19. 1753 Connecticut lottery for Princeton


The College of New Jersey (as Princeton University was known until 1896) received its first charter from the New Jersey provincial government in 1746, but the infant school faced many hardships during its first decade.  Founded by practitioners of the Great Awakening religious revival (who believed in an intense, but personal Presbyterian faith), the College was greatly challenged by those who thought its religious allegiance could be potentially subversive.  These ecclesiastical adversaries questioned the validity of the College’s first charter, forcing another to be issued by the new governor Jonathan Belcher.  Still, hostile factions in the colonial legislature voted down all measures of financial aid.  Desperate for money, the College trustees turned to a then-common fundraising practice and commissioned Benjamin Franklin to print 8,000 lottery tickets for distribution throughout the American colonies.  Though many tickets were sold, the College was denied most profits under a lawsuit conceived by the school’s opponents.  The College established a permanent home in the village of Princeton by 1756, but it took the leadership of College President John Witherspoon between 1768 and 1784 to secure the stature and finances of the institution.

  • To learn more about Princeton’s founding, see quotation #35 and Café Vivian picture #27 and 33.

  • To learn more about Jonathan Belcher, see quotation #35 and Café Vivian picture #33 and 86.

  • To learn more about Benjamin Franklin, see icon #6.

  • To learn more about John Witherspoon, see quotation #3 and 11, and Café Vivian picture #11 and 80.

  • To learn more about Princeton trustees, see icon #5, quotation #7, 10, and 14, and Café Vivian picture #16, 18, 27, 33, 92, 101, 108, 111, and 123.