New Jersey Counties Page
HistoryEuropean contact began with the exploration of the Jersey Shore by Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. At the time of European contact, many tribes of the Lenape lived in the area.
In the 17th century, the New Jersey region came under the control of the Swedes and the Dutch, resulting in a struggle in which the Dutch proved victorious (1655). However, the English seized the Dutch colony of New Netherland in 1664. New Jersey became one of the Thirteen Colonies which broke away from Britain in the American Revolution, adopting the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Becoming a state upon the formation of the United States, New Jersey saw significant action during the American Revolutionary War. New Jersey's delegates signed the Articles of Confederation in 1779 and Princeton acted as the nation's capital for four months in 1783.
In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the United States Constitution.
In the 19th century, New Jersey cities led the United States into the Industrial Revolution and provided soldiers for many of the wars the United States fought, including 88,000 men for the American Civil War. The state became a component of the Underground Railroad. The state's transportation system continued to improve with the construction of canals and more rail lines that helped industrialization develop further. During the early 20th century New Jersey prospered, but the economy weakened in the Great Depression of the 1930s. During World War II (1939-1945) and the Cold War (c. 1947-1991), New Jersey's shipyards and military bases played an important role in the defense of the United States. In the 1960s New Jersey became the site of several race riots and of the Glassboro Summit Conference (1967), between American President Lyndon B. Johnson and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin.