New Jersey Liberty and Prosperity

 

With historic towns where battles were fought,

    And presidents have made their home;
        It's called New Jersey, and I toast and tout it

            Wherever I may roam.      from I'm From New Jersey by Red Mascara Copyright 1961, 1989 By Red Mascara

 

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Abraham Clark
John Hart
Francis Hopkinson
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon

 

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New Jersey 1844, Preamble.

 We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Al-
mighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath
so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a
blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the
same unimpaired to succeeding generations, do ordain and
establish this Constitution.

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And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself.  

 I Kings 2:3

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Institutions of Higher Learning

1746  College of New Jersey is founded by Presbyterian "New Lights" as alternative to "Old Lights" (anti-revivalist) of Yale.  It was moved to Princeton in 1747   "Under God's power she flourishes"  

Princeton UniversityPrinceton's first President, the Reverend Jonathan Dickinson, declared: "Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ."

    The four originators of the College of New Jersey were moderate-leaning members of the "New Lights."  Three of them were graduates of Yale: Jonathan Dickinson-pastor at Elizabethtown, Aaron Burr-pastor at Newark, and John Pierson-pastor at Woodbridge. The fourth, Ebenezer Pemberton-pastor of the Presbyterian Church in New York, was a graduate of Harvard.  The "New Lights" believed in revivalism and were happy to have George Whitefield as a guest to their pulpits.  William Tennent, they felt, was a bit too flamboyant and intrusive.  It was Samuel Davies who sailed to Britain in 1753 with fellow minister Gilbert Tennent to raise money to build Nassau Hall for the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and served as its president from 1759 to 1761.
 

    The first charter was granted by John Hamilton, an Anglican Acting Governor who granted a charter to Princeton when the previous governor would not.  He was attacked by the Anglicans who said he was not really qualified to grant the charter.  The next governor, Jonathan Belcher, was a graduate of Harvard and a Congregationalist.  He issued another charter in 1748, which addressed the concern for "State as well as Church" by making the governor of New Jersey a trustee.  The charter also appointed four members of the Provincial Council, two members of the Society of Friends and other prominent laymen, two members of the Episcopal Church, and one member of the Dutch Reformed Church to a board of trustees.

    Reverend Jonathan Edwards was involved with the ministry of the College of New Jersey for 23 years but left Northampton amidst theological controversy.  He later wrote a letter to the Reverend Aaron Burr about the "great design" of the College of New Jersey.  Edwards refers to the close bonds that linked himself to like-minded ministers in other parts of America and in England and Scotland.  Various plans for a fundraising tour were being discussed, and the promoters of the college were looking abroad for help from their brethren.  Burr, President of the College at that time, was among those being mentioned as a possible leader of such a mission.   

 From the Great Awakening onward, evangelical Christians have founded colleges to train a ministry to deliver their message.  The College of New Jersey (later Princeton) was founded in 1746.  A fundraising brochure for the new college was prepared in 1764 by Presbyterian Samuel Blair, Nassau.    

See:  An Account of the College of New Jersey
Samuel Blair   Woodbridge, New Jersey: James Parker, 1764
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (74)

Caleb Smith, Diligence in the Work of God and Activity During Life (1758) [Biography of President Aaron Burr of Princeton College]

    Jonathan Belcher was the colonial governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire from 1730-1741 and governor of New Jersey from 1746 until the year of his death, 1757.  He also founded the college now known as Princeton University to promote knowledge of both good government and Christianity.
    He had a definite view of government that was shared by Christians of all ages which provides an insight into the mind of Early America. He believed that a "good ruler" must serve as the father of his people and care for their welfare as much as a father cares for the well-being of his own child. We should all follow the golden rule as laid out by Jesus.
    A compassionate man, Jonathan Belcher often helped and befriended the powerless in his governments. He was a "terror to evil doers," but to those who lived righteously, he was a firm and faithful friend as written in his biography written by his friend Aaron Burr, Sr. (1715/16-1757), then president of the Princeton college.
    Jonathan Belcher highly valued truth and morality, fairness, justice for all (regardless of social status), and impartiality. He was in favor of religious liberty, regardless of which Christian denomination.  He favored changing the inheritance laws so that women, as well as men, could inherit property. He protected the persecuted common people and championed their right to personal safety and freedom.  For instance, when he was governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, he stepped in to prevent a lieutenant governor from illegally flogging colonists in violation of their civil rights.

    He diligently supported the American militia not only in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, but also during the French and Indian War of the 1750's. Governor Belcher urged governors of other colonies to pay their soldiers' salaries fully and promptly, and to give them their back pay.  He wanted the American colonies to be united against their common foe while many of his views foreshadowed the rallying cry of the American Revolution for liberty and equality. 

    Despite all his accomplishments, Governor Belcher remained a humble man who was fully aware of the frailty of his own humanity. He didn't seek glory for himself, only for Christ.  http://www.belcherfoundation.org/christiangov.htm

1766  Queens College [later Rutgers] founded by Dutch Reformers in New Brunswick, New Jersey.   "Sun of righteousness, shine upon the West also"

 

Rutgers College:

    In 1766 William Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's son who became governor of New Jersey, signed the charter that began Queen's College named in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg, associate of King George III.   Queen's College was established to train young men for the ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church.

    During the Revolutionary war, classes were held sporadically in private homes.  By 1795, the college had to close for a while due to money woes. To guide student morals, 104 rules and regulations were published.  Activities such as dancing and fencing, billiards, cards, dice, beer and oyster houses, firearms, powder, and public ball alleys were declared taboo.  No student was to "disguise himself for the purpose of imposition or amusement," "speak upon the public stage anything indecent, profane, or immoral," or "employ a barber on the Lord's day to dress his head or shave him."
    In 1812, the college was forced to close for the second time to reopen in 1825.  In December, the trustees renamed the college in honor of Colonel Henry Rutgers, a Revolutionary War hero and church elder well known for his philanthropy.  A bachelor, he devoted $5,000 and the central college bell which still hangs in the Old Queens building of Rutgers.  Rutgers was honored, said the trustees, because he epitomized Christian values.

    Before he died, he wrote his Last Will and Testament: "Principally, and first of all, I resign my soul to the Almighty Being who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying on the merits of Jesus Christ for the pardon of my sins."      See: http://www.rutgerschurch.com/

Foundations, America's early governing documents:

 

  "XVIII. That no person shall ever, within this Colony, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor, under any pretense whatever, be compelled to attend any place of worship, contrary to his own faith and judgment; nor shall any person, within this Colony, ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rates, for the purpose of building or repairing any other church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or has deliberately or voluntarily engaged himself to perform.

  XIX. That there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this Province, in preference to another; and that no Protestant inhabitant of this Colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles; but that all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect, who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity, enjoyed by others their fellow subjects."  New Jersey Constitution, 1776

        The early settlers developed colonial charters that were decidedly evangelical in their purpose, often expressing a goal for their colony to advance the Christian religion.  As the country progressed up to the revolutionary war period, state constitutions evolved from the charters.  Those state constitutions served to maintain the order already established by the original charters, the charters based on Christianity.