At this time, education, another of the early settlers great concerns, became the center of attention. In the early 1800’s, the community realized its schools were inadequate and improvement was desperately needed to prepare its children to be good citizens and leaders. In 1853 the public school system began with a grade school named after Noah Webster. The first high school began in 1859, the first class of 127 graduated in 1866. A public library was opened in 1887 so all citizens could pursue self-improvement. Yale College continued to grow in size and importance. It became a world-famous institution. The emphasis in the community was on culture and personal growth. Music and art were respected. Nathaniel Jocelyn was a well known painter whose portrait of Cinque, leader of the Amistad slaves hangs in the New Haven Colony Historical Society today. The New Haven Register was started in 1812. The press became more important as people learned to read and sought intellectual improvement.
Many new inventions such as the cotton gin and the stone crusher, as well as improved methods of manufacturing helped make New Haven an industrial city.
In 1852 Edward Malley opened his store. Businesses grew and more banks opened. Many hotels were built. The site of the Taft has always been occupied by an inn or hotel. There was even an inn on top of East Rock.
Many agencies were developed to provide services to the community. People’s rights and needs were being recognized and protected.
Greek Revival architecture reflected intellect, prosperity and stability. Ithiel Town and Henry Austin were designing buildings to celebrate the city’s spirit and prosperity. The wooden fence around the Green was replaced by an iron fence in 1846. Gas lamp-posts were placed around the Green about 1850.
The issue of whether or not to eliminate slavery was an issue that concerned everyone by 1830. In New Haven people generally supported abolishing slavery but at the same time they had “opposed the establishment of a Negro College. . . .in 1831.”**
People were confused and divided on the issue. It would take thirty more years and another war to resolve it. First, something happened in New Haven to rally support for the slaves. In 1839, a group of slaves took control of the ship, the Amistad, after being kidnapped from Africa. They eventually ended up in jail in New Haven charged with murder and piracy. On nice days they exercised on the Green and became popular with the New Haven citizens who contributed to their comfort end supported their freedom. Eventually they were freed and went back to Africa. Cinque was their leader.
People everywhere in America became involved with the slavery question. Fighting broke out in many areas. The Mason-Dixon line was drawn, Abraham Lincoln was president and the nation was set for a civil war.