Benjamin Franklin and John Adams slept here: Indian Queen Tavern at East Jersey Olde Towne
New Brunswick's reputation as a Revolutionary-era city is tempered largely by the presence of Rutgers University, one of the original eight colonial colleges. Essentially all of the period architecture is gone from the city's riverfront and dock area, obliterated by Route 18 and redevelopment over the past 30 years. However, history buffs and fans of the musical 1776are well aware of the some of the more notable of the era's personages who visited during the war.
Yes, Alexander Hamilton was there with his troops at a point... but the big guns are John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. New Brunswick was a stopover for them in August 1776 as they traveled from Philadelphia to Perth Amboy and Staten Island to meet with British General Howe. According to David McCullough's venerable biography John Adams, the pair were to represent America's side in a discussion of the recent declaration of independence from the British crown. The conversation ended, of course, with a stark refusal to surrender and thus rejoin the empire.
The story of the night before the discussion is rather whimsical in nature and says a lot about the historic pair. Because accommodations in New Brunswick were mostly full at the time, Adams and Franklin were forced to share a room. Some even say that the pair even had to share a mattress. It wouldn't be surprising -- after all, inns of the day didn't exactly have the queen posturpedics today's hotels do. According to legend, Franklin spent much of the night expounding on the merits of keeping the window open. He'd published a theory on the benefits of fresh air, believing that people in closed rooms were more likely to catch cold from each other. Adams, on the other hand, feared the night air but eventually fell asleep to the sound of his bed partner expounding on his fresh air theory.
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