Friday, July 1, 2016

Sons of the Revolution

Prior to finding this grave marker in a cemetery, I had not heard of the "Sons of the Revolution." As we near America’s Independence Day, the Fourth of July, let’s delve a bit deeper into this. I found it as I was roaming through St. Andrew’s Cemetery in Mount Holly, New Jersey, back in the spring of 2016, when I noticed this bronze plaque at a veteran’s grave. I’ve been drawn to these small bronze memorial markers for the past several years – mainly because they seem to be slowly disappearing as people steal them for scrap.

I had heard of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the D.A.R., but oddly, not the Sons. A fraternal organization, the Sons of the Revolution was formed in 1876 to keep the history of the American Revolution alive, through people with direct lineage to those who fought in the war. There are some links at the end where you can investigate the Sons and Daughters further.

The Sons of the Revolution annual board meeting will be held Oct. 7-9, 2016 at Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl Street (near Battery Park, Lower Manhattan) in NYC. This is an awesome place to grab a beer, by the way - it is where Gen. George Washington took his men for beers! This place is steeped in American history. On the eve of July 4, 2016, the museum at Fraunces would be a wonderful place to spend a few hours, if you happen to be in New York City. The tavern is about a block from the port of the Staten Island Ferry, which itself is a wonderful attraction – you glide by the Statue of Liberty!

I was at Fraunces a few years ago and I must say, the period furniture, flags, signed documents, paintings, and sculpture are amazing to see. Rooms upon rooms were filled with artifacts (some of which you can see at this link to Fraunces Tavern® Museum), and the rooms themselves were filled with Wall Street-types at happy hour! It’s interesting to consider this place has been in continuous operation since 1719, making it the oldest restaurant in New York City; Samuel Fraunces purchased the property in 1762.

Fraunces Tavern, from the website

Not many people think of New York when they think about the Revolutionary War. However, Fraunces’ was a central meeting place for Loyalists during the war. Samuel Fraunces kept the tavern open during the period of British occupation of New York. Once the British were defeated at the Battle of York Town in 1781, the tavern evolved into an American government “headquarters while negotiations with the British concerning their evacuation from the City were underway” (ref.).
George Washington in the Continental Army, by C.W. Peale (Ref.)

I was fascinated by the account below, which describes an emotional scene from the end of the war (excerpted from the Memoirs of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge (1830) in the collection of Fraunces Tavern Museum)

"On November 25, 1783, British troops left New York City – the last American city to be occupied. This day would later be referred to as Evacuation Day. George Washington led his Continental Army in a parade from Bull’s Head Tavern in the Bowery to Cape’s Tavern on Broadway and Wall Street. New York Governor George Clinton’s Evacuation Day celebration was held at Fraunces Tavern. During the week of Evacuation Day George Washington was in the City, and he made use of the Tavern by dining in and ordering take-out.

On December 4, 1783, nine days after the last British soldiers left American soil, George Washington invited the officers of the Continental Army to join him in the Long Room of Fraunces Tavern so he could say farewell."

Washington then headed to Annapolis where he resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. From there, he went on to bigger and better things. Thanks to the Sons of the Revolution and their bronze grave marker, for giving me the idea to research this piece. Another bit of history as we celebrate the anniversary of our nation's independence.

References and Further Reading: