2018 Bowen Lecture with Craig Steven Wilder – Colleges & Slavery in the Age of Revolution

2018 Bowen Lecture with Craig Steven Wilder – Colleges & Slavery in the Age of Revolution

August 20, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


– It’s a pleasure for me to
welcome you here tonight, my name is Allen Omoto, and I am the current Dean of the
School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. And I wanna welcome you here tonight to the annual Howard Bowen lecture. This evening, we’re especially thrilled to have a Claremont consortium
colleague, Pomona College as a co-sponsor for this lecture. And together, we welcome
Dr. Craig Steven Wilder, the Barton L. Weller
Professor of History at MIT as our distinguished speaker. You have information, I hope you got a program when you came in, but you have information in that program about Howard Bowen, his legacy,
and this lecture series, as well as a biographical
information about Dr. Wilder. So let me simply add
to that, this lecture, been going on for over 30 years now, enables SES, the School of
Educational Studies, at CGU, to bring to Claremont
some of the most respected and provocative scholars
in higher education today, to present their work and
to engage us in discussions about current challenges
in higher education and where higher education
needs to go into the future. Tonight is no exception. As we get started, what
I’d like to do first off, is to say just a few words about SES, the School of Educational Studies, and then I wanna introduce to you, Associate Dean Nicole Weekes,
from here at Pomona College, for a welcome, and to
tell you a little bit more about the Know your History initiative here at Pomona College. After that, CGU faculty
member, Dr. Linda Perkins, who has been instrumental in arranging Dr. Wilder’s
visit with us today will then formally introduce our speaker. So in brief, SES is the oldest
school in degree program at Claremont Graduate University. And all of our academic programs feature individualized programs of study that are built on a
commitment to social justice, inner belief that equitable
and accessible education is achievable when networks of effective and accountable organizations work and interact responsibly with
families and communities. Our degree programs include a teacher education credentialing program, and students in that program typically get a master’s degree along with
their teaching credential. We also have master’s
concentrations in education including degree, a concentration in community engagement and social change. And we have PhD programs
with specializations in educational policy, primary
and secondary education, practices in curriculum, higher education and student affairs, and
also urban leadership. Students in these programs
complete rigorous coursework and also work with faculty
on original scholarship related to the important challenges across the academic and
educational spectrum. So I tell you that because if you’re interested in programs at CGU, or know someone who might be, I would encourage and invite
you to share information about our programs with those individuals. There’s an information
table, just outside the door, with print materials about
our education programs. And I encourage you to
take those with you, and share them wildly, or widely. (audience laughs) and wildly, I guess, for that matter. But you can also chat
with a staff member here from our admissions and recruitment area, David Altman, who’s right down the front, and he’s happy to tell you
more about programs at CGU. I also invite you to find ways to engage with and support SES, our programs and our students, and in fact, our Director of Development, Calista Kelly, is here. And is happy to talk with you, or have a conversation about
how you can support SES. Finally, I want to
thank SES staff members, John Rodriguez and Maria Gonzales, for their work in helping plan Dr. Wilder’s visit and this event. I also wanna thank Paul
Roach and Calista Kelly from our Advancement Office at CGU, as well as Nicole Weekes and Stacie Takase from Pomona College for their assistance in this event today. And finally, let me acknowledge several current students in SES, they are our SES Bowen associates, and they work to support the
programs within our school, and tonight their important role is that they’ll help us with
question and answers later on. Our current Bowen associates are Crystal Almonte, Nicole
Blyall, Jasmine Brewer, Gabriela Kovats, Trisha
Morgan, and Marquisha Spencer. And they will be assisting, as I said, later on with question and answer, and so at the end of the talk, there will be brief question and answers. Because we’re recording
the event this evening, we ask that you use one of the microphones when you ask question so
Dr. Wilder will call on you, our Bowen associates will
bring you a microphone, and then you can ask your question. Afterwards, I also want to invite you to a dessert reception
outside the auditorium here, that is sponsored by Pomona College. So with that, then I wanna
turn the podium over to, truly one of my favorite
colleagues across the consortium, and that’s Dr. Nicole Weekes, Associate Dean here at Pomona College, to welcome you to Pomona and tell you about their initiative. Thank you for time. (audience applause) – Good evening. – [Audience] Good evening. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Alright, so Dr. Wilder, and members of Claremont
Graduate University and the broader Claremont consortium, welcome to Pomona College. The President’s Advisory
Committee on Diversity is proud to co-sponsor this event as part of our Know Your History series. And there’s plenty, actually, online, if you go to Pomona College, and then Know your History, about the series itself. So I won’t say too much more about that. One reviewer wrote, of Dr.
Wilder’s Ebony and Ivy, quote, Wilder’s history of slave-holding by the early leaders and
students at Ivy League colleges shatters any remaining illusion that slavery was a creature of the South. Imagine a Harvard man, currying
favor in a court of Europe by offering up an American Indian slave. Wilder explores how the slave trade and the establishment of plantations in the South and in the West Indies that used slaves were driven
by the interests of the North. Of Northern industrialists
and perchants of the time. We, at Pomona College,
and where are my PACD, previous and current
colleagues on the committee? Whoop whoop! Whoop whoop! All right, that’s what I’m talking about. Okay, so we at Pomona,
and through this series, ask only that you know your history. You name your history, and you claim your role in it. And with that, I will
introduce Dr. Perkins. Thank you so much, it’s such
an honor to see a full house. (audience applause) – Good evening, and
actually, after Nicole, I don’t really have to say much. (laughs) I’m Linda Perkins, the
Associate University Professor, and member of the higher education faculty at Claremont Graduate University. And it is my great pleasure
to introduce our speaker, Professor Craig Steven Wilder, Barton Wilder Professor of History, from Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, where he also serves as Chair
of the History Department. He has taught at Williams
and Dartmouth College, is where he also served
in the history department, and also chaired the African American
Studies programs there. He earned his doctorate in
history from Columbia University. In addition to the award-winning book that he will be discussing tonight, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History
of American Universities, he’s also authored A Covenant with Color, Race and Social Power in Brooklyn. In the Company of Black Men, the African American influence
on African, I’m sorry, the African influence on
African American culture in New York City. Professor Wilder sits on
numerous and endless numbers of boards, academic boards, and trustees, and far too many for me to
illuminate, but a couple are, he’s a trustee of the
American Antiquarian Society, he’s a trustee of the Graduate
School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University,
trustee of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis
of Transatlantic Slavery. And what Professor Wilder thought when he started this research
was gonna be a brief article, as a junior professor, on a totally different topic, actually. He was doing a topic
on black abolitionists and where they went to school. And as a historian, if you
know, you get to the archives, and you have these amazing discoveries. And so, for the next ten years, he does the research and writing for the book that we’ll
be discussing tonight. Ebony and Ivy, as Nicole said, it’s about the role of
slavery and the slave economy in our nation’s oldest
and most prestigious academic institutions. Harvard, Yale, Princeton,
Williams, Dartmouth, College of William and Mary, and others. Not only does he talk
about the role of slavery, but he also talks about the
role of Native Americans in some of these institutions. Who were actually students
at these institutions, and African Americans were the slaves. But this book has changed forever, the history of American higher education. The work that he unearthed
in these archives have impacted not only the history, but also he points out that
it exposes the centuries, the consequences of this research, of the knowledge that came
out of these institutions because they are the most
prestigious institutions. And so knowledge production, the production of knowledge
that blacks and people of color, and women, were inferior, you know, and this was the research that came out of these institutions. One reviewer noted that the book, quote, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and
the American academy. And that these elite
institutions were dependent on human bondage that
became breeding grounds for the racist ideas that sustained them. I wanna welcome Professor
Wilder and his talk, Southward and the West Indies, colleges and slavery in
the age of the revolution. (audience applause) Thank you. (audience applause) – Okay, that worked. Good. Sorry, first, I just wanna thank everyone for this extraordinary reception today. It was a long day, but it
was actually a lot of fun, and I just wanna, the folk
on the Diversity Committee, and the tremendous work that you are doing across the campuses, the students, the
graduate students in SES, who are, you know, part of
