The Governors of New Jersey

The Governors of New Jersey: Biographical Essays

Michael J. Birkner
Donald Linky
Peter Mickulas
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 2
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 440
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    The Governors of New Jersey
    Book Description:

    Rogues, aristocrats, and a future U.S. president. These and other governors are portrayed in this revised and updated edition of the classic reference work on the chief executives of New Jersey. Editors Michael J. Birkner, Donald Linky, and Peter Mickulas present new essays on the governors of the last three decades-Brendan T. Byrne, Thomas Kean, James Florio, Christine Todd Whitman, Donald DiFrancesco, James McGreevey, Richard Codey, and Jon Corzine. The essays included in the original edition are amended, edited, and corrected as necessary in light of new and relevant scholarship.

    The authors of each governor's life story represent a roster of such notable scholars as Larry Gerlach, Stanley Katz, Arthur Link, and Clement Price, as well as many other experts on New Jersey history and politics. As a result, this revised edition is a thorough and current reference work on the New Jersey governorship-one of the strongest in the nation.Also of Interest:New Jersey Politics and GovernmentThe Suburbs Come of AgeFourth EditionBarbara G. Salmore with Stephen A. Salmore978-0-8135-6139-4 paper $34.95A volume in the Rivergate Regionals CollectionMe, Governor?My Life in the Rough-and-Tumble World of New Jersey PoliticsRichard J. Codey978-0-8135-5045-9 cloth $24.95The Life and Times of Richard J. HughesThe Politics of CivilityJohn B. Wefing978-0-8135-4641-4 cloth $32.50Governor Tom KeanFrom the New Jersey Statehouse to the 911 CommissionAlvin S. Felzenberg978-0-8135-3799-3 cloth $29.95

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6245-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-x)
  3. Alphabetical List of Governors (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Illustrations (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Acknowledgments (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Introduction (pp. 1-20)

    The role of the governor of New Jersey has shrunk, then grown as the men (and, to date, one woman) of successive eras have applied new ideas about what good government is and how to provide it. Under different systems men with different abilities and motives have been chosen for the office, and different kinds of leadership have been expected of them. In the long run, however, the variations are relatively unimportant. The history of the office divides into four periods. In colonial times the governor was the agent of autocratic, external power. Under the constitution of 1776 he was...

  8. The Colony
    • Philip Carteret (East New Jersey, 1665–82) (pp. 21-24)

      Philip Carteret (1639–83), a native of the Isle of Jersey and a distant cousin of the proprietor Sir George Carteret, was appointed New Jersey’s first governor in August 1665, at the age of twenty-five. His father was attorney general of the island. Until then Richard Nicolls, under the proprietor James, Duke of York, had governed New Jersey as a part of New York. In June 1665 the duke presented New Jersey to two Stuart followers, Sir George Carteret and John, Lord Berkeley. Having no interest in colonization, in March 1674 Berkeley sold his portion to two Quakers, John Fenwick...

    • Edmund Andros (East and West New Jersey, 1674–81, 1688–89) (pp. 24-29)

      Edmund Andros (December 6, 1637–February 1714) played a central role in implementing England’s colonial policy during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. From 1674 to 1681 he managed the Duke of York’s proprietary interests in New York. In 1686 James II commissioned him to consolidate and administer the northern colonies as the Dominion of New England. This attempt to tighten imperial control was defeated in 1689. Between 1692 and 1697 Andros reached the summit of his career as governor of Virginia, England’s most valuable North American colony.

      During his tenure at New York and for his final year as governor...

    • Edward Byllynge (West New Jersey, 1680–87) (pp. 29-32)

      Edward Byllynge (d. 1687), born of an old small-gentry family of Hengar, was a Cornishman. While serving as a cornet of cavalry with General Christopher Monk in Scotland, he was converted to Quakerism by George Fox. In 1661, after the Civil War had ended, he worked as a brewer in London. As a Foxian Friend he constantly courted trouble with the authorities. On one occasion he was “roughly used by soldiers.” On another he refused to remove his hat in court until ordered to do so; he lifted his hat, and a pile of ashes he had concealed under it...

    • Robert Barclay (East New Jersey, 1682–90) (pp. 32-36)

      Robert Barclay (December 23, 1648–October 3, 1690), a man of uncommon versatility, was one of the principal leaders of seventeenth-century Quakerism. By the age of thirty he was considered the greatest Quaker apologist of his day, and by the time of his death, eleven years later, he had excelled in four disparate occupations—scholarship, the ministry, court politics, and colonial government. Barclay was born at Gordonstown, Murrayshire, Scotland, on December 23, 1648, the first son of David Barclay (1610–86) and Katharine Gordon. His father was a professional soldier who supported the royalist cause during the Civil War, his...

    • Daniel Coxe (West New Jersey, 1687–92) (pp. 36-40)

      Daniel Coxe (ca. 1640–January 19, 1730) evinced little concern for the welfare of the inhabitants of his dominion when he governed West New Jersey in absentia from 1687 to 1692. He became involved in colonial land speculation for profit only, and West Jersey was just part of his empire, which at various times extended from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. He enjoyed some degree of support from fellow proprietor William Penn, but he emulated little of the latter’s pragmatism. He spent most of his governing tenure working against the express wishes of his constituents and was apparently unconcerned...

    • Andrew Hamilton (East and West New Jersey, 1692–98, 1699–1703) (pp. 40-44)

      Andrew Hamilton (d. April 26, 1703) served as deputy governor of East Jersey from March 1687 to August 1688. He held the position of governor of both East and West Jersey from April 1692 to April 1698 and again from December 1699 to April 1703. He also briefly filled the office of deputy governor of Pennsylvania.

      A talented and effective administrator, Hamilton ranks as one of the most attractive governors of proprietary New Jersey and the foremost figure in New Jersey politics of the 1690s. His career proved highly uneven, the successful administrations of his middle term contrasting sharply with...

