Battle of Princeton

Battle of Princeton

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At year’s end in 1776, George Washington was motivated to strike again against British positions in New Jersey. He had surprised his opponents at Trenton on December 26 and in the following days hoped to build on that momentum. On December 30, Washington again led his forces across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into British-held territory in New Jersey.Meanwhile, word of the American victory at Trenton reached Brigadier General William Howe, the British commander. He responded by canceling the leave planned for one of his most aggressive subordinates, Lord Charles Cornwallis, who was dispatched to the Delaware in search of Washington’s army; there Cornwallis would join General James Grant, who already had a small force in the area. Several British attempts to cross the creek were thwarted, but a confident Cornwallis believed that he had the Americans cornered and decided to wait until the next day “to bag the fox.”During the night and into the early hours of January 3, Washington dealt another masterstroke. The movement of American cannon was silenced by wrapping the wheels in cloth, and both soldiers and artillery were aided during the night as the muddy roads froze.At daybreak, Lieutenant Colonel Mawhood left a small force behind in Princeton and proceeded south to join Cornwallis. Surviving intense fire, Washington helped to turn the tide of battle and led his men in pursuit of the fleeing British, crying out, “It’s a fine fox hunt, boys!”Limited fighting occurred within Princeton itself. General John Sullivan and his men followed a small British force that sought refuge in Nassau Hall, the principal building of the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University. The British soldiers promptly surrendered.Cornwallis missed these events. A livid Cornwallis and his soldiers immediately set out on the road to Princeton, where they faced the unpleasant task of fording the frigid and swollen waters of Stony Creek; the Americans had burned the bridge as they departed.Washington was faced with a crucial decision. Cornwallis retired to New Brunswick.The Battle of Princeton resulted in 86 British casualties and around 200 soldiers captured; the Americans suffered 40 casualties, including Mercer's death. Beyond those numbers, Washington’s bold action embodied other meanings:

  • On January 1, 1777 the British had been in control of New Jersey and were in a position to take the prize of Philadelphia, if they so chose. Several days later, the seat of the Continental Congress, recently deserted by the delegates, was safe and the British presence in New Jersey was confined to a small area in the northeastern corner of the state. This remarkable turnaround greatly increased American morale.
  • The experience of the twin victories helped Washington to grasp how to fight the war most effectively. The main body of the British armies was to be avoided; attacks were to be made on smaller forces in outlying areas, a strategy that made it difficult for the British to extend their control over broad expanses of territory.
  • The results of Trenton and Princeton were noted in France. Britain’s great international rival was not yet prepared to enter the war on the American side, but had been encouraged enough by the recent events to extend badly needed supplies to the rebels.

See also campaigns of 1776 and timeline of the War of Independence.


After crossing the Delaware on December 25, 1776, George Washington embarked on a ten day campaign that would change the course of the war. Culminating at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777, Washington snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and proved his amateur army could defeat the British.

The Battle of Princeton was a classic meeting engagement, both sides stumbled into one another, and neither expected to fight on the ground where the battle raged. Initially, the British commander Charles Mawhood, marched his force south towards Trenton to meet the main British army, when he spotted the American column. Washington had stolen a march on Charles Lord Cornwallis, slipping away from the British forces along Assunpink Creek the night before.

When the American's spotted British troopers around William Clarke's farm, Washington detached Hugh Mercer's brigade to investigate. Mercer ran headlong into the 17th Foot, firmly stationed behind a fence at the end of Clarke's orchard. In the ensuing volleys, Mercer was wounded and his men routed by a bayonet charge. With the outnumbered British on the verge of splitting his army, Washington quickly detached John Cadwalader's Philadelphia Associatiors to plug the gap. These green troops fought valiantly, but were also broken by British bayonets.

With the battle, and the war, hanging in the balance, Washington personally led fresh troops onto the field while grapeshot and canister from Joseph Moulder's artillery battery forced the British back towards William Clarke's farmhouse. Washington's counterattack broke the British line, which quickly turned into a rout.

Further towards town, two smaller engagements at Frog Hollow and on the grounds of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), also resulted in British retreat. Washington had won a great victory, defeating an inferior force of British regulars, but Colonel Mawhood was also praised for delaying the American's long enough to rescue most of his supplies.

Battle of Princeton - History

Photo above: The Memorial Collonade on the Princeton Battlefield.

Spotlight on Lesser Known History Battle of Princeton, New Jersey

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America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Battle of Princeton, 1777, New Jersey

Yes, this will sound like a broken record if you've read our American Revolution coverage before, but the Battle of Princeton, so important to the early efforts of George Washington to rally his troops, and the public, to believe that he had a cause that could be won, does not get enough history coverage, visitation, or love. There are plans afoot, with the recent acquisition of the land of Washington's charge, to change that. It should not be the subject of a lesser known history column, but preeminent in the history of winning a war that created the United States of America. So here's our mantra for the Battle of Princeton. Go visit the site. There's not as much there as there should be, but that does not make it any less important. Photo above: Wayside marker and the field of battle at Princeton.

Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Princeton Battlefield

There are over six hundred acres of the battlefield preserved with the new addition of the Washington Charge land at Maxwell's Field being purchased by the Civil War Trust/Campaign 1776 preservation group. Although there is not a lot of interpretation here outside the Ionic Collonade, designed by the architect of the United States Capitol, Thomas U. Walter, and the structures of the Clarke House, which served as a field hospital, and Stony Brook Friends Meeting House just outside the park, the history here is replete with valor that saved a nation.

It was at the end of his ten day surprise foray after crossing the Delaware River on Christmas. There had already been two battles at Trenton, the second on January 2nd and essentially still in place. At 2 a.m. on January 3rd, Washington decided to march his troops nine miles to Princeton, circling Cornwallis. An attack against the British Garrison under Mallhood, twelve hundred strong, would be the plan. But the battle did not begin well, with General Hugh Mercer mortally wounded and the Continental troops in disarray. The militia was sent in to reinforce, but they, too, were set to flight. General George Washington, upon arrival, rallied the militia with reinforcements, attacking Mawhood's troops and driving him from the field. It would be Washington's first victory against the main British Regulars force.

Photo above: Clarke House on the Princeton Battlefield.

