From the Book :
GLOUCESTER, SALEM AND CUMBERLAND COUNTIES, NEW JERSEY
By Charles E. Sheppard
Joseph Bloomfield was the son of
Dr. Moses Bloomfield, who married as his second wife the widow of Dr. Samuel
Ward of Greenwich, in this county, and was born at Woodbridge, N. J., in 1753.
He was partly educated at Deerfield, in this county, by Rev. Enoch Green, pastor
of the Presbyterian Church there; who also taught a classical school for a
number of years. He studied law with Cortlandt Skinner, the attorney general of
the province, who was an influential lawyer, and held important positions as
member of Assembly and of Council. At November term, 1774, he presented to the
Supreme Court of the province a license form Governor Franklin, authorizing him
to practice law, and took the oaths and was admitted by the court. He at once
took up his residence in Bridgeton, and at the ensuing February term presented
his license before the courts of this county.
Two months later the battle of Lexington took place, and the drilling of troops
and preparations for the heroic contest which that battle inaugurated became the
principal business with every Whig. Mr. Bloomfield was an ardent patriot, and
began his military career as a sergeant of the company of militia, organized in
the western part of the county, May 3, 1775. On the election of field officers
of the Cumberland militia, June 13th of that year, he was chosen adjutant, and
on October 9th was chosen first lieutenant of another company of militia.
He was appointed February 7, 1776, as captain in the Third Battalion of troops
raised for the Continental army in this State, and a company of sixty-five men
was recruited in this county, with himself as captain; Constant Peck, first
lieutenant; William Gifford, second lieutenant; and Ebenezer Elmer ensign. This
company left Bridgeton March 27, 1776, and did good service during the year of
their enlistment, an account of which, from the journal of Ebenezer Elmer, will
be found elsewhere in this volume. Capt. Bloomfield was promoted major of the
Third Battalion November 28, 1776, and also appointed judge advocate of the
northern army during the same month. He continued in the army until October 28,
1778, when he resigned, having been elected clerk of the Assembly of this State
on the preceding day. He was wounded during his term of service, but at what
time is now unknown. Lieut. Elmer in his journal entered his opinion of the
officers in the command, and of him says, "Capt. Bloomfield, active,
unsteady, fond of show, and a great admirer of his own abilities; quick
passions, but easily pacified,"–probably a pretty correct statement of
the points of his character.
Shortly after he resigned from the army he married a lady in Burlington, where
he took up his residence, And resided there during the remainder of his life,
being major of the city several years.
Previous to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, which vested
all admiralty jurisdiction in the United States Courts, this State passed an act
October 5, 1776, establishing a State Court of Admiralty, and Mr. Bloomfield was
appointed register of the court, and held the office until 1783. In that year,
upon the resignation of William Patterson, he was appointed by the joint meeting
attorney general of the State, and re-elected in 1788, but resigned the office
in 1792. In that year he was elected by the Legislature one of the presidential
electors. He was also a general of the militia of the State, and commanded a
brigade of militia, which took part in suppressing the Whiskey Insurrection in
Western Pennsylvania in 1794.
He was an earnest supporter of the administration of Washington, but under the
administration of John Adams and the leadership of Alexander Hamilton, the
Federal party developed those proscriptive principles which were exemplified in
the alien and sedition laws, he became a supporter of the Republican Party of
that day, under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, and was one of the foremost
in this State in the great political and social conflict. The joint meeting held
October 31st elected Mr. Bloomfield Governor.
In October 1803, the Democrats again had a majority, and Mr. Bloomfield was
re-elected Governor, and continued to be re-elected annually until 1812. As
Governor he was also chancellor, but the business of the court was not large in
his time, and no cases decided by him were reported.
In the war of 1812 he was appointed a brigadier-general by President Madison,
and commanded a brigade stationed at Sackett’s Harbor, N. Y., and a part of
his brigade, under the command of Gen. Pike, crossed into Canada and made an
attack on Fort George, but was unsuccessful, Gen. Pike being killed by the
explosion of the magazine. He afterwards was in command of the military district
whose headquarters was at Philadelphia, and remained in service until the close
of the war in 1815.
In the fall of 1816, Gen. Bloomfield was elected to Congress on a general ticket
by the Democrats, and Re-elected in 1818. He was chairman of the Committee on
Revolutionary Claims, and introduced the bill granting pensions to the survivors
of that struggle and to the surviving widows of those deceased.
After he settled at Burlington, he was a member of and president of the
"New Jersey Society for the Abolition of Slavery," a society whose
efforts were focused on ameliorating the condition of the
slaves, and the cultivation of a public sentiment in favor of its abolition. He
was elected a trustee of Princeton College in 1783, but resigned when he was
elected Governor, and in 1819 was again elected, and held the position until his
Mr. Bloomfield married Miss Mary McIlvaine, daughter of Dr. William McIlvaine,
of Burlington, soon after resigned his position in the army in the Revolution,
which probably occasioned his locating at that place. They had no children, and
she died in 1818. He afterwards married a second wife, who survived him. He died
in Burlington, October 3, 1823, and on his tomb is inscribed, "A soldier of
the Revolution; late Governor of New Jersey; a General in the Army of the United
States; he closed a life of probity, benevolence, and public service, in the
seventieth year of his age."