Honorary Co-Chairs


Congressman Rush Holt
Congressman Chris Smith
The Honorable Jon S. Corzine
Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells
State Senator Shirley K. Turner
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Majority Leader
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora
Brian M. Hughes, Mercer County Executive
Douglas H. Palmer,Mayor City of Trenton


1719 William Trent House Museum




Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area


Friends of the New Jersey State House


Geraldine R Dodge Foundation, The


Hunter Research


I Am Trenton Community Foundation


Jamestowne Society, Princeton Chapter


National Society of the Colonial Dames in America in the State of New Jersey


New Jersey Historical Commission, Department of State


New Jersey Society Sons of the Revolution


Old Barracks Museum


Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of New Jersey


Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New Jersey


Society of the Sons of the Revolution in New Jersey


Trenton Historical Society


Trenton Marriott at Lafayette Yard


WWFM The Classical Network

Maskell Ewing

[Credit: Courtesy The Biggs Museum of American Art, Dover, DE]

Maskell Ewing was the namesake and eldest son of 10 children born to an Irishman who served at different times as justice of the peace, clerk, surrogate, sheriff and judge in Cumberland County. Having assisted his father in the clerkship in Greenwich, young Maskell was elected Clerk of the State Assembly before he was 21, whereupon he moved to Trenton. He held the position for 20 years, during which he also read law in the office of William C. Houston. This portrait, attributed to Charles Willson Peale, is thought to have been painted about 1788. Its subject is identified by the name on the letter in his hand, by the law books behind him (he was admitted to the bar in 1787) and by the blue coat and yellow waistcoat he wears, identifying him with the New Jersey Militia (with which he served 1776-77). In 1787, Maskell Ewing was named executor of the estate of the prosperous Houston, giving him the means to commission a portrait.

Yard Family Table

[credit: Collection of the New Jersey State Museum, acquired 1975]

The blacksmith Benjamin Yard, who lived on the site of the modern state Taxation Building, operated a plating mill and foundry just down the street, at Petty's Run (check www.pettysrun.org). He owned this walnut Chippendale-style tilt-top table, made in New Jersey or Philadelphia, c. 1760-1780.

Trenton Friends Meeting

[credit: engraving by George A. Bradshaw for A History of Trenton, 1679-1929]

In August of 1684, local Quakers meeting in a house established the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting of Friends. The Meeting continued to be held in members' houses despite the growing number of attendees. On January 5, 1691, it was proposed that two Friends meetinghouses be built, one at Chesterfield (modern Crosswicks) and the other at the Falls of the Delaware (Trenton). That discussion continued at each subsequent monthly meeting until it was decided on June 6 to build at Chesterfield only.  Finally, on December 2, 1737, the meetinghouse at Trenton was formally proposed again, and agreed to the following month. The original structure, built in 1739, survives within a slightly enlarged building. 

Chippendale-style Side Chair

[credit: Collection of the New Jersey State Museum, acquired 1991]

Barnt DeKlyn was a merchant of French Huguenot descent who made his fortune during the war by manufacturing woolen cloth and selling it to the Continental Army. He moved from Boston to Trenton in 1784, in anticipation of the building of the federal capital on the banks of the Delaware. According to family tradition, a set of four mahogany Chippendale-style side chairs, made in Philadelphia, came with him. DeKlyn used his money to invest in land in and around Trenton. His family lived in the mansion called Bow Hill and probably entertained visiting members of Congress. Bow Hill was destroyed by fire in November, 1785, and the DeKlyns rebuilt the home on a smaller scale in 1787. Barnt DeKlyn died at the age of 79, in September of 1824. His wife, Mary, died the following year, aged 77. They are buried together at First Presbyterian Church; their former home is owned by the Ukrainian-American Society.

New Jersey Gazette, December 20, 1784

[credit: New Jersey State Archives, Department of State, scanned from
originals lent courtesy of the New Jersey State Library]

Revolutionary War "celebrity" the Marquis de Lafayette dominated the Trenton news coverage in the New Jersey Gazette for this day in 1784. Following his arrival in town earlier in the month Lafayette was a star of the local social scene and Congress appointed a committee to organize a formal send-off for him before he departed the country for France. In the Committee's words: "the merit and services of the Marquis render it proper that such an opportunity of taking leave of Congress be afforded him, as [Congress] may strongly manifest their esteem and regard for him." The Gazette printed in full both Congress's resolutions in support of Lafayette and his appreciative response.

