In Boston, Ruth and I tracked down the John Harvard Statue because it’s #17 on a list called “20 Strange Attractions in Boston”. The bronze statue itself is not strange but its nickname “The Statue of Three Lies” is. This work of art by the most famous sculptor of his day is on the part of the Harvard campus known as the Old Yard near a very interesting fountain. The rendering of John Harvard by artist Daniel Chester French, who is more famous for The Minute Man and the Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, is very popular among students. Many of them were near me taking photos of it with their cell phones. There were lots of students in the area for what appeared to be a big protest rally.
In front of University Hall, the gentleman posing as John Harvard was Sherman Hoar, class of 1882. That’s the 1st lie. No one knows what John Harvard looked like. The so-called founder of Harvard University died in 1638 of tuberculosis at the age of 31. This occurred 2 years after the school came into existence. Harvard actually graduated from Cambridge in England and emigrated to America in 1637. The statue was created almost 250 years later.
The 2nd lie has to do with Harvard’s founding. Many created this college. So, technically, John Harvard was, at best, one of its founders not the founder; and he is honored mainly because he left his library to the university. The 3rd lie has to do with the year. Harvard was actually established in 1636 by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony as the “colledge at Newtowne”. It was renamed Harvard College 2 years later.
Like the Golden Grasshopper Weathervane, this sculpture was worth seeing mainly because of its setting. #19, the Warren Anatomical Museum, was not worth the considerable effort it took to track it down. Tourists like me rub Sherman’s shoes for luck, making them shiny, especially the left one. It’s not a student tradition. So there are actually 4 lies afoot.