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The Frelinghuysen Family is NJ History

The Frelinghuysen’s are one of New Jersey’s oldest and most important families. Over the course of more than 200 years, the family has produced four United States senators and two members of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) has served 11 terms in the House. He serves 28 Morris County municipalities and also represents parts of Essex, Passaic and Sussex counties. In recently announcing his bid for re-election, Frelinghuysen stated: “My approach to public service is straightforward: I fight every day for New Jersey families, small businesses, veterans and seniors and work to change the way business is done in Washington.”

Frelinghuysen has earned the respect of both the Republican and Democratic members of congress.  Many members look to the Congressman as a voice of wisdom and experience with institutional knowledge and history in a place where seniority matters most and stability is often lacking, especially now.

The Frelinghuysen’s are no strangers to Washington, DC. Rodney’s father, Peter Hood Ballantine Frelinghuysen Jr., represented the same district in the House of Representatives from 1953 through 1974. After just one year in office, he was one of the most vocal critics of fellow Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and his communist witch hunt. “By remaining silent we permit the public to believe that most Republicans condone the senator’s tactics,” Frelinghuysen stated. “By remaining silent we lend credence to the view that we prefer to risk losing our freedom than to offend a questionable ‘asset’ to our party.”

Frelinghuysen also famously led the opposition when the Port of New York Authority planned to use 10,000 acres of unspoiled marsh and woodlands in Morris County to build an international airport. The plan was ultimately defeated, and the tract of land became part of the federally protected Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (Rodney’s great-great-grandfather) represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate and served as Secretary of State in President Chester A. Arthur’s administration. Going even further back into New Jersey’s political history, Frederick Frelinghuysen (Rodney’s great-great-great-great-grandfather) was a member of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey from 1775 to 1776 and later a member of the Continental Congress. After fighting in the Revolutionary War, Frelinghuysen was a delegate to the New Jersey convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1787.  In the new government, he continued his service as a U.S. Senator from 1793 to 1796.

Two other members of the Frelinghuysen family served in the U.S. Senate. Theodore Frelinghuysen (1829-1835) was also New Jersey’s Attorney General from 1817 to 1829 and unsuccessfully ran for Vice President of the United States alongside Henry Clay in 1844. Joseph Sherman Frelinghuysen (1917 to 1923) and was New Jersey’s first popularly elected senator under the 17th Amendment.

Donald Scarinci is a managing partner at Lyndhurst, N.J. based law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck. He is also the editor of the Constitutional Law Reporter and Government and Law blogs.

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