Around and About New Jersey:The Statehouse New Jersey Legacy:The Republican Rebellion 2 months ago   15:39

jorisk rueger
Around and About New Jersey:The Statehouse Tour
Standing in front of a voting machine, Midge Guerrera, the series host, explains that there are three levels of government: a national government in Washington, a state government in Trenton, and local governments in our counties and towns. All begin with voting. She says that this program is about a visit to the State House in Trenton, which is the home of state government.

In the rotunda of the State House, Midge explains that the word democracy comes from the Greek word demos, meaning "people." Democracy means government by the people. But that doesn't mean all the people. At one time in New Jersey history if you didn't own property, or if you were a woman, or if you were an African American, or if you weren't twenty-one years of age, you couldn't vote. Furthermore, not everyone votes on every issue. We elect people to vote for us in Trenton, which is what we mean by representative government.

Karen Polling, our guide, takes the students into the General Assembly gallery, and explains that the state is divided into legislative districts, in which the voters elect one state senator and two members of the General Assembly from each district. Together these representatives constitute the two houses of the legislature.

She takes the students to the Senate floor, where she explains that to become a law a bill must pass both houses of the legislature. The students debate and vote on a bill to ban homework. After a bill passes both houses of the legislature, it must be either signed or vetoed by the governor. In the governor's outer office, Midge Guerrara explains that today the governor is elected directly by the voters, but the first governors of the state of New Jersey were elected by the legislature. A student, acting as governor, signs the "Homework Bill" into law.

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New Jersey Legacy:The Republican Rebellion Around and About New Jersey:The Statehouse 2 months ago   26:01

New Jersey Legacy:The Republican Rebellion
A series of regulations and taxes imposed by the British in the aftermath of the French and Indian War set the stage for republican rebellion. In response to the Stamp Act of 1765, New Jersey lawyers met in Perth Amboy and resolved not to buy the hated stamps. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, but replaced it with duties on various products, including paper, glass, and tea. Students at the College of New Jersey (today Princeton University) refused to buy British products.

In 1770, Parliament repealed all the duties except that on tea. The residents of Greenwich burned tea in a bonfire, and locally elected committees enforced a boycott. After the battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, the New Jersey Committee of Correspondence called for a Provincial Congress, which met in Burlington.

By the spring of 1776, the military situation was becoming critical, and an invasion of New Jersey seemed imminent. The Provincial Congress appointed a committee to write a new state onstitution. It was approved on July 2, 1776, the same day that the Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted for independence. Under this new
state constitution, a General Assembly convened in Nassau Hall in Princeton and elected William Livingston of Elizabethtown as the first governor of the State of New Jersey. The suffrage qualifications under New Jersey’s constitution of 1776 required the ownership of property in order to vote, but not necessarily the ownership of land as was previously required. The wording was vague enough to permit free blacks and single women who owned property to vote. In the wake of a fraudulent election in l807, however, suffrage was taken away from free blacks and women.

The Revolution did not materially affect the lives of most New Jersey’s African–Americans. Samuel Sutphen was a slave who had been promised his freedom in exchange for his service in the Continental Army. After the war, his master reneged on his promise, but the republican ideals unleashed by the Revolution paved the way for the gradual abolition of slavery in New Jersey in l804.

New Jersey was on the front lines during much of the Revolutionary War. After abandoning New York City to the British in the late summer of 1776, Washington retreated across New Jersey in the fall and crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. In reference to this retreat Thomas Paine wrote his now famous words: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” On Christmas night, Washington turned the tables on the British by
recrossing the Delaware River and surprising the Hessian forces at Trenton.

New Jersey was again center stage at the end of the Revolutionary War. In Princeton, the Continental Congress was meeting in Nassau Hall; the president of Congress, Elias Boudinot of Elizabethtown, took up residence at Morven, the home of his married sister; and George Washington made his headquarters at Rocky Hill, where he wrote his Farewell Orders to the Continental Army. On November 1, 1783, news arrived from Paris that a
peace treaty had been signed.

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