As some of you know, I was at Princeton University last week for the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History summer seminar on colonial America.
Each year the teachers take a tour of colonial-era Princeton. One of our stops is the Maclean House (aka The President’s House), the home of the earliest presidents of the College of New Jersey at Princeton. Aaron Burr Sr., Jonathan Edwards, John Witherspoon, and several others lived here.
According to Princeton lore, Samuel Finley, the president of the college, planted two sycamore trees in the front yard of the house to commemorate the repeal of the Stamp Act in March 1766. They still stand today. (See pics above).
Did Finley’s slaves plant these trees?
Here is a 1764 sketch of the campus with Nassau Hall on the left and the president’s house on the right:
In May 2019, the Princeton & Slavery Project complicated the story of this house and its relationship to American liberty. Visitors will now get a better glimpse of the close relationship between slavery and freedom at Princeton by viewing this plaque: