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12 Favorite Haunts of the Founding Fathers You Can Still Visit Today

The Founding Fathers built the groundwork for America, but they were much more than military strategists and document writers. Like modern Americans, the Founding Fathers knew how to enjoy life, and spent their leisure time (and in some cases, work time) grabbing a pint at the tavern, scarfing down desserts, and exploring the great outdoors. To celebrate these iconic Americans, we’ve compiled 12 favorite haunts of the Founding Fathers that you can still visit today.

1. GREEN DRAGON TAVERN // BOSTON

The Green Dragon Tavern was known for its drinks, but it was also an important meeting spot where the Founding Fathers made important decisions about this country—like to throw the Boston Tea Party (and the equally important decision to save their rum and toss the tea!), and the resolutions that built our Federal Constitution. It's also often claimed that this is where, in 1775, British plans for the invasion of Lexington and Concord were overheard and Paul Revere was dispatched for his famous ride to warn the colonists. (According to a letter from Revere, they only met at The Green Dragon until November 1774, when they discovered that they had a traitor in their midst and moved to a more secure location.) The Green Dragon is no longer in its original location, but its historic significance as the “Headquarters of the Revolution” remains strong—just like its rum punch.

2. BELL IN HAND // BOSTON

Back in the day, big names like Daniel Webster and Paul Revere frequented Bell in Hand for its good booze and great company. Opened by the retired town crier in 1795, it was known as the primary alehouse in Boston (its proprietor refused to sell harder liquors). Today, Bell in Hand (which moved to its present-day location in 1844) is more about dancing and drinking than defending our country’s freedom. But hey, even the Founding Fathers had to let loose sometimes, right?

3. ADAMS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK // QUINCY, MASSACHUSETTS

John Adams's former residence—his “sweet little farm”—has been turned into a historic museum center that tells the story of the Adams family, from its presidents and first ladies to its writers, and everyone in between. And though you can't grab a drink at the site, if you'd like to drink like the second president, start your morning with a tankard of hard cider. Adams was known to down hard cider for breakfast every day, starting from when he was a 15-year-old student at Harvard through his presidency and retirement.

4. MOUNT VERNON INN RESTAURANT // MOUNT VERNON, VIRGINIA

George Washington may have traveled all over this country, but his favorite place of all was home sweet Mount Vernon. Today, you can dine like George Washington just steps from his estate at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, which serves some of the legendary president’s favorite dishes like freshly caught fish and apple pie (though they don't have his beloved Madeira wine). The Mount Vernon Inn does not require admission tickets like the GW Estate and is a great way to taste some Founding Father flavors.

5. BAR ORDINARY // NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

Before leading the army to Cambridge in 1775, George Washington spent the night at New Haven's Beers Tavern, and gathered 100 Yale students (including the fife-playing Noah Webster—he of dictionary-creation fame) in front of the bar the next morning to march with him out of the town. Fast forward more than 240 years, and you can still dine and imbibe at this iconic spot—now called Bar Ordinary—which has also seen visitors like presidents Abraham Lincoln and William Howard Taft.

6. PISCATAQUA RIVER // KITTERY, MAINE

While visiting the New England area in the late 1700s, George Washington made a pit stop for cod fishing in the Piscataqua River right off the shores of Kittery, Maine. Washington didn’t have much luck on his trip—he reported only catching two—but today, you can give it a try to see how your fishing skills compare to our nation’s first president.

7. WHITE HORSE TAVERN // NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND

Rumor has it George Washington celebrated Rhode Island’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1790 at—among many popular places—the White Horse Tavern in Newport. Today, you can raise a glass at the White Horse just like Washington, but don't dress like you're headed to a pub—this iconic spot requires country club or business casual attire.

8. LAKE CHAMPLAIN // LAKE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY, VERMONT

James Madison and Thomas Jefferson crossed Lake Champlain from New York to explore Vermont—which had just become the 14th state—in early 1791, but the two Virginians left mostly unimpressed by the area as a whole, saying that it is "much larger but less pleasant water than L. George." But Jefferson did appear to be enjoy the fish, mentioning the 20-pound catfish, sturgeon, and salmon, and he was also pleased by how few mosquitos were in the area.

9. HAMILTON PARK // WEEHAWKEN, NEW JERSEY

On July 11, 1804, vice president Aaron Burr shot and mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in America’s most famous duel. While you may not (read: should not) reenact the Burr/Hamilton duel scene, you can walk the grounds where this historic event took place at the Hamilton Park in Weehawken, New Jersey while reciting Hamilton lyrics if your head. Side note: Don’t forget your camera, because Hamilton Park also has some of the best NYC skyline views!

10. CITY TAVERN // PHILADELPHIA

We can thank Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern for supplying the food and spirits needed to make this country what it is today. The Founding Fathers spent many late nights here while preparing the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution—according to George Washington, on September 17, 1787, after the Constitution was signed and ready to be sent to the states for ratification, "The members adjourned to the City Tavern, dined together, and took a cordial leave of each other." While today’s clientele may have fewer powdered wigs and breeches, you can still dine and drink circa the 18th century at this fully operational, completely reconstructed tavern.

11. GADSBY'S TAVERN // ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

With guests like John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Virginia native George Washington, the Gadsby's Tavern made quite a name for itself among the country’s most elite. Thomas Jefferson was even honored with a banquet there in 1801, the year he became president. And though you may not have an inaugural fete thrown in your honor, you can dine on "George Washington's Favorite" (a grilled duck breast with scalloped potatoes and a port wine orange glaze) or "Gentleman's Pye" (a lamb and beef red wine stew in a pastry crust) in this National Historical Landmark’s Colonial-style dining rooms.

