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the townships of Clinton and Union; thence along the Northwesterly and Westerly line of division between the township of Union and Clinton to the Northerly division line of the township of Springfield; thence down the East branch of the Rahway River to the junction of the East and West branch of said River to the Mouth of William and Abner Stites' mill race; thence along said Mill Race to William and Abner Stites' Mill pond; thence along the middle of said pond or ponds to the mouth of the brook that runs South and near to Wellington Campbell's paper mill; thence up said brook to the new Road near said Wellington Campell's mill dam; thence up said new Road to the Morris Turnpike; thence up said Turnpike to the Passaic River at a point in the West division line of the Township of Springfield; thence along said line to the northerly division of the township of New Providence; thence along the North and West division line of the Township of New Providence to the division line of the Township of Plainfield; thence along the Westerly aud Easterly division line of the Township of Plainfield to the division line between the Counties of Essex and Middlesex; thence Easterly along the division line between said Counties to the place of Beginning on the Sound including and intending to include within the said metes and bounds all that part of the County of Essex now contained within the city of Elizabeth and the townships of Rahway, Westfield, Plainfield, New Providence and that portion of the township of Springfield included within the boundary lines herein before described be and the same arc hereby erected into a separate County to be called the County of Union and said lines shall hereafter be the division lines between the Counties of Essex, Somerset, Morris, Middlesex and the said County of Union respectively."
There are now twenty-one counties in the State, eight having been created since the establishment of the constitution of 1776. There have been changes in all these municipalities, since their first organization. New townships and cities have been formed, county and township lines have been changed, but the counties themselves are substantially the same that they were forty years ago, when the last one was created.
Third Stage; Statehood; Different Parties; Titles of Acts, by Constitution. Required in the Name of the Colony, not of the State; This Title Never Used; Qualifications of Members of the Legislature; Provincial Congress Approves the Declaration of Independence; Title of Provincial Congress Changed; Perpetuates Itself; A Committee of Safety; Recognized by the Legislature and Called Council of Safety; Powers of Council of Safety; First Meeting of Council of Safety; First Assembly of New Jersey Under Constitution; Oaths of Abjuration and Allegiance; Three Legislative Bodies; Provision Made to Prevent Errors in the Practice of the Courts; Deportment of Inhabitants in Their Changed Condition; First Legislation; Confiscation of Estates of Tories; Personal and Real Estate Sold; Change in the Laws of Descent; Court of Admiralty; Gift to Steuben; His Letter; William Livingston Elected Governor; Sketch of His Life.
On the 2d day of July, 177fj, New Jersey entered upon the third stage of its existence—that of independent statehood. It then cut loose from all its former governmental associations to work out its own destiny, unassisted and alone, though at first with a half hearted determination; a door was left open by its Provincial Congress through which it might retreat if failure should wreck its high hopes. Through that door the President of that very Congress sought refuge, not many months after he had signed that Constitution. Many in the new fledged State were undetermined what course to pursue; they could not yet shake off the old associations, renounce king and parliament, break loose from ties of kindred and the mother country; and there were some who still honored King George as their Sovereign and would not recognize the new order of affairs—did not believe that the colonics, in their weakness, could cope with the armies of Great Britain. But the very great majority of the people of New Jersey sympathized with the Congresses, Provincial and Continental, and were prepared to do all and dare all so that independence might be achieved.
New Jersey became the battleground of the Revolution; her fair lands were devastated, her villages destroyed, her churches burnt, her people plundered, her women and maidens insulted and outraged.
Every indignity that rancor and hate could devise were heaped upon her citizens. Still, suffering, bleeding, hungering, beaten, but not dismayed; driven from one point to another, but never discouraged; never faltering, but holding fast to her high hopes of liberty and freedom; her indomitable people, her citizen soldiers, her minute men, with the grim tenacity with which an unfaltering trust in the righteousness of their cause and in the God of Battles could alone impart, fought out the contest to the last. The story of these long seven years of strife need not be repeated in these pages.
The new Constitution, in its loth clause, declared "that the laws of this Colony shall begin in the following style, viz. "Be it enacted by the Council and General Assembly of this Colony, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same." On the 18th of July, 1776, this same Provincial Congress which proclaimed the Constitution, assumed the name of the "Convention of the State of New Jersey."
By the second clause of the Constitution, it was directed that the Legislative Council and Assembly should meet for the first time on the second Tuesday of August then next. By the third section the qualifications of members of the Council and of the Assembly were designated. Members of the Council must be inhabitants, freeholders and residents for one whole year in the County they represented and worth at least ^1000 in real and personal estate, in the same County; the members of the Assembly were required to possess the same qualifications except as to the value of their estate, which must be at least .£500.
