Who is Samuel Fraunces?

Samuel Fraunces, a businessman, a passionate patriot, a well-known cook, and a presidential steward in the late eighteenth century, expertly managed all of these tasks. Fraunces was best known as the owner and operator of New York City's Fraunces' Tavern.

Portrait of Samuel Fraunces, unknown artist, circa 1770-1785. Courtesy Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York City

 

Fraunces was born in the West Indies and moved to New York City in 1755. Fraunces established a pub at the junction of Pearl and Broad Street seven years later, in 1762, that became a popular social meeting spot, gastronomical attraction, and hub of Revolutionary debate and activity. Both the tavern and Fraunces were inextricably linked to pivotal events in the American Revolution. Fraunces also had a close relationship with George Washington, eventually acting as the steward of both Washington's presidential homes in New York City and Philadelphia.

When George Washington arrived in New York City on April 13, 1776, he dined at Fraunces' Tavern for the first time. Fraunces routinely gave food, supplies, and even cover intelligence to members of the Continental Army during the fight. The pub was perhaps most renowned for being the spot where George Washington bid his officers farewell at the end of the Revolutionary War on December 4, 1783, the same day the British sailed from New York harbor.

In the years immediately following the revolution, the bar remained inextricably linked to political events, hosting offices for the Continental Congress. The bar even served as the headquarters for the newly constituted Departments of Foreign Affairs, Treasury, and War following the passage of the Constitution.

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