THOMAS B. ATKINSON was born in Camden in 1815. His father, Josiah Atkinson, was a prominent citizen and county magistrate. Thomas Atkinson learned the carpenter's trade, and over the years erected several large buildings in Camden. Joining the Methodist Church during the great religious revival of 1837-1838, he built the Third Street Methodist Church, which stood for many years at Third Street and Bridge Avenue. He was a lifelong member of that church from its inception.
Thomas Atkinson became involved in politics as a Democrat. He was first elected to public office as a councilman from the Middle Ward in 1853, and subsequently to the office of recorder in 1856. He ran for mayor five times, in 1855, 1860, 1861, 1867, and 1869. In those days, the mayoral election was led annually. He was defeated for mayor in 1855 by Samuel Scull, and in 1867 and 1869 by Charles Cox, but was elected in 1860, receiving 608 votes to 578 for Paul C. Budd, American, and 547 for William F. Colbert, Republican; in 1861, the vote being,— Atkinson, 904; Budd, 634; Samuel Hufty, 480..
Thomas Atkinson lived in the latter years of his life with wife Martha at 23 Third Street in Camden. He passed away on January 3, 1886, survived by his wife.
1861- THE FIRST WAR MEETING IN CAMDEN
On the 16th of April, 1861, three days after the Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter, at the entrance of Charleston Harbor, a large number of loyal and patriotic citizens of Camden City and County issued the following vigorous and spirited response to the President's proclamation:
To the President Of the
unparalleled events of the last week have revealed to the citizens of
the United States, beyond question or the possibility of a doubt, that
peaceful reconciliation upon the form of our Constitution is repelled
and scorned, and secession means, in the hearts of its supporters, both
Treason and war against our Country and Nation.
" We, therefore, the undersigned Loyal Citizens of the United States, and inhabitants of the city of Camden, in the State of New Jersey, responding to the proclamation of the President of the United States, hereby declare our unalterable determination to sustain the government in its efforts to maintain the honor, the integrity and the existence of our National Union and the perpetuity of the popular Government, and to redress the wrongs already long enough endured; no differences of political opinion; no badge of diversity upon points of party distinction, shall restrain or withhold us in the devotion of all we have or can command to the vindication of the Constitution, the maintenance of the laws and the defense of the Flag Of our Country."
response to a call, on the 18th of April an enthusiastic meeting was
held in the county court-house, which was formed of a large collection
of prominent citizens. The court-room was decorated with flags and
mottoes. John W. Mickle was chosen president and Samuel C. Harbert and
Thomas G. Rowand secretaries. The president addressed the meeting first
and Rev. Mr. Monroe offered a prayer. Hon. Thomas P. Carpenter, Thomas
B. Atkinson (mayor) and Joseph Painter were appointed a committee on
resolutions. Judge Philip J. Grey addressed the meeting, after which the
committee adopted a long series of patriotic resolutions. The Washington
Grays, Stockton Cadets and the Zouaves marched into the room and were
received with cheers, Samuel Hufty read a resolution which was signed by
many persons, who immediately formed the Home Brigade. David M.
Chambers, Captain Stafford, Benjamin
M. Braker, John
H. Jones and E. A. Acton each addressed the meeting. James M. Scovel
was then called upon and responded in eloquent terms and with patriotic
energy. S. H. Grey offered a resolution, which was adopted, that the
City Council and the Freeholders of the county be requested to
appropriate money for the equipment of persons who may volunteer in
defense of the country, and S. H. Grey, James
M. Cassady and Joseph Painter were appointed a committee to look
after the interests of the resolution. The meeting continued in session
until eleven p.m.
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