    • Jeremiah Basse (East and West New Jersey, 1698–99) (pp. 44-47)

      Jeremiah Basse (d. 1725) served concurrently as proprietary governor of East New Jersey and West New Jersey from April 1698 (when he presented his commission to the council) to November 1699, filling a hiatus in the gubernatorial career of Andrew Hamilton. Conspicuous because of the rapid descent of both colonies into fierce factionalism and confusion, Basse’s administration began the final disintegration of proprietary government in New Jersey that culminated in 1702 in the creation of a new royal province. The difficulties in East and West Jersey were inherent in the proprietary system of government as practiced in the Jerseys. Basse...

    • Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury (1703–8) (pp. 48-50)

      Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury (1661–1723). In the long history of the political entity named New Jersey, no governor has been as controversial as the British aristocrat Lord Cornbury, who served from 1702 to 1708 as the first royal governor of the colony. Questions about whether he was corrupt, incompetent, intolerant, arrogant, and a transvestite have echoed in the halls of academia.

      Cornbury, whose real name as opposed to his aristocratic title was Edward Hyde, was born in England in 1661 into a family with a landed estate in Oxfordshire. His grandfather had been rewarded for his work as the...

    • John Lovelace (1708–9) (pp. 50-52)

      John Lovelace, Baron of Hurley (d. May 6, 1709) was a grandson of Francis Lovelace, the governor of New York from 1668 to 1673. Residence in America proved unkind to both. Francis returned to England in disgrace after New York City surrendered to the Dutch in 1673; in 1674 his estate was seized for debt; he was eventually imprisoned, and he died in 1675. John, even more unlucky, died in New York less than five months after his arrival there. Though a member of an aristocratic family and a great-grandson of the first baron of Hurley, John Lovelace spent his...

    • Richard Ingoldesby (1709–10) (pp. 52-56)

      Richard Ingoldesby (d. March 1, 1719), British army officer and lieutenant governor of New York and New Jersey, 1702–9, was acting governor of both colonies from May 1709 to about April 1710. Richard Ingoldesby’s early life is largely obscure. He was born into “a worthy family” and may have been the son of Thomas Ingoldesby, a captain in a parliamentary army during the English Civil War. Before the Glorious Revolution, Richard served the Prince of Orange as a field officer in Colonel Thomas Tollemache’s English regiment of foot. In 1688, borne along by the celebrated “Protestant Wind,” Ingoldesby accompanied...

    • Robert Hunter (1710–20) (pp. 56-59)

      Robert Hunter (1666–1734), born in Edinburgh, Scotland, was the son of a lawyer and the grandson of the laird of Hunterston. He seems to have been well educated, for his correspondence shows a familiarity with Latin, Spanish, and French as well as an unusual felicity in English. He received his first commission in the army in 1689 and for nearly twenty years pursued a military career, serving under the first Duke of Marlborough in the War of the Spanish Succession (in America called Queen Anne’s War). Though he fought at Blenheim and Ramillies and reached the rank of colonel,...

    • William Burnet (1720–28) (pp. 59-62)

      William Burnet (1687–September 7, 1729), who governed New York and New Jersey from 1720 until 1728, was born in the Netherlands, at the Hague. His father, Gilbert Burnet, who became the bishop of Salisbury, had been a chaplain to Charles II, but he was one of the first English subjects to transfer his allegiance from James II to William and Mary. Gilbert Burnet had gone to the Netherlands to pay court to William and, while there, had married his second wife, Mary Scott, a wealthy Dutchwoman of Scottish extraction. Young William Burnet was named for his godfather, the man...

    • John Montgomerie (1728–31) (pp. 63-67)

      John Montgomerie (d. July 1, 1731) was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and trained as a soldier. Montgomerie served in Parliament and then turned courtier, becoming groom of the bedchamber to the prince of Wales. In 1716, when the prince quarreled with his father, King George I, Montgomerie chose to give up his office rather than risk his friendship with the heir apparent. This act of loyalty probably led the prince, after his accession as George II, to offer Montgomerie the lucrative governorship of New York and New Jersey.

      Historians have described Montgomerie as a man of little natural ability, limited...

    • William Cosby (1732–36) (pp. 68-70)

      William Cosby (1690–1736) was surely New Jersey’s least active governor and perhaps its most inept. The last of the colonial royal governors to hold the joint governorship of New York and New Jersey, he, like his predecessors, concentrated his efforts north of the Hudson River. He deserves mention, however, if only because he was indirectly responsible for the British government’s decision in 1736 to establish a separate governorship for New Jersey. Governor Cosby was the sixth of seven sons in an Anglo-Irish family and the sixth to become a soldier. He entered the army in 1704, served in Flanders...

    • Lewis Morris (1738–46) (pp. 71-76)

      Lewis Morris (October 15, 1671–May 21, 1746), colonial American political leader and jurist, served as governor of New Jersey, 1738–46. Morris was born in New York City, the only child of Richard and Sarah (Pole) Morris, who had come to the province from Barbados the year before. After the sudden death of his parents in the summer of 1672 Morris was brought up by an elderly Quaker uncle also named Lewis Morris. When his uncle died in 1691, Morris inherited large estates in New Jersey and New York and became a member of the landed aristocracy in both...

    • Jonathan Belcher (1747–57) (pp. 76-81)

      Jonathan Belcher (January 8, 1681 or 1682–August 31, 1757), Massachusetts merchant and politician, was born in Cambridge, the second son of seven children, to Andrew and Sarah (Gilbert) Belcher. The family was rooted in New England society: Jonathan’s grandfather had arrived in the 1630s; his father had steadily accumulated property and become one of Boston’s wealthiest merchants and a member of the provincial council. After Jonathan graduated from Harvard in 1699, he entered his father’s business. In 1705 he married Mary Partridge, the daughter of New Hampshire’s lieutenant governor, and entered Boston’s Second Church. On his father’s death in...

