In April 1702 all rights of jurisdiction were transferred to the Crown, while the rights to the soil remained in the proprietors. The provinces of East and West Jersey were then united under a Government similar to that of the other royal provinces. Until 1738 the governor of New York was also governor of New Jersey; after that date each colony had its own governor. The legisla ture met alternately at Burlington and Perth Amboy, until 1790, when Trenton was selected as the capital of the State.
The four decades following the change to royal Government were years of development disturbed, however, by friction be tween the assembly and the royal governors, and by bitter dis putes, accompanied by much rioting, with the proprietors con cerning land-titles (1744-49). Independence of the absentee land lords was again claimed by virtue of the grants made by Nicolls nearly a century before. Agriculture at this time was the main pursuit. Between East and West Jersey certain political and religious differences developed. The former, settled largely by people from New England and Long Island, was dominated by Puritans ; the latter by Quakers.
The last colonial assembly of New Jersey met in Nov. 1775. From May 26 to July 2, 1776, the second provincial congress met at Burlington, Trenton and New Brunswick and for a time became the supreme governing power. Following the recommen dation of the continental congress, that the colonies should create independent Governments, the provincial congress drafted a provincial constitution, which, without being submitted to the people, was published July 3, 1776. In the State were fought some of the most important engagements of the war. When Washington, in the autumn of 1776, was no longer able to hold the lower Hudson he retreated across New Jersey to the Delaware near Trenton and seizing every boat for miles up the river he placed his dispirited troops on the opposite side and left the pur suing army no means of crossing. With about 2,500 men he re crossed the Delaware on the night of Dec. 25, surprised three regi ments of Hessians at Trenton the next Morning, and took i,000 prisoners and 1,000 stands of arms. In a series of movements following up his success he outgeneraled the British commander, Lord Cornwallis and on Jan. 3, 1777, defeated a detachment of ' his army at Princeton (q.v.). The American army then went into winter quarters at Morristown. As the British army under Gen.
Clinton was retreating, in June 1778, from Philadelphia to New York, the American army engaged it in the battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778) ; the result was indecisive.
After the war New Jersey found its commercial existence threatened by New York and Philadelphia, and it was a feeling of weakness from this cause rather than any lack of State pride that caused the State to join in the movements for a closer Fed eral Union. In the Federal convention at Philadelphia one of the New Jersey delegates, William Paterson (1745-180o), presented what was called the "New Jersey plan" of union, representing the wishes of the smaller States, which objected to representation in a National Congress being based on wealth or on population. The New Jersey plan left its impress in the provision of the Constitu tion (approved in the convention on July 7) for equal represen tation in the national Senate. The Federal Constitution was rati fied by a unanimous vote in the State convention which met at Trenton on Dec. 18, 1787.
The State's own Constitution, which had been adopted in 1776 and amended in 1777, retained a number of features of colonial Government ill-adapted to a State increasingly democratic. The basis of representation was the county rather than population; property qualifications were placed on members of the legislative council and of the assembly. These and the property qualifica tions for suffrage, which was granted to "all inhabitants of this State of full age, who are worth 5o lb. proclamation money, clear estate in the same," etc., were soon considered undemocratic ; and the democratic tendency of certain election officers may be seer, from their construing the words "all inhabitants of full age" to include women, and from their permitting women to vote.
Agitation for constitutional reform resulted in a constitutional convention, which met at Trenton from May 14 to June 29, 1844, and drafted a new frame of government, introducing a number of radical changes. This instrument was ratified on Aug. 13 at the polls. The election of the governor was taken from the legisla ture and given to the people; the powers of Government were distributed among legislative, executive and judicial departments ; representation in the assembly was based on population; and the property qualification was abolished.