Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (1736-1790) mentions an enslaved man in a letter to his father Col. Johannes Hardenbergh (1706-1786).
Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh was one of the chief founders of Queen's College (later Rutgers) and served as the school's first president from 1786 to 1790. In 1777, during the Revolutionary War, in a letter to his father, Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh mentioned that he was "writing these words in a hurry while the negro is getting ready to leave," suggesting that an enslaved man was working in the Hardenbergh household at this time.
The letter was written in Dutch. A Dutch transcript and English translation have been provided by archivist Helene Van Rossum.
Letter from Col. John Neilson of New Brunswick to Robert Finley of Princeton, dated February 25, 1794, asking Finley about the possible purchase of an enslaved Black man owned by a Mr. Mattison in Princeton for the price of 90 pounds.
This letter does not mention the name of the Black man, but Robert Finley's reply dated February 27, 1794, provides further details about the man and states that his name is Jef.
Letter from Robert Finley of Princeton to Col. John Neilson of New Brunswick, dated February 27, 1794, in response to Neilson's letter of February 25, 1794. The letter gives Finley's account of speaking with Samuel Snowden and Mr. Mattison about an enslaved man named Jef. The letter mainly details Jef's personal qualities and skills, as Neilson wishes to purchase Jef but has no prior account of him.
The name Samuel Snowden mentioned in the letter likely refers to the Rev. Samuel Finley Snowden (1767-1845), a Presbyterian minister who was studying theology in Princeton at the time and would become the pastor of the Princeton church in 1795.