85Results for "presidents"
Princeton's Slaveholding Presidents
Princeton’s first nine presidents all owned slaves at some point in their lives. Though widely considered to be forward-thinking religious, intellectual, and political leaders in the 18th and 19th centuries, they failed to align their practices with their ideals—embodying the tensions between liberty and slavery that characterized American life from the colonial period to the Civil War.
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.
Princeton in the West Indies
Under the leadership of President Witherspoon, the College of New Jersey launched an ill-fated campaign to secure donations from slaveholding planter elites in the West Indies.
Slavery in the Curriculum
John Witherspoon and Samuel Stanhope Smith’s curriculum emphasized Scottish moral philosophy, providing early Princeton students with a new philosophical framework for opposing slavery even as pro-slavery apologists used the same philosophical concepts to defend the practice of owning slaves.
Jonathan Dickinson, a prominent figure in the Great Awakening of the mid-18th century, served as Princeton’s first president. Genny, an enslaved girl he purchased in 1733, may have worked beside him and his students in the college’s earliest years.
1850 Census Entry for James Carnahan
1850 census entry for Princeton president James Carnahan, who employed "free colored persons" in his household in Princeton.
1820 Census Entry for James Carnahan
1820 census entry for Princeton president James Carnahan, who owned two slaves while living in Georgetown, Washington D.C.
Plaster Cast of Jonathan Edwards
Plaster cast of Jonathan Edwards by sculptor Herbert Adams.
Aaron Burr Sr.
A portrait of Aaron Burr Sr., second president of the College of New Jersey.
"Declaration of Independence"
John Trumbull's painting "Declaration of Independence." Princeton president John Witherspoon is pictured in the background facing the large table, the second seated figure from the (viewer's) right.