97. Scribner’s Cane Spree


In 1865, upperclassmen forbade freshmen from carrying gentlemen’s canes, reserving this privilege for themselves and sophomores.  One evening, when impudent freshmen were strolling on Nassau Street with their carved walking sticks, sophomores attempted to seize the canes and a small riot erupted.  Within several years, the behavior became formalized into an annual battle between the two classes.  This drawing of Cane Spree appeared in Scribner’s Magazine in 1877.  The ritual evolved over several years into an affair in which elected representatives would fight for possession of a cane, followed by a giant melee known as a “rush.”  After World War II, the Department of Athletics took over the management of this competition.  Today, the Cane Spree is a more orderly intramural athletic contest involving hundreds of students in dozens of different athletic competitions—including cane wrestling.