Princeton Digs Deep into Its Fraught Racial History
Take a tour of the idyllic campus of Princeton University, and your guide is likely to stop in front of the 18th-century clapboard building, fronted by two graceful sycamore trees, that housed the school’s early presidents. The trees were planted in the spring of 1766, the legend has it, by the school’s fifth president, Samuel Finley, to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act. But a few months later, they were chosen as the backdrop for a rather different event: the auction of Finley’s slaves.
Detailing stories like this and many others, the Princeton & Slavery Project’s website includes hundreds of primary source documents and more than 80 articles exploring topics like early slavery-related university funding, student demographics and the sometimes shocking history of racial violence on a campus long known as the most culturally “Southern” in the Ivy League.