Last December, we received a grant from the NJ Historical Society through Atlantic County to produce and distribute a teaching calendar for 2024.
The rich history of Atlantic City and all of South Jersey prove that America was great and exceptional. It also shows the importance of “Liberty and Prosperity”, New Jersey’s motto since 1776. The stories we hope to tell in this teaching calendar explain how limited, inexpensive government, a culture of individual rights and responsibilities and low taxes gave Americans “boundless opportunities” for success that did not exist anywhere else in the world.
This project requires a lot of work and talent. Please contact us if you can help us in any way. Paid stipends are available for some of the artistic and technical work. We especially want to engage college and high school students. Stipends are available. For more information, please leave a voicemail at 609-927-7333 or email email@example.com
BELOW IS A ROUGH DRAFT FROM IDEAS SUBMITTED FOR EACH OF THE MONTHS OF 2024 SUBMITTED SO FAR:
Quote: “The British colonies of North America were the least taxed country in recorded history. . . Government was extremely small, limited, and cheap. . . “ Paul Johnson, A History of the American People. IP. 108
January 1: New Year’s Day
January 15: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Above Image: Typical Young Family in Colonial America 1700 to 1776. Painting By Charles Henry Granger (1812-1893)
Story: Spain offered settlers to its American colonies gold, silver, and profitable trade routes to the east. The English colonies, like New Jersey, lacked these things. However, England offered something far more valuable to attract settlers –Land and Liberty! In its 1664 England Charter, the British King guaranteed that everyone who settled in New Jersey would in 1664 issued a Charter that guaranteeing everyone who settled in New Jersey land, property rights, religious freedom, self-government, and no taxes without consent.
When they got here, those settlers consented to only one tax, a tax on real estate. Only “freeholders” or owners of land paid taxes. Therefore, only “freeholders” could vote or hold public office. The government they created had only four officials in each county. A judge decided disputes. A sheriff enforced the law with help from citizens in a “posse comitatus” when needed. A clerk recorded property ownership. A surrogate distributed inherited property and protected widows and orphans. All were elected, and paid with fees from people who used them. Because of “boundless opportunities” and almost non-existent taxes, poverty was rare, and limited to young people starting out. Most Americans were far wealthier, better fed, healthier, and taller than their European counterparts. They also married earlier and had more children who survived to adulthood. Many residents of Atlantic County are descendants of those early settlers and still carry their names. They include Somers, Smith, Leeds, Conover, Risley, Scull and Steelman. Sources: 1664 Concession and Agreement, Paul Johnson, History of the American People (1997)
February 1: Groundhog Day
February 12: Lincoln’s Birthday
February 14: Valentine’s Day/Ash Wednesday/Frederick Douglass Celebrated Birthday
February 19: President’s Day
February 22: George Washington’s Birthday
Image: John McKee and Sara Spencer Washington
Above Image: John McKee, 1819-1902. Builder and Owner of McKee City in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
Story: His parents were slaves in Virginia, but John McKee was set free shortly after his birth in 1819. He moved to Philadelphia at age 17 where he worked in a restaurant, and saved enough money to buy and build on real estate. During the next sixty years, McKee developed hundreds of successful projects including McKee City, here in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. When he died in 1902 the Philadelphia Inquirer estimated his wealth at two million dollars. Source: Rebecca Bayeck, Colonel John McKee: Wealthiest African American At His Death In 1902 (1920)
Story: At age 24, Sara Spencer Washington opened a small beauty salon on Arctic Avenue in Atlantic City in 1913. When she could not find beauty products for her African-American clientsm she took chemistry courses at Columbia University and invented her own.