Where Is It

Princeton Battlefield is located on Mercer Road, Princeton Pike, one and one half miles from Princeton University. It is 3.8 miles north of I-95/I-295. You're 52 miles from Philadelphia, about a one hour drive. If you go to the Visitor Center at Washington's Crossing State Park in New Jersey, it's about twelve miles by Washington's Crossing Road, Lewisville Road, and Princeton Pike.

What is There Now

Princeton Battlefield has over six hundred eighty acres of the battle preserved, plus the Clarke House, built in 1772, that witnessed the battle. Although the house has period furnishings, it is open sporadically. There are trails, waysides, the Clarke House, Ionic Collonade, the Stony Brook Friends Meeting House, and the site of the Mercer Oak.

How Much to Visit
Free. There is a fee for the Visitor Center/Museum at Washington's Crossing State Park, New Jersey on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day. $5.00 per car fee for New Jersey residents $7.00 for non-residents. Rates subject to change without notice.

Hours Open
The battlefield is open all year sunrise to sunset. A reenactment is held on the third of January or its nearby weekend. The Visitor Center at Washington's Crossing State Park, New Jersey, has exhibits on the Ten Crucial Days battles, including Princeton. It is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

History Nearby

So what else is there to do near the Princeton Battlefield? Staying on the American Revolution front, start out with Washington's Crossing. The Washington's Crossing state park in New Jersey is actually the Visitor Center for Princeton, even though it's over ten miles away, but both sides of that park have lots of history to explore. From Philadelphia to Morristown, the American Revolution has tons of sites to visit, including Monmouth Battlefield and the sites in Trenton. For those who want to take a hike or recreate, try Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Battle of Princeton - History

Howe sent troops south to take on Washington in Trenton. The American troops sidestepped the British forces in Trenton, instead battling them in Princeton. The Battle of Princeton fought on Jan 3, 1777 was won by the Americans at the last moment, forcing the British to withdraw to New Brunswick.

After his victory in Trenton, Washington reviewed his options. After discussions with his generals, Washington decided to cross the Delaware once again, to pursue the retreated and disheartened British troops. The American troops did not all get across the Delaware until December 31st. Crossing the Delaware on the last day of December presented a significant challenge to General Washington, since many of his mens' terms of service ended the next day (on January 1st). However, Washington secured their continued service by offering a signing bonus of $10 (considered a large sum at that time) for all those who agreed to stay in the army.
By the time Washington's army had fully crossed the Delaware, the British forces had reorganized. American forces returned to Trenton, while a large British force commanded by General Cornwalis headed for Trenton. On January 2nd 1777, 8,000 British troops departed Princeton for the 10 mile march to Trenton. It took the British forces all day to arrive at the Assunpink Creek, where American forces had established a strong defensive line. As soon as he had what he believed to be sufficient forces in place, Cornwalis ordered the first assault across the one bridge that spanned the Creek. His troops were met with murderous fire from the Continentals.Three assaults failed before nightfall. 365 British soldiers fell trying to cross the bridge. This brought the one day loss of the British to 500 soldiers, which included those shot by snipers during their march to Trenton.

Overnight, with a large British army facing him across the creek, Washington and his advisors needed to decide whether to stand and fight or withdraw back across the Delaware. The Americans ultimately decided on a third options. They proceeded instead to outflank the British forces and attempt to capture Princeton, toward the British rear (where the British had not left a large number of troops behind to guard.) Washington’s forces succeeded in moving off their lines past the British forces and toward Princeton.

As the American forces were approaching Princeton they collided with British forces heading South to Trenton. The British force was heavily outnumbered as they faced the American forces in an open field. The British troops fought stubbornly, and at times it looked like the day might be theirs. However, General Washington became personally engaged in the battle, directing the troops from his large grey horse. Finally, the outnumbered British troops broke and retreated toward Princeton. The American troops were closely on their heels, defeating any attempt at resistance. By the end of the day, the British forces had lost 450 troops, while the Americans lost only 37 dead. The American victory at Princeton capped off ten days that changed the direction of the war. Before their victory at Trenton, the American forces had been defeated. At that point, it appeared the Americans were one battle from away from total defeat. By January 4th, the British had effectively been forced out of Southern New Jersey.

Battle of Princeton - History

A little more than a week after his stunning surprise victory at Trenton in New Jersey, Commander-in-Chief of the American Continental Army George Washington pressed his advantage and scored another decisive victory over the British at nearby Princeton.

The Battle of Trenton took place on December 26, 1776, after Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware at night to surprise a Hessian garrison which had been holding Trenton for the British. The Battle of Princeton took place on January 3, 1777.

Both Trenton and Princeton have been viewed as relatively minor victories for the Americans, but in terms of building morale and fueling enthusiasm in the badly demoralized Continental Army, the importance of both these American victories cannot be overestimated.

Washington’s Promise to Pay

Interestingly, the Battle of Princeton almost never happened. That’s because most of Washington’s troop enlistments were up at the end of 1776. Also, despite their thrashing of the Hessians at Trenton, they were cold, hungry, and had enough of the rigors of war to say the least. Washington had to muster all of his persuasive powers to get his men to stay in the army and keep fighting. He ended up promising “a bounty of $10” if they stayed on for just another six weeks. Most of them agreed.

The Move

The issue of enlistment settled, Washington pulled his troops from the Trenton area and endeavored to circle the forces of British General Charles Cornwallis. The British had established a garrison at Princeton, which was little more than a hamlet at the time. Washington was determined to attack and take this garrison. In the meantime, General Cornwallis had dispatched 8,000 troops to take on directly Washington’s contingent of 6,000 men.

The Distraction

Intelligence reports advised Washington of Cornwallis’ moves. Washington attempted to slow the advance of the British force by sending militia units to harass them while Washington firmed up his battle strategy. The stalling tactic was successful. The Americans beat back three attempts by the British to cross the Assunpink River, forcing Cornwallis to delay from attacking for an additional day.

The war was on the next day, however. Cornwallis attacked, but the clever George Washington outmaneuvered him with an ingenious ruse. Washington left 500 troops in the position Cornwallis was advancing upon, making Cornwallis believe he was advancing on Washington’s primary force. Washington instead had marched his troops – with immense difficulty in brutal winter conditions – by another route toward the British garrison at Princeton.