the reason I have optimism for the academy and the nation. And then, all of you who
would show up in the evening to hear a historian (audience laughs) talk depressing (audience laughs) carry depressing for a
good 45 minutes or so. You’re brave. (audience laughs) So, I thank you too. And my good friend,
Diana Linden, who’s here, who, with her husband
and kids kept me laughing during my afternoon break, (laughs) so thank you. And I’m gonna start. Give us a merchant acquainted with trade, the working men in
Bristol, England shouted, in support of Henry Cruger Junior during the Special Election to fill vacant seat in Parliament. Five years into a costly
war between Great Britain and its North American colonies, many Bristol citizens had
turned their attention and tied their political
and economic fates to a colonial slave trader. A slave trader from the Americas who was basically in England
as part of a family operation, a network that reached from New York to the West Indies, to England, and in which they had actually,
like many New York families, many mid-Atlantic and
New England families, actually located family members at different sites in the Atlantic World to help manage this slaving enterprise, this commercial enterprise. Henry Cruger Junior
lost that 1781 election, but he won the Bristol
mayoralty later that year. He later claimed a seat
in the House of Commons shortly after the war, when the kingdom’s
economy was even weaker. The Cruger commercial network extended throughout the Atlantic World, from New York to Britain, Jamaica, St. Croix, Curacao,
the West African coast. Cruger’s ships brought enslaved Africans to the Caribbean and the
North American mainland, supplied the West Indians
and Southern plantations and carried the products of
enslaved labor to Europe. Cruger had studied at King’s College, now Columbia, in New York City, where his father and uncle
were founding trustees. In 1739, his father became
the mayor of New York City and his uncle claimed
the mayoralty in 1757. Slave traders, planters,
and land barons underwrote, in fact, the institutional
development of New York and the surrounding colonies. The elite established
schools and libraries, churches and hospitals, and
they combined as families to govern these new institutions. Colonial academies were
born in that slave economy. And that same economy funded the expansion of the educational infrastructure in the early years of the United States. Although established and
sponsored to different degrees, governed by Christian denominations, Congregational, and Anglican,
Presbyterian, Baptist, Dutch Reform, German
Reform, Methodist, Lutheran, and even Catholic. Early colleges and academies were generally poorly supported. The governors of Harvard
College, founded in 1636, exploited the dense commercial networks that linked New England, the South, and the British West Indies. New England ships circled in
and out of the West Indies where successive Harvard
administrations actually campaigned for donations
and solicited students. It was in fact a common business
that had already matured by the end of the 17th century. If Harvard was established in 1636, it had actually perfected the business of turning to the West Indies and the plantations in the South for funds and students
by the 1650s and 1660s. Colonial North America was in fact a hostile environment for schools. In 1718, the trustees of
the Collegiate School, founded in 1701 in New Haven, Connecticut, received a donation from the
Welsh merchant, Elihu Yale. 400 books, some cash, and
a painting of George I. The board recognized the
gift by renaming the college for Yale, an East India
slave trader from England. In 1722, the governors
built a house for the rector by taking subscription, selling lands, and then getting the general
assembly of Connecticut to tax rum imported from the West Indies. So directly and indirectly, in fact, slavery and its dependent economies actually supported these institutions. A year later, the Yale
board bestowed, in fact, a rather peculiar, or made
it, had a rather peculiar act. It bestowed a medical
degree upon Daniel Turner, a respectable guild
licensed surgeon in London, who lacked the academic credentials to join The Royal College of Physicians. And the difference is, surgeons actually train by apprenticing, and did external procedures,
and doctors trained inside, physicians trained in universities and did internal medicine,
including pharmacology. Turner actually managed
to basically donate a set of books and some money to Yale. He sent them. And in exchange, Yale actually
sent him a medical degree. It was the first medical degree ever offered in North America, the only problem with it is
Yale had no medical school. (audience laughs) And had not a single
science faculty member. The Royal College, in turn, decided to not recognize
Turner’s colonial credentials. In fact, the action of the Yale trustees were not all that unusual. From the establishment of
Jamestown through the Civil War, Americans began several hundred academies, but 80% of them failed. Quote, small and as unknown as we are, in respects to the great
and famous universities, which are doing the
kingdoms of Great Britain, the trustees of Harvard wrote to the embattled King George I, before describing their institution as Your Majesty’s loyal and
humble college in America. That was the last time
that the Harvard trustees ever wrote with modesty. (audience laughs) Governors had little choice, but to affirm these kinds of allegiances. For most of its first hundred years, Harvard actually did not
have a single professor. But instead, relied upon
tutors for instruction. The presidents of colonial colleges actually lived like itinerants, spending much of their year
journeying from town to town and province to province by
horseback and in rough coaches, hats in hand, they delivered
sermons to their communions in churches and local associations, frequently publishing those, not in fact for the
edification of the public, but to raise a bit more
money through their sale. Historian Frederick Rudolph, in fact, captured the hand-to-mouth
realities of the early academy. Quote, often, when a
college had a building, it had no students. If it had students, then
frequently, it had no building. If it had either, then
perhaps, it had no money. Perhaps no professors. If professors, then no president. If a president, then no professors. (audience laughs) In 1724, the Reverend
Hugh Jones complained that William and Mary had a
seminary without a chapel, a college without scholarships,
a library without books, all under a president
without a fixed salary. Seeking to solve his financial woes, President Blair unsuccessfully
promoted Virginia as a site for servicing ships built in Bristol, England,
for the slave trade. Higher education and
the colonies, therefore, ascended only as the slave trade peaked. In the decades before
the American Revolution, slaving families like the Crugers transformed British North America. In fact, the book, in many ways, began with that simple realization. In the quarter century
between 1745 and 1769, just under a quarter century, ministers, merchants, and land speculators organized seven new colleges
in the British colonies. Basically, more than tripling
the number of colleges. Before 1745, there were three colleges in the British colonies. Harvard, 1636, Massachusetts, William and Mary, 1693, in Virginia, and Yale, 1701, in Connecticut. But then in that 24 year
period, 1745 to ’69, seven new colleges get established. Codrington College in Barbados, the College of New Jersey, now Princeton, King’s College, now Columbia, the College of Philadelphia, now the University of Pennsylvania, the College of Rhode Island, now Brown, Queen’s College, now Rutgers, and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. More schools also meant
greater competition for money, including money linked to
the slave traded South, directly and indirectly. A coincidence of religious
and economic developments had actually helped to spark
this age of college building. The First Great Awakening,
the spiritual revival in the first half of the 18th
century, led to, in fact, attempts to institutionalize
new theologies. And to resist new theological
challenges by establishing, or articulating the institutional claims of the various Christian denominations. But that 25 year, that 24 year period, that quarter century
is also important to me because 1745 to 1769 is also the period where the slave trade is
peaking in the Atlantic World. And it’s precisely, in fact, that wealth that’s allowing these
denominations to claim colonies and to institution build
within those colonies. In the upper mid-Atlantic and New England, families whose incomes
came from the slave trade and from provisioning the South, the Southern and Caribbean plantations, financed these new schools. While in the lower mid-Atlantic, the South and the British West Indies, plantation families,
largely sponsored education. The integration of these slave economies, then increased intercolonial
social contacts and philanthrophy. Or in fact, the economy
became more complicated at the very moment that
education was rising, and it was precisely
that more complicated, intertwined economy that ultimately allows these institutions to survive. The officers and trustees
of Northern schools knew that wealthy citizens, wealthy clients, I should say, sat at the other end of the trade routes that brought fish, meat, produce, horses, wood, candles, rope,
cloth, and human beings to the Southern and Caribbean plantations. Quote, whereas the
draft of several letters had been prepared to be transmitted to the several West India
islands by a committee, began the minutes of the October 17, ’59 meeting of the trustees, of
what’s now Columbia University. Where the board, which largely
comprised slave traders, launched its first Caribbean
fundraising campaign before the college even had a building. Hezekiah Smith, a College
of Rhode Island trustee, now Brown University, headed
south to solicit money from wealthy Baptists in
places like South Carolina. Shortly after the Scottish
minister, John Witherspoon, took the helm of the floundering
College of New Jersey, now Princeton, he went to New York, and to New England to meet
the most prominent families, and then left for a tour of the South. Upon his return, Reverend Witherspoon used his new connections to
bring Colonel Henry Lee’s son, from the Virginia Lees, to Princeton. In 1770, in fact, that’s actually the, a defining characteristic of what becomes one of Princeton’s core
