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H-Y Crew Race of 1852

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  • Charles Appleton Miles (1834 - 1911)
  • Charles Henry Hurd (1833 - 1877)
    Harvard Class of 1853. Rowed in the first Harvard Yale Crew Race of 1852
  • Charles Frederick Livermore, (USA) (1830 - d.)
    He was fitted for college at the Boston Latin School, and was graduated A.B. From Harvard College in 1853, and B.S. from the Lawrence Scientific School in 1856. He rowed in the first Harvard-Yale Crew ...
  • Jonathan Dwight, IV (1831 - 1910)
    Civil Engineer in New York. Harvard class of 1852. Rowed in the first Harvard-Yale Crew Race in 1852.
  • Nathaniel B. Baker, Governor (1818 - 1876)
    Bradley Baker (September 29, 1818–September 11, 1876) was born in Henniker, NH. He graduated from Harvard University, studied law under Franklin Pierce, and passed the bar in 1842.Baker's father, Abel ...

America's first intercollegiate athletic event was the Harvard-Yale Rowing Race held on August 3, 1852, a race that continues today and has been rowed almost continuously since then. This project will trace the original competitors and other participants, and what became of them later in life.

The race took place on the third of August, 1852 at Lake Winnipesaukee.

The following details are from a story told by James Morris Whiton, bow oar of the Yale crew, (Yale '53).

The race was supposed to be a frolic, and no idea was entertained of establishing a precedent.


The Harvard boat was named Oneida; she was manned by

Joseph Mansfield Brown, '53 (Coxswain),

  1. Thomas James Curtis '52 (Stroke), √
  2. Jonathan Dwight '52, √
  3. Charles Henry Hurd '53, √
  4. Sidney Willard '52, √
  5. Charles Jackson Paine '53, √
  6. William Henry Cunningham '53,
  7. Charles Frederick Livermore '53, √
  8. Charles Appleton Miles '53 (Bow). √


  1. John Willson Hutchins ('53) and
  2. Horace Oscar Whittemore ('53)

were ready to act as substitutes.

All met at Concord New Hampshire, whither excursion trains conveyed crowds of spectators. There were six judges:

  1. Franklin Pierce (Bowdoin 1824), later President of the United States,
  2. Col. Nathaniel Bradley Baker (Harvard 1839, Concord NH, later Gov. of NH),
  3. Julius Catlin (Yale 1853, Hartford CT),
  4. N.A.M. Dudley (New York),
  5. S.H. Quincy (Rumney NH),
  6. Abel H. Bellows (Harvard 1842, Concord NH),

The general management of the day was given to Colonel Baker.

Willard, who [rowed in the 5-seat for Harvard and] was a man of tremendous strength, broke his oar, but the race, notwithstanding, was won by Harvard.

Many of the College boys stayed at the Pemigewasset House, Plymouth, and it occurred to them it would be pleasant to give a "hop", and invite the rural beauties of the town to the festivities. With this end in view, they applied to the landlord of the hostelry and received this reply:

"Ye can hav the hall, young men, if ye want a gander dance, but ye won't get no gal timber there, I tell ye."

1. "The Story of the First Harvard-Yale Regatta by a Bow Oar", published in The Outlook, June 1, 1901, and privately printed with photographs of Lake Winnipesaukee and of the course of the Race. The Race was commemorated by a breakfast at the University Club, New York, on 10 December 1903.

The intercollegiate regatta of 1852 was suggested, and the means for carrying it through provided by, Mr. James N. Elkins, superintendent of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad, who had made the suggestion to Dr. Whiton, who was riding on the train with him up to Lake Winnipesaukee, that if a regatta could be arranged between Yale and Harvard the railroad would pay all the bills. Dr. Whiton's father was a director of the railroad, and was looking for ways to attract visitors to the area. The offer was accepted and Dr. Whiton, interesting [Harvard coxswain] Joseph M. Brown, made the arrangements.

Race day was a perfect summer day. Great crowds were brought up by excursion trains. At the finish, Oneida (Harvard) led the Shawmut (Yale) by about four lengths and the Undine (Yale) was four lengths behind the Shawmut. The prize was presented by General Pierce, that year's Democratic candidate for the Presidency. [The party continued for eight days, with expenses picked up by the railroad.]

The Yale crews were as follows:


There were two Yale boats. The first was named Shawmut

Richard Waite, coxswain, Toledo OH,

  1. James Hamilton, stroke
  2. Charles A. White, New Haven, CT,
  3. James R. Goodrich,
  4. Edward Harland, Norwich, CT,
  5. Joseph Warren, Boston, MA,
  6. Joseph S. French,
  7. William C. Brewster,
  8. Arthur Skelding, bow


  1. William T. Baxter,
  2. William L. Hinman
  3. Albert E. Kent

All were Yale 1853 except White, 1854.


The second Yale boat

Julius Catlin, Jr., coxswain,

  1. Edward Walden, stroke
  2. George W. Smalley, New York,
  3. William M. Hudson,
  4. William F. V. Bartlett, Lexington, KY,
  5. Benjamin K. Phelps,
  6. Benjamin F. Baer,
  7. Theodore Weston, New York,
  8. James M. Whiton, Jr., bow, New York,


  1. S. H. Tobey, New York,
  2. Sherman W. Knevals, New York,

All were of the class of 1853.


'Annals of the Harvard Class of 1852"

"Red Top, Reminiscences of Harvard Rowing", by R.F. Herrick.


Centennial Race:

In August of 1952, crews from Harvard and Yale raced again on Lake Winnipesaukee to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the event. Harvard won by 2.7 seconds. Among the members of the Harvard crew was Edward Reynolds, whose 2nd-great-uncle, Thomas Curtis, rowed stroke in the winning Harvard crew in 1852.

The 150th anniversary race was rowed in 2015.

other sources