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New Jersey State Names (Etymology of Names)

New Jersey Name Etymology and State Nicknames

Middle Atlantic

NJ 3D MapNew Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by New York State, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania, and on the southwest by Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state, but the 11th-most populous and the most densely populated of the 50 United States.

New Jersey was named by James, Duke of York (the brother of King Charles II of England), who was given New Jersey by his brother. James later gave New Jersey to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. James named the colony New Jersey to honor Carteret, who had been the Governor of Jersey, a British island in the English Channel.

New Jersey nicknames

  • The Garden State  (Official)
  • Clam State
  • Camden State
  • Camden and Aboy State
  • Amboy State
  • Jersey Blue State
  • Pathway of the Revolution
  • Mosquito State
  • Switzerland of America
 

Origin of New Jersey State Name

New jersey is taken from the Channel Isle of Jersey in the English Channel.

Sir John Berkley and Sir George Carteret received a royal charter for a colony in the new land and named this colony for the island of Jersey in the English Channel. Carteret had been born on Jersey and had spent several years as Lieutenant Governor of the island.

Newe Jersey Nicknames

The Garden State

There is no definitive explanation for New Jersey's nickname of "The Garden State."

Garden State, a name coined by Abraham Browning in a speech at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, and which has, despite the objection and veto of the governor, appeared officially on state license plates since about 1954 as the result of L.1954, c. 221; NJSA 39:3-33.2. This legislation was passed over Governor Meyner's veto. His veto message to A545, dated August 2, 1954, says in part "My investigation discloses that there is no official recognition of the slogan 'Garden State' as an identification of the State of New Jersey."

Alfred M. Heston, in his two-volume work, Jersey Waggon Jaunts, published in 1926 ( Camden, NJ, Atlantic County Historical Society, 1926), twice credits Abraham Browning of Camden with coining the name at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia on New Jersey Day, August 24, 1876. On page 310 of volume 2 he writes: "In his address Mr. Browning compared New Jersey to an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and the New Yorkers from the other. He called New Jersey the Garden State, and the name has clung to it ever since." The problem with this is that the image of a barrel tapped at both ends dates back at least to Benjamin Franklin, so this statement crediting Browning with naming the Garden State can not be taken at face value.

Robert Lupp
New Jersey Reference Services
New Jersey State Library
12 October, 1994


Addenda:

#1
NJSA 39:3-33.2 License plates; words "Garden State" to be imprinted
The Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Department of Law and Public Safety shall, upon the occasion of the next and each subsequent general issue of passenger car motor vehicle registration license plates, cause to be imprinted thereon in addition to other markings which he shall prescribe, the words "Garden State."
L.1954, c. 221, p. 834, para. 1.

Historical Note
Passed December 6, 1954, the objections of the Governor notwithstanding; Filed December 7, 1954. Title of Act: An Act concerning motor vehicles and supplementing article 2 of chapter 3 of Title 39 of the Revised Statutes. L.1954, c.221, p. 834.


#2
State of New Jersey,
Executive Department,
August 2, 1954
Assembly Bill No. 454
To the General Assembly:
I am returning herewith, without my approval, Assembly Bill No. 545, for the following reasons:
This bill provides that the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles shall, upon the occasion of the next and each subsequent general issue of passenger car motor vehicle registration license plates, cause to be imprinted thereon the words "Garden State".
A bill similar to this was vetoed by Governor Driscoll in 1953. He said "the registration plate itself, moreover, is an important legal device evidencing compliance with the laws of the State of New Jersey and it should be confined to that purpose without the detraction of any mottoes or phrases". Governor Driscoll's point of view might be refuted if there existed either an official basis for the designation of New Jersey as "Garden State" or if the gardening or farming industry was the overwhelmingly predominant feature of the State's economy. I refer, for example, to the designation on the Wisconsin license plates of that state as "America's Dairyland".

My investigation discloses that there is no official recognition of the slogan "Garden State" as an identification of the State of New Jersey. It is, moreover, obvious that New Jersey's place in the economy and life of the nation is today attributable to its preeminence in many fields, in addition to its acknowledged high standing in agricultural pursuits. Statistically, only 2.4 percent of our workers are employed on farms while 97.6 percent are engaged in non- agricultural occupations. 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. Indeed many of our people regard the state as preeminently a residential community.

For the reasons set forth hereinabove, I cannot concur in the view that such justifiable purpose is served by the bill in question as would outweigh the obvious disadvantage of reducing the space on the metal license plates available for the official registration designation.
Accordingly, I am constrained to return Assembly Bill No. 454 without my approval.
Respectfully, Robert B. Meyner, Governor
Attest: Robert J. Burkhardt, Secretary to the Governor.


#3
(From: Heston, Alfred M. "Jersey Waggon Jaunts" Camden, Atlantic County (N.J.) Historical Society, 1926. Vol. 1, p. 72)
A distinguished citizen of Camden, Hon. Abraham Browning , stirred the pride of Jerseymen by telling them, at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, on New Jersey Day, August 24, 1876, that our Garden State is like a huge barrel, with both ends open, one of which is plucked by New York and the other by Pennsylvania.
And from Vol. 2, p. 310:

The principal speaker on "Jersey Day" was Hon. Abraham Browning, of Camden. ... In his address Mr. Browning compared New Jersey to 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. He called New Jersey the Garden State, and the name has clung to it ever since.
 

Camden State

For a railroad.

Amboy State

For a railroad.

Camden and Aboy State

The famous "Camden and Aboy Railroad" led to the state sometimes being known as the Camden and Aboy State

Jersey Blue State

For the Civil War. Blue uniforms of the Civil war gave it the Jersey Blue State.

Pathway of the Revolution

Many battles were fought there.

Mosquito State

In the 1880s, New York suffered plagues of insects which originated in the marshes of New Jersey, which led the state to be known as the Mosquito State.

Clam State

The clam fisheries on the coast led some to call it the Clam State,

Switzerland of America

Others called it Switzerland of America (one of five states to be so-called).

J

New Jersey Slogans

  • "New Jersey: We'll win you over."
    (formerly New Jersey & You...Perfect Together)
  • The Perfect Getaway (formerly)
  • Come see for yourself

New Jersey Postal Code

  • NJ

New Jersey Resident's Name

  • New Jerseyan - Official  (recommended by U.S. GPO)
  • New Jerseyite - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
State Names
State Names & Nicknames
The etymologies of some US state names are more obvious than others, derived from the Spanish or French tongue. Though, more than half of the US state names come from Native American tribal languages, with several still a mystery to scholars and historians.