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Tun Tavern: Birthplace of the Marine Corps

6 Nov 2013 | Lance Cpl. Paul S. Martinez Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

The year is 1775. On Nov. 10, Men of different ages and occupations gathered in a dusty, candle-lit bar to listen as two individuals offered them a chance to be the first of a new breed fighting for independence. A breed that would be known as the United States Marines. As the men prepare to answer this call to arms, more join them within the walls of this place, known as Tun Tavern. Located in Philadelphia, Penn., this establishment played an integral role in not just the birth of the Marine Corps, but the early days of the United States.

In the year 1685, Samuel Carpenter, a Quaker colonist from England, built a brew house in Philadelphia.  This tavern, located on the waterfront at the corner of Water Street and Tun Alley, was named the Tun Tavern, reflecting the old English definition of the word “tun” translating to barrel. Popular beer made the tavern a well-known spot among the colonists.

In 1732, the St. John’s No. 1 Lodge of the Grand Lodge of the Masonic Temple held its first meetings in the tavern. Founding father Benjamin Franklin was the Lodges’ third Grand Master.  Today, the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia recognizes Tun Tavern as the birthplace of American Masonic teachings.

In the 1740s, Tun Tavern was expanded with the addition of a restaurant that became a success, and was patronized by notable Americans such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  In 1747, the St. Andrews Society was founded in the tavern to become a charity dedicated to assisting poor immigrants from Scotland.

In 1756, then Col. Benjamin Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia at Tun Tavern. This regiment of soldiers was gathered to take action against the Native American uprisings on American colonies.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other members of the Continental Congress later met in Tun Tavern to prepare for their declaration of independence from the English Crown.

On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned Samuel Nicholas to raise two Battalions of Marines.  That very day, Nicholas went to Tun Tavern and appointed Robert Mullan, then the tavern proprietor, the honor of becoming the first U.S. Marine recruiter. Men flocked to the tavern to take up arms as the first Continental Marines fighting for their new country in the American Revolution.  Both the Marine Corps and the tavern were celebrated during this relationship.

 In 1781, Tun Tavern burned down. Interstate 95 now runs through the original location. Today, a commemorative marker stands on the street where Tun Tavern once stood, denoting its immortal place as the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps.


Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms