123. Princeton and the Olympic Revival


In 1894, a congress of international delegates, including Princeton classics professor William Sloane as an American representative, gathered to organize a modern revival of the Olympic Games.  Upon his return to the College, Sloane convinced four members of Princeton’s rather undistinguished track team to make the voyage and represent the nation.  Robert Garrett ’1897, two-time captain of the track and field team, personally organized and financed the trip to Athens for him and his three classmates.  Wearing uniforms of orange and black with a miniature American flag over the heart, Garrett and his teammates acquitted themselves remarkably well.  In fact, Garrett proved to be the most winning athlete of the Games, placing third in the high jump, second in the long jump, and first in the shot put and discus throw, though he had never even seen a discus before arriving in Greece.  Princetonians Albert Tyler finished second in pole vault and Herbert Jamison placed second in the 400-meter race.  Although the competition was not of the highest caliber, the students received a hero’s welcome back in the U.S. and Princeton was praised for having been the only college to send a team.  Robert Garrett remained active in University affairs for the rest of his life, serving as a trustee for 40 years and president of his alumni class for 64 years.  In 1942, Garrett donated his private collection of nearly 10,000 Islamic manuscripts to the University, forming the largest such aggregation in the Western Hemisphere.