Introduction

On July 28, 1843, disaster struck James Collins Johnson, a black servant at the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University: he was arrested on suspicion of being a fugitive slave. Johnson had worked as a janitor at Nassau Hall, then a dormitory as well as a classroom building, without incident since 1839, after fleeing slavery in Maryland. His arrest ensued after a student recognized Johnson and alerted his owners, who came to Princeton and had him detained for trial as a runaway slave. Tried under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, Johnson was adjudged a fugitive and slated for return to slavery.

A happier ending supervened, however: Johnson was redeemed from slavery by a local white woman, Theodosia Ann Mary Prevost, who had strong ties to the college. Johnson spent the next several years repaying the funds advanced for his purchase. He went on to become a beloved mascot of the college during his six-decade career on campus. When he died on July 22, 1902, Johnson was buried in the Princeton Cemetery, lying only a few feet away from some of the country’s most prominent citizens. Alumni and students took up a collection for his burial and erected a gravestone, whose epitaph pays tribute to Johnson as “the students [sic] friend.”

James C  Johnson

Photograph of fugitive slave and Princeton entrepreneur James Collins Johnson.

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Early Life and Escape from Slavery

Much of what is known about Johnson comes from census records, newspaper accounts, and the written recollections of others. Although he could apparently read and write, he appears to have left behind no writings of his own about himself.[1] We do know that James Collins Johnson was born enslaved on October 2, 1816, and named James Collins (he took the name Johnson when he arrived in Princeton). His parents are unknown. At his birth, Johnson was one of many slaves in the household of Philip Wallis, who was descended from one of the wealthiest families in Maryland, with roots in the state’s early colonial history. The Wallises were a prominent family with land holdings in Kent, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s Counties, Maryland.[2] According to some accounts, Wallis’ oldest son Severn Teackle Wallis received James Collins Johnson as a “gift” when both men were children. It was apparently not unusual for young enslaved persons like Johnson to be separated from their families.[3]

Severn Teackle Wallis was born on September 8, 1816, just one month before Johnson, and the two spent much of their childhood as playmates on the Easton plantation where Johnson was born.[4] Later Johnson apparently served as a valet and man of all work to Wallis. Severn Teackle Wallis went on to become a noted lawyer (he helped to prosecute his own fugitive slave case against Johnson), Spanish scholar and ambassador to Spain, state legislator, and provost of the University of Maryland. This close association between the two men played a role in Johnson’s escape from Maryland in 1839 and in his apprehension in Princeton four years later.

According to the accounts that Johnson typically shared, Johnson escaped Maryland when his master gave him five dollars for an errand in August 1839. Instead of completing the errand, Johnson fled, and over the course of the next few days he walked from Easton, Maryland, to Wilmington, Delaware.[5] From Wilmington he boarded a steamboat for Philadelphia, and from Philadelphia a train to Trenton, New Jersey. From Trenton, Johnson took a train to Princeton, where, as Johnson claimed, him money ran out and he could travel no further.[6] It is possible that Johnson’s flight from Maryland and his arrival in Princeton were the products of whim and happenstance. However, it seems improbable that so important and potentially perilous an undertaking as an escape from slavery could have been decided upon haphazardly and without some significant degree of prior planning and knowledge of an escape route. Johnson acknowledged his silence about some of the details of his escape; in an 1895 Maryland newspaper article, he seemed to indicate that he had help in escaping but refused to divulge more.[7]

Johnson was one of thousands of enslaved persons in Maryland who, over the course of several decades before the Civil War, fled to freedom in the North. Some escapees obtained help from groups of people who banded together and dedicated themselves to aiding slave fugitives. Some of these groups adopted the name “Underground Railroad” in reference to the literal railroads that began to crisscross the country during this period.[8] Enslaved Marylanders who used the Underground Railroad often escaped via a course that led through Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.[9] The town of Princeton was a known “station” along this route.[10] While many enslaved persons headed to New York, Boston, and to Canada, some stopped along the way and established themselves in smaller communities with sizable black populations. This may have been what Johnson did.

