Richard T. Greener, who entered Harvard shortly after the Civil War after working at a Boston hotel, has been almost forgotten. But he was prominent in his time as a lawyer and writer.
Rufus McDonald, who discovered the papers last year while cleaning out an attic in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, said Harvard has offered only $7,500 for the entire collection, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday. He called the figure "insulting."
McDonald said he wants more money so his own two children will be able to attend college.
"I'll roast and burn them," he said. "It might sound crazy, but people who know me know I'd really do it -- I'm sick and tired of Harvard's BS."
Harvard disputes the figure, saying it offered a larger sum for the collection, which has been valued at $65,000. It includes the diploma Greener received in 1870.
The University of South Carolina, where Greener went to law school and taught during a brief Reconstruction era period of integration, paid McDonald $52,000 for two documents involving his time there.
Greener spent his last days living in poverty in Chicago. But no one knows how the papers ended up in the Englewood neighborhood, where he never lived.
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