Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Jersey in the Civil War

New Jersey in the Civil War


New Jersey, in both 1860 and 1864 presidential elections, had the distinction of being the only free state that rejected Lincoln twice. In 1864, furthermore, the war-weary states of Delaware and Kentucky voted also for McClellan, and, while New York cast a total of 730,721 votes, Lincoln won the Empire State by a meager 6,749 votes. While New Jersey served the Union faithfully, it was the last of the Northern states to abolish slavery completely.

New Jersey native George McClellan organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly (November 1861 to March 1862) as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Although early in the Civil War, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union, he was subsequently dismissed from Union service by President Abraham Lincoln himself.

Through the course of the Civil War, the 1st New Jersey Brigade, also known as the First Jersey Brigade or Kearny's New Jersey Brigade, was the only brigade composed entirely of regiments from New Jersey. Philip Kearny, an officer from the Mexican War, led the First Jersey Brigade, under Brigadier General William B. Franklin, and he distinguished himself as a brilliant officer during the Peninsula Campaign and was subsequently promoted to the rank of major general. The brigade served with valor and saw action in several major battles and campaigns and it suffered hundreds in killed and wounded, and six of its soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor.

New Jersey was one of the Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution and it was the site of several battles. New Jersey became the third state by ratifying the United States Constitution on December 18, 1787.

Although New Jersey was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that joined in the struggle for independence from Great Britain (1775-1783), many of the New Jersey settlers still felt ties of loyalty to the British crown, and many slaves sided with the British in exchange for freedom. The loyalists included the governor of New Jersey, William Franklin. New Jersey is referred to as the "Crossroads of the Revolution" because the British and Continental armies fought several crucial battles in the state. Throughout the war hundreds of engagements occurred in New Jersey, more than in any other colony. Five major battles were fought at Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth, and Battle of Connecticut Farms (1780, in present-day Union) and Springfield. The Battles of Trenton and Princeton are collectively referred to as the Ten Crucial Days because these desperately needed victories bolstered the morale of the nation.
In the 19th Century, New Jersey was prominent in the Industrial Revolution. The economy of New Jersey was largely based on agriculture, but crop failures and poor soil plagued the settlers of New Jersey. However, New Jersey eventually funded publications in the early 1850s of accurate agriculture-related surveys through the effort of George Hammell Cook. The publication of this survey helped to increase the state’s involvement in agricultural research and direct support to farmers. As agriculture became a less reliable source of income for New Jerseyans, many began turning towards more industrialized methods.

Unlike the Revolutionary War, no American Civil War (1861-1865) battles took place within the state. However, throughout the course of the Civil War, more than 88,000 men from New Jersey enlisted in the Union Army to defeat the Southern Confederacy. New Jersey has the distinction of being the only free state that rejected Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in both the 1860 and 1864 elections.


The Quaker population of New Jersey was especially intolerant of slavery. However, New Jersey was the last of the Northern states to abolish slavery by enacting legislation which caused the gradual abolishment of slavery. Though New Jersey passed an act for the gradual abolition of slavery on February 15, 1804, it wasn't until 1830 that most blacks were free in the state. However, by the close of the Civil War, approximately one dozen African Americans in New Jersey were still apprenticed freedmen. Although New Jersey was a major part of the extensive Underground Railroad system, the state initially refused to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment that banned slavery.

Slavery in New Jersey began in the early 17th century, when Dutch colonists imported African slaves for labor to develop their colony of New Netherland. After England took control the colony in 1664, its colonists continued the importation of slaves from Africa. They also imported "seasoned" slaves from their colonies in the West Indies and enslaved Native Americans from the Carolinas. Most Dutch and English immigrants entered the colony as indentured servants, who worked for a fixed number of years to repay their passage. As conditions in England improved and the number of indentured laborers declined, New Jersey's colonists imported more Africans for needed labor. To promote increasing the number of laborers and settlers in order to develop the colony, the colonial government awarded settlers headrights of 60 acres of land for each person transported to the colony.

During the American Revolution, enslaved African Americans fought on each side. The British Crown promised freedom to slaves who would leave their rebel masters and fight for the British. The number of blacks in Manhattan increased to 10,000, as thousands of slaves escape to the British for the promise of freedom. The British refused to return former slaves to the Americans and they evacuated many Black Loyalists together with their troops and other Loyalists; they resettled more than 3,000 freedmen in their colony of Nova Scotia. Others were transported to England and the West Indies.

