Biography and History

James Carnahan was the ninth president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), from which he graduated in 1800. In 1823 he was elected to the presidency of the college while it was in the middle of a period of decline. There were many faculty resignations, and enrollment had dropped from 120 to 70 students. He was very discouraged by the state of affairs and thought of recommending closing it down. However, with the help of professor John Maclean, he was able to strengthen the faculty, which in turn, strengthened the college's reputation. When Carnahan retired in 1854, there were 250 students enrolled, new chairs were endowed, many scholarships were established, and East and West Colleges and Clio and Whig Halls were erected. After his retirement and until his death, Carnahan served as a trustee of the college and as president of the board of trustees of the Theological Seminary.

Source: From the finding aid for C1029