Johnson 1861

James Johnson circa 1861.

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Johnson in Princeton

After arriving in Princeton and obtaining work at the college in 1839, Johnson was apparently able to bring his wife Phillis and his son Thomas to Princeton by some means. Phillis was a free woman who lived about a dozen miles away from the Easton plantation where Johnson had spent most of his life. Because she was free she likely faced far fewer travel restrictions than Johnson had as a slave. Her son—whose legal status would have likely been the same as his mother’s, making him free as well—would also have been able to travel relatively easily.[11] Thomas’s birth, however, presents something of a puzzle. Thomas is shown in records as having been born in approximately 1843 in Maryland.[12] If Thomas were Johnson’s biological child, Johnson would have had to return to Maryland after his 1839 escape and well before his alleged first return date of 1895. It is possible, however, that the data entered in records about Thomas’s age and place of birth were inaccurate. Such errors were common, originating either from census enumerators or from the people they interviewed.

Though he likely appreciated his newfound freedom, Johnson’s first few years in Princeton were difficult. As a janitor at the college, Johnson worked in harsh conditions. Among his duties were cleaning students’ rooms, bringing fresh water, stoking fires and emptying latrine buckets. The latter duty was particularly distasteful. Latrine buckets were emptied into nearby wooden outhouses, or “back campus buildings,” as they were euphemistically called.[13] These outhouses were often dirty, smelly, and prone to student vandalism.[14] From this unpleasant work Johnson is said to have obtained the nickname “Jim Stink” or “James Odoriferous” not long after his arrival.[15] Despite these hardships, Johnson’s first few years were relatively without incident until summer 1843, when a Princeton student revealed Johnson’s whereabouts to his former master.

Arrest and Trial

Many accounts identify John Henry Thomas (class of 1844) as the student who exposed Johnson.[16] There is evidence to support the conclusion that John Henry Thomas is the person mentioned in several accounts of James Collins Johnson’s betrayal, including Thomas’s own account of the events surrounding Johnson’s arrest. Thomas apparently spoke of his involvement in the case throughout his life.[17] In addition, Thomas was employed as a lawyer with Johnson’s owner Severn Teackle Wallis shortly after graduating from the College of New Jersey, connecting Thomas to the family who had held Johnson as a slave.[18] Other evidence suggests that a student named Joseph Augustus Wickes Sr. (‘1845) was the culprit.[19] Like approximately 40% of all Princeton students before the Civil War, Thomas and Wickes came to the College of New Jersey from the slaveholding South. Both, in fact, hailed from Maryland. Though Thomas came from southern Maryland and Wickes from the eastern shore, the two men were apparently acquainted, since for at least some of their years as students in Princeton they took meals together at the same house in town.[20] Wickes was from Chesterton, Maryland, not far from where Johnson’s owners sometimes resided.[21]

But during an interview near the end of his life, James Collins Johnson named neither John Henry Thomas nor Joseph Augustus Wickes. He mentioned, instead, a “Simon Weeks” as the person who betrayed him.[22] Present-day alumni records show no such student as ever having enrolled at the college. There was a Samuel Greeley Weeks from Connecticut (A.B. 1838, A.M. 1841), a student at the Princeton Theological Seminary from 1839 to 1842, who was apparently on campus when Johnson was exposed.[23] Samuel Greeley Weeks was ten years older than most of his undergraduate classmates and was described by classmates as an odd, grave, plain and quiet man who wore slippers to class and mixed little with his fellow students.[24] After graduation he held a few religious assignments in far flung outposts, and died a few years thereafter.[25] Because of his northern background and his social distance from his classmates, Samuel Greeley Weeks does not seem a likely person to have intervened in the matter of a fugitive slave.

