Princeton considers removal of John Witherspoon statue because he had slaves

Princeton University is considering removing a statue of John Witherspoon, the sixth president of Princeton and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Calling to remove the statute coincides with a trend on college campuses dating back even before 2022.

Princeton University is considering removing a statue of John Witherspoon, the sixth president of Princeton and signer of the Declaration of Independence, because three graduate students are concerned that he owned slaves.

petition, started by three graduate students Waner Zhang, Kathryn Rech, and Brendon Kolb, according to The Daily Princetonian, was sent to faculty and students to garner support for the removal of the statute.

[RELATED: Students demand removal of George Washington statue…at University of Washington]

It reads that “paying such honor to someone who participated actively in the enslavement of human beings, and used his scholarly gifts to defend the practice, is today a distraction from the University’s mission.”

The petition, noting that having the statue in a ‘prominent place’ on campus is ‘inappropriate’ and should be removed from the Firestone plaza, currently has over 300 individual signatures.   

The Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) met on Nov. 14th to consider removing the statue.

[RELATED: UVA to remove Revolutionary War general, ‘contextualize’ Thomas Jefferson statue]

The assistant vice president in the Office of the President, Nakia White Barr, announced they are considering a proposal to remove or replace the statue.

The CPUC offered a feedback form on their website for faculty and students to fill in to share their thoughts and recommendations on the situation. 

Calling to remove the statute coincides with a trend on college campuses dating back even before 2022.

For example, "The University of Washington's Black Student Union... garnered nearly 8,000 signatures on a petition that demand[ed] the school remove a statue of George Washington, the school's - and the state's - namesake," which Campus Reform covered in February of 2021.

Campus Reform contacted every organization and individual mentioned in the article; this article will be updated accordingly.