Trenton, New Jersey
November 1, 1784 to December 24, 1784
No Longer Standing
1 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608
On November 1st, 1740, Mr. Dagworthy leased the house to the Colony of New Jersey and it became the residence of Lewis Morris, the Royal Governor. Morris remained in the house until June 25th, 1742, when he moved to "Kingsbury" now known as the William Trent House, 15 Market Street (539 South Warren Street, in Trenton. In August, Dagworthy returned to his former residence, moving (4) from his Maidenhead Plantation home (Lawerencefield, NJ) and remained there until his death on September 4th, 1756.(5)
In 1760 Dagworthy's executors sold the house to Samuel Henry, an iron manufacturer whose work were located on 2nd Street on Assunpink Creek.(7) He occupied the house until March 1780 when he moved to his farm on Nottingham Township. On April 1st, 1780 Henry leased the house to Jacob G. Bergen for use as a Tavern. Bergen was a Princetonian who had operated the College of Princeton Inn, which he later named the Confederation Inn.
Students and Teachers of US History this is a video of Stanley and Christopher Klos presenting America's Four United Republics Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The December 2015 video was an impromptu capture by a member of the audience of Penn students, professors and guests that numbered about 200. - Click Here for more information
|MURAL COMMEMORATING THE FIRST PUBLIC READING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE at 23 South Warren Street, Trenton, NJ 08608 next door to the original site of the French Arms Tavern|
Before opening the tavern, which he named "Thirteen Stars," Bergen made extensive changes in the building. He added a third story, with a gabled, dormer-windowed roof; converted two of the first-floor rooms into one room 20 feet in width and 43 feet in length, which became known as the "Long Room;" and set up a barroom in the basement. In 1783 the building was described as a "Dwelling-house 45 by 43 Feet, 3 Stories, 11 Rooms, eight with Fireplaces, a Kitchen and Stabling for 12 Horses."
|French Arms Tavern Sketch after third floor addition in 1781 - Historic.us|
(1) NJ Archives, Vol. XX, pages 69, 441, Infa. pages 21-23
(2) Woodward, Evan Morrison: History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, page 708
(3) Raum, John O.: History of Trenton, page 89
(4) Strkyer, William S.: Old Trenton 100 years ago, pages 7 and 11.
French Arms Tavern diagram of the first floor in 1784 - Historic.us
Memorandum of an Agreement Bewtween Jacob, G, Bergen of the one part & Moore Furman, James Ewing, & Conrod Kotts of the other part. Witnesseth that the said Jacob G. Bergen doth hereby agree to Rent the house he now lives in Situate near the market house in Trenton late the Propery of Saml Henry Deced and now held by lease for and until the first day of April in the Year Seventeen hundred and Eighty Six at the Yearly rent of one hundred and fift pounds, unto the said Moore Furman, James Ewing, & Conrod Kotts for the use & purpose of the Congress of the United States of America to Set in from the thirtyeth day of October next for and until the End and Expiration of the said Lease. In Consideration of which the said Moore Furman, James Ewing, & Conrod Kotts Doth agree to pay or cause to be paid unto the said Jacob G. Bergen the sum of one hundred and Seventy-five pounds by an order on the Treasurer of this state on the 30th day of October in Gold or Silver Money and also to pay or cause to be paid the said yearly rent of one hundred and fifty pounds Agreeabbly to the said lease & it is further agreed upon that the said Jacob G. Bergen is to have and retain the use of the stables and garden ground for and during and so long as the Congress may set in said house and it ia agreed upon that the said Jacob G. Bergen is to live in & Make use of the said House until the said 30th day of October and until said Congress many want the Same to set in. In Witness Whereof the said Jacob G. Bergen hath set his hand and seal this 1st day of August 1784.
