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ADDRESS OF OTTO T. BANNARD, YALE, 1876 - William Graham Sumner, The Challenge of Facts and other Essays 
The Challenge of Facts and other Essays, ed. Albert Galloway Keller (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1914).
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ADDRESS OF OTTO T. BANNARD, YALE, 1876
As one of the very early students of William Graham Sumner in Political and Social Science, I may be permitted to speak briefly — not as a scholar or economist — just as one of many who sat at his feet and never forgot, who listened and read and always rejoiced at meeting him. He was a great central figure and a large part of Yale, and Yale without Sumner taxes the imagination of us older men. He was a University Keystone not to be removed, and he will continue in our thoughts and in our life as long as we who knew him live.
Without any national official position, he was a national character. His subjects dealt with national policies and current events and his views were sought even by those to whom they were unwelcome. Oddly enough, no matter how unyielding his opposition, he generated no personal rancor, for it was self-evident that he was the apostle of truth, and interested only in the correctness of the conclusions. There was no vanity in the argument, no conscious pleasure in the words. He had the constructive faculty, and his logic was merciless, and as unanswerable as a problem of Euclid, because human nature, expediency, local environment, and the compromises of government by party had nothing to do with abstract essence of truth. One late evening in his library, as a senior, I timidly questioned him as to the anti-Chinese sentiment in San Francisco and I shall never forget his impersonal demolition of every argument against the admission of the Chinese. The human rivalries of workmen were not to mar the comprehensive chart of the world studied as a whole. To a teacher, fundamental propositions must not be affected by local color.
Truth was a world-wide proposition founded on the testimony of the ages, and any community which found it useful to vary these laws for purposes of revenue, growth, or government would do so at its peril and with full notice.
And so Sumner convinced us and we students scattered from New Haven and drifted where we might, free-traders to the core — and economically sure of it until, later, contact with the world began to modify our ideas, adapting them to the local needs and conditions of some small industry in which we were trying to survive. We found pure economics somewhat theoretical and that many men must be consulted as to how governments may obtain revenue. In life few can have all they ask, and we ventured occasionally to take a liberty with a verity to meet an exigency, to clothe as it were a too naked truth.
The world happened to be already populated and must be operated by human beings. If we could begin anew it would be as he said, and as far and as fast as possible his laws must be arrived at, for fundamentally he was always right. Live and let live had nothing to do with truth as he taught it.
We never forgot what he said or how he said it or the tones of his voice or his gestures. They were stamped into our minds by his powerful, incisive personality and his rare gift of expression and illustration. He was a wonderful teacher without the slightest unpleasant accompaniment which some teachers have with unwilling students. Against our will we became willing and eager, and we liked him and would follow him wherever he led, and if we wanted a cut we cut some other recitation. Sumner's was not drudgery; it was stimulation.
And he was so extraordinarily clear and practical and nothing of the metaphysician. He never preached for the sake of preaching. He was no crusader from habit or for effect. Take it or leave it, he presented what he knew.
And then the division would be dismissed from the class-room, and a remarkable transformation take place. This man of iron would step from the platform, the atmosphere still charged with his electricity, throw his cape over his shoulders, and at once become the most friendly, kindly, genial, generous, human, and sympathetic of companions, the best of good fellows. He was only cast iron when he was denouncing economic enemies. He had no others.
His duty was to teach truth and to lead, and never was there a more exalted teacher nor so valiant a leader. After thirty-five years we find his truths chiselled in a rock and we see him now and forever in clear outline against the sky, high and strong and true.