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,