Yale Abolitionists

Yale Abolitionists
Samuel Hopkins
James Hillhouse
Simeon Jocelyn
The Amistad Affair
James Pennington
Charles Torrey
Cassius Clay
1856 Kansas Meeting

Simeon Jocelyn

In 1823, Simeon Jocelyn studied for the ministry at Yale under Nathaniel Taylor. Though it unclear whether he formally graduated, he soon went on to become the first pastor of a black congregation at the "Temple Street" church, which would later became Dixwell Ave. Congregational Church.

A white abolitionist, Jocelyn travelled in 1831 with William Garrison and Arthur Tappan to Philadelphia to the first "Convention of the Free People of Colour". At this convention, Jocelyn described his vision of a "Negro college" opening its doors in New Haven, and expanding the possibility of higher education to all African Americans.

On September 7, 1831, Jocelyn described his vision publicly at his home church, Center Church on the Green. Three days later, a town meeting crushed his hope, and his dream of a black college in New Haven died.

The aftermath of the "Negro college" incident was difficult for Jocelyn. In 1834 he stopped officiating at the black church, and a few years later a white mob attacked his home.

In 1839, the captives aboard the Amistad ship were taken captive and held in a New Haven jail. While his friend Roger Sherman Baldwin took up the captives' legal defense, Simeon Jocelyn was a founding member of the "Amistad Committee" that worked outside the courtroom on the captives' behalf.

Jocelyn never stopped working for racial justice in New Haven, building a racially integrated neighborhood in what would later become "Trowbridge Square." Simeon Jocelyn and his brother, Nathaniel, also served as "conductors" on the underground railroad, ferrying fugitive slaves north to safer areas (133).

There is no building on the Yale campus that honors Simeon Jocelyn. The city honors Simeon Jocelyn with "Jocelyn Square".




Numbers in parentheses refer to notes. See the notes page.