    • Francis Bernard (1758–60) (pp. 81-85)

      Francis Bernard (July? 1712–June 16, 1779) was royal governor of New Jersey for two years, actively directing the province’s war effort from mid-1758 to mid-1760. The son of the Reverend Francis Bernard and Margery (Winlowe) Bernard, of Brightwell, Oxfordshire, he was baptized on July 12, 1712. He attended St. Peter’s College, Westminster, and in 1729 he became a student at Christ Church, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1736 with a master of arts degree. He then turned his energy and scholarship to the practice of law. In 1741 he married Amelia Offley, whose cousin, the second Lord Barrington,...

    • Thomas Boone (1760–61) (pp. 85-90)

      Thomas Boone (ca. 1730–1812) was one of many colonial governors who suddenly burst into the public arena only to fade quickly into historical oblivion. Like most men appointed to governorships solely through patron-age, Boone was virtually assured by administrative inexperience and political naiveté of a brief—and stormy—gubernatorial career. He was born to Charles and Elizabeth (Garth) Boone at Lee Place in Kent, England, in either 1730 or 1731 (he graduated from college in March 1746 at age fifteen). His was a prominent family—the Boones of Devonshire—which not only enjoyed great wealth and social position but...

    • Josiah Hardy (1761–63) (pp. 90-93)

      Josiah Hardy (1715?–1790) is one of New Jersey’s most obscure governors. No information survives about his early life, his education, or his primary means of livelihood. He was born into a distinguished English family, which became even more prominent as Josiah reached adulthood. His father, Sir Charles Hardy (1680?–1744), worked his way through the highest ranks in the royal navy, earning peerage status and eventually becoming a vice admiral as well as a lord commissioner of the admiralty. Sir Charles and his wife, Elizabeth Burchett, had six children, among them Josiah, the eldest son, and Sir Charles (1716?–...

    • William Franklin (1763–76) (pp. 94-100)

      William Franklin (1730?–November 16, 1813) was the last royal governor of New Jersey. An able servant of both the colony and the crown during the tumultuous years 1763–76, he ranks as the best of New Jersey’s colonial governors and one of the finest chief executives in the history of the state. William was born in Philadelphia in late 1730 or early 1731 to Benjamin Franklin and an unidentified Pennsylvania woman; it is unlikely that Deborah Read Rogers, whom Benjamin took as a common-law wife on September 1, 1730, was his natural mother. The cloud of an illegitimate birth...

  9. The Constitution of 1776
    • William Livingston (1776–90) (pp. 101-106)

      William Livingston (November 30, 1723–July 25, 1790) was a son of Philip Livingston, second lord of Livingston Manor in the colony of New York, and Catrina Van Brugh. William spent his childhood in Albany. He graduated from Yale College in 1741 and began to study law under the supervision of James Alexander and William Smith, Sr. Although he was a Presbyterian, in 1747 William married Susannah French of New Brunswick at the Dutch church in Acquackanonk. Their marriage produced thirteen children, several of whom died young.

      A man of broad intellectual interests, William Livingston not only learned the intricacies...

    • William Paterson (1790–93) (pp. 106-109)

      William Paterson (December 24, 1745–September 9, 1806) was born in Ireland. His family emigrated to America in 1747 and soon settled in Princeton. William, his two younger brothers, and a sister spent their childhood doing chores around their father’s store, across from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University). Because the family’s business and real-estate investments were profitable, William could attend the college and, after his graduation in 1763, study law under Richard Stockton. He was admitted to the bar in 1769, and he spent the next years trying to establish a practice in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties....

    • Richard Howell (1793–1801) (pp. 110-112)

      Richard Howell (October 25, 1754–April 28, 1802), revolutionary officer, lawyer, and third governor of the state of New Jersey, was born in Newark, Delaware. He was a twin and one of the eleven children of Ebenezer Howell, a farmer, and Sarah (Bond) Howell, Quakers who had emigrated from Wales to Delaware in about 1724. Educated at an academy and then privately, Howell became an Episcopalian during the American Revolution. He married Keziah, the daughter of Joseph Burr, who owned extensive property in Burlington County. The Howells had nine children.

      Between the ages of twenty and thirty-nine, from the time...

    • Joseph Bloomfield (1801–2, 1803–12) (pp. 112-115)

      Joseph Bloomfield (October 18, 1753–October 3, 1823) was the fourth governor of the state (1801–2; 1803–12) and the first Jeffersonian-Republican to hold the office. He was first elected in 1801, then successively each year from 1803 to 1812. Described by a contemporary as “rich,” and taking great pride in his occasional military service (he preferred to be called “General” rather than “Excellency”), Bloomfield managed to combine the roles of governor and party leader during his long tenure in office. This accomplishment was all the more pronounced because the governor’s office possessed but few constitutional and appointive powers...

    • Aaron Ogden (1812–13) (pp. 115-119)

      Aaron Ogden (December 3, 1756–April 19, 1839), a man of impressive physique and a craggy and truculent countenance, had a character to match. To a distinguished family name he added a lustrous military service during the Revolution and a solid reputation among New Jersey lawyers. The family had deep roots in New Jersey. John Ogden, who built a house in Elizabeth-town in 1664, was one of the original settlers of that community. He moved there from Long Island, to which he had emigrated in 1640 from Hampshire, England. Aaron’s father, Robert Ogden, had been speaker of the New Jersey...

    • William S. Pennington (1813–15) (pp. 119-122)

      William Sandford Pennington (1757–September 17, 1826), the state’s sixth governor, was one of those who benefited most dramatically from the social mobility stimulated by the Revolutionary War. He was perhaps the first governor of either the colony or the state who did not derive from hereditary, propertied gentry; in large measure this fact affected his outlook and his place in history.

