This week marks an anniversary of sorts for New Jersey.
In an attempt to stir pride and interest in the state’s history, local historical organizations held a series of events this month to celebrate N.J.’s 350th birthday on June 24, 2014.
Alright by now you know something doesn’t add up here. If the Bicentennial was 1776, then the U.S. can only be 238 years old. You are correct in your math.
But New Jersey was part of the original 13 colonies and some key Revolutionary battles were fought here. So, you have to ask yourself what was New Jersey (the state) before 1776?
It was an English territory called New Jersey.
In 1664, having just re-established monarchy rule in England, Charles II of the House of Stuart granted a huge piece of the New World to his brother James, the Duke of York (later King James II). James immediately divvied up the land among his friends.
“The land between the Hudson and the Delaware rivers, he gave to Sir George Carteret of the Isle of Jersey and Lord John Berkeley,” said Joseph Klett, director of the New Jersey State Archives. “Both of the noblemen had been loyal to the Stuart family during the British civil war.”
None of these people ever set foot in New Jersey.
Nevertheless, the named “New Jersey” first appears in an agreement, written in graceful calligraphy on animal-skin parchment, granting the land to the loyalists. It now has a place of prominence in the New Jersey State House in Trenton.
The photos above show the a celebration hosted by NJ350, to let people the many areas in which New Jersey contributed to America’s identity.
The event was held on Sunday at the state Capitol Complex in Trenton.