Scholars Debate John Witherspoon’s Contradictions on Slavery

Julie Bonette
Princeton Alumni Weekly

Excerpt: Why did founding father John Witherspoon voluntarily help Black people by tutoring them and offering religious services while owning slaves and declining to advocate for immediate abolition?

Historical documents have not given clear answers to that question or many others raised in a four-and-a-half-hour academic panel on April 21, organized by Princeton’s Committee on Naming. The committee is examining Witherspoon’s life and his stance on slavery as it considers a proposal to replace or remove a campus statue of Princeton’s sixth president.