make the decision that fits the school’s innovative and forward-thinking persona, and remove the name of an unremarkable and unsuccessful leader.

  4. Gene Quinn July 9, 2020 7:16 pm

    Ricky Boby @3

    A couple questions for you…

    1. What would you have the school name become? Just the University of New Hampshire School of Law? Named after someone else?
    2. Do you think every President prior to Lincoln should have their name removed from everything since they did not end slavery?
    3. Do you expect IP students to stop referring to the school as “the school formerly known as Franklin Pierce” on their resumes?

    We certainly know the answer to #3, or we should. And so should anyone who has ever studied intellectual property law. The name “Franklin Pierce” in 2020 does not conjure up images of a 19th century President that pleased no one in his attempts to hold off war. Instead, in our industry it conjures up excellence. Around the world within the IP field “Franklin Pierce” is referred to as “the Harvard of IP.” For the same reason Yale would be foolish to give up on their name and begin to go by the University of New Haven, UNH would be foolish to give up on the name Franklin Pierce.

  5. anonymous July 10, 2020 12:41 am

    Well, New Hampshire was named for Hampshire, a former slave-owning southern English county, and it was given its name by Captain John Mason, considered a pirate by the Scots, not to be confused with the other John Mason (1600-1672) of the Pequot War and Mystic massacre infamy, where 700 Indians were killed in hours and hundreds of prisoners were sold into slavery in the West Indies.

    On the other hand, King James I did issue Mason a ship to suppress piracy in Newfoundland, and he did seek to enlarge the scope of his patent (land grant), so perhaps the association to a property-protecting law school curriculum . . . wait, how far back can we go back on this? I forget.

    UNH – Franklin Pierce School of Law.

  6. Steve Gravini July 10, 2020 6:10 am

    Franklin Pierce Law Center has given me invaluable knowledge in the field of patent law and still share that knowledge with my peers.

    IPSI 93

  7. Ricky Bobby July 10, 2020 7:06 am

    When I advocate for a name change, I do not take lightly the legacy and the memories associated with it. Reading your article reminds me of the great friends from all over the world that I have made at the school.

    But the colleagues that I work with and the faculty members who teach me deserve an environment that makes them feel comfortable. I think that IP attorneys in particular need to be aware of the world that lives and breathes within the construct of the “embarrassment of riches” that we create with intellectual property.

    So while I may personally benefit from the Franklin Pierce name, I don’t put “f.k.a. Franklin Pierce” on my resume and I don’t think the rankings will change should the school decide to change the name. Many decisions drive smart IP lawyers to the humble school in New Hampshire, and at the end of the day, isn’t that the legacy? The bull barn, the teachings of Bob Shaw, including the “Bob Shaw word list” for patent claim drafting, the time spent studying in the IP wing of the library looking at the inventions of Ralph Baer.

    And when we get to the brass tax, the Board of UNH (who ultimately makes the decision) have corporate legal advisors who recognize the potential risk exposure of continuing the re-branding mission that began last summer. We are not in the same position as many schools who have been wearing these names for centuries. While I agree with much of this article, I believe that an accusation of de facto trademark malpractice ignores conflicting business concerns and fiduciary duties to current students.

    This is meant to be anything but incendiary, and whatever the school decides, I will support. I just don’t think alumni should look at a name change as an embarrassment, but rather, a forward-thinking and cunning move that those fancy schools down in Boston would be too stodgy and elitist to make.

    I want to also include one quote from Marcus Hurn’s bio page that was one factor in my decision to come to the school:

    “… I spent a year as a graduate fellow at Yale. Then I came here, happily avoiding the pedantry, status obsessions and bureaucracy of the general run of law schools.

    I worry about what graduates of such schools do to the country and profession. Too many are intellectual and moral weaklings– passive creatures content with a few of yesterday’s forms, a little jargon, and a union card, with the smug expectation the world will thereafter pay them respect and an easy living because of their social status.”

  8. Night Writer July 10, 2020 7:15 am

    Did you know that not one ancient Greek philosopher wrote a single word about the injustice of slavery despite slavery being widespread?

  9. Ricky Bobby July 10, 2020 7:30 am

    And one other thing – my colleague Adrian who you have quoted in this article is an army veteran who is working for the ACLU of New Hampshire this summer. He’s a smart dude who loves everyone at the school and understands the importance of the IP rankings.

    And when he said it was an “opportune time to take the name off of there,” he was thinking about the legacy too.

  10. EG July 10, 2020 10:24 am

    Hey Gene,

    This “renaming” thing has gone from the ridiculous to the absurd. As I’ve asked as it relates to the statue issue, where does this all end? Leave the name of the law school as is.

  11. Buzz Scherr July 10, 2020 10:27 am

    To be more accurate than the misleading information with which Gene was provided, 12 out of the 19 voting faculty support the name change with one abstention.
    Again, to be accurate about history, FP asked the nation to “cheerfully” support slavery in his inaugural address.

  12. Mike July 10, 2020 11:06 am

    Let’s go ahead and overthrow all of the old white guys! As an old white guy myself, I don’t care if I’m remembered in history as long as people of color are given a chance in this country. Holding onto the past, whoever is innocent or guilty, is preventing this from happening. Embrace the future.

  13. Mike July 10, 2020 11:08 am

    Did you know that not one ancient Greek philosopher saw quantum mechanics coming? We are so smart these days. Let’s use our smarts.

  14. stephen a. smith July 10, 2020 11:09 am

    **Around the world within the IP field “Franklin Pierce” is referred to as “the Harvard of IP.”**

    Only by those who didn’t get into a decent law school.

    I have never once in my 25+ years as an IP lawyer (law firms and in house) heard anyone say this. Franklin Pierce did a good job deluding some candidates into thinking that its “specialty” was IP law and that their degree from an otherwise unimpressive law school was somehow bolstered by that.

    Don’t lead impressionable applicants to believe that a law school’s purported “specialty” means anything. If you don’t care about debt or if money is no object, go to the best law school you can. If you don’t want debt, go to the law school that will give you a free ride.

    Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure.

  15. Tony Volpe July 10, 2020 11:49 am

    A thoughtful presentation of difficult questions. Clearly, some things, like confederate statues, need to go because their mere presence is offensive to many citizens. Just as clearly, some very important figures in our history made some decisions among many decisions that we examine with 2020’s vision (pun intended) and damning blame is cast on them for it. We need to take a deep breath and ask ourselves if we are making a specific change because it is the right thing to do or because it fits the emotions of the moment.

  16. ghostndragon July 10, 2020 11:54 am

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” -Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet”

    Seriously, I’m pretty sure that no one with the intelligence and knowledge to recruit graduates in law will be confused about the name change or whether the loss of the name “Franklin Pierce” will make it any less quality. Furthermore, the idea that history can only be preserved in monuments and namesakes is not only ridiculous, it’s doubly ridiculous that those who have supposedly earned a law degree (presumably with no little amount of reading) would suggest that it is so. Have we so dumbed down America that the response to removing status symbols directed to those who either perpetrated injustice or looked the other way while it was being committed is the wailing and gnashing of teeth rather than telling the whiners to just read a damned book?

  17. Gene Quinn July 10, 2020 11:54 am

    Buzz @ 11…

    Do you dispute that there are 25 full time faculty?

  18. Anon July 10, 2020 12:09 pm

    @Ricky Bobby the reason why those “elitist schools” down in Boston aren’t changing their names is because they already have diversity initiatives in place. They recognize that wasting time and resources on a name change that is highly controversial among their students, faculty, and trustees is fruitless and does nothing to help students of color. Simply changing the name of a school named after someone who abhorred slavery at his core “but didn’t do enough” does absolutely nothing but create a problem that was never there. Instead of fixing actual problems, this move simply serves to make people feel good – the absolute worst reason to make a decision of this magnitude.

  19. Inside Baseball July 10, 2020 12:46 pm

    Not all full time faculty bothered to vote at all. Twelve voted yes, one abstention, six no votes. Your source is deceptive.

  20. Xtian July 10, 2020 1:09 pm

    How is the university of New Hampshire school going to come to grips with the fact that they, in their zeal to become a more prominent school, merged with an organization (i.e. Franklin Pierce Law Center) that has had this racist name since 1974? Didn’t they know how bad FPLC? I mean, it’s clearly in their name! I can’t believe UNH could even associate with such an organization. /sarc off/

    Just over a year ago, UNH boasted: “In recognition of the prestige the Franklin Pierce name carries in the global intellectual property community, the University of New Hampshire School of Law will become the UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law” May 21st 2019 https://www.unh.edu/unhtoday/news/release/2019/05/21/unh-law-integrates-franklin-pierce-its-name

    An unhappy alum.

  21. Xtian July 10, 2020 1:19 pm

    May be the name change is to get over the lack of racial diversity on the faculty? I only see white males and females.

    https://law.unh.edu/people/faculty

    NB. This is no personal dig to the faculty. I enjoyed all the faculty at FPLC and hold no grudge whatsoever. in fact, they provided me with a great foundation that launched my successful career path in IP. They also taught me to view all sides, even the uncomfortable ones, of a position. I am just pointing out the virtual signaling of the whole name change thing.

  22. Curious July 10, 2020 1:27 pm

    Buzz @ 11 … writes “FP asked the nation to ‘cheerfully’ support slavery in his inaugural address.”