relationships to slavery. It’s extraordinary success
at bringing the sons of West Indian and Southern
planters to New Jersey. And creating, in fact, a New Jersey town, that actually captured
many of the comforts of those Southern plantation societies, including a New Jersey town with a heavy concentration of slave labor. Two years later, President
Witherspoon authorized a communique to the British West Indies welcoming donations and
cataloging the benefits of educating sons in New Jersey. It’s a remarkably modern document, where he appeals to the West
Indians with the phrase, the very name of a West Indian has come to imply great opulence. And he goes on to warn
wealthy West Indians that sending their sons
to Europe for education was always dangerous because in Europe, everyone knows that
West Indians have money, and they try to take advantage of them. So you should send them to New Jersey. (audience laughs) Where they will be carefully
cared for and taken care of, and well, the faculty will
keep a good eye on them. But they’ll also be far
away enough from home to keep from running back
home and becoming idle, but close enough that you can
visit with them on campus. It’s remarkably modern. (audience laughs) If you just take out a few words, we could actually re-use it. (audience laughs) And knowing Princeton, they have. (audience laughs) The wealth of traders,
planters, and landowners raised the prospects of
American academies and colleges. New York’s merchant, in fact, planned a sort of grand
campus for their college. In part, one of the
things they wanted to do, was to display their rising importance as merchants through the campus. Their founding president, Samuel Johnson, called his board a gang of idiots, who elevated the aesthetic
over the academic. Quote, our building, now
finished, has cost so much that I see not how we
shall have stock enough to provide sufficient salaries, Reverend Johnson complained to
the Archbishop of Canterbury, only four years after the
college received its charter. Faced with escalating costs,
President Johnson protested that he had done all that he could to, quote, save the college from the trustees. And begged Providence
to protect its college from the governors. Wealth generated in the
Atlantic slavery swelled, in fact, the confidence,
rightly or wrongly, of many boards and officers
who began imagining that they could build
colleges that could compete with the best European universities. Precisely, because of the slave economies. When it opened, Nassau Hall, the center of the College of
New Jersey, now Princeton. Was the largest building
in British America. A monument with merchant benefactors. It stood three stories, could
house nearly 150 students, and included, in fact,
a library, a chapel, dining halls, and meeting rooms. The economic networks of Atlantic slavery also brought flows of students and money that routinely crossed denominational and national boundaries. And we can debate this, to some extent, a lot of the historians of these early higher
education institutions talked about the fact the
democratic impulse in them, which allowed students
from other denominations to attend these denominational schools. I think that has a lot
more to do with money than liberalism. – [Audience] Thank you. In 1764, an 18 year old
William Churchill Houston set out from his father’s
South Carolina slave plantation on horseback for the
College of New Jersey. Recent alumni were, in fact, tutoring and running preparatory academies throughout the Carolinas, and sending a stream of
Southern boys back to Princeton, like Houston who carried
a pocketful of cash and letters of recommendation
when he arrived. Thomas Martin, a graduate of New Jersey, tutored the white children
at the Madison family’s Montpelier plantation in Virginia. And in the summer of 1769,
the young James Madison, the future President of the United States, arrived in Princeton, on horseback, and attended by his slave, Sawney. When he’s fully settled on campus, Sawney’s sent back home to Virginia. In 1771, Nicholas Cruger, and a small group of traders
and planters in St. Croix, sent the 16 year old
orphan, Alexander Hamilton, to study at Elizabethtown
Academy in New Jersey, one of a few early colonial
preparatory schools that survived the Revolutionary era. In May 1773, they then have
a problem getting Hamilton to Princeton, which was the original plan, and he ends up being sent
to King’s College, Columbia, in part because of what is seen
as his unsavory background. He’s impoverished, he’s
basically being supported by someone else’s benefactions, and his mother’s reputation, and his absent father, make him, in fact, a kind
of unwanted commodity at Princeton, at the
College of New Jersey. So, they send him to Columbia,
but what’s really fascinating is the way they pay his tuition. They pay his tuition by
actually sending barrels of rum on the Cruger ships to New
York, which then get sold, to sort of finance Hamilton’s education. In May 1773, John Jacky Custis, moved into a suite at King’s College, now Columbia, New York, with his slave, Joe. One of the examples that we have of Northern colleges allowing a student to move into campus with a slave. General George Washington had
escorted his step-son Jacky to New York City, and King’s College, Columbia’s president, Miles Cooper, and the faculty bent over backwards to cater to the demands of
the wealthy young Virginian, earn the General’s favor, and make new connections to
the Southern planter class, which is precisely why they’re so accommodating to Jacky Custis. They see this as an opportunity to reach a whole new market of students. And Washington had intentionally
sent Jacky to New York, which is a strange decision, given Columbia’s Anglican background, and its loyalist background. It was actually a royalist college. But he doesn’t want to send him to the College of William and Mary, which is a planter’s son’s school, where he thought all of
Jacky’s antisocial behavior, which included, in fact,
a sort of drunkenness, but also, raping slaves, would only get worse at William and Mary, and so he sent him to New York. School officers traded
indulgences like this to solves real problems, despite the enthusiasm of the trustees. 18th century campuses remained
rude, libraries were mean, and study areas lacked
basic teaching materials. Most early colleges had
a single main building that housed study halls,
libraries, kitchens, sometimes residences for students, and sometimes faculty, and chapels. Challenged by the
proliferation of schools, and the aggressive recruiting
of northern colleges, the College of William and Mary had trouble attracting Virginia students. And the governors relied on
donations from local planters and British friends to
largely stay solvent. In fact, the other thing that
they did to meet their needs is they often promoted the evangelization of Native Americans as one
of the central activities of the campus in order
to raise money in Europe. Quote, the college makes a
very agreeable appearance, Josiah Quincy wrote upon
entering Williamsburg on the eve of the American Revolution. But once he got past the lovely gardens and into the buildings, he was troubled to discover
that William and Mary is, quote, in a very declining state. The American Revolution, in fact, brought greater stress
to American campuses. While the British electorate suffered the economic dislocations caused by the North American revolt, people in the colonies
endured shortages of goods, military occupations,
confiscations of property, an unraveling economy, and armed warfare. The United States government
also sought alliances that brought Catholic
soldiers onto American soil. No small concession for
historically anti-Catholic people. In 1778, France recognized
the United States and American ambassadors, and their French allies were
soon pressuring Louis the XVI to send troops, money and
other forms of support. Spain secretly supplied
the American rebellion through the Mississippi corridor, and in 1779, declared a
war of sympathy on England. Quote, we have lived to see perilous times in our once happy, peaceful country. Times which, more or
less, affect all of us in a very uncommon manner,
lamented James Manning, the first president of the
College of Rhode Island, and a graduate of the
College of New Jersey. Manning spent much of the war worrying about the future of his college, and recording the destruction
of his facilities. The British navy and army
disrupted the economies of the ports and plantations,
and I’ll quote him again, this town has been a garrison ever since the troops came to Newport, and the college which was
converted into barracks and the adjoining land, have severely felt the effects of war. The benefits of college
campuses were apparent, in fact, to commanders on
all sides of the conflict. It is not possible to
have our troops winter in North America, a French
intelligence report cautioned. There is not a military
barrack on the continent, or an edifice where troops can be placed and kept under military discipline. Complete with furnished living quarters, servant facilities,
additional rooms and offices, large kitchens, supplies
of water, and often farms, colleges were of obvious value to generals looking to quarter troops and organize military operations. The strategic location of
campuses in port cities and along accessible roads in the interior made them even more attractive. Weeks before Christmas 1776, American forces seized the campus that’s now Brown
University in Rhode Island, and remained for three years. When they finally
departed in April 17, ’80, allied French soldiers took the campus and converted it into a military hospital. Several colleges actually completely ceased
operation during the war. And others survived by
actually moving inland from the coast. Quote, by the present war into which the American
colonies have been driven to save themselves from
oppression and despotism, Harvard’s governors defiantly declared, and I’ll quote again, the college has been several months in an interrupted and dispersed state. The faculty and the students moved inland to Concord, Massachusetts, where local officials
swiftly ordered renovations to the meeting house, the grammar school, and the courthouse, to
accommodate classes. About 100 professors and students arrived in the first weeks, and I’ll quote, by the good providence of
