Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Jersey Capitol, Valley Forge

We were about as close to the New Jersey capitol as we will probably ever be so we decided to do a day trip to Trenton and to also stop at Valley Forge to collect a national park stamp on the way home.
The capitol building is a sprawling complex of at least seven different additions to the original 1792 building.  Some new parts were because a fire destroyed part of the building and others were to accommodate the growing government.  The biggest difference here from all the other capitols we have toured is that self guided tours are not allowed.  In all the others we visited we were able to just walk around and check things out before or after the tour.
This shows the additions that were added over the years since 1792.  To me, unlike others capitols we have toured, the additions seem like they were added with no long range plan to tie it all together.
The dome above the rotunda.  This was the only view we got as we were not allowed into the rotunda on the upper floors.
The General Assembly has 80 members.  This chamber was part of the 1871 addition.
The 40 member Senate chamber was also added in 1871.
Some of the art of the capitol.  The ceramic tree has eastern goldfinches, the state bird. The stained glass window has the state seal that includes the state motto, liberty and prosperity.  The eagle is in the rotunda and our guide is holding the county flag of Mercer county where Trenton is located.  The background is the senate dome with the names of prominent New Jersey citizens.
The office of the governor.  No citizens allowed.
Former governor Woodrow Wilson is the only New Jersey resident to be elected president.   Hope that holds true in 2016. 
The rotunda and dome that were built in front of the original 1792 building were destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the late 1880's.  It is very unusual to have a rotunda that is not completely surrounded by the building.  To me this just adds to the haphazard look of the building.  
Near the capitol is the Old Barracks that was built by the British in 1758 during the French and Indian War.  During the Revolutionary War Hessian troops were stationed there.  On December 26, 1776, after making his famous crossing of the Delaware River, Washington's troops surprised and captured nearly two-thirds of the Hessian troops giving the Americans an important victory over the British. 
Another very interesting site sits across the street from the capitol.  It is the New Jersey World War II Memorial that honors the Greatest Generation.  There are plaques listing all the New Jersey residents who won the Medal of Honor under the branch of the military in which they served.
The memorial has statues of a soldier and Victory.  There are story walls for the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of the war that chronicle events in the war and major ways that New Jersey contributed to the victory. 
From Trenton we drove to Valley Forge National Historical Park, the site of the Continental Army winter encampment from 1777-1778 after they were driven from Philadelphia.  Valley Forge was chosen so the army would be close enough to Philadelphia to keep an eye on the British while being far enough away to be safe from attack.  Above is the National Memorial Arch honoring those who endured the brutal conditions that winter. 
The park has several examples of the cabin that each unit had to build to survive the cold weather. 
Statue of Revolutionary War General "Mad" Anthony Wayne who lead a militia in several battles during the war.  His fiery personality and military exploits earned him the name Mad Anthony.
General Washington's winter quarters were in a house on the Davis Potts property.  The home not only housed Washington, but also many of his military staff. 
The interior is typical of upper class homes of the period.  Yes, George Washington slept here.
These cabins served as the barracks for Washington's personal guard, the 3rd U.S. Infantry.  That is the same unit the serves today as the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Both Valley Forge and the New Jersey capitol are interesting stops.

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