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Haverford Returns Descartes Letter To French Library

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PARIS — A letter by 17th century French philosopher Rene Descartes that languished unnoticed in a U.S. college library for more than a century has been restored to France.

The president of Haverford College – which has had the letter since 1902 – handed over the plastic-covered missive at a ceremony Tuesday at Paris' Institut de France.

The 1641 letter had been donated to Haverford, near Philadelphia, by the widow of an alumnus and remained in the college library, unnoticed by scholars, until a librarian posted about its existence online last fall.

The letter turned out to be one of thousands pilfered from French libraries in the 1800s. Haverford officials volunteered to return the stolen letter.

Descartes penned the words, "I think, therefore I am."

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