The Federalist Fathers and the Founding of Jersey City
Part 1
Prepared For And Published By
The Historical Society of Hudson County, NJ

Originally published in 1927
By Wm. H. Richardson

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Richard Varick, Federalist
Friend of Washington – One of the Founders

On the invitation of the New York Historical Society, Charles H. Winfield prepared a paper on the beginnings of Jersey City. It was read June 2, 1891, and afterward printed by the Caxton Press, New York, as a 97-page pamphlet, entitled “A Monograph on the Founding of Jersey City.” It was amplified with annotations, maps, pictures, etc. Today it is among the “rare” pieces of our local historical literature. The prefatory chapter, dated Thanksgiving Day, 1891, concludes with this paragraph:

I have not hesitated to incur the expense of a proper presentation of the founding of our City, convinced that the residents therein will appreciate it.
Apparently the conclusions or findings expressed all thru the pamphlet as well as the self-satisfaction with which that paragraph just quoted is charged, have been absorbed at their face value by the few thoughtful people still left in Jersey City who even think at all of Jersey City as having had any background whatever. In the minds of most folk of today Jersey City, like Topsy, has “just grow’d!” Certainly no one can read and digest that Monograph of 1891 and escape the conviction that the story of the founding of Jersey City is a record of discouragement, disappointment and defeat for those who first believed in it.

In 1894 Alexander McLean’s History of Jersey City was published; from his background as a newspaperman Mr. McLean naturally saw many more sprightly and interesting things going on in the infant city, but he, too, chapter-heads the records of those early days with the story of the failure of the new adventure here. Win. H. Shaw’s compilation of 1884 of the History of Hudson County fortunately does not give us much detail, so there is less to be said of that. But those volumes are the only "source documents" to which most of us must necessarily go in order to know our city; and frankly, in the light of modern historical research they are inadequate and misleading.


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