    This is what, FP, in fact wrote:
    I hold that the laws of 1850, commonly called the “compromise measures,” are strictly constitutional and to be unhesitatingly carried into effect. I believe that the constituted authorities of this Republic are bound to regard the rights of the South in this respect as they would view any other legal and constitutional right, and that the laws to enforce them should be respected and obeyed, not with a reluctance encouraged by abstract opinions as to their propriety in a different state of society, but cheerfully and according to the decisions of the tribunal to which their exposition belongs.
    From my readings, it appears that Pierce was looking for a pragmatic solution to end slavery. This is from a letter he wrote in 1938 (sometime shortly after being elected to the US Senate):
    It should be remembered, that there are but two methods by which domestic slavery at the South can possibly be abolished. It can only be accomplished by the consent and agency of the Southern people themselves or by revolution. Would you recommend overturning the Constitution by a civil war, which carry ruin & desolation to every portion of this Country and probably result in the extermination of the coloured population upon this Continent
    Source: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=314
    This letter was written 16 years before his inaugural address and some 23 years before the start of the US Civil War. Pierce accurately foresaw the possibility of a civil war and it was something that he didn’t want to see happen for the country. An estimated 620,000 people died in the civil war (or about 2% of the nation’s population at the time). This does not account for civilian casualties. One could hardly be faulted for wanting to find another way to end slavery aside from a civil war, which, according to Pierce’s own belief could “carry ruin & desolation to every portion of this Country and probably result in the extermination of the coloured population upon this Continent.” Looking back in hindsight, he was more pro-Union than he was anti-slavery, and this is what has caused his less-than-stellar reputation among this nation’s presidents.

    This brings me to the point I wanted to really address, which is how to address monuments to the past (either in granite or in name). There are some underlying principles that drive my thinking. I believe people’s past actions should be judged at the time they committed them. 100 years from now, I doubt any of us would be able to pass the scrutiny of future generations who will likely have evolved higher moral standards than what we possess today. I doubt there is a historical figure in the United State’s past who doesn’t have some flaw that could be held up as a sign of their unworthiness to be venerated. If so, should we just stop building monuments to our heroes because they will eventually be shown to be flawed in some way or form? When I take my kids to Washington DC, I want to be able to take them to Washington’s and Jefferson’s memorials and explain their contributions to the creation of this great country — despite their associations with slavery. They are venerated because they did great things for this country as judged by those who lived through that time, and for that, I believe they should be recognized.

    The Confederate statues and memorials, on the other hand, commemorate those that took up arms against their brothers and defended the institution of slavery via force. At the time, these actions did not deserve veneration — they were both treasonous and backing a morally-corrupt institution. While there is a natural reaction for loved ones to honor their dead (no matter which side they fought on), these monuments are less monuments to the dead than they are monuments to the institution for which these soldiers fought — that institution being slavery. Ultimately, this is where the debate lies — there are those that believe the statutes are memorials to the dead soldiers themselves and there are those that believe the statutes are memorials to the institution of slavery.

    The line that I have drawn (and I can understand why people want to draw the line elsewhere), is that most Confederate statues venerate the institution of slavery and therefore, they should go. Also, memorials to Founding Fathers such as Washington and Jefferson, while slave holders, should stay because these monuments aren’t celebrating these men, as slaver holders, but as the Founding Fathers of this country. As for Franklin Pierce, I doubt the law school was named after Franklin Pierce because he was more pro-Union than he was anti-slavery. He was both. While I suspect that some people will appreciate the nuance of Pierce’s positions, I also suspect that many will not.

    To use a politically incorrect term, I have no dog in this fight as to the continued use of Franklin Pierce’s with the law school. However, I do have an interest in accurately representing the past, and I have in interest in how the people from the past are remembered.

  23. Gene Quinn July 10, 2020 1:59 pm

    Consider this…

    Changing the name does nothing good to help anyone, and it will cause damage to the good will developed. A name change feeds no needy person, helps no one who cannot pay for legal representation, teaches no one to read or write, provides no companionship to the elderly, sick or dying.

    If these petitioners and professors want to do something to help someone — anyone — I am absolutely in favor of such endeavors. Whether it is scholarships for economically disadvantaged, as a community working with habitat for humanity to rebuild homes for those in need, requiring students to volunteer within the community to help those in need (e.g., soup kitchens, helping those with disabilities learn to read etc.), working to make sure food banks stay full all year long, providing pro bono help to those who cannot afford an attorney, all are useful, helpful and laudable.

    Changing the name on an institution and believing that helps anyone in need strikes me as absurd, and nothing more than an elitist way to feel good without doing any real good at all.

  24. Ternary July 10, 2020 3:08 pm

    “In a nutshell, Pierce, who did not himself own any slaves and abhorred slavery, did not do enough to put an end to the practice of slavery during his turbulent one term as President of the United States”

    I looked it up. And that is not what the history books say. Pierce was in effect and practically pro-slavery. He was an outspoken anti-abolitionist. There are some other details about his attitude towards slavery that can easily be found on line. None of them good. To say that “he didn’t do enough” seems to imply that he was fundamentally anti-slavery, which Pierce was not.

    I would also say that it is no longer up to white men to decide how others should feel about peoples, names, practices, statues and symbols connected with the vile practice of slavery.

    It is simple, the name with its negative connection with slavery has to go. UNH School of Law is a perfectly good name.

  25. Gene Quinn July 10, 2020 3:34 pm

    Ternary…

    You say: “I looked it up.” Yet you provide no citation.

    You take issue with what I’ve written without facts to back you, and you do not address any points raised by Curioius @22 quoting actual speeches and writings of Franklin Pierce. I suppose we are to take your word for it despite not know who you are or any citation or even argument for proof.

    What a sad state we have deteriorated into. When logic and argument turns into “trust me, I read it and you are wrong” or “trust me, I know better and I’m just too busy to engage in thoughtful debate to make my case”.

  26. ghostndragon July 10, 2020 6:12 pm

    Gene @25
    Consider this: by your own admission, the petition was brought forth by students. The faculty did not initiate this so called “virtue signaling” but are responding to the students’ desire to ensure the school continues (or maybe begins) to provide an environment where they feel respected as humans. You seem to be laboring under the mistaken belief that no harm is committed by honoring those who either actively or passively promoted dehumanizing a group of people. Maybe you can’t imagine it as a white man in a white man’s world. Saying it’s ok to ignore the racist/sexist/bigoted things a person did so long as there was a good thing that person did (in your opinion) perpetuates the devaluation the humanity of those the individual dehumanized to begin with. Yeah, I don’t really blame Pierce for not wanting a war. But that was a political decision, not a moral one. The moral decision was that black people were not human enough to risk a political problem (not that he didn’t already have political problems), which is exactly what is perpetuated by retaining his name. Furthermore, it’s not like this is all about black and white. Pierce was a firm believer in manifest destiny and played a significant role in the frequently dishonest acquisition of Native territories and encouraged the use of military to protect white invaders on Native lands. So, even if you chock Pierce’s failure to do the right thing on slavery up to being too much of a pansy, you might consider his role in the genocide of the Native tribes to steal land in the name of white superiority.

  27. Anon July 10, 2020 7:10 pm

    Ternanry,

    For most items I tend to think that we align fairly well.

    However, your statement of “I would also say that it is no longer up to white men to decide how others should feel about peoples, names, practices, statues and symbols connected with the vile practice of slavery.” tends to presuppose a condition that is itself, racist.

    Why do you think that “white men” (as opposed to men that happen to be white) have “decided how others should feel

    I think the issue is NOT any such “others must feel one way or any other way. The entire Liberal Left “Cancel Culture” is the ‘culture’ that is actually guilty of what you are suggesting.

    In fact, YOU are guilty of forcing others with your ultimatum of “It is simple, the name with its negative connection with slavery has to go

    You are not ordinarily hypocritical – but here you are blatantly hypocritical.

  28. ghostndragon July 10, 2020 9:15 pm

    Anon,

    I don’t think you know what “blatantly” means, so perhaps you shouldn’t make it so obvious by pairing it with the term “hypocritical,” which has also escaped its definition in your hyper-partisan screed. Come back to reason, if that’s where you started. Get a grip. And start to get comfortable with the idea that we no longer need to treat the opinions of white men as gospel. I know it’s scary, but you’ll live. I promise.

  29. Ternary July 11, 2020 12:12 am

    Gene, just Google Franklin Pierce and Slavery. (basically any site that comes up, but try https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Pierce ) For instance: Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act (thus potentially expanding slavery) and he enforced the Fugitive Slave Laws. Pierce was an outspoken anti-abolitionist. He wrote “this abolition movement must be crushed…” So, Pierce was definitely not some uninvolved bystander who was “forced” into enacting pro-slavery measures.

    In response to Curious (which was not posted before I responded), I do not read at all in Pierce’s words that he wanted to end slavery (be it in a pragmatic way or not.) From his words I understand that he maintained that slavery was constitutional.

    I personally find Pierce not a man with a moral compass that is commendable. As with Curious, I have no dog in this fight and I basically knew nothing about the man. I was curious, read about him in Wikipedia. Based on that simple fact-finding I find supporting carrying his name for an Institution of Law distasteful.

    Perhaps, based on reliable sources, you can convince me that I am entirely wrong about Franklin Pierce. You presumably (as you started this discussion) have more and better documentation in support of Franklin Pierce.

