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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Princeton University

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, an educational institution in Princeton, N. J. It was founded Oct. 22, 1746, by a charter given under the seal of the Province of New Jersey, “for the instruction of youth in the learned languages and in the liberal arts and sciences.” On Sept. 14, 1748, a more ample charter was granted by King George II., establishing the corporation under the name of the College of New Jersey; and providing that the management of its affairs should be in the hands of 23 trustees (later changed to 27). Among these were the governor of New Jersey, Aaron Burr, Samuel Blair, and David Green, names that have ever since been identified with the history of the college. After the War of the Revolution the royal charter was confirmed and renewed by the Legislature of New Jersey. In May, 1747, the College of New Jersey was officially opened at Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth), and the same year was moved to Newark. Soon after it was again moved to Princeton, where in 1754 the first college building, Nassau Hall (so named in memory of King William III. of the house of Nassau), was erected.

The college suffered severely during the Revolutionary War, the main building being used as a barrack by both American and British troops (see Princeton). Its president, Dr. Witherspoon, and two of its alumni, Richard Stockton and Benjamin Rush, were signers of the Declaration of Independence. In 1783 the Continental Congress and General Washington were present at the commencement exercises, Washington presenting 50 guineas to the college. This sum was appropriated by the trustees to the painting of a picture of Washington by the elder Peale. It now hangs in Nassau Hall, and is considered one of the best extant pictures of him. In 1802, and again in 1855, the hall was partly destroyed by fire. After the Civil War the college began to make rapid progress. The number of students increased, the faculty was enlarged, and in 1872 the Chancellor Green Library (named in honor of its donor) was erected. Up to this time the course of instruction had led exclusively to the degree of Bachelor of Arts; but in 1873 the John C. Green School of Science was added, and in 1875 the Department of Civil Engineering was also created. In 1889 the Department of Electrical Engineering was founded, and in 1901 the Graduate School was formally established, Prof. Andrew West being appointed its dean.

On Oct. 22, 1896, the 150th anniversary of the signing of the first charter, the title of Princeton University was assumed. In 1897 the Chancellor Green Library was connected with a new library building, having a capacity to shelve 1,200,000 volumes. The total number of buildings now belonging to the university is over 40, among them being the Halsted Observatory, with an instrument of 23 inches aperture and 30 feet focal length; Alexander Hall, with a seating capacity of 1,500; Marquand Chapel; Dickinson Hall, a building containing some 25 lecture and recitation rooms; the School of Science building, containing lecture rooms, physical laboratories, and the Museum of Biology; the Biological Laboratory; the Graduate College and Cleveland Memorial Tower, Hamilton Hall, Holder Hall, Cuyler Hall; the Chemical Laboratory; the Art Museum; and a number of dormitories, among the more recent being Blair Hall, and Stafford Little Hall, donated respectively by John I. Blair and H. S. Little.

Secret societies are prohibited at Princeton, but there are two strong literary societies, the Cliosophic and American Whig, founded before the Revolution, and having valuable independent libraries. There are also two undergraduate religious societies, the Philadelphian (founded in 1825) and St. Paul's (founded in 1875).

In 1919 there were 180 instructors, 1,500 students, and 430,000 bound volumes in the library. There are over 100 endowed scholarships, and in addition pecuniary aid is given in certain cases. The following is a list of the presidents from the beginning:

Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, 1747.

Rev. Aaron Burr, 1748-1757.

Rev. Jonathan Edwards, 1757-1758.

Rev. Samuel Davies, 1759-1761.

Samuel Finley, D. D., 1761-1766.

John Witherspoon, D. D., LL. D., 1768-1794.

Samuel Stanhope Smith, D, D., LL. D., 1795-1812.

Ashbel Green, D. D., LL. D., 1812-1822.

James Carnahan, D. D., LL. D., 1823-1854.

John Maclean, D. D., LL. D., 1854-1868.

James McCosh, D. D., LL. D., Litt. D., 1868-1883.

Francis Landley Patton, D. D., LL. D., 1883-1902.

Woodrow Wilson, LL. D., Litt. D., 1902-1910.

John Grier Hibben, LL. D., 1912-.