      Pennington was born into a Newark family of limited means. He was orphaned at an early age, and his formal education ended with apprenticeship to a local hatmaker. He joined the Continental army as an enlisted man when...

    • Mahlon Dickerson (1815–17) (pp. 122-126)

      Mahlon Dickerson (April 17, 1770–October 5, 1853), was born in Hanover Neck, Morris County, the first child of Jonathan and Mary (Coe) Dickerson. During his life, he demonstrated a diversity and longevity in political leadership and achievement that no other native son appears to have equaled.

      Dickerson received his only institutional education as one of the twenty members of the class of 1789 of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), where the Reverend John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was president. Before attending college, he had been tutored by educated citizens in and around...

    • Isaac H. Williamson (1817–29) (pp. 126-128)

      Isaac Halsted Williamson (September 27, 1767–July 10, 1844), governor of New Jersey from 1817 to 1829, was born in Elizabethtown, the youngest son of Matthias and Susannah (Halsted) Williamson. In 1808 he married Anne Crossdale Jouet, and they had two sons, Benjamin and Isaac Halsted. Although he received only a common school education, he studied law as an apprentice to his brother Matthias, a well-known lawyer in the state. After his admission to the bar in 1791 he began a practice in Essex County that flourished and soon extended to Morris County, growing with his reputation for a thorough...

    • Peter D. Vroom (1829–32, 1833–36) (pp. 129-133)

      Peter Dumont Vroom (December 12, 1791–November 18, 1873), governor of New Jersey from 1829 to 1832 and from 1833 to 1836, was born in Hillsboro Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, the son of Colonel Peter Dumont Vroom and Elsie (Bogert) Vroom. Colonel Vroom (1745–1831), of Dutch and French-Huguenot descent, moved to New Jersey from New York. During the Revolutionary War, he served in the Second Battalion of the Somerset County militia. Subsequently, he occupied almost all the offices in the county, including those of sheriff, justice of the peace, member of the general assembly (1790–98; 1813–17),...

    • Samuel L. Southard (1832–33) (pp. 133-138)

      Samuel Lewis Southard (June 9, 1787–June 26, 1842) was governor of New Jersey for barely four months. His service was a brief though eventful interlude in a lengthy, varied, and distinguished political career. He was born in Basking Ridge, Somerset County, to Henry Southard, one of the founders of the Jeffersonian-Republican Party in New Jersey, and Sarah (Lewis) Southard. Educated in a classical school run by the Reverend Robert Finley in Basking Ridge, he entered the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1802. Following his graduation in 1804, Southard taught school in Mendham, Morris County. Less than...

    • Elias P. Seeley (1833) (pp. 138-141)

      Elias Petit Seeley (November 10, 1791–August 23, 1846), governor of New Jersey for seven months in 1833, was born in Deerfield Township (later Bridgeton), the son of Ebenezer and Mary (Clark) Seeley. His father, a merchant and a lifelong Cumberland County resident, served for many years as a Jeffersonian-Republican legislator.

      Elias Seeley was educated informally. After studying with a local attorney, Daniel Elmer, he was licensed as a lawyer in 1815. According to Lucius Q. C. Elmer, a contemporary from Cumberland County, the younger Seeley “never attained much celebrity as an advocate, but had a good local practice as...

    • Philemon Dickerson (1836–37) (pp. 141-145)

      Philemon Dickerson (June 26, 1788–December 10, 1862), the twelfth governor under the constitution of 1776, served only one year in the office, from the fall of 1836 to the fall of 1837. Although he was involved in state politics for many years, he spent his entire political career in the shadow of his older brother Mahlon (who served as governor, United States senator, and secretary of the navy) and the two leaders at the center of real power in the New Jersey Jacksonian party, Garret D. Wall and Peter D. Vroom, Jr. Philemon Dickerson, in fact, attained the governorship...

    • William Pennington (1837–43) (pp. 145-149)

      William Pennington (May 4, 1796–February 16, 1862) was born in Newark, the son of Phoebe (Wheeler) and William Sandford Pennington. After attending Newark schools, he earned a degree from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1813 and then studied law with Theodore Frelinghuysen. In 1817 he was admitted to the bar, and he began to practice in his native city. Pennington became a licensed counselor in 1820 and a sergeant-at-law in 1834. Between 1817 and 1826, during the judgeship of his father, he served as clerk of the federal district and circuit courts in New Jersey....

    • Daniel Haines (1843–45, 1848–51) (pp. 149-152)

      Daniel Haines (January 6, 1801–January 26, 1877), the last governor elected by the legislature, was born in New York City. His ancestors had left England in 1637 to settle in Salem, Massachusetts. Later they moved to South-old, Long Island, then left this homestead to join the first settlers of Elizabethtown. While living there, Haines’s grandfather Stephen Haines played a distinguished role in the American Revolution. One of his sons, Elias, was the future governor’s father. Elias Haines was a well-known and successful New York City merchant. He married Mary Ogden, who was the daughter of Robert Ogden III and...

  10. The Constitution of 1844
    • Charles C. Stratton (1845–48) (pp. 153-155)

      Charles Creighton Stratton (March 6, 1796–March 30, 1859), the first popularly elected governor and the only working farmer to serve as chief executive, was born in Swedesboro, Gloucester County. His family had emigrated from England to New England in the seventeenth century, moved to East Hampton, Long Island, in 1648, and arrived in New Jersey about fifty years later.

      Stratton’s father, James, a judge and physician, served at the battle of Princeton as an assistant surgeon. His mother, Mary Creighton of Haddonfield, participated as a nurse in the Revolution. The couple had seven children, of whom six survived. Charles...