Trenton for National Capital

[credit: New Jersey State Archives, Department of State]

Throughout the 1780s, and most especially in 1783-84, New Jersey, like several other states, promoted itself as a candidate for the seat of the national government. Most of the New Jersey sites proposed for the national capital were in the immediate Trenton vicinity. This excerpt from the minutes of the New Jersey Legislature and General Assembly on June 18, 1783 shows the State giving and granting "to the United States in Congress Assembled, the sum of thirty thousand Pounds in specie for the purpose of procuring Lands and erecting Buildings thereon for the suitable Accommodations of Congress, to be held by them and their successors forever." A considerable sum indeed, which one wonders if the State government actually had in hand. Another resolution appears to allude to the upcoming session of the Continental Congress in Trenton, inviting New Jersey inhabitants to provide accommodations for Congressional representatives.

William Livingston

[Credit: portrait by John Wollaston, Fraunces Tavern Museum]

William Livingston served as Governor of New Jersey for 14 years ~ from Aug. 31, 1776, until his death on July 25, 1790. A Yale graduate and a lawyer, he was a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787 and one of the signers of the Constitution; a member of the Continental Congress 1774-1776; and served as a brigadier general of the New Jersey Militia from 1775-1776. A New Yorker by birth, he served in Congress with his brother, Philip, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He moved to Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth) in 1772, and it was there he died.

A Dunning Letter

[credit: National Archives and Records Administration]

Nine days before Congress began its Trenton sessions with a quorum, Gov. William Livingston sent the Paymaster General of the Army an urgent request for funds to pay New Jersey’s veterans. "Trenton 20th Nov 1784 "Sir As Governor of this State I am desired by the General Assembly to write to you as Paymaster General of the army of the United States, requesting you to furnish the Legislature of this State as soon as possible with a particular account of the names of all the officers non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Jersey Line to whom notice was given at the time of Final Settlement, with the number dates sum & time interest is notified to have been or to become due on each note, as the amount required is become absolutely necessary in order to make proper provision for the Jersey Line. I am Sir your most humble servt, Wil. Livingston" John Pierce Esq. Paymaster General of The Army of the United States

Boundary Delegate

[credit: Smithsonian Institution Art Museum Inventory of American

James Duane was a New York lawyer who served in a number of public posts before becoming a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1783. His wife was a member of the wealthy Livingston family and he had a lucrative practice in New York, with Trinity Church among his clients. He acquired some 64,000 acres in what is now Vermont and served on two occasions as a boundary commissioner. In 1784, he was named the first post-war Mayor of New York and under the rules of the Acts of Confederation, had to give up his seat in Congress. He did, however, take part in the New York-Massachusetts boundary discussions in Trenton. He resigned as mayor in 1789 to accept Washington's nomination as New York's first federal judge, retiring in 1794. He died three years later, while building his retirement home in Duanesburg, Schenectady County, N.Y. The 8-foot granite statue of him, by sculptor Philip Martiny, is on the right in this picture of the facade of New York City's Surrogates Court, originally known as the Hall of Records.

The Drillmaster

[credit: Charles Willson Peale portrait, National Park Service]

Why, as reported by the New-Jersey Gazette, was "Major-General Baron Steuben" in Trenton in mid-December, 1784? The New Jersey Legislature had voted on December 23, 1783 to give him a confiscated Loyalist estate at New-Bridge, but with the unwelcome proviso that he occupy the place, which had been damaged during the war. Moreover, he’d be given a lifetime tenancy only, when what he needed was to raise cash to pay his debts. The General, who lived in New York, visited Trenton while Congress (which owed him back wages) and the Legislature were in session, and did some lobbying. The immediate result was that the Legislature authorized its agent for forfeited estates to sell the place to the highest bidder, depositing the sale price in an account, from which interest was to be paid to the General. Through his own agent, he then bought the property for 1,500 pounds, and continued lobbying while renting the property to its previous owner. Finally, in 1788, the Legislature relented, giving Steuben title. In a letter dated December 12, 1788, he reported selling "my Jersey Estate" for 1,200 pounds, ending his five-year association with what is still called the Steuben House.

Trenton Academy

[credit: engraving by George A. Bradshaw for A History of Trenton,

On Monday, December 14, 1784 the Trenton Academy celebrated its second anniversary and elected a new batch of trustees comprising local notables David Brearley, Moore Furman, Isaac Collins, Samuel Witham Stockton and Benjamin Pitfield. Also appointed as visitors (advisers to the school) were William Churchill Houston, Stacy Potts and James Ewing. The following Saturday the Academy, or grammar school, as it was sometimes known, held exams and students made presentations before the President of Congress, several representatives of Congress, Baron Von Steuben, members of the state legislature, the Attorney-General, the school's trustees and "a number of respectable Citizens of the town and vicinity." The Trenton Academy was located on Academy Street immediately west and partly on the site of the Trenton Public Library.