Within ten years, Sara Spencer Washington created a multimillion dollar Apex Beauty Supply business. It included a national network of Apex shops, beauty schools, and the popular Apex magazine. When Blacks were denied access to local country clubs, she worked with Leo Fraser, a local golf pro to build her own Apex Golf Course and country club in Pomona, New Jersey that was open to all races. Sources: njwomenshistory.org/biographies and www.pomonagolfcourse.com
March 10: Daylight Saving Time Starts
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day
March ??: Jewish Holiday of Purim
March 20: First Day of Spring
March 24: Palm Sunday
March 29: Good Friday
March 31: Easter
Story: Walter Edge was born in 1873 and attended the two room public school in Pleasantville, New Jersey. He left school at age 14 after finishing the eighth grade. He then took a job mixing ink and setting type at a print shop in Atlantic City. He made extra money submitting stories of local events to Atlantic City’s only newspaper. In 1895, at age 22, Edge started his own newspaper, the Atlantic City Daily Press, now known as the Press of Atlantic City. Edge then took an interest in politics. He was elected as a Republican to the New Jersey Assembly in 1909, to the State Senate in 1911 and as Governor of New Jersey in 1916. Edge resigned as Governor to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate from 1919 to 1929. Walter Edge was elected Governor of New Jersey again in 1943. Camp Edge, a well-known Boy Scout retreat in Alloway, New Jersey from 1930 to the mid 1990’s was named after Walter Edge. Source: National Governor’s Association nga.org and Wikipedia.
Story: “Commodore” Louis Kuehnle and Enoch “Nucky” Johnson are famous because of the HBO TV series “Boardwalk Empire”. Louis Kuehnle was born in 1857. His father, a German immigrant, saved enough working as a chef in New York to buy a hotel in Atlantic City in 1878. His son Louis began running it at age 18. Kuehnle immediately took an interest in politics. As a Republican, he won the affection and loyalty of Atlantic City’s poor, especially in its large African-American community. He provided them with jobs and financial assistance during the slow winter season. Kuehnle used his political power to give Atlantic City competition and cheap rates for electric and telephone service and clean and reliable fresh water. Kuehnle also paved Atlantic City streets, built a modern sewer system, one of the best electric trolly car systems in America. When “progressive” Democrats like Governor Woodrow Wilson made gambling, liquor sales, and prostitution illegal in Atlantic City, Kuehnle made sure those laws were not enforced in Atlantic City. Kuehnle said that Atlantic City should give visitors what they wanted.
Kuehnle worked closely with Smith Johnson, the Sheriff of Atlantic County since 1890. New Jersey Sheriffs then decided which laws to enforce, and who to pick for juries. Smith Johnson has his son Enoch “Nucky” Johnson become sheriff as soon as he turned 21.
Above Image: The TV Drama Boardwalk Empire ran on HBO from 2010 to 2014. It was excellent drama. However, the real “Commodore” and “Nucky” were not gangsters. However, they did use their political power to make sure that police and juries in Atlantic City did not enforce new state laws that made liquor, gambling, and prostitution illegal in New Jersey.
In 1913, “progressive” Democrats who ran state government prosecuted and jailed Kuehnle for political corruption. “Nucky” Johnson then controlled Atlantic City politics. In 1937, the FBI under “progressive” Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt prosecuted and jailed “Nucky Johnson for federal income tax evasion. Source: Nelson Johnson, Boardwalk Empire (2002).
April 1: April Fool’s Day
April 22: Jewish Passover (??? First Day or Sundown/Seder)
April 26: Arbor Day:
April 29: Jewish Passover Ends At Sundown.
Above Image: Dr. Jonathan Pitney began practicing medicine in Absecon, NJ in 1820 at age 23. Soon after arriving, he visited the Absecon Island just across the bay, and dreamed of building a summer ocean resort there.
Story: Jonathan Pitney grew up in Morris County. However, he moved to Absecon, New Jersey in 1820 at age 23, after completing medical school. As a doctor, Pitney took an interest in a nearby vacant island of sand dunes by the ocean, now known as Absecon Island. Pitney dreamed of building a summer resort there where visitors could enjoy cool ocean breezes and salt water bathing. At that time, only the very rich could afford small, inaccessible beach resorts like Cape May. Years later, Pitney shared his dream with Samuel Richards, a wealthy 30 year old businessman in Hammonton. In 1853, the two formed the “Camden-Atlantic Railroad Company”. They then attracted enough investors to buy all of Absecon Island, build a 600 room hotel there, and connect it to the Camden ferry to Philadelphia with a new 54 mile long railroad. Construction took less than a year. In 1877, Samuel Richards later built a second high speed railroad in less than 90 days. By 1900, Atlantic City was a world class with 27,000 year-round residents.
