The "Negro" College
The Town Meeting
The Committee Opposed
Why It Failed
Why It Mattered
Yale & the South

The "Negro" college

Simeon Jocelyn was the dogged force behind the efforts to establish a "Negro college" in New Haven. After attending Yale briefly in 1823, he went on to become the founding pastor of the African-American congregation that became Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church. Jocelyn joined forces with Arthur Tappan, who moved to New Haven in 1828. With the help of his brother Lewis, Arthur Tappan purchased land for the college in the southern part of New Haven and committed $1000 seed money for a fundraising drive to build the college (98).

In June of 1831, these two white men from New Haven--Simeon Jocelyn and Arthur Tappan--joined William L. Garrison in Philadelphia at the annual Convention of the Free People of Colour (99). They argued for the formation of an institute that would allow its students to "cultivate habits of industry and obtain a useful mechanical or agricultural profession, while pursuing classical studies" (100). The college, "where our youth may be instructed in all the arts of civilized life" (101), required that "the Trustees of the contemplated Institution, shall a majority of them be coloured persons; the number proposed is seven, three white and four colored" (102). The vision of racial equality and self-improvement galvanized the entire convention, which approved Jocelyn's proposal unanimously.

Simeon Jocelyn returned to New Haven buoyed by a vision of New Haven and Yale working together. He listed as a reason for choosing New Haven: "the literary and scientific character of New-Haven renders it a very desirable place for the location of the [Negro] College" (103).

Simeon Jocelyn was in for a rude awakening. He spoke of his vision on September 7, 1831, at his home church, the Center Church on the Green. Immediately, Mayor Dennis Kimberly (Yale 1812) called a town meeting for September 10 at City Hall, to vote on resolutions opposing the "Negro College."




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