James Collins Johnson’s apprehension began ordinarily enough, with Philip Wallis and his son Severn Teackle Wallis apparently following the established procedure for claiming a fugitive slave in New Jersey. Slave owners who sought the help of New Jersey courts to recover escaped slaves were required to make application to a judge or justice for an arrest warrant using a very particular format. Procedural manuals offered detailed guidance and sample forms for attorneys acting on behalf of owners.[26] The Wallises dispatched a Maryland policeman to present their claim to New Jersey authorities and, assuming the success of the claim, to bring Johnson back to Maryland.[27]

There are varying accounts of Johnson’s arrest. Some stories suggest that Johnson conceded easily and pleasantly to his arrest. Other accounts indicate that Johnson, confronted by Severn Teackle Wallis on Nassau Street, denied knowing him and fled.[28] According to these latter accounts, Johnson was almost immediately seized by southern students, among them Thomas Devereaux Hogg (‘1844) from Raleigh, North Carolina.[29] While resisting arrest Johnson apparently bit Hogg’s finger to the bone. Despite these varying accounts of Johnson’s apprehension, all accounts agree that Johnson’s subsequent fugitive slave trial was an event of local and even national importance.

James Collins Johnson’s fugitive slave trial took place in the context of contrasting and sometimes conflicting aspects of United States federal law and New Jersey state law. It was under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 that James Johnson was tried in 1843. The 1793 Act authorized the arrest or seizure of fugitives and empowered "any magistrate of a county, city or town" to rule on the matter. The act further placed a fine of $500 against any person who aided a fugitive. By this enactment, aiding fugitive slaves became a penal offense.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 was, according to some, not only a response to an absence of clear, consistent slave recapture procedures throughout the country but also a response to the proliferation of anti-slavery societies and the emergence of the Underground Railroad. Because the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 imperiled enslaved persons who fled along with any who aided them, some states such as New Jersey began enacting what were called “personal liberty laws,” legislation that guaranteed judicial process to escapees. Pro-slavery activists launched an attack on personal liberty laws in a case that ultimately went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, Prigg v. Pennsylvania.[30] In Prigg, the Court held that most state-enacted protections for alleged fugitive slaves, such as the jury trials called for under New Jersey law, were violations of the 1793 Act.

Johnson’s trial in August 1843 (coming as it did after Prigg v. Pennsylvania was decided in March 1842) should have been conducted under the standard enunciated in Prigg. However, Johnson’s lawyers successfully persuaded the judge hearing Johnson’s case to allow a jury trial, effectively ignoring the Prigg decision. This represented an enormous procedural boon for Johnson. Another apparent advantage in Johnson’s trial was the jury foreman, Josiah S. Worth, a 56-year-old Quaker farmer and miller from the Stony Brook section of Princeton. Worth was a banker and state assemblyman known for his fairness.[31] Nonetheless, Johnson was convicted and slated for return to slavery in Maryland.

Johnson avoided this fate, however, when—according to most accounts—a woman named Theodosia Prevost paid approximately $500 to purchase his freedom. (Some accounts indicate that Prevost paid the money in conjunction with a group of students, and at least one account suggests that only the students advanced the money.) This sum was the equivalent of well over $10,000 in today’s dollars.

Theodosia Prevost

Despite her pivotal role in freeing Johnson, Theodosia Prevost is perhaps the least known actor in Johnson’s story. The paucity of information about her is not unusual for women in the early and mid-19th century. While there are few independent means of documenting her life, her close relationship to better known male figures in her family—such as her father, attorney and civil servant John Bartow Prevost, her step-grandfather Aaron Burr Jr., the third Vice-President of the United States, her grandfather Samuel Stanhope Smith, seventh president of the College of New Jersey, and her great-grandfather John Witherspoon, the college’s sixth president—provides a way to gain insight into Prevost’s life.

