The New Jersey constitution, reflecting the prevailing fear of despotic government, vested virtually all powers in a popularly elected bicameral legislature. Each county, regardless of population, sent one representative to the upper house, while the lower house was chosen on a proportional basis. All citizens over 21 who owned a certain amount of property were allowed to vote. However, women’s right to vote was rescinded in 1807. The governor, judges, and other government officers were elected or appointed by the legislature, so had little power of their own. Two New Jersey towns served briefly as the nation’s capital: Princeton from June to November 1783 and Trenton from then until December 1785. From 1781 to 1789, while the states were united under the agreement known as the Articles of Confederation, New Jersey’s economy was hampered by restrictions on commerce. Consequently, New Jersey was one of the five states represented at the Annapolis Convention to discuss interstate commerce and was a moving force behind the calling of the Constitutional Convention.
At the Constitutional Convention, New Jersey proposed that the national legislature be a unicameral body in which all the states would have equal representation. The New Jersey Plan was supported by small states, while larger states sought a system based on population. Under a compromise plan adopted by the convention, the New Jersey proposal became the basis for representation in the United States Senate. Assured of equality with the larger states in at least one house of Congress, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the Constitution of the United States on December 18, 1787.
The unanimity that greeted the Constitution was short-lived. New Jersey was again divided as permanent political parties replaced the old competing factions. At first the Federalist Party was in control, but by 1801 a strong Democratic-Republican Party, led nationally by Thomas Jefferson, had come to power. In presidential elections, New Jersey supported Andrew Jackson in 1832 and Whig candidates by narrow margins until 1852. In 1844 liberal elements mustered enough support to write a new state constitution that eliminated property qualifications for voting, provided for the popular election of a governor for a three-year term, and added a bill of rights. In 1790 Trenton became the state capital, replacing the joint capitals of Perth Amboy and Burlington. The state’s population was then 184,000; by 1850 it had risen to 489,555 and was concentrated largely in the north.
The growth of this area was spurred by the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, a group founded by American statesman Alexander Hamilton, which established Paterson in 1791. Paterson, the first planned industrial city in America, was an early leader in textile manufacturing and a pioneer in the construction of railroad locomotives. New Jersey’s location—between New York City and Philadelphia and between New England and the South—dictated the need for transportation facilities. By 1830 the legislature had chartered more than 50 turnpike companies, and about 880 km (550 mi) of roads were built, almost all in the northern part of the state. In 1831 the Morris Canal, built to exploit the iron resources of Morris County, linked the upper Delaware River with the Atlantic Ocean. Three years later the Delaware and Raritan Canal connected the Delaware and Raritan rivers, providing a short all-water route from New York City to Philadelphia. This canal remained in operation until 1934.
The toll roads and canals changed the nature of rural life and hastened the movement of farmers into cities. The Delaware and Raritan Canal permitted shipment of anthracite coal from the Lehigh Valley, which cut the livelihood of farmers who shipped firewood and charcoal for city markets. To keep up with growing competition from outside the region, farmers turned to more modern iron plows and tools. By 1839 these improvements cut the need for farm labor to half the number of the 1790s, setting adrift thousands of laborers and tenants who had little choice but to seek work in nearby towns.
The greatest improvements in transportation took place within the railroad industry. Inventor John Stevens, a pioneer in steamboats, operated the first American steam locomotive in 1825 in Hoboken. In 1830 he and his two sons were granted a monopoly for their Camden and Amboy Railroad between New York City and Philadelphia. Although other railroad lines were constructed, the Camden and Amboy remained dominant in the industry and came to wield great influence over state politics. The construction of railroads, turnpikes, and canals contributed to the growth of northern New Jersey, but southern New Jersey remained rural and underpopulated. As railroads forged links to the marketplaces of New York City and Philadelphia, New Jersey’s small towns became industrial centers by the 1860s. Camden and Trenton became foundry subcontractors to Philadelphia’s iron and locomotive manufacturers. Paterson became a center for silk, then machine shops, then a major supplier of railroad locomotives. Newark specialized in manufacturing leather trunks, shoes, tools, coaches, and jewelry. By 1860, it was one of the most industrialized cities in the country.
Industry turned cities into places of sharp social contrasts. As early as the 1840s and 1850s, wealthy businessmen took advantage of new coaches and horse-drawn cars to commute to work while their families were lodged in safe suburban enclaves like Clinton Hill and Woodside in Newark or Llewellyn Park in West Orange. The middle classes were largely made up of storekeepers, clerks, and skilled artisans. Many of the latter were German immigrants, who earned decent wages as piano and instrument makers, furniture carvers, brewers, and confectioners. At the bottom of this urban world, forming perhaps half of the cities’ populations, were a mass of unskilled, low-paid workers. Some came from Jersey’s farms, but a growing number were Irish Catholic immigrants. These unskilled refugees from the potato famine that swept Ireland in the 1840s were desperate for any sort of work. On Newark’s streets and Jersey City’s wharves, three-quarters of the unskilled workers were Irish. They worked as stevedores and day laborers, moving freight and digging sewers. In the 1850s their efforts earned them less than a dollar a day, half that of skilled artisans. With luck, they might make $250 to $300 per year, while their families needed twice that to survive in an urban environment. "New Jersey" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
Photos of European countries to visit
Photos of Asian countries to visit
Photos of America