January 8, 2018
Old school: U-M in History
A statue of Ben Franklin donated by the Class of 1870, before the beginning of the end at the hands of a beer bottle. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)
The Class of 1870 purchased what they believed was a bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin to display on campus near the Law School. However, it was discovered to be much-more-brittle pewter in 1899 when a student shoved a bottle in Ben's "pocket," creating a hole. Despite the plant department's efforts to preserve the statue, one of its arms broke off. They moved the statue inside where it remained for many years. Finally, in 1907 the statue met its ultimate demise when it was found one day in "hundreds of pieces." An alumnus writing to a friend said, "It is rumored that marauding Boxer students were responsible for the assassination."
— Compiled from the President's Advisory Committee on Public Art website