New Jersey Gazette, December 13, 1784

[credit: New Jersey State Archives, Department of State, scanned from
originals lent courtesy of the New Jersey State Library]

All the while that Congress sat in Trenton in late 1784, the New-Jersey Gazette was being printed and published weekly by Isaac Collins a block away from the French Arms Tavern. The newspaper offered a mix of current national and international news interspersed with more localized Trenton-area advertisements and notices. The December 13, 1784 issue included a report that the Marquis de Lafayette and several more states' representatives to Congress (Elbridge Gerry and Rufus King of Massachusetts; John Jay, Robert R. Livingston and Walter Livingston of New York; Samuel Dick and Charles Stewart of New Jersey; and John-Francis Mercer of Virginia) had arrived in town over the preceding week.

St Michael's Communion Silver

[credit: Collection of the New Jersey State Museum, acquired 1974]

These two early 18th-century American examples of a silver communion service descended in the ownership of St. Michael's Church. Both were made in New York: the Alms Basin (9 3/8 inches in diameter, c. 1702-1708) by Jacobus Vanderspiegel (1668-1708); and the Chalice (7 1/2 inches high, c. 1702-1713), by Bartholomew Le Roux. Le Roux, a Huguenot, left Holland (where he probably trained) for London in 1685 and not long after moved to New York. The first of three generations of New York silversmiths, his work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Marquis de Lafayette in Trenton

[credit: engraving from Benson J. Lossing's Pictorial Field Book of the
Revolution, Vol. II, 1850]

Congress received a letter from the Marquis de Lafayette on December 6, requesting an opportunity to take formal leave December 11, before returning to France. It was referred to a three-man committee chaired by John Jay of New York, which reported back on Thursday, December 9. They recommended appointment of a committee, consisting of one member from each state, to receive Lafayette. A further motion directed that a letter to the King of France be drafted, "to be signed by his Excellency the President of Congress, expressive of the high sense, which the United States in Congress assembled, entertain of the zeal, talents and meritorious services of the Marquis of Fayette (sic), and recommending him to the favour and patronage of his Majesty." The New Jersey Legislature, for its part, received Lafayette in joint session the same day. The New-Jersey Gazette of December 27 reported the texts of the Legislature's address and Lafayette's reply.

Fit for London

[Credit: Trent House Association Collection, on loan to Old Barracks

This gentleman's waistcoat of white silk, with extensive floral embroidery, was made c. 1760-1770 for William Trent (1715-1787), trader, soldier and land speculator. He was the son and namesake of William Trent, after whom Trenton (Trent Town) was named. The younger Trent, an officer in colonial wars, was a trader and land speculator in private life, and a negotiator with Native Americans in both capacities. Although he received an Ohio River land grant from the Six Nations in 1768, Trent was unable to obtain British or colonial rights to sustain his claims. Land speculation issues took him to London. He returned in 1775 and, although not active in the Revolution, was later charged as a Loyalist. He swore allegiance to the United States in 1779 and served in the General Assembly of New Jersey the following year. Trent died in Philadelphia in 1787. His formal waistcoat is on display at the Old Barracks, as part of the exhibit, "All Is Threatened and Endangered: New Jersey in the French & Indian War."

Window Pane in Stacy Potts' House

[credit: courtesy Old Barracks Museum]

Benson J. Lossing, who traveled the 13 original colonies in order to produce his Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution in 1850, visited the Stacy Potts house (see Gallery of Images). It served as the headquarters of the Hessian commander, Col. Johann Rall, during the occupation ended by Washington’s victory at the Battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776. Lossing described this pane of glass, then still visible in the front of the house: "In a pane of glass, in the front window on the left of the front door, lower story, may be seen a hole made by a bullet (musket ball), shot during the battle. Colonel (Johann) Rall died in the front room in the second story, immediately over this window." The 9.5-inch by 7.5-inch window pane survives in the Old Barracks collection, and is currently on display.

