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A Middlesex County Pioneer of African American Voting Rights in New Jersey

New Jersey

By: Richard L. Smith 

On this 23rd day of RLS Media's 29-day commemoration, we honor a significant figure in New Jersey's history and the United States as a whole, Mr. Thomas Mundy Peterson.Ad Born on October 6, 1824, in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Peterson holds a special place in American history as the first African American to cast a vote under the newly ratified 15th Amendment.

On March 31, 1870, just a day after the amendment's enactment, Peterson exercised his newly granted right to vote, a monumental act given the era's complicated racial and political climate.

New Jersey's legislative history, particularly its initial rejection of the 13th Amendment and the subsequent vacillation of the 14th and 15th Amendments, underscores the bravery and historical significance of Peterson's action.

Despite New Jersey's initial opposition to the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed voting rights regardless of race, Peterson's vote on that spring day in 1870 was a powerful statement.

He not only exercised his right but also challenged the prevailing norms and attitudes towards African American suffrage.AdPeterson's legacy extends beyond this singular act of voting. His continued engagement in community affairs, including his participation in revising the Perth Amboy City Charter, illustrates his commitment to civic responsibility and progress.

His life serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of African Americans during a time of immense change and challenge in American history.

Thomas Mundy Peterson's story is a poignant reminder of the struggles and triumphs in the journey toward racial equality and voting rights in the United States.

His courage and dedication continue to inspire and remind us of the power one individual can have in shaping the course of history.

INFORMATION & IMAGE CREDIT: Wikipedia, "It Happened Here NJ" (

SPONSORS: Nino's Ristorante & Pizzeria, Bergen Street Harrison, NJ, Jorelle Green S. Green (Keller Willams Realtor), Champions of Martial Arts (Union NJ)