Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern
New York City, New York
October 6, 1788 to March 3, 1789

54 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10004

Fraunces Tavern New York City, New York October 6, 1788 to March 3, 1789

  The building known as “Fraunces Tavern was erected as a residence in 1719 by Stephen de Lancey, a French Huguenot.  He had amassed great wealth as a merchant and built this 55’ x 42’ brick house on the corner of Broad and Pearl Streets in lower Manhattan Island.  The house remained in Lanсey's possession as a residence until the firm, Lancey, Robinson & Company, purchased it in 1759 for office and warehouse uses.  Three years later the house was sold to Samuel Fraunces for £2,000.

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Fraunces completely renovated the building and reopened it as a public tavern.  The Queens Head Tavern became an important hostelry that he either managed or leased to others until 1776 when New York was occupied by the British and Fraunces was imprisoned.  
According to his own account, he "submitted to serve for some Time in the Menial Office of Cook in the Family of General Robertson [General James Robertson, British Governor of New York City, 1780-1783] without any Pay, or Perquisite whatsoever, Except the Privilege of disposing of the Remnants of the Tables which he appropriated towards the Comfort of the American Prisoners within the City."  Exactly when Fraunces resumed operation of the tavern is not known, but his offer of sale on March 17, 1781, was unsuccessful.[1]
Fraunces advertisement in the New York Royal Gazette read:
An elegant Three Story and a Half Brick Dwelling House, situated in Great Dock Street, at the corner of Broad Street, the property of Mr. Samuel Fraunces, and for many Years distinguished as the Queen's Head Tavern; in which are nine spacious Rooms, besides five Bed-chambers, with thirteen Fire places, an excellent Garret in which are three Bed rooms well finished, an exceeding good Kitchen, and a Spring of remarkable fine Water therein; a most excellent Cellar under the whole, divided into three commodious apartments; a convenient Yard with a good Cistern and Pump, and many other conveniences too tedious to mention; the whole in extraordinary good repair,... [2]

New York City records indicate that Fraunces was running the tavern again in 1783 and 1784.  In 1785, after leasing the building to the USCA he sold the property for £1,950 to George Powers, a Brooklyn butcher.   Now in 1788 the USCA whose Continental Congress first caucused in a Philadelphia Tavern was now considering leasing this New York Tavern as the final federal capital building of the United States under the Articles of Confederation.  On October 2nd, 1788, the USCA resolved:
The committee consisting of Mr. [Thomas Tudor] Tucker, Mr [John] Parker, and Mr [Abraham] Clark to whom was referred a letter from the Mayor of the city of New York to the Delegates having reported, That it appears from the letter referred to them, that the repairs and alterations intended to be made in the buildings in which Congress at present Assemble, will render it highly inconvenient for them to continue business therein, that it will therefore be necessary to provide some other place for their accommodation, the committee having made enquiry find no place more proper for this purpose than the two Apartments now appropriated for the Office of Foreign Affairs. They therefore recommend that the said Apartments be immediately prepared for the reception of Congress and the papers of the Secretary. Resolved, that Congress agree to the said report. [3]
Born in a Tavern and now ending in a Tavern, the United Colonies and States governments had occupied eleven different capitol buildings in eight different cites Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton and New York.  The federal government would return once again to Philadelphia before being permanently relocated to Washington D.C. in 1800.

On October 6, 1788 renovations began on the building that would be called thereafter, Federal Hall. The USCA moved their offices to Fraunces Tavern and convened on October 8th and on motion by Henry Lee that was seconded by John Armstrong Congress resolved: 
That considering the peculiar circumstances attending the case of Muscoe Livingston, late a Lieutenant in the navy of the United States, in the settlement of his accounts, Resolved, that the Commissioner for the marine department adjust the said account, any resolution of Congress to the contrary notwithstanding.[63]  
The rest of the session was spent reviewing Governor Arthur St. Clair’s letter and five enclosures from the Northwest Territory. On the 9th they assembled as before and passed a resolution  permitting the Board of treasury to satisfy a lottery claim providing that the beneficiaries “do give security that no further Claim on account of said Prize Ticket shall be made upon the United States by the Heirs, Executors or Administrators of the said deceased, Gail, or either of them.”[64]