    • George F. Fort (1851–54) (pp. 155-159)

      George Franklin Fort (1809–April 23, 1872), physician, politician, and judge, who was the uncle of Governor John F. Fort (1908–10), was born near Pemberton, New Jersey. The eldest son of Andrew Fort, a wealthy farmer of New Hanover Township in Burlington County, Fort was educated in the common schools at Pemberton and at the University of Pennsylvania Medical College. After graduation in 1828, he entered the office of Dr. Jacob Eghert of Pemberton. Later that year, he moved to Dr. Charles Patterson’s office in New Egypt, located then in Monmouth County. In 1830, Fort opened his own practice...

    • Rodman M. Price (1854–57) (pp. 159-164)

      Rodman McCamley Price (May 5, 1816–June 7, 1894), naval officer and politician, the son of Francis and Ann (McCamley) Price, was born in Frankford Township, Sussex County. His forebears, migrating from Connecticut to the Sussex foothills in the 1740s, became established leaders in the county squirearchy. The governor’s grandfather and great-uncle quartermastered for the Continental army and later marketed cattle, timber, and distilled whiskey to the port of New York. Rodman Price shared the privileges of his class and attended the Presbyterian academy at Lawrenceville and may have entered the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), remaining there...

    • William A. Newell (1857–60) (pp. 164-168)

      William Augustus Newell (September 5, 1817–August 8, 1901) was born in Franklin, Ohio. His parents, James H. and Eliza (Hankinson) Newell, both of old Monmouth County families, had moved to Ohio shortly before his birth; they returned to New Jersey in 1819 when he was two years old. Settling in New Brunswick, James Newell worked as a civil engineer and mapmaker. William Newell attended the district public schools, graduated from Rutgers College in 1836, and studied medicine locally. He married Johanna Van Deursen, the daughter of his mentor. They had three children. After completing medical studies at the University...

    • Charles S. Olden (1860–63) (pp. 168-172)

      Charles Smith Olden (February 19, 1799–April 7, 1876) was born of Quaker ancestry in Stony Brook, near Princeton. He was the son of Hart and Temperance (Smith) Olden. He went to Lawrenceville School. Upon graduation he worked for a while in his father’s store and then for the mercantile firm of Matthew Newkirk and Company, first in Philadelphia and later, from 1826 to 1832, in New Orleans. He returned to Princeton after inheriting a large estate from his uncle and built the house now called Drumthwacket. Olden lived the life of a gentleman farmer and became a director of...

    • Joel Parker (1863–66, 1872–75) (pp. 172-176)

      Joel Parker (November 24, 1816–January 2, 1888) was born near Freehold, Monmouth County, the son of Charles and Sarah (Coward) Parker. After his father’s appointment as state treasurer, the family moved to Trenton. In 1833, his father became the cashier of the Mechanics’ and Manufacturers’ Bank of Trenton and sent him to Monmouth for two or three years to work his recently purchased farm. Parker then attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), where he graduated in 1839. After graduation, he entered the law office of Henry W. Green, who later became chief justice and chancellor. Parker...

    • Marcus L. Ward (1866–69) (pp. 176-179)

      Marcus Lawrence Ward (November 9, 1812–April 25, 1884), governor of New Jersey from January 1866 to January 1869, was a descendant of John Ward, one of the founders of Newark in 1666. His father, Moses, was a prosperous candle manufacturer in Newark. His mother was the former Fanny Brown. Marcus Ward eventually became a partner in the family business, where he put together a considerable fortune. By the 1840s he was devoting his interests to Newark civic affairs and charities and serving as director of the National State Bank and chairman of the executive committee of The New Jersey...

    • Theodore F. Randolph (1869–72) (pp. 179-184)

      Theodore Fitz Randolph (June 24, 1826–November 7, 1883), governor of New Jersey and United States senator, was descended from a family that had migrated from England to Massachusetts in the first half of the seventeenth century. Born in New Brunswick, he was the son of Sarah Kent Carman and James Fitz Randolph, a member of Congress from New Jersey and publisher of theNew Brunswick Fredonian. The younger Randolph attended Rutgers Grammar School and worked as a writer and proofreader for his father’s newspaper. At age sixteen he entered a mercantile career, and he spent the next ten years...

    • Joseph D. Bedle (1875–78) (pp. 184-187)

      Joseph Dorsett Bedle (January 5, 1831–October 21, 1894), as a contemporary account put it, was “an instance of a man who, at a comparatively early age, achieves the highest honors of his state, apparently without having passed through any of the highways and byways of the politician.”

      Certainly, having an established, influential family on both sides did not harm his career. Bedle’s paternal grandparents were natives of New Jersey. His parents were Thomas and Hannah (Dorsett) Bedle. His father was a merchant, a justice of the peace for more than twenty-five years, and a judge of the Court of...

    • George B. McClellan (1878–81) (pp. 188-191)

      George Brinton McClellan (December 3, 1826–October 29, 1885) was the son of George McClellan, a prominent Philadelphia physician. Choosing a military career, he went to West Point, from which he graduated in the top 5 percent of his class. He participated in the Mexican War and served as a military observer in the Crimean War. In 1857, for financial reasons, he resigned his commission and became chief engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad; in 1860 he became president of the eastern division of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad. That same year he married Ellen Mary Marcy. The couple had...

    • George C. Ludlow (1881–84) (pp. 191-194)

      George Craig Ludlow (April 6, 1830–December 18, 1900) was born in Milford, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. In 1835 his family moved to New Brunswick, where he lived for the rest of his life. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1850, and he opened a law practice in 1853. Both his father, Cornelius Ludlow, and his grandfather, Benjamin Ludlow, had been active in the affairs of the Democratic Party, and he followed their example; over the next two decades he held a variety of municipal and county governmental positions. As a prominent local member of the party, he was elected...

    • Leon Abbett (1884–87, 1890–93) (pp. 195-201)

      Leon Abbett (October 8, 1836–December 4, 1894) was a formidable man. He was undoubtedly the most powerful person in New Jersey during the late nineteenth century. Twice elected governor, first in 1883 and again in 1889, he proved to be a very effective leader and accomplished much while in office. An ardent Democrat in the Jacksonian spoils tradition, Abbett voiced the sentiments of the common man beset by the intransigent forces of special privilege. Affectionately known as the “Great Commoner,” he was considered a man of the people. He reached out for contact, and indeed for confrontation. An eloquent...

    • Robert S. Green (1887–90) (pp. 202-207)

      Robert Stockton Green (March 25, 1831–May 7, 1895) brought to the governorship a commanding presence, the status of a colonial elite ancestry, and more than three decades of political experience. His greatest single asset was his family name. However, he failed to exploit these obvious advantages. As chief of state, he was a model of dignity and restraint, a symbol of integrity and social respectability; but he lacked passion for his cause or against his opponents. He was cool and dispassionate, cultured and scholarly, impersonal and logical. The press respected him; the electorate admired him but did not embrace...

    • George T. Werts (1893–96) (pp. 207-211)

      George Theodore Werts (March 24, 1846–January 17, 1910), lawyer, state senator, supreme court justice, twenty-eighth governor of New Jersey, was born at Hackettstown, Warren County. He attended the public schools in Bordentown and completed his academic training at the State Model School in Trenton. In 1863 he moved to Morristown to study law with his uncle, the former attorney general Jacob Vanatta. Four years later the twenty-one-year-old law clerk was admitted to the New Jersey bar. He promptly established an office in Morristown.

      Over the next sixteen years Werts built a lucrative law practice and gained a reputation for...

    • John W. Griggs (1896–98) (pp. 211-215)

      John William Griggs (July 10, 1849–November 28, 1927) had many political admirers in a life that included service as New Jersey’s twenty-ninth governor, United States attorney general, and member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. William E. Sackett saw him as a masterful and overpowering personality, “an intellect in a mold of ice.” Walter E. Edge recalled, inA Jerseyman’s Journal, that Griggs was “an attractive man—of fine appearance, an eloquent orator, a keen thinker … [with] a fine sense of humor and every attribute of warmth and understanding.”

      Griggs was a scion of a...

    • Foster M. Voorhees (1898–1902) (pp. 215-220)

      Foster McGowan Voorhees (November 5, 1856–June 14, 1927) served as the state’s chief executive from 1898 to 1902. He was the youngest governor in more than four decades.

      Although Voorhees’s career was always associated with Elizabeth, he spent both his youth and his retirement in Hunterdon County. He was born in Clinton of Dutch-English ancestors who had immigrated from Holland about 1660 and had first settled on Long Island. His father, Nathaniel W. Voorhees, a nonpracticing member of the New Jersey bar, was the cashier of the Clinton Bank and a delegate to the Republican National Convention that nominated...

    • Franklin Murphy (1902–5) (pp. 220-223)

      Franklin Murphy (January 3, 1846–February 24, 1920), governor of New Jersey from 1902 to 1905, was born in Jersey City, the son of Abby Elizabeth (Hagar) and William Hayes Murphy, a shoe manufacturer. He was a descendant of Robert Murphy, who settled in Connecticut in 1756 and whose son Robert, Franklin’s great-grandfather, fought in the Revolution. When Murphy was ten, his parents moved to Newark, where he attended Newark Academy. In 1862, at the age of sixteen, he left the academy to enlist as a private in Company A, 13th Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers. For the next three years...

    • Edward C. Stokes (1905–8) (pp. 223-227)

      Edward Caspar Stokes (December 22, 1860–November 4, 1942), governor of New Jersey from 1905 to 1908, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Edward H. and Matilda G. (Kemble) Stokes. His parents, both of whose families had lived in New Jersey for generations, soon moved back to the state, settling eventually in Millville. There Stokes attended the public schools; later he went to the Friends School in Providence, Rhode Island. He was second in the graduating class of Brown University in 1883. Returning to his hometown, he took a position in the Millville National Bank, where his father was...

    • John F. Fort (1908–11) (pp. 227-231)

      John Franklin Fort (March 20, 1852–November 17, 1920), lawyer, state supreme court justice, thirty-third governor of New Jersey, was born at Pemberton, Burlington County, the only son and eldest child of Andrew Heisler and Hannah A. (Brown) Fort. With familial roots deep in America’s colonial past, John F. Fort grew up in an atmosphere in which public service was a responsibility and elective office was the norm. His father had served in the state assembly and his uncle, George F. Fort, had been the Democratic governor of New Jersey from 1851 to 1854.

      After spending his early years attending...

    • Woodrow Wilson (1911–13) (pp. 232-238)

      Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856–February 3, 1924), thirty-fourth governor, was born in Staunton, Virginia, the son of the Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson, D.D., and Janet Woodrow Wilson. His paternal grandparents were James and Anne (Adams) Wilson, who emigrated from northern Ireland in 1807; his maternal grandparents were the Reverend Thomas and Marion (Williamson) Woodrow, who emigrated from Carlisle, England, in 1836.

      Presbyterianism, with its Calvinistic emphasis on the sovereignty of God and its covenanter tradition, was a dominant influence on Woodrow Wilson from his boyhood. His father was a leading southern Presbyterian minister, and the son almost literally...

    • James F. Fielder (1913–17) (pp. 238-242)

      James Fairman Fielder (February 26, 1867–December 2, 1954), governor, jurist, was born in Jersey City, the son of George Bragg and Eleanor A. (Brinkerhoff) Fielder. On his father’s side his ancestors were English. On his mother’s they were Dutch; among them were some of the earliest settlers of the old Bergen section of Jersey City and some of the founders of the Dutch Reformed Church in the state. His father was a member of the Fifty-Third Congress. Fielder received his early education in the Jersey City public schools and at Selleck’s School in Norwalk, Connecticut. In 1887, a year...

