Harvard University was named after American minister John Harvard on this day in 1639 — more than 380 years ago. Despite passing away tragically at the age of 31, Harvard is described as the “principal founder” of the prestigious school due to a generous endowment provided by the philanthropical clergyman. A bronze statue honoring John Harvard was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French in 1884 and is currently on display in Harvard Yard. Though the statue bears no actual resemblance to the real John Harvard, it has nonetheless become a university tradition for incoming underclassmen to rub the toe of the statue’s left shoe for good luck.
“He gazes for a moment into the future, so dim, so uncertain, yet so full of promise, promise which has been more than realized.” —