By 1904, the fastest trains in the world ran between Atlantic City and Philadelphia with speeds reaching up to 115 miles per hour. Sources: Nelson Johnson, Boardwalk Empire(2002) and Wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_City_Railroad
May 12: Mother’s Day
May 27: Memorial Day
Story: In 1898, Harry Schultz came from Russia to live with his brother in Philadelphia at age 14. He worked at a candy factory for $3 per week. Later, he became a stock boy and then a salesman at several Philadelphia clothing stores. After learning the business, he opened Schultz Clothing, one of Atlantic City’s most successful and best known retail stores on Atlantic Avenue. The story of Harry Schultz is typical of thousands of success stories of ordinary people who succeeded in Atlantic City. Source: Leo Schoffer, A Dream, A Journey, A Community (2009)
Above Image: Paul “Skinny” D’Amato and his daughter Paula Jane stand between Jerry Lewis on left and Dean Martin on right in Atlantic City circa 1960.
Story: Paul “Skinny” D’Amato was born in Atlantic City in 1908. His parents, Italian immigrants, owned a small restaurant. When Skinny was 14, his father died, the restaurant failed, and he, his mother and his brother and four sisters were destitute. At age 15, Skinny and his younger brother borrowed $45 to rent a pool hall. There, they sold cigars and cigarettes. They also took bets on card games and horse races which was illegal under state law, but protected in Atlantic City by “Nucky” Johnson. By age 20, D’Amato owned fifteen of these “horse joints”. By age 30, D’Amato owned the 500 Club on Missouri Avenue and the Garibaldi Club next door. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, national celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Harry James, Betty Grable, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Joe DiMaggio were regular performers or visitors at both clubs.
June 14: Flag Day
June 16: Father’s Day
June 19: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation Enforce In Texas
June 21: First Day of Summer
Story: John Lake Young was born in Absecon, New Jersey in 1853. Since his teenage years, Young worked as a lifeguard in Atlantic City during the summer, and as a skilled carpenter during the off-season. At age 30, Young was doing patch and repair work on the Boardwalk when he met a successful Philadelphia baker named Steward McShea. The two became friends and business partners. For the next ten years, they made enormous profits building and operating various Boardwalk amusements and carnival games including a spectacular carousel, and a roller skating rink. In 1891, the two bought and expanded a nearby ocean pier. To attract bigger crowds, they built an aquarium, ballrooms, a theater, and a giant fishing net to haul in marine life every day. In 1907, Young built an even bigger pier that he called “The Million Dollar Pier”.
The following year, Young built a luxury mansion at the end of the pier and took the address “Number One Atlantic Ocean”. Sources: Unrememberedhistory.com and novanumismatics.com
July 2: New Jersey Ratifies U.S. Constitution in 1787
July 4: American Declaration of Independence
Above Image: Bust of Richard Stockton, for whom Stockton University near Atlantic City, New Jersey is named. The college removed this bust from public display in 2017 when faculty members falsely claimed that Stockton was a “traitor” during the American Revolution and that he “enslaved people”.
Story: Declaration of Independence and Richard Stockton.
On July 4, 1776, 56 men signed America’s Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. That Declaration held it “self-evident” that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain “unalienable rights” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. “Four-score and seven” (87) years later, Abraham Lincoln said that America was built on these “sentiments” during the Civil War to end slavery and secure equal rights for all Americans.
Richard Stockton of Princeton was a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of that Declaration of Independence. This made him guilty of treason against the British Empire. Five months later, Stockton was betrayed and arrested by the British. For five weeks, he was given “meager rations” and held in an unheated prison in freezing cold weather. Stockton’s health was ruined, and he remained sick until his death five years later.
Richard Stockton and his entire family were also Quakers and fierce opponents of slavery. For years, they were like Oskar Schindler during the Holocaust. Besides being active in the fight to end slavery, they also bought slaves, taught them skills needed to be financially independent, and then set them free. Robert Stockton, the grandson of Richard Stockton intercepted slave ships and freed their slaves as a ship commander in the U.S. Navy. Later, in 1846 and 1847, he was greatly responsible for keeping slavery out of California during the Mexican-American War. Stockton University in and near Atlantic City is named after Richard Stockton. Stockton, California is named after Robert Stockton. Sources: Wikipedia for Richard Stockton and Robert Stockton, and Julia Rush and Slavery – Benjamin Rush (weebly.com)
Story: George Hamid and Steel Pier. George Hamid, Sr. was born to a Christian family in Lebanon in 1896 when it was part of the Muslim Turkish Ottoman Empire. When George was ten years old, he and his two brothers were sent to live with their Uncle Ameen in New York to escape deadly attacks on Christians in Turkish controlled Lebanon. All three were already skilled acrobats. They then trained and performed with their Uncle Ameen throughout the United States.