God, the society, the school, is at length collected
in the town of Concord and restored to order. The faculty celebrated at
their October 1775 meeting. Enslaved people, in fact,
helped usher Concord and Harvard through the crisis. Slavery was ordinary in Concord, where the townspeople maintained a lively commerce in human beings. In the preceeding years, Sarah Melvin had given
Captain William Wilson 30 pounds for a two year
old girl named Nancy, with no actually mention of her parents. Peter Hubbard had bought
Cato, a six year old boy, from Henry Spring for 37
pounds and some change. He was also sold without
mention of his parents. Dr. Joseph Lee, a slave owner, whose son Samuel was in
the senior class at Harvard boarded Harvard students in town, and used, in fact, his slaves
to help support the students. And so another way of thinking about that, the reason that Harvard moved to Concord was not just that Concord was inland, but it was one of the more advanced slave holding towns in
inland Massachusetts. In late December 1776,
President Nephtali Daggett, and the fellows of Yale, dismissed the students for winter break, and began searching for alternative
sites for their college. The governors begged New
Haven to protect the campus and their buildings
from troops and vandals. Authorized the president and
treasurer to move the library and any valuable papers and equipment some distance from the sea,
is the quote that they used. And began praying for a moment when, quote, God in His kind
providence shall open a door for their return to this fixed
and ancient seat of learning. It wasn’t that fixed, and
it wasn’t that ancient, but that’s fine. (audience laughs) Now it is. The college relocated to Hartford County, which was a distance from the
coast, but more importantly, actually, it had the second largest in slave population in Connecticut. The following spring, the
sophomores and juniors were studying in Glastonbury, just east of the town of Hartford, where the governors were
also hiding the college bell. While the freshmen gathered
in Farmington, to the west. Meanwhile, President Daggett
was searching for a place to reconvene the senior class. Given the growing dangers
brought by the war, the Reverend Ezra Stiles,
of Newport, Rhode Island, asked Yale’s officers
to send his son home, and in the meeting with
officers read that letter, they also voted to offer
Stiles the presidency. Few officers were as in
an untenable a position as Eleazar Wheelock, the
founder of Dartmouth College, who is now, in fact, on
the opposite side of a war from his primary benefactor. The benefactor is John Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire,
the Royal Governor, And William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth. At Whitehall, in England and London, Lord Dartmouth was maneuvering to contain the colonial uprising. He was instructing British generals to retreat with a Northern Native, to treat with the Northern Native nations, to create a cordon of Canadian
and Native American soldiers who could constantly harass New England, and disrupt, in fact, colonial
military operations there. Wheelock had embraced the colonial cause, but with some reluctance, and some danger. He promoted his college to the Americans, to Washington, in fact, as an instrument for solidifying alliances with the Indian Nations and the colonists gathering intelligence
and planting missionaries to hold the Indians neutral
during the rebellion. In fact, he used some of
his earliest white students to do exactly that work. Wheelock had been a Indian
missionary in Connecticut before he established Dartmouth. And had established Dartmouth, depending on how you tell the story, as a Native American college. One of a few Native American
colleges established before the Revolution, and just after, that ends up with no Native students. (audience laughs) Paradoxically. Matters were worse in the mid-Atlantic. President Myles Cooper, of
King’s College at Columbia, an Anglican, and a royalist,
had fled to England. And the trustees put the
university under the control of Benjamin Moore, only seven
years after his graduation. (audience laughs) Continental troops seized
the campus in May 1776. The British invasion and
occupation of New York, which began, in fact,
in the summer of 1766, did nothing to improve the prospects of the Anglican college. Black militias, allied with the English, were waging their own
revolution within the Revolution and enslaved people from
New Jersey and New York were using the Revolution
to set themselves free. In fact, like many
Native American nations, the vast majority of them were siding with the English in this conflict. Several of King’s trustees were cowering, the students were scattered,
the campus was in accessible, the governors, in fact, moved all of their operations
to a Wall Street house, owned by the merchant, Leonard Lispenard. But had difficulty even
gathering enough trustees to have votes. In may 1777, the remaining trustees described their predicament. Quote, many of the
governors, being in England, General Oliver DeLancey
and Colonel John Cruger in the field leading
regiments loyal to George III, and several Tories in
the power of the rebels and not able to come
to town, we can’t meet. Three years into the war, the board was now meeting
in a Manhattan tavern. And they had lost another
prominent trustee, Governor William Tyron, who had been commissioned a Major General in the British Army, and was busy sacking New Haven. In fact, he’s the one who ends up arresting the President
of Yale, and jailing him. Philadelphia and Princeton
were in equal chaos. The College of New Jersey
had been fully disrupted. The undergraduates were
actually sent home, some of them were stranded
and unable to get home. One undergraduate retreated from campus to join the American forces. British troops captured the college while they were hunting
for George Washington, to the Princeton College, while they they were hunting
for George Washington. They destroyed and burned buildings, pillaged livestock and supplies, and terrorized the public. Soldiers occupied and wrecked President Witherspoon’s estate, Tusculum. The trustee, Richard Stockton, left his homestead, Morven, in the hands of his slaves. It was also destroyed. Further south, President
William Smith, an Anglican, fled the shuttered
College of Philadelphia, now the University of Pennsylvania. In part, because of his royalist politics. He headed to Maryland, where with the support of
prominent planters after the war, he founded Washington College, in honor of the victorious general in rescuing him from
his anti-patriot past. As the war came to campus,
the campuses also went to war. Alexander Hamilton left King’s College and took a commission
in the Colonial Army. Simeon De Witt, the only
graduate of the 1776 class at Queen’s College, now Rutgers, was promoted to Chief Geographer
of the Continental Forces. Queens actually closed
for much of the war. Louis Vincent, one of Elias
Wheelock’s native students at Dartmouth served as a
scout and an interpreter. John Wheelock, Wheelock’s son, succeeded to the Dartmouth presidency after his father’s death, secured an appointment as an Army Major, and despite his actually
mixed results in the field, rose to Lieutenant Colonel. Francis Barber, of Elizabethtown Academy, where Alexander Hamilton had studied before he went to Columbia, took a commission as a Lieutenant Colonel. In fact, actually, one can
find lots of college professors and their students fighting in the war. It was actually quite common. Higher education, I should say, none of that fighting
actually saved the campuses. All of the campuses actually
suffered considerable damage and I can point out, because I taught there for several years and have an honorary degree from them. Except for Dartmouth, which was spared because
no one could get there. (audience laughs) It’s actually true. (audience laughs) The British would have
loved to have ruined it, but it was too much of a detour. (audience laughs) But despite, in fact, all of that ruin, one of the things that remains, in fact, striking about this historical moment, is that higher education
in the United States begins a remarkable era of expansion immediately after the
conclusion of the war. The war ends in 1783, and all of the colonial
colleges that entered the war, actually managed to survive the war. The war left almost all
of those campuses damaged or in ruins, and facing uncertain futures. But Americans rebuilt and broadened the educational infrastructure
of the new nation by attaching their
schools and their hopes, their aspirations, to a
resurgent slave economy. Americans founded 18 new colleges between the end of the Revolution and the beginning of the new century, between 1783 and 1800. Two thirds of them in the
plantations of the South and the lower mid-Atlantic,
where before that, there had been only one
college, William and Mary. College promised to unify
the American people, protect young Republicans from the corrupting influences
of European schools, and level the regional
inequities of the nation. The Presbyterians, the third largest Christian
denomination in the new nation, broke ground on seven new schools. Only two of them in the north. The Episcopalians raised
three colleges in the South. North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee chartered public universities. Shortly after the war ended, Father John Carroll
called his fellow priests to the White Marsh plantation in Maryland, where they organized a governing body, which becomes the corporation
of Roman Catholic clergy, for the newly decriminalized
Catholic church. Or another way of thinking, another consequence to
think about of the war, is that French and Spanish alliances in the American Revolution, came at a significant important price. The emancipation of Catholics
within the new nation. The corporation of Roman Catholic clergy administered the former
Jesuit slave plantations and funded the church’s missions. Georgetown, today, is now
wrestling with this past. The Jesuits had actually
managed to survive, or the Catholic church in North America and the British colonies, had survived to the Revolution, and survived its criminalization, and the constant, sort of,
attacks upon Catholicism, by turning to the slave economy and using the slave
economies to fund the church, and even, in fact, clandestine
activities within the church. So, for instance, by the
