The area was inhabited by the Lenni LenapeNative Americans for up to 6,000 years prior to exploration by Europeans. The first European settlements in this portion of New Jersey were established by the Swedes and Dutch in the early 17th century, when a significant trade in furs existed between the natives and the Europeans at temporary posts. It became part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, but the English seized control of the region in 1664, which was granted to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, as the Province of New Jersey. In British colonial records, the first permanent European settlement at Morristown occurred in 1715, when a village was founded as New Hanover by migrants from New York and Connecticut. Morris County was created on March 15, 1739, from portions of Hunterdon County. The county was named for the popular Governor of the Province, Lewis Morris, who championed benefits for the colonists.
Following the American Revolution the former colony became the state of New Jersey and almost 100 years after the American Revolution began, Morristown was incorporated as a town by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 6, 1865, within Morris Township, and it was formally set off from the township in 1895.
By the middle of the 18th century, Morristown had 250 residents, with two churches, a courthouse, two taverns, two schools, several stores, and numerous mills and farms nearby.
George Washington first came to Morristown in May 1773, two years before the Revolutionary War broke out, and traveled from there to New York City together with John Parke Custis (his stepson) and Lord Stirling.
In 1777, General George Washington and the Continental Army marched from the victories at Trenton and Princeton to encamp near Morristown from January to May. Washington had his headquarters during that first encampment at Jacob Arnold's Tavern located at the Morristown Green in the center of the town. Morristown was selected for its extremely strategic location. It was between Philadelphia and New York and near New England. It also was chosen for the skills and trades of the residents, local industries and natural resources to provide arms, and what was thought to be the ability of the community to provide enough food to support the army.
The churches were used for inoculations for smallpox. That first Headquarters, Arnold's Tavern, was eventually moved .5 miles (800 m) south of the green onto Mount Kemble Avenue to become All Souls Hospital in the late 19th century. It suffered a fire in 1918, and the original structure was demolished, but new buildings for the hospital were built directly across the street.
From December 1779 to June 1780 the Continental Army's second encampment at Morristown was at Jockey Hollow. Then, Washington's headquarters in Morristown was located at the Ford Mansion, a large mansion near what was then the 'edge of town.' Ford's widow and children shared the house with Martha Washington and officers of the Continental Army. "
The winter of 1780 was the worst winter of the Revolutionary War. The starvation was complicated by extreme inflation of money and lack of pay for the army. The entire Pennsylvania contingent successfully mutinied and later, 200 New Jersey soldiers attempted to emulate them (unsuccessfully).
During Washington's second stay, in March 1780, he declared St. Patrick's Day a holiday to honor his many Irish troops. Martha Washington traveled from Virginia and remained with her husband each winter throughout the war. The Marquis de Lafayette came to Washington in Morristown to inform him that France would be sending ships and trained soldiers to aid the Continental Army.
During Washington's stay, Benedict Arnold was court-martialed at Dickerson's Tavern on Spring Street in Morristown, for charges related to profiteering from military supplies at Philadelphia. His admonishment was made public, but Washington quietly promised the hero, Arnold, to make it up to him.
Alexander Hamilton courted and wed Betsy Schuyler at a residence where Washington's personal physician was billeted. Locally known as the Schuyler-Hamilton House, the Dr. Jabez Campfield House is listed on both the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places.
The Morristown Green has a statue commemorating the meeting of George Washington, the young Marquis de LaFayette, and young Alexander Hamilton depicting them discussing forthcoming aid of French tall ships and troops being sent by King Louis XVI of France to aid the Continental Army.
Morristown's Burnham Park has a statue of the "Father of the American Revolution", Thomas Paine, who wrote the best selling booklet Common Sense, which urged a complete break from British rule. The bronze statue, by sculptor Georg J. Lober, shows Paine in 1776 (using a drum as a table during the withdrawal of the army across New Jersey) composing Crisis 1. He wrote These are the times that try men's souls .... The statue was dedicated on July 4, 1950.
The Marquis de Lafayette returned to Morristown in July 1825 on his return tour of the United States, where a ball was held in his honor at the 1807 Sansay House on DeHart Street, which still stands.
Antoine le Blanc, a French immigrant laborer murdered the Sayre family and their servant (or possibly slave), Phoebe. He was tried and convicted of murder of the Sayres (but not of Phoebe) on August 13, 1833. On September 6, 1833, Le Blanc became the last person hanged on the Morristown Green. Until late 2006, the house where the murders were committed was known as "Jimmy's Haunt," which is purported to be haunted by Phoebe's ghost because her murder never saw justice. In 2007 Jimmy's Haunt was torn down to make way for a bank.
