Joel Parker was born in Freehold, New Jersey on November 24, 1816. His education was attained at Princeton University, where he graduated in 1839. He went on to study law, and was admitted to the bar in 1842. After establishing his legal career in his hometown of Freehold, Parker entered into politics. He served in the New Jersey legislature from 1847 to 1851; was the prosecutor for Monmouth County from 1852 to 1857; and served as a New Jersey elector in the 1860 presidential election, casting his vote for Stephen A. Douglas. He also served in the New Jersey militia in 1857. He attained the rank of major general, and assisted in restructuring the militia. Parker next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 4, 1862. He won reelection to a second term on November 7, 1871. During his tenure, issues relating to the war were dealt with; and a juvenile reform school was established. After retiring from the governorship, Parker continued to stay active in politics. In 1868 and 1876 he was nominated for president by the New Jersey delegation at the Democratic National Conventions. He also served as the New Jersey attorney general in 1875; and in 1880 secured an appointment to serve on the bench of the New Jersey Supreme Court, a position he held until his death on January 2, 1888. Governor Joel Parker was buried in the Maplewood Cemetery in Freehold, New Jersey.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978,Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
New Jersey State Library (pdf)