end of the 17th century, Maryland’s Protestants, after they overthrow
the Catholic government, outlaw Catholic education, but the plantations allow for
clandestine schools to be run, to the benefit of Catholics. And then the students from the wealthier Catholic
families in Maryland, who finished those schools get sent to Europe to
finish their education. There’s a whole group of
schools in France and Belgium that specialize in educating Catholics from the English world,
from the English Atlantic. College governor’s initial challenge, was in fact, rebuilding. But like in the case of Georgetown, one of the things that was happening, is not only do they have to rebuild, but the non-denominations were watching, as the governmental structure shifted from denominationalism to federalism. The decline of, in fact, church authority was responded to in an important way, which is the institutionalization
of the churches. To build institutions
through which the churches could actually claim their
place in the United States. When I wrote about Georgetown, one of the things I pointed out, it’s all intentional,
about where Georgetown is. John Carroll saw Georgetown as a statement about the permanence of
the Catholic presence in the United States, and part of its roles was to announce the, sort of, emancipation
of the Catholics, but also the Catholicism
as a now national religion. It’s built in the newly seated section of, a piece of Maryland that was seated to the federal government for the creation of the
D.C. and it’s built there not just because the
Jesuits and the Catholic, the center of Catholicism
in the British colonies had actually been Maryland. It’s also built there because
he wants the Catholics, the statement institution
of the Catholic church to be a neighbor, the
new federal government. To be at that center of power. On November 8th, 1783, before the defeated British army had finished evacuating
from New York City, the Reverend James Manning
sat down at his desk in the reclaimed College of Rhode Island, and wrote several pleas to
wealthy Baptists in England. In a tone more desperate than brazen, the President stressed
the unity of the communion above the obvious barrier
of, quote, our independence. The trustee, Morgan Edwards, had actually personally called
upon these donors earlier. Manning now in his letters,
prayed that the two nations, England and the United States, would become firm allies in the future, and suggested that the
progress of the faith, the progress of Baptism
itself, was a greater concern than any immediate political
wounds and insults. He sweetened the appeal, it’s an extraordinary letter, you know, forget the fact that
you just lost that war, we need money. (audience laughs) He sweetened the appeal by promising to name the college
after a major benefactor. Preferably, but not necessarily a Baptist. Quote, can you find no
gentleman of fortune among you who wish to rear a lasting
monument to his honor in America? The college already had,
and I’ll quote him again, an elegant edifice which
awaits for the name, from some distinguished benefactor. In his letter to the Welsh
classicist, Thomas Llewelyn, Manning listed the British sponsors who had earlier endowed
colleges in the colonies and announced how pleased he would be to see, hear, and speak
the name Llewelyn College throughout New England. College leaders, in fact,
found few benefactors foreign or domestic. Among the numerous
consequences, and I’m quoting, of the late war. The destruction of the college buildings, the funds, and revenues of the institution under the care of your memorialist, have almost been annihilated, Reverend Witherspoon wrote,
about the Princeton College. The trustees had called
upon friends of literature in Europe, he continued, either
naively or disingenuously, but they have for sundry reasons, actually not gotten positive responses. President Wheelock, John
Wheelock of Dartmouth, sailed for England to reconnect with the old British benefactors. He returned with little
money and few commitments. And to make matters worse, the ship that he was actually
on crashed at Cape Cod, where he almost died, and he lost the money that
he actually did raise. The Americans, in fact,
had few friends in Britain, and their allies and friends were sinking into financial crisis, after rapidly growing their debt to help support the American Rebellion. President Manning begged his board to actually send him abroad to find money. They chose not to. Instead they actually
took the cheaper option of getting a European agent
to raise money for them, and to appeal to Louis XVI. No money came from that source, and so they turned to Thomas Jefferson, the United States minister in Paris, to deliver their petition
directly to the King. Louis again chose not to assist. Reverend Witherspoon
also sought to capitalize on the French King’s obvious interest in assuring the success
of the United States. John Jay of New York, who
had decades of experience raising money for King’s College, advised the New Jersey president that the aristocratic support in Europe would determine the success of any European fundraising campaign. Quote, if indeed the court
should set the example and really wish to promote it, the thing would then become fashionable. That thing didn’t become
fashionable anytime soon. Not every Republican was actually canvassing the
European courts for money. In fact, college officers
didn’t have to wait for Louis to be dragged to the guillotine. To know that American institutions had to defend for themselves, fend for themselves. President Jacob Hardenbergh concluded the 1787 Queen’s College, Rutger’s commencement with an unusual, if honest, call to
self-reliance and self-interest. It’s one of my favorite speeches of any college president, ever. Which only a historian will say that. (audience laughs) So, you’re welcome that I
read through those for you. (audience laughs) This is the one you should point to, too. A native Dutch speaker, Hardenbergh began by apologizing for his difficulties with English, but showed, in fact,
extraordinary rhetorical skill in hammering his audience on
the importance of generosity. Thanking the families who had donated, he cautioned the people in the
audience who had yet to give. Quote, has kind Heaven
blessed any of your sons with a more than ordinary genius?, the minister bluntly asked. And then answered for them. That the liberal support
of academies remained parents’ best insurance against
the stinginess of nature. (audience laughs) Despite, or perhaps
because of such efforts, the New Brunswick College ceased operation from 1795 to 1807. (audience laughs) But what was perhaps even more striking, is that slavery not only
ultimately rescued those colleges, what ends up happening, is that all of those
college officers start, stop looking to Europe, and they start looking to the Americas. They start looking to the plantation regions of the Americas, they start looking to
New England’s merchants who were reviving the slave trade, and they start looking to, again to the West Indies. Slavery also empowered Catholics to institutionalize their claims within the new United States. In 1789, Pope Pious VI raised John Carroll to the first bishop, as First Bishop of the United States. In that same year, Carroll presided over the founding of Georgetown. In fact, Georgetown is a little bit weird because it is probably
one of the only colleges in the United States to
claim a later founding date. It actually tried to
be younger than it is. (audience laughs) And the reason that it did that, is that it wanted its founding coincident with the
beginning of the new nation and Washington’s government. And so they wanted a, sort of, perfect, sort of, continuity, between the rise of Catholicism and the rise of the new nation. The post-war recovery and
expansion of higher education in the United States was,
in fact, a restoration, and a consequence of the restoration and escalation of Atlantic slavery. James Manning leaned upon the merchant families of Rhode Island, as they reengaged with the
slave trade to save his college. His trustees committed
several hundred pounds of their own money to repair
and improve the campus. In 1784, John Brown, alone,
gave a 200 pound gift, while Governor Steven Hopkins, the brother of a slave trader, arranged 1400 volumes for the library. College leaders also
turned their attention back to the plantations. The College of New Jersey at Princeton, Reverend Witherspoon confessed, its future rested not in maintaining, or its future rested in, quote, maintaining the great
concourse of gentlemen’s sons, some from the Southward, and
some from the West Indies. That it would be the boys
of Southern planters, and West Indian planters, who would ultimately rescue Princeton. Not Europe. The President included that phrase in a letter to George Tucker, whose son had just matriculated, and in which the President
apologized for the rising costs of boarding students in New Jersey. That it was simply
becoming more expensive. But assured him that his son was being, in fact, well taken care of. At Georgetown, one could also, in fact, see the consequences of
this peculiar relationship between American colleges
and American slavery. Georgetown exists largely because
of the American Revolution and the subsequent French
and Haitian Revolutions. Or in other words, Georgetown is a product of the unraveling French Empire. And the way in which it redistributed human capital, in the Catholic Atlantic. At Georgetown, emigres
of the Haitian Revolution and the French Revolution could be found in the presidency, the professoriate, and the undergraduate classes. Fathers Robert Plunkett
and Robert Molyneux, the first two presidents
were both from England and trained in continental Europe. But Bishop John Carroll began deploying, almost immediately after the war, French, Belgian, and
Creole expatriate priests, who had fled to Maryland from the revolutions in France and Haiti, and who was deploying them
to build the Catholic church in the United States. The Reverend Louis
Guillaume Valentin Dubourg, a refugee of the revolution in Haiti, served as Georgetown’s third president. Dubourg was the first of two early Georgetown Presidents from Haiti. The college’s first classes included students from
Saint-Domingue, Haiti, Cuba, Santa Domingo, Guadalupe,
Martinique, and St. Lucia. In fact, it was probably the
most diverse college campus in the early United States. And it’s primary rival was St.
