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Davenport College

Davenport College doorwayJohn Davenport founded New Haven in 1638. Though he died before Yale was founded, his dream for New Haven had included the hope that it might someday include a college for educating ministers.

Davenport's will includes in its inventory of his property: "One servant boy, 10" (3). He was not alone as a slave-owning minister:

Besides John Davenport, many of the ministers of the New Haven jurisdiction during this and the succeeding century were slave owners, as were deacons in their churches and other leading citizens. (2)

Yale was founded by colonial clergy, such as Timothy Woodbridge and Abraham Pierson.

Slavery underpinned many facets of colonial New England, from the household to the field, from the legal system to religious education. Many were the slaves working in colonial houses as domestic servants, cooking, raising colonists' children, raising livestock, sowing and harvesting. Although large cotton slave plantations would not dominate the South until Eli Whitney (Yale 1792) invented the cotton gin at the turn of the century, the institution of slavery permeated New England as well as the South during colonial times.

 

 

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