The Provincial Congress, on the 17th of July, 1776, approved the action of the Continental Congress, in its Declaration of Independence, in these memorable words: "Whereas the Honorable Continental Congress have declared the United Colonies free and independent States, we, the deputies of New Jersey, in Provincial Congress assembled, do resolve and declare that we will support the freedom and independence of the said States with our lives and fortunes and with the whole force of New Jersey." On the next day after the passage of this resolution, it was declared "that this House from henceforth, instead of the style and title of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey do adopt and assume the style and title of the Convention of the State of New Jersey." This was before the meeting of the Legislature, and, of course, that body, after this example set by the Provincial Con
gress, could not and never did, use the word "Colony " in the passing of any laws or in any other governmental document.
The Provincial Convention, as the Congress was now called, took measures to perpetuate itself and its authority, long enough at least, to meet the exigencies of the situation; it therefore directed that yearly, during the continuance of its troubles with Great Britain, the citizens should meet in their respective counties, on the 21st of September, and elect five deputies to the Convention.
The Committee of Safety, appointed by the Provincial Convention, was authorized to act as an executive body, while the Convention was not in session, and met from time to time, until March 15, 1777, when it was recognized by the Legislature, but reorganized and called the Council of Safety by an act, entitled, "An act for investing the Governor and a Council, consisting of twelve, with certain powers therein mentioned for a limited time." After this it consisted of twelve persons besides the Governor, who acted as its President. It was invested with most extraordinary powers, which could only have been granted under very peculiar circumstances and to very wise and judicious men. Among them were these: To act asa Board of Justices in criminal matters; to fill vacant military offices; to apprehend disaffected persons and commit them to jail (without Bail or mainprize) and remove them from jail to jail; to call out so many of the militia as might be necessary for carrying their orders into execution, or for a guard to those who were compelled to serve; to send the wives and children of fugitive Tories into the enemy's lines; to cause offenders to be tried in any County in the State; to cause persons refusing to take the oaths of government, to be committed to jail, or to send them (if willing) within the enemy's lines; to make any house or room a legal jail; to commit disaffected persons to jail until the release of citizens kidnapped by the enemy; to negotiate exchange of these disaffected persons for the subjects of the State detained by the enemy; to erect beacons; to disarm the disaffected; to relieve wounded soldiers and to provide food for prisoners.
On the 17th of March, 1777, two days after the passage of the act reorganizing that body, the Council met at Haddonfield and proceeded at once to business. There were nine members present, besides the Governor. The first matter brought to their attention was the arrest of six prisoners who were examined and forwarded to the Council of Safety of Pennsylvania, where it was ascertained they belonged
The act of the Legislature recognizing this Council limited the time of its operation to six months, but the statute was renewed several times with amendments; the last of which authorized the President of the Council to grant exemptions from military duty and extended the term of the Council to the end of the next session of the Legislature.
The first Assembly of New Jersey, under the Constitution, met on the 27th of August, 1776, at Princeton, and organized by the appointment of John Stephens, Vice President of the Council, and John Hart, as Speaker of the Asssembly. The first act it passed, had a title, part of which is quoted for the purpose of exhibiting the alert action of the first law making power in the State of New Jersey, to recognize the fact that it was no longer a colony, but an independent government and this too, notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution, adopted less than a year before, provided that all laws should be passed in the name of the colony of New Jersey. "An ordinance for repealing an ordinance of a Convention of the State of New Jersey." The word colony was never used in the title of a single act after the Constitution became the organic law of the State; the word State was always substituted for it. On the 19th of September, it passed an act requiring all officers, civil and military, to take two oaths; one called the oath of abjuration and the other the oath of allegiance, which was of this form: "I, A. B., do sincerely profess and swear (or, if one of the people called Quakers, affirm) that I do not hold myself bound to bear allegiance to the King of Great Britain, so help me God." That was called the oath of abjuration. The oath of allegiance was this: "I, A. B., do sincerely profess and swear (or, if one of the people called Quakers, affirm) that I do and will bear true Faith and Allegiance to the Government established in this State under the authority of the people, So help me God."
The Council of Safety was an exceedingly busy body of men and necessarily so, if they gave attention to the many and varied matters included within the scope of their duty. They were in session almost daily, meeting at different points in the State, most often at Haddonfield; sometimes at Morristown and at other places in the State. The oaths of abjuration and allegiance were tendered to all suspected persons brought before the Council; if any refused to take them, they were sent to prison or recognized with sureties, to appear for trial. The testimony if it were deemed worthy of retention, was reduced to writing and filed. If this testimony were still in existence and could be unearthed, much valuable information might be obtained.
The strange spectacle was presented of three bodies, representatives