Often referred to as the “military capital of the American Revolution,” Morristown, NJ has a rich history. Morristown was originally settled by English Presbyterians from Long Island and Connecticut in 1715 and was known as New Hanover. In 1739, Morristown adopted its present name and became the county seat of the newly formed Morris County. The city and county are named after Lewis Morris, the first royal governor of the New Jersey. The city was small but bustling until the American Revolution, maintaining about 250 inhabitants and numerous churches, schools, taverns, shops, farms, and mills.
After victories against English forces at both Princeton and Trenton, General George Washington of the Continental Army chose Morristown as his headquarters in 1777. His decision to choose Morristown was made because of its strategic value due to its proximity to both New York and Philadelphia. Also the surrounding area was ripe was industry, natural resources, and residents with a reputation for resourcefulness. Morristown’s significance during the revolution fueled successful efforts by historical preservationists to create Morristown National Historical Park. This military park, which includes the preserved encampments of Jolly Hollow and Fort Nonsense, is recognized as the first of its kind in U.S. history.
Morristown became a major transit point for coal and other resources in the region when the Morris Canal was completed in 1831. For a century this canal would be used to ship coal from the Lehigh Valley to New York and northern New Jersey, facilitating tremendous industrial growth in the region. However, Morristown’s 19th century exploits are not limited only to industry, but innovation as well. On January 6, 1838, Samuel F. B. Morse and Alfred Vail successfully sent the first telegraph message.
Today Morristown is a major New York Metropolitan transit point. NJ Transit Midtown Direct Service, as well as special transit-oriented zoning, makes Morristown a notable point in the greater New York commuter rail system.