General Joseph Bloomfield

Biography of Joseph Bloomfield
 1753 - 1823

Major, Revolutionary War - 1776-1778
Governor of New Jersey - 1801-1812
Brigadier General - War of 1812-1815
US Congressman - 1817-1821
Lifelong Activist for the Abolition of Slavery

Chronological Summary of the life of Joseph Bloomfield

by M. Balston, Website Editor

Joseph Bloomfield was born on October 18, 1753 in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey, the son of Dr. Moses Bloomfield and Sarah Ogden. Moses Bloomfield was a Surgeon and a leader in the Anti-Slavery Abolitionist movement, hosting meetings in his home. Joseph was educated at Rev. Enoch Green’s school in Deerfield Township, Cumberland County, N.J., where Rev. Green was pastor of the Presbyterian Churches in Deerfield and also in Greenwich, as well as being active in the Anti-Slavery Abolitionist movement.

Bloomfield studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1775 and commenced a law practice in Bridgeton, N.J. He entered the Revolutionary Army as Captain of the Third New Jersey Regiment on February 9, 1776; attained the rank of Major on November 28, 1776, and also was appointed judge advocate of the northern army during the same month. He was wounded at the battle of Brandywine, September 1777. He resigned from the Revolutionary Army on October 28, 1778, having been elected Clerk of the New Jersey Assembly the day before.

Mr. Bloomfield married Miss Mary McIlvaine (1752-1818), daughter of Dr. William McIlvaine, of Burlington.

He resumed the practice of law in Burlington, NJ; was registrar of the admiralty court 1779-1783; State attorney general from 1783 to 1792, when he resigned; trustee of Princeton College from 1793 until his resignation in 1801; Governor of New Jersey 1801-1812. At the start of the War of 1812 he was commissioned as a Brigadier General on March 13, 1812, and served until June 15, 1815; elected as a Republican to the Fifteenth Congress and reelected to the Sixteenth Congress (March 4, 1817-March 3, 1821). Mary McIlvaine Bloomfield died in 1818, the couple had no children. After her death, Bloomfield married Isabella Ramsey (1779-1871), the daughter of John Ramsey. Bloomfield was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the Seventeenth Congress; he died in Burlington, Burlington County, N.J., October 3, 1823; interment was in St. Mary’s Episcopal Churchyard.

Joseph Bloomfield was a popular hero of the Revolutionary War, a devoted Christian, and an active member of the New Jersey Bible Society. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church during an era when that Church, in it's entirety, was staunchly evangelical in it's theology. Those evangelical Christian moral convictions were the driving force in his lifelong efforts to end the immoral institution of slavery. The majority of the early abolitionist leaders were driven by Christian convictions, and churches became the meeting halls of the movement. Bloomfield had ties to the group who were establishing the 'Church on the Green', the focal point of the new settlement on Third River, northwest of Newark. In recognition of this son of New Jersey, the founders of the town named the settlement "Bloomfield" in 1796, with the honoree himself visiting the town the next year with a Military escort, in formal recognition of the honor bestowed upon him. The formal Civil Incorporation of Bloomfield, New Jersey occurred in 1812. 

This bio article has been posted on this site since 2001 and portions have been used (without attribution) by other sites. They omit the crucial info on
Bloomfield's deeply held Christian moral values and thus miss his passionate motivation for fighting against Slavery.
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From the Book :

BIOGRAPHIES OF 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 death.

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."

A letter hand-written by Joseph Bloomfield follows:



A 7.5 x 11.25 document dated October 4, 1794 regarding a payment to be made to James Schurman
signed "Joseph Bloomfield" . Included is another page measuring 7.5 x 5.25. It references the same topic. 
The Sate of New Jersey and the city of Trenton are mentioned.

 


Grave of Joseph Bloomfield
St. Mary’s Episcopal ChurchYard, Burlington, NJ

JoebyPeale.jpg (36864 bytes)
JOSEPH BLOOMFIELD
painting by CHARLES W. PEALE c. 1777


MARY McILLVAINE
Mrs. JOSEPH BLOOMFIELD
Joe's main squeeze
painting by CHARLES W. PEALE


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This page is from the web-site  www.FirstBaptistBloomfield.org
a community service of First Baptist Church
1 Washington St,  Bloomfield, NJ 07003
updated March 20, 2014