Happy Birthday, New Jersey! 350 Years and Counting

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By Susan Heckler

2013-historical-nj-350We may complain and point out all of her faults, but New Jersey is looking pretty good for 350 years old. 1664 is the year today’s state began to be called New Jersey, although in an earlier form.

King Charles II of England awarded the Isle of Jersey to his brother James, the Duke of York. James granted “from the Connecticut River to the Delaware” to two loyal noblemen, Sir George Carteret and John Lord Berkeley. The document that records this transaction is housed at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton. It proclaims, “said Tract of Land is hereafter to be called by the name or names of New Cesarea or New Jersey.” And so New Jersey was born.

A new website www.officialnj350.com is a great reference to find out what celebrations are planned throughout the state. They state, “Communities, schools, businesses, organizations and individuals are invited to join in the celebration of New Jersey as the best place to live, work, visit, vacation, and do business. There are many ways in which to participate. You can adopt the official anniversary logo throughout 2014. You can develop new programs and events that highlight New Jersey and its unique heritage or rebrand existing events related to one or more of the themes of the 2014 celebration. Highlight the distinct assets found in our own backyards. Help make this 350th anniversary a year-long celebration that explores our rich heritage and showcases the very best that New Jersey has to offer.”

Our state website says, “In 2014, New Jerseyans have a tremendous opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come from this seventeenth-century beginning. To acknowledge our state’s contributions to the nation and the world, three themes have been designated to help frame the anniversary:

Innovation: The world has been reshaped again and again by people from and things created in New Jersey. From Edison’s light bulb, to the Atlantic City boardwalk, to the first intercollegiate football game, to Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, New Jersey’s innovations and innovators have had an impact around the globe.

Diversity: By virtue of its location and diversity, New Jersey is in many ways a microcosm of the U.S., with numerous national themes playing out within the state’s boundaries over the past 350 years.

Liberty: New Jersey played a pivotal role in the American Revolution, witnessing more significant military action than any other state in the new nation and establishing a tradition of distinguished military service that continues to this day. New Jersey’s commitment to the cause of liberty was further demonstrated when it became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights in 1789.”

If you are looking to join in the local celebration, check out these events:

May 18
Hear the Hessian Soldiers’ Stories
The Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield

May 31-June 1
Revolutionary War Encampment at Craig House
Molly Pitcher Program by Stacy Roth
1:30pm at Visitor Center
Walking tour of the battlefield (Hedge Row and Parsonage)
Meet at Visitor Center at 3pm