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From Historic Roadsides of New Jersey by The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New Jersey, 1928
Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2002


NEW JERSEY, containing a total area of eight thousand two hundred and twenty-four square miles, has an extreme length north and south of one hundred and sixty-six miles and an extreme width east and west of fifty-seven miles. Within this small area has been crowded some of the most important events in the history of our land. It is, therefore, fitting to note something of the history of the State.

The first authenticated visit of any European to what is now the State of New Jersey was made under French authority by daVerazano, a Florentine, who, in the Spring of 1524, dropped anchor within Sandy Hook. In 1614, Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, explored the lower Delaware. In 1623 Mey built Fort Nassau on the eastern bank of the Delaware River near the present site of Gloucester City. In 1631 Godyn and Blommaert secured a patent from Peter Minuit, authorizing the planning of a settlement near Cape May. In 1633 a trading but was established at Paulus Hook, near the present site of Jersey City and another trading post was later established on the west bank of the Hudson on the site of Hoboken.

In 1641 a Colony from New Haven attempted a settlement on Salem Creek, but Swedes and Dutch united and jointly attacked and burned the place. About 1643 the Swedes constructed a triangular fort called Elfsborg, on the eastern bank of the Delaware, near the present town of Salem. The Fort, because of the great number of mosquitoes, was abandoned and called in derision, the "Mosquito Fort."

In 1655 Peter Stuyvesant put an end to Swedish rule in New Jersey and retained control until 1664, when Sir Robert Carr, in command of the British, took possession of the settlements on the Delaware. While the expedition of Nicholls and Carr was still at sea, the Duke of York granted to Lord John Berkley and Sir George Carteret that part of the New Netherland between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. To this tract, the name Nova Caesarea or New Jersey was given in honor of Carteret, who, in 1649, had defended the Isle of Jersey.

The settlements in the Colony were Bergen on the west shore of Newark Bay and the settlements of the Swedes and Dutch in Gloucester and Burlington Counties. At Long Point on the Delaware, now the site of Burlington, there were three Dutch families. In 1665, Philip Carteret arrived at Elizabeth town, commissioned as Governor of the Province. Shrewsbury and Middletown claiming to hold under grants from Governor Nicholls, refused to take part in the Colonial Assembly and their delegates were expelled. The first Colonial Assembly was held May 26, 1668, at Elizabeth.

March 18, 1673, Lord Berkley sold his interest to John Fenwick, a former Major in the Parliamentary Army and to Edward Byllynge, both of whom were Quakers. The original line between the portion of the Province held by Carteret and that sold to Fenwick and Byllynge was drawn from Barnegat Creek to Rankokuskill, a small stream south of Burlington. Fenwick and Byllynge, having disagreed, referred their matter to William Penn for arbitration. He awarded to Byllynge nine, tenths of the territory and to Fenwick one-tenth. Subsequently Byllynge assigned his nine-tenths in trust for creditors to William Penn, Gawen Lawrie and Lucas, who latter acquired the share of Fenwick as well. In 1675 Fenwick came to Salem in the Ship Griffin of London. In 1676 the interest of Carteret, Penn, Lawrie, Lucas and Byllynge were determined by a line drawn from Little Egg Harbor on the Atlantic to a point on the Delaware River 41 40' north latitude, and that portion east of the line or East Jersey was assigned to Carteret, the west or West Jersey to the Quaker Associates.

In August, 1677, the Ship Kent arrived, bringing two hundred and thirty Quakers from London and Yorkshire, who founded a settlement first called New Beverley, but finally Burlington. In 1678 the Ship Shieldfrom Hull brought further Colonists.

The years 1678 to 1680 were taken up with quarrels between Sir Edmund Andros, Governor of New York, and Carteret. In 1681 the controversy was referred to Sir William Jones in England for adjudication, who decided against Andros. In November of the same year, Samuel Jennings, Governor, convened the West Jersey Assembly at Burlington. In February, 1682, Penn and his followers purchased East Jersey for the sum of thirty-four hundred pounds and the Duke of York issued a patent in March, 1683.

In 1682 the Colony of East Jersey was divided into four Counties, Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Monmouth. It continued to grow under the various Colonial Governors Rudyard, Lawrie and Lord Neill Campbell, until 1702, when Lord Cornbury became Governor. The seven years of his administration were marked by strife and confusion. He was succeeded by John, Lord Lovelace, and he in turn by Robert Hunter, Governor for nine years, for whom Hunterdon County is named. William Burnet, son of Bishop Burnet, served from 1719 to 1726; John Montgomerie, five years, 1726 to 1731; Lewis Morris, 1738 to 1746; and Jonathan Belcher, 1747 to 1757. William Franklin, the last Royal Governor of New Jersey, administered the affairs of the Province from 1762 to 1776. On the 26th of May, 1776, the second Provincial Congress met at Burlington, Trenton, and New Brunswick. By its orders Governor Franklin was arrested and deported, remaining a prisoner for two years. William Livingston became Governor in 1776 and held the office till 1790.

On September 20, 1777, the Legislature of the Colony struck out the word "Colony" and substituted the word "State" in its organic law. In 1786 it sent delegates to the Annapolis Convention and later to the Constitutional Convention. The Federal Constitution was ratified by unanimous vote December 18, 1787.


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