Above Image: 12 Year Old George Hamid At Front Of Line Of Traveling Acrobatic Troupe Of His Uncle Ameen 1908. “Puabla” is the Arabic nickname for “George”.
For several years, they performed with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the height of its popularity. Its famous sharpshooter Annie Oakley took an interest in young George. She first taught him English and later mentored him in the entertainment business.
Above Image: 14 Year Old George Hamid With Buffalo Bill Wild West Show After Being Taught How To Ride A Horse.
When the Buffalo Bill Show failed in 1913, George Hamid, now 17 years old formed his own troupe. They joined a traveling vaudeville company that performed in burlesque shows around the country. That company fell apart after performing at the Globe Theater in Atlantic City. George and his brothers were stranded. They survived by doing acrobatic trips on the beach in front of the Boardwalk at South Carolina Avenue. They slept under the Boardwalk and lived on sandwiches given to them by a waitress at Child’s Restaurant who was in love with one of them. After a few weeks, they were booked to perform at the Steel Pier where they became an instant success. George Hamid later formed his own traveling shows, and later his own circus. In 1944, George Hamid bought the Steel Pier. He and his son George Hamid, Jr. successfully ran it and other entertainment venues for the next thirty years. Source: George A. Hamid, Jr., Circus (1950).
Above Image: Statue of Richard Somers at Shore Road and New Jersey Avenue in Somers Point, N.J. An identical statue stands in Somers, New York, a town named after Richard Somers shortly after he was killed in Tripoli in 1804. Somers Point, N.J. is named after John Somers, the great-grandfather of Richard Somers who settled there in 1695 and built the house that still stands on the hill near the bridge to Ocean City.
Story: Richard Somers: Richard Somers was born in Somers Point in 1778. His father, also named Richard, owned a tavern at what is now the corner of Shore and Bethel Roads. His great-grandfather, John Somers built the stone “mansion” that still stands on the hill by the bridge to Ocean City.
Young Richard completed his education at the Philadelphia Academy later called the Episcopal Academy founded by James Abercrombie. He graduated in 1794 at age 16. At that time, Philadelphia was the capital of the United States and young Richard Somers often met George Washington, our first President.
When the British Empire recognized our independence in 1783, Americans tried to live at peace with all nations by immediately disbanding our navy and most of our army. However, other nations took advantage of our weakness. In particular, won iIn those days, Americans tried to live at peace with all nations of the world by completely disbanding our navy when we won our independence in 1783. However, other nations took advantage of our weakness. In particular, the warships of four Muslim kingdoms on the Barbary Coast of North Africa attacked and seized American ships on the high seas, and sell their passengers and crew into slavery—or hold them for ransom.
In 1798, the United States formed its first navy, and 20 year old Richard Somers volunteered to be one of its first midshipmen, or officer trainees. In 1803, Richard Somers, then 24 years old, was put in command of the new warship Nautilus and its 103 man crew. Richard Somers then sailed to the Mediterranean Sea to search out and destroy Barbary warships that were attacking Americans. On September 4, 1804, Richard Somers and all 12 members of his crew on the ship Intrepid were killed during a daring attack in the harbor of Tripoli. Source: Chipp Reid, Intrepid Sailors (2012).
Story: In 1879, a group of Methodist ministers from Philadelphia and Methodist members of the Lake family of Atlantic County formed a new association to build and operate a new summer beach resort just south of Atlantic City, New Jersey. They wanted Christian families to enjoy summer beach vacations by the ocean without being corrupted by the vices of Atlantic City.
