NEW JERSEY'S position as a main corridor of eastern United States has broadly affected her political, social, economic, and cultural history. Lying between two metropolises, New York and Philadelphia, the State from early times has been the highway and often the stopping place for hordes of people of many races, religions, and cultures.
This location has brought both embarrassment and blessing. Governor Woodrow Wilson, who thought of New Jersey as "a sort of laboratory in which the best blood is prepared for other communities to thrive upon," gave the key to the State's history when he remarked in 1911 that "we have always been inconvenienced by New York on the one hand and Philadelphia on the other . . ." He called the State "the fighting center of the most important social questions of our time" and explained that "the whole suburban question . . . the whole question of the regulation of corporations and the right attitude of all trades, their formation and conduct . . . center in New Jersey more than any other single State of the Union."
The first white man to see, and possibly to land on, the New Jersey shore is believed to have been the Florentine navigator, Giovanni da Verrazano, sailing in the employ of the French Crown. In 1524 he is said to have anchored his vessel off Sandy Hook and with a small boat explored upper New York Bay as far as, or almost as far as, the New Jersey shore.
Almost a century later, in 1609, Henry Hudson, employed by Holland, sailed the Half Moon into New York Bay, dispatched a sounding party as far as Newark Bay and then sailed up the Hudson River. Within a few years the Dutch sent out trading expeditions and established a post at Manhattan, the base for the invasion of New Jersey. The first known outpost west of the Hudson River was the trading station of Bergen, founded in 1618 by colonists from the island. Five years later Captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, who had sailed into the Delaware River in 1614, set up Fort Nassau on the east bank of the river, near the present site of Gloucester. Mey's name survives in Cape May.
Actual settlement of the unnamed New Jersey section of New Netherland was slow. Accordingly, the West India Company offered the feudal