General Hugh Mercer, a close friend of Washington, led a contingent of 300 men toward the British position in the first part of the Battle of Princeton. Mercer’s men unexpectedly encountered a superior force of British light infantry in an orchard and were forced to start shooting. In the end, Mercer’s outnumbered group was overrun and surrounded by the British. Mercer himself was captured – the British mistakenly thought they had captured George Washington himself. They brutally executed him with a jab of a bayonet and smashing his head with a musket. Mercer’s second-in-command Colonel John Haslet was also shot in the head and killed.


Knowing that Mercer had been overrun, Washington sent another of his generals, John Cadwalader with 1,100 men to help them out. Cadwalader came upon the fleeing remains of Mercer’s troops and attempted to engage the British who were chasing them. Unfortunately, Cadwalader’s men were so impossibly inept and ill-trained that he was unable to get them into proper battle formation – and when these untrained troops saw British regulars charging toward them, they ran.

“Be Brave!”

Fortunately, Washington arrived with a group of riflemen and some Virginia Continentals who opened fire on the advancing British, holding them back. At this point in the battle, Washington himself showed an amazing display of uncanny bravery along with an astounding ability to rally frightened and demoralized troops.

Cadwaldader’s incompetent men were still in full retreat, but Washington bolted his horse over to them and shouted at them to “be brave!” and to “gather around me!” promising to lead them to a victorious attack over the British. Cadwaldader’s men fell in line, and along with Washington’s other troops, they charged the advancing British with Washington riding out front, musket balls whizzing past his body.

Washington told his men not to fire until he gave the command. When the American’s were within 30 yards of the main British force, Washington stopped, turned his back to the British and faced his own troops. He ordered them to fire. The British did the same. A thunderous volley of musket balls hurled back and forth between the British and American’s with Washington right in the midst of them.

When the smoke had cleared, everyone expected Washington to be dead – but he was untouched. His actions made it clear to an entire army that Washington was more than some posh, aristocratic general content to direct battles from the rear while sending common foot soldiers into the meat grind of war.


The battled raged forward and eventually the British lines began to break and fall back. Then they ran. The Americans pursued them, chasing them well beyond the realm of Princeton, and also hounding them well into the night. Washington finally called the day a victory and ordered his troops back to Princeton. The battle had been a decisive victory.


The result of the Battle of Princeton was that the British were forced to abandon most of their positions in New Jersey. Cornwallis was forced to relocate his troops to New Brunswick.

Although accounts vary, the British are generally believed to have suffered 100 soldiers killed with 300 taken prisoner. The Americans lost 25 to 30 men, about 7 of which were high-ranking officers. These are not large numbers for either side compared to some of the major battles, but again, it was the psychological aspect of the victories of Trenton and Princeton which played a gigantic role in the outcome of the American Revolutionary War.

Remember that just a few months earlier, especially after the defeat of the Americans in the Battle of White Plains, both the Americans and the British felt that the war was all-but over, with the Americans defeated, demoralized and practically without a single victory in the previous 6 months.

After the Battle of Princeton, the Americans began to believe they could win.

Battle of Princeton - History

The Battle of Princeton- By Sergeant R
Three or four days after the victory at Trenton, the American army recrossed the Delaware into New Jersey. At this time our troops were in a 8, destitute and deplorable condition. The horses attached to our cannon were without shoes, and when passing over the ice they would slide in every direction and could advance only by the assistance of the soldiers. Our men, too,were without shoes or other comfortable clothing and as traces of our march towards Princeton, the ground was literally marked with the blood of the soldiers' feet. Though my own feet did not bleed, they were so sore that their condition was little better. While we were at Trenton, on the last of December, 1776, the time for which I and most of my regiment had enlisted expired. At this trying time General Washington, having now but a little handful of men and many of them new recruits in which he could place but little confidence, ordered our regiment to be paraded, and personally addressed us, urging that we should stay a month longer. He alluded to our recent victory at Trenton told us that our services were greatly needed, and that we could now do more for our country than we ever could at any future period and in the most affectionate manner entreated us to stay. The drums beat for volunteers, but not a man turned out. The soldiers, worn down with fatigue and privations, had their hearts fixed on home and the comforts of the domestic circle, and it was hard to forego the anticipated pleasures of the society of our dearest friends.

The General wheeled his horse about, rode in front of the regiment and addressing us again said, "My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay only one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty and to your country which you probably never
can do under any other circumstances."

A few stepped forth, and their example was immediately followed b, nearly all who were fit for duty in the regiment, amounting to about five hundred volunteers. (About half of these volunteers were killed in the battle | of Princeton or died of the small pox soon after.) An officer enquired of the General if these men should be enrolled. He replied: "No! men who will volunteer in such a case as this need no enrollment to keep them to their duty."

Leaving our fires kindled to deceive the enemy, we decamped that night and by a circuitous route took up our line of march for Princeton. General Mercer commanded the front guard of which the two hundred volunteers composed a part. About sunrise of the 3rd January, 1777, reaching the summit of a hill near Princeton, we observed a light-horseman looking towards us, as we view an object when the sun shines directly in our faces. Gen. Mercer observing him, gave orders to the riflemen who were posted on the right to pick him off. Several made ready, but at that instant he wheeled about | and was out of their reach. Soon after this as we were descending a hill I through an orchard, a party of the enemy who were entrenched behind a bank and fence rose and fired upon us. Their first shot passed over our heads, cutting the limbs of the trees under which we were marching. Our fire | was most destructive their ranks grew thin and the victory seemed nearly complete when the British were reinforced. Many of our brave men hid fallen, and we were unable to withstand such superior numbers of fresh troops. !

I soon heard Gen. Mercer command in a tone of distress, "Retreat!" He was mortally wounded and died shortly after. I looked about for the main body of the army which I could not discover, discharged my musket at part of the enemy, and ran for a piece of wood at a little distance where I thought I might shelter. At this moment Washington appeared in front of the American army, riding towards those of us who were retreating, and exclaimed, "Parade with us, my brave fellows! There is but a handful of the enemy, and we will have them directly." I immediately joined the main body, and marched over the ground again. |

. . . The British were unable to resist this attack, and retreated into the College, where they thought themselves safe. Our army was there in an instant, and cannon were planted before the door, and after two ol three discharges a white flag appeared at the window, and the British surrendered They were a haughty, crabbed set of men, as they fully exhibited Nvhlie prisoners on their march to the country. In this battle my pack, whicl

Noms made fast by leather strings, was shot from my back, and with it went NvLar little clothing I had. It was, however, soon replaced by one which had bc longed to a British officer and was well furnished. It was not mine loa., for it was stolen shortly afterwards.


