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Dead White Guys: John Jay Lounge

As the labels of the three portraits in John Jay Lounge have all been peeled away, we recruited the intrepid Mahima Chablani to do some research and write a few new ones. Despite their apparent lack of identities, these men from the second dimension watch over our shoulders, reminding us that we are not merely confused, lonely Columbians. Read on as Ms. Chablani reveals to us our academic heritage.

John Jay (surprise!) (1745-1829) by Emiddio de Cusati in 1952: Precocious indeed, this Founding Father enrolled in King’s College at age fourteen and graduated in 1764. Prior to Commencement in spring 1764, President Myles Cooper suspended Jay for a few weeks. Jay’s companions had destroyed a table, and Jay refused to tell “PrezCoo” their identities. What a bro. As you may already know, the man behind the Hall held a variety of titles, including first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, President of the Continental Congress, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Governor of New York.

King George II (1683-1760) painted by Joseph Highmore during the second half of the eighteenth century: King George II of Great Britain granted the royal charter for the founding of the King’s College in 1754 by the Church of England. Gotta give the man respect—you kinda owe him your collegiate education!

Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) by William J. Whittemore in 1929: Moore graduated from Columbia College in 1798 and later became a professor of Oriental and Greek literature. Perhaps he is best remembered by the poem ‘Twas the Night before Christmas” (also known as “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”), which was first published in The Troy Sentinel in 1823. Although Moore’s authorship over the poem is widely debated, legend claims that he composed the poem while returning by sleigh from Greenwich Village, where he purchased a turkey for his family’s dinner. The Dutchman who steered the sleigh inspired Moore’s image of Santa Claus as a roly-poly man who “laughed like a bowl full of jelly.” Back in good old days, the poem was read in front of the fire every Christmas eve.

Photography by Evelyn Warner

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Mahima rocks.

    1. COÖP says:


  • well says:

    @well Does the ROLM Phone Lady no longer read A Visit from St. Nicholas at the Yule Log Ceremony ( anymore (do you kids even know about the ROLM Phone Lady?)

    1. CC'XIV says:

      @CC'XIV never heard of her. :( can you tell us the story about her?

  • Hmm says:

    @Hmm It’s interesting to picture a sleigh ride from Greenwich Village to Columbia.

  • fyi says:

    @fyi the operative title would be “chief justice of the united states,” not “chief justice of the united states supreme court.” just sayin’

  • Isn't that George II portrait says:

    @Isn't that George II portrait also hanging in Butler Reference? Which is the original?

    Incidentally: Clement Moore is buried just up the road a piece, in the beautiful Trinity Cemetery next to the Church of the Intercession:

  • Anonymous says:


  • mahima says:

    @mahima is my heroin.

    that’s right.

    your love is my drug.

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