New Jersey History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

This fertile land was first sighted by the Italian explorer Giovanni de Varazano in 1524. When he anchored his ship in what is now New York Harbor, his invasion of this new world would forever change the ancestral homeland of the local Delaware Indians. In 1609 Henry Hudson sailed up his now namesake river, claiming New Jersey (and New York ) for the Dutch. Originally called New Netherland, over the next 40 years a series of small, short-lived Dutch and Swedish settlements were established along the coastline. In 1660 the first permanent city (Bergen) was built.

In 1664, an uninvited British fleet sailed into New York Harbor. After meeting very little organized resistance, the entire region was transformed into the territory of the rapidly expanding Empire of England .

This new English colony was named New Jersey after (The Isle of Jersey ) and eventually split into two regions. As different as day and night, East Jersey (ruled by the Puritans) and West Jersey (ruled by the Quakers) were united as one in 1702.

In the mid-1700s, the colonists began to object to high taxation and trade restrictions by England.. Ultimately, those very strict rules were deemed unacceptable, and in 1776, New Jersey claimed its independence.

While the thirteen colonies fought for their freedom, the British and American armies crossed New Jersey many times, and several decisive battles took place here. Subsequently, New Jersey is historically referred to as the “Crossroads of the Revolution”.

  • Topschoolsintheusa: Guides to study in New Jersey, including geography, climate, economy, and tourism of the state.
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In fact, General George Washington (America’s first president) and his Continental Army spent most of their time here, engaged in constant battles with the British during the Revolutionary War. Their famous crossing of the Delaware and the defeat of the British forces at Trenton were crucial to morale and overall victory for the colonies.

At the end of the war, New Jersey was the third state to ratify the new US constitution and the first state to sign the bill of rights. In 1790 Trenton was named the capital.

In the early 1800s, New Jersey leapt into economic prominence as a major industrial center. Manufacturing plants produced iron, steel and textiles, and well-paying new jobs attracted European immigrants by the thousands.

New Jersey timeline

1500s – 1600s

  • (1524) Giovanni de Verrazano explored the coastline
  • (1609) Henry Hudson sailed to Newark Bay, claimed land for Dutch, named it New Netherland
  • (1638) Swedish colony established along the lower Delaware River
  • (1660) Dutch rugged Bergen, first permanent city
  • (1664) British took control of New Jersey from the Dutch ; renamed New Jersey
  • (1676) New Jersey colony divided into East and West


  • (1702) East and West Jersey became a British colony under the supervision of the governor of New York
  • (1736) New Jersey formed its own government
  • (1774) Tea burning at Greenwich in protest of taxes
  • (1776 – 1783) Over 100 battles took place in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War
  • (1776) New Jersey adopts first state constitution; George Washington crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania in a surprise attack on the British; Washington defeated the British at the Battle of Trenton
  • (1777) Washington stationed at Morriston
  • (1778) Washington victorious at the Battle of Monmouth
  • (1783) Princeton served as the American capital
  • (1784) Trenton served as the American capital
  • (1787) New Jersey became the third US state
  • (1790) Trenton declared state capital; New Jersey first claims to sign bill of rights
  • (1791) Alexander Hamilton built the nation’s first planned industrial city at Paterson


  • (1804) Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought a duel at Weehawken; new enacted legislation – any person born after July 4, 1804, considered free
  • (1824) First U.S. ferry service opened between Hoboken and Manhattan
  • (1835) Colt firearms begin production at Paterson
  • (1838) Samuel Morse demonstrated the telegraph
  • (1844) New Jersey adopted its second state constitution
  • (1846) First baseball game held in Hoboken
  • (1858) Dinosaur fossil found at Haddonfield
  • (1860) New Jersey granted electoral votes to Stephen Douglas running against Abraham Lincoln
  • (1861 – 1865) 88,000 New Jersey residents fought in the Civil War; the state became a component of the Underground Railroad
  • (1864) New Jersey granted electoral votes to George McClellan running against Abraham Lincoln; only free state that rejected Lincoln twice
  • (1869) First intercollegiate football game played in New Brunswick
  • (1879) Thomas Edison invented the sparkling lamp
  • (1882) First ocean entertainment pier built in Atlantic City
  • (1883) Roselle is the first city in the United States to be lit by electricity
  • (1884) Grover Cleveland, native of New Jersey, elected US President


  • (1911) US Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act
  • (1912) Governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson, chose an American President
  • (1918) German U-boat sunk by six American ships off coast of New Jersey
  • (1919) America’s first passenger flight flew from New York to Atlantic City
  • (1921) First Miss America Pagent held in Atlantic City
  • (1927) Holland Tunnel, under the Hudson River, opened
  • (1932) Charles August Lindbergh, Jr., son of aviator Ann Morrow Lindbergh, kidnapped
  • (1933) Camden opened the first movie theater for motorists
  • (1937) Hindenberg airship crashed at Lakehurst Naval Air Station killing 35
  • (1938) Orson Welles produced World Broadcast War resulting in widespread panic
  • (1939 – 1945) World War II; claim produced battleships, cruisers, aircraft engines and destroyers for the US Navy; over 500,000 residents enlisted for the war
  • (1943) USS New Jersey entered active service
  • (1945) German submarine sunk off New Jersey coast
  • (1947) Larry Dobie Paterson became the second African American to play Major League Baseball; New Jersey adopts third state constitution
  • (1951) New Jersey Turnpike opened
  • (1964) Race riots broke out in Jersey City, 71 stores damaged, 46 injured
  • (1967) Newark race riot killed 26 caused $10 million in damages
  • (1976) New Jersey started state income tax; Meadlowlands Sports Complex opened
  • (1978) Casinos opened in Atlantic City
  • (1985) Port Newark – Elizabeth Marine Terminal became the busiest in the world
  • (1988) South side of Ellis Island came under New Jersey jurisdiction
  • (1993) Christine Todd Whitman became the first female governor in New Jersey
  • (1995) New Jersey Devils won the Stanley Cup
  • (1998) The Supreme Court ruled over most of Ellis Island, located in New Jersey’s part of the Hudson River


  • (2000) New Jersey Devils won the Stanley Cup
  • (2001) Consolidated Flight 93 left Newark, crashed World Trade Center in New York; USS Battleship New Jersey became a museum; four postal funds tested positive for anthrax, four people died
  • (2003) Three accused of plotting to sell missiles to terrorists to use to shoot down American airliners
  • (2004) James McGreevy resigned due to allegations of extortion, pay to play; Homeland Security raised the threat level on key financial websites
  • (2006) Constitutional amendment created position of Lieutenant Governor
  • (2007) Six suspected Islamic militants arrested on charges of plotting to attack the Fort Dix military base and kill American soldiers; New Jersey became the third US state to offer civil unions to same-sex couples; death penalty abolished
  • (2009) Three mayors, two state legislators among 40 arrested for money laundering, corruption in FBI investigation
  • (2011) Snowstorm caused travel disruption, over 12 inches of snow fell in New Jersey
  • (2011) Hurricane Irene caused mandatory evacuations in part of the state

New Jersey History