By Nicole Gololobov, Samuel Liu, and Adam Schwing
There are no extant copies of the original Queen’s College charter, but we do have the revised edition. It seems to have been printed on paper, keeping with the technology of its time. It starts with a statement from King George the Third, authorizing the creation of a new college. It also sets down several rules for the new college to adhere to. These rules were intended to keep an English presence at the institution as well as to ensure that the College was at least somewhat secular. It ends with a list of appendices.
We chose the charter of Queen’s College because of how relevant it is to our lives and to the 250th anniversary of Rutgers University, which was called Queen’s College from 1766 to 1825.
In the decades leading up to the founding of the college, the Great Awakening had increased the importance of religion and also brought about conflict within the Protestant church. 11 ministers from the Dutch Reformed Church signed a commission for a college in New Jersey so that ministers could be trained locally, rather than have to go all the way to Netherlands. At the time, many other churches in America had their own college, such as the Anglican King’s College in New York. That the Dutch settlers were able to also set up their own educational institution shows the influence that they had, the role of religion in society, and also that they wanted to be independent from their country of origin. Some years after the commission, ministers petitioned for a charter until they were granted one by the governor, William Franklin. There were delays in the building of the college due to opposition from the Classis of Amsterdam, the governing body of the Dutch Reformed Church, the need to raise funds, and revisions made to the original charter to allow for more trustees.
Although the original charter is lost, a revised copy of it was digitized in 2011, so that anyone interested can read it, and a physical copy also exists on campus in one of the offices. It makes sense that an important document be in a central place. It might be interesting to students today that the founding of Rutgers had its roots in religion, rather than something like agriculture, art, or math.
Frusciano, Thomas J. “A Historical Sketch of Rutgers University: Section 1.”Rutgers University Libraries. N.p., 9 Nov. 2006. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. <https://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/libs/scua/university_archives/ru_historical_sketch-p1.shtml>.
Robbins, Allen B. “Founding of Queen’s College (1755-1771).” History of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers. Baltimore: Gateway, 2001. 1-5. Rutgers. 16 Feb. 2009. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. <https://www.physics.rutgers.edu/dept/history/robbins/chapt01.pdf>.
“The Charter of Queen’s (Rutgers) College, in New Jersey, with Appendix.” The Charter of Queen’s (Rutgers) College, in New Jersey, with Appendix. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.