New Jersey played an important role in the early history of this country. For those interested in the history of the War of Independence, you will not want to miss these landmarks in the Garden State. In fact, New Jersey is dubbed the “Crossroads of the American Revolution.” When you are ready to take a trip back to the past, you must check out these fascinating historical sites.
Robinson Plantation Museum – Clark
Clark is home to one of the oldest houses in New Jersey. The Dr. William Robinson Plantation Museum dates back to 1690. The late 17th-century frame construction is a rare sight in the Garden State. Visitors can see the restored farmhouse with craved beams, a rubble stone foundation, and a huge fireplace in the cellar.
The exterior of the house also features some common characteristics of the period, including a crenelated chimney, diamond paneled windows, a pitched roof, and overhanging corner pendants. Dr. William Robinson was the original owner of the home, and he was one of the first physicians in the area. Today, visitors can explore the grounds, museum, and restored home on the site.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park – Monmouth County
One of the largest battles of the American Revolution occurred in the area now known as Monmouth Battlefield State Park. This area preserves the rural 18th-century landscape of hedgerows and farmland. You can even visit the restored Revolutionary War farmhouse and visitors center. The state park has miles of trails for activities on horseback or on foot.
You will not want to miss the Battle of Monmouth Reenactment. This annual event occurs every June, and it often attracts thousands of visitors. You can get a glimpse of the camp conditions with enlisted men, pacing sentries, and the women’s army cooking for the troops. The parade grounds are the main attraction, as visitors watch the soldiers drill and fire the cannons. Kids can even get on the fun as the sergeants look for recruits to fill the ranks and often run drills with wooden muskets.
Jacobus Vanderveer House and Wallace House – Somerset County
Another important site to the American Revolution is the Jacobus Vanderveer House and Museum. During the winter months in 1778-79, this site was the headquarters for General Henry Knox. The house is also the only surviving building of the former Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment, which was America’s first military training academy. Another important site is the Wallace House. Located in Somerset County, you can visit the home of General George Washington during the 1778 winter campaign. One of the largest homes in the county, the General used this house as his headquarters for the Middlebrook encampment between December 1778 and June 1779. You can step in the footsteps of the future first President as he strategized with top generals.
Boxwood Hall – Elizabeth
Built in 1750, Boxwood Hall was the former home of some prominent historical figures. It was first owned by the one-time mayor of Elizabethtown and merchant, Samuel Woodruff. At one point, Elias Boudinot won an auction for the home in 1772. He lived there with his wife, two teenage daughters, and a young man by the name of Alexander Hamilton. While Hamilton studied at the Elizabethtown Academy, he roomed in the Boudinot household. The famous history of Boxwood Hall did not end there. When the American Revolution broke out, the Boudinot family moved out the home, and Elias assumed the role as the Commissary General for the Continental Army. It was Boudinot who signed the treaty to end the war with Great Britain. When General George Washington was making his way to New York for his presidential inauguration, he made a stop at Boxwood Hall. The Boudinots returned to their home after the war, but they did sell the home to the youngest signer of the United States Constitution, Jonathan Dayton. Today, you can tour this historic home and learn about life in the early days of America.
Weehawken Dueling Grounds – Weehawken
Speaking of Alexander Hamilton, his famous duel with Aaron Burr took place in Weehawken. When people needed to settle their differences in the 18th century, they would head to the dueling field. Alexander Hamilton was a resident of New York. When dueling laws forbid the practice, he headed over to New Jersey. Many men hopped a boat and traveled to Weehawken for duels at dawn. In 1804, Hamilton dueled Aaron Burr and would suffer a fatal injury. He would die in New York, but you can see the firing spot of the infamous shot. In fact, the park has a plaque dedicated to this duel, and the rock where Hamilton rested his head is still located here.
Washington Crossing State Park – Hopewell Township
One of the most celebrated moments in the America Revolution was the crossing of the Delaware River. On Christmas night in 1776, Washington and his men crossed the icy river to surprise the British in Trenton. Once known as Johnson’s Ferry, it is now called Washington Crossing State Park. At the Visitor’s Center, you can watch a short film about the crossing. The museum has many artifacts and exhibits about the other battles in the state. Nearby is the Johnson Ferry House, and it hosts guided tours, living history demonstrations, and events throughout the year. If you are in town for Christmas, you can even witness a live reenactment of the famous river crossing.
Old Barracks Museum – Trenton
Finally, the last stop in the American Revolution tour is the Old Barracks in Trenton. This spot played an important role in the war. It was the training ground for the Continental Army, held British prisoners of war, and even become a hospital for wounded troops. The New Jersey State Capitol houses the interactive museum. Visitors can see demonstrations and exhibits on life in the 18th century. Among the collection is the oldest American flag in existence. One of the best times to come to the Capitol is during Patriots Week in December. At that time, you can see historical performances, battle reenactments, and much more celebrating this important time in history.
As you can see, New Jersey played a pivotal role in the early history of the United States. You can follow in the founders’ footsteps and explore some of the best preserved historical sites of the American Revolution.