For a limited edition book several years ago, the College asked Kenyon professors to reflect on some of the literary scenes and passages depicted in the famous stained glass windows of Peirce’s Great Hall. Professor Emeritus of History William B. Scott offered these thoughts on the windows devoted to the Gettysburg Address.
The central panel . . . features Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, with the phrase . . . “this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom” emblazoned above his head. Encircling the president are the nation’s people, including farmers, artisans, shopkeepers, women as well as men, Native Americans, and emancipated slaves. One can read a message for Kenyon here. Lincoln’s presence reminds us of the great Civil War-era figures who were Kenyon alumni. Moreover, . . . the College, too, would eventually undergo a new birth in the spirit of Lincoln’s democratic vision. Women would arrive, as would greater numbers of students more fully representing the diversity of American society. In this iconic Kenyon building, circled round by towering figures in the English literary tradition, we have an image of the College reaching beyond its English roots to fulfill the promise of universal democracy articulated in the Gettysburg Address.