  30. Ternary July 11, 2020 1:22 am

    Anon,
    Many people, and you can find enough quotations if you do a quick search, or watch tv claim that certain words, symbols, flags, statues and terms are not intended as racist or discriminatory. That a flag or a name reflects an admiration for gallantry and bravery, not of discrimination.

    Just the discussions about the name of the RedSkins reflects that. One can maintain that the team that carries that name is proud of it and does not intend to be offensive or discriminatory.

    But that is the whole case in all of these discussions: the names and symbols are offensive to the people who it pertains to. The fact that a supporter (who may be white) maintains that the name RedSkins is not offensive to him/her is irrelevant to Native Americans who feel that that name, previously used in a derogatory way, should not be used BECAUSE THEY FEEL OFFENDED by it.

    That leaves the opinion of the team supporter (in my opinion) less relevant than the opinion of the offended party.

    Too often we see symbols, names, statues, flags that have an extreme negative connotation for minorities. The majority gets away with it, often claiming that the intention is not to be offensive. But it is offensive to the offended party. In that case the opinion of the offended should trump the opinion of the offender. Blackface is offensive and not cute or comical. So don’t do it. Or is that too much of a Cancel Culture?

    To me it is very simple: if there is any factual evidence that a name or symbol is offensive to a group, don’t use it. It is almost as simple as math. It is an equation with some simple variables and an outcome. Discussions about a name being well intended, not intended or mis-understood are irrelevant. If someone is reasonably understood to be offended by a name, don’t use the name. Don’t start waving your arms and shout Politically Correctness or Cancel Culture. The basics are really not that difficult (unless one deliberately makes it so).

    Reading about Pierce I conclude that he was factually in support of the vile and horrible practice of slavery. You don’t have to be a black person to be reasonably offended by using his name to represent an academic institute of learning. What I have read about Pierce completely disqualifies his name for an Institution of Higher Learning.

    My statement “It is simple, the name with its negative connection with slavery has to go” is a conclusion based on facts. You may even consider it a recommendation. Pierce was actively and verifiably pro-slavery. I don’t like slavery. In fact I hate slavery in all its aspects and what it has done to this country. On that basis I find using his name not acceptable and actually distasteful. I did not start this discussion. Gene did. But, as IPWatchdog welcomes comments, that is mine. I cannot help it that you don’t agree with my conclusion. But I don’t force anyone with an ultimatum. I don’t have that power. I can only provide facts and arguments. Please return the favor with arguments and don’t start with ad hominem allegations of being “blatantly hypocritical”. It is below you and it disappoints me.

    So, Anon, let me ask you a question. Based on what you learned about Pierce do you think the use of his name for a Law School is a good choice?

  31. ghostndragon July 11, 2020 2:13 am

    Dear white men,

    I’m with Ternary (which I can spell correctly, even if it wasn’t an actual word). You all remind me of my EX husband who would invalidate my experience by telling me he didn’t make me feel or experience xyz negative thing because he said so. Well, that mofo was wrong because I’m an actual human being with the brains to know when he was being an oppressive and insensitive jerk. And the valid point of view is that of the one who was wronged. That’s not you, and it’s time you realize that your experience and opinion are not the controlling reality. It’s not gonna get any better for your point of view from here on out. Welcome to our world. Get over it.

  32. MaxDrei July 11, 2020 6:53 am

    Looking in on this thread from Europe, I am struck by the similarity with the case of William Colston, renowned philanthropist and (no coincidence) busy slave-trader. Wikipedia here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Colston

    Argy-bargy about the name of an educational institution seems, at first sight, trivial. What concerns me more is how society shall manage more difficult questions, like recruitment to its Police Force.

    If we want a Force policing our society that reflects the make up of that society (and we do, don’t we?), we should be careful not to force members of society whose skin is not white from having to make a choice between “Us” and “Them”. It distresses me to think about serving Police Officers who are persons of colour, and what personal stresses and conflicts of loyalties they must currently be enduring. It would be a tragedy if any of them leave the Force because the conflict of loyalties is unendurable.

    Therefore, how we debate and decide the name issue has consequences. It can heal or inflame wounds in society. Our choice. Our duty to do it responsibly.

    In 1842, the British wrote to the Sultan of Morocco wrote to the King, asking what he was doing to stop the slave trade. The answer: “The traffic in slaves is a matter on which all sects and nations have agreed, from the time of the sons of Adam.”

    Times change. Thank goodness. What fosters change? Being constantly reminded of the appalling events in our awful history helps to make us better people. We can learn from our mistakes, but only if we are constantly reminded that they were mistakes. I’m doubtful, therefore, that changing the name will of itself do anything to help the daily lives of those who profess to be offended by the name of the Institution.

    Having said that though, Bristol’s main concert hall is no longer called its “Colston Hall”.

  33. Curious July 11, 2020 10:51 am

    the petition was brought forth by students.
    I was a student once (as was probably all of us). Students (law students in particular) are smart and passionate. However, as one ages, what sets in (something most students lack) is wisdom. As I did my research on Franklin Pierce, I really only had a vague idea as to his historical significance of Franklin Pierce.

    Yeah, I don’t really blame Pierce for not wanting a war. But that was a political decision, not a moral one.
    This is a comment borne from ignorance. The statistics from the Civil War are appalling. 1 in 5 soldiers died. 1 in 13 survivors returned home missing at least one limb. The casualties were horrendous. There were great a greater number of deaths in that war than all of the other wars fought by the United States combined. War is literally hell. To say that the avoidance of a war whose battleground would be the United States soil itself was a mere “political decision, not a moral one” belies a complete ignorance of the horrors of war.

    It is easy, from the comfort of our own homes, to argue that the North should have went to war sooner. However, would it be so easy if you were living during those times? This is why I wrote I would judge these historical figures based upon how their actions were viewed by their peers. I can say with certainty that you never want live in an era in which a complete and total war was waged.

    Pierce was a firm believer in manifest destiny and played a significant role in the frequently dishonest acquisition of Native territories and encouraged the use of military to protect white invaders on Native lands.
    So, are we going to wipe out memorials to vast majority of our founding fathers and subsequent presidents – many of whom also supported expansionist policies? As I wrote earlier, “I doubt any of us would be able to pass the scrutiny of future generations who will likely have evolved higher moral standards than what we possess today.”

    if you chock Pierce’s failure to do the right thing on slavery up to being too much of a pansy
    Pansy? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that is a derogatory term commonly used against male homosexuals. Your use of a homophobic term is noted for future history.

  34. Curious July 11, 2020 12:13 pm

    I do not read at all in Pierce’s words that he wanted to end slavery (be it in a pragmatic way or not.) From his words I understand that he maintained that slavery was constitutional.
    Frankly (pun intended), the language of the era is verbose and whose meaning can be difficult to parse. He was not writing that slavery was constitutional — it was constitutional. The constitutional implicitly recognizes slavery in Article I, Section, 2, Clause 3. It took the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish it. What Pierce was saying is that the enacted laws were constitutional.

    I personally find Pierce not a man with a moral compass that is commendable.
    Again, you (and others) judge Pierce not based the morality of his time, but on our time. Our molality has evolved for the better and I hope it continues to evolve for the better. However, I don’t think his moral compass was off because he elevated his pro-Union views over his anti-slavery views. He recognized both (a civil war as a result of secession and slavery) as two great evils and did not favor replacing one for the other. How many millions of Uighurs, Tibetans (and a host of other racial minorities) are being persecuted in China at this time and over the last several decades? How will future historians judge the West for not doing more to push China into a more enlightened state? We could go to war with China, but I don’t think anybody relishes that thought. Will every monument erected to great people of today be torn down because they didn’t do enough? An estimated 9 million people die every year because of hunger and hunger-related diseases– how will history judge us for not doing more to prevent this?

    But it is offensive to the offended party. In that case the opinion of the offended should trump the opinion of the offender.
    The problem we are running into is that there is always somebody who is going to be offended no matter what you say. JK Rowlings is getting roasted over the coals for her preferred use of the term “woman” or “she” or “her.” She is being labeled transphobic, but if one actually reads what she writes, it is hardly the case. Should our society acquiesce every time somebody is offended by something? When will it ever stop? In the case of the confederate statues and confederate flags, they were symbolic an institution that was repugnant to most at the time at the time of their creation.

    To me it is very simple: if there is any factual evidence that a name or symbol is offensive to a group, don’t use it.
    Then you are going to have to stop using names and symbols. And if somebody has yet to take offense to something, I have little doubt that someone will come along to take offense to it for no better purpose than to troll the rest of us. However, how are we to know if the offense is real or feigned? Moreover, a feigned offense, once taught to others, becomes a real offense.

    Reading about Pierce I conclude that he was factually in support of the vile and horrible practice of slavery. … Pierce was actively and verifiably pro-slavery.
    In that, you would be wrong. He did not support slavery, he was opposed to it – however, he supported the US Constitution, which itself implied the legality of slavery. He was trying to find a way to avoid a civil war. Again, a nuance lost to most. As most of us are attorneys, we should be able to understand nuance in positions. For example, when Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the National Anthem, most people didn’t understand the nuance of his position. He wasn’t saying “I hate America” or “I hate people who fought for this country” or some of the other things attributed to him, he was making a specific protest against police brutality against blacks. When you don’t appreciate the nuance of people’s positions, you misstate what they actually stand for (or against).

