Dear NJHM:

Was Trenton NJ's only capital? If not what other city was?



Dear NYNJ:

You know, we thought this would be easy, but...

Trenton was chosen as the State of New Jersey's capital in 1790, so obviously there were earlier ones, but it is confusing. The very first capital of New Jersey was Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth) named in 1668 when the original Proprietors, Lord Berkeley and George Carteret, send Philip Carteret to govern their new possession. Later they moved the capital to Perth Amboy in 1686, and when New Jersey was divided into East and West Jersey, Burlington became the capital of the latter, and Perth Amboy remained the capital of the former. In 1702, New Jersey became a Royal Colony, but both towns remained capitals and the Royal Governors split time between the two (when they didn't govern from New York City, but that is another story). The last Royal Governor, William Franklin (son of Benjamin Franklin), was arrested in Perth Amboy in 1776, after traveling there from his estate in Burlington. Now it gets a little confusing. It seems Princeton served as the Capital of New Jersey from 1776 until 1790, but I am not sure it was ever officially named as such. The legislature met there, but it may have met in other towns on occasions also. Therefore, I would say that Trenton was the first "official" Capital of the State of New Jersey, but others served as such before the Revolution and for a short time after.

Hope this helps, and let us know if you need any further or more detailed information.



Have a question about New Jersey History? Click below and we will do our best to answer it.