Albany: Washington DID Sleep Here

Washington’s first visit occurred in early March 1781. It would have been in response to an invitation by General Schuyler to the Washington to serve as godfather to Schuyler’s youngest daughter. George and his wife Martha traveled to Albany from White Plains. Catherine (one of 15 Schuyler children) was christened on March 4, 1781 in the Dutch Reformed Church; George and Martha were 2 of several of Catherine’s godparents, including her older sister Peggy (the most neglected of the Schuyler sisters in “Hamilton”). *

wash 2 (2)In 1782 George Washington came to Albany. His visit was a big deal; the General finally accepted a long standing invitation from the Mayor. He came up the River by sloop from Newburgh on June 27, arriving at 6pm and was met by Mayor Abraham Ten Broeck, city aldermen and other city officials. The church bells in the city rang for 2 hours followed by resounding booms from a 13 cannon salute from Fort Frederick. The Common Council ordered the City to be illuminated and the Town Crier to notify residents of the General’s presence. Washington proceeded by carriage from the docks (just above the Pastures, about where Madison and Quay St. meet today) to the Stadt Huys (City Hall) on Broadway and Hudson (that would be the southern tip of the area on which the SUNY Admin building sits).
wash 3)At the Stadt Huys he was presented with a gold box and the “Freedom of the City” (tribute bestowed by a city council rooted in ancient English tradition).

wash 4After the ceremony the General proceeded by carriage to the Schuyler Mansion for dinner and a glittering reception. The next day he inspected Fort Frederick, at the top of State St. hill (where the Capitol is located today) and then came down the hill to address the faithful of the Dutch Reformed Church (a/k/a the Blockhouse Church) situated at State and Broadway. That night he attended a dinner a Hugh Denniston’s Tavern at Beaver and Green. The next morning he was off early to Saratoga, accompanied by phalanx of soldiers for meetings in the environs of Saratoga and the Mohawk River with the Tuscaroras and Oneidas, returned to Albany, and then departed for his headquarters down in the Hudson Valley.

wash 8On his next visit in July 1783 visit Washington arrived again from Newburgh and was accompanied by Governor George Clinton. They were honored at a reception at Hugh Denniston’s Tavern (apparently the hot spot of Albany). The General delivered a speech in which he said, “.. I cannot but take a particular interest in the anticipation of the increase in prosperity and greatness of this Ancient and respectable City of Albany..”. The Governor and the General then walked with General Schuyler up Pearl St. for dinner at the home of Jeremiah Van Rensselaer (brother of Mrs. Schuyler) on east side of N. Pearl (probably close to Pine St.).

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Washington and Clinton departed the next day, after staying the night in the Schuyler Mansion, for 19 day trip as far north as Fort Ticonderoga and as far west as Fort Schuyler (Rome , NY), returning to Albany in August, before heading back to Newburgh. The trip was especially because of the number of Native American  tribes visited throughout the Mohawk Valley

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* The first visit is subject of some debate. It’s recounted in the biography of Catherine Schuyler Malcolm by her daughter Katherine Malcom Baxter “A Godchild to Washington”, but other records for March, 1781 place Washington en route from White Plains to Newport to meet Admiral Rochambeau with the French fleet. But it’s not impossible he stopped in Albany before embarking on that trip.

Copyright 2021  Julie O’Connor

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