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Frederick Frelinghuysen. Library of Congress Photo.

Greenland Watch: Frelinghuysen voted yes on Alaska sale

Just two of NJ congressmen voted to spend $7.2 million to buy Alaska — the other three didn’t vote

By David Wildstein, August 26 2019 9:45 pm

Since there’s so much discussion about President Donald Trump’s craving to purchase Greenland from Denmark, here’s a quick primer on how the New Jersey congressional delegation voted on the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

It took the United States Senate just ten days to vote on the ratification of U.S. Secretary of State William Seward’s deal to buy Alaska for $7.2 million – just $900,000 more than Tom Malinowski raised in his 2018 congressional race.

New Jersey’s two Republican United States Senators – Frederick Frelinghuysen and Alexander Cattell – voted in favor purchasing Alaska.  The Senate voted 37-2 to approve the deal on April 9, 1867.

The House voted to approve the appropriation of money to close the deal with Russia on July 14, 1868.

Two of New Jersey’s five House members – Democrats Charles Haight (D-Freehold) and Charles Sitgreaves (D-Phillipsburg) – voted yes.

The three New Jersey Republican congressmen – George Halsey (R-Newark), John Hill (R-Boonton) and William Moore (R-Mays Landing) – abstained on the vote.

Frelinghuysen, the great-great-grandfather of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding), had served two tenures in the U.S. Senate.  He was appointed in 1866, lost in 1869, served as U.S. Minister (Ambassador) to England during the Ulysses Grant administration, and as elected to the Senate in 1871.  He lost re-election in 1877 and later served as Chester Arthur’s U.S. Secretary of State from 1881 to 1885.

Cattrell, a bank president who had represented Salem County in the New Jersey State Assembly, served in the U.S. Senate from 1866 to 1871.

A former Civil War general, Haight served in Congress from 1867 to 1871.  He didn’t seek re-election in 1870 and later spent 18 years as the Monmouth County Prosecutor.

Sitgreaves, a former state senator from Warren County and the mayor of Phillipsburg, as elected in 1864, re-elected in 1866, and didn’t seeking re-election in 1868.

Halsey was elected to the State Assembly the year Abraham Lincoln won the White House and to Congress in 1866.  He did not seek a fourth term in 1872.    He lost bids for Governor in 1874 and U.S. Senate in 1881.

He owned a leather business in Newark and was worth a reported $2 million – about $60 million in 2019 dollars — when he died in 1894.  His net worth would have been more had one of the cashier’s at the Mechanics’ National Bank of Newark, Oscar Baldwin, not stolen $250,000 from him in 1892.

A former Boonton Township Committeeman, Assembly Speaker and State Senator, Hill was elected to Congress in 1866 and was not a candidate for re-election in 1872.

Moore was elected to Congress in 1866 and re-elected in 1868.  He lost the 1870 Republican primary to John Hazelton and represented Cape May County in the New Jersey State Senate from 1872 to 1875.


U.S. Senator Alexander Cattell of New Jersey.  Library of Congress Photo.


Rep. William Moore (R-Mays Landing).  Library of Congress Photo.


Rep. Charles Haight (D-Freehold). Library of Congress Photo.


Rep. Charles Sitgreaves (D-Phillipsburg). Library of Congress Photo.


Rep. John Hill (R-Boonton). Library of Congress Photo.


Rep. George Halsey (R-Newark). Library of Congress Photo.


U.S. Senator Frederick Frelinghuysen of New Jersey. Library of Congress Photo.
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