Bergen County developed as the largest slaveholding county in the state, in part because many slaves were used as laborers in its ports and cities. After the Revolutionary War, many Northern states rapidly passed laws to abolish slavery, but New Jersey did not pass abolish it until 1804, and then in a process of gradual emancipation similar to that of New York. But, in New Jersey, some slaves were held as late as 1865. (In New York, they were all freed by 1824.) The law made African Americans free at birth, but required children born to slave mothers to serve lengthy apprenticeships as a type of indentured servant until early adulthood for the masters of their slave mothers.

The Underground Railroad had several routes crossing the state, four of which ended in Jersey City, where fugitive slaves could cross the Hudson River. Although during the Civil War, African Americans served in several all-black Union Army regiments from New Jersey, the state was the last of the Northern states to abolish slavery completely. The last 16 slaves in New Jersey were freed in 1865 by the Thirteenth Amendment. Some of its industries, such as shoes and clothing, had strong markets in the South supplying planters for their slaves, which was probably a factor.

New Jersey was one of the few states to favor Stephen Douglas over Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860. The citizens of the Garden State, embracing the Peace Platform, also cast their electoral votes for former Union General George B. McClellan when he ran for president against his former commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, in the election of 1864. New Jersey had the distinction of being the only free state that rejected Lincoln twice. In 1864, furthermore, the war-weary states of Delaware and Kentucky voted for McClellan, and, while New York cast a total of 730,721 votes, Lincoln won the Empire State by a meager 6,749 votes. McClellan, however, was later elected Governor of New Jersey, serving from 1878 to 1881.
New Jersey was a Union state wrought with much social and political division during the war. The state was politically diverse - electing two governors belonging to the new Republican Party in 1856 and 1859. The following year, however, Republican presidential nominee Abraham Lincoln lost the state to Democratic opponent Stephen Douglas by more than 4,000 votes. Many in the state were reportedly sympathetic to the South, including politicians such as former governor Rodman Price, who stated, "I say emphatically that New Jersey should go with the South for every wise, prudential and patriotic reason." Although slavery in New Jersey had faded in the early 19th century, small numbers of slaves remained scattered throughout the state in 1860.
On January 29, 1861, the legislature of New Jersey passed a series of joint resolutions, which set forth that it was the duty of every good citizen, in all suitable and proper ways, to stand by and sustain the Union of the States as transmitted to us by our fathers; that the government of the United States is a national government and the Union it was designed to perfect is not a mere compact or league; that the Constitution was adopted in a spirit of mutual compromise and concession by the people of the United States, and can only be preserved by the constant recognition of that spirit.
In these resolutions the legislature further recommended that the resolutions and propositions submitted to the senate of the United States by the Hon. John J. Crittenden, of Kentucky, for the compromise, commonly known as the Crittenden Compromise, of the questions in dispute between the people of the Northern and Southern states, or any other constitutional method that would permanently settle the question of slavery, as being acceptable to the people of New Jersey, and requested the senators and representatives in Congress from New Jersey to earnestly urge and support those resolutions and propositions. The legislature further resolved that however undoubted may be the right of the Federal government to maintain its authority and enforce its laws over all parts of the country, it is equally certain that forbearance and compromise are indispensable at this crisis to the perpetuity of the Union, and that it is the dictate of reason, wisdom and patriotism peacefully to adjust whatever differences exist between the different sections of our country.
In an attempt to counterbalance sentiments favoring the South or slavery, New Jersey Governor Charles Olden (1860-1863) welcomed Lincoln to deliver a speech in February 1861 in Trenton en-route to his inauguration. The president-elect made known his resolve to preserve the Union evident although he hoped that cooler heads would prevail and war could be avoided. However, these hopes soon dissipated as tensions between the North and the South increased. Within two months, firing upon the Union garrison at Fort Sumter signaled the call to arms.
Civil War
According to the 1860 U.S. census, New Jersey had a population of 672,035, and the state provided troops, equipment and leaders for the Union during the American Civil War.
Although no Civil War battles were fought within New Jersey, more than 88,000 soldiers joined the Union Army, and 23,116 of those soldiers served in the Army of the Potomac. A total of 2,909 United States Colored Troops (USCT) from New Jersey also served in the Union Army. New Jersey raised 38 regiments and 4 companies of infantry, 3 regiments of cavalry, and 5 battalions of light artillery. Soldiers from New Jersey fought generally in the war's Eastern Theater and many of these troops took part in the opening campaigns of the war around the opposing capitols of Washington and Richmond. The state's 3 cavalry regiments, collectively, suffered more than 700 in killed and mortally wounded, and, according to Dyer (1908), New Jersey suffered nearly 6,000 in killed. The fatalities were as follows: 2,578 in killed and mortally wounded; 2,415 died of disease; 419 died as prisoners-of-war; 134 died from accidents, and; 208 died from causes other than battle. The Garden State suffered a grand total of 5,754 fatalities, and several thousands more in wounded. During the course of the Civil War, the First New Jersey Brigade was the only brigade composed entirely of regiments from New Jersey, and the brigade suffered nearly 1,500 in killed and several hundreds more in wounded. While the 15th New Jersey Regiment lost a staggering 62.9% of its men during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, it suffered the most casualties of any New Jersey unit during the war. The 11th New Jersey, furthermore, lost 55.6% of its men in the fight at Gettysburg. See also New Jersey Medal of Honor Recipients.
Many industrial cities became crucial to the Northern war effort, such as Newark, Paterson, and Camden. They manufactured many necessities, including clothing and war materials. After the war, these cities expanded and continued manufacturing a variety of goods. Although expedited by the war, this industrialization was part of a larger movement known as the Industrial Revolution. Twenty years before the Civil War, New Jersey was already home to more than 25,000 industrial workers - many of whom were involved in the ever-expanding railroad business. And with the Union's ability to manufacture more supplies than the South, it was able to defeat the Confederates and successfully conclude the war and reunite the country.
On April 15 President Lincoln issued his first proclamation for troops, known as Lincoln's Call For Troops, to quell the uprising. The number called for was 75,000 men for three months' service, and the quota of New Jersey was four regiments of 780 men each, or an aggregate of 3,120 men.  Gov. Olden was at once notified that a call would be made on the state for her quota, and on the 17th he received the requisition from the war department. Immediately after the receipt of the president's proclamation, the telegraph line to Cape May, New Jersey, which had been abandoned by the company, was put in working order at the expense of the state; ammunition was ordered to be placed at the disposal of the generals of the various brigades; a maritime guard was established along the line of the coast, the same consisting of patriotic citizens living adjacent thereto; and vigorous measures were taken to put the whole state in immediate condition for defense.

