My previous articlediscussed the evolution of political parties in the early 1850s, both nationally and in Hunterdon County. The Democratic party was still going strong, while the Whig party was fading away and two new parties had come on the scene: the Republican party and the American party, better known as the Know Nothings.
Hunterdon County Politics in the 1850s
I am going to step away briefly from the life of John C. Hopewell to shed some light on a political movement that Hopewell and many other Flemington notables got caught up in.
(Hunterdon’s Militias, part 2)
My previous article (Hunterdon’s Militia) included mention of the Locktown Volunteers and their Captain, John Bellis, who happened to be “an ardent Republican” in a neighborhood of equally ardent Democrats or Copperheads.1 How Bellis managed to get along with his neighbors is an interesting question.
Hunterdon County, like all the other counties in New Jersey, had a state militia system in place since before the Revolution. Gen. Washington relied on these volunteers as he fought the British in New Jersey, and they did their part during the War of 1812. But after that, there was little need for them—not until the mid 1850s, when they began to reorganize.
This article was originally published in “The Delaware Township Post” on March 1, 2009. The Post went out of business, and the articles I published there have disappeared. It seems appropriate now to republish this article, greatly modified, here.
Disturbing news of late, somehow reminiscent of the lead-up to America’s first Civil War. Whilst scrolling through the Hunterdon Gazette recently, I came across an item that caught my attention, published on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1859:
This is the last month of Benjamin H. Ellicott’s Diary. He continues to report on war news from his home in Baltimore, but, on August 18th he describes a visit to Croton, New Jersey on August 11th that leads him and wife Mary Ann Warford to decide to relocate there. But he does not explain why that decision was made. Perhaps they felt that the war was getting too close to them. Or maybe Mary Ann’s father, Elisha Warford, was asking them to come live with him.