PRINCETON CLASS OF 1860
This folio (13 1/8 x 12 in) contains a total of 160 photographs: twenty-two campus views, 115 portraits of students, fifteen of professors, four of African Americans, and four of additional workers. Also interspersed in the volume are seven engravings depicting additional campus views, in addition to handwritten notes from classmates.
Beautifully bound in full dark green (slightly faded to brown) morocco by Walker & Sons of New York City. Highly gilt spine; covers with inner gilt dentelles; 2 sets of gilt lines on covers; title in gilt on cover, all edges gilt. The binding is signed by Walker not with a paper ticket (as was usual) but with a gilt stamp. Condition is excellent. This is an “over-the-top” binding – about as good as money could buy.
Despite growing tensions prior to the onset of the Civil War, the Class of 1860 would have enjoyed peace during their initial years at Princeton. Its distinction as the most Southern of the Northern colleges meant its student population was made up of both pro-Northern and pro-Southern students; as such, “antebellum Princeton prided itself on amicable relationships among students and faculty.”
Andrew Jackson Hetrick, the owner of this class album, identified with the North, and many of his classmates came from respected Northern and Southern families alike. A number of African Americans were employed by the university, holding such positions as laboratory assistants, college messengers, and shoeshiners.
By 1859, however, protests began to interrupt campus life, signifying not only the growing state-wide division between abolitionists and anti-abolitionists, but also the division within Princeton itself. Many students and their families had livelihoods reliant on the legality of slavery. For example, all seven of the Class of 1860’s Mississippians belonged to families owning an average of nearly seventy slaves.
Although it is not known exactly how many students from the Class of 1860 had familial roots connecting them with either the North or the South, we do know that fifteen went on to fight in the Civil War: seven for the Confederate Army, and eight for the Union Army. This near-equal division of students between the Union and Confederate Armies further elucidates Princeton’s precarious position between the North and the South.
With their graduation from Princeton recently accomplished, the graduates of the Class of 1860 were perfectly primed to take up leadership positions by the time of the Civil War’s onset in 1861. Interestingly, George Kendall Warren, the photographer who compiled this and other Princeton class albums, was the nephew of Union General Nathaniel Prentis Banks, who would later go on to fight directly against many of the Class of 1860’s Confederate alumni.
Although the notes written in Hetrick’s class album primarily commemorate happy memories and shared experiences with classmates and friends, the dawning of the Civil War also gave just cause for many to include moments of reflection — often revealing an unmistakable concern for what may lay ahead. As an institution originally founded for the purpose of training ministers, the majority of these messages also reveal a deep reverence for prayerful living and a firm belief that God would see the men through future trials and tribulations.
For example, in the pages accompanying his portrait, Calvin De Witt, one of Hetrick’s classmates, concluded his heartfelt inscription with the following: “That your life may be a complete success, and your death a complete triumph is the wish of your sincere friend, Calvin De Witt.”