Princeton has always played a significant role in the history of New Jersey and the United States. Settled in the late 17th century, it was named Prince-Town in honor of Prince William of Orange and Nassau. In 1756 it became the home of the College of New Jersey - now Princeton University - with the entire college housed in Nassau Hall, the largest academic building in the colonies.

The Battle of Princeton, fought in a nearby field in January of 1777, proved to be a decisive victory for General George Washington and his troops. Two of Princeton's leading citizens signed the Declaration of Independence, and during the summer of 1783, the Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall making Princeton the country's capital for four months.

Located midway between New York and Philadelphia, the town was the overnight stagecoach stop on the Trenton-New Brunswick line until the mid-19th century. In the 1830s the building of a nearby canal and railroad encouraged further commerce, real estate development, and general prosperity.

A center for learning and culture throughout its history, Princeton has been home to world-renowned scholars, scientists, writers, and statesman, including two United States presidents, Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland.

In 1930, the Institute for Advanced Study was founded in Princeton and became the first residential institute for scholars in the country, with Albert Einstein appointed as one of its first professors. The 20th century has seen an influx of scholars, research personnel, and corporations from all parts of the world.

Shaped by residents of all backgrounds, Princeton has been a dynamic community, growing and changing with the times yet retaining an essential small-town quality. Paul Robeson grew up in Princeton and artisans from Italy, Scotland, and Ireland have contributed to the town's rich architectural history. This architectural legacy, spanning the entire history of American architecture, is well-preserved through buildings by nationally renowned architects such as Benjamin Latrobe, Ralph Adams Cram, McKim, Mead & White, Robert Venturi, and Michael Graves.

Battle of Princeton

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

Brig Gen Hugh Mercer from John Trumbull’s painting of the Battle of Princeton

January 7. –On the second instant, intelligence was received by express, that the enemy’s army was advancing from Princeton towards Trenton, where the main body of the Americans were stationed. Two brigades under Brigadier-Generals Stephen and Fermoy, had been detached several days before, from the main body, to Maidenhead, and were ordered to skirmish with the enemy during their march, and to retreat to Trenton, as occasion should require. A body of men under command of Colonel Hand, were also ordered to meet the enemy, by which means their march was so much retarded as to give ample time for our forces to form, and prepare to give them a warm reception upon their arrival. Two field-pieces, planted upon a hill, at a small distance above the town, were managed with great advantage, and did considerable execution for some time after which they were ordered to retire to the station occupied by our forces on the south side of the bridge, over the little river which divides the town into two parts, and opens at right angles into the Delaware. In their way through the town, the enemy suffered much by an incessant fire of musketry from behind the houses and barns. Their army had now arrived at the northern side of the bridge, whilst our army were drawn up, in order of battle, on the southern side. Our cannon played very briskly from this eminence, and were returned as briskly by the enemy. In a few minutes after the cannonade began, a very heavy discharge of musketry ensued, and continued for ten or fifteen minutes. During this action, a party of men were detached from our right wing, to secure a part of the river, which, it was imagined, from the motions of the enemy, they intended to ford. This detachment arrived at the pass very opportunely, and effected their purpose after this the enemy made a feeble and unsupported attempt to pass the bridge, but this likewise proved abortive. It was now near six o’clock in the evening, and night coming on, closed the engagement. Our fires were built in due season, and were very numerous and whilst the enemy were amused by these appearances, and preparing for a general attack the ensuing day, our army marched, at about one in the morning, from Trenton, on the south side of the creek, to Princeton. When they arrived near the hill, about one mile from the town, they found a body of the enemy formed upon it, and ready to receive them upon which a spirited attack was made, both with field-pieces and musketry, and, after an obstinate resistance, and losing a considerable number of their men upon the field, those of them who could not make their escape, surrendered prisoners of war. We immediately marched on to the centre of the town, and there took another party of the enemy near the college. After tarrying a very short time in the town, General Washington inarched his army from thence, towards Rocky Hill, and they are now near Morristown, in high spirits, and in expectation of a junction with the rest of our forces, sufficiently seasonable to make a general attack upon the enemy, and prevent, at least, a considerable part of them from reaching their asylum in New York. It is difficult precisely to ascertain the loss we have sustained in the two engagements, but we think we have lost about forty men killed, and had near double the number wounded. In the list of the former are the brave Colonel Hazlet, Captain Shippen, and Captain Neal, who fell in the engagement upon the hill near Princeton amongst the latter was Brigadier-General Mercer, 1 who received seven wounds–five in his body, and two in his head, and was much bruised by the breech of a musket, of which bruises he soon after died. The loss sustained by the enemy was much greater than ours, as was easily discovered by viewing the dead upon the field, after the action. We have near a hundred of their wounded prisoners in the town, which, together with those who surrendered, and were taken in small parties endeavoring to make their escape, amount nearly to the number of four hundred, chiefly British troops. Six brass pieces of cannon have fallen into our hands, a quantity of ammunition, and several wagons of baggage. A Captain Leslie was found amongst the dead of the enemy, and was this day buried with the honors of war. A number of other officers were also found on the field, but they were not known, and were buried with the other dead. According to information from the inhabitants of Princeton, the number which marched out of it to attack our army, amounted to seven thousand men, under command of General Cornwallis. This body, as soon as they discovered that they were out-generaled by the march of General Washington, being much chagrined at their disappointment, (as it seems they intended to have cut our army to pieces, crossed the Delaware, and have marched immediately, without any further delay, to Philadelphia,) pushed with the greatest precipitation towards Princeton, where they arrived about an hour after General Washington had left it and imagining he would endeavor to take Brunswick in the same manner, proceeded directly for that place. Our soldiers were much fatigued, the greatest part of them having been deprived of their rest the two preceding nights otherwise we might, perhaps, have possessed ourselves of Brunswick. The enemy appear to be preparing to decamp and retire to New York, as they are much disgusted with their late treatment in New Jersey, and have a great inclination to rest themselves a little in some secure winter-quarters. 2

