Abraham Bruyn Hasbrouck was born in Kingston, New York, and studied at Kingston Academy before entering Yale College, where he graduated in 1810. Hasbrouck attended the private law school in Litchfield, Connecticut, where he received instruction in the common law from Tapping Reeve and James Gould. He returned to Kingston and in 1814 began his law practice. Hasbrouck served as president of the Ulster County Bank from its inception in 1831. In 1824 he was elected to Congress where he supported Henry Clay’s policy of internal improvements.
Chosen by the trustees in 1840, Hasbrouck was the first layman to hold the office of president of Rutgers College. During his administration, the college moved closer toward establishing independence from the Reformed Dutch Church. The paucity of finances continued to plague the institution but the college was able to make some progress. The faculty increased to three full-time professors and five part-time instructors. Modern languages and expanded scientific instruction were added to the curriculum, complementing the traditional classical offering. The theological professors provided instruction in moral philosophy, evidences of Christianity, logic, and mental philosophy. In 1841 a “Scientific or Commercial Course” was introduced to accommodate students who desired specialized training; those students were awarded a certificate upon completing their studies. The course was offered through 1864, when the Rutgers Scientific School was established. Hasbrouck, in addition to his official duties as president, gave instruction in rhetoric to the junior class and presented lectures in constitutional law and political economy to the senior class. He also presided over the weekly forensic exercises for seniors.