Bridge over Assunpink Creek

[credit: photograph courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

A bridge has existed at the South Broad Street crossing of Assunpink Creek since around 1700. This location, the site of Mahlon Stacy's gristmill erected in 1679, is where historic Trenton first took root as an economic and industrial center. The first bridge, probably built of timber on stone abutments, was repaired numerous times before being entirely rebuilt in stone in the mid-1760s. That structure, the scene of intense fighting during the Second Battle of Trenton, suffered major damage from floods in the 19th century. The current bridge comprises an early 19th-century core, possibly with remnants of the mid-18th-century structure, flanked by masonry added in 1870. In the later 19th and early 20th centuries the bridge supported rows of three- and four-story residential/commercial buildings on either side of the street so that the stream crossing was all but invisible. This view, looking upstream shortly after 1870, shows a paper mill at right on the site and incorporating parts of the 18th-century gristmill. The large arch, partly visible at the far right, spanned the raceway carrying water power to a pair of textile mills further downstream; the smaller arch spanned the tail race from the paper mill. Upstream, beyond the main span of the bridge, is the mill dam.

The Pottery of James Rhodes

[credit: Hunter Research, Inc.]

The master potter James Rhodes is an especially notable Trenton craftsman whose existence has come to light through recent archaeological discoveries. His distinctive stoneware products, among them these molded faces that were applied to pitchers, were first noted at the pottery of William Richards on the riverbank in Lamberton, where a kiln was found during the construction of the Route 29 tunnel. This pottery was in operation from the early 1770s until at least 1778. In the latter year, Rhodes set up his own pottery on a lot immediately adjacent to the Waln dwelling (later the Eagle Tavern) on the road leading out of Trenton to Bordentown. Here, Rhodes produced similar stoneware, and more molded faces, until his death in 1784. A kiln was also excavated at this site during recent restoration of the Eagle Tavern.

John Jay

[credit: engraving in Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution, Volume II, by
Benson J. Lossing, 1850]

John Jay was an important player in both the movement for American independence and the creation of the new nation. Conservative by nature, he did not favor separation from England at first, but eventually became a negotiator and signer of the Treaty of Paris. A graduate of King's College (now Columbia), he studied law and married Sarah, daughter of New Jersey Governor William Livingston, before the war started. A member of the Continental Congress from 1774-1776, he left to form the New York State constitution and was appointed the state's chief justice in May of 1777. He resigned in December 1778 to become president of the Continental Congress, and left that post the following September to serve as Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. After negotiating the Treaty of Paris and treaties with other European powers, he returned to New York in July of 1784 to learn that he had been elected Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The frustrations he encountered in that office, which he held until the establishment of the federal government in 1798, convinced him of the importance of creating a government more powerful than that under the Articles of Confederation. Washington appointed him the first Chief Justice of the United States on September 26, 1789, and he served until his resignation June 29, 1795. While Chief Justice, he was sent by Washington to negotiate a new treaty with the British and discovered on his return in 1795 that he had been elected Governor of New York. He retired from public life in 1801, refusing reappointment as chief justice or reelection as governor. He died in 1829, at the age of 83.

New Jersey Gazette, First Trenton Issue

[credit: reproduction in A History of Trenton, 1679-1929]

The inaugural edition of the New-Jersey Gazette, the state's first newspaper, was published by Isaac Collins in December 1777 in Burlington, New Jersey. In the spring of 1778 Collins moved his printing office to the southeast corner of Queen and Second (Broad and State) Streets in the heart of Trenton, where the Gazette, except for a brief period in 1783, continued to be published weekly until 1786. Endorsed by Governor William Livingston and subsidized by the state legislature, the newspaper was a strong supporter of the patriot cause during the Revolutionary War. Livingston himself published numerous patriotic, some might say vitriolic, essays in the Gazette under the noms de plume "Hortentius" and "Scipio." The main supplier of paper in these years was the paper mill of Stacy Potts, located at the mouth of the Assunpink Creek (on the site of today's Marriott Hotel).

Isaac Collins

[credit: engraving of portrait by John Wesley Jarvis, 1806; original oil
portrait reproduced in Isaac Collins: A Quaker Printer in 18th Century
America, by Richard E. Hixson, 1968]

Master printer Isaac Collins (1746-1817) spent most of his working life in central New Jersey, much of it in downtown Trenton. He published and sold books, religious tracts and broadsides, but is best known as the founder, owner, publisher and editor of the New-Jersey Gazette, the state's first regular newspaper. Collins also issued two editions of a well-known quarto Bible, the first of which was printed in Trenton in 1791. Collins moved his printing and publishing business to downtown Trenton in 1778 and continued there until 1796 when he and his family relocated to New York City. A Quaker, he believed strongly in the importance of education in community progress and was one of the five founding trustees of the Trenton Academy, established in 1781-82.