2 Pennsylvania Journal, February 6. Gaine, in his paper of January 13, gives another account of this battle:

–Several skirmishes between the King’s troops and the rebels have lately happened in the Jerseys. But the most distinguished encounter occurred on the 3d instant, near Princeton. The 17th regiment, consisting of less than three hundred men, fell in with the rebel army of between five and six thousand, whom they attacked with all the ardor and intrepidity of Britons. They received the fire from behind a fence, over which they immediately leaped upon their enemies, who presently turned to the right about with such. precipitation as to leave their very cannon behind them. The soldiers instantly turned their cannon, and fired at least twenty rounds upon their rear and had they been assisted with another regiment or two, the rebels would have found it rather difficult to make good their retreat. This has been one of the most splendid actions of the whole campaign, and has given a convincing proof that British valor has not declined from its ancient glory. Of Colonel Mawhood, their gallant commander, and of his conduct in the affair, too many encomiums cannot be said. The loss was about twenty killed, and eighty wounded, of the troops. Of the rebels above four hundred were killed and wounded. Among their slain were eleven officers. Mr. Mercer, (one of the rebel officers, since dead,) when he was taken up by our people, asked how many the numbers were who had thus attacked him, and upon being told, he cried out with astonishment, “My God is it possible? I have often heard of British courage, but never could have imagined to find such an instance as this!”

Another account says, that the 17th regiment just before they charged the rebels, deliberately pulled off their knapsacks and gave three cheers then broke through the rebels, faced about, attacked, and broke through a second time. Colonel Mawhood then said, it would be prudent, as they were so few, to retire upon which the men, one and all, cried out, “No, no let us attack them again” and it was with great difficulty their colonel could induce them to retreat which at length they performed in the utmost order.

To the honor of this brave regiment, both as soldiers and as men, not one of them has ever attempted to plunder, nor encouraged it in others.

10 Facts: Battle of Princeton

Washington at Princeton Don Troiani Washington at Princeton Don Troiani

The Battle of Princeton was a quick and decisive action, fought on the cold morning of January 3, 1777, that reversed a series of British successes and revived a dying revolutionary cause. Check out these facts to expand your appreciation of this watershed battle in New Jersey.

Fact 1: The Battle of Princeton is the climax of a period known as the “10 Crucial Days.”

From the moment the first British soldier set foot on Staten Island in July 1776, the Anglo-Hessian forces under the command of General William Howe appeared unstoppable. In the weeks that followed, 400 warships and transports brought more than 30,000 soldiers from Canada, England and South Carolina to New York, intent on stopping the rebellion. These forces captured Brooklyn and Manhattan, driving General George Washington and his shrinking Continental Army across New Jersey into Pennsylvania. By winter, the revolution was dying.

The shocking Continental victory at Trenton on December 26, 1776, marked a reversal of fortunes for the Americans. In the 10 days following the crossing of the Delaware, known popularly today as the “10 crucial days,” Washington captured nearly 900 Hessian soldiers, kept the Continental Army intact, and led it to safety in the hills of northern New Jersey.

Washington at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776. Library of Congress

Fact 2: Four days before the battle, the Continental Army almost ceased to exist.

Washington began the summer of 1776 with 24,000 soldiers, preparing to meet the British in New York. By Christmas, the General had only 6,500 effectives, a skeleton of his former army. Congress had opted to bind soldiers to one year of service, rather than establish a standing army that they thought violated their republican ideals. For many of the men remaining under Washington’s command, these terms were set to expire on December 31, 1776. General Washington begged his men to reenlist, explaining,“[i]f you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty and to your country which you probably can never do under any other circumstances.” Approximately 3,300 men chose to remain, for an additional $10.

Fact 3: Information obtained by a “very intelligent young gentleman” held overnight by the British was vital to American plans to advance on Princeton.

This unidentified informant was most likely a student of Princeton University (founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey), detained the night of December 29-30 by British troops quartered in Princeton. He “made his escape” and by noon on the 30th, reached the camp of Colonel John Cadwalader, in command of a brigade of Philadelphia Associators stationed at Crosswicks, 15 miles south of Princeton. Reporting “from the best information he could get, there were about 5,000 men, consisting of Hessians & British Troops – about the same number of each.” Gleaning every useable bit of information he could, Cadwalader drew a map of Princeton, its approaches, and the British dispositions in the area. It was in Washington’s hands the next day.

The British stationed artillery in the main street guarding the roads from Kingston to the north, Pennington from the west, and Trenton to the south. However, the informant observed that there were “no sentries on the east side of town” where a winding road led “to the back part of Princeton which may be entered on this side – the country cleared chiefly for about two miles& few fences.” This confirmed information from a mounted scouting party led by Colonel Joseph Reed the day before. This road, known as the Saw Mill Road, became Washington’s principal route to Princeton.

Fact 4: The Battle of Princeton was the second battle in two days fought by soldiers with little food or sleep.

Determined to capitalize on the momentum and renewed spirit won at Trenton, Washington returned to New Jersey, planning to “either oblige [the British] to quit their post at Princeton or risk the loss of Brunswick and the communications with New York.” After the Trenton raid, Princeton became a major forward base of operations for the British Army, drawing many troops in from the main supply depot at New Brunswick. New Brunswick also held the American General Charles Lee, captured by the British on December 12.

Taking command at Princeton, Lieutenant General Charles Lord Cornwallis aimed to draw the Americans into a general engagement and crush them. On January 2, 1777, Cornwallis advanced upon Trenton with over 8,000 men, engaging American skirmishers along the way. Once there, (in an action similar to one taken by General Ambrose Burnside at Antietam Creek 85 years later), British and Hessian troops attempted to force a crossing over a stone bridge spanning Assunpink Creek. Washington’s army stopped the advance, inflicting heavy casualties from the heights above the southern bank of the creek. Darkness ended the day’s action, leaving Washington trapped, with the Delaware River on his left and a reinforced enemy of 9,500 men in front, ready to strike in the morning.

Fact 5: Weather once again came to the rescue of the Continental Army.

