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The American Civil War (1861-1865)


Forest of New Jersey
Forest of New Jersey

New Jersey did not play an important role in the movement for the abolition of slavery. In 1804 a law for the gradual emancipation of slaves was passed, but not until 1846 was slavery permanently abolished. Even then, slaves were bound over to their masters as apprentices, and the difference between the two conditions was often slight. The Underground Railroad was active in the state, helping runaway slaves from the South reach safety in the Northern states and Canada. But New Jersey officially obeyed the federal Fugitive Slave Laws, which required state officials to help return runaway slaves to their Southern masters.

As the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861-1865) neared, antiwar elements had strong support among New Jersey industrialists, who feared the loss of valuable Southern markets for their products. Even though the state responded warmly to a visit by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, it was the only Northern state that did not give him all of its electoral votes in the presidential elections of 1860 and 1864.

If New Jersey was not unanimous in its support of the crusade against slavery, it responded vigorously to secession by Southern states and to Lincoln’s call to arms. New Jersey put more than 88,000 men in uniform. About 6,300 New Jersey residents were killed during the war, among them General Philip “Fighting Phil” Kearny. "New Jersey" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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