First Presbyterian Church of Trenton

[credit: History of the Presbyterian Church in Trenton, N.J.,
by John Hall, 1912]

This engraving of the original Presbyterian church in Trenton was made from a drawing by Rev. Dr. Francis Armstrong Ewing, which he based on descriptions by those who remembered the church. His own full description begins: “The old stone church, built in 1726 ~ the first of the series ~ stood on the southwest corner of the church lot, on the same site as its successor, the brick one, but not covering so large a space. It fronted south on Second street (now State), standing a little back from the line of the street, and having a large flat stone before the door. Its front presented in the center a large doorway, closed by two half-doors, on each side of which was a pretty large window, square-headed, as was the door; and probably over the door another window, though on this point there is a difference of recollection. The stones of the building, free of wash or plaster, showed only their native hue, or that acquired by long exposure to the weather. The roof, with gables to the street, was of the curb or double-pitched kind, and was covered with shingles, each neatly rounded or scalloped.” The present church, erected in 1841, is the third on the property, closer to the street and further east than its predecessors.

Rufus King

[credit: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress]

Rufus King graduated from Harvard in 1777, went to war, studied law and embarked on a career in politics and diplomacy. He was a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress from 1784 to 1787, and then served as a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention. He moved to New York City in 1788 and was elected to the state Assembly, then to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1789 to 1796. He resigned his Senate seat to become U.S. Minister to Great Britain, serving until 1803. Thereafter, he alternated unsuccessful runs as the Federalist candidate for Vice-President, Governor of New York and President with successful candidacies for the U.S. Senate. He died in 1827, after one last stint as U.S. Minister to Great Britain.

Jacob G. Bergen's Tavern License Application

[credit: New Jersey State Archives, Division of Archives and Records Management]

The French Arms Tavern, where Congress met in November and December of 1784, was periodically the subject of petitions by local tavern keepers who were required to apply to the Hunterdon County Court of General Quarter Sessions for a license to operate a public house. This petition from Jacob G. Bergen on May 6, 1783 received the support of several subscribers, among whom were many prominent Trenton citizens. Witnessed by their signatures are Benjamin Yard, Charles Axford, Jacob Benjamin, John Yard, Benjamin Smith, Joseph Higbee, Abraham Hunt, Archibald Yard, Isaac Collins, James Ewing, William Houston, A. Manaquis and Peter Crolius.

Hunterdon County Courthouse

[credit: engraving by George A. Bradshaw for A History of Trenton, 1679-1929]

Trenton served as the seat of Hunterdon County government from 1714 until 1791. The first Hunterdon County Court House was built in 1719 on the east side of Warren Street between State and Front. By the early 1720s it was also being used as a jail. The court house was the scene of several notable events in the Revolutionary War era. Its front steps were one of three locations where the Declaration of Independence was first publicly read on Monday, July 8, 1776. On April 15, 1783, Governor William Livingston read a proclamation, again on the front steps, declaring the end of hostilities between the United States and Great Britain. In November of 1784, the New Jersey Assembly met here, while the Continental Congress was in session across the street at the French Arms Tavern. On December 19, 1787, New Jersey's ratification of the U.S. Constitution was read aloud at the court house before the Trenton citizenry. The court house property was acquired by the Trenton Banking Company in 1805 and converted into a bank. In 1839, the building was pulled down and a new bank erected. Today, the site is a parking lot adjoining Checkers bar and restaurant; a recently completed outdoor mural across the street commemorates the first reading here of the Declaration of Independence.

David Brearley

[credit: photograph courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

David Brearley (sometimes Brearly) is buried in St. Michael's churchyard. While he is most often commemorated as one of the New Jersey delegates to the federal Constitutional Convention of 1787 and as a Signer of the U.S. Constitution, he played many roles in a short life. Lawyers think of him as the first federal judge appointed for New Jersey, while Masons speak of him as the state's first Grand Master. He was the vice-president of the original New Jersey Cincinnati Society, made up of officers who served in the Revolutionary War, as well as a delegate to the Episcopal General Conference of 1786 and a writer of the Episcopal prayer book. His first wife was a daughter of Trenton attorney Abraham Cottnam and in 1779 they bought and moved into the Cottnam family home on the south side of Pennington Road, above Calhoun. He died in 1790, at the age of 45.

St. Michael's Church

[credit: Hunter Research, Inc. 2009]

The Church of England in the Colony of New Jersey built the original version of what is known today as St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. The deed for the land has been missing since 1755, but travelers’ accounts mention the existence of the church by late fall, 1748. The vestry, which included several prominent Tories, passed a resolution July 7, 1776, closing the church indefinitely. While a vote to reopen was taken January 4, 1783, the need to repair wartime damage to the building kept it closed until early 1785. The building was added to and altered several times during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and recently underwent restoration.

