One of the original 13 colonies, New Jersey has a long, vibrant history. Before European settlement, approximately 8,000 Indians lived in what is now New Jersey. The Lenape Indians lived by hunting, fishing, gathering and planting corn, squash and beans. Settled by the Dutch in 1618, New Jersey became the gateway to immigrants coming through Ellis Island. Nicknamed "The Garden State" for its abundance of flowers, fruits and vegetables, New Jersey quickly gave rise to commerce and government due to its location in the northeast hub of trade and communication.
New Jersey and its people have played an important role in U.S. history. Nicknamed the "Cockpit of the Revolution," New Jersey was host to nearly 100 clashes between American and British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. In New Jersey, history meets the present at many historical sites such as Washington Crossing State Park where the Battle of Trenton took place in 1776. George Washington's bold attack was a turning point in the fight for freedom in the Revolutionary War. New Jersey is also the site of Princeton Battlefield Park where the Battle of Princeton took place on January 3, 1777. The cities of Trenton and Princeton both served as the nation's capitals during the 1780s.
In 1884, Grover Cleveland of New Jersey was elected as the 22nd President of the United States. Woodrow Wilson was elected as the 28th President in 1912 after serving as the President of Princeton University and Governor of the state.
Three of the world's greatest scientists and inventors made their homes in New Jersey including Thomas Edison, Samuel F. B. Morse and Albert Einstein. Thomas Edison invented the electric light and phonograph in his laboratory in Menlo Park. His home in West Orange, New Jersey is the site of Edison National Historic Site. Samuel F. B. Morse developed the first successful U.S. electric telegraph near Morristown, NJ. And one of the world's leading scientists, Albert Einstein, worked at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
Today, New Jersey continues to lead the world in science and industry. Products made in New Jersey are used throughout the U.S. and the world. New Jersey is the fifth smallest state, but ranks ninth in population and is the most densely populated state in the U.S. Trenton is the capital of New Jersey and Newark is the largest city.