Spend Fourth of July at the Downtown Tavern That Oversaw the American Revolution

Spend Fourth of July at the Downtown Tavern That Oversaw the American Revolution

If you know a thing or two about New York’s revolutionary history, you’ll probably have heard of Fraunces Tavern, located at 54 Pearl St. Founded by Samuel Fraunces in 1762, the downtown tavern served as an important revolutionary hangout, where radical groups like the Boston Tea Party-plotting Sons of Liberty would gather to discuss political activism and how to fight their British occupiers.

In 1783, in the tavern’s Long Room, George Washington famously bade farewell to his officers with “a heart full of love and gratitude.” And in the war’s immediate aftermath, Fraunces Tavern hosted testimonies from Black Loyalists who sided with the British Crown on the promise of freedom from enslavement. Three thousand Black Loyalists who qualified for evacuation with the British Army were individually listed in the “Book of Negroes,” which Brigadier General Samuel Birch assembled in the tavern. The culminating events became one of the largest emancipations of Black people in America prior to the Civil War.

The Long Room at Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces’s revolutionary spirit makes it a perfect place to visit on Independence Day, whether you’re popping in for a drink and a bite, or plan to check out its historical offerings. This Fourth of July, the Fraunces Tavern Museum (on the upper floors of the tavern) will have a number of artifacts on display from the American Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement, including:

  • An original Continental Army manuscript orderly book with George Washington’s order to have the Declaration of Independence read to his troops in New York on July 9, 1776
  • The original July 18, 1776 New-England Chronicle printing of the Declaration of Independence
  • Original advanced text of Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘s speech from the March on Washington in 1963, which read that the Declaration and Constitution created “a promissory note to which all Americans would fall heir.”

The museum is open from noon to 5 p.m. (though the tavern itself is open later) and is wheelchair accessible. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and children, and free for active U.S. military and veterans; more information here.

Given the trials and tribulations the tavern has gone through — including several fires throughout the 19th century, a proposed demolition for the construction of a parking lot in 1900 and a bombing in 1975 — we’re so lucky this beloved 260-year-old watering hole is still with us. To celebrate Fraunces Tavern’s revolutionary roots this Fourth, book your table here.

Tags: fourth of july, Fraunces Tavern

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