Divided Loyalties

New Jersey’s cultural diversity during the Colonial and Revolutionary periods formed the foundation for conflict that made the American Revolution a virtual civil war dividing families and separating neighbor from neighbor. Ethnic, religious and economic differences contributed to opposing perspectives and allegiances in this affluent agricultural region, as residents chose to remain loyal to the British Crown, ally with the cause of independence, or remain neutral. This theme is especially strong in the area east of the Watchung Mountains stretching from the vicinity of New Bridge and Hackensack southward to Woodbridge.

This division in loyalties was strongly felt in the civilian community and had lasting effects on the state’s population. After the New Jersey Legislature passed an act allowing for the confiscation of Loyalists’ property, many found themselves homeless and moved to British-held New York for the duration of the war. Others moved permanently to Nova Scotia, Canada.

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