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This exhibition celebrates one of the university’s most distinguished alumni, Simeon De Witt, the fourteenth graduate of what was then known as Queen’s College and, because of the Revolutionary War, the only one in 1776. A native of Wawarsing, New York, De Witt studied at the college as New Brunswick became embroiled in Revolutionary conflict. When the British occupied much of the area and classes came to a halt DeWitt, along with many of his classmates, fled to New York City to join the Continental Army. De Witt was quickly recognized for his abilities and assigned to work with New Jersey resident Colonel Robert Erskine, the Continental Army’s Geographer and Surveyor. Under direct orders from General George Washington, Erskine and De Witt produced hand-drawn maps enabling the Continental Army to move throughout New Jersey. The maps they produced were of such fine quality that De Witt was promoted to Surveyor General after Erskine’s death in 1780.
After the war, De Witt was appointed Surveyor General of New York State and moved to Albany. He occupied the position for over fifty years to great accomplishment, producing detailed maps and atlases of the entire state. De Witt was a respected member of Albany society, and he was recognized with numerous honors, such as election to the Society of the Cincinnati, the nation’s oldest patriotic organization, founded by members of the Continental Army to promote the ideals of patriotism.
Organized by Jenevieve DeLosSantos, PhD, Rutgers Art History 2015, Rutgers University and Graduate Curatorial Assistant, 2013-2015, with the assistance of Donna Gustafson, Curator of American Art and Mellon Director for Academic Programs.
This exhibition is organized in honor of the Rutgers 250 yearlong celebration of the university’s founding on November 10, 1766. For more information visit 250.rutgers.edu.
Ezra Ames (American, 1768-1836)
Simeon De Witt, 1804
Oil on canvas
66¼ x 54¼ in. (168 x 137.5 cm)
Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers; Gift of the grandchildren of Simeon De Witt
Photo Jack Abraham