    What I am for is more clarity in people’s relations with one another and that involves better understanding people’s positions. It is the worst among us that twist the meaning of other people’s positions for their own personal gain. If people looked more deeply at the positions of Franklin Pierce, JK Rowling, and Colin Kaepernick (first time those three have ever been used in the same sentence), people would recognize the nuances in their positions. However, most people don’t – they rely upon others to tell them what they should think about somebody else – not recognizing that those characterizations about that somebody else are oftentimes wrong or garbled (and sometimes intentionally).

  35. ghostndragon July 11, 2020 2:01 pm

    @Curious
    Pierce did not know the number of people killed and wounded in the Civil War. His decision was political. War IS hell, but his decision to avoid the war wasn’t based on some amazing foresight in the number of casualties. It was simply a calculation of whether it was politically worth it. And he decided that it was not.

    It might be worth considering, by the way, WHY the Civil War was so deadly. It wasn’t the battles, it was illness. Twice as many people died of disease than due to injury. And given that dying of disease rather than being killed in battle was a bad death, soldiers may have been inclined to put themselves in harm’s way. So, poor hygiene and and toxic masculinity killed most soldiers, not the war itself. Pierce could not have anticipated that calculation, and in fact no one could. The casualty levels shocked both North and South and much of the connected world at that time. So, Pierce does not get the benefit of the doubt on that. You’re using hindsight pretty liberally there.

    As for Manifest Destiny, it was not a widely popular view until the 19th century, and was rejected by many important leaders. Maybe not always from the standpoint of respecting the equality of the Native Americans, but actions are important too. John Quincy Adams was an EARLY proponent, and came after the Founding Fathers.

    As for the use of the term “pansy” I was not aware of its original intent, so I should have used “coward.” But no worries, there are no statues of me or schools named sheet me, and I doubt there ever will be. And, by all means, I won’t be bothered if someone wants to take away my birthday for being insensitive because I admit I said it. History will still exist in books, and the world will not end.

  36. Paul Cole July 11, 2020 2:09 pm

    Having visited and lectured at Franklin Pierce on several occasions I have the utmost respect for the IP law school and those who teach at it. There is an antique IP book library where significant textbooks can be consulted online, e.g. the outstanding treatise on patent law by George Ticknor Curtis, dating from 1849 and cited by the Supreme Court in Hotchkiss v Greenwood (1850). I would be very sad to see a change of name.

    Franklin Pierce was of his time, and the difficulties he faced as president should not be underestimated. His speeches and actions should be viewed with human sympathy and we should avoid an ill-considered rush to condemn. Quoting the gospel of John 8:7 in relation to the woman taken in adultery: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

  37. Gene Quinn July 11, 2020 2:40 pm

    ghostndragon @ 35…

    You say:

    “WHY the Civil War was so deadly. It wasn’t the battles, it was illness.”

    While this is a hot political issue and much greater latitude is going to be afforded in the comments, the comments here are not a free for all where ignorance is going to reign supreme. To suggest the Civil War battles were not to blame for the death and carnage witnessed is a counterfactual narrative that is beyond absurd. Anyone at all even casually familiar with the history of the Civil War, has read any books or visited any of the battlefields well knows the death and dismemberment that was caused by the fighting.

    It is also rather hypocritical for you to end the same thought accusing others of being liberal with their interpretation of history.

  38. Gene Quinn July 11, 2020 2:46 pm

    Ternary @ 29…

    You cite Wikipedia, which is fine. Sadly, in 2020 that is all that one can expect to pass for a full scholarly treatment. Which in and of itself is rather pathetic, but a different conversation for a different day.

    So, I assume that whatever Wikipedia says is all you know. Interesting that you gloss over all the things said in the Wikipedia entry that clearly explain that Pierce was himself an abolitionist and was doing everything he could to appease factions to save the Union. Frankly, if we learn anything from Pierce it is that a strategy of appeasement is an utter failure.

    Since your knowledge of Pierce is so limited to Wikipedia, I suggest you broaden your mind and read the Presidential scholars who have done some excellent and thorough treatments of this very complicated historical man. You might start online with:

    https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2014/02/20/the-best-biographies-of-franklin-pierce/

    By all scholarly accounts, Pierce was a genuinely nice person who wanted to be liked by everyone and above everything else wanted to preserve the Union. He tried to appease all factions. His desire to try and make everyone happy is not a particularly good character trait for an executive.

    Enjoy informing yourself.

  39. Gene Quinn July 11, 2020 2:53 pm

    To everyone in favor of removing Pierce’s name…

    I asked this question at comment #4, and forgive me if someone did respond but I think it has gone unanswered.

    Do you think every President prior to Lincoln should have their name removed from everything since they did not end slavery?

    If this is a “real” debate (which I’m not sure it is) we should attempt to get at the root of disagreement and move forward from there. So, is this opportunistic to get rid of the name of a white man not considered a particularly good President so he is vulnerable, or is this principled, in which case we should also be talking about Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Monroe and the many others all before Lincoln.

    I also haven’t seen anyone of you address my comment at #23. Exactly how is changing the name of an institution going to help anyone who is hungry, needs legal representation, is homeless, cannot read, etc.?

  40. Curious July 11, 2020 6:59 pm

    Pierce did not know the number of people killed and wounded in the Civil War. His decision was political. War IS hell, but his decision to avoid the war wasn’t based on some amazing foresight in the number of casualties.
    It was never going to be any easy war to prosecute, and the country itself would be the battleground. Pierce (as did many other Americans at the time) foresaw a war and they wanted to find a way to avoid one. In that endeavor they failed. However, I do not fault someone for wanting to avoid a war.

    It might be worth considering, by the way, WHY the Civil War was so deadly. It wasn’t the battles, it was illness. Twice as many people died of disease than due to injury.
    Death is still death, and death by disease during wartime is extremely common.

    poor hygiene and and toxic masculinity killed most soldiers
    Your anti-male attitude has been duly noted here and elsewhere.

    Pierce could not have anticipated that calculation, and in fact no one could.
    Do you seriously think that wars were clean, sterile affairs whose deaths were only caused by bullets and bayonets? In the Napoleonic wars (1803-1815), “eight times more people in the British army died from disease than from battle wounds.” During the Mexican-American War (1946-1948), the ratio was 7 to 1. Of course he would have been aware of it.

    Quoting the gospel of John 8:7 in relation to the woman taken in adultery: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
    A point that is lost on many in this debate. Nobody is perfect — even the people we venerate with granite memorials and names on institutions. Should we stop doing so because of their imperfections? Should we stop celebrating greatness because all people (great or not) naturally have flaws? Should we recast that biblical statement into something like “we shall create stone remembrances only for those that are without sin”?

    If the faculty, students, and alumni of Franklin Pierce University want to Franklin Pierce’s legacy, then have an honest discussion of what Franklin Pierce really stood for. He did not stand for slavery — of that I’m pretty confident. The more I read about that era (and what happened both before and afterwards), the more nuances in people’s positions of that time I can identify. Do I think this discussion/debate will contemplate these nuances? Not really. Aggrieved people will be aggrieved whether they have a right to or not.

  41. Gene Quinn July 11, 2020 7:15 pm

    Curious at 40…

    You say: “have an honest discussion of what Franklin Pierce really stood for.”

    According to my sources, just such a discussion was offered by Administration and was summarily rejected by the petitioners and their supporters. My sources tell me the petitioners are not interested in learning more about Franklin Pierce, and they are opposed to the school holding a forum where a historian would come in and provide a neutral discussion of Pierce followed by an open dialogue.

    Query whether that is the case because such a full, fair, neutral and open treatment in proper historical terms it might humanize Pierce and make this opportunistic attempt (as admitted by Mr. Coss) impossible.

  42. Curious July 11, 2020 10:37 pm

    My sources tell me the petitioners are not interested in learning more about Franklin Pierce, and they are opposed to the school holding a forum where a historian would come in and provide a neutral discussion of Pierce followed by an open dialogue.
    Not surprised. As I wrote, “[a]ggrieved people will be aggrieved whether they have a right to or not.” They sense that they have power in this moment of time, and they intend to use it. This inevitably happens — a powerful movement with a specific purpose is then bent (hijacked is probably too strong of a word) towards other purposes related albeit different than the original purpose. I see that happening here. Sometimes these other purposes are legitimate. Sometimes not. However, it is predictable that it happens.

    I forget when it was, but I saw a full page ad in the New York times (perhaps a week or two ago) that called for the renaming of Yale University. No reasonable person believes that the name Yale is glorifying Elithu Yale’s time when he was in the employ of the East India Company — a company well-known for its exploitation of India. Elithu Yale has been dead for nearly 3 centuries. The name “Yale” is far more associated with the name of the University than it is with the man who bore the name.

  43. ghostndragon July 12, 2020 1:41 am

    Dysentery, malaria, typhoid, and pneumonia weren’t caused by the battles, Gene. No wound was necessary to die in the Civil War, and perhaps 2/3 of the death toll in the war is attributable to disease independent of any wound. While people at the time were aware of potential death due to disease, the war itself was predicted to be short (maybe a single battle) and no one expected the prolonged duration, let alone the massive amount of deaths outside of battle. You’re so stuck on the “narrative” that you conflate it with fact.

