Monday, June 30, 2008

George Washington's Farewell Address, Lower Manhattan

(All photos click to enlarge)

I wrote about Fraunces Tavern, once before on this link. Located at 54 Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, it is New York's oldest surviving building and has witnessed three centuries of American history.

George Washington and other American leaders gathered at this tavern to celebrate the evacuation of the British from New York on November 25, 1783. Washington visited again on December 4th for a farewell banquet with his officers. After Washington became president, the tavern's owner, Samuel Fraunces, served as his chief steward in New York.

Today Fraunces Tavern houses a museum as well as a restaurant.

I revisited it recently to explore the exhibits in the museum on its upper floors. I am a great admirer of George Washington, and if I am asked which historical figures I'd most like to meet I know he would be very high on my list.

The following two photos are of "The Long Room" on the second floor of the tavern where George Washington bid farewell to his officers upon retiring his command on December 4. 1783.

The only known eyewitness account of Washington's farewell to his officers is Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge's memoir, which is part of the museum collection.

From the original Tallmadge manuscript:

"The time now drew near when General Washington intended to leave this part of the country for his beloved retreat at Mt. Vernon. On Tuesday the 4th of December it was made known to the officers then in New York that General Washington intended to commence his journey on that day. At 12 o'clock the officers repaired to Fraunces Tavern in Pearl Street where General Washington had appointed to meet them and to take his final leave of them. We had been assembled but a few moments when his Excellency entered the room. His emotions were too strong to be concealed which seemed to be reciprocated by every officer present. After partaking of a slight refreshment in almost breathless silence the Gen. filled his glass with wine and turning to the officers said, 'With a 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.' After the officers had taken a glass of wine the Gen. said, 'I cannot come to each of you, but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.'
Gen. Knox being nearest to him turned to the Commander In Chief Who suffused in tears was incapable of utterance but grasped his hand when they embraced each other in silence. In the same affectionate manner, every officer in the room marched up, kissed, and parted with his general in chief. Such a scene of sorrow and weeping I had never before witnessed and fondly hope I may never be called to witness again."

The officers escorted Washington from the tavern to the Whitehall wharf, where he boarded a barge that took him to New Jersey. Washington continued to Annapolis, where the Continental Congress was meeting and resigned his commission

Reading that account in Tallmadge's journal brought tears to my eyes, for both the emotional eloquence of George Washington and for the love and respect showed for the man who was to become our nation's first president.
Unfortunately, I was not able to take any more photographs in the museum, as I was told it was not allowed. The exhibits were comprised of artifacts, paintings, drawings and documents related to the colonial, revolutionary, and early federal periods of American history, a George Washington Portrait Gallery, paintings of other Revolutionary war heroes such as Molly Pitcher, and John Ward Dunsmore paintings which illustrate important events of the Revolutionary War, including Valley Forge, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Surrender at Yorktown.

One interesting fact I was surprised to learn at the museum was that on 9/11, during the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, the original bible that George Washington used to swear the oath of President of the United States had been on loan for an exhibit in the Faunces Tavern Museum, just a few blocks from the horrific event. Two days later, while the city was still in great turmoil Brother Tom Savini, Director of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library and Museum was taken under special police escort to Faunces Tavern Museum where he was able to recover the Washington Bible for safekeeping.

The ground level of Fraunces Tavern is still an active and attractive restaurant. It is comprised of a few attractive rooms with colonial period decorations.

My husband and I had lunch, and you can see from the photos below it was of excellent gourmet quality. Dining here is a wonderful treat if you visit New York City. Be sure to offer a toast to George Washington!

My French Onion Soup, above.

My husband's crab cakes appetizer.

My husband had broiled game hen with roasted potatoes and spinach.

I had a medium rib steak with Yorkshire pudding and creamed spinach. We did not have dessert, but there were some nice selections available.

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Fraunces Tavern and a little look back into American history!

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Unknown said...

I did enjoy this history lesson and tour!! Thanks for doing this~
Thank goodness the bible was recovered~
Your lunch looks delicious!

Dorothy said...

Oh have posted one of my all time favorites...I love history and George Washington is right on the top...have you read Lynn Cheney's book for children ..When Washington Crossed the Delaware? Beautifully illustrated. Your dinner looks amazing! We hope to be in your city in October if all goes as planned...I would love to see this museum....thank you for such a wonderful post....

Anonymous said...

Pat, this gave me chills and then made me cry.

How awesome to be there where such a moving and important event occurred.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

MJ Ornaments said...

What amazing words George Washington spoke. You sure live by some amazing buildings. Thanks again for the wonderful photos Pat. Your food looks really good! ~Martha

Betsy Brock said...

Very nice post, Pat! I enjoyed the little history lesson! And that French Onion Soup looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

Hi there! Thank you so much for stopping by my new blog. It's nice to know you and your little Bo is adorable. We love New York and I know my hubby, Mr. Precious, would simply love touring this place. He loves history! Well, you come on back to visit me any ole time.
Have a beautiful day.
Shelia ;)

Anonymous said...

Hello Pat, I rally enjoyed the George Washington history. My grandmother's favorite men from history were Washington and Lincoln. She named my uncle, Abraham George. He had a lot of teasing in his life because of that name. We called him uncle Abe.
Thank you for a very interesting post. And the food looks soooo good.

Have a happy day, Jeanne

Gone said...

So glad you wandered into our Blog!! Thanks for the comment.

WOW, talk about food! This looks so good.


Lavinia said...

Pat, what an enthralling post. I have been to New York a number of times but have never known about this Fraunces Tavern, or its exciting history. The account of Washington's farewell is very moving. How much affection Washington engendered...truly remarkable.

As for your lunch, it all looks so scrumptious...I like that yorkshire pudding too.

Next time I visit New York, this place, so redolent of your nation's history, will be on the must-see list.

Thank you for sharing this.

Alexandra MacVean said...

Thank you for posting such a wonderful piece of history! It truly is amazing!

Picket said...

Oh my word...I loved that history lesson....I have never heard about that before...that was beautiful!!!! Thanks so much for coming by friend..hope all is well with you and yours...have a great day!

Strider said...

This was an absolutely fantastic post. I, too, am a fan of George Washington, and of the revolutionary war. If I could go back in time, this is the period I would go to. Thanks so much for the tour and information. Great story on Washington's farewell to his officers.

Vee said...

Oh my! I have never read that account before and now tears are coursing down my face. Those men...those beloved men whom we hardly think of as human any more...what a debt we owe. Thank you for the great reminder. I'll be reading this again.

Unknown said...

Thanks for all the facts about the tavern. I had many lunches there when I worked on Wall Street back in the 70's. In fact, my good friend Mavis from the UK invited me to watch Princess Di's wedding right over there in the very room you've shown. Thanks for the memories. Karen

Anonymous said...

That sounds like my kind of place. A few years ago I was at Sulgrave Manor in Oxfordshire UK - the ancestral home of the Washingtons. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Rue said...

Thanks Pat. I'm now officially STARVING. I want to rent a jet and fly there NOW. But since I'm not Bill Gates or The Donald, I guess I'll just eat my healthy chicken salad. whoopee. LOL

I loved the history lesson :)


Tess Kincaid said...

Interesting photo of this beautiful old building with the modern one in the background! Love the history of it. Your dinner looks delicious!! Nice post, Pat.

Cynthia said...

I love reading about history.

And your lunch, oh my, so good :)

Joanne Kennedy said...

As soon as I notice your post for the day was another wonderful New York spot I sat up in my chair, perked right up and read every word with great interest. I love the New York posts!

I never was really interested in our past Presidents until I saw the mini series John Adams. After seeing that I couldn't learn enough about George Washington and the first few Presidents.

Life was so different then. But oh so interesting.

I never knew the bible George Washington took the oath on was even still around. Isn't that wonderful! To think it came so close to being lost forever and then having it found again is so touching.


Unknown said...

I want to go there, thanks for both the pictures and virtual tour :) ah... food ! I'd love to be in that restaurant, eating all those stuff...sure looks fantastic from where I am. since I am 'supposed' to be on a diet, i'll be chomping salad for today..but tonight is a different story. big hug to you :)

steviewren said...

From this moving description of George Washington's love for his men and this men's love of him in return it is easy to see that Washington truly deserves being known as the father of our country.

Hubby's crab cakes make my mouth water!

Tara said...

Hi Pat

What a great post...history is so close to us in NY...I loved the color of the walls in the room GW spoke in!

Anonymous said...

I just love your tours of New York sites. If I ever get to come back to NYC will you be my Tour Guide---I think you would be sooo much more interesting than the group we had!!! ;-) That was such an informative read about G. Washington and I enjoyed the photos of the tavern. Oh, man, that food looked devine.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Thanks everyone!

I also fixed the mistake in my title as I left out the "e" in "farewell"-- I think I need an editor --lol --anyone want that job?

Marg said...

You've created a real sense of the appreciation for George Washington.
May you continue to the good fight as you select your new President.
It's so ideal to enjoy these moments with your spouse.

Rosie's Whimsy said...

What a gorgeous building. I can't believe how wonderfully in shape it is in. And, what a fabulous meal the two of you had!

Louise said...

What a gourmet meal you had in Fraunces Tavern. Your choice of meals look so appetising and what a very generous portion of French onion soup! x

Just A Girl said...

Hi Pat,
You always find these great restaurants to eat at and I always wish I could come along. I haven't read your whole post yet as I'm playing at's a slow day.
I hope you have a great Independence day!
:) Cori

Kathy said...

Hey Pat, I want to know all about this, but we are about to go to town for the pre-4th July parade, the whole of Benicia turns out for this and I do not want to miss it, so I will come back later, have a wonderful 4th July my friend, hugs, Kathy.

Vee said...

Ahhh...I did not lie! I read the account again. Have included this link with your comments about Washington on my President's Day post. Just think, Pat. There is only one record of these facts. = D