In 1720 the first meeting of the St. George's Society, known better today as the Sons of the Society of St. George, was held at Tun Tavern. This charitable organization was developed to provide support and assistance to needy Englishmen arriving to the new colonies. In 1747 it became the founding place of the St. Andrew's Society which was a St. George Society equivalent but developed to serve those arriving Scottish men.
That brings me to perhaps the most secretive and mysterious organization that had its United States founding in Tun Tavern: the Free Masons. In 1732 Tun Tavern hosted the first meetings of St. John's Lodge No. 1 of the Grand Lodge of the Masonic Temple. Given that many of the important figures in our country's history were Masons, I believe it's safe to say that Free Masonry affected the evolution and growth of the United States. Some of those figures would include:
- Benjamin Franklin
- John Paul Jones
- Andrew Jackson
- George Washington
- Davy Crockett
Some that aren't so historic but whose names are just as well known (and who have been influential in our country) would include:
- General Douglas MacArthur
- John S. McCain, Sr.
- Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
- Louis Armstrong
- Walt Disney
- Duke Ellington
Knowing all of that I can't help but wonder how much cross-connection there is between our military services and the charitable organizations that were started in the same location. We would expect our governmental founders - those who were present for the first and second Continental Congress at least - to have played a hand in the creation of our military services. That they also were members of, or played leadership roles in the Free Masons (Benjamin Franklin was the Grand Master of Pennsylvania) leads me to the belief that many of our most basic values and goals, as delineated in the various military service creeds, mottos and more, are shared with such charitable organizations as the Masons. What many folks don't know - but is clearly important in the history and development of the United States Marine Corps as well as the United States itself - is that Samuel Nicholas was himself a Mason, belonging to the (then) Lodge 13 in Philadelphia. Care to guess where his lodge held its meetings? You got it... Tun Tavern.
Be all that as it may, there is no question that the Tun Tavern was indeed a location of significant importance in our country's history. Unfortunately the original Tun Tavern is no longer there. Instead, if you're driving on Interstate 95 through Philadelphia you drive over the location where it once stood. I think it's a shame that such a hugely important historic location was destroyed for the benefit of convenient driving.
I have been to the Tun Tavern in Atlantic City, New Jersey and it's a nice enough place. I don't think it does justice to the roots of the original. The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia has a Tun Tavern-themed restaurant that I'm sure does a better job of honoring what was such an important and historic landmark in the history of the United States.