Thirteen Colonies > Middle Colonies > Province of New Jersey

Province of New Jersey

Background

Thirteen Colonies

Against England the colony had fewer grievances than did some of its more commercial neighbours, but the Stamp Act and the subsequent efforts to tax tea aroused great opposition. In 1774 occurred the “Greenwich Tea Party.”[20] The last colonial assembly of New Jersey met in November 1775. From the 26th of May to the 2nd of July 1776 the second provincial congress met at Burlington, Trenton and New Brunswick and for a time became the supreme governing power. By its orders the royal governor, William Franklin (the natural son of Benjamin Franklin) was arrested and deported to Connecticut, where he remained a prisoner for two years, until exchanged and taken to New York under British protection. Following the recommendation of the Continental Congress, that the colonies should create independent governments, the provincial congress also drafted a provincial constitution, which, without being submitted to the people, was published on the 3rd of July 1776; it contained the stipulation that “if a reconciliation between Great Britain and these colonies should take place, and the latter be taken again under the protection of the crown of Britain, this charter shall be null and void—otherwise to remain firm and inviolable.” On the 20th of September 1777 it was amended by the New Jersey legislature, the words “state” and “states” being substituted for the words “colony” (or “province”) and “colonies.” The state furnished a full quota for the Continental army, but the divided sentiment of the people is shown by the fact that six battalions of loyalists were also organized. Tories were active in New Jersey throughout the struggle; among them were bands known as “Pine Robbers,” who hid in the pines or along the dunes by day and made their raids at night. In the state were fought some of the most important engagements of the war. When Washington, in the autumn of 1776, was no longer able to hold the lower Hudson he retreated across New Jersey to the Delaware near Trenton and seizing every boat for miles up the river he placed his dispirited troops on the opposite side and left the pursuing army no means of crossing. With about 2500 men he recrossed the Delaware on the night of the 25th of December, surprised three regiments of Hessians at Trenton the next morning, and took 1000 prisoners and 1000 stands of arms. In a series of movements following up this success he outgeneraled the British commander, Lord Cornwallis, and on the 3rd of January 1776, defeated a detachment of his army at Princeton (q.v.). The American army then went into winter quarters at Morristown, while a part of the British army wintered at New Brunswick. To protect the inhabitants of the Raritan Valley from British foraging parties General Benjamin Lincoln with 500 men was by Washington's orders stationed at Bound Brook, but on the 13th of April 1777 Lincoln was surprised by a force of about 4000 men under Cornwallis, and although he escaped with small loss it was only by remarkably rapid movements. When the British had gained possession of Philadelphia, in September 1777, their communication between that city and the ocean through the Lower Delaware was obstructed on the New Jersey side by Fort Mercer, commanded by Colonel Christopher Greene, at Red Bank; three battalions of Hessians under Colonel Karl Emil Kurt von Donop attacked the fort on the 22nd of October, but they were repulsed with heavy loss. The fort was abandoned later, however. As the British army under General Clinton was retreating, in June 1778, from Philadelphia to New York, the American army engaged it in the battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778); the result was indecisive, but that the British were not badly defeated was ascribed to the conduct of General Charles Lee. Before daylight on the 19th of August 1779 was approaching, Major Henry Lee with a force of about 400 men surprised the British garrison at Paulus Hook, where Jersey City now stands, and, although sustaining a loss of 20 men, killed 50 of the garrison and took about 160 prisoners. In 1770-1780 Morristown was again Washington's headquarters. The Congress of the Confederation met in Princeton, in Nassau Hall, which still stands, from June to November 1783.

Thirteen Colonies

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 19