NJ Assembly votes on 1863 Exclusion Bill

Of the 13 South Jersey Assemblyman voting on an 1863 bill to exclude out-of-state African-Americans from becoming NJ residents*, only one voted "yes" (8%). In North Jersey the "yes" votes were 32 out of 40 (80%).

The exclusion vote passed the Assembly 33-20 (62% to 38%), but did not make it to a vote in the NJ Senate and so never became law. The bill also had a provision to deport those who stayed longer than 10 days to the West Indies or Liberia.

The voting on this bill largely reflected party politics in the state: All 33 "yes" votes were Democrats, and 6 Democrats joined the 14 Republicans voting against the bill. The Assembly that year was 72% Democratic and most of the South Jersey assemblymen were Republican, but geographic region appears to be more significant than party: three of the four Democratic Assemblyman from South Jersey voted against the bill (75%), while only 9% of the Democrats from North Jersey voted against it (three out of 35 voting Democrats, and one of those voted "no" out of spite, rather than on principle: the bill being voted on had replaced one that he had proposed earlier**.).

on 1863 Exclusion Bill
To exclude & deport African Americans from out-of-state 80% FOR 92% AGAINST
Total votes 40 13
Total "yes" votes 32 1
Total "no" votes 8 12
Democrats voting for bill 32 1
Republicans voting for bill 0 0
Democrats voting against bill 3 3
Republicans voting against bill 5 9

Information for this page came from a Winter 1969 article by Carl E. Hatch, in the journal New Jersey History, titled Negro Migration and New Jersey, (Vol. 87, No. 4, pp. 233-244). On page 243 the author writes, "The further question, why north Jersey and Bergen county in particular should have produced a nest of Copperheads [i.e., southern sympathisers], likewise lacks a clear answer." Hatch does not mention that North Jersey, and Bergen in particular, had historically had the highest numbers and rates of black enslavement in the State.

Grateful acknowledgement to Paul W. Schopp for bringing this article to my attention.

* A-212, "An Act to Prevent the Immigration of Negroes and Mullatoes,"passed March 18, 1863

** "An Act to prevent the immigration of negroes and to define thestanding of the negro race in the State of New Jersey." was introduced by John B. Perry (D-Hudson), February 4, 1863.

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Last updated: 2011 First Month, 29th.