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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Chester Township, Burlington County, October 1807

Chester Township
Burlington County, New Jersey
October 13 & 14, 1807
Ink on Paper

This poll list transcription records the names of voters from an October 1807 state election held in Chester Township, Burlington County. Voters cast their ballots at a schoolhouse in Moorestown. The election determined annual officeholders for the New Jersey State Assembly and Legislative Council, and for Burlington County Sheriff and Coroner. The town officers presiding over the election included Judge Edward French, Assessor John Bispham, Clerk Joseph Bispham, and Collector Nathan Middleton.

The poll list includes the names of 260 total voters. At least 38 of these voters are women, accounting for nearly 15 percent of the voters on the list. 

While we do not know the partisan majority in Burlington County in 1806, we can assume it voted Democratic Republican, as there were no other Federalist-majority counties in New Jersey in 1806. Chester Township, however, did vote Federalist in the 1806 election. Most voters in the township supported Federalists William Irick, William Coxe, Caleb Earl, and William Stockton for State Assembly and George Anderson for Legislative Council. We do not know who they supported for county sheriff or coroner.

Note: The names recorded on this poll list were written by an election official, not by the voters themselves. The spelling of each voter’s name on the poll list may be different compared to how that same person’s name is spelled in other historical records and by the Museum of the American Revolution.

Images: Moorestown Library

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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: When Women Lost the Vote: A Tableau Interactive

In the core exhibition at the Museum of the American Revolution, a scene of three life-size figures recreates what it might have looked like when women voted in a state election held on October 13-14, 1801 in Montgomery Township, Somerset County, New Jersey. You can read more about the tableau here and click the button below to explore the scene in detail!
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Finding Freedom: London - Portrait of General Sir Henry Clinton

In 1779, British General Sir Henry Clinton’s Philipsburg Proclamation offered protection to any enslaved people owned by American rebels who fled to the British lines in search of freedom. This was broader than Virginia Royal Governor Lord Dunmore's 1775 proclamation, which only applied to enslaved men who joined the British forces to fight for the King.

The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, D.C.

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Finding Freedom: London - Portrait of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold

London served as a trumpeter in the American Legion, a Loyalist force formed by British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. This portrait by an unknown artist shows Arnold in his British Army uniform. In the fall of 1780, just a few months before London joined the American Legion, Benedict Arnold infamously defected from the Continental Army and joined the British. 

Courtesy of Clive Hammond

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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Ruth Carle Elberson

Ruth Carle voted as a single woman. She was the sister of Continental Army veteran Ephraim Taylor Carle.
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Finding Freedom: Deborah - Birch Pass

In the terms of the surrender to the Americans, the British were to return all captured property—including human property. The British did not adhere to this stipulation, and instead evacuated thousands of free and formerly enslaved men and women to Canada. Birch Passes, named for British Brigadier General Samuel Birch, were given to those who could prove they sought the protection of the British forces during the war. The passes, such as this example, guaranteed a place on a departing ship. According to the 1783 “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” Deborah received a Birch Pass that allowed her to go to Nova Scotia as a free person. Cato Rammsay, an enslaved man who escaped from Norfolk, Virginia, received this Birch Pass that allowed him to go to Nova Scotia as well. 

Passport for Cato Ramsay to emigrate to Nova Scotia, 21 April 1783; NSA, Gideon White fonds, MG 1 vol. 948 no. 196

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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Thomas Blue

Thomas Blue is one of at least four free Black men who voted in Montgomery Township in October 1801.
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The Museum's first oval office project set up at Newport Historical Society with four costumed living history interpreters and one Museum staff member in a navy blue museum polo.

First Oval Office Project at Morristown National Historical Park

July 8-9, 2023
Join the Museum, Morristown National Historical Park, and the Washington Association of New Jersey at Washington's Headquarters to celebrate the Park's 90th Anniversary with our First Oval Office Project.
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Finding Freedom: Andrew - Claim for Increase in Revolutionary War Pension Payment

Andrew Ferguson traveled west to Knox County, Indiana, in 1844 to apply for an increase in his Revolutionary War pension payments due to the growing pain of his wartime injuries. This written record documents his testimony given at the county courthouse and the support Ferguson’s application received from a fellow Black veteran named Daniel Strother. According to his testimony, Ferguson was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Camden in 1780 and in the head at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. Two doctors examined Ferguson following his testimony and agreed that his injuries prevented him from earning a living from manual labor. The doctors supported his claim for an increase in his pension payments, but the United States Government denied Ferguson’s request. 

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC/Fold3.com

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Meet the Figures: Oneida Nation Theater: Skenandoah

Skenandoah was born in 1706 as a Conestoga but became Oneida soon after through a “requickening” (absorption and reidentification) ritual. After an embarrassing episode in Albany in 1755, he abstained from alcohol for the rest of his life. According to one observer, he “possessed a vigorous mind, and was alike sagacious, active and persevering.” In 1775, he accompanied a Presbyterian missionary friend to the new army camp outside Boston, where they met Washington and the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Because of his allegiance to the Revolution, he was imprisoned by the British at Niagara in 1779-1780 and under a sort of house arrest until 1784. His engagement in the treaty negotiations with the British in this period was something for which some Oneida people never forgave him. He died in 1816, aged about 110.

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