Mary’s College in Maryland, the second Catholic institution
that gets established by the Catholic clergy, which was founded by Father John DuBois, a French expatriate priest. The labor and the bodies of unfree people paid for this academic revolution. Quote, agreed that the Reverend Uzal Ogden be empowered to sell the negro man James, given by Mr. Watts for as much
money as he will sell for. That quote actually
comes from the trustees of Newark Academy in New Jersey. A preparatory school that
actually fed students to Princeton and to Rutgers, and Columbia. And what had happened is
one of the townspeople donated a black man to the school. And the trustees, actually,
then auctioned him off to finish repairs to
the roof of the building that had been destroyed
during the Revolution. Slave holding patrons, like Stephen Van Rensselaer
and Henry Rutgers, ultimately saved Queen’s College. In 1810, the Reverend Henry Livingston, pastor of the Dutch
Reform church in New York, actually accepted the
presidency at Rutgers. He reminded the New Jersey legislature of the destruction of the
school during the war, and that actually began, in fact, a strategy for bringing it back. Father Livingston reported
that his campus was, quote, wasted and destroyed. The professors were now
devoted to other pursuits, the students were dispersed, the donors were worn out with fatigue, and his treasury was depreciated and sunk, leaving his college with only, now I’ll quote again, a naked
charter and little else. His solution was, in fact, to actually turn to slave
holding Dutch Reformed communions in New York and New Jersey. And he reaches up to Albany and out to Long Island to do it. Ultimately, in fact, it’s
a gift from Henry Rutgers that allows Queen’s College to reopen, and as a consequence, the university trustees
renamed the school after him. Rhode Island’s governors were also able to name their campus
for a prominent donor. Not an English Baptist,
but Nicholas Brown Junior, who gave his alma mater $5,000 in memory of his deceased brother. The post-war Rhode Island
campus became a retreat for the sons of the merchant elite, including the sons of the DeWolf family, who launched more slaving ventures than any other family in
the United States’ history. The DeWolfs continued slaving after the state of Rhode
Island had barred the trade, and even after the congressional
prohibition in 1808. In fact, the family began moving, creating outposts in Cuba and Brazil, in order to maintain
its slaving enterprise. As slave holding receded
from the northern states, and the United States approached an end to its involvement in the slave trade, college trustees and
presidents were actually forging new ties to Atlantic slavery. They seized upon the economic
rewards of human slavery. Followed the westward push of cotton, of cotton agriculture to and
across the Mississippi River, fought to rebuild their connections to the Caribbean plantations, and quartered the emerging industrialists of the Northeast to sustain their schools. In 1818, the Reverend Charles
Charles Van Quickenborne and a group of Belgian
Jesuits and their slaves established St. Louis University, a Jesuit university in Missouri, and the first college west
of the Mississippi River. And it was precisely, in fact, two denominations that
actually achieved this moment. The Presbyterians had managed
to bring the first college to the banks of the Mississippi River, but it’s the Catholics
who actually managed to establish the first college west of the Mississippi River. And it’s precisely because
of the Louisiana Purchase. The unraveling of the French
Empire leads, in fact, France to sell off its American holdings. The United States actually
purchases those holdings, and for Catholics sitting in Maryland and in what becomes D.C, like, in fact, Father
Carroll, Bishop Carroll, the Louisiana Purchase
brings into the United States an enormous and heavily Catholic region, which allows the Catholic church to then institutionalize
itself as a national church, and not just a regional power. It was about the same time that sugar refiners and
textile manufacturers began funding engineering
and technical colleges in the northeast, like MIT. To service the mills and plants that were actually using
the products of slavery to launch an industrial revolution. If one wants to think in fact, about the history of engineering
in the United States, MIT is launching a, has launched a new course
on MIT and Slavery, and one of the things that
we’re pointing out is, in fact, that engineering’s origins
are right here in this moment. Its from 1819 through the 1860s, and it’s textile manufacturers, cotton textile manufacturers
in New England, who were using slave-grown
cotton from the South to fuel an industrial revolution. Sugar refineries in the mid-Atlantic and places like New York where, Brooklyn, for instance, will come to dominate
the world’s sugar supply by the second half of the 19th century. And inland mining operations, an industry that heavily use slave labor, that are actually funding
this engineering revolution, and in fact, actually tying
science and engineering more tightly to Atlantic slavery in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative and judicial actions
to end slavery in the North lived with continual
reminders of the importance of Atlantic slavery to the nation. American colleges embraced
that contradiction to find funds, to recruit students, and to protect the flows
of money and scholars by dispatching their graduates to staff the slave regimes
of the Atlantic world. Thank you. (audience applause) Now, if I– (audience applause) Now if I– (audience applause) If I’d known you were gonna do that, I would have brought my mother. (audience laughs) She would’ve– – [Audience] It’s on video. – She’s not gonna believe the videos. She’ll just think I doctored that. (audience laughs) She knows I have MIT students who could actually doctor that. That’s not (audience laughs) Thank you. – [Woman] Well, there are two mics, so– – [Man] There are two microphones. Questions? (audience chattering) – [Woman] Can you talk a little bit about the American Colonization Society, what it’s mission and it’s
relationship to the Academy? – Sure. The Colonization Society is basically, the meeting that founds it, I believe, it comes at the end of 1816. And it’s formally announced in early 1817. And the American
Colonization Society’s aim is to remove free black
people from the United States to some place outside the United States. There’s lots of historical
debate about it, but this is how I treat it in the book. If the American Colonization Society had any philanthropic aims at its origins, they’re largely gone
within the first decade. And the Society becomes, in fact, increasingly racist in
its overall objectives. Increasingly anti-black, and increasing anti-abolitionist
in its objectives. So much so, that in fact, the small community of abolitionists who were there at the beginning, leave, in fact, from 1825 to 1835, they leave. Famously, people like Gerritt Smith, the wealthy New York state landowner, and William Lloyd Garrison,
the editor of The Liberator, who began, in fact, as a colonizationist, and then published his thoughts on the colonization movement
as he departs from it. And I think there’s a reason for that. In the book, I point out
that the ACS is actually founded in Princeton, New Jersey, and staffed from New Haven, Connecticut. Or it’s an academic movement. Academics are overrepresented in the ACS. At the height of it’s
power, in the mid 1830s, the President of the ACS is James Madison, the former president of the United States, and the Vice President is Jeremiah Day, the president of Yale University. The ACS often meets on college campuses, faculty are overrepresented. In the book I estimate that about 70% of all the northern colleges
have direct ties to the ACS. In part because the ACS is
using the language of race. And race is, in fact, the
medium of academic thought. It’s actually the property of the Academy. It’s the Academy that’s actually producing and refining racial ideas,
and racial theories. And those theories get
applied through the ACS, and so, some quick examples. One of the things that you can see, I wrote an essay a few years ago, on General Theological
Seminary in New York, the Episcopal Seminary, the National Seminary
of the Episcopal Church, and one of the reasons
I was interested in it is that there are two black
students at the seminary. In the antebellum period,
in fact, in the 1830s. Both of whom eventually get
dismissed from the seminary becuase they’re black. Or because the seminary
actually has a racial bar. But it actually doesn’t at it’s beginning. The racial bar actually
comes in the 1830s, as anti-abolitionist violence across the United States is peaking, and as the ACS is playing a major role in stoking that violence. The ACS sees itself as this, sort of, intellectual leaders of the United States. The responsible intellectual, sort of, providing a kind of
responsible, thoughtful, intellectual guidance to the nation, as it maneuvers through
the problem of slavery. Not as anti-slavery, but actually managing slavery
as a political problem. And part of the management of slavery as a political problem
requires, in the ACS logic, removing free black people who are source of
disturbance and disorder. And limiting, and allowing, in fact, policing anti-slavery
rhetoric on campuses, in public venues, et cetera. And so by the 1830s, the ACS
is increasingly anti-black, but what was key to me
is that academic voices are overrepresented in that message. In fact, actually the ACS is using the language of the Academy. In the book I refer to it as the popular, so the popular science of race. The way in which an academic discourse, which has the veneer of science to it, then gets deployed in the mainstream to help, sort of, to
weaponize anti-black thought, and to provide it with the
kind of intellectual legitimacy that it never had before. And that’s one of the
things that the ACS does. It’s the mechanism through which the academic discourse of race gets weaponized in American politics in order to discredit
abolition, but also to provide a certain prestige to anti-black thought. Sure. So I actually don’t have
a struggle with the ACS. I have very strong opinions. (laughs) (audience laughs) Historians may have a debate,