The first company (100 men) received under the requisition for the militia was the "Olden Guards." Capt. Joseph A. Yard, of Trenton, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, who raised and equipped a company for that service in 1846, reported and was mustered into the service of the United States on April 23, and a sufficient number of companies to compose the four regiments reported and were mustered in, in quick succession, until April 30, when the brigade was complete.
The four regiments having completed their organizations were now ready for the seat of war. At that time the communication with Washington by the Baltimore route having been cut off by the burning of the bridges and the destruction of the railroad by the Confederates, it became necessary that the New Jersey troops should proceed thither by way of Annapolis. The brigade, fully uniformed, armed and equipped, and accompanied by a state battery of 4 brass pieces, was accordingly dispatched by that route on May 3, 1861, on board of 14 propellers, sailing down the Delaware and Raritan canal to Bordentown and thence down the Delaware river. This was designated the 1st New Jersey brigade and contained an aggregate of 3,075 men, including officers and musicians.
The 1st New Jersey Regiment was clothed at Newark, by authority from the quartermaster-general; the 2nd was mostly clothed at Jersey City, by means advanced by a committee of gentlemen of that city, and which was afterward reimbursed by the state; the 3d and 4th were clothed entirely by the state, and the entire brigade was armed and equipped at the arsenal. The entire force was recruited, clothed, fully armed, equipped, and transported to Washington within the short space of 20 days from the date of the governor's proclamation, at an entire expense of $192,233.15.
Through the course of the Civil War, the 1st New Jersey Brigade, also known as the First Jersey Brigade or Kearny's New Jersey Brigade, was the only brigade composed entirely of regiments from New Jersey. Philip Kearny, an officer from the Mexican War, led the First Jersey Brigade, under Brigadier General William B. Franklin, and he distinguished himself as a brilliant officer during the Peninsula Campaign and was subsequently promoted to the rank of major general. The brigade served with valor and saw action in several major battles and campaigns and it suffered hundreds in killed and wounded, and six of its soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. The Spencer was issued in limited numbers to men in the First Jersey in late 1864. The Spencer showed itself to be very reliable under combat conditions, with a sustainable rate-of-fire in excess of 20 rounds per minute, compared to standard muzzle-loaders, with a rate of fire of 2-3 rounds per minute.

