This Week in New Jersey History...
- 1812 Following the declaration of war against Great Britain, Federalists, hoping to gain pacifist Quaker votes, re-christened themselves ''Friends of Peace,'' A disgruntled Republican threatened a Federalist newspaper, Elizabeth's Essex Patriot, in a message warning ''Your damd tory paper will be serve a Baltimore trick if don't quit printing federal lies. If your shop burn down...tis not any more than what you deserve.'' The paper's office was indeed torched on October 20, 1813.
- 1923 A gunfight between bootleggers and gangsters From Newark and Highlands over possession of a shipment of smuggled liquor erupted in the streets of Atlantic Highlands. One man, Frank LeConte of Newark, was mortally wounded and several others injured as local residents dove for cover. Several men were arrested, but no one on either side of the dispute would testify, and so all charges were dropped.
- 1845 A baseball game, in which the New York Club defeated the Brooklyn Club by a score of twenty-four to four, was played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken. This contest was prior to the June 19, 1846 game that is usually cited as the date of the first game played at Elysian Field or in New Jersey. In the latter contest, the New York Club defeated the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York by a score of twenty-three to one.
- 2013 Same sex marriage became legally recognized in New Jersey, as a trial court ruling invalidated the state's restriction on marriage between persons of the same sex.
- 1746 The College of New Jersey, today's Princeton University, was chartered.
- 1777 Hessian attackers suffered a disastrous defeat at Red Bank when their attack on American Fort Mercer, on the Delaware below Philadelphia, was repulsed. The Hessians suffered 400 casualties, including their commander, Colonel Carl Von Donop.
- 1871 A group of Jewish residents met at the Odd Fellows Hall in Hoboken to establish the first Jewish congregation in Hudson County, Adas Emuno, or ''Congregation of Faith.''
- 1919 Elizabeth Ann Britton was born to Nan Britton in Asbury Park. In her 1927 book The President's Daughter, Nan Britton claimed that Elizabeth was the illegitimate daughter of President Warren Harding. Although there was no independent evidence of this, Britton did know Harding and he was known to be a philanderer. Elizabeth Ann Britton died on November 17, 2005.
- 1935 Mobster Arthur Flegenheimer, better known as ''Dutch Schultz,'' was mortally wounded along with three of his associates at the Palace Chop House in Newark. He died in the hospital the following day.
- 1954 Opening ceremonies were held for the Garden State Parkway, although the total 164 miles of the road were not completed until 1956. A 9-mile extension was added to the parkway to connect it to the New York Thruway in 1957.
- 1942 US Marine Corps Sergeant John Basilone of Raritan, NJ, commanding a machine gun section defending Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, held off an attack by Japanese soldiers, fighting for three days and nights without sleep, and ending the battle firing at them with his .45 caliber automatic pistol.
- 1982 Five men, including the captain and first mate, drowned and three others were missing and presumed lost when a charter fishing boat with twenty-two people aboard was apparently hit by a huge wave, tipping the craft over and hurling passengers into a choppy sea within sight of shore off Point Pleasant.
- 1782 Loyalists massacred local militiamen on Long Beach Island in a surprise night attack.
- 1931 The George Washington Bridge, connecting Fort Lee and New York City was opened for traffic. It has been called ''the most significant long-span suspension bridge of the twentieth Century.''
- 2006 The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples are constitutionally entitled to all the rights and benefits that heterosexual couples receive through civil marriage.
- 1861 Scientific American magazine announced that Robert L. and Edwin A. Stevens of the inventive Hoboken family had produced a prototype ''light steam carriage'' which was the forerunner of the streetcar.
- 1926 A New Jersey state survey found that the intersection of Broad and Market Streets in Newark, considered one of the busiest intersections in the country, witnessed 2,644 trolley crossings, 4,098 bus crossings, 2,657 taxi crossings, 3,474 commercial vehicle crossings and 23, 751 automobile crossings in one day. A 1915 survey had revealed 280,000 pedestrian crossings in a day.
- 1781 News of the British surrender at Yorktown on October 19 reached Trenton, where it was celebrated ''with every mark of joy and festivity...in the evening the whole village was illuminated.''
- 1836 A fire broke out in a Mechanic Street rooming house in Newark. Before it ended, fire departments from Rahway, Elizabeth, Belleville and as far away as New York City arrived to help local firemen and citizens contain and extinguish the blaze. The fire consumed an entire city block bounded by Mechanic, Broad, Mulberry and Market Streets, with damage estimated at $120,000 in the currency of the day.
- 1923 Pop Art painter Roy Lichtenstein, whose explorations of enlarged comic book imagery made him famous, was born in Manhattan. Lichtenstein moved to Highland Park in 1960, after securing a position as Assistant Professor of Art at Douglass College, where he was inspired by colleagues to pursue his pop art sensibility, resulting in a sold-out show in 1962. His works have been the subject of many exhibitions throughout the world, including retrospectives by the Guggenheim Museum. Lichtenstein died on September 29, 1997.
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These are brought to you courtesy of GSL author and Board of Advisers member, Joseph G. Bilby, who with his co-authors, James M. Madden and Harry Ziegler, have written 350 Years of New Jersey History, From Stuyvesant to Sandy (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2013), due out January 28, 2014 and available from local booksellers and chain bookstores, online book vendors including Amazon, and in e-book form for Kindle, Nook and iPad.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief