NEW JERSEY is one of the central states on the Atlantic coast of the country comprising the original thirteen United States. The earliest settlement was made in the county of Bergen, between the years 1620 and 1630, by some Dutch people from New York. They were joined by parties of Danes and Norwegians, who, in 1638, were followed by a body of Swedes and Fins, which formed a colony on the Delaware River, and purchased of the aborigines the lands on both sides of that stream, as far as the river was navigable. In 1664, the territory between the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers was granted to the Duke of York, brother to Charles II. The charter included New Jersey, of which the Dutch were forthwith dispossessed by the English; and it was then conveyed to Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. These latter proprietors drew up a form of government, and sent over Philip Carteret as governor, who fixed upon Elizabethtown as his seat of government, in 1665. Sundry political changes ensued, and in 1676 the province was divided, the western part annexed to New York, and the eastern remaining as a separate colony, under the direct dominion of the crown. Six years afterwards, the latter section was assigned to William Penn and his associates. Twenty years subsequently, it was surrendered to Queen Anne, and incorporated with New York, under the government of which both provinces continued until 1738, when they were again placed under the immediate jurisdiction of the British sovereign, and so remained until the royal authority was abrogated by the revolution of 1776. The republican constitution of the state is dated July 2d of that year. During the war with Great Britain, New Jersey suffered more than her proportion of the hardships, and rendered her full measure of the services, incident to that eventful struggle.
Boundaries and Extent. — New Jersey is bounded north by New York State, east by the Atlantic Ocean, south by Delaware Bay, and west by the State of Pennsylvania. It lies between 38° 58' and 41° 21' north latitude, and extends from 73° 58' to 75° 29' west longitude. Its extreme length, from north to south, is about 160 miles, and its average breadth not far from 50 miles. Its area, by official report, is 8320 miles.
Government. — The government is vested in a governor, Council, and House of Assembly, all of whom are elected annually, the former by the legislative branches in joint ballot, the latter by the people. The Council consists of 18 members, the president of which is, ex officio, lieutenant governor, and the Assembly comprises 58 members. No persons are eligible for either of these offices without a previous residence of one year, and the possession of property valued at £1000 in the case of [councillors], or at £500 in the case of assembly men. Voters must also have resided within the state one year, and possess property worth £50 "proclamation money."
Judiciary. — The judicial tribunals consist of a Court of Errors and Appeals, a Court of Chancery, a Supreme Court, and Courts of Common Pleas. The Court of Errors comprises the chancellor, the justices of the Supreme Court, and six other judges appointed for six years by the executive, one of the latter vacating his seat in rotation each year. This court holds four stated terms every year. The chancellor and judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the governor and council for seven years; the Court of Chancery holds four regular terms per annum, and the Supreme Court the same, the judges of which also hold Circuit Courts quarterly in each county. Judges of the Common Pleas Courts, five in each county, are chosen for five years by the legislature, and hold courts four times a year.
Education. — The state holds an available school fund amounting to $377,41301. There are some 1600 school districts in the state; but the system of free school education, judging from the latest returns, does not seem to have met with that favor from the legislature, or that solicitude on the part of the people, which its great importance demands; for it appears that, out of 119,000 children, between the ages of 5 and 16 years, only 70,000 receive instruction; that the average length of time within the year, for which schools are kept, is but nine months, and that the average cost of tuition is $206 per quarter for each pupil. New Jersey, however, has long sustained a large number of literary institutions of a respectable order. At Princeton, there are the College of New Jersey, an ancient and distinguished establishment, and the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, of like eminence. At New Brunswick is Rutgers, formerly Queen's College, founded in 1770, with which also is connected the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Dutch church. There are likewise numerous academies, &c., in all parts of the state. The Friends have several respectable schools under their particular charge.