    And if you want to seriously (though, I suspect you’re being facetious) ask the question of whether we should change the names of all things named after every president prior to Lincoln… Maybe context is important, eh? As president, the best even you can say is that Pierce was “a genuinely nice guy” and a particularly bad president. Seems like scant reason to name anything after him in the first place. It seems to me that the others you named had a little more substance going on. But, yes, we should maybe look at just what they really contributed and weigh that against what their role was in participating in, contributing to, and perpetuating the subjugation of an entire people because they either believed that were inferior to white people or didn’t think it was important enough that others did to do anything about it. Then we should ask just how important it really is to retain the status symbols we gave them before even bothering to ask anyone else how they might feel about it or whether they really deserved it in the long run.

  44. Paul Cole July 12, 2020 4:31 am

    Anyone who reads the history of the 1787 constitutional convention cannot fail to observe the North-South divide that existed at that time and the divisive effect of slavery. In Franklin Pierce’s time these difficulties became more prominent because of westward expansion including and following the annexation of Texas and the enormous growth in production and economic importance of cotton. The priority that Franklin Pierce gave to the preservation of the Union was shared by earlier presidents including Andrew Jackson and by Abraham Lincoln whose first inaugural address has to be read with these difficulties in mind. Lincoln’s approach in the early part of his presidency has to be understood in the light of his famous 1862 letter to Horace Greeley, and his greatness is testified by his success both in his constitutional duty to preserve the Union and in his personal wish to free the slaves.

    The difficulties Lincoln faced were essentially the same that Franklin Pierce faced, and harsh hindsight judgment in the utterly different circumstances of 2010 are utterly inappropriate.

  45. Curious July 12, 2020 9:04 am

    While people at the time were aware of potential death due to disease, the war itself was predicted to be short (maybe a single battle) and no one expected the prolonged duration, let alone the massive amount of deaths outside of battle.
    Your ignorance of history, war, and the history of war is again glaring. If there were those that predicted a short war, they suffered from the same ignorance you are showing now.

    no one expected the prolonged duration, let alone the massive amount of deaths outside of battle
    From Franklin Pierce’s letter that was written 23 years before the start of the civil war: Would you recommend overturning the Constitution by a civil war, which carry ruin & desolation to every portion of this Country and probably result in the extermination of the coloured population upon this Continent.
    It seems to me that the notion of “carry ruin & desolation to every portion of this Country” is a prediction of the extent of the Civil War. And as to the causalities outside of war, those were already expected as that was extremely common at the time.

    Seems like scant reason to name anything after him in the first place.
    Franklin Pierce is the only US President to hail from the state of New Hampshire. It doesn’t seem odd that a law school be named after a former US Representative, US Senator, and US President from that state.

  46. Anon July 12, 2020 9:28 am

    Mr. Cole,

    The perspective to be noted is that the US has an entire generation of bubble-wrapped, Neo-Liberalism indoctrinated “safe-zone” trophies-for-everyone” people who want their views adhered to, but who have never really been through the crucible of critical thinking.

    You and I have had our disagreements (and our agreements, although those tend not to be emphasized), but I will put this forth: you are one that does appear to be able to apply critical thinking without having a psychological meltdown. That ability is (sadly) NOT universal.

  47. Mike July 12, 2020 9:54 am

    What a great discussion to be having, Gene. I’d love to see you challenge your advocacy skills and see what it would be like if you argued the other side, just for fun.

  48. Ternary July 12, 2020 11:15 am

    Gene @38.

    Thank you for the new link. Unfortunately, the new link does not absolve Pierce. In a way it gets worse.

    What your new link says: “And as a result of his refusal to vigorously fight slavery, Pierce shoulders a large share of the blame for the country’s march toward Civil War.” This sentence by itself disqualifies the man.

    Your sources do not make a very good case of naming a Law School after Pierce. In fact they are damning him.

  49. ghostndragon July 12, 2020 11:28 am

    @Curious
    Yes. Pierce was so prescient. /sarc/

    He’s telling an abolitionist that the abolition movement delayed freedom in the North and that a revolution would kill all black people. It’s as though he’s telling a vegetarian that we must eat meat because of we don’t, there’s no reason to keep all the cattle and they’ll all die for lack of care. And this is a very literal comparison.

    That is, he wasn’t being predictive, he was shutting down abolition using hyperbole disguised as prediction. Many Northerners believed Pierce’s Young America (expansionist) views were actually designed to aquire new land for slavery. This seems to be supported by his signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act which repealed the ban on slavery north of 36 degrees latitude, and set up a “Let the territories decide” on slavery approach. Combined with his attitude toward abolitionists, his friendliness with many pro – slavery Southerners (who, coincidentally, were looking for more slavery land), and his obsession with expanding the US’s boundaries, it would seem that the concerned Northerners were right.

    Pierce didn’t know that civil war would be as deadly as it was, he was simply trying to shut up an abolitionist. Even assuming Pierce was actually anti-slavery, you appear to admit that his only positive contribution was being elected and being from New Hampshire. The fact is, his actions as president did not simply appear to be out of concern of preventing war. He acted in ways that suggest that he was helping to expand Southern access to new slave territories. And even if his words were true to his inner intent, his actions double crossed that. And he provided nothing more positive than being elected.

  50. Ternary July 12, 2020 11:49 am

    This discussion relates to slavery in our country. One of the vilest crimes against humanity. With @36, arguing to keep the name of Pierce for sentimental reasons and comparing slavery, which included kidnapping, forced labor, imprisonment, torture, rape, and family separation with adultery (unintentionally I guess) is a low watermark in this discussion.

    Let me make a suggestion, or rather request a favor of Gene. Why don’t you organize one of your excellent “Other perspective” posts around this issue? Ask the best presidential scholar to give an opinion. Also include a scholar from the Black community and others, who represent one of a diversity of opinions, on the subject to provide a reasoned opinion.

  51. Gene Quinn July 12, 2020 2:39 pm

    ghostndragon @43…

    I can’t help but notice you continue to refuse to answer my very simple question.

    Do you think every President prior to Lincoln should have their name removed from everything since they did not end slavery?

    You claim to want context. How about this context. Franklin Pierce did not own slaves. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did. Should we remove the names of Washington and Jefferson from all institutions? Change the name of Washington, DC? Take down the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial?

    Your refusal to answer a very simple, direct question is very telling. As is the sexism and bigotry that comes through in every comment you post.

  52. Gene Quinn July 12, 2020 2:43 pm

    Ternary @ 48…

    Obviously, you didn’t read the link, and I know you didn’t have time to read any of the actual books on Pierce (let alone obtain access to them).

    So, now the name should be changed because his decisions didn’t stop the country from moving toward Civil War. So, in your rather cavalier assessment, Pierce is responsible as President for the actions of the entire nation and because he couldn’t stop a Civil War nothing should be named after him. Based on that logic nothing should be named after Lincoln either. I’m sure you agree, correct?

  53. ghostndragon July 12, 2020 3:19 pm

    Gene, I assumed you were being rhetorical, hyperbolic, or facetious. But to humor you, I did answer your question. To reiterate: The answer is that we don’t live in a binary world and until I am appointed benevolent dictator, I wouldn’t fantasize that I’m qualified to answer that without significant input from interested parties and reasonable analysis of each president and Founding Father individually. In the case of Pierce, it’s easy: at best, he was a completely ineffective president with nothing of significance to his legacy, at worst, he pandered to pro-slavery factions and by signing off on repeal of slavery expansion (and working to acquire new slave holding territories) he not only showed he wasn’t actually anti-slavery, he probably made things worse. You’re not gonna play gotcha with me by painting this as an all-or-none situation. That sort of behavior is what makes lawyer jokes so darkly funny.

    Why don’t you guys just admit that there’s no good reason to keep the name other than some ridiculous slippery slope argument that a whole bunch of other white men might be subject to more scrutiny? If that makes you nervous, it’s time to assess, in your heart of hearts, why.

  54. Gene Quinn July 12, 2020 4:56 pm

    ghostndragon @53…

    I’ve asked a very simple question and you continue to refuse to answer the question. Incredibly, in your response at 53, you say “I did answer your question.” And then you “reiterate” that “I wouldn’t fantasize that I’m qualified to answer…” and proceed not to answer.

    You say: ” You’re not gonna play gotcha with me by painting this as an all-or-none situation.”

    I’m not playing anything with you. Your logic — if you can call it that — would be that we must remove Franklin Pierce from UNH because he did not end slavery and because he did not stop the Civil War. So, if you are going to be intellectually honest — a VERY BIG if — that has to mean you support the removal of every President up to and including Lincoln because either then (1) owned slaves; (2) didn’t do enough to end slavery; and/or (3) did not stop Civil War.

    You ask: “Why don’t you guys just admit that there’s no good reason to keep the name other than some ridiculous slippery slope argument that a whole bunch of other white men might be subject to more scrutiny?”

    Why would a bunch of white men be subject to more scrutiny? After all, you can’t even answer a very simple question about what YOU believe.

    It is a great irony, and extraordinarily hypocritical, that you hide behind an anonymous name and still you don’t have the strength of your convictions to actually tell us what you really believe. I expect the irony will be lost on you, but Pierce is being maligned by people like you for not standing up to his abolitionist convictions even if it led the country to war. How sad that even when you are anonymous you can’t say what you really believe without hiding behind a response of “I’m not qualified”. Pathetic really. If you aren’t qualified then why are you even having this discussion?

