Nassau Hall, College
of New Jersey (Princeton University) - 18th Century:
The College of New Jersey was founded in 1746 by six Yale graduates. Students were admitted to the College if they could "compose grammatical Latin, and translate Vergil, Cicero's orations and the four evangelists into Greek." Under the Presidency (1768-1794) of the Reverend John Witherspoon, students at the College continued their study of the traditional 18th century Classical curriculum, but supplemented it with heavy dosages of natural philosophy (science) and rhetoric/public speaking, described in the regulations of the College at that time as: The Senior year is entirely employed in reviews of composition. They now revise the most improving parts of the Latin and Greek classics; part of the Hebrew Bible, and all the arts and sciences. The weekly course of disputation is continued, which was also carried through the preceding year. They discuss two or three theses in a week; some in the syllogistic, and others in the forensic manner, alternately; the forensic being always performed in the english tongue. A series of questions, is also prepared, on the principal subjects of natural and revealed religion. These are delivered publicly on Sundays, before a promiscuous (i.e. indiscriminate) congregation, as well as the college, in order to habituate them early to face an assembly, as also for other important and religious ends, to which they are bound conducive. There is likewise a monthly oration day, when harangues, or orations of their own composition, are pronounced before a mixt auditory. All these compositions before mentioned, are critically examined with respect to the language, orthography, pointing, capitalizing, with other minutiae, as well as more material properties of accurate writing.
Besides these exercises in writing and speaking, most of which are proper to the Senior class, on every Monday three, and on the other evenings of the week, excepting Saturdays and Sundays, two out of each of the three inferior classes, in rotation, pronounce declamations of their own composing on the stage. These too are previously examined and corrected, and occasion taken from them early to form a taste on Tuesday evenings, and two on the other evenings, with the exceptions just mentioned, pronounce, in like manner, such select pieces from Cicero, Demosthenes, Livy, and other ancient authors." (from An Account of the College of New Jersey, printed by James Parker, 1764, Woodbridge, NJ, pp. 24-26).
President Witherspoon's new curriculum for Princeton's students proved highly successful. Of the 469 graduates during his presidency, there were the following results:
1 U.S. President
10 Cabinet Officers
1 U.S. Vice-President (Aaron Burr) 30 Judges - (3 Supreme Court)
21 U.S. Senators 12 Governors
39 U.S. Representatives 50 State Legislators