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Lawrence Township, New Jersey is situated in Mercer County. It was founded in 1697 and was, until recent years, a rural agricultural town, a rest stop for people traveling from New York or Philadelphia to Trenton or New Brunswick. Many major north-south travel corridors in the Northeast pass through town. It was originally named Maidenhead on the border of what was, at at that time, West Jersey. That first name came from the early Quaker settlers in honor of a small village on the Thames River just outside of London. In 1816, the name was changed in honor of Captain James Lawrence, who was a hero of the War of 1812 and commander of the frigate USS Chesapeake. Captain Lawrence is perhaps best known by modern Americans for the phrase "Don't give up the ship." On June 1, 1813, the Chesapeake left the port of Boston and immediately was accosted by a a British frigate which was part of the Royal Navy's blockade. The Chesapeake was disabled due to gunfire within minutes. Captain Lawrence was mortally wounded and being carried below decks by his crew when he ordered, "Don't give up the ship. Fight her 'til she sinks!" He died on June 4 aboard his ship, which had been taken over by British sailors and headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Upon hearing of Lawrence's death, his friend and fellow naval officer Oliver Hazard Perry ordered a battle ensign upon which the phrase was stitched. An F1 tornado tore through the township on September 23, 2003 at about 8:25 in the morning. It caused widespread damage to home, but it spared all life.

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