Charles Pinckney

[credit: image after Gilbert Stuart portrait]

One of only a handful of delegates who was in Trenton for the full 54 days scheduled for the Congressional sessions, Charles Pinckney was a veteran of just about everything: a longtime member of the South Carolina Legislature who was taken prisoner by the British at the fall of Charleston in 1780, he would later serve as the youngest delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, four stints as governor of South Carolina, as well as terms in the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and as Jefferson’s Minister to Spain..

Old Barracks

[credit: historic postcard, circa 1930, courtesy of Hunter Research, Inc.]

In 1784 the Old Barracks was in a period of transition and its actual usage remains uncertain. The building had served as a hospital for much of the Revolutionary War and was soon to be acquired by a consortium of Trenton notables and rented out as residential units. At the time of Congress meeting in Trenton in late 1784 it may have been pressed into use as accommodations for legislators and their families and staff.

House of William Houston

[credit: photograph courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

Embedded within the structure of the 19th-century hotel known as the Trenton House was the residence of William C. Houston, a Princeton-educated Trenton attorney who was one of the New Jersey representatives at the Continental Congress of 1784. Houston’s dwelling is discernible in this photograph as a five-bay, two-story Georgian-style residence fronting on to North Warren Street at the corner of East Hanover. The house was built by paper manufacturer John Reynolds in the late 1770s and was briefly owned by Barnt DeKlyn before being acquired by William Houston.

Slip-Trailed Redware Platter

[credit: Collection of the New Jersey State Museum/Museum Purchase]

This slip-trailed redware platter, most likely used as informal tableware, was made at the McCully pottery in downtown Trenton at some point in the late 18th or early 19th centuries. It was a typical product of the McCully factory which occupied several locations along Petty’s Run in the Warren Street area beginning in the mid-1870s.

Trenton Sur La Delaware

[credit: watercolor by the Count de Maulevier, courtesy of the New Jersey Historical Society]

The William Trent House, shown in the foreground of this view around 1800, occupied a choice location on the left bank of the River Delaware just below its confluence with Assunpink Creek and with a fine view downstream. Built in 1719, this brick mansion was linked by a long, straight tree-lined driveway to a wharf at the foot of Ferry Street where sloops docked at the head of navigation on the Delaware and where a ferry carried traffic between New Jersey and Pennsylvania on the main land route between New York and Philadelphia.

John Cox

[credit: Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, courtesy 1719 William Trent House Museum]

Colonel John Cox owned the William Trent House in 1784. An affluent merchant and committed patriot, Cox fought at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton and acquired the core of the old William Trent estate in 1778 from Dr. William Bryant, a noted Loyalist. Cox also owned the Batso iron works, which made ordnance for the Continental Army. While at the William Trent House, Cox reputedly entertained numerous well known figures, among them General Rochambeau and the Marquis de Lafayette.

Berthier Map

credit: reproduced in Howard J. Rice and Anne S.K. Brown, The American
Campaigns of Rochambeau’s Army 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, 1972]

This map of Trenton, produced in 1781 by Louis-Alexandre Berthier for the French army en route from Newport, Rhode Island to Yorktown, Virginia, shows the built-up area of the town (shaded in red) on the north side of Assunpink Creek. Broad, Warren, State and Front Streets are recognizable in roughly the same configuration as today. The French army is shown encamped to the south of town along modern South Broad and Ferry Streets.

Trenton Mills

[credit: engraving by George A. Bradshaw for A History of Trenton,

The Trenton Mills, located at the South Broad Street crossing of Assunpink Creek, originated in the gristmill established by Trenton’s founder settler Mahlon Stacy in 1679. Stacy's mill was rebuilt and enlarged on several occasions and passed through the hands of several prominent owners, including William Trent, George Thomas (Governor of Pennsylvania) and Robert Lettis Hooper II. In 1784 the mills were owned by the Waln family, wealthy Quaker merchants of Philadelphia. This engraving shows the mills long after they had ceased grinding grain, shortly before they were converted into a paper mill.

Robert Waln Jr

[credit: portrait by Robert Eichholtz, courtesy of City of
Philadelphia/Fairmount Park]

Robert Waln, Jr. (1765-1836) inherited substantial property and business interests in Trenton upon the death of his father, Robert Waln, Sr., in 1784. Chief among these was the Trenton Mills, one of the largest merchant gristmills in the Delaware Valley. In 1814-15 Robert Waln, Jr. and his son Lewis also went on to found the Eagle Factory, Trenton’s first major textile mill, located immediately downstream of the gristmill on Assunpink Creek.

