BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN NJ: We Salute The "Cradle of Emancipation" Burlington County New Jersey

Officials say, "no New Jersey county has a more vibrant black historical presence than Burlington County."

The county has been called the "Cradle of Emancipation" because it's directly related to the underground railroad movement and has been identified to demonstrate three centuries of transformation of the black community of Burlington County, according to officials.

According to a published report from Burlington County officials, by 1790, the county had the most abundant free black population of any county in New Jersey.

Officials say this can be attributed to its location in the Delaware Valley, known as the "cradle of emancipation," where slaves were freed on a large scale.

The sizeable presence and influence in the valley of Quakers, America's first organized group to speak out against the evils of bondage, enabled this region to be the pacesetter regarding black emancipation.

Burlington served as a shortstop, where horses were changed, after a rapid twenty-mile trip from Philadelphia to Princeton. The stop would be known as Station A. Bordentown, known a Station B, served as a continuous connection to the line from Philadelphia to Princeton. Another line ran east through Station B, which followed the northern route. Its southern route remained independent for sixty miles before it intersected with the Bordentown corridor.

Officials say a prominent figure in Burlington County black history is Mr. Oliver Cromwell, who was a decorated black soldier who fought under George Washington in the War for Independence. He was born a freeman in Black Horse, present-day Columbus in Mansfield Township, on May 24, 1752. Cromwell joined the 2nd New Jersey.

Recruits of color were not always welcomed into the army, but Cromwell was allowed to enlist and took great pride in our country.

Officials say while in the Second New Jersey, Cromwell served at the battles of Short Hills, Monmouth, Brandywine, Springfield, and Yorktown. He received my discharge on June 5, 1783, and it noted I had earned the "Badge of Merit" for his six years of faithful service officials said.

In 1818, the United States Congress passed a law providing for pensions to former Continental soldiers who were in need.

Cromwell made his first application statement explaining his service on April 2, 1818, and then filed a second document on May 27, 1820, to prove that he needed the pension. Officials said, fortunately, Cromwell was awarded a pension of $96 a month Burlington County officials said in the published report.

INFORMATION & IMAGE CREDIT: Burlington County African American History Journal

SPONSORS: Metro Media Institute of Harrison, Nino's Pizza, Bergen Street Harrison NJ, and William Paterson University