HO-HO-KUS, NJ – Tuesday, July 2, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer, in celebration of Independence Day this week, stood within the Crossroads of the American Revolution to highlight New Jersey’s rich history and the importance of investing in developing North Jersey’s tourism economy and in preserving historical sites.
Gottheimer, joined by local historic preservation leaders and reenactors, visited the Hermitage Museum today, the home of Theodosia Bartow Prevost, which hosted revolutionaries including Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette, and New Jersey’s own Aaron Burr. George Washington also used the home as a headquarters.
Gottheimer highlighted Revolutionary War sites throughout the Fifth District, including the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area (NHA), which brings together over 250 New Jersey museums, historic sites, and battlefields. Crossroads produces $166.6 million in economic impact, supports over 1,700 jobs, and welcomes 900,000 visitors annually.
Gottheimer noted that heritage tourism can be a major economic driver for North Jersey and that Revolutionary sites play a key role. In Congress, Gottheimer is focused on bolstering these efforts and furthering the economic impact NHAs have on communities.
“There is a real opportunity to do more to promote sites like the Hermitage and to spur jobs and economic development around it. This is just one of those things about New Jersey that just doesn’t get enough attention. National Heritage Areas, like Crossroads, and their Heritage Partners, have so much possibility to draw more visitors – and hopefully get them to spend more dollars when they’re here. Just like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and others have done,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I’m confident that with a real focus on heritage tourism, we can help drive economic growth, get our taxes down, and help diversify economy. This week, let us take an extra moment to celebrate New Jersey, our nation’s rich history, and those we lost fighting to achieve our independence and freedoms.”
Gottheimer’s fight to boost historic preservation and tourism in North Jersey:
- Gottheimer has launched a Tourism Task Force in Sussex County, along with NJ State Senator Oroho, NJ Assemblymen Space and Wirths, and Sussex County Chamber Commerce President Horsfield, to invest more in tourism, to help drive economic growth and job creation, and to keep tourism here, rather than lose visitors to Pennsylvania and New York.
- Gottheimer has cosponsored the bipartisan National Heritage Area Act, which strengthens the NHA program. Better management of our heritage areas will strengthen public-private-partnerships, better preserve our national heritage, and spur economic growth with minimal federal resources.
- Gottheimer is fighting to ensure investment in the Save America’s Treasures grant program, which provides preservation and conservation resources to nationally significant historic properties. The Hermitage and other historic sites throughout North Jersey are eligible.
- Gottheimer has also called for investment in the National Endowment for the Humanities, which includes teaching, preservation, public programming, and competitive grants for research and scholarship in history.
Among the Revolutionary War sites within the Fifth District that Gottheimer highlighted today were the Washington Encampment Monument in Hardyston Township, Sussex County; the Thomas Anderson House and the Old Newton Burial Ground in the Town of Newton, Sussex County; Shippen Manor in Oxford Township, Warren County; and the Old Presbyterian Burial Ground in the Town of Hackettstown, Warren County.
View the video of the remarks here.
Congressman Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Thank you to Victoria Harty, the Executive Director here at the Hermitage, for having all of us today and for all the important work you all do here in Ho-Ho-Kus. Thank you to Janice Selinger, with Crossroads of the American Revolution, for being with us here, and for everything Crossroads does throughout Jersey to educate our residents and our visitors.
And thank you for all of these incredible reenactors for being here today and for making history come alive for so many of visitors to New Jersey. You all are definitely putting us in the Revolutionary spirit today!
It’s great to be here in Ho-Ho-Kus today at the Hermitage, especially just days before we celebrate Independence Day, marking the official day when the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies, including New Jersey, united, free, and independent states. It’s also an important time to remember the vital role that North Jersey played in the birth of our great country, and all of those who gave their lives for our freedom.
I’m very proud to represent so many of the historical sites that led up to that day in 1776, from Bergen County to Sussex County, and I’m hoping more people will join me in visiting these sites to remember and celebrate our rich history – and give a boost to our Heritage Tourism. Today, I’ll address steps we can take to protect and promote historic sites like this one, and help drive our economic growth in North Jersey.
New Jersey was truly the Crossroads of the American Revolution. In fact, there were more clashes here -- between the British and the Americans -- than in any other colony during the Revolutionary War.
Right here, the Hermitage, the home of Theodosia Bartow Prevost, served as a meeting-and-resting-place for revolutionaries, including Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette, and New Jersey’s own Aaron Burr, whom Theodosia would later marry. George Washington also used the Hermitage as a headquarters during July 1778 -- 241 years ago this month.
