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David Daggett

Shield symbolDavid Daggett (Yale 1783) is one of the founders of Yale's law school.

Daggett's judicial career culminated in his 1832 appointment as Chief Justice of Connecticut's Supreme Court. He served on the Yale Corporation three times (1803-04; 1809-13; and 1832-34) and served two terms as Mayor of New Haven (1828-1830).

David Daggett helped to draft the resolutions against the "Negro college", and he spoke publicly at the 1831 Town Meeting against the college. He was among the most influential opponents of Simeon Jocelyn's plan.

After the "Negro college" affair, Daggett continued to oppose the expansion of education for African Americans. In 1833, elsewhere in Connecticut, Prudence Crandall admitted a black student to her female academy. The citizens of Canterbury first warned her and withdrew their daughters from the school. Crandall reopened the school exclusively for black women. Canterbury then held a town meeting that crafted a bill stipulating that the selectmen of the town had to approve any out of state students of color seeking an education. The bill passed, and Crandall was arrested for violating it. Chief Justice Daggett--a prominent colonizationist with a known history of opposing education for black people--ruled in 1833 that, since free black people could not be U.S. citizens, the jury could prevent black people from being educated. Daggett upheld Crandall's conviction. When, after two appeals, Crandall's conviction was overturned on a technicality, a mob destroyed her school and terrorized her students (127).

In 1835, Daggett undertook another town meeting linking states' rights, pro-colonization and anti-abolitionism:

A citizen's meeting held at the Statehouse on September 9, 1835, found Noah Webster, David Daggett, Simeon Baldwin, James Babcock and Minott Osborn helping to frame resolutions which condemned any interference by Congress with the treatment of slaves within any of the states, opposed the use of the mails for 'transmission of incendiary information,' proposed African colonization for 'the free colored population,' and 'viewed with alarm the efforts of the abolitionists.' (128)

Throughout the 1830s, Daggett consistently opposed education and supported colonization for free blacks. During this time he served as Chief Justice of Connecticut's Supreme Court and as Yale's only full professor of Law.



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