The year 1777 opened with mild temperatures, which turned the frozen roads around Trenton into muddy quagmires. The conditions were so bad that the head of the British Army covered just over one mile per hour on its advance into Trenton on January 2nd.

As the evening wore on and the fighting at Assunpink Creek ended, the temperatures began to drop and the night became “exceedingly dark.” At a council of war, Washington, hoping to avoid “the appearance of a retreat” agreed with his officers that a strike on Princeton would extract the army from its tenuous position. The change in temperature proved fortuitous: it froze the sloppy mud roads, giving the Continental Army a surface it could march on for the 12-mile trek to Princeton. With Jersey militia detailed to keep bonfires lit and entrenching parties at work, Washington once again gave the British Army the slip.

Fact 6: A single British regiment bore the brunt of repeated assaults on the William and Thomas Clarke farms.

Lt. Colonel Mawhood’s 4th Brigade left Princeton before sunrise on the morning of January 3 with orders to rendezvous with the rest of the army under Cornwallis at Trenton. At dawn, a mile and a half outside of Princeton, Mawhood spotted the American columns coming down the Saw Mill Road, and turned the 4th Brigade back toward the town. He ordered his own regiment, the 17th Regiment of Foot, to cover the column. Dropping their knapsacks, the men posted along a fence in an orchard belonging to William Clarke.

In a see-sawing action across the William and Thomas Clarke farms, 246 men of the 17th, along with about 100 men of the 16th Light Dragoons, received, repulsed, and were finally overwhelmed by nearly 2,000 American troops from Mercer’s, Cadwalader’s, and Hitchcock’s brigades, aided by Edward Hand’s riflemen. The 17th paid dearly for their stand. According to Ensign George Inman, the regiment left 101 soldiers killed or wounded on the snowy ground.

Fact 7: General Hugh Mercer was the highest ranking officer killed during the battle.

General Hugh Mercer led the first attack on the 17th Regiment of Foot at the William Clarke orchard. His horse was struck, knocking the general to the ground, where he was overrun. British soldiers, thinking they had unhorsed Washington, clubbed and bayoneted Mercer, demanding that he beg for quarter. The general lingered until January 12, dying at the Thomas Clarke farmhouse, within sight of where he fell.

Fact 8: The last shots of the battle were fired on the campus of what is now Princeton University.

Legend has it that Alexander Hamilton personally commanded a battery which fired on Nassau Hall, the iconic main building of Princeton University, where remnants of the 40th and 55th Regiments of Foot had sought refuge. One ball allegedly passed through a portrait of King George II as it traveled through the building.

Major James Wilkinson, an aide to General Washington, remembered the event quite differently. “[T]here was but one gun fired at the college, and this from a six pounder, by an officer who was not advised the enemy had abandoned it the ball recoiled, and very nearly killed my horse as I was passing in rear of the building.”

Fact 9: The Battle of Princeton was the last major battle fought by the Continental army for nearly six months.

Washington wanted to continue on to New Brunswick, but “the harassed state of our own troops (many of them having had no rest for two nights and a day) and the dangers of losing the advantage we had gained by aiming at too much, induced me by the advice of my officers to relinquish the attempt. But in my judgment, six or eight hundred fresh troops upon a forced march would have destroyed all their stores and magazines, taken (as we have since learned) their military chest containing 70,000 pounds, and put an end to the war.”

Instead, Washington marched the army into winter quarters in the safety of the Watchung Mountains of New Jersey, and started rebuilding the army. While near daily skirmishes occurred between American detachments and British foraging parties, the next major action was the Battle of Short Hills on June 26, 1777.

Fact 10: The Trust has preserved more than 24 acres of hallowed ground at Princeton!​

Since 2014, the Trust has preserved more than 24 acres at the Princeton battlefield. Most recently, the Institute for Advanced Study and the American Battlefield Trust closed on the Trust’s $4 million purchase of 14.85 acres associated with the 1777 Battle of Princeton. The land, adjacent to the current Princeton Battlefield State Park, will be preserved while enabling the Institute to complete construction of new housing for its faculty on its campus. The newly acquired land, which will eventually be conveyed to New Jersey as an addition to the existing Princeton Battlefield State Park, includes approximately two-thirds of the Maxwell’s Field property – land previously slated for faculty housing – along with an additional 1.12-acre tract north of the property that has been identified by historians as a key part of the battlefield. These 15 acres witnessed one of the most legendary moments of the American Revolution when both the Battle of Princeton and the nation’s independence hung in the balance. George Washington launched a decisive charge on this property that sent the Redcoats retreating. It was Washington’s first victory over British regulars in the field.


Princeton University was founded at Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1746 as the College of New Jersey.

New Light Presbyterians founded the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University, in 1746 in order to train ministers dedicated to their views. The college was the educational and religious capital of Scottish-Irish America. By 1808, a loss of confidence in the college within the Presbyterian Church led to the establishment in 1812 of the separate Princeton Theological Seminary, but deep Presbyterian influence at the college continued through the 1910s. The Province of New Jersey granted a charter on October 22, 1746 for “the Education of Youth in the Learned Languages and in the Liberal Arts and Sciences”. The charter was unique in the colonies, for it specified that “any Person of any religious Denomination whatsoever” might attend. The College's enrollment totaled 10 young men, who met for classes in the Reverend Jonathan Dickinson's parlor in Elizabeth. Dickinson died soon after and was replaced by Aaron Burr, Sr., pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Jersey. The College moved to Newark in the fall of 1747, where in 1748 a class of six men became the first to graduate. [1]

In 1756, the College moved to its new quarters to Nassau Hall, in Princeton, New Jersey. Nassau Hall, named to honor King William III, Prince of Orange, of the House of Nassau, was one of the largest buildings in the colonies. For nearly half a century it housed the entire College—classrooms, dormitories, library, chapel, dining room, and kitchen. During the American Revolution it survived occupation by soldiers from both sides and today bears a cannonball scar from the Battle of Princeton (January 3, 1777). The federal government recognized the historical significance of “Old Nassau” by awarding it national landmark status and by issuing an orange and black commemorative three-cent stamp in celebration of its 1956 bicentennial.

