The great state of New Jersey was named such by Sir John Berkley and Sir George Carteret. Carteret was a native of the island of Jersey in the English Channel and served as Lieutenant Governor for several years. It was the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and was the first to ratify the Bill of Rights in 1789. Among the first to join the great Union of this nation, New Jersey is rich in history, industry and greenery?
There is some confusion in the origin of the nick name “The Garden State”. It was first heard at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia by Abraham Browning of Camden. According Alfred Heston’s book, “Jersey Waggon Jaunts” Browning said “that our Garden State is an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and New Yorkers from the other’. Strangely enough, the name stuck.
From as early 1791, New Jersey has been an industry heavy state, leading the country in industry and complete with major transportation connections across land, sea and air. In 1954, legislature voted to add the nick name “Garden State to New Jersey license plates. Governor Robert Meyner actually refused to sign the bill stating “"New Jersey is noted for its great strides in manufacturing, mining, commerce, construction, power, transportation, shipping, merchandising, fishing and recreation, as well as in agriculture. I do not believe that the average citizen of New Jersey regards his state as more peculiarly identifiable with gardening for farming than any of its other industries or occupations." He vetoed the bill, legislature overrode the veto and the rest is history.
Perhaps Governor Meyner was on to something. To this day, New Jersey boasts some of the richest history, resources and commerce in the country and it most definitely the gate way to the world. Maybe the Garden State refers to the rich “soil” this state has to offer to grow the most abundant, lush gardens. I would vote for that.