In many ways, they did what Jonathan Pitney and Samuel Richards did to create Atlantic City twenty-five years earlier. In 1880, they bought the entire island now known as Ocean City. They then laid out streets and divided the island into lots which were sold to the public. As with Atlantic City, they set up a new railroad company to bring visitors to and from nearby Somers Point and a steam ferry to bring people from there to and from the island. In 1883, they built a bridge to the mainland at 34th Street.
However, the founders of Ocean City made sure their new resort was far different from Atlantic City. They built a “tabernacle” between 5th and 6th Streets for revival meetings, worship services, lectures, and social events to promote Methodist Christian values. In 1884, the state allowed the island to withdraw from Upper Township and have separate local government as Ocean City. One of the first acts of the new local government was to ban the sale and public consumption of liquor on the island.
Ocean City’s main street is named after John Wesley. He was a preacher and scholar who led a revival movement within the Church of England between 1730 and 1791. Wesley preached to large outdoor gatherings, and was a fierce opponent of slavery. He founded the Methodist Church in both England and America. He also inspired Richard Allen who later founded the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) for Black Americans in the United States in 1816. Sources (ONLY WIKIPEDIA—NEED BETTER SOURCES).
Above Image: Tea Burners Monument in Greenwich, Cumberland County, New Jersey. After America declared independence on July 4, 1776, residents began pronouncing the name of their town as “Green-Witch” so as not to use the British pronunciation.
Story: Tea Burning in Greenwich, Cumberland County.
By 1773, most Americans fully understood how blessed they were to live in this county. They knew they enjoyed more health, wealth, peace, and safety than any other people in the world. They also knew that small government, low taxes, and freedom to make the most important decisions in their lives made this possible. All of this was threatened when the British Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773. This Tea Act not only collected a tax on Americans without their consent. It also bailed out the failed British East India Company by exempting it from taxes every other business had to pay.
On December 16, 1773, citizens in Boston protested both the tax and the corporate bailout by destroying British East India Company Tea on three ships in Boston Harbor. During the next six months, British East India Company tea was destroyed during protests in the port cities of Charleston, South Carolina and Annapolis, Maryland. During the fall of 1774, the captain of a ship carrying British East India tea to Philadelphia tried to avoid those problems by quietly delivering his cargo to the quiet New Jersey village of Greenwich. However, the tea was discovered, taken out, and burned by local farmers on December 22, 1774.
Above Image: During the morning of December 26, 1776, George Washington and his army march south on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River after crossing that river from Pennsylvania the night before.
Story: Christmas Miracle At Trenton 1776: In early December, 1776, the cause of American independence seemed hopeless. Between August and November of 1776, a British force of 300 warships and 30,000 well-paid, trained, and disciplined soldiers destroyed roughly 90% of George Washington’s Continental Army in battles at Brooklyn, Manhattan and White Plains, New York. They then chased Washington and his remaining 5,000 men out of New Jersey and into Pennsylvania.
Patriot writer Thomas Paine wrote: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis shrink from the service of his country. But he that stands it now, deserves the thanks of man and woman”.
At that time, much of New Jersey was settled by Quakers. They were pacifists like William Penn who founded Philadelphia and Pennsylvania because they opposed all wars in Europe. They included John Somers and the Smith, Risley, Scull Conover and Leeds families who were the first European settlers in what is now Atlantic County.
However, here in America, many of those Quakers changed their thinking. They believed God permitted them to kill if necessary to defend themselves, their towns and villages when invaded in attacked. Many began fighting the British and Germany mercenary soldiers who occupied New Jersey, robbed peaceful Quakers, and abused their women. They became known as “Fighting Quakers”. One of them was Colonel Richard Somers of Somers Point, the father of the U.S. Navy hero with the same name.
When George Washington heard of this resistance, he made plans to attack a unit of 1,500 German soldiers under British command in Trenton. Washington AND 2,500 of his soldiers crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey during Christmas night of 1776 and attacked the next morning. They won a lopsided victory. They killed or captured roughly a thousand German soldiers and suffered only two dead from the cold. One week later, the Americans won a second decisive victory against the main body of British troops at Trenton, and a third victory at Princeton. News of these three American victories in New Jersey revived support for the American cause overnight. For the next six years, Americans continued to fight for their freedom until the British Empire recognized their independence in 1783. Source: David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing. 2004.
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