but historian doesn’t. (audience laughs) – [Woman] Thank you. Thank you very much. – Thank you. – [Woman] Okay, it was a, I’m glad I came out for
historian’s talk in the evening. Thank you very much. – Thank you. – [Woman] What I’d like to
ask are a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. You can pick and choose if you
don’t wanna do all of them. But a couple of things came up for me. One, your mention of Hamilton, and with the popularity of
the Broadway show Hamilton, I wondered if you could
comment a little bit about the, sort of,
rehabilitation of Hamilton in relationship to that publicly. The other question is about
the notion of charters. If you could talk a little
bit to us about how charters, the importance of charters
and how they manifest today. That structure? How that manifests today in the academy. That’s two. And the third one is just the notion, I saw that a guy named Rikers, signed the, is that named after, is Rikers Island named after him– – Yeah. That’s the same one. And he’s, I forgot his
official title in New York, he has a formal – [Audience] City recorder. – City recorder, yeah,
city recorder at that time. He actually has multiple roles. But Rikers is also an anti-abolitionist. And so he has a whole history in the anti-abolitionist movement. The charters that we’re talking about are the university charters. The official charter of the universities. And in the colonial period, basically, they’re coming from two sources. The colonial charters
and the royal charters. Columbia, for instance, King’s
College has a royal charter which is at the United
Kingdom National Archives. Where you can go see it and,
they just give it to you. You can hold it, roll it out,
put sandbags on it, whatever. (audience laughs) Because, you know, 1754
isn’t that old in England. We would treat it like gold, and they treat it like it’s journalism. (audience laughs) So, it’s just fine. And then, so that’s the
two kinds of charters. And then you have this, sort of long history of how American, the colonial colleges then get, sort of, reconstituted after the
American Revolution, and that’s a kind of state by state story of what ultimately happens, that leads to the Dartmouth College case, in New York, at least, to the creation of the University of
the State of New York, which is not actually,
which is a governing body, not a real university. It’s this sort of, official, the public governing body of universities. And then the Hamilton question. Look, I think Alexander
Hamilton is fascinating, but I think there are a lot of fascinating people
in the colonial period. I love that history has gotten
popularized in that way. We were joking about
this earlier at dinner, that people are lining up
months and months ahead of time to see a play about history, much like, people are actually online
months and months ahead of time, as someone pointed out, to get into the new Museum
of African American History in Washington D.C. That there is, in fact,
a new public appreciation for the importance of history, and the lessons that we learned from it. I think that’s fantastic, and
so with the Hamilton thing, that’s sort of my reaction. I just think, as a historian,
interest in history is great. And I don’t take Broadway
shows as documentaries. (audience laughs) and so I don’t think
they require a kind of, that level of criticism. It’s interesting, it’s
not, yeah, yeah, okay. Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t
think I’m in charge. – [Woman] Oh no, no. (audience laughs) – [Woman] Where are the mics? Wherever you wanna go. – There’s someone here. – [Woman] Dr Schuster. Nicole, will you hand it to
him, and you can go next. Will you pass it down there? – [Man] Yeah. – Right there, right there. – [Man] Thanks. I believe it is the case, with the general classic histories of American higher education, such as Frederick Rudolph,
who you mentioned, but there is little or
no mention of slavery as a part of the evolution, certainly from the colonial
colleges and so on. And I wonder whether you
know of any of these, let’s call them classic
histories, that in fact, began to make some reference to slavery in the early years, and are institutional
histories themselves. Whether there are any discussions that seep into the literature
about policy debates on individual campuses
about the abolition issues, and when that begins to take the form of a presence in the literature
about higher education. – Yup. Okay, the histories of slavery. Or slavery in those histories. As you know, historians always begin with the secondary literature. And so I spent a whole
bunch of time in libraries just reading histories of colleges and universities in the Northeast, and there are mentions of enslaved people. I once pointed out that, you know, in Harvard’s histories, Samuel
Eliot Morison, for instance, who helps to invent the myth
of Harvard in the 20th century, the centrality of Harvard
to the American story. It includes, in fact, some
references to enslaved people, who were in Cambridge, who were on campus, who were owned by, you know, Titus, who
was actually owned by, because I work, Benjamin Wadsworth, the colonial president Benjamin Wadsworth. So Titus is owned by him. But one of the things that I
found that was interesting, is that when they’re mentioned, they’re often mentioned as
kind of outlandish characters. And caricatured in such a way, you know, Titus as being disruptive to the campus, getting a lot of the
college boys in trouble, the source of a lot of
sports and entertainments, and drunkenness, so that by the time you
finish reading that passage, the moral problem of a
person being enslaved on a Harvard campus is largely
erased by the caricature. The more intense economic ties between the campuses and
slavery and the slave trade, the Northeastern campuses and
slavery and the slave trade, do get treated, but they tend to, as I point out at the end of the book, get treated through euphemism. And so African slave traders become Atlantic merchants. The people who are
supplying the plantations in the South and the Caribbean
become West Indies traders. And with no sense of what they’re trading, for what purpose, for whom,
what marketplace, and all that. And so there’s a lot of
cleansing that happens through those histories. Where you actually get a
more direct confrontation with slavery is actually in the history of Southern universities. Where the question can’t be
avoided, and where very often, the historians of the
colleges and universities had no interest in avoiding it because they weren’t
particularly apologetic about it. And so you can open those up, and there’s lots of material. And so one of the things
I found fascinating, and we were talking about
this in a earlier meeting, is that when you go
through those archives, those archival materials, you do also recognize
that all of the people who went through them before
you saw the same thing. You know, they saw the bills
of sale for the slaves, they saw, in fact, all that material. And they made decision
about its importance, and decisions about how to weigh it, and those decisions were often informed by a whole world of presuppositions about the role that New England, or the mid-Atlantic played
in the story of slavery. A whole world of presuppositions that already marginalized that role and already came to the conclusion that if there was slavery in New England or the mid-Atlantic was
largely environmental, it was just there because slavery existed in the Atlantic world, but it wasn’t fundamental
to the economies, and it certainly wasn’t
shaping of the history of the region, and it’s
institutions, right? All of which, in fact,
actually in the past decade has proven to be untrue. It’s unraveling in real
time in the past decade. And then for abolition on campus, I actually do talk about
abolition on campus in the book. And one of the things I
was interested in is that the early abolition movement actually has, is housed on campuses. And it’s coming, in part, at the end of the American
Revolution and just before, and it continues into the
Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. But one of the things that
happens is actually that the abolitionism largely
gets defeated on campus. And abolitionists largely
get chased off campus. They largely get pushed off the campuses. Abolitionist faculty will
find themselves being fired, or being forced to resign
their professorships. Abolitionist students are often actually silenced on campus, and student organizations
end up being silenced. You have these extraordinarily
violent episodes in 1835, the commencement at Amherst, for instance, a student from Tennessee takes
a club, during commencement, and bludgeons a student from New Hampshire over his anti-slavery views. That a violent anti-abolitionist campaign takes over American campuses. And it comes back to the question about the American Colonization Society. In the book, one of
the ways I explain that is the extraordinary involvement
of the american academy in the colonization society. In which the university, you know, look, 70% of the university
presidents are in the ACS. I think that’s the number in the book. It’s somewhere around 70%, in the Northeast. They’re leading their local
and state chapters of the ACS, they’re actually establishing campus chapters for the students, at the same time, that
they’re actually disbanding anti-slavery societies among students. And so we do have a lot
of work in the 1830s of suppressing abolitionism on campus. And it’s replaced with what’s described as a kind of more practical and thoughtful approach to slavery. Which is the removal of
the free black population. And silencing the discussion of slavery, which is, the source of this disruption becomes the people who have
a moral problem with slavery. And they become, in fact, the target of a lot of anti-abolitionist’s furor. And so in the histories, one of the things that’s always dangerous
in those histories, and it’s true on all of the Northeastern, not all, but most of the
Northeastern campuses, is those colleges have
been, and their historians, extraordinarily passionate
about describing the relatively limited contributions of the abolitionist movement. And extraordinarily bashful about describing their long
extended, involved histories with slavery and the slave trade. Yale and abolitionism is a short story. Yale and slavery is a 200 year story. And one can say the same thing, I was picking on Harvard all day, so I figured I’d switch over to Yale. (audience laughs) One can say the same thing for all of the Northeastern colleges established before the
