Curtis Dahlgren
'W.D. Hoard: A Man For His Time'
By Curtis Dahlgren
May 29, 2019

W.D. Hoard: A Man For His Time, by Loren Osman (1985, Hoard & Co.), contains some light hearted anecdotes from the past.

When Ft. Atkinson's W.D. Hoard was appointed to the UW Board of Regents, a Neal Brown of Wausau sent him a letter, reading: "I was immensely pleased to find that you had been appointed to the [board]. I wish you would take the University by the scruff of the neck, shake out the parasitical growth...s that infest it, wipe off the green mold that has gathered on it, and generally renovate it...." He suggested that president Van Hise wasn't suited to run "a big, overgrown, spraddly, somewhat detached institution with [a faculty] full of manifold jackasseries and dry rot. Get the punk out."

"The more things stay the same?" Brown wasn't just a hick from the sticks – he was a lawyer – but Hoard sent a tactful reply. He was a friend of the U.W. – although he became leery of the Letters & Science department. After hearing a speech by the president of Harvard, Hoard said, "I fell to wondering at the origin of the phrase 'liberal arts.'.... What arts are liberal and what are illiberal?" And after an anarchist spoke at the YMCA in the same building as the student Union, W.D. spoke about the L&S dean's thin skin (a professor had caught flak for promoting the anarchist's appearance and the dean defended him).

"He seems to be possessed with the idea that he must deny every and all allegations, concede nothing, and stand up for any professor no matter how just the criticism." The Daily Union said:

"[It was] illustrative of the much vaunted 'academic freedom' certain members of the faculty are so much concerned about.... There is no law against uneducated idiocy, and there can be none against that which is educated." Yes, stupidity isn't against the law, but it sure gives academania (my word) a public relations problem from time to time. Liberal or illiberal, debate on campus is almost a lost "art." Winnowing and sifting seem "SO 19th century" to the progressives. W.D. Hoard started out as a Teddy Roosevelt-La Follette Republican, but when the movement went too far, Hoard wasn't afraid to criticize the Progressive party:

"Never in the history of Wisconsin were the political exigencies of the state of greater or more serious moment than at this hour. We are just beginning to emerge from a political nightmare that has been cast over our state for the last 14 years. It passes all human comprehension how this perversion of all sound and wholesome understanding of a republican form of government should have so poisoned our judgment as a people, concerning our true destiny."

By the way, on May 20, I read with sadness the letter from the man who got a tongue-lashing in Whitewater for flying an American flag. The castigator said the flag represents "white supremacy" (and other such catch-words now heard routinely on college campuses). In 1898, W.D. Hoard (a man not only for his time, but ahead of his time) told a Chicago audience:

"In politics there is an evolution taking place. There is a hunger in the hearts of the people, irrespective of parties, everywhere, for once more the reassertion of the old American doctrine, 'My Country 'Tis of Thee.'"

Very truly, —

P.S. "Progressive academe" says it believes in science, but not in the progress of science in modern mining. I'm sending a letter to another paper in the U.P:

"What better proof can there be that money 'well-placed' in the political arena gets better results than voters at the polls." So wrote a letter writer last week. WELL, there's a difference between "proof" and evidence, but when it comes to innuendo and rhetoric, there isn't much difference between that and slander. If you think the local mining company is involved in extortion or bribery, don't beat around the bush. Spit your libel out.

Problem is, "Deep" ecologists are the kind of people who can tell you more than they know. They impute motives while, believe it or not, some politicians vote their consciences regardless of campaign donations. The environmentals fear monger and flat-out lie. They claim 97 percent of the people oppose the mine, because it will kill the sturgeon, etc. etc.

Trouble is, other people read and hear stuff like that and some of them believe it. Where is the "proof" of pollution by the mines up north? Native Americans? They were mining long before the Europeans came here (see Copper Age State Park). My cabin is on the river, but that's beside the point.

Why bother responding? I just read a letter against the mine published in 2003, the year after gold was discovered. In other words, opponents have been writing letters saying essentially the same things for over 16 years. I'm just writing to ease some of their stress. If they keep writing for another 16 years, they are more likely to die of angry bowel syndrome than a sturgeon's chance of being killed by the mine. The sturgeon will be here long after we're gone.

Whatever happened to "love thine enemies" and "God bless us, every one," Tiny Tim?

More to come.

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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