Witness Present: Jacob G. Bergen [SEAL]
Lease - £175
Table for Congress Hall - £15
Memorandum of an Agreement Between Jacob, G, Bergen and the agents of the State of NJ to lease the French Arms Tavern for the United States in Congress Assembled Nov 1784 to Nov 1785 Session - - Historic.us
That the place on the Delaware for erecting buildings for the use of Congress, be near the falls. Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to repair to the falls of Delaware, to view the situation of the country in its neighbourhood, and report a proper district for carrying into effect the preceding resolution: the members, Mr. [Elbridge] Gerry, Mr. S[amuel] Huntington, Mr. [Richard] Peters, Mr. [James] Duane, Mr. [Abraham] Clark.
On October 21, 1783, the USCA also resolved:
That buildings be likewise erected for the use of Congress, at or near the lower falls of Potomac or Georgetown; provided a suitable district on the banks of the river can be procured for a federal town, and the right of soil, and an exclusive jurisdiction, or such other as Congress may direct, shall be vested in the United States: and that until the buildings to be erected on the banks of the Delaware and Potomac shall be prepared for the reception of Congress, their residence shall be alternately at equal periods, of not more than one year, and not less than six months in Trenton and Annapolis; and the President is hereby authorised and directed to adjourn Congress on the 12th day of November next, to meet at Annapolis on the twenty-sixth day of the same month, for the despatch of public business.
On October 30, 1783, the USCA resolved:
That the President transmit to the executives of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, copies of the acts of Congress of the 7 instant respecting buildings to be erected for a federal town on the banks of the Delaware; and of the acts of the 1 instant respecting buildings to be erected on the banks of the Potomac, for a second federal town, and the adjournment of Congress to Annapolis.
The idea was for Congress to perform its business in one capital for a portion of the year before moving to another capital for the remaining portion of the year. On November 1st it was "Resolved, That the several matters now before Congress, be referred over and recommended to the attention of the United States in Congress assembled, to meet at this place on Monday next." On November 4, authorized the discharge of the Continental Army, "except 500 men, with proper officers. "Adjourns to Annapolis, to reconvene the 26th.
The Fourth USCA, was unable to form a quorum until December 13th took up the matter of two federal districts but made little headway on the capitals' development during their Annapolis, MD session. On May 7, 1784, however, the USCA elected Paris Peace Commissioner and former Continental Congress President John Jay, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, while he was overseas without his knowledge or consent. John Jay did not learn of Congress' action until he arrived in New York on July 24th and indicated that with the current flux of the U.S. Seat of Government’s bilocation, he was not interested in accepting the position.
As late as October 20, 1784, John Jay wrote USCA Secretary Charles Thomson:
"I must decline accepting the Place offered me, at least until the Sense of Congress may be known on two or three points....as I have a Family it is necessary in my opinion, that my Residence should be stationary---; and I think it both reasonable & important that the Persons to serve under me in the office, should be of my appointment."
John Jay was elected a delegate to the Fifth United States in Congress Assembled on October 26th. It would not be until November 29, that the Fifth USCA formed a quorum at the French Arms Tavern and the following day the delegates elected Richard Henry Lee USCA President. The session progressed as follows with John Jay first attending on December 6th:
December 3 Registers commission of Swedish consul Charles Hellstedt; orders redeployment of Fort Stanwix troops to West Point. December 7 Countermands redeployment of Fort Stanwix troops, who are ordered to Fort Rensselaer. December 8 Receives Massachusetts and New York agents assembled to select judges for hearing land claim dispute between the two states. December 11 Rejects motion to adjourn from Trenton; com mends the marquis de Lafayette. December 14 Postpones election of treasury commissioners; directs Benjamin Franklin to delay signing consular convention with France. December 15 Receives Spanish announcement closing Mississippi River. December 17 Elects chaplain to Congress; resolves to appoint minister to Spain.
During the session, on December 6, Virginia Delegate James Monroe wrote to James Madison stating:
Mr. Jay is here & will I understand accept the office of foreign affrs. upon condition Congress will establish themselves at any one place.
