Item #34359 Laws of the State of New-Jersey; Revised and Published, Under the Authority of the Legislature. New Jersey, William Paterson, ed.
Laws of the State of New-Jersey; Revised and Published, Under the Authority of the Legislature

Laws of the State of New-Jersey; Revised and Published, Under the Authority of the Legislature.

Newark: Printed by Matthias Day, 1800.

A FIRST IN WOMEN'S AND BLACK SUFFRAGE. Title, 1-(456); i-(xxii); (1)-46. Errata sheet bound in. 1 vols. 8vo (signed in fours). Full contemporary sheepskin, border of blind-stamped dots on covers. Owners' signatures (one contemporary) and stamps. Some wear to joints and hinges, generally browned, dampstaining to preliminaries at gutter, else a very good, sturdy copy Evans 38263 (not noting Paterson's editorship); Felcone I 169; Felcone, Printing in New Jersey 1111. Item #34359

Notable on page 231, paragraph XI, is a reiteration of legislation originally set fourth in the New Jersey Constitution, in 1776, reading in part: “And be it enacted, That all free inhabitants of this state, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money, and have resided within the county in which they claim a vote for twelve months immediately preceding the election, shall be entitled to vote for all public officers…”

Once dismissed as a possible oversight or sloppy wording on the part of its framers, historians now believe that the phrase “all free inhabitants” intentionally extended the right to vote, not only to women, but to free blacks, as well as aliens. In addition, the act does include a property requirement, only that the person be worth “fifty pounds proclamation money,” which included cash. This short-lived legislation, which was rescinded in 1807, makes New Jersey the first state to extend the right to vote citizens regardless of race or gender.

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