  55. Ternary July 12, 2020 7:05 pm

    Gene @52, The Wikipedia link provided by yourself clearly states that the man was an anti-abolitionist. You respond by saying that the Wikipedia link says he is an abolitionist. Wikipedia does not say that ANYWHERE.

    Then you refer me to a link to “inform” myself. I did read it and I recited parts from both of them. That last link clearly states: ““And as a result of his refusal to vigorously fight slavery, Pierce shoulders a large share of the blame for the country’s march toward Civil War.”” How can I recite it without reading it?

    The above are empirical facts. You can verify them by merely reading the websites you yourself referred me to. It is an application of a simple methodological principle that you can apply yourself in any heated discussion. It is called verification.

    Pierce’s responsibility in that sentence is not that he did not PREVENT the Civil War, it is that he “shoulders a large share of the blame for the country’s march toward Civil War.”

    We know, even from recent history, how events play out and what could have been done to prevent certain occurrences. It is well documented for instance how Hitler could have been prevented to start WW2 by action of the Allies. They didn’t and WW2 was the consequence. You can check the facts yourself if you don’t believe this. This is why you find few people who support the use of the name of Neville Chamberlain. (I did not find any in a quick search, but who knows)

    Pierce, as President and by his actions, as explained on both websites that you referred me to, carries a significant responsibility of moving the country to the Civil War. That he was a nice guy, under pressure and an ineffective executive may be true. However, he wanted to be President. He fully realized the significance of the Slavery issue. He made decisions that (as I understand it) empowered the pro-slavery states and enraged his own constituency. All the while being an outspoken anti-abolitionist. Two days ago I had no clue about the man. I all learned it from the websites, your post and from comments made on this post. If you want me to draw different conclusions, you have to provide me with different facts!

    I understand that people want to make him a victim of his time and circumstances. But he had access to the same information as his fellow Northerners and he did what he did. There is really nothing to absolve him.

    Now you want me to read additional books to come to a different conclusion? For what? I have read several other websites to find if there is a possibly different conclusion about the man. There is not. There is a significant amount of sympathy for him about the situation he was facing. But he wanted to be president, he became president and he did exactly the wrong things. Politically as well as morally. As millions of of fellow citizens are still experiencing the effects of his performance or lack thereof I have little sympathy for the use of his name on a public institution.

    As I said earlier, I believe (at this stage) it should not be up to a bunch of white guys to decide if the name is offensive or not. I am a white guy. And I am arguing with other white guys why I don’t feel sympathy for another white guy who screwed up.

  56. ghostndragon July 12, 2020 8:06 pm

    Gene, just because you didn’t like my answer doesn’t mean I didn’t answer. You are ascribing to me opinions that are not mine. My opinion on Pierce is based on the fact not that he simply didn’t end slavery, he outright tried to expand it, and as part of that effort also built upon a tradition of expansion in the name of white supremacy.

    Even ignoring his clear support of expansion of territory for the obvious purpose of expanding slavery (do some reading on his coveting of Cuba), he and his agents continued a campaign of acquiring Native lands by hook or crook (and sometimes threats). There is nothing positive in his legacy to counteract those deeds.

    None of his contemporaries thought so either. So, if one might judge him in the context of his time, as many have suggested, the law school most certainly wouldn’t have been named after him. As a matter of fact, it almost certainly is a matter of romanticism that led the school to be named after him in 1973 when it was founded, merely because he was from New Hampshire. It remains a romantic notion to those who oppose a name change, especially since it actually changed names back in 2010 when it became affiliated with the University of NH, and only in 2019 did it change back…because the 9 year dead name was apparently indispensable as a brand…

    Your arguments on the other presidents are a good start on evaluating whether we may consider renaming other institutions, but that’s not the issue at hand and I’m not interested in taking the time to evaluate whether we should and especially not without the input of those still affected by their participation in slavery. Bringing it up is just a whataboutism being used to mask the tenuous nature of your position. The fact is, Pierce was NOT an abolitionist, as you have incorrectly asserted (and keep wrongly asserting), and he didn’t do anything to counteract that fact.

    As for me not being qualified to make that decision, it is disingenuous for you to ignore the rest of that statement. You are also not qualified for at least the same reasons. The difference is that even when I’m anonymous, I can be honest about it.

  57. Curious July 13, 2020 10:38 am

    What your new link says: “And as a result of his refusal to vigorously fight slavery, Pierce shoulders a large share of the blame for the country’s march toward Civil War.” This sentence by itself disqualifies the man.
    This sentence is inaccurate. The country was on a long march toward Civil War from the date of its birth. Pierce pushes hard, and the South states secede. Simple question — tell me what Pierce could have done that would have (i) abolished slavery and (ii) avoided the biggest bloodshed in this country’s history?

    ghostndragon @ 49 It’s as though he’s telling a vegetarian that we must eat meat because of we don’t, there’s no reason to keep all the cattle and they’ll all die for lack of care.
    I hope you are not an attorney as your analogies suck.

    Many Northerners believed Pierce’s Young America (expansionist) views were actually designed to aquire new land for slavery. This seems to be supported by his signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act which repealed the ban on slavery north of 36 degrees latitude, and set up a “Let the territories decide” on slavery approach
    Again, you misread the history and the intent. The “Let the territories decide” was intended to remove the issue from the Federal level to the state level — again, Pierce was more pro-Union than anti-slavery and the legislation (passed by both Houses of Congress) was consistent with Pierce’s belief as to the individual states should decide the matter (i.e., Popular Sovereignty). This philosophy was inherent in the government set up after the American Revolution. Today, this philosophy (also known as State’s Rights) still has its adherents (as well as its detractors).

    Pierce didn’t know that civil war would be as deadly as it was, he was simply trying to shut up an abolitionist.
    Such a simplistic attitude. The country was on a slow, inevitable march towards civil war. For as much as most Northerners hated the institution of slavery, Southerners believed they absolutely needed it. In hindsight, it is easy to see how this was going to end badly. Pierce’s guilt is the same guilt shared by every other President prior to Lincoln — which is attempting to find a compromise between the two sides. We know now that there was (rightfully) no compromise to be had. However, I will not condemn those who tried to avoid a Civil War.

    Even assuming Pierce was actually anti-slavery, you appear to admit that his only positive contribution was being elected and being from New Hampshire.
    He is likely the most prominent politician (on a national level) from New Hampshire. Many schools have been named for people who have done far less.

    The fact is, his actions as president did not simply appear to be out of concern of preventing war. He acted in ways that suggest that he was helping to expand Southern access to new slave territories.
    Viewed through the lens of someone who believes that Pierce should have led the country into Civil War. Being pro-Union (which Pierce was) does not necessarily mean that Pierce was pro-slavery. That is the position you are taking and it is overly-simplistic — not surprising, as overly-simplistic treatments of history are all too common.

  58. Curious July 13, 2020 11:27 am

    With @36, … comparing slavery … with adultery (unintentionally I guess) is a low watermark in this discussion.
    You badly miss the mark with your criticism. I’m not particularly religious, but I’m very familiar with the biblical quote used in @36. There was absolutely no attempt to compare slavery with adultery. The quote is about those that criticize others.

    The Wikipedia link provided by yourself clearly states that the man was an anti-abolitionist.
    Forget Wikipedia. Wikipedia is great if you are looking for straight facts, but what we are talking about is an interpretation of a man’s character. If you want a better insight into what he thought, go to source material. These are Franklin Pierce’s own words:
    I am no advocate of slavery. I wish it had no existence upon the face of the Earth, but as a public man, I am called upon to act in relation to an existing state of things…. [T]he violent course of the Abolitionists at the North has postponed the emancipation of the coloured population in Maryland, Kentucky & Virginia Many & many a long year…. It should be remembered, that there are but two methods by which domestic slavery at the South can possibly be abolished. It can only be accomplished by the consent and agency of the Southern people themselves or by revolution. Would you recommend overturning the Constitution by a civil war, which carry ruin & desolation to every portion of this Country and probably result in the extermination of the coloured population upon this Continent?
    Source: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=314

    These are words of a man who does not want slavery but is also concerned by the violence advocated by some abolitionists (one need only look to John Brown as an example for that). The more I think about it, when Pierce refers to “civil war” he is probably also including a slave revolt as part of that. He also uses the phrase “It should be remembered …” which implies that what follows is something that is already known.

    Speaking of inauguration addresses, here is another quote:
    Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of [my] Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that–
    I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.
    Franklin Pierce again? No, that was from Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration address. Abraham Lincoln was not an abolitionist. Like Pierce, while he despised slavery, he was seeking some middle ground. He was also very pro-Union, as is evidenced later in the same speech, in which he said:
    It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union

    History has burnished Lincoln’s legacy. However, the truth is far more complicated, and when you dig deeper, you’ll see that the differences between Lincoln (hailed as one of the best Presidents) and Pierce (derided as one of the worst) are not as great as they would appear to be at first. Again, I have (to use a non-PC phrase) no dog in this fight. However, I am always on the side of truth, and in this instance, I see truth being trampled so that certain individuals can say that they also won a battle against “white men” (to quote ghostndragon). If, after a debate in which the real truth of that time is discussed and how people of that era faced extremely difficult choices, then if the powers that be want to change the name of the school, then that is their right. However, do not be reactionary for the sake of being reactionary.