    • Walter E. Edge (1917–19, 1944–47) (pp. 243-249)

      Walter Evans Edge (November 20, 1873–October 29, 1956) enjoyed the unique distinction of serving as governor during both World War I and World War II. Born in Philadelphia to William and Mary (Evans) Edge, Walter descended from a family resident in the Chester Valley since the eighteenth century. After his widowed father remarried in 1877, the boy moved with his family to Pleasantville, New Jersey, where his father worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Edge spent his boyhood in the occupations of late nineteenth-century rural youth—fishing, hunting, limited schooling, and work. His autobiography,A Jerseyman’s Journal(1948), recalls these...

    • Edward I. Edwards (1920–23) (pp. 249-253)

      Edward Irving Edwards (December 1, 1863–January 26, 1931), a distinguished public servant, was born in Jersey City, to William W. and Emma J. (Nation) Edwards. He attended the Jersey City public schools, went to New York University from 1880 to 1882, and studied law in the office of his brother, William D. Edwards, former state senator from Hudson County. On November 14, 1888, he married Blanche Smith; during their forty-year marriage the Edwardses had two children, Edward Irving and Elizabeth Jule.

      A businessman and bank president, Edwards rose to political prominence in his native Jersey City and soon attracted...

    • George S. Silzer (1923–26) (pp. 253-257)

      George Sebastian Silzer (April 14, 1870–October 16, 1940), son of Theodore C. and Christina (Zimmerman) Silzer, was born in New Brunswick, where his father owned and operated the Bull’s Head Tavern. After he was graduated from the public grammar and high schools of his native city, Silzer read law in the offices of J. Kearny Rice. Admitted to the bar in 1892, he immediately opened an office in New Brunswick and, until 1914, built an increasingly successful practice. Already interested in a political career, Silzer was elected to the New Brunswick Board of Aldermen, where he served from 1892...

    • A. Harry Moore (1926–29, 1932–35, 1938–41) (pp. 257-263)

      Arthur Harry Moore (July 3, 1877–November 18, 1952), New Jersey’s only three-term governor under the state’s second constitution, was elected in 1925, 1931, and 1937.

      Moore was a Jersey City native, born in the Lafayette section, of working-class parents, Robert White and Martha (McCoomb) Moore, of Irish and Scottish descent. Moore, known as “Red,” dropped out of the local public school system at the age of thirteen to take a clerk’s job at $3 per week. White-collar oriented, he continued his education in his spare time, taking courses at Cooper Union in Manhattan and developing proficiency in bookkeeping and...

    • Morgan F. Larson (1929–32) (pp. 263-267)

      Morgan Foster Larson (June 15, 1882–March 21, 1961), New Jersey’s fortieth governor, was born in Perth Amboy. He was the son of Peter and Regina (Knudson) Larson. His father was a Danish blacksmith who immigrated to the United States at the age of twenty-two.

      Larson’s rise from obscurity to the state’s highest elective office in 1929 is a Horatio Alger story in local politics. Educated in the Perth Amboy public schools, Larson later studied engineering at Cooper Union Institute in New York City. In his determination to succeed, he applied the Protestant virtues of hard work and personal sacrifice...

    • Harold G. Hoffman (1935–38) (pp. 268-274)

      Harold Giles Hoffman (February 7, 1896–June 4, 1954), forty-first governor of New Jersey, was born in South Amboy, New Jersey, the descendant of a family which traced its lineage to the Dutch colonial settlement of New Amsterdam.

      While still in high school, Hoffman became a reporter for a Perth Amboy newspaper and an occasional stringer for theNew York Timesand theNew Brunswick Daily Home News. Upon graduation, Hoffman joined thePerth Amboy Evening Newsas a full-time employee and quickly rose to assistant city editor and later sports editor. A dispute with the paper’s owner ended Hoffman’s...

    • Charles Edison (1941–44) (pp. 274-280)

      Charles Edison (August 3, 1890–July 31, 1969), New Jersey’s forty-second governor, was the elder son of the inventor Thomas A. Edison by his second wife, Mina Miller. His maternal grandfather was Lewis Miller of Akron, Ohio, an inventor, industrialist, and philanthropist and a cofounder of the first Chautauqua Assembly. Charles Edison grew up in the sheltered confines of Llewellyn Park in West Orange, and he attended the Dear-born-Morgan School in Orange, the Carteret Academy in West Orange, and the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. He matriculated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because, as he said later, “Father wanted me...

  11. The Constitution of 1947
    • Alfred E. Driscoll (1947–54) (pp. 281-288)

      Alfred Eastlack Driscoll (October 25, 1902–March 9, 1975) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Alfred Robie and Mattie (Eastlack) Driscoll. His ancestry can be traced to revolutionary Haddonfield, New Jersey. In 1906, when Driscoll was four years old, the family moved back to Haddonfield. An only child, Driscoll could attribute his interest in public affairs directly to his parents, who participated actively in the affairs of the community. His mother, a participant in many church, reform, and educational movements, including the founding of the Peddie School for Girls in Hightstown, appears to have influenced her son’s development...

    • Robert B. Meyner (1954–62) (pp. 288-293)

      Robert Baumle Meyner (July 3, 1908–May 27, 1990), lawyer, governor of New Jersey, was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, the son of Gustave Herman and Mary Sophie (Baumle) Meyner. His parents, who were of German and Swiss ancestry, came from humble backgrounds: his father worked as a loom fixer and silk worker. When Robert was eight, his family moved to Phillipsburg, New Jersey. Except for a short stay at Paterson, his family remained in Phillipsburg. The need to earn a living occupied his youth, and he worked in various jobs as a newspaper boy, grocery clerk, garage mechanic, and foundry...

    • Richard J. Hughes (1962–70) (pp. 293-299)

      Richard Joseph Hughes (August 10, 1909–December 7, 1992), lawyer, two-term governor, chief justice of the state supreme court, was born in Florence, Burlington County, to Richard Paul Hughes and Veronica (Gallagher) Hughes. His father, an ironworker and insurance broker, served as a state civil service commissioner, as principal keeper of Trenton State Prison, and as Burlington County Democratic chairman and was otherwise active in politics and public affairs.

