Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to George C. Gardner, Springfield, Mass. November 29, 1922 (regarding Tommy Liang)


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Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to George C. Gardner, Springfield, Mass. November 29, 1922 (regarding Tommy Liang)


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to George C. Gardner, Springfield, Mass. November 29, 1922 (regarding Tommy Liang)


My dear Mr. Gardner:

I feel that just a word is due you explaining my latest actions, and those of our good friend, Tommy Liang, in connection with the proposed transfer of the boy from Exeter to Andover. The transfer was duly accomplished. A room in my house was got ready, at some considerable labor, because the room in question was one of my regular guest rooms. Tommy, with due amount of baggage, arrived safely at the Andover station, where I met him and conveyed him to the house. There he was met by a number of his old Chinese friends, and apparently was delighted with the new arrangements made for his welfare. I asked him very plainly and sincerely, several times, if he really desired to make the change, or was likely to be unhappy in it, suggesting that if the latter were the case I should be disposed to recommend to you that the Exeter connection be retained. He assured me very emphatically that he preferred to be at Andover and was very glad that the transfer had taken place.

As I had to leave town very shortly after his arrival I arranged with one of the other Chinese boys to accompany him to his first recitations and to introduce him to his class officer. Soon after my return next day I was called on by Mr. Williams of Exeter, who advised me that Tommy had called him up the night before, stated that he was homesick, and desired to return to Exeter. Mr. Williams’ trip to Andover was prompted by this interview. Knowing from a pretty long experience the sudden waves of emotion that sweep over these new comers from the Orient, I was a bit surprised that Mr. Williams had attached so much importance to the boy's very natural reaction to the new environment. After talking with him a while, however, I came to the conclusion that he himself had clearly made up his mind that the boy should not have left Exeter, and as I found myself in a somewhat awkward position I did not deem it wise to argue the other side of tho question with any force. When Mr. Williams told me that he wished to talk with Liang about the situation I decided definitely that it would probably be better for me to say nothing more, but to favor the boy’s return to Exeter. As graciously as I could, therefore, I accepted the suggestions made by Mr. Williams, in favor of the re-transfer, and assured him that it was my only wish that the father’s plans for the boy, as he had given them to me in the past, should be carried out, and the boy’s best welfare furthered. Unfortunately, I was again on the point of leaving town for an engagement elsewhere and therefore had no further chance to learn of the final outcome until my return on Monday. I told Mr. Williams before leaving that, if the boy was to go back to Exeter eventually, it seemed wise, in my judgment, that the step should be taken at once rather than later. I found on my return that the suggestion had been complied with and that Liang had gone back to the New Hampshire school, whither his baggage speedily followed him. I felt it only fair that you should have these facts, in order that you might understand my position in a somewhat confused situation. Before leaving Mr. Williams assured me that he would send me a copy of a letter which he proposed to write to you explaining things, and that I would receive from you, either by telephone or by letter, a full endorsement of the plan. I told him that I felt this was necessary since you were the boy’s guardian, and that your wishes, of course, should first be consulted, and your recommendations adopted. Thus far I have not seen the letter in question, but I understand from my housekeeper that you did call me on the phone for the purpose of confirming Mr. Williams’s action.

I am sure that you will appreciate that my attitude and action in this whole matter has been prompted wholly by my personal friendship with Mr. Liang, and my definite promise to him when he was here that I would take a personal interest in his boy if he did decide to come to Andover, and my natural wish to deal as kindly, at least, with Mr. Liang’s boy, as I have tried to deal with the sons and daughters of several of Mr. Liang’s personal friends who were placed in my charge under the latter's own solicitation. I am sure that young Liang will be perfectly happy at Exeter, and well taken care of, and I think I am safe in saying that the same would have been true had he remained at Andover, and the very natural early reactions resulting from the sudden change been taken a bit less seriously.

Again let me assure you of my regret at the seemingly unnecessary trouble which I have caused you.

Very sincerely yours,


Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


November 29, 1922


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