Who Yale Honors

Berkeley College
Calhoun College
Davenport College
TD College
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Berkeley College

Berkeley College doorwayBishop George Berkeley came to the New World to "establish a College or Seminary in Bermuda--known as the Summer Islands." Berkeley described his plans in his 1725 "A Proposal for the Better Supplying of Churches in our Foreign Plantations and Converting the Savage Americans to Christianity by a College to be Erected in the Summer Islands, otherwise called the Isles of Bermuda."

While he proposed slavery as the best way to Christianize black people, he proposed a different way for native North Americans. He thought the best people to convert Native Americans to Christianity would be the Native Americans themselves.

He recommended recruiting potential missionaries "by peaceable methods" if possible, but by "taking captive the children of our enemies" if necessary. For the success of his school, he suggested enrolling "only such savages as are under 10 years of age, before evil habits have taken a deep root" (23).

Bermuda was the perfect setting for his social experiment. "Young Americans, educated in an island at some distance from their own country, will more easily be kept under discipline till they have attained a complete education." While on the continent, they "might find opportunities of running away to their countrymen," the island prevented them from "returning to their brutal customs, before they were thoroughly imbued with good principles and habits" (24).

In 1999, after renovating Berkeley College, Yale engraved Berkeley's story onto the floor of a public gathering space in the basement of the college. The engraving reads:

"Westward the Course of Empire takes its Way" George Berkeley, 1726
Berkeley wanted to establish "a College or Seminary" in Bermuda-known also as the Summer Islands. This College, in the next year (1725), given the name of St. Paul's College in the King's Charter, was part of a great missionary effort . . .

In 1999, Yale celebrated Berkeley's vision as a "great missionary effort." This vision involved kidnapping 10-year-old Native American boys, sending them to a remote island for re-education, and then releasing them once they were ready to evangelize their former homeland.

These same engravings describe Berkeley's gift to Yale of a slave-worked plantation, the gift for which Berkeley's name is now remembered with the name of a college. Yale turned the profits from this plantation into its first set of scholarships.

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Berkeley's plantation and Yale's first scholarship fund

Berkeley's Slaves

Numbers in parentheses refer to notes. See the notes page.