When the Civil War commenced in 1861, Kearny was appointed a brigadier general, commanding the First New Jersey Brigade. His brigade, even after he left to command a division, performed spectacularly, especially at the Battle of Glendale. He received command of the 3rd Division of the III Corps on April 30, 1862, and led the division into action at the Battle of Williamsburg and the Battle of Fair Oaks. At Williamsburg, as he led his troops onto the field, Kearny shouted (in a notable quote), "I'm a one-armed Jersey son-of-a-gun, follow me!" The general led the charge with his sword in hand, reins in his teeth. He is noted for urging his troops forward by declaring, "Don't worry, men, they'll all be firing at me!" His performance during the Peninsula Campaign earned him much respect from the army and his superiors. He disliked the commander of the Army of the Potomac, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, whose orders (especially those to fall back) he frequently ignored. After the Battle of Malvern Hill, which was a Union victory, McClellan ordered a withdrawal, and Kearny wrote: "I, Philip Kearny, an old soldier, enter my solemn protest against this order for retreat. We ought instead of retreating should follow up the enemy and take Richmond. And in full view of all responsible for such declaration, I say to you all, such an order can only be prompted by cowardice or treason."
By the end of August 1862, General Kearny led his division at the disastrous Second Battle of Bull Run, which saw the Union Army routed and nearly destroyed by Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The Union army retreated toward Washington and fought with the pursuing Confederates on September 1, 1862, at the Battle of Chantilly. In a violent storm with lightning and pouring rain, Kearny decided to investigate a gap in the Union line. Responding to warnings of a subordinate, he said, "The Rebel bullet that can kill me has not yet been molded." Encountering Confederate troops, Kearny ignored a demand to surrender and, while he tried to escape, was shot by a bullet that penetrated the base of his spine, killing him instantly. Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill, upon hearing the gunfire, ran up to the body of the illustrious soldier with a lantern and exclaimed, "You've killed Phil Kearny, he deserved a better fate than to die in the mud." General Lee sent his body back to Union forces, with a condolence note. At the time, there were rumors in Washington that President Abraham Lincoln was contemplating replacing George B. McClellan with "Kearny the Magnificent".

