- Series 7: Samuel Stanhope Smith Records
Series 7: Samuel Stanhope Smith Records
This collection is stored at Mudd Manuscript Library.
Requests will be delivered to Princeton University Archives, MUDD Reading Room
Collection Creator: Princeton University. Office of the
Extent: 10 folders
Materials generated by the office of the president are closed for 40 years from
the date of their creation. Some records relating to personnel or students are
closed for longer periods of time.
Samuel Stanhope Smith, born in 1751 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the first
alumnus to become president of the College of New Jersey. His father, Robert
Smith, taught him at the school he headed in Pequea, Pennsylvania until the
age of sixteen, when Samuel entered the College of New Jersey as a junior.
He graduated with honors in 1769 before returning to Pennsylvania to teach
in his father's school. In 1771 he returned to Princeton to tutor and study
theology under John Witherspoon. For health reasons, he left Princeton to
work as a missionary in Virginia. In 1775 the seminary that later became
Hampden-Sydney College was founded, and Smith became its president. Married
to Ann Witherspoon, Witherspoon's daughter, Smith returned to Princeton in
1779 as a professor of moral philosophy, and his brother, John Blair Smith,
replaced him as president of Hampden-Sydney College. On Witherspoon's death
in 1794, Smith, who had become vice president in 1786, assumed the
leadership of the College. After the Nassau Hall fire of 1802, he raised
enough money not only to reconstruct the landmark but also to add two
additional buildings. Unfortunately, a riot in 1807 led to the suspension of
125 students and a growing distrust on the part of trustees. Faculty
resignations and a declining student body led to Smith's resignation in
This series is arranged topically and contains biographical and family
information, details of Smith's Hampden-Sydney College and College of New
Jersey years, and original correspondence. Material relating to
Hampden-Sydney College includes a document describing the courses of study
there and a pamphlet about the institution. The correspondence folder
contains a short letter from Smith written in 1806 relating to a stock of
books. There are also two letters to Smith: one relating to a shipment of
books and one concerning administrative matters. Other correspondence dates
from the twentieth century and pertains to gifts to and from Princeton
University. A number of portraits of Smith can be found in this series.
Series 7: Samuel Stanhope Smith Records; 1804-1979; Office of the President Records : Jonathan Dickinson
to Harold W. Dodds Subgroup, Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.