New Jersey officially recognizes 1664 as the year the state was founded when land owned by the Duke of York was given to Sir George Carteret and John Lord Berkeley. That transaction record proclaimed that “said Tract of Land is hereafter to be called by the name or names of New Cesarea or New Jersey.” That makes this year New Jersey’s 350th Anniversary! To celebrate this major milestone, we’ve undertaken a project we’re calling 35 New Jersey Firsts where we highlight 35 things that first came to life in New Jersey.
The first balloon flight in America was made by Jean-Pierre Blanchard. On January 9, 1793, he launched from the prison yard of Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia and landed the balloon in Deptford carrying a letter from George Washington. President George Washington and future presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe were all present for the flight.
Blanchard left the United States soon after the flight in 1797. He married Marie Madeleine-Sophie Armant in 1804. On February 20, 1808, Blanchard had a heart attack while in his balloon at the Hague. He fell from his balloon and died roughly a year later (March 7, 1809) from his severe injuries. His widow continued to support herself with ballooning demonstrations until it also killed her.
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