Skip to main content
Samuel Locke (1732-1778) entered the presidency with every promise of becoming a great academic executive. No less a contemporary than Yale President Ezra Stiles deemed him “a man of strength, penetration, and judgment, superior to Holyoke in everything except classical learning and personal dignity,” in the words of Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison.
Most of Locke’s contemporaries thus found themselves at a loss to understand his resignation of Dec. 1, 1773 - not least because the Harvard Corporation volunteered no details in its bare-bones announcement. It took the 20th-century publication of Stiles' diary to bring the reason to light: Locke had fathered a child by one of his maids. “Mr. Locke took the blame, retired to the country, and was promptly forgotten.” (Morison)