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Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Haunted Revolution

Perth Amboy, New Jersey, is an underappreciated place.  It has the Proprietary House, reportedly the only colonial governor's mansion still "intact." William Franklin, the illegitimate son of Ben Franklin, was the last British colonial governor for New Jersey, and lived here.  Its city hall is also reported to be the oldest in continuous use in the United States, its current version dating to 1767 in essential form.  There are those who contend that Franklin continues to "live" there. 


Nearby is St. Peter's Church, which graveyard was damaged in June 1776 by British cannon fire from its ships in Raritan Bay.

A municipal worker, helping ready the city hall for the holiday season, told me this is where the nation was born.  The city was the capital of the province of East Jersey, and in the city hall, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights.  Across from the city hall is Market Square, a park that features an arch in honor of the Bill of Rights.  It was refreshing to find a spontaneous expression of pride from a local, and an appreciation of the this place's significance in the national story.  In a way, the ghosts of the past continue to live in such concourse.

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