      Richard J. Hughes graduated from Cathedral High School in Trenton, after which he studied at St. Charles College in Catonsville, Maryland, and at St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia. At one time...

    • William T. Cahill (1970–74) (pp. 300-306)

      William Thomas Cahill (June 25, 1912–July 1, 1996) was born in Philadelphia. His parents, William and Rose (Golden) Cahill, moved to Camden in 1919. William, their only child, attended St. Mary’s Grammar School and Camden Catholic High School. He graduated with a B.A. degree from Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s College in 1933. While attending South Jersey (Rutgers) Law School and receiving the LL.B. in 1937, he taught in the Camden public school system. Cahill served briefly as an FBI agent, but after passing the state bar in 1939, he entered the private practice of law in Camden. On February 1,...

    • Brendan T. Byrne (1974–82) (pp. 306-317)

      Brendan Thomas Byrne (April 1, 1924–), governor from 1974 to 1982, was elected in the state’s largest landslide as the “man who couldn’t be bought.” Derided as “a dilettante, an inept politician and an egotist” during his first term, he engineered New Jersey’s most dramatic political comeback. When Byrne left office in January 1982 after a tumultuous eight years, thePhiladelphia Inquireroberved, “when history makes its judgment, he just may outrank Woodrow Wilson.”

      Byrne’s laid-back style, his lack of interest in engaging in the banter and backslapping long a staple of the state’s politicians, frustrated both friend and...

    • Thomas H. Kean (1982–90) (pp. 317-326)

      Thomas Howard Kean (April 21, 1935–), New Jersey’s forty-ninth governor, was born in New York City. The fifth of the six children of Robert Winthrop Kean and the former Elizabeth Stuyvesant Howard, Kean claimed kinship with some of the nation’s most politically and socially prominent families. The Keans trace their ancestry in the United States to John Kean, first Cashier of the United States. A South Carolinian, John Kean married the daughter of New Jersey’s first constitutional governor, William Livingston. Tom Kean’s grandfather Hamilton Fish Kean served in the United States Senate from 1929 until 1935. John Kean, Hamilton’s...

    • James J. Florio (1990–94) (pp. 327-336)

      James Joseph Florio (August 29, 1937–) was born in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York. Known to everyone as Jim, he left school in 1955, after his junior year, to join the navy. During his four years of service, Florio earned his high school diploma by taking correspondence courses that eventually led him to pass his GED test. Following his discharge, he enrolled at Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey) and graduated in 1962 magna cum laude with a B.A. in social studies. He attended Columbia University in 1962–63 on a Woodrow Wilson...

    • Christine Todd Whitman (1994–2001) (pp. 336-346)

      Christine Todd Whitman (September 26, 1946–) was born into a distinguished political family, and she developed a predictable, if not foreordained, interest in politics. Undertaking government service on local, state, and national stages—and becoming a leader of the moderate wing of the Republican Party—grew naturally out of values absorbed from her earliest days.

      Christine Todd was born on September 26, 1946, in New York City, the youngest of four children of Eleanor Schley Todd and Webster Todd, Sr. She spent most of her childhood at the Todd family home, Pontefract, a two-hundred-acre farm in Hunterdon County. Her...

    • Donald T. DiFrancesco (2001–2) (pp. 346-350)

      Donald Thomas DiFrancesco (November 20, 1944–) was born in Scotch Plains, Union County, New Jersey. DiFrancesco began a long legislative career in Republican Party politics in 1976, when he entered the New Jersey General Assembly. He served in the assembly for three years and was then elected to the state senate, which he entered in 1979. During his legislative career, he supported bills that, at times, placed him outside the mainstream of his party, including the 1990 Family Leave Act and another aimed at securing employment rights for temporarily disabled workers.

      The son of Italian immigrant parents, DiFrancesco attended...

    • James E. McGreevey (2002–4) (pp. 351-360)

      James Edward McGreevey (August 6, 1957–), lawyer, Democrat, assemblyman, mayor of Woodbridge, senator, and governor, resigned three years after his election amid scandals, citing an extramarital relationship with the man he had appointed a staff assistant for homeland security issues.

      McGreevey was born in Jersey City, the oldest child of John P. McGreevey, a Marine Corps veteran and sales manager for a trucking company, and Veronica Smith McGreevey, a nurse and instructor of nursing. Reared in Carteret, McGreevey attended St. Joseph Grammar School and St. Joseph High School in Metuchen. He displayed an early interest in politics. One of...

    • Richard J. Codey (2004–6) (pp. 361-367)

      Richard James Codey (November 27, 1946–) succeeded to the governor’s office in 2004 under circumstances without precedent in New Jersey history. His predecessor, James E. McGreevey, resigned after revealing that he had a sexual relationship with a male staff member who served briefly as a homeland security adviser. Codey, as president of the state senate, was next in line to serve out McGreevey’s term. The post of lieutenant governor did not exist at the time. Although Codey had been in state politics for more than three decades and had served as acting governor for three days in early 2002,...

    • Jon S. Corzine (2006–10) (pp. 368-378)

      Jon Stevens Corzine (January 1, 1947–) served as New Jersey’s fifty-fourth governor from 2006 to 2010. Corzine grew up in Wiley Station, Illinois, on a 120-acre family farm. Corzine’s grandfather had been an affluent farmer with a two-thousand-acre farm who lost everything during the Great Depression. His father worked the farm and sold insurance, while his mother taught at Memorial Elementary School in Taylorville, Illinois. He was a sports star at Taylorville High School, where he was captain of the basketball team and quarterback of the football team. After graduating in 1965, Corzine attended the University of Illinois at...

  12. Bibliography (pp. 379-394)
  13. Notes on Contributors (pp. 395-404)
  14. Index (pp. 405-420)


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