Jacob Arnold's Tavern, the first headquarters for Washington in Morristown, was purchased by the Colles family to save it from demolition in 1886. It was moved by horse-power in the winter of 1887 from "the green" (after being stuck on Bank Street for about six weeks) to a site 0.5 miles (0.80 km) south on Mount Kemble Avenue at what is now a parking lot for the Atlantic RIMM Rehabilitation Hospital. It became a boarding house for four years until it was converted by the Grey Nuns from Montreal into All Souls Hospital, the first general hospital in Morris County. George and Martha Washington's second floor ballroom became a chapel and the first floor tavern became a ward for patients. The building was lost to a fire in 1918. The entire organization, nurses, doctors, and patients of All Souls Hospital were then moved across Mount Kemble Avenue, U.S. Route 202, to a newly built brick hospital building. All Souls' was set to close because of financial difficulties in the late 1960s. In 1973, it became Community Medical Center. In 1977, the center became bankrupt and was purchased by the then new and larger Morristown Memorial Hospital, which is now the Morristown Medical Center.
On December 18, 1843, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated. This was the first congregation established by African-Americans in Morris County. It is still active. The first site of the Church was located at 13 Spring Street and served as the only schoolhouse for colored children until 1870. The Church relocated to its present site at 59 Spring Street in 1874.
On January 5, 2009, five red lights were spotted in the Morristown area night skies. The event was a staged hoax using helium balloons and flares, but became nationally known as the Morristown UFO hoax.
There were 7,417 households, of which 22.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.1% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.8% were non-families. 38.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the town, 17.6% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 38.4% from 25 to 44, 22.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.8 years. For every 100 females there were 104.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.1 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $64,279 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,628) and the median family income was $66,070 (+/- $3,638). Males had a median income of $51,242 (+/- $6,106) versus $44,315 (+/- $5,443) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $37,573 (+/- $2,286). About 10.2% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.1% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.
9.8% of Morristown residents identified themselves as being of Colombian American ancestry in the 2000 Census, the eighth- highest percentage of the population of any municipality in the United States. 4.5% of Morristown residents identified themselves as being of Honduran American ancestry in the 2000 Census, the sixth-highest percentage of the population of any municipality in the United States.
There were 7,252 households out of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.4% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.0% were non-families. 38.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the town the population was spread out with 18.4% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 40.4% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 100.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $57,563, and the median income for a family was $66,419. Males had a median income of $42,363 versus $37,045 for females. The per capita income for the town was $30,086. About 7.1% of families and 11.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.5% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.
Morristown is governed under a Plan F Mayor-Council system of New Jersey municipal government under the Faulkner Act, which went into effect on January 1, 1974. The Morristown Town Council consists of seven members: three members elected at-large representing the entire town; and four members representing each of the town's four wards. Members are elected to four-year terms of office on a staggered basis; there is an election every two years, either for the four ward seats or for the at-large and mayoral seats. As the legislative arm of the government, the council is responsible for making and setting policy for the town.
As of 2013[update], the Mayor of Morristown is Timothy Dougherty (Democratic) (2013). Members of the Morristown Town Council are Council President Michelle Dupree Harris (D; At Large, 2013), Vice President Rebecca Feldman (I; Ward I, 2015), Stefan Armington (D; Ward III, 2015), Alison Deeb (R; Ward IV, 2015), Toshiba Foster (D; At Large, 2013; chosen in 2012 to serve the unexpired term of Anthony Cattano), Kevin Gsell (At Large, 2013), Raline Smith-Reid (D; Ward II, 2015).
The anticipated municipal budget for 2012 was $35,866,988.
Federal, state, and county representation
Morristown is located in the 11th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 25th state legislative district.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 9,259 registered voters in Morristown, of which 3,905 (42.2%) were registered as Democrats, 1,648 (17.8%) were registered as Republicans and 3,698 (39.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 8 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 68.1% of the vote here (4,738 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 30.0% (2,084 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (67 votes), among the 6,953 ballots cast by the town's 9,741 registered voters, for a turnout of 71.4%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 62.8% of the vote here (4,138 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 35.9% (2,370 votes) and other candidates with 0.5% (53 votes), among the 6,593 ballots cast by the town's 9,890 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 66.7.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 52.1% of the vote here (2,263 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 37.4% (1,623 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 8.1% (350 votes) and other candidates with 0.4% (16 votes), among the 4,340 ballots cast by the town's 9,393 registered voters, yielding a 46.2% turnout.
