Thursday, September 24, 2015

24 September 1757 A.D. Aaron Burr, 2nd President of Princeton College. While a short life, it was a life that had a long impact

24 September 1757 A.D.  Aaron Burr, 2nd President of Princeton College.  While a short life, it was a life that had a long impact.
Dr. Rusten tells the story.
Rusten, E. Michael and Rusten, Sharon. The One Year Christian History. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003.  Available at:
Aaron Burr was born in Connecticut.  He graduated from Yale in 1735—first in his class. He became the Pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Newark, NJ.
David Brainerd caused a stir at Yale College by a judgment aspersion on a Professor. Aaron Burr and John Dickinson, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, NJ, took an interest in Brainerd’s case.  It was a remark arising in relation to the not-so-Great Awakening.
Yale’s action, however, reconfirmed decisions by the NY and NJ synods to establish a Presbyterian college. One was started.
The College of New Jersey—later named Princeton College—got a charter from the Governor of NJ in 1746.
7 trustees, Burr being the youngest, all Yale graduates but one, started the college in 1747.  It began in 1747 in Rev. Dickinson’s parsonage in Elizabethtown, NJ.  But, Rev. Dickinson parted this world.
Aaron Burr became the 2nd President of Princeton.  The college was moved 6 miles to Newark, NJ.  Classes were held in Burr’s parsonage.  Burr did the teaching while retained his Pastorate.
He was unmarried at the time. He ended up marrying the daughter of Jonathan Edwards, Esther Edwards.  He was 36; she was 21. They were married in Burr’s Church in Newark.
He served as a Pastor and President until 1755. He then resigned his Pastorate for fulltime duties as a President and Professor.
Burr supervised the building of Nassau Hall.  It was so named after King William III of the House of Nassau whose monarchy had re-established Protestantism in England.
In 1756, President Burr, 70 students, and 2 tutors moved into Nassau Hall—the largest stone building in the colonies.
At the young age of 41, President Burr died on 24 September 1757.  He was buried in Princeton Cemetery, the resting places of
·                  Archibald Alexander (1772–1851), Presbyterian theologian
·                  James Waddel Alexander (1804–1859), Presbyterian theologian and eldest son of Archibald Alexander
·                  Joseph Addison Alexander (1809–1860), Presbyterian biblical scholar and third son of Archibald Alexander
·                  William Cowper Alexander (1806–1874), politician, businessman and second son of Archibald Alexander
·                  George Dashiell Bayard (1835–1862), Civil War General
·                  John Berrien I (1712–1772), New Jersey Supreme Court Justice and owner of Rockingham House
·                  Aaron Burr (1756–1836), Controversial Revolutionary War hero, New York Attorney General third Vice President of the United States, political opponent and killer of Alexander Hamilton, adventurer who was eventually tried and acquitted of treason.
·                  Aaron Burr, Sr. (1716–1757), Presbyterian minister, second president of Princeton University and father of Aaron Burr
·                  Grover Cleveland (1837–1908), 22nd and 24th President of the United States
·                  Samuel Davies (1723–1761), president of Princeton University
·                  Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), president of Princeton University and Calvinist theologian
·                  Richard Stockton Field (1803–1870), US Senator and New Jersey Attorney General
·                  Peter Charles Harris (1865–1951), Adjutant General of the U.S. Army from 1918 to 1922
·                  Charles Hodge (1797–1878), Calvinist theologian
·                  David Hunter (1802–1886), Civil War General
·                  Joseph Karge (1823–1892), Civil War General and Princeton University professor
·                  Edward Parke Custis Lewis (1837–1892), diplomat
·                  John Maclean, Jr. (1800–1886), President of Princeton University
·                  Roger Atkinson Pryor (1828–1919), Special US Minister to Greece, US Congressman from Virginia, CSA Congressman, CSA General, Journalist, New York Supreme Court Judge.
·                  John P. Stockton (1826–1900), US Senator and New Jersey Attorney General
·                  William G. Thompson (1840–1904), Mayor of Detroit
·                  Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851–1921), Presbyterian theologian
·                  John Witherspoon (1723–1794), signer of Declaration of Independence
Esther Edwards wrote her mother:
“I think I have been enabled to cast my care upon Him and have found great peace and calmness in my mind, such as this world cannot give or take…Give me leave to entreat you both, to request earnestly of the Lord, that I may never despise His chastenings, nor faint un this this, His sever stroke.”
5 days later, her father, Burr’s father-in-law, Jonathan Edwards, was chosen to be Princeton’s next President.
1.               How did Princeton College spawn or lead to Princeton Theological Seminary?
2.               Aaron Burr’s life was short, but what were the longer term impacts of his leadership?  Who was who who graduated and served in the founding of the emerging nation?
Calhoun. Princeton Seminary.
Kesler, Ben. “Shaping the Campus.” Princeton Alumni Weekly. 101 (May 16, 2001): 24-31.
Piper. God’s Passion for His Glory. 70-73.
------. The Hidden Smile of God. 122-157.
Sereno, Dwight. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. 2 vols. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974. 1: clxxii-clxxvi.

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