Following the untimely deaths of its first five presidents, the college enjoyed a long period of stability during 1768-94 under Reverend John Witherspoon. Military occupation and the Battle of Princeton severely damaged the college during the war. In another disaster, fire destroyed Nassau Hall in March 1802. Student unrest led to an explosion at the Nassau Hall front door and several other incidents in 1814. Witherspoon was a prominent religious and political leader and an original signer of the Declaration of independence and the Articles of Confederation.

John Witherspoon was a prominent evangelical Presbyterian minister in Scotland before becoming the sixth president of Princeton in 1768. Upon his arrival, he transformed a college designed predominantly to train clergymen into a school that would equip the leaders of a revolutionary generation. Witherspoon made fundamental changes to the moral philosophy curriculum, strengthened the college's commitment to natural philosophy (science), and positioned Princeton in the larger transatlantic world of the republic of letters. Witherspoon's common sense approach to morality was more influenced by the Enlightenment ethics of Scottish philosophers Francis Hutcheson and Thomas Reid than the Christian virtue of Jonathan Edwards. Witherspoon thus believed morality was a science. It could be cultivated in his students or deduced through the development of the moral sense—an ethical compass instilled by God in all human beings and developed through education (Reid) or sociability (Hutcheson). Such an approach to morality owed more to the natural moral laws of the Enlightenment than traditional sources of Christian ethics. Thus, while "public religion" was an important source of social virtue, it was not the only source. Witherspoon, in accordance with the Scottish moral sense philosophy, taught that all human beings—religious or otherwise—could be virtuous. His students, who included James Madison, Aaron Burr, Philip Freneau, and John Breckinridge, all played prominent roles in the development of the new nation. [2] Locally, Witherspoon was influential in leading the royal colony of New Jersey—a colony initially ambivalent about revolution—toward rebellion. In 1780 an amended charter declared that the trustees should no longer swear allegiance to the king of England, and in 1783 the Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall, thus making it the capitol of the United States for a short time. Nine Princeton alumni attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787, more than from any other American or British institution. But even as Witherspoon championed American liberty, he also championed more conservative ideals such as order and national unity. As a result, he was a strong defender of a national constitution. Not surprisingly, the College's revised charter of 1799 called on the trustees to support the new Constitution of the United States of America. [2]

19th century Edit

The situation during the winter semester of 1806-07 under the presidency of Samuel Stanhope Smith was characterized by little or no faculty-student rapport or communication, crowded conditions, and strict school rules - a combination that led to a student riot on March 31-April 1, 1807. College authorities denounced it as a sign of moral decay. [3]

In 1812 Princeton Theological Seminary was established as a separate institution. College authorities approved, for they were coming to see that specialized training in theology required more attention than they could give. Archibald Alexander, a professor at the college, was its first professor and principal. The two institutions have always enjoyed a close relationship based on common history and shared resources.

Princeton University's position on pre-Civil War disputes over slavery and abolitionism tended to fall on the conservative side, not so much favoring slavery as opposing radical antislavery. This resulted from Princeton's adhering to the conservative Old School wing of the Presbyterian denomination. Ironically, the surrounding town had a lively free black community during this period, which formed its own congregations, including the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church. By the late 1850s, the conservative middle gave way and increasingly supported Lincoln and Republican Party positions on slavery issues. [4]

The debate between James McCosh (1811–94), president of the college (1868–88), and Charles Hodge, head of Princeton Seminary, during the late 1860s and 1870s exemplified the classic conflict between science and religion over the question of Darwin's evolution theory. McCosh offered the first public endorsement of evolution by an American religious leader. However, the two men showed greater similarities regarding matters of science and religion than popularly appreciated. Both supported the increasing role of scientific inquiry in natural history and resisted its intrusion into philosophy and religion. The debate vitalized the college and helped propel the school to future recognition for excellence in scholarship. [5]

Although genuinely loved by many Princetonians, as president of Princeton during 1888-1902 Francis Landey Patton (1843–1932) was viewed by many as a hindrance to Princeton's progress. His model of higher education frustrated the plans of the 'New Princetonians,' who desired a graduate school, not a graduate department. Further, his insistence on a somewhat rigid Christian education program - which limited academic freedom - coupled with outdated administrative methods, alienated those who hoped he would make Princeton into a major American university. Finally, in 1902, Patton was ousted from the presidency. [6]

As part of the sesquicentennial celebrations in 1896, the College of New Jersey changed its name to Princeton University, the present name of the university. [7] Princeton University adopted as an informal motto “Princeton in the nation’s service,” the title of the keynote speech by professor Woodrow Wilson.

Woodrow Wilson Edit

In 1902 Woodrow Wilson became Princeton's 13th president. During his term of office (1902–10) plans for building the Graduate College were finalized, and what had been the College of New Jersey began to grow into a full-scale university.

As Princeton looked toward expansion, Wilson focused on the quality of the individual teaching and learning experience. He is credited with developing small discussion classes called preceptorials, which to this day supplement lecture courses in the humanities and social sciences.

Wilson doubled the size of the faculty, created an administrative structure, and revised the curriculum to include general studies for freshmen and sophomores and concentrated study for juniors and seniors. He proposed that the undergraduate dormitories be divided into quadrangles or “colleges” in which students would live with resident faculty masters and have their own recreational facilities. A variation on this plan became a reality in 1982 when five residential colleges were organized for freshmen and sophomores.

Wilson kept blacks out of Princeton, even as other ivy-league schools were accepting small numbers of blacks and Princeton did not have its first black graduate until 1948. [8]

Wilson established academic departments but otherwise downplayed the Germanic model of the PhD-oriented research university in favor of the "Oxbridge" (Oxford and Cambridge) model of intense small group discussions and one-on-one tutorials. He hired 50 young professors, called preceptors, to meet with students in small conferences, grilling them about their reading. Complaining that Princeton was dominated by "eating clubs" in which students ate with each other and ignored the professors, he sought to build Oxford-style colleges where students and faculty would eat and talk together. He failed—the eating clubs are still there. [9]

Wilson promoted the leadership model, whereby the college focused on training a small cadre of undergraduates for national leadership, "the minority who plan, who conceive, who superintend," as he called them in his 1902 inaugural address as the university's president. "The college is no less democratic because it is for those who play a special part." He confronted Andrew Fleming West, the dean of the graduate school, and lost. West had the German research model in mind and outmaneuvered Wilson by obtaining outside funding for a graduate complex for serious scholarship that was well separated from the fun-loving undergraduates.

