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 New York Times, 11/6/17
Princeton University has a long history connected to slavery, which has remained hidden until now.
The Washington Post, 8/24/19
Aaron Burr Jr., third Vice President of the United States and son of Princeton president Aaron Burr Sr., fathered two children with a woman of color who worked as a servant in his home for several years.
Moses Taylor Pyne and the Sugar Plantations of the Americas
The financial contributions of Moses Taylor Pyne (class of 1877), one of Princeton's most prominent benefactors, reveal the complex relationship between Princeton, the American sugar trade, and the slave economy.
The Riot of 1846
In June 1846, more than a dozen Southern students mobbed, whipped, and nearly killed an African American man in Princeton—but only after fighting off another group of classmates who opposed them. This brief flashpoint of violence, in which Princeton students came to blows after dividing along regional lines, revealed the tensions over race and slavery present even at a college known for its moderate conservatism.
Student Origins Heat Map
An interactive map of the origins of Princeton undergraduates, from the class of 1748 to the class of 1865.
"A Visit to the Colored People of Princeton"
Ann Maria Davison, a visitor from New Orleans, provided a detailed picture of Princeton's black community in 1855.