History of Trenton
Establishment & Growth
Trenton is the capital of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84, 913. The city is part of the Greater New York City Combined Statistical Area. Trenton dates back at least to June 3, 1719, when mention was made of a constable being appointed for Trenton, while the area was still part of Hunterdon County.
Boundaries were recorded for Trenton Township as of March 2, 1720, a courthouse and jail were constructed in Trenton around 1720 and the Freeholders of Hunterdon County met annually in Trenton. Trenton became New Jersey's capital as of November 25, 1790, and the City of Trenton was formed within Trenton Township on November 13, 1792. Trenton Township was incorporated as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798. Portions of the township were taken on February 22, 1834, to form Ewing Township.
A series of annexations took place over a 50-year period, with the city absorbing South Trenton borough (April 14, 1851), portions of Nottingham Township (April 14, 1856), Chambersburg and Millham Township (both on March 30, 1888) and Wilbur borough (February 28, 1898).
First Settlers & Early Years
The first settlement which would become Trenton was established by Quakers in 1679, in the region then called the Falls of the Delaware, led by Mahlon Stacy from Handsworth, Sheffield, UK. Quakers were being persecuted in England at this time and North America provided the perfect opportunity to exercise their religious freedom.
By 1719, the town adopted the name Trent-towne, after William Trent, one of its leading landholders who purchased much of the surrounding land from Stacy's family. This name later was shortened to Trenton.
During the American Revolutionary War, the city was the site of George Washington's first military victory. On December 26, 1776, Washington and his army, after crossing the icy Delaware River to Trenton, defeated the Hessian troops garrisoned there. After the war, Trenton was briefly the national capital of the United States in November and December of 1784. The city was considered as a permanent capital for the new country, but the southern states favored a location south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
War of 1812
During the 1812 War, the primary hospital facility for the U.S. Army was at a temporary location on Broad Street.
Throughout the 19th Century, Trenton grew steadily, as Europeans came to work in its pottery and wire rope mills. In 1837, with the population now too large for government by council, a new mayoral government was adopted, with by-laws that remain in operation to this day.