What a luxury to criticize John Witherspoon for owning slaves from the safety of 230 years later. Let’s look at the man in the context of his own time. He stood for freedom and had the courage to put his life on the line by signing the Declaration of Independence. Who among us has that kind of courage today? The fact that he owned slaves at a time when slave ownership was common, acceptable, and legal does not diminish from his promotion of an institution (Princeton) that today endorses universal human rights for all. Nor did his slave ownership prevent his furtherance of a nation that on at least some occasions has actually stood for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. And let Witherspoon’s statue stay where it is. The only other place that could possibly be acceptable is in front of Nassau Hall, the place where he helped to mold the first generation of national leaders.