Brown Is Not the Only Ivy League University With Historical Ties to Slavery

As noted in JBHE, Brown University recently released a comprehensive report on the institution’s historical ties to slavery. The Brown committee that issued the report offered several possible solutions as to how the university could atone for the fact that it benefited from the slave trade.

Other Ivy League institutions also have historical connections to slavery. Harvard president Benjamin Wadsworth owned two house slaves whom he brought to Harvard when he was named president in 1725. Also, Isaac Royall, who provided funds for the establishment of Harvard Law School, was a plantation owner in Antigua. An endowed professorship at the law school still bears his name.

Yale, too, has its ties to slavery. Nine of the 12 residential colleges at Yale are named after slave owners or people who were strong advocates of slavery. One college is named after former Vice President of the United States John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. Calhoun was a fervent supporter of the institution of slavery. To this day, a stained glass window in the Calhoun College dining hall shows slaves working in the cotton fields. It also has been reported that Yale’s first endowed professorship, its first endowed scholarship, and the first endowed library fund were all donated by people with ties to slavery.