Born in 1801 to a slave-owning family, Prevost and her family lived among the elite of New York City.[32] In 1804 Prevost’s family moved to Louisiana, where her father became one of the first judges in the newly acquired United States territory.[33] Shortly after his arrival her father also became the owner of a Louisiana plantation and the enslaved people who worked it.[34] Thus, Prevost had early firsthand experience of slavery. After her mother’s death in 1807 and the departure of her father and brothers for a U.S. government post in South America a decade later, Prevost came to the town of Princeton to live with her Smith relatives. She apparently attained early economic independence (though the source of her wealth is unclear), and she was by some accounts highly sociable.[35] Prevost settled in her own household in Princeton sometime between 1830 and 1840.[36]

It is hard to determine whether Prevost’s assistance to Johnson was as a result of strong anti-slavery feeling. There were many people in both the town of Princeton and at the college who viewed slavery as wrong. However, local opposition to slavery in Princeton tended to be muted and leaned more towards gradual emancipation and African colonization than toward unconditional, immediate freedom for enslaved blacks. Prevost was a highly esteemed person in a place where “radical” abolitionism was frowned upon. But whether an abolitionist or not, Theodosia Prevost made freedom a reality for Johnson. In the years immediately after his 1843 fugitive slave trial, Johnson paid his debt to Prevost and also become an integral part of the town and the campus.

Johnson Goods For Sale

James Johnson selling food and other goods on campus.

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James Johnson 1895

James Johnson outside of the Old Chapel.

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Life After Emancipation

The 1850s brought many changes for Johnson. His wife Phillis died in July 1852.[37] Johnson married a second wife, Catherine McCrea, on December 23, 1852.[38] Between 1853 and 1855, Johnson and Catherine apparently had a daughter named Emily.[39] Another major change in Johnson’s post-trial life was his purchase of land in Princeton in 1851.[40] Johnson’s purchase signaled a growing prosperity that apparently stemmed from his work not only as a janitor but also a salesman of used clothing and furniture to students. An 1855 fire at Nassau Hall that completely destroyed the building also inadvertently contributed to Johnson’s fortunes.[41] With his principal workplace destroyed, Johnson petitioned college officials for permission to engage full time in the more lucrative work for which he would be known for the rest of his years at the college: selling fruits, candies and other snacks to students on campus from a wheelbarrow.

James  Johnson

Photograph of James C. Johnson and young man, possibly his apprentice A. C. Seruby ("Spader").

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James Johnson And Student

James Johnson at his wheelbarrow with a student.

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From the 1850s until 1880, Johnson lived a relatively settled life. While he had been the victim of taunts and mistreatment at the hands of some students in his early years at the college, by the 1870s Johnson had become a noted and even admired figure on the campus. His constant presence on campus, his jovial manner and regular attendance at Princeton sporting events, along with his colorful, unusual outfits (he was, for example, often dressed in golf britches) caused students to see him as a mascot and good luck emblem. His financial standing and his role at the college also made Johnson a key member of the black community in Princeton at a time when many of the town’s blacks lived in poor housing and struggled for daily existence in low wage jobs. When Johnson’s second wife Catherine McCrea Johnson died on June 22, 1880 in Princeton, he was perhaps one of the best-known blacks in the town.[42]

Although some sources indicate that Johnson had four wives over the course of his life, after the death of his second wife Catherine historical records are silent about Johnson’s marital status until 1895, when he married again at almost seventy-eight years old. His new wife, Anetta Webb Warden, was apparently in her early fifties.[43] Anetta was a member of a prominent black Maryland family.[44] Johnson’s marriage at so advanced an age may have signaled his faith in his continued prosperity. However, in the last few years of his life Johnson and his new wife apparently came to experience the economic hardships that had long faced some other blacks in the town.

Though still fondly regarded at the college, Johnson’s livelihood was reduced as he grew older and less active, and as others were allowed to sell snacks to students—a privilege that for decades had belonged to Johnson alone. In an interview conducted in his later years, Johnson evinced bitterness about a white Union Army veteran who had been given a campus vending permit, hence invading Johnson’s fiefdom. When told that his anger was misplaced, and that the white veteran had fought for Johnson’s freedom, Johnson is said to have stated:

I never got no free papers. Princeton College bought me; Princeton College owns me; and Princeton College has got to give me my living.[45]

Johnson’s assertion about being owned by the college may not have been literally true. But Johnson likely saw in his redemption from slavery a mutual obligation not only between himself and the individual persons who made his purchase possible, but also between himself and the college. Near the end of his life Johnson may have felt that the agreement with the college no longer held when he found himself unable to afford housing costs and food.

