35 New Jersey Firsts – #24 – First National Historical Park

by Alice Magdziak • July 6, 2014 • Third StateComments (0)1773

Since it’s the Fourth of July weekend, we thought this was the perfect New Jersey First to tell you about.  The very first National Historical Park in the United States is the Morristown National Historical Park.

photo credit: MorrisTourism.org

photo credit: MorrisTourism.org

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.

Morristown National Historical Park was designated the first National Historical Park on March 2, 1933. The National Historical Park encompasses everything around the headquarters of General George Washington’s winter encampment of the Continental Army. The National Park Service maintains the landscape, structures, features, archeological resources and collections of the Continental Army, General George Washington and related Revolutionary War sites right in Morristown.

Washington famously chose Morristown as his headquarters because of its location along communication routes, easily defended terrain and access to resources for the troops. The Continental Army stayed there over two winters—first in 1777 and then in 1779-1780 (the famously severe winter that really tested the Army).

The national park consists of four separate areas: Washington’s Headquarters Unit, the Fort Nonsense Unit, the Jockey Hollow Unit, and the New Jersey Brigade Area. There are two original structures, the Ford Mansion in Morristown and the Wick House in Jockey Hollow.

We’re planning on doing a more in depth tour of our very first National Historical Park later this year so stay tuned for more information on this important part of American and New Jersey history.


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