In addition to a public school system, Morristown has several private schools. Primary and elementary schools include The Red Oaks School, a Montessori school serving students from pre-school through grade six. Assumption Roman Catholic is a grade school (K-8) that operates under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson.The Peck School, a private day school which serves approximately 300 students in kindergarten through grade eight, dates back to 1893 when it was originally established as Miss Sutphen's School. The Delbarton School is an all-boys Roman Catholic school with approximately 540 students in grades seven through twelve, that began serving resident students in 1939 after having previously served as a seminary. The Morristown-Beard School, a private co-ed school formed from the merger of two previously existing institutions, Morristown Preparatory School and Miss Beard's School, serves grades 6 through 12. In addition, Villa Walsh Academy, a private Catholiccollege preparatory school conducted by the Religious Teachers Filippini, is located in Morristown.
Morristown has attempted to implement transit-oriented development. Morristown was one of the first five “transit villages” designated in New Jersey in 2000. In 1999, Morristown changed its zoning code to designate the area around the train station as a “Transit Village Core” for mixed-use. The designation was at least partly responsible for development plans for several mixed-use condominium developments. As a town with New Jersey Transit rail service at the Morristown station, it benefited from shortened commuting times to New York City due to the "Midtown Direct" service New Jersey Transit instituted in the 1990s.
In addition to rail service to Newark and New York, Morristown also has local bus service. It is served by six New Jersey Transit Bus Operations routes, #871, #872, #873, #874, #875, and #880, which all converge at the Morristown station.
The city's Department of Public Works operates "Colonial Coach", which provides free transportation within Morristown.
WMTR is an AM radio station at 1250 kHz is licensed to Morristown. The station features an oldies format.
WJSV radio (90.5 FM) also exists in Morristown, the nonprofit radio station of Morristown High School, which also has a television show which airs, Colonial Corner.
^About Morristown, Town of Morristown. Accessed April 3, 2013. "Morristown became characterized as 'the military capital of the American Revolution' because of its strategic role in the war for independence from Great Britain."
^ abStaff. "Morristown Timeline", Daily Record (Morristown), March 23, 2000. Accessed July 19, 2012. "1715 - The Green is established as the center of the community of Morristown, then known as West Hanover, or New Hanover.... 1740 - Morris County separates from Hunterdon County and about half of the new county becomes the Township of Morris. As the most promising village in the county, West Hanover changes its name to Morristown, in honor of Lewis Morris, the first governor of the colony of New Jersey after it separated from New York."
^Karp, Bob. "Arcadia Publishing", Daily Record (Morristown), January 14, 2003. Accessed July 19, 2012. "Its central location, at the convergence of all the local roads, were one reason Morristown was named the county seat when Morris County was created in 1739, the first courts were held at Jacob Ford's house, and in 1740 he was appointed collector of Morris township."
^Editorial. "225th Anniversary", Daily Record (Morristown), January 3, 2002. Accessed February 20, 2011. "He was in Basking Ridge and at Morristown's Mount Kemble with stepson John Parke Custis and patriot Lord Stirling in May of 1773 before the war."
^Why Morristown?, National Park Service Museum Collection, American Revolutionary War, Morristown National Historic Park - map shows the important geographic features that led to the importance of the site and the Hobart Pass.
^Hubbard, Louise. "Home Was Washington's Base", Edmonton Journal, January 3, 1962. Accessed July 19, 2012. "General george Washington accepted Mrs. Theodosia's invitation to make her home his headquarters the winter of 1779-80 and lived there longer than in any other encampment of the Continental army... The widow Ford kept two rooms for her family and Washington expressed the discomfort of the too-many tenants in a letter..."
^Flexner, James Thomas (April 1984). Washington The Indispensable Man: 154.
^Washington, Lafayette and Hamilton Bronzes - Morristown Green - Morristown, NJ, Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area. Accessed August 20, 2011. "One of the main focal points on the central Green in Morristown, New Jersey is the life-sized sculptural grouping of General Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Marquis de Lafayette, known as "The Alliance." It commemorates Lafayette's arrival with news of French support for the American cause."
^A Brief History, Morris Canal Greenway. Acecssed August 20, 2011. "George P. Macculloch, a Morristown businessman, must be given the credit for conceiving the idea for the Morris Canal and ultimately carrying it through to completion. In 1822 he brought a group of interested citizens together at Morristown including Governor Isaac Williamson to discuss his idea with them. His proposal was received favorably."
^Sansay House, The North Jersey History and Genealogy Center. Accessed July 17, 2011.
^Historic Speedwell, Morris County, New Jersey Parks Commission. Accessed August 20, 2011. "The most significant building at Historic Speedwell is the Factory, a National Historic Landmark where Stephen Vail's son, Alfred, worked with Samuel F.B. Morse to perfect the telegraph. It was here on January 11, 1838 where the electromagnetic telegraph was first publicly demonstrated - making Historic Speedwell the 'Birthplace of the Telegraph.'"
