Prior to the American Revolution, most colonial politicians and leaders had no formal establishments where they met to conduct business. Consequently, many meetings, dealings and other transactions were often conducted in local establishments such as homes, churches, inns and taverns.
Such was the case in 1775 Philadelphia. Boston, at the time, was the main center for colonial activity relating to the rebellion. Many of America’s colonial leaders and politicians were congregating in Philadelphia.
One of those meetings took place in a place called Tun Tavern. Attending the meeting was a committee of colonial leaders and the subject of that meeting was the formation of two battalion of Marines trained to fight on both land and sea for the purpose of fighting for America’s independence. The committee drafted a resolution that was then presented to the First Continental Congress. None other than John Adams was responsible for drafting the resolution, which read:
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“Resolved: That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of Privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and second Battalion of Marines.”
On this day, November 10, 1775, Adam’s resolution was passed by the Frist Continental Congress at a meeting held at Tun Tavern, thus the US Marines were officially created.
The Continental Congress surprised many by appointing local merchant and Quaker Samuel Nicholas to be the first Commandant of the newly formed Marine Corps. It’s never been explained why they picked a Quaker for the position, but they did. Nicholas then appointed the owner of Tun Tavern, Robert Mullan, a well-known colonial patriot, to be the first Captain of the Marines. Mullan was then tasked with recruiting the men necessary to form the two commissioned battalions.
In 1685, Samuel Carpenter built a large ‘brew house’ or beer house along the waterfront in Philadelphia at the corner of Tun Alley and Water Street. ‘Tun’ was an old British term referring to a barrel, cask or keg of beer. When Carpenter opened his new beer house for business, he named it Tun Tavern due to its location. Tun Tavern is also famous as being the birth place of the Masonic teachings in America. Additionally, a charitable group known as the St. Andrew’s Society was founded at Tun Tavern. The St. Andrew’s Society worked to assist poor immigrants from Scotland.
In 1756, then Colonel Benjamin Franklin used Tun Tavern as his center for recruiting men for the formation of a regiment of soldiers to help put down the Indian uprising.
If you have the privilege to visit Philadelphia, take time to visit the historic Tun Tavern, birthplace of the US Marine Corp, which is still in business today. You can also find Tun Tavern Beer available in many places throughout Philadelphia.
Sources for the above includes: Marine Corps Birthday; Marine Corps Timeline; Tun Tavern: Birthplace of the Marine Corps; Birth of the U.S. Marine Corps; USMC Heritage: Tun Tavern; An Chronological Outline of the United States Marine Corps History, 1775-1915; November 10, 1775: The Birth of the Marine Corps