If your answer is – “Not much!” you are probably not alone. Naphtali Daggett should be celebrated both for his stand against the British, and for his many years of service to Yale University.

In the 1640s, clergymen unsuccessfully attempted to form the college. Their plan finally came to fruition when Connecticut founded the college on October 9, 1701  [1]  – 314 years ago this month. Its official 1701 charter (see below) expressed its purpose that “youth may be instructed in the arts and sciences [and] through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for public employment both in Church and civil State.” [2]



As with nearly all American universities, the early presidents of Yale were clergymen – a practice that continued until the twentieth century. One of its presidents was the Rev. Naphtali Daggett. In 1777, as the American Revolution was in full stride, Daggett resigned as President of Yale. [3] In 1779, British troops marched into town, and in an effort to give the students and townspeople time to flee; Daggett went out to fight the British. Eventually, he was the only one left, facing 2,500 enemy troops. His fight was short-lived and in 1780, he died as the result of the wounds he received.  [4] To learn more about this remarkable patriot, see Tim Barton’s video (below).

Discover the irreplaceable part the American clergy
played in the forming of our nation.

The Role of Pastors and Christians in Civil Government 


[1]About: History,” Yale University, 2015. See also Today in History: October 9,” Library of Congress, February 14, 2011.


[2]About: History,” Yale University, 2015.


[3]Office of the President: Past Presidents,” Yale University, 2015.


[4] William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1859), Vol. 1, pp. 481-482, Letter by Chauncey A. Goodrich, quoting his father Elizur Goodrich. See also, John Warner Barber, Historical Collections, Being a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, &c. (Worcester: Warren Lazzell, 1844), pp. 114-115.