By the numbers
Princeton NJ—Two hundred fifty nine years ago this week, the charter that created the corporation originally known as “The Trustees of the College of New Jersey” was granted in the name of King George II.
• The charter, granted on Oct. 22, 1746, authorized the erection of a college “for the Education of Youth in the Learned Languages and in the Liberal Arts and Sciences.” It also designated seven men, with five others to be chosen by them, to be the trustees of the college.
• The charter granted the trustees and their successors full power and authority to acquire real and personal property, to erect buildings, to elect a president, tutors, professors and other officers, to grant degrees and to establish ordinances and laws “not repugnant to the Laws and Statutes of ... Great Britain or ... of New Jersey, and not excluding any Person of any religious Denomination whatsoever from ... any of the Liberties, Privileges or immunities of the ... College, on account of his ... being of a Religious profession Different from the ... Trustees of the College.”
• The original charter was issued by John Hamilton, president of the council of the province of New Jersey, who was acting as governor at the time. Because Hamilton’s authority was questioned, the legal status of the College came under attack, and a second charter was issued in 1748 by Jonathan Belcher, newly appointed governor of the province. It corresponded, for the most part, to the charter of 1746, but it increased the maximum number of trustees from 12 to 23, made the governor of New Jersey a trustee ex-officio and stipulated that 12 trustees were to be inhabitants of the state of New Jersey.
• On Feb. 13, 1896, the corporation adopted a resolution changing its name to “The Trustees of Princeton University.” President Francis Patton publicly proclaimed this change on Oct. 22, 1896, the 150th anniversary of the granting of the first charter.
Source: “A Princeton Companion” by Alexander Leitch