Letters Etc. / Winter 2021-2022


Vivian Zoë’s article “The Victorian Philanthropy of John Fox Slater and William Albert Slater” (Fall 2021) notes that former President Rutherford B. Hayes was the first board chair of the Slater Fund. The fund was used to educate “colored” teachers in the South after the Civil War. Although a staunch abolitionist, Hayes was elected president because of a deal with Southern Democrats. The deal gave Hayes the presidency in exchange for ending Reconstruction and pulling federal troops out of the South. Those troops were protecting the newly freed enslaved from the Ku Klux Klan. That deal reinvigorated the Klan and brought in nearly 100 years of Jim Crow laws that terrorized blacks in the South. We all have our flat sides.

David Biklen
West Hartford

detail, postcard, Slater Library, Jewett City, 1908

From the author: The letter writer rightly points to the complexity and limitations of Hayes’s involvement in the Slater Fund, which was outside the scope of the story.

I was disappointed that Vivian Zoë’s “The Victorian Philanthropy of John Fox Slater and William Albert Slater” (Fall 2021) did not mention that John Fox Slater left money to build the Slater Library (1884) in Jewett City. It is a beautiful building in the same style as the Slater Memorial at Norwich Free Academy. We residents of Griswold/Jewett City are extremely proud of our library and annex. The Griswold Historical Society has a museum on the second floor.

Mary Deveau
Municipal Historian
Town of Griswold

Editor’s note: Thank you for your letter. The Slater Library in Jewett City was designed by Stephen Earle in the Romanesque Revival style and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

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