Harvard being established since the 1600s...I can't find much information about this but imagine it's 1770s, tensions are high, and the American Revolution is brewing. With all the colonists mobilizing, I wonder if any British students or faculty at Harvard chose to join the Continental Army and fight against the Crown. Does anyone have an insight about this? Would be awkward if you're a student and enemies of a different country raid or enroll your university or all the glorious posters / artwork / memorabilia that becomes demolished as it was recognized as traitorous.

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    How many British students were there at Harvard? While it's relatively easy to globe trot and study overseas these days, I imagine that it was a little trickier back then.
    – Steve Bird
    Feb 27 at 19:32
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    @Steve Bird By precisely this reasoning I concluded that British students made up the vast majority (if not the entirety) of Harvard's student body at the eve of the American Revolution. The second part of the question I find confusing, though.
    – njuffa
    Feb 27 at 19:46
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    What do you mean by "British students"? Technically much of the population of the American colonies thought of themselves as "British". Feb 28 at 1:07
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    @Xuarshi Welcome to Stack Exchange! This question is a little tricky; the 13 colonies were part of the British Empire, and the population of the colonies was mostly British. That means you will need to clarify your question. Feb 28 at 5:23
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    If you are asking about students born in what is now the UK who were studying at Harvard at the onset of the revolution (as opposed to just Harvard students with British nationality, who might have been from New Jersey, Georgia, Jamaica, Nova Scotia, or one of the other British lands and domains), could you edit your question to clarify? This would be similar to asking how many students born in New Jersey and studying at William and Mary (in Virginia) during the Civil War ended up joining the Confederate Army.
    – Robert Columbia
    Feb 29 at 0:32

1 Answer 1



"By this point, not all students were training to be ministers; many went on to enter an array of professions. All were from New England;. . . Like many other communities in the early 1770s, Harvard College established its own militia. Once the War broke out, it offered its soldiers to the Revolutionary Cause. However, they were rejected and instructed instead to fulfill a higher calling of pursuing their education." HistoryCambridge.org

The first sentence clarifies that all of the Harvard students for that class were New Englanders (British, but colonial); the second that no student joined the Continental army.

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    The second sentence clarifies that the militia of Harvard College was turned down. That does not establish that not a single one among the students or faculty somehow found his way into the continental army.
    – DevSolar
    Mar 4 at 10:49

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