Lincoln’s Birthday in New Jersey? A Complicated Legacy

Lincoln’s Birthday in New Jersey? A Complicated Legacy

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

We’re coming up on Presidents Day Weekend, Save Jerseyans, which, if we’re being honest, I’ve always thought was more than a little stupid as a concept. That’s neither here nor there.

Not only do we gyp both Lincoln and Washington by forcing our two greatest presidents to share a federal holiday (sorry, had to get that in there), but here in New Jersey, we’ve never quite afforded Father Abraham the respect that he deserves.

Seated Lincoln
Lincoln at Essex County Courthouse (Photo credit: Rutgers University)

A little history: Abraham Lincoln failed to win over New Jersey’s voters – twice – in 1860 (vs. John Bell – though he did split the electoral college) and again in 1864 (against George B. McClellan, where McClellan took his home state, and only two others, with a narrow 52.8% of the N.J. popular vote to Lincoln’s 47.2%). He did carry ten counties during the first race (Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Morris, Ocean, Passaic and Salem), but swapped Mercer and Morris for Camden and Essex four years later. 

To compound the sin, we elected the failed general McClellan as our governor after he lost to Lincoln.

We’re still not great judges of character. The Party of McClellan/McGreevey/Corzine continues to best the Party of Lincoln statewide on the reg, and Democrats like Linda Stender and John Burzichelli (click those links if you missed those stories this week – unbelievable!) laugh all the way to the bank.

Sorry your birthday sucks, Abe. At least in the Garden State. We’ll try to do better starting in 2015.


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