One Door Closes, and Maybe, Just Maybe–Another One Opens

City Tavern - Philadelphia

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”  Thomas Jefferson

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  Thomas Jefferson

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”  Thomas Jefferson

Of all those doors that were shuttered as a result of the recent government shutdown, the turn of the latch that most resonated with my personal being was the one on the entrance to the City Tavern in Philadelphia. As someone who has spent many of my days and evenings on both sides of the bar, I know firsthand the plight of those that pull the pints and tend the tables. And there is no act of Congress that will replace the lost revenue of those who depend so heavily on the generosity of those from the general public that can actually get through the front door.

But beyond the fiscal concerns and hardships brought on by the current state of political paralysis in Washington, there was the irony of having to close those places that are meant to honor our past and  to further our faith in the future function of our  government. 

City Tavern SignOne does not padlock the pulpit just because there is conflict within the congregation.

While the majority of  Americans have bolstered their own patriotic passions by visiting some memorial or battlefield, I have decided that I  much prefer the reconstructed confines of that colonial era establishment to rouse my own feelings of national fervor. There are a couple of reasons for my fondness of the City Tavern. One, you can actually toast our liberties with something a bit more in keeping with what the Founders would have put in their cups. And two, other than those that succumbed to the slow poisoning brought on by an over indulgence of Blackstrap, mutton chops, and Flip, there is not the usual senseless loss of life attached to this consecrated piece of ground–truly a place where giants once roamed.      

Among those extraordinarily gifted gentlemen that attended to some portion of their corporal needs at this outstanding American public house were  Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. And it is in their words and insights that we can find the potential source and possible solution to our current political debacle. Like many of the nation’s founders, both men had some healthy concerns about  the future course of the new government.

In a letter to the  American people published prior to his retirement from the presidency in 1796, George Washington warned against the possible damage political parties might bring upon the republic. Having already been witness to the extreme acrimony and partisanship between Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and  Alexander Hamilton’s  Federalists, Washington was leery of political parties operating within a popularly elected government.  He feared that the competing political organizations would attempt to silence and punish legitimate opposition, promote regionalism and create undue fears and suspicions among the population.

Unfortunately, American’s have on far too many occasions throughout our history been the sorry victims of our first president’s prognostications. And like most organized groups and institution, the lofty well-intentioned principles of both Republicans and Democrats have all too often become secondary to the self-interests and survival of the party. So it should come as no surprise that a substantial segment of the nascent Congressional class has seized upon the writings of Thomas Jefferson as a source for their inspiration and rationalization for the defunding and dismantling of government. But before they consider closing some doors again, they should also consider these words from Mr. Jefferson.  

 “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

On September 17, 1787, one of the longest, and perhaps most contentious political debates  in our nation’s history came to an end with the signing of the United States Constitution. With the closing of the doors of the Pennsylvania State House after 114 days of  secret meetings, George Washington and a good number of the beleaguered and exhausted delegates found their way to the City Tavern. There they were able to put aside personal political differences, and rise above the rancor by raising a glass to the common welfare of all Americans.

Front Interior City Tavern - PhiladelphiaPerhaps, it is not so much the words of the Founders, but rather the behavior of those individuals that we should attempt to incorporate into our politics. But in order to open that door to a place where men of reason and benevolence gather for the greater good of the people, we will first have to open our minds and our hearts to that greater possibility!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

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

The Second Crossing

Washington Crossing The Delaware by Peter Fiore

Washington Crossing The Delaware by Peter Fiore

I watched the President’s  stirring  inaugural address from the quiet of a quaint Italian cafe in my hometown of  Frenchtown, New Jersey. Myself, a local artist and the owner watched the historic proceedings huddled around a small rather conventional television set. Outside the streets were mostly devoid of human and vehicular traffic, due to the day’s events and the constant chilling wind that swept up from the icy waters of the Delaware River.

I was pleased that amongst the President’s profound rhetoric was a reference  to George Washington and the words that  he spoke prior to his fateful crossing of the Delaware to attack the Hessian position at Trenton.

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive … that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

The entire staff of American Public House Review hold our first Commander-in-Chief in the highest regard, hence the abundance of references to His Excellency in past articles:

There is also a past post, “Setting Sail With The Obamas” which equated his potential presidency with those events that transpired on the shores of the Delaware on Christmas Day of 1776. 

Normally I tend to cringe when our elected officials hitch their political fortunes to those that founded, nutured and secured this Republic; but in this case I trust that this man’s intent and inspiration are true! So as we embark on this journey to renew the spirit and promise of 76, we at American Public House Review raise our glasses to our President, his family and the people of this great nation! 

Period Dinner at The White Horse Tavern in Newport, RI

Period Dinner at The White Horse Tavern in Newport, RI

Posted by: Chris Poh, Editor-in-Chief 

 

 

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