Thomas Smith papers
The New Jersey legislature first convened on August 27, 1776, following the creation of the New Jersey Constitution in July 1776. The body consisted of a general assembly, made up of three representatives from each county, and a legislative council, composed of one representative from each county. In 1844, the amended state constitution created a 60-member general assembly, as well as a senate composed of one member from each county.
The centennial New Jersey State Senate convened in Trenton on January 11, 1876, presided over by General William Joyce Sewell (1835-1901). Sewell, an Irish immigrant, served in the Union Army during the Civil War and in the New Jersey State Senate between 1872 and 1881, including several terms as president. He also served in the United States Senate from 1881 to 1887 and from 1895 to 1901.