Princeton Digs Deep Into Its Fraught Racial History

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tags: slavery, Princeton, racism, Princeton and Slavery Project



Related Link Princeton research project explores past ties to slavery

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.

That sale is not part of Princeton’s official history. It was all but unknown until a few years ago, when researchers came across a newspaper advertisement listing the liquidation of Finley’s human property, along with horses, cattle, furniture and “a choice collection of books.” Now, it is one of many forgotten stories being brought to light as part of an ambitious effort to acknowledge and explore the darker aspects of Princeton’s past.




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