12. FRAUNCES TAVERN // NEW YORK CITY

Lower Manhattan’s Fraunces Tavern is possibly the most monumental haunt of them all—it served as the location of General George Washington's farewell dinner to the officers of his Continental Army after the last British soldiers left America in 1783. Today, you can visit the Fraunces Tavern Museum’s Long Room—the site of Washington’s speech—and grab a pint to (figuratively) pour one out for the most famous of the founding fathers, and all the early Americans who helped make the revolution a success.

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MUExtension417, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
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Food
The Pawpaw: The All-American Fruit the Country Forgot
MUExtension417, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
MUExtension417, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Truly all-American foods are hard to find—hamburgers, hot dogs, and apple pie, for example, all have foreign origins. But that doesn’t mean native foods don’t exist. Take the pawpaw: This fruit is so American that it was enjoyed by the founding fathers, but it’s also an item most U.S. residents have probably never heard of.

As Vox explains in the video below, pawpaw fruit trees were once abundant in the eastern half of the country. Indigenous people ate the flesh of the fruit and saved the seeds for medicinal purposes. Early presidents also enjoyed them: George Washington had pawpaw trees planted at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson had the seeds delivered to friends in France.

But the past few centuries haven’t been kind to the pawpaw. Commercial development has wiped out much of the pawpaw belt—a chunk of land stretching from Michigan to Florida. At the same time, the rise of supermarkets helped push the fruit into obscurity. It ripens so fast that it would become inedible in the time it takes to pick them, transport them, and place them on the shelf.

While you won’t find pawpaws at chain grocery stores, they’re still available if you know where to look. Even after years of deforestation, pawpaw trees are the most common edible fruit trees native to North America. You can seek them out at Midwestern and eastern farmers markets from late August through September. And what to do with the custardy fruit once you’ve found it? Try using it to make pie, pudding, and even ice cream.

[h/t Vox]

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images
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History
Long After Alexander Hamilton's Death, His Son and Rival Aaron Burr Dueled in Divorce Court
Hulton Archive // Getty Images
Hulton Archive // Getty Images

On July 11, 1804, U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton, the former Secretary of the Treasury, in an ill-fated duel. The incident ended their longstanding rivalry—but Hamilton's son appears to have had the last word against his father's nemesis during a divorce trial.

Alexander Hamilton Jr., the second son of Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, was an attorney. He’s remembered for serving as a general during the War of 1812 and as a U.S. attorney for east Florida, among other accomplishments [PDF]. Lesser-known, however, is the fact that Hamilton Jr. served as divorce lawyer for socialite Eliza Bowen Jumel, Burr’s second wife, in 1834, and formally accused Burr of adultery and other charges.

Burr’s first wife, Theodosia Bartow Prevost—the mother of his daughter Theodosia—died in 1794 from stomach cancer, leaving Burr without his best ally and confidante. A decade later, he fatally shot Hamilton, and his reputation was sullied even further with later charges of conspiracy and high misdemeanor. With his political and legal career ruined, Burr was in the market for a strategic marriage, which might be why he decided to marry Jumel, a rich widow, in 1833.

Like Hamilton (and unlike Burr), Jumel came from humble origins and had climbed her way to success in Manhattan. Born in either 1773 or 1775, she was raised in a brothel in Providence, Rhode Island, and later forged an acting career in New York. In 1804, she married Stephen Jumel, a wealthy French wine merchant. (It's been rumored that Jumel tricked him into the nuptials by pretending to suffer from a fatal illness.)

The two purchased and lived in a 1765 mansion that briefly served as George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution. But in 1832, the 70-year-old Stephen Jumel died, leaving his widow—now the wealthiest woman in America—with his fortune. A year later, Jumel married Burr, who was now in his late seventies and reportedly dependent on his friends for money.

While the marriage cemented Jumel's position among Manhattan's upper echelons, the couple ended up separating after just four months of marriage. Needing a whip-smart lawyer, Jumel enlisted Hamilton Jr. to file for divorce.

Jumel alleged that Burr had committed adultery "at divers times with divers females," and also that he’d squandered her fortune. Meanwhile, a servant named Mariah Johnson testified she had caught Burr red-handed, according to Nancy Isenberg’s 2007 biography Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr. (Isenberg argues that Johnson had been bribed, and Burr himself argued that having affairs with younger women was "according to the law of nature impossible," considering his old age.)

The divorce was long and drawn out, and seemingly punctuated with periods of fighting and reconciliation. Burr's health was deteriorating during this time, and according to one story, Jumel "had him brought to the house and that for weeks, he lay, night and day, on an old sofa that had been Napoleon's, before the fire in the great drawing-room," according to artist and writer William Henry Shelton. (Shelton served as curator of Jumel's estate, a historic landmark that's today known as the Morris-Jumel mansion, and wrote a comprehensive history of the house in 1916.)

That said, "this claim is more traditional than probable," Shelton added, "as it would be just in the period of the divorce trial, during which they were hurling correspondents at each other, and, on the part of Burr, in unfair proportion of four for one.”

After three long years, during which Burr suffered from several strokes, his divorce was finalized by Judge Philo T. Ruggles on September 14, 1836—the same date as Burr's death at the age of 80.

Jumel never remarried, and she died nearly 30 years later, in 1865, at the age of 90 or 92. It's said that her ghost haunts the Morris-Jumel mansion, which is named after both Jumel and its original builder, British military officer Roger Morris.

Hamilton Jr. died in his home in 1875, at the age of 89, following a long illness. But the ghosts of Burr and Hamilton's infamous feud seem to have died with him—two descendants of the pair are reportedly kayak and canoe buddies in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood.

[h/t Gothamist]

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