Eagle Tavern

[credit: photograph courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

The Eagle Tavern on South Broad Street, whose exterior was recently restored by the City of Trenton, began life around 1765 as a dwelling erected by Philadephia merchant and ship owner Robert Waln, Sr., shortly after he acquired the Trenton Mills. The four bays on the southeast (left) side of the building represent the original Waln house. Members of the Waln family likely stayed here on occasion in 1784, possibly during the two months while Congress was in session. The building is believed to have been expanded and converted into a tavern in the second decade of the 19th century.

Moore Furman's Coffee Urn

[credit: Collection of the New Jersey State Museum/Museum Purchase]

This silver plated and ivory coffee urn, produced by an unknown maker in Sheffield, England circa 1790-1800, belonged to Moore Furman. He served as Postmaster of Trenton in 1757 and was simultaneously a merchant here, but moved to Philadelphia in 1762. He returned to Trenton in 1780 and died in Lamberton in 1808, in his eightieth year.

Moore Furman

[credit: photograph courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

Moore Furman was Trenton's most distinguished 18th-century merchant. He partnered in or headed a succession of firms from the 1750s through the 1790s that conducted business in Trenton and Philadelphia – Reed and Furman; Furman and Hunt; Coxe and Furman; Coxe, Furman and Coxe; and Moore Furman & Company. During the Revolutionary War, Furman served as Deputy Quartermaster General for New Jersey from 1778 to 1780, helping to coordinate the Continental Army's military supply network. He was one of three commissioners appointed by the New Jersey legislature to make preparations for Congress's session in Trenton in 1784. In 1792 Furman was elected Trenton's first Mayor under the 1792 charter.

House of Moore Furman

[credit: photograph courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

Contained within the State Street House at the northeast corner of West State Street and Chancery Lane, shown here around 1900, was an earlier 18th-century dwelling built as the primary Trenton residence of the wealthy Coxe family. Vacated during the Revolutionary War, it was acquired by Trenton merchant Moore Furman, who was living there at the time Congress met in Trenton in 1784. In 1798 Furman sold the house to the State of New Jersey for $10,000 and it served as the Governor’s residence for almost half a century. Later in the 19th century it was sold into private hands, enlarged and functioned as a hotel known first as the State Street House and then from 1904 as the Hotel Sterling. Today the site is occupied by the Mary G. Roebling state office building.

Abraham Hunt

[credit: portrait reproduced in William S. Stryker, The Battles of Trenton
and Princeton, 1898]

Trenton merchant Abraham Hunt is best known for having entertained the Hessian commander Colonel Johann Rall on Christmas night 1776 on the eve of the First Battle of Trenton. While he offered hospitality to the leader of the opposing forces in enemy-occupied Trenton, Hunt was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hunterdon County militia and may have known of Washington’s imminent attack on the town. From 1762 until 1780 Abraham Hunt partnered with Moore Furman in the firm of Furman and Hunt, which dominated the Trenton-Philadelphia river trade. In November and December of 1784 Hunt both operated a store and resided directly across the street from the French Arms Tavern where Congress met.

Mary Dagworthy

[Credit: courtesy Kentuckiana Digital Library, Hunt-Morgan House]

Merchant Abraham Hunt’s second wife was evidently an organizer. George Washington’s collected papers include wartime letters from Mary Dagworthy and his responses. He thanked her on one occasion for sending him 380 pairs of stockings for the use of New Jersey troops in the army in the winter of 1781. The General wrote her on January 9, 1781. Mary Dagworthy Hunt is buried in the East State Street churchyard of the First Presbyterian Church.

Gunning Bedford

[Credit: courtesy Woodburn, home of Delaware's governors]

Delaware delegate Gunning Bedford was born in Philadelphia, educated at Princeton (Class of 1771), and served as his state's attorney-general while sitting as a delegate to Congress in Trenton. He was later a delegate to the constitutional convention and signed the U.S. Constitution; then was a delegate to the Delaware convention that ratified the Constitution; was appointed Delaware's first federal judge in 1789 and remained on the bench until his death in 1812. His cousin, also named Gunning Bedford, was also appointed as a delegate to Congress as well as a delegate to the Delaware convention that ratified the Constitution, and later served as the state's governor. To distinguish themselves, the future governor called himself Sr., and the future federal judge was known as Jr.