  59. ghostndragon July 13, 2020 11:39 am

    @Curious
    I hope you’re not an attorney because your facts are wrong. Pierce was an open anti-abolitionist, which is not the same thing as an abolitionist (the “anti” part should be a clue). Pierce signed law that REPEALED a ban the expansion of slavery. And Pierce openly pursued more territory for the purpose of expanding slavery. While being an anti-abolitionist can be viewed as a placative stance to prevent secession, the rest is pretty damning. He was as pro-slavery as a Northerner got. Now, start from those FACTS and come to the same conclusion and I’ll hope you aren’t an attorney because your logic sucks.

  60. Curious July 13, 2020 11:47 am

    Pierce was NOT an abolitionist
    In this you are accurate, but neither was Abraham Lincoln. However, they were both anti-slavery and they were both pro-Union. It takes some digging to discover the difference between the two terms (abolitionist and anti-slavery), and I don’t blame Gene for mistaking one term for the other. The problem with your attitude about Franklin Pierce is that many of the criticisms you level towards him can also be leveled towards Lincoln. Ultimately, the South forced Lincoln’s hand be seceding, but had they not, Lincoln’s presidency would have likely been far more like those that preceded him.

    There is nothing positive in his legacy to counteract those deeds.
    I doubt, like most, you’ve done any in-depth search for positive deeds.

  61. Gene Quinn July 13, 2020 12:13 pm

    ghostndragon @56…

    You didn’t answer the question. Everyone who can read can see that. The question is simple, straight forward, and doesn’t require an essay or cop-out. It is a YES or NO question, although you can feel free to elaborate after answering YES or NO.

    Do you think every President prior to Lincoln should have their name removed from everything since they did not end slavery?

    I know why you and other petitioners won’t answer the question. Because it is asinine to recommend removing Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, etc. from all buildings and institutions. No right minded American will agree to erase them. That would require (among other things) renaming the Nation’s Capitol, changing all of our printed currency, tearing down several of the most important memorials in the Nations’ Capitol, renaming schools on every level all across the country, renaming towns and cities all across the country.

    You won’t answer the question because your position leads to an absurd answer. You are targeting Pierce because you think he is a weak link. Your intellectual dishonesty is pathetic. The fact that you won’t actually say what you believe even with complete anonymity is cowardice. And you have the audacity to complain about the decisions of Franklin Pierce to try and avoid war when you don’t have the strength of your own convictions to identify yourself or even say what you obviously really believe.

  62. Jonathan Stroud July 13, 2020 1:50 pm

    Wow, that is a lot of comments.

  63. Curious July 13, 2020 1:57 pm

    I hope you’re not an attorney because your facts are wrong. Pierce was an open anti-abolitionist
    Here, you do not appreciate the difference between being anti-slavery and being an abolitionist. Pierce was anti-slavery and was not an abolitionist. The same could be said about Lincoln. Pierce was fearful of what abolitionists would do to the Union — which is tear it apart. As I wrote, Lincoln was no abolitionist as evident from his first inaugural speech. However, he did support not allowing slavery into the new territories — a point that differed from Pierce.

    Here is a quote from Lincoln’s famed Peoria speech in which he explained his objections to the Kansas-Nebraska Act:
    For myself, I can answer this question most easily. I meant not to ask a repeal, or modification of the fugitive slave law. I meant not to ask for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. I meant not to resist the admission of Utah and New Mexico, even should they ask to come in as slave States. I meant nothing about additional territories, because, as I understood, we then had no territory whose character as to slavery was not already settled. As to Nebraska, I regarded its character as being fixed, by the Missouri compromise, for thirty years—as unalterably fixed as that of my own home in Illinois.
    These are not the words of an abolitionist. These are the words of someone trying to forge a compromise. In his mind, the Missouri Compromise settled the issue and the Kansas-Nebraska Action reopened the issue. As he further stated:
    At length a compromise was made, in which, like all compromises, both sides yielded something. It was a law passed on the 6th day of March, 1820, providing that Missouri might come into the Union with slavery, but that in all the remaining part of the territory purchased of France, which lies north of 36 degrees and 30 minutes north latitude, slavery should never be permitted. This provision of law, is the Missouri Compromise. In excluding slavery North of the line, the same language is employed as in the Ordinance of ’87. It directly applied to Iowa, Minnesota, and to the present bone of contention, Kansas and Nebraska.

    Lincoln did not call for the absolute abolition of slavery, in the same speech he stated:
    When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge them, not grudgingly, but fully, and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives
    Here he is saying that he would give the South legislation that would allow them to repatriate escaped slaves — again, hardly the words of a pure abolitionist. To be honest, I never knew these things about Lincoln until I did a deep dive into the history. The history of that era is replete with nuanced actions by the principles — nuanced actions that are seemingly lost in this era.

    He was as pro-slavery as a Northerner got.
    Absolutely incorrect. He supported a compromise. That doesn’t make him pro-slavery anymore than Lincoln’s support of compromise positions did.

  64. Ternary July 13, 2020 2:03 pm

    ” tell me what Pierce could have done that would have (i) abolished slavery and (ii) avoided the biggest bloodshed in this country’s history?”

    Curious, Pierce could have stuck to the Missouri Compromise and not sign the Kansas -Nebraska Act. He could also have intervened in the violence that broke out in Kansas (search on Bleeding Kansas). He also could have supported the more pro-abolitionist territorial governors in this matter, but instead turned to pro-slavery Wilson Shannon.

    One reason behind this is that Pierce was a pro-slavery president. The objections he had against slavery were its political inconvenience. Pierce was against Emancipation even after his political opinion did not matter. You can find on-line facsimiles of his letters wherein he vigorously denies that he is in principle against slavery. The Ostend Manifesto demonstrates Pierce’s willingness to advocate and promote slavery interests. As inept as he was, this effort luckily failed, but was another step towards supporting slavery interests and towards enabling the South.

    Pierce had plenty of opportunities to stop this march to war. All the signs were there. He was told and advised how to achieve that. But he listened to and followed Stephen Douglas and Jefferson Davis, his Secretary of War.

    This whole discussion has been influenced by the assertion that in some way the whole issue of Pierce is too complex for us uninitiated. If only we knew all the facts which are only available from eminent scholars, which are not actually named and whereof no sources are mentioned by anyone.

    We are living in the era of the Internet and most information, sometimes with a little bit of effort can be found. Furthermore, the 1850 pre-Civil War period is exceedingly well documented. There is no document that absolves Pierce in this. Basically all what is alleged about him and written in the Wikipedia article is true.

    To allege that we are unable to assess his moral or political character is horse manure. He did not express any human feeling to the suffering of slaves in any way. He suffered the loss of an 11-year son in a tragic accident. At the same time children of the same age were separated from their parents by slave owners. Girls, not much older than his son were raped by white slave owners. His behavior with the Fugitive Slave Act in the capture of Anthony Burns and return to his slave owner is abhorrent and completely amoral.

    I feel I fell into the trap of allegations that “it is all too difficult” and “we cannot pass judgement” and “true scholarly work” will absolve Pierce. All of that is untrue. Sure we can pass judgement. Everything is documented and readily available for research. And no, it is not too difficult, just stop being intellectually lazy and do some work. And no, no scholarly work exists (and is not cited by anyone in this discussion) that absolves Pierce. In fact, the more you read about the man, the less you actually want to know about him.

    What is missing from our group of white guys is any elementary acknowledgement of the complete failure by Pierce to recognize and address the human suffering of slaves. Oh wait, they were slaves, which was constitutional, so no humane requirements needed.

    If you conclude that I am angry about this. Yes, I am angry to discover how an intellectually dishonest a discussion this has been. With a demand for sourcing of commenters in favor of dropping Pierce’s name that was not demanded from anyone else, who have made unsupported statements. None of the white guys showing even a minimum of compassion for the actual victims who suffered immensely.

    Only MaxDrei, a person I generally disagree with, is one of the few who expressed human concern in this. Anon, who reveals himself to be a pseudo-intellectual, limited himself to slinging insults. Paul Cole who made a tremendous faux pas tried to find cover in repeating Curious’ arguments. Curious makes “principled” objections in favor of Pierce, but does not mention any sources. Gene Quinn who started this, cites sources that confirm what is alleged, but flatly denies it and accuses me of lying. ghostndragon, the only woman in this discussion (it seems) is predictably accused of sexism.

    I am particularly angry at myself for falling into this trap. In a short time I learned more about this and my fellow commenters than I really care to know. No, I am not going to mention my sources anymore. They are public and easy to find. Do your own frigging homework.

    One, based on factual evidence, can only conclude that the decision to remove Pierce’s name is the right one. And no Gene, like removing unwanted graffiti from a synagogue, removal of Pierce’s name will not reduce hunger. So what is your point?

    What a colossal waste of time! And what an unprovoked damage to the previously untarnished IPWatchdog brand. There are no winners here.

  65. get a grip, maniacs July 13, 2020 2:57 pm

    Gene displaying the classic “whataboutism” response when he’s run out of viable responses. Also, I thought “slippery slope” arguments were relegated to answers from sleepy students who didn’t read the assigned cases before class.

