Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fraunces Tavern, NYC

Fraunces Tavern, 54 Pearl St.
 Lower Manhattan, NY

A visitor to New York can step back in time and touch our Colonial and Revolutionary past with a tour of Fraunces Tavern on 54 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan  In this haunt of old New York you will find a selection of draft beers, oysters, and American history.  This is a beautifully-restored colonial tavern that was founded by Samuel Fraunces in 1767.  It was in the Long room of Fraunces tavern in 1783 that General George Washington bade an emotional farewell to his officers after winning victory in the American Revolution.  He had hoped to retire peacefully to his farm at Mount Vernon.  It was not to be.

George Washington Life Mask
Morgan Library, NY
George Washington was the "indispensable man" of the American Revolution (  He led the nation in a long struggle against the greatest military power of that age -- the British Empire.  The American Revolution has proven to be by far the most successful Revolution in human history.  It is the  Revolution whose reverberations that continually encourage the cause of human liberty are felt to this day.

GW: "The Indispensable Man"
Fraunces Tavern
At the heart of this Revolution was a leader of exceptional integrity.  He shared the sufferings of the men under his command at Valley Forge and throughout the Revolution.  On March 15, 1783 Washington addressed his officers in Fraunces Tavern thus: "I have never left your side one moment...I have been the constant companion and witness of your Distress, and not among the last to feel and acknowledge your merits...I have ever considered my own Military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the Army."  (Source: The Art of Command, Integrity and Leadership, Caroline Cox, 2008

Commander K. and George Washington
Wall and Broad, NY
Some of Washington's officers were tempted by the prospect of using their military superiority to the over the rings of the Colonial government.  They wanted him to become an American Caesar.  Washington rebuffed those who sought to "overturn the liberties of our Country".  He demanded that they do nothing "which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained."

54 Pearl Street, NY
At the conclusion of the war the Continental Congress was essentially broke.  His officers feared that neither they nor their men would be paid.  Washington sought to reassure his officers with a densely written text explaining the nation's financial difficulties.  He pulled his spectacles out of his pocket to read more easily and remarked, "Gentlemen, you must pardon me, I have grown gray in your service and now find myself going blind."

Commander K. + GW
Union Square, NYC
In 1783 New York was the nation's capitol.  George Washington formally resigned his commission on 23 December, 1783.  He addressed the president of Congress, Thomas Mifflin as follows: "Having now finished the whorl assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; an bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission , and take my leave of all the employments of public life."  Mifflin responded, "You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, through invariably regarding the rights of the civil government through all disasters and changes."   (Source: The Art of Command, Integrity and Leadership, Caroline Cox, 2008

An American Treasure
Thomas Jefferson would pronounce that George Washington's integrity was "most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision...His character, was, in its mass, perfect (Source: The Art of Command, Integrity and Leadership, Caroline Cox, 2008

It was Washington's sterling reputation for integrity and his incorruptibility that made him the rarest of all creatures -- a successful nation-builder.

If you don't find that important or relevant just consider the contrasting state of affairs in Afghanistan today.  Hamid Karzai's recently assassinated brother (Ahmed Wali Karzai) made a fortune off of illegal drug trafficking.  Billions of dollars of American and Western aid to Afghanistan has found its way to bank accounts in Dubai and Switzerland.
Dining Room, Fraunces Tavern
Fraunces Tavern has an attractive bar and restaurant.  You will also find a small museum upstairs.  There are recreations of colonial era living spaces.

Don't Tread on the Commander!
You will also find a gallery featuring the evolution of the American flag.

Flag Gallery, Fraunces Tavern
Commander Kelly says, "If you live in or are visiting NYC be sure to get in touch with your founding fathers at Fraunces tavern.  Beer, oysters and history are always a great combination!"

Special thanks to Marco Kelly my photographic assistant!

America Invades: How We've Invaded or been Militarily Involved with Almost every Country on Earth


Frost Prioleau said...

Good report, Chris
Having lived in Manhattan for many years during college, I never knew about Fraunces Tavern
I will be sure to visit next time in NYC!

Roger Ottenbach said...

Thanks so much for the blog on Fraunces Tavern. There were a number of times when I hosted reps and time buyers at the Tavern. Most had never been there and were amazed at the history at hand. Then the condition was a bit questionable but it looks to be fully restored in your photos and the video.

I will visit again when next in NYC. I think I'll wait for the winter weather to pass.

Andrew Walker said...

Chris, my several-times-great grandfather probably spent time with Washington at Fraunces Tavern. He was a general under him in the Revolutionary War. Afterwards, President Washington appointed him as the first superintendent of the early coast guard. Here's the commission thy hangs in our dining room.

Tina's several-time great grandfather would have been there too. He was the General Glover who lead the crossing of the Delaware.

Lastly, what T. happens to be drinking now. A trifecta of historic happenstance.