Thursday, April 14, 2011




April 14, 1775, Thomas Paine, Anthony Benezet and several other men (most of whom were Quakers) founded the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. That meeting was held, wait for it…in a tavern. Philadelphia’s Rising Sun Tavern, to be exact. This was a proto-abolitionist society – the first of its sort in America. Benjamin Franklin would later join it.

Paine was no stranger to taverns. The following year, his rousing and incendiary Common Sense would be read in taverns around the country. It featured a tavern-keeper as an everyman sort. In the end, though, alcohol took more out of him than he took out of it. And, funny little thing here: Paine died at 59 Grove Street in the Village, which houses one of my favorite bars in all of America.