I’ve heard of an objection to Truxton’s name because he was a slaveholder. The whole city is named for a big old slaveholder. Worse yet, we’ve got a big phallic symbol on the Mall in honor of Washington, not far from that other memorial from another slaveholder, Jefferson, who also owned a number of humans.
The big biography by Eugene S. Furguson has very little to say about Commodore Thomas Truxton and slavery. Just one paragraph speaking of a period of then Captain Truxtun’s life when he was a on financially shaky ground and his family was growing with 6 girls and two boys. And the family seemed to split their time between Cranbury, New Jersey and Philadelphia:
Their Negro servant, Hannah, was still with the family; but Captain Truxtun, influenced by his late friend Franklin’s stand on slavery, had set her free on condition that he never be called upon to support her, should she leave his employ. Apparently she had chosen to stay on.
The Franklin mentioned is Benjamin Franklin.
Then the question is why did Hannah choose to stay. A couple factors might explain, she’s a woman, possibly alone with no family, possibly no supportive Afro-American community in Cranbury, her age may’ve played a factor, and it’s 1794-95.
So Truxtun’s sin was owning at least one woman who didn’t leave when the opportunity to do so was presented. For some that’s unforgivable and puts him in the same league as worse transgressors such as Washington and Jefferson. Others may not count it against him in light of what he has given to fledgling US Navy.
Next Ten Days of Truxton- Commodore’s Background