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, 6/27/20
University trustees concluded that Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college."
The New York Times, 5/12/20
Nicholas Johnson, who was named valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020, called the achievement especially significant, given the school’s struggle in recent years to confront its troubled history with slavery.
The New York Times, 11/6/17
Princeton University has a long history connected to slavery, which has remained hidden until now.
Slavery at the President's House
At least five Princeton presidents who served between 1756 and 1822 owned enslaved people who lived, worked—and on one occasion were auctioned off—at the President’s House on campus. During this period, the President’s House was the center of slavery at Princeton.
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.
The Princeton & Slavery Plays, Part I: Under the Liberty Trees
Interviews and clips from "Under the Liberty Trees," by Emily Mann, which premiered at the McCarter Theatre in November 2017 as part of the Princeton & Slavery Project Symposium.
Two Women, a Man, and Three Children
An advertisement announcing the estate sale of President Samuel Finley, held at the President's House on campus.