The Winds of Dissension 

By 1765, the Bordentown stage line was well patronized among individuals crossing the terrain of New Jersey. From the days when it took four days to travel from Bordentown to Perth Amboy, now took the same amount of time from Philadelphia to New York City. The small town presented its travelers with a fine array of stabled horses that complimented overnight accommodations that featured food and drink. Although packet boats along the Delaware River offered a safer and more leisurely alternative to the deplorable conditions of the terrain, there were many delays caused by changing tides and wind currents. In essence, the worst way to travel was considered the best way.

Joseph Borden, now a town elder, maintained several businesses from Market Street (currently Park Street) to the river, including a general store, a brewery, horse stables, an iron forge, and a cooper shop. He and his wife, Susannah Ann, beamed with pride as the loving parents of one son and six daughters, who were now adults. One of the daughters, Rebecca, was married to Dr. Joseph Brown, the owner of the tavern where a young Benjamin Franklin stayed.

Joseph Borden, Jr., Rebecca’s brother, made a name for himself in his own right by assuming responsibilities that his father held and expanding the family’s business interests. As his prominence rose within the community, it allowed him the opportunity to seek a number of noteworthy positions, including an appointment as a judge. In 1761, he was elected to the New Jersey Assembly. Married in 1743 to Elizabeth Rogers, they infused strict virtues of tolerance in their six children as passionately as their religious beliefs.

By the time that their children became young adults, the turbulent winds of dissension were blowing from Great Britain to the shores of its colonies over a taxation plan implemented by Parliament. Known as the Stamp Act, it required that all businesses must be taxed for using stamped or printed paper in the production of newspapers, pamphlets, documents, and other paper items. In addition, fees were imposed on the purchase of playing cards and dice. Outraged, in October of 1765, twenty seven delegates from nine colonies met at Federal Hall in New York to protest that the rule of “taxation without representation” didn’t contain any relevance of legitimacy and needed to be repealed. Joseph Borden, Jr. was selected as one of three individuals to represent New Jersey in what came to be known as the Stamp Act Congress. His son-in-law, Thomas McKean, who had married his daughter, Mary, in 1763, represented Delaware. It marked the first time that a sitting body of the Continental Congress rebelled against the English Crown.

However, two weeks prior to the gathering, Joseph Borden, Jr., had to cope with another crisis. His father, the well-respected citizen of the town that bore his name, had succumbed from a long illness. His memory must have weighed heavily on the mind of his son as he and other delegates vocally discussed and then formally issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances against the Stamp Act. Although one light in Borden’s life had been extinguished with the passing of his father, another was about to ignite a fuse of unimaginable scale. The defiance against Parliament was the fuse of a larger and more dangerous conflict yet to come.

Reaching across the bountiful farm fields, wooded mountains, and meandering waterways that formed the rich tapestry of our colonies, nobody was spared immunity from the ravages of war. Even in villages like Bordentown where the names of Paine, Hopkinson, Kirkbride, Hoagland, Carman, Borden, and those forgotten to the pages of history did not hesitate to carry the banner of patriotism.