Archive | Liberty

John Woolman and the Fight Against Slavery

Though not raised a Quaker, I learned early about John Woolman’s witness against slavery when our Girl Scout troop leader decided we should perform a play about the Quaker abolitionist and asked me to take his role. I learned less than half of the lines before she decided the historical play was not a good […]

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The Story of New Jersey’s Jurisdiction over Ellis Island

Ellis Island is well-known as the gateway to the United States for more than 12 million immigrants from 1891 to 1954. It was not always that way. In pre-contact times, the island, and two others nearby, almost disappeared at high tides. The Native Americans then called it “Gull Island.” The Dutch called the three islands […]

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Over a Century Before the 19th Amendment, New Jersey Women Vote

New Jersey was the first U.S. state to grant voting rights to women. Single women and widows in New Jersey had the possibility to vote before 1790 due to the vague language used in Article IV of the 1776 New Jersey Constitution that defined eligible voters as propertied “inhabitants.” In addition, the New Jersey election […]

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Ratifying the Bill of Rights: New Jersey Leads the Way

Editor’s Note: On November 20, 1789, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. This year, as we celebrate the 350th anniversary of the founding of New Jersey, we also celebrate the 225th anniversary of our state’s quick work to embrace […]

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Casting A Historic Vote

When Americans think of the voting and civil rights movements, names like Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and Martin Luther King Jr. often spring to mind. Few people might remember that one of the key figures at the intersection of these two movements was a New Jersey man named Thomas Mundy Peterson: the first African-American […]

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William Livingston: A Revolutionary Governor

As a historian by training, I have always admired William Livingston, elected as New Jersey’s first governor in 1776, and known my family’s connection to him. Although I have not often dwelled on his time in office or appreciated his wisdom, I recently came across words of Livingston that I would have been proud to […]

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