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New Jersey's Storied History

Jul 24, 2008
Real estate in the big NJ has often been the butt of jokes and the target of snide remarks from outsiders. But New Jersey's past proves it to be a state of great historical importance and a place that makes its residents proud to call home.

Home to a former American capital city, sight of conflict between the Swedes, Dutch, and the English, a major player in the American Civil War, staunchly supported America's military from the beginning, and has experienced much more history than most states can boast, America simply would not be the same without New Jersey's contributions.

Early New Jersey History

Go back far enough, to the days of the supercontinent Pangaea, and the real estate of modern-day NJ once bordered northern Africa. But go back just a few thousand years and the first Native Americans, known as the Lenape, inhabited the land.

Though a hunter-gatherer society, the Lenape practiced large-scale agriculture as well. They were sophisticated hunters and resourceful managers of their land. By the time the Europeans arrived in the 1600's, they found an advanced society that practiced advanced cultivation techniques in their fields. European settlers came to call the Lenape "Delaware Indians."

Before the arrival of the British, much of the land that would eventually make up New Jersey was claimed by the Dutch. A colony known as New Netherland was settled. New Netherland enjoyed about 6,000 residents at its height.

To the southwest was New Sweden. During the mid-17th century, the Swedes captured a New Netherland fort, which resulted in a vengeful New Netherland governor sending over 300 soldiers, thereby forcing the Swedes to surrender. The Dutch eventually annexed all of New Sweden.

New Netherland, under the rule of a very unpopular governor, offered up little resistance when the British showed up in 1664 to claim the land for Britain.

Vital Points in New Jersey's American History

Despite having a large number of British loyalists living within its borders, New Jersey was one of the original 13 colonies to join the struggle for independence that would come to be known as the Revolutionary War.

After the war, Princeton became the nation's capital for a short four months in 1783. By the 19th century, the industrial revolution had begun and Paterson, in New Jersey's Passaic County, was its cradle. Paterson is also the birth place of Colt Firearms when in 1835 Samuel Colt set up shop. Colt Firearms would go on to manufacture the famed M16, the standard issue assault rifle for all members of the U.S. military.

In 1847 Thomas Edison was born. Edison worked in Menlo Park where he went on to earn over 1,000 patents for his inventions which included the phonograph and the tattoo gun.

With a large Quaker population, which was adamantly against slavery, New Jersey played a major part in the Underground Railroad. Though New Jersey began the abolishment of slavery in 1804, it was one of the last of the northern states to abolish it completely. During the Civil War, New Jersey provided nearly 90,000 volunteers to the Union Army.

In 1938, Orson Welle's broadcast of The War of the Worlds announced a Martian spaceship crash landing outside of Trenton.

New Jersey's shipyards provided strong support for the war efforts of WWI and WWII.

During the 1960's, race riots were abundant in several of the state's cities and were often cited as the cause for the decline of many of New Jersey's communities. During a five-day long Newark riot, 24 people died and over 1,600 were arrested.

During the end of the 20th century, New Jersey's economy received a boost thanks to the migration of many Manhattan jobs to New Jersey. This was accelerated after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Today, real estate in NJ is a prized possession as more and more people make the move to the Garden State to become Jerseyites.
About the Author
RE/MAX New Jersey (http://www.remax-nj.com) continues offering real estate in NJ, the home of its birth in 1985. RE/MAX now operates over 200 offices across the nation. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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