The article reconstructs the events surrounding Paul Samuelson’s departure from Harvard to MIT in October 1940, a crucial event in the rise to prominence of MIT’s economics department. The contrasting attitudes of Harvard and MIT to Jewish economists were just one of many factors. Samuelson was then considered a narrow specialist in mathematical economics, a field in which there were few openings, and MIT made an attractive offer that contrasted with the uncertain future he faced were he to remain at Harvard. Significance is attached to the vision of what he might achieve at MIT held out by his mentor, E. B. Wilson, who argued that economics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, would be stronger if he moved to MIT and that Samuelson had not then achieved the mastery of general economics found in his later work.

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