On October 10, 1788 Massachusetts, Connecticut New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina assembled as the USCA along with only one delegate under representation from New Hampshire, from Rhode Island Delaware and Maryland.   Only Georgia, as in the first Continental Congress, failed to send delegates.   The USCA in their last official act suspended the work of the commissioners that were appointed to settle the states' Continental accounts.   The USCA last motion, made by Abraham Clark and seconded by Hugh Williamson, 
That the Secretary at War be and he hereby is directed to forbear issuing warrants for bounties of land to such of the officers of the late army who have neglected to account for monies by them received as pay masters of Regiments, or for recruiting or other public service, until such officers respectively shall have settled their accounts with the commissioner of army accounts, or others legally authorized to settle the same, and have paid the balances that may be found due from them, into the treasury of the United States, anything in the land ordinance passed the 9th . day of July 1788 to the contrary notwithstanding. 
The Delegates tabled the measure and “the question was lost” and Eighth USCA adjourned. 

Although Article V of the Articles of Confederation called for a new congress each year on the first Monday of each November -- "V. For the most convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a power reserved to each State to recall its delegates, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year." -- the Ninth USCA was unable to form a quorum  and elect a new USCA President. 

Cyrus Griffin, John Brown, John Dawson, James Madison, and Mann Page were elected on October 31, 1788 as Delegates to the Ninth USCA from Virginia. Griffin wrote in November: 
Be so obliging to inform the House of Delegates that I shall continue in New York to execute the important Trust with which the general Assembly is pleased to honor me. I receive this further Mark of their Confidence with gratitude and pleasure & will endeavor to answer the expectations of my Country.[65]  
Cyrus Griffin, therefore, held the office as USCA President until his one year term limit under the Articles of Confederation expired on January 21, 1789 because he never resigned the office.

The USCA continued to try and form a quorum after Griffin's Presidential term expired as evidenced by Tench Coxe letter to James Madison on January 27th, 1789:
I have been here about a Fortnight during which time we have not made a Congress. So. Carolina, Virga, Pennsa, N. Jersey, & Massachussets are represented. There is one Member from each of the States of Rhode Island, N. Carolina & Georgia, but none from New Hampshire, Connecticut, N. York, Delaware or Maryland. I very much wish we may make a house in a week or ten days, as I think the Appearance in Europe, & perhaps even here, of the old Congress being in full operation and tranquilly yielding the seats to the new would have a good effect. The misrepresentations in Europe have been extremely gross, and must have an unfavorable effect upon Emigration in the poorer ranks of life. Col. Wadsworth has been mentiond as President. I respect him much, but I wish to give appearance to the old System by a Character of rather more celebrity. Mr. Adams would meet my Judgment better than any member of the present house. The principal Objection is his Absence, which I fear will deprive him of his chance."

A quorum never formed and the USCA Presidency ended with Griffin on January 21, 1789. From January 22, 1789 until George Washington took office under the Constitution of 1787 on April 30th, 1789, there was no one serving as "President" in the United States of America Republic.  

[1] Office of the Historian, Department of State, Buildings of the Department of State, 11.
[2] New York Royal Gazette, March 17, 1781.
[3] Journals of the USCA, October 2, 1788

United States in Congress Assembled Fraunces Tavern Legislation:

October 8 Receives communications on Indian relations in the western territory. October 10 Suspends the work of the commissioners appointed to settle the states' Continental accounts; adjourns what proves to be its final session under the Articles of Confederation. October 13-16 Fails to achieve quorum. October 21

November 1 Fails to achieve quorum. November 3 Assembles for the new federal year; only two delegates attending. November 15- 1789 March 2 Secretary Charles Thomson records occasional attendance of 17 additional delegates.

July 25, 1789 Secretary Thomson delivers papers and records of the Confederation to new federal government.

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