On December 20, 1784, the important matter of erecting one capital district as opposed to two was addressed by Congress. On a motion made by Rhode Island Delegate David Howell and seconded by John Jay, the USCA considered overturning the Third USCA's decision to create two capitals:
Resolved: That it is expedient the Congress proceed to take measures for procuring suitable buildings to be erected for their accommodation. [Printed Journals add: "And that a sum not exceeding dollars be and they are hereby appropriated for the payment of the expence of erecting such buildings."]
Resolved: (by nine states) That a sum not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars be appropriated for the payment of the expence of erecting such buildings; provided always, that hotels or dwelling-houses for the members of Congress representing the different States, shall not be understood as included in the above appropriation. [Note 2: 2 This paragraph, in the writing of Richard Henry Lee, is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 36, II, folio 477.]
|Proposed National Capitol Site in Trenton original Manuscript Map 1784 - Historic.us|
It would not be until the following day, that one of the capital towns would be eliminated. The USCA December 21st, 1784, Journals report:
A motion was made by Mr. [Charles] Pinckney, seconded by Mr. [John] Jay,
That it is expedient Congress should determine on a place, at which they will continue to sit until proper accommodations in a federal town shall be erected, and that the subsisting resolutions respecting the alternate temporary residence of Congress at Trenton and Annapolis, be repealed.
Resolved, That it is expedient Congress should determine on a place at which they will continue to sit, until public buildings for their proper accommodations in a foederal town shall be erected.
Resolved, That Congress will not adjourn from this place until they shall have named the place near the falls of Trenton at which the federal buildings mentioned in the resolution of yesterday shall be fixed and ascertained and Commissioners for erecting the same be appointed. [Note 1: 1 This motion, in the writing of John Jay, is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 36, II, folio 487.]
With this resolution and with the knowledge that a majority of the delegate would most likely choose New York as the temporary Seat of Government, John Jay accepted the position as Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Jay took the oath of office before Justice Isaac Smith of the New Jersey Supreme Court (Red Book, 9:86, MdAA).
Certification of John Jay’s Oath as Secretary for Foreign Affairs --- [Trenton, 21 December 1784]:
Be it remembered that on twenty first day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four at Trenton in the State of New Jersey personally appeared before me Isaac Smith one of the Justices of the supreme Court of said State John Jay Esquire and took an Oath which I administered to him in the words following Viz.
“I John Jay do acknowledge the Thirteen United States of America namely, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina & Georgia, to be free, independent and sovereign States, and declare that the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience to George the third King of Great Britain, and I renounce, refuse, and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him; and I do Swear that I will, to the utmost of my power support, maintain, and defend the said United States against the said King George the third, and his heirs & successors, and his or their abettors, assistants and adherents; and will Serve the said United States in the Office of [653page icon] Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which I now hold, and in any other Office which I may hereafter hold by their appointment, or under their authority, with fidelity and honor, and according to the best of my Skill and understanding. So help me God.
Sworn the Day and Year within written before me Isaac Smith. (Papers of John Jay; Certification of John Jay’s Oath as Secretary for Foreign Affairs)
On December 23rd, 1784, John Jay and others defeated motions to name Philadelphia and Newport in place of New York City as the temporary seat of government while the new “federal town” was being constructed on the Banks of the Delaware near Trenton. The vote was 7 yes and 1 no (Pennsylvania) with the Georgia delegation divided and New Hampshire, with only one delegate, also voting yes.
Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, that the resolutions of the 20th instant respecting the erecting buildings for the use of Congress, be carried into effect without delay; that for this purpose, three commissioners be appointed, with full powers to lay out a district, of not less than two nor exceeding three miles square, on the banks of either side of the Delaware, not more than eight miles above or below the lower fails thereof, for a foederal town; that they be authorised to purchase the soil, or such part of it as they may judge necessary, to be paid at proper instalments; to enter into contracts for erecting and completing, in an elegant manner, a foederal house for the accommodation of Congress, and for the executive officers thereof; a house for the use of the President of Congress, and suitable buildings for the residence of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary at War, Secretary of Congress, Secretary of the Marine, and officers of the Treasury; that the said commissioners be empowered to draw on the treasury of the United States for a sum not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars, for the purpose aforesaid; that in choosing a situation for the buildings, due regard be had to the accommodation of the states, with lots for houses for the use of their delegates respectively; that on the 24th day of December instant Congress stand adjourned to meet at the city of New York, on the eleventh Day of January following, for the dispatch of public business, and that the sessions of Congress be held at the place last mentioned, until the buildings aforesaid shall be ready for their reception.