Johnson And Soldier

Photo of former slave James Collins Johnson standing next to an unidentified man in military uniform.

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Johnson Cannon Green

James Johnson on Cannon Green in the 1890s.

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Johnson Two Students

James Johnson at the Old Chapel.

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Johnson's Legacy

The story of James Collins Johnson resonated at the college and in the town for years to come. Over the course of six decades and beyond, Johnson’s move from being a fugitive slave, to a disdained manual laborer, to a vital part of Princeton’s town and gown life captured the imagination of whites and blacks alike. For some of the white students who encountered him, Johnson left a lasting impression as a font of both humor and wisdom, an impression so deep that no less than half a dozen alumni wrote about Johnson in works of both fiction and nonfiction.

For many of Princeton’s black residents, Johnson’s persistence and entrepreneurship served as a model for the development of businesses and social activities that provided them some measure of dignity and economic success for years to come.

Unsung Hero Prev

1890 illustration and poem about James Johnson in the student publication, The Tiger.

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Jamesjohnsongravestone

James Johnson's grave stone in the Princeton Cemetery, erected upon his death in 1902.

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About the AuthorPanel Toggle

Dr. Lolita Buckner Inniss is a professor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton and her J.D. from UCLA. She also holds an LL.M. with Distinction and a Ph.D. in Law from Osgoode Hall, York University in Canada.  Her research addresses historic, geographic, and visual norms of law, especially in the context of comparative equality, race and gender.

View all stories by Lolita Buckner Inniss »

ReferencesPanel Toggle

[1]

In the 1860 census, Johnson reported that no one over the age of 20 in his house was illiterate. Other evidence of Johnson’s literacy is seen in what appear to be some of Johnson’s signed college pay receipts from the 1840s and 1850s. Office of the Treasurer Records; 1754-2009 (mostly 1939-2006), Box 2 Folder 1; Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

[2]

The Wallis family was a prominent part of the community in Kent County in the 17th century. The first Maryland Wallis, Samuel, was born about 1674. Samuel Wallis moved to Kent County, where he raised all of his children until he died in 1724. Guy Wallis, The Wallis Family of Kent County (Bristol, VT: [Guy Wallis], 2011). Samuel served twenty-one years as a vestryman for Shrewsbury Parish, as would many of his descendants. Shrewsbury Parish Vestry Records, MSA SC 2513: Shrewsbury Church Collection, microfilm M339-1, Maryland State Archives, Annapolis (hereafter Maryland State Archives). He acquired and farmed several tracts of land in Morgan’s Creek Neck and parts of Queen Anne’s County that were held by members of the Wallis family for over 100 years. He bequeathed a tract of land called “Partnership,” containing 900 acres, to his sons Samuel (the father of Philip Wallis the elder), John, and Hugh. Will of Samuel Wallis, probated 9 May 1724, Maryland Calendar of Wills, 1645–1743, accessed 7 August 2017, www.ancestry.com.

[3]

Some scholars have suggested that enslaved children who were sold or transferred were often accompanied by at least one parent. See Marie Jenkins Schwartz, Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), 165; Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engelman, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1995). However, historian Michael Tadman writes that separating enslaved children from their families was an integral part of the conduct of the U.S. slave trade and that the slave trade was “custom-built to maximize forcible separations.” Michael Tadman, Speculators and Slaves: Masters, Traders and Slaves in the Old South (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 141. Tadman calculates that enslaved children in the Upper South under the age of fourteen had at least a one in three chance of being sold to the Deep South away from parents (45). Local sales in the immediate region of the child’s home, Tadman asserts,would have increased an enslaved child’s possibility of being separated from parents to one in two” (171). Historian Herbert Gutman also counters Fogel and Engelman’s claims that slave children were only rarely sold, hired out, given as a gift, or otherwise or transferred without parents. Herbert G. Gutman, Slavery and the Numbers Game: A Critique of Time on the Cross (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1975), 9-10. Families were frequently separated as a result of the death of owners and the corresponding need to make legally mandated estate divisions among heirs (133–135).

