A New Jersey Anthology

Now that I’ve returned to Washington, Millicent Fenwick reappears. This time in book form.  I returned home to find a copy of “A New Jersey Anthology” waiting for me.  It’s a selection of chapters about New Jersey’s rich history from the Revolutionary War to Twentieth Century politics including a chapter about Millicent Fenwick, “The Conscience of Congress,” by yours truly.

The last chapter is about the ongoing Mount Laurel case focused on low-income housing. The case became mired in zoning issues, fair housing, and what some referred to as economic discrimination. I remember hearing about “Mount Laurel” and that the topic was always a spark for heated conversation, but now I know the roots of this battle.  Eventually “Mount Laurel” housing came to my hometown too, but not before New Jersey passed a Fair Housing Act in 1985.

My favorite chapter in the anthology is about the “Trial of the Century.” No, not O.J.  This is an anthology about New Jersey and in the garden state that is the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case tried in Flemington, New Jersey. Until last year you could watch a reenactment at the historic courthouse itself (and I did). The only difference is the ending. In real life Hauptmann was found guilty, and later executed, for the kidnapping and murder of baby Lindbergh. In the theater version, the audience turned jury decided. The day I went, Haumptmann was found not guilty. How times have changed.

While tickets to the play are no longer an option, in 1935 the trial was the hottest ticket in town and among those in the courthouse when Bruno Hauptmann testified was a 13-year-old boy, Nicholas Katzenbach. To find out how he ended up in the courtroom you’ll have to wait for my book to come out.


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