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January 17, 2018
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Joseph Bloomfield, 4th Governor of New Jersey
Joseph Bloomfield

Joseph Bloomfield - New Jersey's Fourth Governor

Joseph Bloomfield was born October 18, 1753 in Woodbridge, New Jersey to a notable English family. His father, the physician Moses Bloomfield, was a member of the colonial New Jersey Assembly and later, the Provincial Congress at the start of the Revolutionary War. During the War, Moses Bloomfield was listed as a surgeon on May 14th, 1777 of the United States Hospital, Continental Army .

Joseph studied law at a New Jersey academy until leaving school to join in the Revolutionary War. While many of his peers, others of aristocratic heritage and wealth, joined the loyalists, Joseph served in the Continental Army. Joseph Bloomfield was listed as a Captain in the Third Battalion, First Establishment on February 9th, 1776. By November 28th of that year, he was listed as a Major in the Third Battalion, Second Establishment and was Judge Advocate for the Northern Army. During the winter of 1776-77, he quartered at the Wick House at Jockey Hollow near Morristown, New Jersey. He served honorably with the New Jersey Brigade and other units until he resigned his post on October 29, 1778 to accept civil office.

In 1778, Joseph Bloomfield married Mary McIlvaine settling in Burlington, New Jersey with their adopted child Joseph McIlvaine, Mary's cousin. Burlington was the seat of the New Jerseys Provincial Congress during the revolution.

Joseph Bloomfield was admitted to the bar and after the ratification of the federal constitution in 1788, he sided with Jeffersonians. In this decision, he again was in opposition to the landed gentry who were mainly Federalists. Despite his political leaning, he strongly supported the Federalists and George Washington, being an elector for Washington in 1792. During this time he was the commanding general of the New Jersey Militia and led the state's military in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion. In 1797, he joined the anti-Federalists, later known as the Jeffersonian-Republicans, amid rumors, which he strongly protested at the time, of his defection from the Federalists.

Joseph Bloomfield, Letter to President Thomas Jefferson on December 5, 1801
Bloomfield's correspondence to President Thomas Jefferson written December 5, 1801

In 1801, he was elected the fourth Governor of New Jersey as a Jeffersonian-Republican. The New Jersey Constitution of 1776 allowed for election of a Governor for a one year term. The 1776 Constitution was written in five days and ratified in forty-eight hours. It was signed only two days before the American Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776. This document's importance was that it stopped New Jersey from descending into anarchy during the turbulence of the revolutionary period. This constitution was in force until 1844 when another constitution for New Jersey was written.

Bloomfield's political ambiguity continued to plague during his career in government. In 1801, he appointed a Federalist to office, a republican congressman sarcastically commented that "it was just like him" to do so. Another said Bloomfield was susceptible to "Federalist flattery and deception" and in 1811 "I did not suppose that anyone expected Bloomfield of belonging to the Republican party from principle".

Joseph Bloomfield was again elected governor in 1803 and served consecutive terms until he 1812. In 1812, he resigned his governorship to accept his nomination as brigadier general in the United States Army on March 24, 1812. He entered into the War of 1812 where his main task was to supervise the training and organizing the defenses of New York and Pennsylvania. He retired from military service at the end of the war in 1815 and retired to his home in Burlington, New Jersey.

His retirement was short lived as he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1816 serving two terms until 1820. Joseph Bloomfield died at home in Burlington in 1823.

Joseph Bloomfield is memorialized today as the namesake of Bloomfield, New Jersey. The Bloomfield area was settled by Connecticut Puritans in 1660. It is the site of Bloomfield College established in 1860.


• Journal of the executive proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, 1805-1815 TUESDAY, March 24, 1812
Governors of New Jersey
• New Jersey Historical Commission. The Governors of New Jersey 1664-1974: Biographical Essays. Trenton, NJ, The Commission, 1982. Paul A. Stellhorn and Michael J. Birkner, Editors.
• New Jersey. Adjutant-General's Office. Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War. Trenton, NJ, Wm. T. Nicholson & Co., Printers 1872. "Printed by authority of the Legislature." William S. Stryker, Adjutant General.
The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress


Related Links

Dey Mansion Photo Gallery - Photos of the interior and exterior of Dey Mansion in Wayne, New Jersey
Wick House Photo Gallery - Photos of the interior and exterior of the Wick House in Morristown, New Jersey
Joseph Bloomfield - Revolutionary War leader and New Jersey's fourth governor
William Paterson - Statesman and New Jersey's second governor
Arthur St. Clair - General of the Continental Army
1776 New Jersey Constitution - First constitution of the state of New Jersey
Maps of Northern New Jersey - Historic and other maps of Northern New Jersey
Search rt23.com's North Jersey Directory for Museums and Historical Sites
Search rt23.com's North Jersey Events Calendar
The Reader's Companion to American History by Eric Foner (Editor), John A. Garraty (Editor), Houghton Mifflin,1991

This Time, Tempe Wick? by Patricia Lee Gauch, Margot Tomes, Depicts the indomitable spirit of a young girl, Tempe Wick, as she saves her beloved horse from the mutinous soldiers of Jockey Hollow during the American Revolution. Childrens Book, ages 4-8.


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