About the Project
Princeton University, founded as the College of New Jersey in 1746, exemplifies the central paradox of American history. From the start, liberty and slavery were intertwined. The Princeton and Slavery Project investigates the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery. We invite you to explore the many stories and sources included here and to contact us with research, stories, and ideas of your own.
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News & Events
The Daily Princetonian, 4/3/19
A group of students at the Princeton Theological Seminary is demanding that the institution pay reparations in response to a report it published last year, which details its historical connections to slavery.
Monday, April 8 and Tuesday, April 9
Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton Alumni Weekly, 3/20/19
Emily Mann, playwright and artistic director, discusses her nearly three decades at the helm of McCarter Theatre Center as well as collaborations with Princeton University and the Princeton & Slavery Project.
The New York Times, 11/6/17
Princeton University has a long history connected to slavery, which has remained hidden until now.
Princeton and the Colonization Movement
Founded and supported by 19th-century Princeton alumni, the American Colonization Society promoted the repatriation of freed slaves to a colony in Africa. Ultimately, however, colonization was more of an intellectual movement for moderately antislavery whites than a practical option for free blacks.
Samuel Stanhope Smith
Samuel Stanhope Smith, Princeton’s seventh president (1795-1812), was an early defender of the unity of mankind—arguing that environment, not innate biological differences, determined one’s race. His convictions, however, did not prevent him from owning slaves himself, and his teachings ultimately influenced Princeton alumni to establish the American Colonization Society.
Facing Slavery: Princeton Family Stories
Facing Slavery: Princeton Family Stories is a 55 minute documentary written and edited by Melvin McCray (Class of 1974) and produced by McCray and Martha A. Sandweiss on the occasion of the Princeton & Slavery Project symposium in November 2017.
Letter from John Witherspoon Woods
Letter from John Witherspoon Woods (class of 1837) to his mother, describing a student-led attack against an abolitionist.