Recently reading Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here written in 1935 about a fascist takeover of the United States. Lewis writes the following description of one James Buck Titus:

James Buck Titus, who was fifty but looked thirty-eight, straight, broad-shouldered, slim-waisted, long-mustached, swarthy — Buck was the Dan’l Boone type of Old American, or, perhaps, an Indian-fighting cavalry captain, out of Charles King. He had graduated from Williams, with ten weeks in England and ten years in Montana, divided between cattle-raising, prospecting, and a horse-breeding ranch. His father, a richish railroad contractor had left him the great farm near West Beulah, and Buck had come back home to grow apples, to breed Morgan stallions, and to read Voltaire, Anatole France, Nietzsche, and Dostoyefsky. He served in the war, as a private; detested his officers, refused a commission, and liked the Germans at Cologne. He was a useful polo player, but regarded riding to the hounds as childish. In politics, he did not so much yearn over the wrongs of Labor as feel scornful of the tight-fisted exploiters who denned in office and stinking factory. He was as near to the English country squire as one may find in America.

Titus is a friend of the of the protagonist Doremus Jessup. While the college is only mentioned once of twice more in a very cursory way, Titus is one of the novel’s heros and does Williams proud, even if only in fiction. (Sinclair Lewis lived in Williamstown for a time and perhaps saw knew of a “James Buck Titus”.)

Print  •  Email