By F. Topper/C. Wills
A background of latest Jersey, from its early exploration and payment to the nation this day.
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Additional info for A historical album of New Jersey
Called the Archaic People by archaeologists, they were nomadic, moving from place to place in search of food. Eventually, the early New Jerseyans discovered how to raise crops and began to live in permanent villages. By AD 900, a distinctive Indian culture had developed in New Jersey. These Native Americans called themselves Leni Lenapes, which means "the original people" or "the ordinary people" in their language. Early European explorers and settlers called these people Delawares, after the great Delaware River that forms New Jersey's western border.
Silk was Paterson's chief product, along with other textiles, and the city also manufactured steam locomotives for the nation's new railroads. Life in these early factories and mills was grim. Few laws existed to protect workers from unfair employers and poor working conditions. Child labor was common, with children as young as eight years old working thirteen or fourteen hours a day, six days a week. Conditions were bad enough when jobs were available, but when economic depressions occurred, as they did in 1837 and 1857, thousands of people found themselves out of work and on the edge of starvation.
Thanks to its charter, the Camden and Amboy enjoyed a virtual monopoly on rail transportation in the state. Steam power also laid the foundations for New Jersey's tourist industry, still an important part of the state's economy today. Steamboats linked the Jersey shore with Philadelphia, making Cape May a favorite vacation resort for Philadelphians. In the early 1850s, Jonathan Pitney, a surgeon, persuaded the Camden and Amboy Railroad to lay track to tiny Absecon Island; this led to the creation of Atlantic City, which soon became one of the nation's most popular resorts.