On May 14, 1861, New Jersey native George B. McClellan, age 34, was commissioned a major general and later served as general-in-chief of the United States Army. George McClellan organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly (November 1861 to March 1862) as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the Civil War, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union. Although McClellan was meticulous in his planning and preparations, these characteristics may have hampered his ability to challenge aggressive opponents in a fast-moving battlefield environment. He chronically overestimated the strength of enemy units and was reluctant to apply principles of mass, frequently leaving large portions of his army unengaged at decisive points.
McClellan's Peninsula Campaign in 1862 ended in failure, with retreats from attacks by General Robert E. Lee's smaller Army of Northern Virginia and an unfulfilled plan to seize the Confederate capital of Richmond. His performance at the bloody Battle of Antietam blunted Lee's invasion of Maryland, but allowed Lee to eke out a precarious tactical draw and avoid destruction, despite being outnumbered. As a result, McClellan's leadership skills during battles were questioned by President Abraham Lincoln, who eventually removed him from command, first as general-in-chief, then from the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln offered this famous evaluation of McClellan: "If he can't fight himself, he excels in making others ready to fight." Indeed, McClellan was the most popular of that army's commanders with its soldiers, who felt that he had their morale and well-being as paramount concerns. After the war, Ulysses S. Grant was asked to evaluate McClellan as a general. He replied, "McClellan is to me one of the mysteries of the war."
After some hard fought battles, it was apparent that the 90 day regiments would not satisfy the demand to suppress the Southern rebellion, and facts now indicated a prolonged conflict, and, as such, President Lincoln ordered the states to raise regiments with an obligation of 3 years' service or for the duration of the war. New Jersey promptly responded and additional units were mustered into service of the Union. The initial regiments were armed with state muskets, weapons altered from flint to percussion locks, but in late 1861, beginning with the 9th New Jersey Regiment, all units were supplied with the new model Springfield rifle-muskets, furnished by the government.
There remained in the service, from New Jersey, at the close of the year 1861, eight regiments of infantry, one of riflemen, and two artillery companies, numbering 9,850 men holding their organization from the state; and two regiments, one of cavalry and one of infantry, raised independently of it. These, with the men who had joined military organizations in other states, showed a total of at least 17,000 Jerseymen enlisted in the cause of the Union. The regiments which were enlisted early under the calls for troops in 1861 lost heavily and the events toward the close of that year caused the regiments to fall into a somewhat disorganized condition. On Jan. 29, 1862, an order was issued from the war department, placing these regiments under the state authorities, and prompt measures were adopted to reorganize them under state officers and an efficient condition was soon reached. Some of these regiments went immediately into action, "the 13th leaving the state on Sept. 1, 1862, and on the 17th, at Antietam, it lost 109 in killed, wounded and missing."
Through 1862, most of the Jersey regiments were attached to the Army of the Potomac, and four were engaged in the Battle of the Rappahannock (aka Battle of Fredericksburg), on Dec. 13. Under all the requisitions during the first two years of the war the state furnished 30,214 men. The number enlisted in regiments of other states, it is estimated, carried the total to 35,000.
By 1863 the Peace Platform offered by the Democrats was gaining ground with the masses, and the war-weary citizens of New Jersey wanted to bring the war to a successful close, now and not later. But, on the other hand, New Jersey's patriotic impulses were witnessed by the action of the authorities and people of the state in the summer of 1863, when Lee invaded Pennsylvania. At that time Gov. Curtin, Pennsylvania, sent a message to the governor of New Jersey, requesting the aid of troops from that state, and the secretary of war also sent a request to the governor for troops, whereupon Gov. Joel Parker (1863-1866) immediately issued the following call for men: "Jerseymen: The State of Pennsylvania is invaded. A hostile army is now occupying and despoiling the towns of our sister state. She appeals to New Jersey, through her governor, to aid in driving back the invading army. Let us respond to this call upon our patriotic state with unprecedented zeal. I therefore call upon the citizens of this state to meet and organize into companies, and report to the adjutant-general of the state as soon as possible, to be organized into regiments as the militia of New Jersey and press forward to the assistance of Pennsylvania in this emergency. The organization of these troops will be given in general orders as soon as practicable."
The Confederate march toward Pennsylvania in 1863, according to one Rebel soldier from North Carolina, bolstered the morale of many Southern soldiers who yearned to "show those Yankees what it was like to know the taste of an invading army." The reason for said morale boost comment was rather simple — many Confederate soldiers had been fighting the Union Army for more than two arduous years in various Southern states and could easily relate to the fact. Many Rebel soldiers had also written in their diaries the reason, or motive, for fighting during the Civil War. After the war, one Confederate soldier from Alabama was asked, why did you fight in the war? "I fought the Yankees because they were here," replied the soldier.
The 23rd New Jersey Regiment, belonging to the nine months' service, was on its march to Beverly to be finally mustered out, its term of service having expired, when the men were apprised at Philadelphia of Lee's advance and the supposed danger of Harrisburg, the capital of the Keystone state. Then, as stated previously, came the proclamation of Gov. Parker, a few days afterward, appealing to the people, and regiments not yet disbanded or in process of formation, to hasten to the aid of a sister state. When this appeal was made, less than half of the regiment was in camp, but Col. Grubb assembled together all who were present and asked all who would follow him in response to the proclamation of Gov. Parker to step two paces to the front and not a man hesitated. The only transportation they could secure was a coal train, upon which they embarked and in due time reached Harrisburg, when they were taken to the river and set to work throwing up rifle-pits to prevent the enemy crossing the river, which at the time was very shallow. There the men, from the colonel down, worked steadily, but before the labor was completed orders were received directing the regiment to return to Beverly, where they were mustered out on June 27.