    This is such a wasted of everyone’s time. Who gives one flying f*** about the renaming of schools and monuments and changing a word on currency (which needs to be changed anyway to remove the asinine “In God We Trust”).

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

  66. Gene Quinn July 13, 2020 4:23 pm

    get a grip @ 65…

    You say: “Gene displaying the classic “whataboutism” response when he’s run out of viable responses.”

    That doesn’t convey coherent thought. And I certainly haven’t run out of viable responses.

    Try again.

  67. Gene Quinn July 13, 2020 4:39 pm

    Ternary @64…

    You say: “He also could have supported the more pro-abolitionist territorial governors in this matter… The objections he had against slavery were its political inconvenience.”

    Agreed. He certainly could have done more, and in retrospect, with hindsight being 20-20 he should have done more. Of course, as history teaches (and all the Presidential scholars acknowledge) he was singularly concerned with avoiding war and keeping the Union together. Knowing that war was inevitable as we do now he certainly should have done more in retrospect. Perhaps he should have know war was inevitable.

    As for you saying he was pro-slavery, that isn’t exactly what the Kansas-Nebraska Act did. It allowed the states to decide, which was an intentional attempt to keep the Union together and keep the issue of slavery out of federal politics. So, what you are saying is far more complicated than you make it seem.

    You say: “Pierce had plenty of opportunities to stop this march to war. All the signs were there. He was told and advised how to achieve that. But he listened to and followed Stephen Douglas and Jefferson Davis, his Secretary of War.”

    To think the Civil War could have been avoided absent the North capitulating and agreeing to slavery across the board is wrong. The entire Southern economy developed on the free labor provided by slavery, and the South was never going to abandon slavery. What you suggest is simply a counter factual narrative that is false.

    You say: “What is missing from our group of white guys is any elementary acknowledgement of the complete failure by Pierce to recognize and address the human suffering of slaves.”

    Again, that is false. Pierce is well documented to have personally been against slavery (as I quoted in this article and Presidential scholars all agree).

    You say: “I am not going to mention my sources anymore.”

    Right, so we are just supposed to take your word for it because you know better.

    You ask: “And no Gene, like removing unwanted graffiti from a synagogue, removal of Pierce’s name will not reduce hunger. So what is your point?”

    That you have to ask the question shows that you really don’t get it.

    Tearing down isn’t the solution. Doing good is the solution.

    Changing the name of the law school won’t prevent any black deaths in south Chicago, or NYC or Atlanta or any other city. Changing the name of the school won’t feed the hungry, or teach anyone to read or write or help them achieve grade level.

    So, do you want to do good, or do you just want to tear down everything associated with the first 16 Presidents of the U.S.?

  68. ghostndragon July 13, 2020 5:58 pm

    Gene, the law school’s name already changed. Twice. The first time removed Pierce’s name and it survived just fine, as did its students, faculty, alum, and reputation. It was changed back just last year in what felt like a backlash against the direction other schools were going to better reflect their modern diverse student bodies. As a matter of fact, it felt like a giant eff you to progress in advancing equity for black people. Not surprisingly, the dean claimed at the time that everyone, just everyone, she talked to was hunky dory with it,and played down the infamy of its namesake as merely historical trivia. I am also not surprised that said dean is also a member of the Federalist Society. So, yeah, it probably was an eff you to black people.

    As for whether we should venerate Lincoln, that’s a good question. It’s not like he freed the slaves out of moral desire to actually free them. It too was a political move. But even ignoring his intentions, the fact remains that his actions had an important positive effect on the status of black people in this country. We can celebrate that and his role in it. He wasn’t perfect and we shouldn’t pretend he was. He was a shyster in many cases, too, so we shouldn’t forget that,and maybe think a little harder when consider naming things after him now.

    Same with Washington. He is probably the biggest reason we don’t have a king, as he was the commander in chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, among other noble things. That said, he did keep slaves, and intentionally took advantage of legal loopholes to keep them from ever becoming free. So, yeah, he was a racist dick, and we should stop pretending he was a saint. Yet, we have no king and we are (as anon likes to point out, ad nauseum) a sovereign state in large part because of him.

    I guess I’ll end my part in this argument with this: I see you and you have shown me who you are.

  69. Curious July 13, 2020 8:23 pm

    Curious, Pierce could have stuck to the Missouri Compromise and not sign the Kansas -Nebraska Act. He could also have intervened in the violence that broke out in Kansas (search on Bleeding Kansas). He also could have supported the more pro-abolitionist territorial governors in this matter, but instead turned to pro-slavery Wilson Shannon.
    None of what you stated would have abolished slavery.

    One reason behind this is that Pierce was a pro-slavery president
    Simply and unequivocally wrong. Pierce was against the violence advocated for by many abolitionists. Not being an abolitionist is not the same as being pro-slavery. If so, then put the pro-slavery label on Lincoln.

    Pierce had plenty of opportunities to stop this march to war.
    What could have Pierce done to stop the march to war? The two sides were staking out intractable positions. Pierce is guilty for trying to find a compromise.

    He did not express any human feeling to the suffering of slaves in any way.
    Complete and total speculation on your part. I cannot say one way or another what Pierce thought about the suffering of slaves without the the investigation of real source material — not fifth, sixth, and umpteenth hand characterizations of Pierce, as you have apparently done.

    What is missing from our group of white guys is any elementary acknowledgement of the complete failure by Pierce to recognize and address the human suffering of slaves. Oh wait, they were slaves, which was constitutional, so no humane requirements needed.
    Your arguments are really going off the rails here. You are again engaging in rampant speculation as to the man’s core beliefs. Franklin Pierce was accused of lots of things by his rivals — one need only look at today’s politics to see how what one is accused of (by one’s rivals) can bear little semblance to the truth. As such, I find it prudent to take what is said about a particular person with a grain of salt.

    Curious makes “principled” objections in favor of Pierce, but does not mention any sources.
    I see that you haven’t read what I written too closely. I wrote that I am favor of the “facts” — not the railroading of an individual’s legacy. I also wrote that if, after the facts were debated, if they wanted to rename the school, then they should. Additionally, I cited to the speeches upon which I relied.

    It was a complicated time with complicated characters. Pierce was more like Lincoln than what people think. Lincoln wasn’t campaigning to be elected to free the slaves — just read his first inauguration speech. Read the Emancipation Proclamation that included several exceptions (basically, those states/territories already under Union control). Gene’s point about damning the other presidents is also apt. While we are at it, we might as well damn all of the presidents before Lyndon Johnson and JFK for how little they did on with regard to civil rights. There is a long list of presidents that didn’t solve all the problems that were laid out before them. Could the US done more to temper the ambitions of Japan and Germany prior to WWII? If so, let’s start damning FDR. Should I identify the Presidents that failed to address (to the satisfaction of 21st century moral standards) the rights of women? I could go on and on and on.

    It appears that no one here wants to take on these other targets. Why is that?

    In a short time I learned more about this and my fellow commenters than I really care to know.
    Like you, I have also learned much about history. However, unlike you, I feel better for knowing it. I always found history fascinating. What I discovered from my research is just how utterly simplistic people’s opinions are of both Pierce and Lincoln. What I learned confirmed what I believed, which is that every President has warts. Let me go back to what I initially wrote:
    100 years from now, I doubt any of us would be able to pass the scrutiny of future generations who will likely have evolved higher moral standards than what we possess today. I doubt there is a historical figure in the United State’s past who doesn’t have some flaw that could be held up as a sign of their unworthiness to be venerated. If so, should we just stop building monuments to our heroes because they will eventually be shown to be flawed in some way or form?
    Everything I’ve argued is consistent with those beliefs. And what I read about Lincoln and Pierce confirms this.

  70. Gene Quinn July 14, 2020 11:48 am

    ghostndragon @68…

    You say: “The first time removed Pierce’s name and it survived just fine, as did its students, faculty, alum, and reputation.”

    Not true. Please reread my article, which explains why this statement is incorrect.

    When referring to Abraham Lincoln you say: “He was a shyster…”

    And there we have it. The truth comes out. With ridiculous positions like that it is impossible to take anything you say seriously. The man who was singularly responsible for ending slavery in the U.S. was a shyster and we should “think a little harder when consider naming things after him now.” How utterly ridiculous.

    Thank you for being honest though and finally exposing your truth feelings. Once your true feelings come out the absurdity of what you believe is clear.

  71. Gene Quinn July 14, 2020 11:49 am

    ghostndragon @68…

    One final thought…

    You say: “I guess I’ll end my part in this argument with this: I see you and you have shown me who you are.”

    Unfortunately, because you don’t have the strength of your convictions I can’t see you and I don’t know who you are. I know that you think Abraham Lincoln was a shyster and nothing should be named after him. But you still remain anonymous. Very brave.

  72. Barney Molldrem` October 6, 2020 3:03 pm

    Wasn’t the poet Robert Frost from New Hampshire? and Associate S.C. Justice Souter? They have about as much to do with Intellectual Property law as our fourteenth president. Anyway, it sounds as if the goodwill involved had nothing to do with the person himself, but only the scholastic quality of the school that bore his name. Or now again bears his name. The name itself is nothing without the product. Like Thomas Jefferson sneakers, or John Quincy Adams sweatshirts (if those wares had ever existed).

Post a Comment

Respectfully add to the discussion.

Name *
Email *
Website