Fraunces’ Tavern, New York City


The subscribers of the Pennsylvania Packet, on the morning of December 2, 1783, read the following pleasing despatch from New York City, which was dated November 26, 1783:

“Yesterday. in the morning the American troops marched from Haerlem, to the Bowery lanes. They remained there until about one o’clock, when the British troops left the fort in the Bowery, and the American troops marched in and took possession of the city.

After the troops had taken possession of the city, the GENERAL and GOVERNOR made their public entry in the following manner :—Their excellencies the general and governor with their suites on horseback. The lieutenant governor, and the members of the council for the temporary government of the southern district, four a-breast.—Major-general Knox, and the officers of the army, eight a-breast.–Citizens on horseback, eight a-breast.—The speaker of the assembly and citizens, on foot, eight abreast.

“Their excellencies the governor and commander-inchief were escorted by a body of West Chester light horse, under the command of Captain Delavan. The procession proceeded down Queen [now Pearl] Street, and through the Broad-way to Cape’s Tavern. The governor gave a public dinner at Fraunces’ tavern; and which the commander-in-chief, and other general officers were present.”

The building which Washington made famous that day was erected by Etienne de Lancey, probably in 1700. Samuel Fraunces purchased the place in 1762.

Soon it became one of the most popular taverns in New York. Among its patrons were some of the leaders in the Revolution, as well as many who were loyal to King George. But Fraunces himself never wavered in his allegiance to the Colonies.

One of the clubs that met regularly at Fraunces’ was the Social Club, of which John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, and Robert R. Livingston were members.

During the occupation of New York by the British the tavern did not have an opportunity to play a part in the history of the country, though the daughter of the proprietor, who was a tavern keeper at Washington’s Richmond Hill headquarters, made ineffective a plot to poison the Commander-in-Chief.

Ten days after Washington’s triumphal entry into the city, and the dinner at the tavern, one of the rooms was the scene of a historic event of which Rivington’s New York Gazette told in these words :

” Last Thursday noon (December 4) the principal officers of the army in town assembled at Fraunces’ tavern to take a final leave of their illustrious, gracious and much loved comrade, General Washington. The passions of human nature were never more tenderly agitated than in this interesting and distressful scene. His excellency, having filled a glass of wine, thus ad-dressed his brave fellow-soldiers :

“With an heart full of love and gratitude I now take leave of you : I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.’

These words produced extreme sensibility on both sides; they were answered by warm expressions, and fervent wishes, from the gentlemen of the army, whose truly pathetic feelings it is not in our power to convey to the reader. Soon after this scene was closed, his excellency the Governor, the honorable the Council and Citizens of the first distinction waited on the general and in terms the most affectionate took their leave.”

Two years later Fraunces sold the tavern, but it retains his name to this day. It is still at the corner of Broad and Pearl streets. Many changes have been made in the building, under the direction of the Sons of the Revolution, and it will continue to attract visitors as long as it stands.