Finances. — The absolute debt of the state, on the 1st of January, 1850, was $67,59582, the annual interest upon which amounted to $407584. The productive property of the state was valued at $262,39753, and the unproductive at $764,67060; the latter consisting of the "surplus fund" received from the United States, which has been loaned without interest to the respective counties. The revenues are derived mainly from transit duties on railroads and canals, dividends on stocks of ditto, taxes on railroad stock, interest on railroad bonds, special loans, &c. The aggregate receipts from these sources, for the year ending on the above-mentioned date, amounted to $125,69082, and the public expenditures for the same period were $126,55275. There are between 20 and 30 banks in the state, with an aggregate capital of from three to four millions of dollars.
Surface, Soil, &c. — The face of the country at the north is rather mountainous and broken, being crossed by portions of the Blue Ridge and other elevated ranges. From this point to the central part of the state the land is gradually depressed, and becomes undulating. At the south it is still lower and more level. The soil in the hilly region furnishes many excellent tracts for grazing; in the centre it is quite fertile; while towards the Atlantic coast it is sandy and naturally sterile. The latter district, however, by manual toil, has been made uncommonly productive, the proximity of two great markets having stimulated the industry and the agricultural skill of the inhabitants. Wheat and all the grains peculiar to the Middle States, potatoes, all descriptions of garden vegetables, and fruits of the finest sorts, as peaches, apples, pears, plums, cherries, strawberries, &c., are raised in great profusion, wherever due regard has been given to the improvement of the soil.
Rivers. — Several navigable streams intersect the state or flow along its borders, furnishing fine mill sites and abundance of water power for all needed manufacturing purposes. Besides the Hudson and the Delaware, which wash the eastern and western shores, the chief rivers are the Raritan, navigable for 15 miles, with important waterfalls beyond; the Hackensack, of about the same navigable extent, though supplying water power for about 20 miles farther; the Passaic, Salem, Cohanzey, and others, all more or less convertible to the purposes of commerce or manufactures.
Internal Improvements. — Among the most important works of internal improvement are the Morris Canal, the Delaware and Hudson Canal; the Camden and Amboy, the Paterson and Hudson, the New Jersey, the New Brunswick and Trenton, the Morris and Essex, and other railroads, with [divers] branches. These pass through various quarters of the state in almost every direction, and afford great facilities for internal and external commerce. Most of the trade of the state is carried on or benefited by means of these valuable public works. They afford convenient egress to the vast quantities of agricultural produce, cattle, domestic animals, poultry, manufactured articles, &c., which are annually exported from the state.
Minerals. — Valuable iron, zinc, and copper ores are found in the state, and have been extensively worked, the smelting establishments and numerous furnaces being well supplied with fuel from the great sandy tracts which are covered with forests of pine timber.
Manufactures. — The manufacturing branches principally pursued in New Jersey are those of iron, glass, cotton, and [woollen]. There are also large numbers of paper mills, tanneries and other manufactories of leather, potteries, hat, cap, and bonnet factories, distilleries, machine shops, flouring mills, ropewalks, &c.; besides which, great quantities of home-made or family articles are annually produced.
Indians. — Few, if any, of the descendants of the aboriginal tribes are found within the limits of the state.
Population. — The character of the people has undoubtedly been essentially modified during the lapse of the several generations that have successively followed in the train of time, since the date of the earliest settlements. But few of the characteristics of the original emigrants from the north of Europe are now discoverable. Most of the inhabitants probably are of English extraction. The last census (1850) shows a population of near 500,000, including about 22,000 free colored persons.
Climate. — New Jersey enjoys mild and healthful climate. Towards the sea-coast, the
air is pure, and the temperature varies less between the seasons than in the high regions at the north, the thermometer seldom indicating a greater heat in summer than 87°, or less than 13° in winter. In the mountainous districts, the weather in winter is quite severe.
Religion. — The Presbyterians are the most numerous; the Methodists, Baptists, Dutch Reformed, Episcopalians, and Quakers nearly equally divide the remainder of the population. There are, however, some Roman Catholics, Congregationalists, Universalists, &c.