Rider University has dropped the name of a former slaveholder from a building on its campus in Lawrenceville.
Van Cleve house — named for Benjamin Van Cleve — will be known as Alumni House following a ceremony Thursday on campus.
A Revolutionary War veteran who served four terms as speaker of the state Assembly, Van Cleve owned at least two slaves but likely more, according to research done by the Task Force on Rider and the History of Slavery, which recommended the change.
“His support of slavery, both as a private citizen and a legislator, makes it inappropriate for Rider to continue its association with him,” Rider President Gregory G. Dell’Omo and John M. Guarino, the chair of the Board of Trustees wrote in a letter to posted on the university’s website.
“Judged by the standards of his time or ours, Van Cleve’s actions and attitudes have no place in the Rider community. We cannot continue to hold him up, even tacitly, as worthy of honor or emulation.”
The Van Cleve house was part of a 140-acre farm Rider purchased in 1956 when the schools prepared to move its campus from Trenton to Lawrenceville. It was a residence hall and then an admissions building. Since 1993, it has housed the office of alumni relations.
Van Cleve bought the property on which the home was later built in the 1770s.
Rider also plans to set up a display at the house that explains its history and memorializes people who were enslaved.
According to research conducted by the task force, Van Cleve was taxed for owning one enslaved man in 1778, 1779, 1786 and 1799.
On Dec. 31, 1778, the New Jersey Gazette ran an advertisement paid for by Van Cleve to try to recapture an enslaved woman named Dinah he owned, according to Rider University research.
He was living with three other “individuals who were not free” when he died in 1817. “It’s possible all three were either enslaved or, at a minimum, indentured servants,” Rider University’s task force said.
There were 11,423 enslaved people in New Jersey in 1790, according to the U.S. Census.
Earlier this month, Rutgers University scrubbed Joseph P. Bradley’s name from a Newark campus building. Bradley was a former U.S. Supreme Court justice who sanctioned racial discrimination and argued that women had no constitutional right to practice law.
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to i">>NJ.com.
Jeff Goldman may be reached at i">>[email protected].
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/rider-university-removes-name-of-former-slaveholder-from-campus-building/ar-AAPPvrn517