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The 250th anniversary of the founding of Rutgers University is a perfect moment for the Rutgers community to reconcile its past, and acknowledge its role in the enslavement and debasement of African Americans and the disfranchisement and elimination of Native American people and culture.

Scarlet and Black documents the history of Rutgers’s connection to slavery, which was neither casual nor accidental—nor unusual. Like most early American colleges, Rutgers depended on slaves to build its campuses and serve its students and faculty; it depended on the sale of black people to fund its very existence. Men like John Henry Livingston, (Rutgers president from 1810–1824), the Reverend Philip Milledoler, (president of Rutgers from 1824–1840), Henry Rutgers, (trustee after whom the college is named), and Theodore Frelinghuysen, (Rutgers’s seventh president), were among the most ardent anti-abolitionists in the mid-Atlantic.

Scarlet and black are the colors Rutgers University uses to represent itself to the nation and world. They are the colors the athletes compete in, the graduates and administrators wear on celebratory occasions, and the colors that distinguish Rutgers from every other university in the United States. This book, however, uses these colors to signify something else: the blood that was spilled on the banks of the Raritan River by those dispossessed of their land and the bodies that labored unpaid and in bondage so that Rutgers could be built and sustained. The contributors to this volume offer this history as a usable one—not to tear down or weaken this very renowned, robust, and growing institution—but to strengthen it and help direct its course for the future.

The work of the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Population in Rutgers History.

Visit the project's website at


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813591520
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 12/20/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 222
Sales rank: 619,557
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

MARISA J. FUENTES is an associate professor in women’s and gender studies and history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is the author of Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive

DEBORAH GRAY WHITE is a Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is the author or editor of numerous books including, Ar’n’t I A Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South.


Read an Excerpt


The first stitch of this incredible project, Scarlet and Black, was sewn on May
11, 2015. On that day, in my office in Rutgers University's iconic Old Queen's
Building, I met with a small group of students to discuss the current state of
race relations at Rutgers. In the course of our conversation, the students made
themselves clear: improving the current racial and cultural climate at Rutgers
was impossible without answering questions about the university's early history.
After a decade at Rutgers as a dean, and then administrator, I felt that I
was quite familiar with the oft-told narrative of our beginning days: the Dutch
Reformed Church, the royal charter (1766), the first name (Queen's College), the
benefactor (Colonel Henry Rutgers), the second name (Rutgers College), and the
land grant designation from the Morrill Act (1862), which launched the institution's
research ambitions.

That accepted record was incomplete, the students said. They pointed to
Craig Steven Wilder's 2013 book, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled
History of America's Universities
as having clues to a deeper, more painful narrative
that had yet to be told. Wilder, a professor of American history at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made reference in his book to many
of our prominent founding families and their involvement in enslavement-
Livingston, Hardenbergh, and Rutgers himself.

The subsequent exploration of the missing narrative of slavery and dispossession,
requested by the students and undertaken by the university, must
be put in context. Mere months after that meeting in May, many campuses
throughout the country were heaved into turmoil as encounters between students
and administrators gave rise to renewed activism and questions around
what a university's responsibilities are in providing to its students an inclusive
and supportive academic environment. Intersecting with these conversations
was the university's planned year-long celebration of its 250th anniversary.
Running from November 10, 2015 to November 10, 2016, the commemoration
sought to pay tribute to an institution whose impact on our country over a quarter
of a millennium could be rivaled only by a venerable few. A true telling of our
early history was never more due-and never more necessary.

From these converging factors, we have Scarlet and Black: Slavery and Dispossession
in Rutgers History. The book is the result of the work of the Committee on
Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History, which I formed
in the fall of 2015. I asked the committee, chaired by Board of Governors Distinguished
Professor of History Deborah Gray White, to seek out the untold history
that we have ignored for too long, such as that our campus is built on land taken
from the Lenni Lenape and that a number of our founders and early benefactors
were slaveholders. Given our history as a colonial college, these facts are not
unique to Rutgers, but I believed it was time that we began to recognize the role
that disadvantaged populations such as African Americans and Native tribes
played in the university's development.

Rutgers is not the first institution to wrestle with such issues. Brown University,
for instance, founded just two years before Rutgers, formed a committee
charged by its then-president, Ruth Simmons, to "examine the University's
historical entanglement with slavery and the slave trade and report our findings
openly and truthfully." The Brown committee's report was extensive and honest,
and I asked our committee, which was to be composed of students, faculty, and
staff, for the same vigorous pursuit of the truth.

