The Lower Manhattan Historical Society, the Sons of the Revolution of the State of New York, and the Manhattan Borough President have announced a number of events to celebrate Evacuation Day — November 25, 1783 – the day the British left New York City finally ending the American Revolution.
On that day George Washington’s troops marched down Broadway to Bowling Green Park, and the American flag was raised over the City for the first time since the City had fallen to the English in 1776. There was an elaborate dinner with Governor George Clinton and Washington and many of his officers at Fraunces Tavern where there were thirteen toasts to the new government.
For more than a hundred years after the American Revolution Evacuation Day was a major New York City holiday, with an elaborate ceremony at Bowling Green reenacting the pulling down of the British flag. These celebrations were discontinued at the time of First World War over reluctance to celebrate a holiday dedicated to the defeat of the British.
Evacuation Day activities planned for this year include:
On November 24, 2014, the Sons of the Revolution will hold its annual Evacuation Day dinner at 6 pm at the Fraunces Tavern Restaurant. This event has been held by the Sons of the Revolution for many years at the very site of the Evacuation Day dinner in 1783. This year the dinner will include a speaker about the French contribution to the American Revolution, and the Hermione, Lafayette’s ship that visited the United States in 1780, a replica of which will dock in New York harbor this July 4. The dinner will also include the presentation of a special Evacuation Day flag to John Herzog, founder of the American Museum of Finance, which will be flown for the first time at the Flag raising at Bowling Green, the next day. Fraunces Tavern has since 1904 been owned by the Sons of the Revolution, which runs the Fraunces Tavern Museum, a leading proponent of keeping Evacuation Day alive.
The Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall Street will be holding an Evacuation Day walking tour starting at 11 am, which will be followed at 12:30 by a lecture by Jeffrey Rubinstein, who has written a novel about Evacuation Day. The tour will stop at the flag raising ceremony at Bowling Green sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Historical Society and the Bowling Green Association.
At 12 pm the Lower Manhattan Historical Society and the Bowling Green Association will be holding a flag raising ceremony from the flag poles at the north end of Bowling Green reenacting the flag raising that took place on approximately the same spot on the original Evacuation Day 231 years ago. The Lower Manhattan Historical Society’s recently acquired Evacuation Day flag will be flown for the first time at this ceremony.
At 1:15 pm on November 25, 2014, starting from the conference room in the Manhattan Borough President’s office on the 19th Floor of the Municipal Building, there will be a brief ceremony followed by a walking tour of the City Hall area tracing triumphs of Democratic government in the City honor of Evacuation Day.
James Kaplan will present the Evacuation Day tour which will include the statue of Nathan Hale by the sculptor Frederick Macmonnies, which was dedicated on Evacuation Day 1893, City Hall, the Surrogates Court building at 31 Chambers Street, the Municipal Building, Foley Square and Thomas Paine Park. It will also discuss such governmental triumphs as the successful opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, the integration of immigrants into the City in the 19th and early 20th century, the design of the New Deal social welfare policies by New York politicians Al Smith and Franklin Roosevelt, and more.
Further information about these events can be obtained from: James S. Kaplan of the Lower Manhattan Historical Society, at Jskaplanesq@gmail.com, 646-383-3688; Art Piccolo at Apiccolo@earthlink.net; 212-809-1700; Ambrose Richardson, email@example.com; 212-530-4711; and Peter Feinman at Feinman@ihare.org.
Illustrations: Above, Raising the Stars and Stripes (from an 1883 print); middle, “Washington’s Entry into New York” by Currier & Ives (1857); and below, “Evacuation Day and Washington’s Triumphal Entry” c. 1838.