^Friedman, Alan. "Church full of 'ordinary people'", Daily Record (Morristown), October 18, 2006. Accessed December 17, 2012. "According to county records, in 1843 the Bethel Mite Society received a certificate of incorporation for the church, which was recorded under the name of 'The African Methodist Episcopal Church of Morristown."
^Morristown High School 2011 Report Card Narrative, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed December 19, 2012. "Since 1869, Morristown High School maintains a proud history as a comprehensive secondary school serving the intellectual, social, athletic and career needs of its students.... Comprised of 1,478 ethnically diverse students speaking more than 20 different languages, the educational program serves the students entrusted to the school by its communities: Morristown, Morris Township and Morris Plains."
^Virtual Walking Tour of Historic Morristown, Morristown partnership. Accessed August 4, 2008. "Above the front entrance to the courthouse stands a wooden statue of Justice. She holds a scale to symbolize the balanced judicial system, and a sword to represent the protection of individual rights. Morristown´s statue of Justice is unlike most others because she is not blindfolded."
^Bio: Brendan Buckley, RhythmTech. Accessed November 28, 2007. "Brendan Buckley grew up in the New Jersey area (Morristown and Mount Arlington) before moving to Miami to attend the University of Miami's School of Music."
^Meoli, Daria. "That’s Entertainment", New Jersey Monthly, October 2005. Accessed December 26, 2007. "Find Me Guilty, shot in Newark, Bayonne, and Hoboken, stars tough guy Vin Diesel as Giacomo “Fat Jack” DiNorscio, in the true story of New Jersey’s notorious mob family the Lucchesis. Morristown native Peter Dinklage plays a defense attorney."
^Caroline Carmichael McIntosh Fillmore, Buffalo Architecture and History. Accessed November 23, 2008. "Caroline Carmichael was the daughter of Charles Carmichael and Temperance Blachley Carmichael. She was born in Morristown, New Jersey, 10/21/1813."
^"Steve Forbes", Forbes, June 6, 2002. Accessed March 12, 2013. "Steve Forbes was born on July 18, 1947, in Morristown, N.J."
^Brooks, Gertrude Zeth. "The First Ladies Of The Nation", Reading Eagle, September 9, 1960. Accessed September 4, 2011. "As the wife of a president of the United States and grandmother of a later one, Anna Symmes Harrison was the first First Lady from the state of New Jersey. She was born in Morristown, N.J., during the first year of the Revolutionary War and died during the Civil War."
^Thomas Nast: America's Image Maker, Macculloch Hall Museum. Accessed July 24, 2007. "Thomas Nast moved his family to Morristown, NJ in 1870, believing it to be a safe distance from his political enemy, William "Boss" Tweed of New York. Although his work for Harper's took him weekly to New York for overnight stays, Nast was a full-fledged resident of Morristown."
^2009 Football Coaching Staff: Rocky Rees, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania Raiders football team. Accessed August 19, 2012. "Rees played football at Bayley Ellard Regional High School in Madison, New Jersey where he twice named All-County and was selected as a team captain his senior season. Following graduation in 1967, the Morristown, New Jersey native attended West Chester University where he earned All-PSAC Eastern Division honors as a running back in 1968 and 1970."
^Gene Shalit, The Today Show, December 10, 2004. Accessed January 27, 2008. "In six years he fled to Morristown, New Jersey, where he was columnist for the high school paper and narrowly escaped expulsion."
^Weber, Bruce. "Alexander Slobodyanik, Pianist, Is Dead at 65 ", The New York Times, August 12, 2008. Accessed August 4, 2013. "Alexander Slobodyanik, a Ukrainian-born pianist who earned stardom in the former Soviet Union with his virtuosity and emotional interpretations of Romantic composers and who has been a concert pianist and in-demand teacher since moving to the United States in 1989, died on Sunday in New Jersey. He was 65 and lived in Morristown, N.J."
^Bussel, Rachel Kramer. Best Sex Writing 2008, p. 189. ReadHowYouWant.com, 2010. ISBN 9781458753403. Accessed August 13, 2013. "Before Lexington Steele was Lexington Steele, a king of West Coast porn production, he was a suburban East Coast kid, from Morristown, New Jersey, a middle-class, churchgoing kid who didn't have girlfriends but excelled at sports (and lettered in three) before graduating from high school and first matriculating at Morehouse College only to eventually transfer to Syracuse."
^Nancy Zeltsman, University of Florida. Accessed July 17, 2011. "Nancy Zeltsman was born in 1958 in Morristown, New Jersey. She studied piano starting at age five and then took up percussion when she was thirteen. She studied intensely with Ian Finkel during high school, focusing on mallet sight-reading."
^Biography, Nancy Zeltsman. Accessed November 23, 2008.