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History >> US Geography >> US State History

New Jersey

State History

Native Americans

The land that is today the state of New Jersey has been inhabited for thousands of years. Prior to Europeans arriving, the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans lived in New Jersey. They hunted, fished, and farmed crops such as corn and beans for food. Another name for the Lenape tribe is the Delaware Indians or the Delaware Nation.


Thomas Edison had his famous lab in New Jersey
Edison in his NJ laboratory
from the Library of Congress

Europeans Arrive

The first European to explore New Jersey was Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano who explored the coastline in 1524. However, the land was claimed by the Dutch in 1609 when explorer Henry Hudson sailed up the Hudson River. The land was called the New Netherlands and soon Dutch and Swedish settlers moved into the area, trading with the Lenape Indians for beaver furs.

Colonization

Other people from Europe moved into the area including the English. Soon there were more English settlers than Dutch. In 1664, an English fleet sailed into New York Harbor and took over the region. The area of New Jersey was given to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. The land was divided into East and West Jersey with the west being settled mostly by Quakers and the east by Puritans and wealthy plantation owners. The colony was united as one in 1702 and Edward Hyde became the first governor of the New Jersey colony.

American Revolution

In 1776, the thirteen American colonies revolted against Britain and declared their independence. Because New Jersey was between New York and Philadelphia, it became the site for many Revolutionary War battles. The most famous battle took place on Christmas in 1776 when George Washington and the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River to capture Trenton.


George Washington crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey
Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

George Washington fought other battles in New Jersey during the war including the Battle of Princeton and the Battle of Monmouth. In 1783, Princeton became the capital of the United States for a few short months while the Continental Congress met at Princeton University.

Becoming a State

After the Revolutionary War, the American colonies created a new country called the United States. New Jersey ratified the new Constitution on December 18, 1787 and became the third state to join the Union. It was also the first state to sign the Bill of Rights in 1789. Trenton was made the official capital of New Jersey in 1790.


The Hindenburg airship bursts into flames
Hindenburg Disaster from the US Navy

Timeline More US State History:

Alabama
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Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
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Mississippi
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New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
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Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
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Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
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Wyoming


Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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