Revolutionary period, and most of those established afterwards. – [Woman] Good evening. In your research, did you
come across any narratives from enslaved Africans who may have worked on those campuses and universities? Just thinking about how
academia is a driving force in racism and enslavement, but juxtaposing that in
how after enslavement, black people feel that
education is the way to continue to emancipate, and liberate, even though the foundings
are rooted in oppression, discrimination, so kind
of juxtaposing that, and if there’s voices in
agency that you came across from enslaved Africans themselves. – Yeah, in fact, actually, there are multiple examples. I’ll give one just because it’s, it popped first into my head. Elizabeth Stockton, the
daughter of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration
of Independence, a founder of the College of
New Jersey, now Princeton. Elizabeth Stockton was given a black girl when she as a girl. She was given a black child as a gift. Not uncommon, actually, in the Northeast, especially among relatively
affluent families. Actually relatively ordinary action. And Betsy, the black girl
was owned by Elizabeth, and then becomes effectively,
the property of her husband, Reverend Green in Philadelphia. And then Reverend Green becomes
the President of Princeton, the College of New Jersey at Princeton, and when Elizabeth Stockton dies, Betsy Stockton stays at
the President’s house and becomes, basically, a wage
employee of the President. She also, in fact, uses the
President’s library to study. And becomes, as she’s
noted in the, you know, Antebellum period, the
decades before the Civil War, develops an extraordinary expertise on the geography of the Bible. So much so, that actually,
theologians consult with her. She then goes to Hawaii as a missionary. And to do Presbyterian mission work. Then comes back to New Jersey where she establishes a colored school, and also runs a colored school
in Cooperstown, New York for a period. And so you absolutely have that example. And one of the things I
would actually say in there is there is a difference
between universities. Which I suspect, actually largely exists to reproduce the status quo, and to reinforce it in education, which is an emancipatory project. (audience applause) And that’s how we need
to think about ourselves within these spaces. That wherever you are,
education is, you know, an emancipatory and liberating phenomenon. The institutions, we
may not trust. (laughs) We have good reason not to. They have good reasons to
prove that they’re trustworthy. And I don’t mean that, you know, I don’t hate Columbia. I went to Columbia as a grad student, and Fordham as an undergrad. Fordham is actually product of the sale of the slaves from Georgetown. In 1838, Georgetown sells 272 people to Louisiana, not Georgetown, but the
Jesuits in Maryland, in order to pay off the
debts of the college, and finance the expansion
of the Catholic church. One of the things that gets
financed are the first colleges, the first Catholic colleges in New York, which is Fordham, and Xavier
High School in Manhattan, and Fordham University, now in the Bronx, and Holy Cross, their first
Catholic college in New England, are direct products of that sale. So I went to Fordham which
is a product of a slave sale, and becomes, in fact, a decidedly anti-abolitionist institution in the decades before the war, governed over by
anti-abolitionist priests, and an anti-abolitionist bishop. And I went to Columbia which
is a slave trader school. I hate neither of them. I do think that they have an obligation, not to me, or not even to black people, but to their own mission. To what they say they are. To be honest about that past. It’s their job to do it. It’s their job to make it known. It’s their job to wrestle
with the consequences of it. Because the institutions, we have no need to fear our archives. We still like fearing your diary, but we do, in fact,
have a moral obligation, if we exist to pursue truths, to pursue uncomfortable truths, even when they’re about ourselves. That’s when, in fact,
we really get tested. On what we think we, the distance
between what we say we are and what we are actually gets
measured at those moments. And so I think all of those institutions have an absolute obligation to be honest. But for those of us who are
within those institutions, our obligation is actually, I think, to the broader social
project of education itself. Which happens in all sorts
of venues and spaces, including these, and
there’s absolutely no reason why those resources should be reserved for the folks who actually were doing, the descendants of the folks who were doing the slave trading. Seems to me, a bad rule. About how, in fact, academic resources should be distributed today. – [Woman] Can we get one more? – [Man] Think we have time for one more. – [Woman] Yeah, do one more. – [Woman] So maybe this question
is unfair for a historian. But I’m gonna ask
anyway, because you know, you’re doing great on all these questions. My question is about the future. I mean, isn’t it true that, I know right? I see it already, but just hear me out. (audience laughs) so we– – I may be Catholic again. – [Woman] I know, you might. We are in fact, writing
today’s archives, right? In this very moment, each of us, in relationships with institutions are writing the archives
for future historians, that you no doubt are training. What cautions might you give to us, as you think about the
contours that you’ve painted around the complexity
of the slave economy, the plantation economies that have underwritten our
very knowledge production, and the systems that we
all are complicit in. What kind of guidance might you give us, as we think about the
archives we’re writing today, so that we don’t find ourselves, or perhaps this is unavoidable, having similar stories told about us, but perhaps with different narratives. Like what cautions would
a future archivist, historian share with us, as you think about this trajectory
that you’ve established? – I have no idea. (audience laughs) That’s a good question though. I’ve talked about, let me answer that a
little bit differently. There are things that have happened since the book was
published which delight me. Black students and activist students on campus more broadly have,
as I said earlier today, weaponized the book. And copied pages about Rutgers, highlighted the Rutgers comments, stapled them together, brought them to the Chancellor of Rutgers and demanded that he
do something about it. (audience applause) And that, you know, and
I am delighted with that. There’s a conversation about
reparations that’s happening both nationally and internationally, that has used this material
and other people’s work, and I’m delighted about that. I have absolutely, you know, I’m joyful about that. But as a historian, my job, you know I have lots of politics, and I don’t hide them, but my job, as a historian, I see it as leveling the playing field. We can have a debate
about affirmative action. But MIT, Princeton, Columbia,
Brown, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown,
the University of Texas, and Michigan, Carolina, and California, can’t pretend to be benevolent,
innocent historical actors when we have that conversation. And that’s the historian’s job. That’s my passion. Is I wanna level that playing field. I want the people who are
least likely to succeed to have as much information, as a much quality information as the people who have all the power. And so when students, sort of, you know, Xerox pages of the book, there’s nothing that makes me happier. That was like the biggest
compliment I ever got in my life. Now, what holds the future? I mean, I think we all, we enter into this professions
for very different reasons. And all of us, no matter
what our background, no matter what our race, whether we’re born
wealthy or poor, whatever, we all, in fact, I think
for the most part share, or have moral projects
that we’re engaged in. And my hope is that, actually, we will hold ourselves accountable to those projects over time. That in the more difficult moments, and someone earlier at dinner, had told me that the book took real risk. And again, I think that’s
a lovely compliment. But at this difficult moments, were you worried about how
people are going to react to what you’re writing? And respond to what you’re saying? Turn back to that, sort of, that moral mission that
brought you to graduate school. Turn back to that moral mission
that brought you to college. Turn back to that history
of family struggle and parental struggle and sacrifice that got you to where you are. And push forward at those moments. And so my hope is for students, and for graduate students
at these institutions, if we do that, it becomes easier for them. You know, I said earlier, in our meeting with the
Diversity Committee, you know, if I talk about being a first
generation college student, being a lower income student, being poor on a historically white campus, it becomes easier for my students to actually talk about the
experiences that they’re having. But if the faculty, actually,
are silent on those questions, then we, in fact, end up
silencing everyone else. So we can actually give space for other people to have those moments. Our work can actually
do some of that work. We can do some of that
work by how we demonstrate and how we model an inclusive conversation at universities and institutions that have actually real challenges. And my hope, being that
Asian American students, Native American students, Latino students, African American students, from all of their different backgrounds, class backgrounds, et cetera, leave these institutions with
the same sense of ownership and the same sense of belonging, and the same sense of, the same proprietary sense that
students in the majority do. But then we will have
done our job properly. And in order to get there, we have to make ourselves vulnerable as institutions. We actually have to be willing
to not just be criticized, but to actually encourage the criticism. And stop acting like, you know, the adults who get criticized are somehow the victims of the student protest. – [Audience] That’s right. – Thank you. (audience applause)