The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Service Legacy Project

Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy: Erastus Root, Class of 1793

This article is part of a series honoring Dartmouth Alumni who have served in public office and demonstrated their commitment to the ideals of public service, leadership, and civic engagement.

Erastus Root graduated from Dartmouth in 1793, when the College was in its infancy. In fact, the first ever visual depiction of the college was produced in this year, which portrays students playing an early precursor to baseball on the Green. Root’s contemporary, Daniel Webster, wrote in private correspondence that he would “play ball” on the Green often during his days as a freshman on campus. While it is unclear how involved Root was in early sports at Dartmouth, it is well known that the Connecticut native was a prolific intellectual, with expertise in several academic fields.

The Dartmouth College Public Service Legacy Project

Read more profiles about alumni who served in public office and made an impact.

When he was a student in the late 1920s, Nelson A. Rockefeller ’30 helped the nearby town of White River Junction recover from the Great Vermont Flood of 1927. His only request was to not be featured in any newspaper or other media article because his father, John D. Rockefeller, discouraged such publicity. Unearthing a little-known anecdote such as this one, connects undergraduate students to Nelson Rockefeller—a public figure who went on to contribute his wisdom, energy, and resources to the nation as a governor and vice president.

The Rockefeller Center was dedicated in September of 1983 in honor of Nelson Rockefeller. At the same time, his Class of 1930 dedicated a wall in the Center that recognizes all Dartmouth alumni and alumnae who have served in public office with a plaque bearing the individuals’ names and service.

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