Stacy Potts Highboy

[Credit: Collection Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]

This magnificent highboy ~ or high chest of drawers ~ was made in Philadelphia c. 1760-70 and owned by Stacy Potts. It stands 7 feet 1 /34 inches tall and is made of yellow poplar and yellow pine, veneered in mahogany. The connoisseur’s description: The top holds eight drawers below a carved mold board surmounted with swan neck crestings, carved rosettes, flame-turned finials and centering a magnificent carved cartouche. The base includes three plain drawers and centers a drawer with carved shelf with graceful foliate carving and a shaped and carved skirt between foliate carved knees, terminating in ba11 and claw feet.

Stacy Potts, Rall & Others

[Credit: engraving by Benson J. Lossing, 1850]

The Stacy Potts house inhabited by Richard Henry Lee as President of Congress had earlier been the headquarters of the Hessian commander, Col. Johann Rall, who died there of injuries suffered in the Battle of Trenton. Washington famously visited him on his deathbed. Benson J. Lossing, whose Field Book of the American Revolution was a popular success in 1850, copied “a picture by Flagg, in the possession of Joseph C. Potts. Esq., of Trenton. On the right {original text has ‘left’} is seen Generals Washington and Greene; in the center is Mrs. Potts, and near her stands her husband. On the left Colonel Rall reclines upon a couch, and behind him, supporting his pillow, is his servant. I was informed that the portrait of Rall was painted from a description given by a person who knew him, and who pronounced the likeness good, as he remembered him.”

Stacy Potts House

[credit: photograph courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

After his election as President of the Congress, Richard Henry Lee lived in Stacy Potts' house on King Street (modern North Warren), across from St. Michael's Church. Behind the house was located Stacy Potts' tannery, a noxious accompaniment to a Presidential residence.

Richard Henry Lee

[credit: engraving by Alonzo Chapel]

Like his fellow Virginian James Monroe, the aristocratic Richard Henry Lee was in Trenton for the entire 54 days of the scheduled session of Congress. He was elected President of the Congress on November 30, 1784.

French Arms Tavern Floor Plan

[credit: photograph from Mechanics National Bank by Carlos E. Godfrey,
courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

Congress while in Trenton held its meetings at the French Arms Tavern in what was known as the "Long Room," a space measuring 43 feet by 20 feet. After a hard day's deliberation, members of Congress could retire to the barroom in the basement. Some members may also have been lodged in the upstairs rooms of the tavern.

Charles Thomson

[credit: Benson J. Lossing drawing, 1850]

Charles Thomson, a teacher and friend of Benjamin Franklin, was asked to keep the minutes of the first Continental Congress in 1774. He remained the sole secretary of Congress until his resignation in 1789. Much respected by his contemporaries, he was described by Abbe Rodin of Rochambea's staff, after a meeting in Philadelphia: "Among others, Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress, the soul of that political body, came also to receive and present his compliments. His meager figure, furrowed countenance, his hollow, sparkling eyes, his white, straight hair, that did not hang quite so low as his ears, fixed our thorough attention, and filled us with surprise and admiration."

Abraham Hunt's House and Store

[credit: photograph courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

Abraham Hunt's house and store stood at the northwest corner of State and Warren streets until 1870, when this photograph was taken. Hunt hosted the Hessian commander here for drinks and cards as Washington crossed the Delaware for the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776.

Lease of the French Arms Tavern

[credit: photograph from Mechanics National Bank by Carlos E. Godfrey,
courtesy Trentoniana Collection, Trenton Public Library]

The Legislature appointed three Trenton men ~ Moore Furman, James Ewing and Conrad Kotts ~ to make arrangements for Congress' sessions. The lease of the French Arms Tavern for 150 pounds a year was found and publicized in 1906 by local historian Dr. Carlos E. Godfrey.

Fitch Cream Pot

[credit: photograph courtesy Kels Swan Collection]

Trenton in 1784 was a small town, but one with accomplished craftsmen, as well as stores and industry. This silver cream pot, made around 1770 by John Fitch, is one high-style example.

James Monroe

[credit: engraving after John Vanderlyn portrait, National Portrait Gallery]

Virginian James Monroe was one of just eight delegates who journeyed to Trenton in time for the scheduled November 1 session of Congress. It wasn't his first visit: he was wounded at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776..

French Arms Tavern

[credit: engraving by George A. Bradshaw for A History of Trenton, 1679-1929]

At the beginning of November, 1784 Congress took over the French Arms Tavern, located at the southwest corner of State and Warren streets, for meetings and lodgings. When a bank was built there in 1930, the names of 18th century taverns operated onsite were carved into the cornice on both streets.

Tavern Trek - Pub Crawl