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Revolutionary War

The American Revolution in Northern New Jersey

Wick House

Dey Mansion

Joseph Bloomfield

Arthur St. Clair

William Paterson

Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution in Northern New Jersey

Passaic Falls at Paterson, Edison Film, July 1896 (RealMedia)

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Ringwood Manor, April 2001
Ringwood Manor, April 2001

Revolutions are an important part of Northern New Jersey's history. New Jersey participated in two important revolutions with far reaching consequences, the American Revolutionary War and the Industrial Revolution.

Northern New Jersey was the site of some of the earliest European settlements in what would become the United States of America. During the American Revolutionary War, New Jersey was a strategic location between the capitol of the fledgling United States, New York City, and the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Important materials necessary to the war effort were produced in Northern New Jersey.

The Continental Army made its home here during the war and history from this period can be found in nearly every village and town in northern New Jersey. Battle fields,camps, skirmish sites and headquarters can be found near Morristown and north in the Preakness Valley. In the northwestern part of the state, iron mines and foundries supplied raw material for guns and ammunition.

The people of New Jersey had a great influence on the formation of the United States government. William Paterson, before being governor of New Jersey, was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. At this convention, the Constitution of the United States was written by the "peoples representitives using reason and experience to decide how to govern themselves"*. William Paterson put forth the New Jersey Plan which promoted states rights. In William Paterson's plan, each state would receive one vote in a single legislative body. This plan was eventually combined with the Virginia Plan, where votes were assigned porportionally by population, to form the present bicameral system of the Senate (two votes per state) and House of Representitives (apportioned by population of a state).

The Chemistry Laboratory at Edison's Invention Factory in West Orange, New Jersey around 1910
Chemistry Lab at Edison's "Invention Factory" in West Orange, New Jersey around 1910

The Industrial Revolution in America started by the founding of the northern New Jersey town of Paterson. Today, the United States and the world enjoy the fruit born of seeds planted in northern New Jersey during the Industrial Revolution. Alexander Hamilton, Secretary for the Treasury and President of the Bank of New York during the end of the eighteenth century, selected the Great Falls area (also known as the Passaic Falls) for an ambitious experiment. He promoted the natural power of the Great Falls as an excellent location for textile mills and other manufacture.

Paterson, New Jersey attracted skilled craftsmen and engineers from Europe to run the mills and produced a large concentration of creative and able people. During the mid nineteenth century the engines and material to tame a continent were made here. Thomas Edison installed one of the first hydro electric powerplants in the world using the Great Falls as an energy source. This powerplant still provides electricity today.

Statue of Lou Costello in Paterson, New Jersey near the Great Falls in Paterson New Jersey
Lou Costello Memorial in Paterson, New Jersey

In West Orange, Edison created the first technical research and development facility with his "invention factory". The electric light, improved motion pictures and sound recording were among the hundreds of inventions produced here.

Later, Bell Telephone established a research facility, Bell Labs, where the radio telescope and the transistor were discovered.

 

Northern New Jersey is a great place to explore! It is a place where one can discover a historical timeline that extends from prehistory to the invention of the transistor. The staff at rt23.com is actively documenting this wonderful history. Please join us in a journey though the history of northern New Jersey and stop by often for new articles. Don't forget to check our Calendar of Events and our Directory for historical reenactments, museums and other interesting sights and events.

 

* The Reader's Companion to American History by Eric Foner (Editor), John A. Garraty (Editor), Houghton Mifflin,1991

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