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Princetonians in Georgia
The lives and careers of Princeton’s early students from Georgia, who went on to hold prominent political positions during the colonial and Revolutionary periods, illustrate one of the key paradoxes of American history: the interconnection of slavery and liberty from the time of the country's founding.
James Moore Wayne
James Moore Wayne (1790-1867), a Princeton graduate from Georgia, personally owned slaves and served on the Supreme Court that denied African Americans citizenship in the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford case. Yet he remained a strong Unionist during the Civil War, embodying the dissonant relationship between slavery and liberty in the United States.
Princeton and Mississippi
Princeton students and their families lived in the Mississippi area decades before statehood in 1817. From the 1790s to the Civil War, Mississippians at the College of New Jersey came from elite families who built their wealth on cotton and slave labor.
Princetonians in Kentucky
Princeton’s early students from Kentucky reflected their state’s ambivalent attitude toward slavery. Though many Kentuckians opposed the institution and the state never seceded from the Union, slavery did not end in Kentucky until the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865. Prominent state and national leaders from Kentucky, including Princeton alumni, also supported the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The Potter Family of Prospect and Palmer Houses
Prospect House and Palmer House, both now University properties, have deep links to the Potters—a slaveholding family with strong ties to Georgia as well as to Princeton and the College of New Jersey.