Aaron Kitchell Swings New Jersey
Aaron Kitchell was an early leader of the Democratic-Republican Party in New Jersey.
Kitchell used his influence to maneuver Congress toward Thomas Jefferson and James Madison’s goals.
Early New Jersey
During the debates on ratification for the United States Constitution, the nation became greatly divided on what type of government would be best.
Although the writers of the Constitution believed natural divides would take place between large and small States, the majority of the disagreement was between North and South.
Caught in the middle of all this was New Jersey.
Not a big State. Not a small State. Right in the middle.
Not in the North. Not in the South. Right in the middle.
When Thomas Jefferson returned to America after his long stay in France, the Anti-Federalists coalesced around him and became the Democratic-Republicans.
New Jersey, a ‘swing-State’ of sorts, was split in their Party support.
This is when Aaron Kitchell became a leader of the New Jersey Democratic-Republican Party.
Kitchell, a blacksmith by trade, made his was into the State Assembly, where he served for most of the 1780’s.
As a laborer, his wealth was minimal for the leaders of his time. Aaron made his was into power by building a reputation as an honest, trustworthy member of his community.
By 1795, Kitchell was running the New Jersey Branch of the Democratic-Republicans (along with his friends John Condit and James Linn). This is when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives.
When Aaron and his associates were swept into office, he was singled out by Bernard Smith (under the pen name Brutus) as part of the next great hope for the United States. The article, which was published in the Centinel of Freedom was titled ‘Republicanism Triumphant: or, The British Faction out-done.’ The ‘British Faction’ being referenced were the Federalists who supported the Jay Treaty with England and promoted the Quasi-War with France.
Kitchell proceeded to swing New Jersey, and therefore the House, in the Democratic-Republican’s favor.
Election of 1800
Kitchell served in three of the following four Congresses.
Aaron’s most notable contribution to early American history was his involvement in the election of 1800. As Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr had an equal number of electoral votes, the decision was left up to the House of Representatives.
Because of New Jersey’s stature as a ‘swing-State’ Kitchell played a role in organizing the Party to make sure Jefferson received the Presidency as expected.
Aaron Kitchell would go on to serve a term as a United States Senator representing New Jersey. He held this office during the Jefferson Administration and was one of the President’s most trusted Congressmen.
Information on Aaron Kitchell is exceedingly hard to come by. Believe it or not, this short article took me hours of research. I have no book to recommend to learn more about his life, but if you’d like to learn more about revolutionary New Jersey, check out ‘Forgotten Towns and Crossroads’ linked below (affiliate).