Through July, 1863, there had been five requisitions made on the state for men, all of which had been promptly responded to, and twenty-eight regiments, comprising 30,214 men had been furnished, 23,042 of whom, comprising twenty-four regiments, were still in the field.
By May, 1864, the troops contributed by New Jersey to the Federal service were furnished by volunteering, principally through the state authorities. After the date mentioned they were raised chiefly through United States officials, by the operation of the conscription act. On May 16, 1864, Gov. Parker issued a proclamation in response to a call from the president to raise immediately all the militia force he could for the period of 100 days from the date of muster into the U.S. service and to be furnished within 15 days. No bounty was to be given, neither were their services to be credited upon any draft. The number of men mustered into the United States service from New Jersey during the war, exclusive of the militia sent to aid in the defense of Maryland and Pennsylvania in 1863, was 79,348 — a total greater than all the able-bodied men in the state between the ages of eighteen and forty-five at the commencement of the war. Foster, in his admirable work entitled "New Jersey and the Rebellion," makes the following summary statement: "We have seen that the total number of regiments furnished by New Jersey during the war was forty, including infantry and cavalry, together with five batteries of artillery. The number of men furnished by the state out of 98,806 liable to do military duty, was 88,305, being 10,057 in excess of the number called for by the general government, and within 10,501 of her entire militia at that time. Of this number 79,348 served with state organizations, and the remainder in regiments of other states [chiefly New York and Pennsylvania]. The naval and marine enlistments from New Jersey numbered 4,853."
During the entire war New Jersey had ample reason to be proud of her citizen soldiery, for on every battlefield where their services were called into requisition, they acquitted themselves nobly and ably sustained the reputation of Jersey Blues. In some of the most difficult enterprises of the war the Jersey troops occupied a prominent position; from the first battle at Bull Run to the final surrender at Appomattox they were constantly in service, and in almost all engagements were complimented for their bravery and valor by their general officers. The best provision within the power of the state was made for them and their families during their absence, all of which was highly appreciated by the men themselves, who felt while they were absent fighting their country's battles, their wives and little ones at home were well cared for by the munificence of a state that well appreciated their services and the hardships endured in the camp and on the field of battle, and used every means in their power to add to their comfort.
On March 23, 1865, the legislature passed an act incorporating the "Soldiers' children's Home" at Trenton, and on April 6 an appropriation of $5,000 was made in aid of the institution. "The Home" was placed under the management of an association of ladies and the homeless orphan children were clothed and instructed at the expense of the institution. From statistics of orphanage returned to the secretary of state, at the beginning of 1865, it appeared that there were in the state at that time 1,865 orphan or half-orphan children of soldiers or sailors, and of that number there were 1,589 under twelve years of age. An act was also approved on March 23, 1865, to authorize the establishment of a home for disabled soldiers.
And when, by reason of the war being brought to a successful close, the survivors of New Jersey's citizen soldiery returned to their homes, they were received with every demonstration within the power of their fellow-citizens to bestow upon them, in which all classes joined to do them honor and show the great appreciation of the noble services of the Jersey boys in blue.
After the American Civil War, technological improvements and new markets stimulated New Jersey's manufacturing sector. An influx of immigrants during Reconstruction helped alleviate labor shortages caused by wartime casualties. Because of the state's long-term apprenticeship requirements, at the close of the Civil War, some African Americans in New Jersey remained in bondage. It was not until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed in 1865 that the last 16 slaves in the state were freed.
Although New Jersey was slow to abolish slavery and reluctant to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, it symbolically signed the amendment on January 23, 1866. The state had initially rejected the amendment on March 16, 1865. The Thirteenth Amendment was proposed by the Thirty-eighth United States Congress, on January 31, 1865. The amendment was adopted on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified it. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward, proclaimed the amendment to have been ratified by the legislatures of 27 of the then 36 states.
In the 1860 census, free colored persons in New Jersey numbered 25,318, about 4% of the state's population of 672,035. By 1870 the number had increased to 30,658, but they constituted a smaller percentage of the total population because of the high rate of European immigration. Overall, New Jersey's population had increased to 906,096, with nearly 200,000 European immigrants.
On March 31, 1870 Thomas Mundy Peterson (1824–1904) became the first African American to vote in an election under the just-enacted provisions of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution. In 1875, "Jack" Jackson, who was described as the last slave in New Jersey, died at the age of 87 on the Smith family farm at Secaucus. In 1820, Abel Smith had manumitted his slaves, but Jackson refused freedom and remained on the family estate until his death. By the will of the late Abel Smith, Jackson was interred in the family burial ground.

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