Many of the truths reported within these pages by a dedicated team of
researchers are complicated and uncomfortable. Take the example of Theodore
Frelinghuysen, scion of one of the most influential and revered families of his
day and ours. Frelinghuysen, whose forbears were early supporters of Rutgers's
founding, was a notable national figure in public life during the early and middle
part of the nineteenth century and served for twelve years (1850-1862) as
Rutgers's seventh president. Before his time at Rutgers, he rose to prominence
first as New Jersey attorney general, then as a United States senator (1829-1835).
It was as a senator that he gained notoriety as a fierce opponent of the removal
of Native Americans from their lands. His six-hour speech against the Indian
Removal Act of 1830 was not enough to halt its passing, but the "Christian Statesman,"
as he was known, told his colleagues that "the Indians are men, endowed
with kindred faculties and powers with ourselves"; he demanded to know "in
what code of the law of nations, or by what process of abstract deduction, their
rights have been extinguished?" Frelinghuysen was also an ardent opponent of
slavery, calling the abhorrent institution a "moral evil." Though his opposition
to slavery is well documented, Frelinghuysen supported a gradual end to its
practice and was a proponent and leader of the American Colonization Society,
which sought to remove blacks from America and "repatriate" them to Africa.

This example and many others in this book raise complex questions for the
university to consider as we begin our introspection and reconciliation with
the past. During this celebratory year, I have repeatedly said that to truly praise
Rutgers, we must honestly know it; and to do that, we must gain a fuller understanding
of it. With this book, the first volume of Scarlet and Black, we have
begun to do that. It covers the early decades of Rutgers history; in the works are
other volumes that will carry the story up to the present.

While reviewing the manuscript for this book, I couldn't help but recall
that conversation with our students in May 2015. I kept thinking about them
and about our committee's discovery that an enslaved man named Will helped
lay the foundation of Old Queen's, our original and distinctive building-the
building that houses my office and where we held that very first discussion.
After reading the chapter in this book entitled "His Name Was Will," I thought
again of the students and of our conversation and I remarked to myself: "if only
they knew." Now they do.

Richard L. Edwards
Chancellor, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Table of Contents

Richard L. Edwards

Introduction: Scarlet and Black—A Reconciliation
Deborah Gray White

Chapter 1. “I Am Old and Weak . . . and You Are Young and Strong . . .”: The Intersecting Histories of Rutgers University and the Lenni Lenape
Camilla Townsend,with Ugonna Amaechi, Jacob Arnay, Shelby Berner, Lynn Biernacki, Vanessa Bodossian, Megan Brink, Joseph Cuzzolino, Melissa Deutsch, Emily Edelman, Esther Esquenazi, Brian Hagerty, Blaise Hode, Dana Jordan, Andrew Kim, Eric Knittel, Brianna Leider, Jessica MacDonald, Kathleen Margeotes, Anjelica Matcho, William Nisley, Elisheva Rosen, Ryan Von Sauers, Ethan Smith, Amanda Stein, and Chad Stewart

Chapter 2. Old Money: Rutgers University and the Political Economy of Slavery in New Jersey
Kendra Boyd, Miya Carey, and Christopher Blakely

Chapter 3. His Name Was Will: Remembering Enslaved Individuals in Rutgers History
Jesse Bayker, Christopher Blakley, and Kendra Boyd

Chapter 4. “I Hereby Bequeath . . .”: Excavating the Enslaved from the Wills of the Early Leaders of Queen’s College
Beatrice Adams and Miya Carey

Chapter 5. “And I Poor Slave Yet”: The Precarity of Black Life in New Brunswick, 1766–1835
Shaun Armstead, Brenann Sutter, Pamela Walker, and Caitlin Wiesner

Chapter 6. From the Classroom to the American Colonization Society: Making Race at Rutgers
Beatrice Adams, Tracey Johnson, Daniel Manuel, and Meagan Wierda

Chapter 7. Rutgers: A Land-Grant College in Native American History
Kaisha Esty

Epilogue: Scarlet in Black—On the Uses of History
Jomaira Salas Pujols



List of Contributors

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