The Hermitage, which is also, proudly, Bergen County's first National Historical Landmark, is only the beginning of our heritage history.
In 2006, Congress established portions of fourteen New Jersey counties as a National Heritage Area -- or NHA -- officially creating the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area. Crossroads is one of only 49 national heritage areas across the United States, and it’s the only National Heritage Area dedicated specifically to telling the story of the American Revolution.
Crossroads brings together more than 100 preservation groups, historical societies, organizations and state, county, and local government entities as Crossroads Heritage Partners. These organizations represent more than 250 museums, historic sites and battlefields across our state.
Together, Crossroads produces $166.6 million in economic impact in the state of New Jersey. Crossroads also supports more than 1,700 jobs in New Jersey. Around 900,000 visitors came to the sites and attractions of the NHA in 2015-2016.
Only miles from here, in Sussex County, we have the Washington Encampment Monument in Hardyston, marking where George Washington encamped for a night on a march from Newburg to Morristown in 1779 to meet General Lafayette. And there’s the Thomas Anderson house – the only remaining building in Newton associated with the village’s leading Revolutionary patriot. And according to a later account in the New Jersey Herald in 1871, George Washington stopped here to dine with Thomas Anderson.
In Warren County, in Oxford Township, Shippen Manor is on the national register of historical places. It was built in 1755, where Dr. William Shippen founded the first maternity hospital in America – there are also Revolutionary Era burial grounds, including Hackettstown where ten Revolutionary War veterans who served under George Washington are buried.
Newton is also home to the Old Newton Burial Ground – which contains the graves of veterans of the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and other early conflicts. I visited there last year to remember those we lost and, with the Sussex County Historical Society, helped make the newest grave marker possible. There are 12 Revolutionary War heroes buried there.
We all know how much New Jersey has to offer – our great schools, our safe and beautiful communities, our proximity to parks and lakes, and the financial capital of the world. Yet, given SALT and the high cost of living, too high in my opinion, we are losing too many jobs and businesses to other states. Well, I believe there is a real opportunity to do more to promote sites like this one and to spur jobs and economic development around it. This is just one of those things about our state that just doesn’t get enough attention. National Heritage Areas, like Crossroads, and their Heritage Partners and sites like the Hermitage, have so much possibility to draw more visitors – and hopefully get them to spend more when they’re here. Just like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and others have done. This is a real opportunity for our state.
Heritage tourism can be a major economic driver for New Jersey – and our state’s Revolutionary sites play a key role.
You think, just a few miles from here in Morristown – which became our country’s first National Historic Park - George Washington led the Continental Army through two critical winters in Jockey Hollow during the war, which were actually more difficult than the famous winter they spent in Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.
In Congress, I’m incredibly focused on what else we can do to help bolster these efforts, and furthering the economic impact that National Heritage Areas have on communities, both here in North Jersey and across our great nation.
That’s why I cosponsored the National Heritage Area Act, which is bipartisan legislation to strengthen the NHA program. Better management of our heritage areas will strengthen public-private-partnerships, better preserve our national heritage, and spur economic growth with minimal federal resources.
I’m also fighting to ensure that we’re investing in the Save America’s Treasures grant program, which the Hermitage and other historic sites throughout North Jersey are eligible for. These grants provide preservation and conservation resources to nationally significant historic properties and collections, like this one, and allow us to claw our federal tax dollars back to Jersey.
We must also invest in the National Endowment for the Humanities, which includes teaching, preservation, public programming, and competitive grants for research and scholarship in history.
Finally, here in my District, earlier this year, along with State Senator Oroho, Assemblymen Space and Wirths, Chamber Commerce President Tammy Horsfield, and many local businesses, we launched a Tourism Task Force, to invest more in tourism like this, to help drive economic growth and job creation, and to keep tourism here, not lose it to Pennsylvania and New York.
I’m confident that with a real focus on heritage tourism, we can help drive economic growth, get our taxes down, and help diversify economy. We can make North Jersey even more attractive for national and international visitors, so that they’ll come here, stay in our hotels, and visit our Crossroads and historic sites including the Hermitage.
So, this week, let us take an extra moment to celebrate New Jersey and our nation’s rich history, those we lost fighting to achieve our independence and freedoms, and keep them, and remember just how lucky we are to live in the greatest country in the world. I know that, as long as we always remember our history, and what it took to get here, our best days will always be ahead of us.
Thank you all. Happy early Independence Day. God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.