A Historical Tour of Princeton Theological Seminary


By Michael J. Paulus, Jr.

Revised 2012

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1. Princeton, the College of New Jersey, and the Revolution
2. The Establishment of the Seminary at Princeton
3. The Expansion of the Seminary in the Nineteenth Century
4. The Evolution of the Seminary in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

1. Princeton, the College of New Jersey, and the Revolution

Nassau Hall
Nassau Hall, by Jonathan Fisher, used with permission
of the Princeton University Library

The earliest colonists to settle in the Princeton area arrived in the late 17th century. By 1724, the area was being referred to as Prince-Town, in honor of King William III, Prince of Orange.

In 1756, construction of Nassau Hall was completed and Princeton became the home of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). The College of New Jersey, the fourth chartered college in the colonies, was established in 1746 by a group of ministers and laymen who wanted a college that was supportive of the Great Awakening.

John Witherspoon
John Witherspoon  

In 1768, John Witherspoon was called from Scotland to be the sixth president of the College of New Jersey. Under Witherspoon’s leadership, Princeton became one the most influential centers of American learning. Largely because of Witherspoon, the only clergyman and college president to sign the Declaration of Independence, Princeton became known as the “seedbed” of the American Revolution. Six months after the Declaration was signed, Princeton was the site of a strategic victory for George Washington, when he surprised the British in the Battle of Princeton and drove them from Nassau Hall.

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