Princeton Battle And College
( Originally Published 1900 )
A few days after Washington's victory at Trenton, Cornwallis, in January, 1777, advanced across Jersey to crush the Americans, but he was repulsed at the ford of Assunpink Creek in Trenton. Then Washington resorted to a ruse. Leaving his camp-fires brightly burning near the creek at night to deceive the enemy, he quietly withdrew, and made a forced march ten miles northeast to Princeton, and fell upon three British regiments there, who were hastening to join Cornwallis, defeating them, and storming Nassau Hall, in which some of the fugitives had taken refuge. Trenton is in Mercer County, named in honor of General Hugh Mercer, who fell in this battle, at the head of the Philadelphia troops. Princeton is a town of about thirty-five hundred in-habitants, a quiet place of elegant residences, in a level and luxuriant country. It is the seat of the College of New Jersey, originally founded at Elizabeth, near New York, in 1746, and transferred here in 1757. It is best known as Nassau Hall, or Prince-ton University, being liberally endowed, and having notable buildings surrounding its spacious campus, and is a Presbyterian foundation, which has about eleven hundred students. The original Nassau Hall erected in 1757, but burnt many years ago, was so named by the Synod "to express the honor we retain in this remote part of the globe to the immortal memory of the glorious King William the Third, who was a branch of the illustrious House of Nassau." Dr. John Witherspoon, the celebrated Scotch Presbyterian divine, who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was for thirty years its President, and among the early graduates were two other signers, Richard Stockton and Benjamin Rush. The final conflict of the battle of Princeton raged around this venerated building, and Washington presented fifty guineas to the College to repair the dam-age done by his bombardment. In the adjacent Presbyterian Theological Seminary have been educated many able clergymen. In Princeton Cemetery are the remains of the wonderful preacher and meta-physician, Jonathan Edwards, who became President of the College in 1758, dying shortly afterwards. A panegyrist, describing his merits as a great Church leader, compressed all in this remarkable sentence : "These three—Augustine, Calvin and Jonathan Ed wards." His son-in-law and predecessor as President was Rev. Aaron Burr ; and near his humble monument is another, marking the grave of his grand-son, who was an infant when the great preacher died, and whose career was in such startling contrast—the notorious Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States.