Jonathan Dickinson (1688–1747) - American EducationAmerican clergyman, school master, and founding president, in 1747, of the College of New Jersey, in Elizabethtown. The college later moved to Nassau Hall in Princeton, New Jersey, and eventually became Princeton University.
Born in Massachusetts, Dickinson graduated from YALE College in 1706, studied theology and became minister of the Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown (later Elizabeth), New Jersey, where he remained the rest of his life. Like many residents of the area, Dickinson was eager to found a “seminary of learning” in the Middle Colonies, and with the help of three fellow pastors and three influential laymen, he obtained a royal charter for the college in 1746. Unlike the charters of its three predecessor colleges in the colonies, HARVARD, the College of William and Mary and Yale, Princeton’s founding charter made no reference to any religious faith or denomination. From its beginnings, the college was open to students of all beliefs, so that “. . . those of every religious denomination may have free and equal liberty and advantages of education. . . .” Classes began in Dickinson’s parsonage with eight students in May 1847, and he died eight months later of pleurisy.