Birthplace of the U.S. Marine Corps - Old Tun Tavern

The Tun Tavern was built, in 1685, by Samuel Carpenter.  It was located in Philadelphia, near an area known today as Penn's Landing

One of America's first brew houses, its name is based on the olde-English word "tun" (which means a barrel, or keg, of beer). Giving way to "progress" (in the form of Interstate 95), the tavern no longer exists.

A plaque (from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission) marks the general location. It says:

Near here stood Tun Tavern, 1693-1781, which is regarded as the traditional birthplace of the United States Marine Corps, authorized by a resolution of the Continental Congress, November 10, 1775.  SEMPER FIDELIS

Is there any evidence, beyond this plaque, which provides convincing proof that the Marine Corps was actually born in a tavern? There is a secondary source—Marion F. Sturkey’s 2001 book, Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marineswhich contains this passage:

Ask any Marine. Just ask. He will tell you that the Marine Corps was born in Tun Tavern on 10 November 1775. But, beyond that the Marine's recollection for detail will probably get fuzzy. So, here is the straight scoop:

In the year 1685, Samuel Carpenter built a huge "brew house" in Philadelphia. He located this tavern on the waterfront at the corner of Water Street and Tun Alley. The old English word tun means a cask, barrel, or keg of beer. So, with his new beer tavern on Tun Alley, Carpenter elected to christen the new waterfront brewery with a logical name, Tun Tavern.

Tun Tavern quickly gained a reputation for serving fine beer. Beginning 47 years later in 1732, the first meetings of the St. John's No. 1 Lodge of the Grand Lodge of the Masonic Temple were held in the tavern. An American of note, Benjamin Franklin, was its third Grand Master. Even today the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia recognizes Tun Tavern as the birthplace of Masonic teachings in America.

Roughly ten years later in the early 1740s, the new proprietor expanded Tun Tavern and gave the addition a new name, "Peggy Mullan's Red Hot Beef Steak Club at Tun Tavern." The new restaurant became a smashing commercial success and was patronized by notable Americans. In 1747 the St. Andrews Society, a charitable group dedicated to assisting poor immigrants from Scotland, was founded in the tavern.

Nine years later, then Col. Benjamin Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia. He used Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Indian uprisings that were plaguing the American colonies. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Continental Congress later met in Tun Tavern as the American colonies prepared for 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 set up shop in Tun Tavern. He appointed Robert Mullan, then the proprietor of the tavern, to the job of chief Marine Recruiter -- serving, of course, from his place of business at Tun Tavern. Prospective recruits flocked to the tavern, lured by (1) cold beer and (2) the opportunity to serve in the new Corps of Marines. So, yes, the U.S. Marine Corps was indeed born in Tun Tavern. Needless to say, both the Marine Corps and the tavern thrived during this new relationship.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 14, 2017

Updated Last Revision: Sep 01, 2017

Media Credits

U.S. National Archives image 127-EX-1-20.


Linked above: Map of Philadelphia’s waterfront, including Penn’s Landing, courtesy University of Pennsylvania. 

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"Birthplace of the U.S. Marine Corps - Old Tun Tavern" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 14, 2017. Jul 18, 2018.
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