Liberty through Libation…Redemption through Rum

The City Tavern - Philadelphia

The City Tavern - Philadelphia

Doctor Franklin adhered to this simple prescription for the better part of his life, Liberty through libation.Certainly this was evident during the founding of the “Junto” in 1727, at the public house of Nicholas Scull and again in his later years while providing counsel to his fellow rebels at Philadelphia’s City Tavern.

In between  laying down the groundwork for a new city and a new nation, Benjamin Franklin helped to protect Pennsylvania’s western frontier as a colonel in command of the Philadelphia militia during the French and Indian War. The following excerpt from Franklin’s autobiography comes by way of Kathleen Zingaro Clark, the author of  Buck’s County Inns and Taverns and a contributing editor to American Public House Review.

“We had for our chaplain a zealous Presbyterian minister, Mr. Beatty, who complained to me that the men did not generally attend his prayers and exhortations. When they enlisted, they were promised, besides pay and provisions, a gill of rum a day, which was punctually serv’d out to them, half in the morning, and the other half in the evening; and I observ’d they were as punctual in attending to receive it; upon which I said to Mr. Beatty, “It is, perhaps, below the dignity of your profession to act as steward of the rum, but if you were to deal it out and only just after prayers, you would have them all about you.”

He liked the tho’t, undertook the office, and, with the help of a few hands to measure out the liquor, executed it to satisfaction, and never were prayers more generally and more punctually attended…”

Doctor Franklin

Posted by: Chris Poh

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