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PG Butler on the Road: New York City Aug. 4-6, 2009

The first lady and I were already planning on attending the Atlantic Middle States Conference in Rochester, NY, Aug. 7 -9. I needed to stop in New York City to visit officials of the History Channel. So, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to visit the First Continental Chapter in New York City. I called my long time friend, former Historian General, and current NSSAR Ambassador to Scotland, Dick Sage.  Dick arranged for John Hilliard, current chapter president to give us a tour of the Revolutionary War historic sights in lower Manhattan and a luncheon at Fraunces Tavern. Dick recommended the Inn on 23rd Street. It was a small, but very nice bed and breakfast. Dick knew the owner and got us into their most spacious room, which was very nice.

We flew in on Tuesday. Dick hosted us to wonderful dinner at the famous Capsouto Freres Restaurant in the 1891 Landmark Building at 451 Washington St. in lower Manhattan. It is a haunt of many New York movie starts, but none were there that night.  At 10:30 a.m. the following morning, John Hilliard arrived at our hotel, and by subway we traveled to the southern end of the line, exiting at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.  We walked through Battery Park, from which we had a clear view of Governor’s Island and the Statute of Liberty. In the park we viewed the very unusual monument to Korean
War Veterans, then at the shore line saw the dramatic monument to the Merchant Marine.  Two bronze seamen were standing on the floating hulk of their ship, attempting to save a fellow crewman in the water.

Our next stop was the historic Castle Clinton, a National Monument run by the National Park Service. When this sandstone fortress was first constructed in 1812, it was on a small island just off the Manhattan shore. It became a part of New York City’s harbor defense. It was named for former mayor and future governor, DeWitt Clinton.  Subsequently named Castle Garden, it was used to process Eight Million immigrants from 1855-1890.

We walked a few blocks to Bowling Green, a park that was in existence during the American Revolutionary War. It is New York’s oldest park. At the time there was an
equine statute of King George in the park. Patriots tore down the huge statute of the king and his mount. Around the park was a wrought iron fence. On the top of each iron rod had been a small bronze crown. On the day the king’s stature was torn down, patriots also sawed off all the crowns. You can still feel the rough edges.  From there we walked to Trinity Church, where we viewed the tomb of Alexander Hamilton. Just a few years ago we had visited his birth place on the Caribbean Island of Nevis. On the other side of the church was the impressive monument to the American
prisoners held by the British. Trinity Church and other buildings were jam packed withAmericans the British had arrested. Thousands more were imprisoned on British ships in the harbor. It seems that more prisoners died during the war than soldiers.

A few blocks away we visited Federal Hall, formerly the New York City Hall. It was on the front porch of this Greek Renaissance building that George Washington took his oath as the first president of the United States in 1789. Inside, we saw the large Masonic Bible that he used in the swearing in ceremony. From there it was only a short work to historic Fraunces Tavern.

Fraunces Tavern is well known as the site of George Washington’s farewell meeting with his officers. The Tavern and four adjoining buildings are owned by the New York State Sons of the Revolution. Our host and tour conductor, John Hilliard, is a past president. We were met for lunch at Fraunces Tavern by Dick Sage and John Moller, the Vice President General for the district. John had traveled by train and ferry to meet with us.  After a wonderfully delicious lunch, John escorted us through the magnificent art collection in the Fraunces Tavern museum. We learned that after the Patriots evacuated New York City, Mr. Fraunces, the tavern keeper, served as a spy for