[4]

Bernard C. Steiner, “Severn Teackle Wallis,” The Sewanee Review 15, no. 1 (1907): 58-74.

[5]

Andrew Clerk Imbrie to Charlotte Clerk Imbrie, 24 March 1895 and 7 April 1895, Andrew C. Imbrie Papers; 1895-1947, Box 1 Folder 20, Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

[6]

Ibid.

[7]

“An Ex-Slave’s Return,” Baltimore Sun, 16 August 1895, 6.

[8]

Some scholars have noted that the phrase “underground railroad” did not come into regular use until the 1840s, though escaping fugitives had likely used such organized networks before they came to be seen as such. Eric Foner, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015), 6-7.

[9]

William J. Switala, The Underground Railroad in New York and New Jersey (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2006). See also Siebert, The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom and Charles L. Blockson, The Underground Railroad (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1987).

[10]

Lucy D. Rosenfeld and Marina Harrison, History Walks in New Jersey (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006), 103.

[11]

Though there were some variations from this norm from colonial times until the nineteenth century, generally, the legal status of black children followed the legal status of their mothers. Hence, if Phillis gave birth while a free woman, her son would have inherited her free status. Thomas D. Morris, Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619-1860 (Durham, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 43-49.

[12]

Entry for James Collins, Free Inhabitants of Princeton Township in the County of Mercer, State of New Jersey, p. 50, 1850 Federal Census, accessed 7 August 2017, www.ancestry.com.

[13]

Richard D. Smith, Princeton University (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2015), 19.

[14]

The back campus area was burned down once each session; for instance, in 1846 there was a massive burning of the back campus privies. James Buchanan Henry and Christian Henry Scharff, College As It Is, or, the Collegian’s Manual in 1853, introduction by J. Jefferson Looney (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Libraries, 1996), 54; Thomas J. Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1746–1896 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1946), 243. Burning or exploding privies was apparently a common practice in the early history of the nation’s other older colleges and universities. See, e.g., David Alexander Lockmiller, Scholars on Parade: Colleges, Universities, Costumes and Degrees (New York: Macmillan, 1969), 80, for the early nineteenth-century burning of privies at what is now Brown University. See also James Axtell, Wisdom's Workshop: The Rise of the Modern University (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016), 188.

[15]

Nicholas L. Syrett, The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 69; Henry and Scharff, College as It Is, 54; Alexander, Princeton—Old and New, 89.

[16]

John Frelinghuysen Hageman, History of Princeton and Its Institutions, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and & Co., 1879), 267.

[17]

Leroy Gresham, “Apropos of Jimmy Johnson,” Princeton Alumni Weekly, 4 October 1902, 22–23.

[18]

Ibid. See also Richard Henry Spencer, ed., Genealogical and Memorial Encyclopedia of the State of Maryland (Baltimore, MD: Clearfield, 1919), 240–241.

[19]

Henry and Scharff, College As It Is, 54.

[20]

Bill of exchange signed by John Maclean Jr. to College Treasurer J. V. Talmage on 15 March 1844, for payment to Abraham J. Durant for meals provided to students John Henry Thomas, Joseph Wickes, James Buchanan Smith, Alfred H. Colquitt, and Henry H. Welles, Office of the Treasurer Records; 1754-2009 (mostly 1939-2006), Box 2 Folder 1, Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

[21]

George A. Hanson, Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland (Baltimore, MD: John P. Des Forges, 1876), 98–99.

[22]

Andrew C. Imbrie, “James Johnson of Princeton: A Biography,” Nassau Literary Magazine 50 (April 1895): 594–604.

[23]

William Edward Schenck, Biography of the Class of 1838 at the College of New Jersey at Princeton, N.J. (Philadelphia: Jas. B. Rogers, 1889), 150.

[24]

Ibid.

[25]

Ibid.

[26]

Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus Elmer, Practical Forms of Proceedings under the Laws of New Jersey (Bridgeton, NJ: James M. Newell, 1839), 396–397.

[27]

Portland Weekly Advertiser (Portland, Maine), 12 November 1843, 4.

[28]

Wallis, “The Late Princeton Fugitive Slave Case,” 1.

[29]

Leroy Gresham, “Apropos of Jimmy Johnson,” Princeton Alumni Weekly, 4 October 1902, 23.

[30]

Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 16 Peters 539 (1842).

[31]

Josiah S. Worth was born June 25, 1787, and died June 14, 1854. See The Trenton Banking Company: A History of the First Century of Its Existence (Trenton, NJ: Trenton Banking Company, 1907), 92.

[32]

Entry for John Bartow Prevost household, New York Ward 4, New York, New York, p. 726, 1800 Federal Census, accessed 7 August 2017, www.ancestry.com.

[33]

John Bartow Prevost was the first judge of the Superior Court of the Territory of Orleans from 1804-1808. Richard N. Côté, Theodosia Burr Alston: Portrait of a Prodigy (Mount Pleasant, SC: Corinthian Books, 2003), 331. See also Thomas Jefferson to John B. Prevost, 20 July 1804, Tucker-Coleman Collection, Jefferson Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

[34]

Eberhard L. Faber, Building the Land of Dreams: New Orleans and the Transformation of Early America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 135.

[35]

Joseph Henry to Harriet Henry, 11 April 1833, in The Papers of Joseph Henry, vol. 2, November 1832–December 1835, The Princeton Years, ed. Nathan Reingold (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1975), 57.

[36]

Hageman, History of Princeton and Its Institutions, vol. 1, 263–264. Hageman lists Prevost among several “prominent families” who came to Princeton between 1830 and 1840 and took up permanent residence.

[37]

Death record for Phillis Johnson, 17 July 1852, Princeton, New Jersey, New Jersey, Deaths and Burials Index, 1798–1971, accessed 7 August 2017, www.ancestry.com.

In his interview with Imbrie, Johnson said that his wife was buried in town, but he did not indicate which cemetery. Andrew Imbrie, “James Johnson of Princeton,” Nassau Literary Magazine 50, no. 9 (1895): 594, 597.

[38]

Marriage of James Johnson and Catherine McCrea, 23 December 1852, New Jersey Department of State, Marriage Records, May 1848–May 1878, Princeton, Mercer County, Book T, p. 226, accessed 7 August 2017, www.familysearch.org.

[39]

Entry for James Johnson, Free Inhabitants in the Princeton Township in the County of Mercer, State of New Jersey, p. l, 1860 Federal Census, accessed 7 August 2017, www.ancestry.com.

[40]

John Cruser to James C. Johnson, 25 December 1851, Book of Deeds, Mercer County, p. 337.

[41]

The Nassau Hall fire occurred on March 10, 1855. It was said to have started when a student who, while visiting President Maclean, left an unattended fire that caught something in the room and ignited. The 1855 fire occurred fifty-three years to the day after an 1802 fire at Nassau Hall. The fire of 1855, like the fire of 1802, left only the outside walls of Nassau Hall standing. “The Burning of Nassau Hall,” Journal of Presbyterian History 4, no. 8 (1908): 364.

[42]

Death record for Cath. Johnson, 22 June 1880, in New Jersey, Deaths, 1670–1988, accessed 7 August 2017, www.familysearch.org.

[43]

Entry for Annett Warden, Fifth Ward, Baltimore City, State of Maryland, p. 186, 1870 Federal Census, accessed 7 August 2017, www.ancestry.com. Annett Warden is shown here as having been born 1843, residing with several persons surnamed Webb.

[44]

George F. Bragg, Men of Maryland (Baltimore, MD: Church Advocate Press, 1914), 123; Harrison Webb and Ann Webb, Free Inhabitants of Columbia, County of Lancaster, State of Pennsylvania, p. 16, 1850 Federal Census, accessed 7 August 2017, www.ancestry.com.

[45]

Marion Mills Miller, “Jimmy Johnson, D.C.L.,” Princeton Alumni Weekly 23 (April 1948): 10.

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