Hangout of Sons Of Liberty; Hosted
Washington, Several Cabinet Departments
Much of the Revolutionary history of New York revolved around Fraunces Tavern. It was one of the meeting places of the Sons of Liberty in the pre-war years.
It had something of an odd beginning for what would become a patriot shrine. It was built as a mansion home by Stephen De Lancey, of the prominent merchant family who would eventually lead the loyalist faction in provincial politics in the pre-revolution years.
During the tea crisis of 1765, a British captain who tried to bring tea into New York was forced to give an apology to the public at Fraunces Tavern. The patriots, dressed as Indians as had the participants in the earlier Tea Party in Boston, then dumped his tea into the harbor.
In August of 1775, Americans took possession of cannons from the Battery at the tip of Manhattan and exchanged fire with a boatload of British soldiers. They retaliated by firing a 32-gun broadside on the city, sending a cannon ball through the roof of Fraunces Tavern.
When the war was won and the Americans had re-occupied the city, it was at Fraunces Tavern that hosted Washington and his officers in a victory banquet. On Dec. 4, 1783, Washington was again at Fraunces Tavern to say farewell to his officers in the Long Room.
Saving America from the fate of many republics that turned quickly to military dictatorship, Washington quickly resigned his post and returned to civilian life.
Because his actions were in keeping with the example of Cincinnati, the Roman general who returned to his plow after achieving victory, his officers created the Society of the Cincinnati, which has ties to the organization that still owns the building.
After the war, the tavern housed some offices of the Continental Congress as the country struggled under the Articles of Confederation.
With the establishment of the Constitution and the inauguration of Washington as president in 1789, Fraunces Tavern became the home of several government agencies, including the departments of Foreign Affairs, Treasury and War.
The proprietor of the tavern, Samuel Franuces, was called "Black Sam." A number of historians believe the nickname, and the fact that he was from the West Indies, indicated that he was black. If so, he was one of the most prominent blacks involved in the revolutionary cause.
Address: 54 Pearl Street.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 12 noon - 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday
Phone: 212 425-1778.
Tours: Guilded tours for adult groups of 10 or more are available by advance reservation only.
Admission: Adults, $3; students and seniors, $2; children six and under, free.
Transportation: 4 or 5 Train to Bowling Green; 1 or 9 to South Ferry; 2 or 3 to Wall Street; N or R to Whitehall/South Ferry; J,M,Z, Broad Street. (From Golden Hill, walk back to Federal Hall, then south on Broad Street to Pearl Street.)
Web site: www.FrauncesTavernMuseum.org