There was a stronger party formed against us than I remember to have seen, but I think it will subside and matters be in good train again. We have carried two great points to-day by passing an ordinance, 1st. to appoint three commissioners to lay out a district on the branch of either side of the Delaware, within eight miles of this place, to purchase the soil and enter into contracts for erecting suitable buildings. 2dly. To adjourn to New-York and reside there until suitable buildings are prepared. This I consider a fortunate affair in every respect but one. It is so disagreeable to our worthy secretary [Charles Thomson] that there is reason to apprehend he will resign his appointment.
We have been so happy also as to remove some objections on the part of Mr. Jay to the acceptance of his office, and he yesterday took the oaths and entered on the business of his department.
Account of President elect George Washington dining with Trenton's leading citizens on April 21st, 1789, at the City Tavern, formerly the French Arms, on the southwest corner of Second and King Streets.
|Bronze Tablet marking the site where the French Arms Tavern once stood - Historic.us|
In 1836, the First Mechanics and Manufacturers Bank purchased the property, tore down the tavern and constructed a new two-story building on the site. The building is currently occupied by a branch of Wells Fargo...
its ratification of the current U.S. Constitution
United States Continental Congress French Arms Tavern Legislation:
Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 24, 1774
May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
Dec. 20, 1776 to Feb. 27, 1777
March 4, 1777 to Sept. 18, 1777
September 27, 1777
Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
June 30, 1783 to Nov. 4, 1783
Nov. 26, 1783 to Aug. 19, 1784
Nov. 1, 1784 to Dec. 24, 1784
New York City
Jan. 11, 1785 to Nov. 13, 1788
New York City
October 6, 1788 to March 3,1789
New York City
March 3,1789 to August 12, 1790
December 6,1790 to May 14, 1800
November 17,1800 to Present
In 1758, during the French and Indian War, the building now referred to as the Old Barracks was constructed by the colony of New Jersey in direct response to petitions from residents who were protesting compulsory quartering of soldiers in their own homes. It was one of five such buildings throughout New Jersey constructed for the purpose of housing British soldiers during the winter months of the war, and it is the only one still standing. At the time it was built, it was the largest building in Trenton and the second largest public building in New Jersey after Nassau Hall in Princeton. The Barracks was used for this initial purpose until the end of the war in 1766 and is the only extant and restored military structure left in New Jersey that is associated with the Colonial Wars.
Throughout the Revolutionary War, the Barracks was used for a variety of purposes by both the British and the Americans. British prisoners of war were held in the Officers' House, four companies of the Second New Jersey Regiment of the Continental Line were raised here, and in 1777 the Barracks became an army hospital under Dr. Bodo Otto, who oversaw smallpox inoculations for the Continental Army. Disease killed more soldiers than combat during the Revolutionary War, and was the biggest threat to the Continental Army. This was the first mass medical treatment in the Western Hemisphere, and the Barracks is one of the only surviving structures used for that purpose.
The Barracks, and Trenton, are most known for the events of December 1776. At the beginning of the month, British and Hessian troops occupied Trenton, and briefly stayed in the Barracks prior to the Battles of Trenton. Colonists, loyal to the English king, also arrived, seeking protection from the soldiers, and were believed to be staying at the Barracks when Washington and his troops marched into Trenton on the morning of December 26th. After the miraculously successful Battles of Trenton and Princeton, the Americans returned to Trenton in January 1777 and made use of the now empty Barracks, primarily as the aforementioned hospital.