As supervising architect of the Princeton campus during 1906–29, Ralph Adams Cram contributed several important buildings in the medieval collegiate Gothic style as well as a plan for stylistic unity and for development. [10]

Undergraduate life Edit

The college was a popular setting for novels about student life, the faculty and the town. The "Undergraduate novel" (e.g., F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise and Harvey Smith's The Gang's All Here) detailed campus life in the 1920s and 1950s. The "Faculty novel" characterized the 1960s (e.g., Kingsley Amis's One Fat Englishman and John W. Aldridge's The Party at Cranton). The '"Town novel" (e.g., Julian Moynihan's Garden State and Thomas Baird's Losing People) typified the 1970s. Other important novels include Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift (1975) and Carlos Baker's A Friend's Power (1958). [11]

As a trendsetter in young men's fashion, Princeton University in the early 20th century casualized the look of clothing across the country for decades to come. With its elite prep-school student population and highly ritualized eating club subculture, the school was an ideal setting in which to create a nation's taste in menswear. [12]

In 1909–10, football faced a crisis resulting from the failure of the previous reforms of 1905–06 to solve the problem of serious injuries. There was a mood of alarm and mistrust, and, while the crisis was developing, the presidents of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton developed a project to reform the sport and forestall possible radical changes forced by government upon the sport. President Arthur Hadley of Yale, A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard, and Wilson of Princeton worked to develop moderate changes to reduce injuries. Their attempts, however, were reduced by rebellion against the rules committee and formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The big three had tried to operate independently of the majority, but changes did reduce injuries. [13] In 1926 Harvard entered into an agreement to play football against the University of Michigan instead of Princeton, and that agreement threatened to destroy the 'Big Three' relationship of the time. Harvard's actions were based on the fact that games with Princeton had been marred by fights and roughness. During the 1930s, the 'Big Three' was restored, and in 1939 it was enlarged to the Ivy League. [14]

During World War II the student body of Princeton University became almost entirely military as the result of Reserve Officer Training Corps mobilization, the Navy V-7 and V-12 programs, and the Army Specialized Training Program. Wartime changes opened Princeton to the larger world and brought it into the mainstream of American society. [15] From their beginnings Harvard, Yale and Princeton restricted the admittance of Jews and other minorities. After World War II, however, ethnic prejudice was condemned in higher education because of the US commitment to democracy. College-bound veterans, benefiting from the GI Bill, flooded admissions offices with applications. By the 1950s and 1960s the Big Three began to expand their admission policies, admitting more minorities. [16]

Religion Edit

In the early 20th century, the student body was predominately old-stock, high-status Protestants, especially Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists—a group later called "WASPS" (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). [17]

In the early 20th century liberal Christians came to dominate the student body, a former evangelical stronghold. In 1915 President John Grier Hibben refused the request of evangelist Billy Sunday to preach on campus, but later allowed liberal theologian Albert Parker Fitch to do so. Liberals sought to make Princeton a modern university that promoted a liberal philosophy of education and liberal theology. Conservative Christians considered the teachings of the liberals to be heresy and sought to get Lucius H. Miller, the liberal professor of Bible studies, removed from the faculty and to have Bible classes eliminated from the curriculum. Liberals favored retaining the religious aspects of the curriculum and, since they came to control Princeton, they were able to maintain those courses along with various institutions that promoted liberal piety. They did this through an uneasy alliance with cultural modernists on the faculty. Gradually the hegemony of the liberal Christian leaders of higher education was eroded by the secularization of the university that occurred during the first half of the 20th century. Princeton thus ceased being a Presbyterian institution in the 1920s, as symbolized by the building of a great interdenominational chapel. [18]

Mathematics Edit

American mathematicians of the 1920s worked to maintain the generous funding they had received during World War I. Unwilling to enter a permanent relationship with the federal government, they turned to industry and to private foundations, but with only limited success. The most reliable support for mathematics emerged from universities, where the funding could be justified as part of a larger program of institutional improvement. Oswald Veblen, a leading mathematician and chair of the department, took this approach as Princeton was in the process of transforming itself into a recognized research institution. Veblen's skill in securing university funding helped to make the Princeton mathematics department a center of mathematics research. His strategy helped to split the field, however, between 'pure' mathematicians in academic settings and 'applied' mathematicians whose interest in the practical applications of their work allowed them to find support in industry. [19]

Princeton University has produced 29 Nobel laureates. Some of the greatest minds of 20th century were associated with Princeton University. Princeton has also produced several Fields Medallists. Before World War II, most elite university faculties were gentlemen's clubs, with few, if any, Jews, blacks, women, or other minorities. By 1980, this condition had been altered dramatically, as numerous members of those groups held faculty positions. [20]

Princeton's students and faculty share the tradition of educational excellence begun more than 250 years ago. The few books in the Dickinson parlor were the seeds for 55 miles (89 km) of shelving and more than five million volumes in Firestone Library. The original quadrangle—Nassau Hall, the president's house, and two flanking halls—has grown into a 600-acre (2.4 km 2 ) main campus with more than 160 buildings. The “learned languages”—Latin and Greek—have been joined by many ancient and modern languages and an array of computer dialects.

Today, more than 1,200 full and part-time faculty members teach at Princeton collectively they publish more than 2,000 scholarly documents a year. Princeton's professors form a single faculty that teaches both undergraduate and graduate students. Originally an institution devoted to the education of young men, Princeton became coeducational in 1969. Today, approximately 5,000 undergraduates and 2,500 graduate students are enrolled here. Virtually all undergraduates and about two-thirds of graduate students live on campus.

Princeton is one of the smallest of the nation's leading research universities. Its size permits close interaction among students and faculty members in settings ranging from introductory courses to senior theses.

Princeton was hardly untouched by the Vietnam War. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had an active Princeton chapter, which organized protests against the Institute for Defense Analysis and staged a protest that came to be known as the "Hickel Heckle," in which several SDS members demanded that Interior Secretary Walter J. Hickel "Talk About the War!" Three students were suspended over the incident. [21]

In 1971, the Third World Center, now the Carl A. Fields Center, was founded to address the concerns of minority students to have a facility of their own making for academic, political and social functions. [22]

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