Tuesday, July 1, 2008

George Washington Slept Here

George Washington did more than visit the Hudson Valley -- he lived here for the last six months of the Revolutionary War, and for six months after what he called the "cessation of hostilities".

Gen. Washington commanded the troops from a brick farmhouse in Newburgh, on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. The house was owned by the Hasbrouck family, for whom the nearby village Hasbrouck Heights is named. Appropriately, the name of the street where this house is located is Liberty Street.

It could be the most patriotic thing you do this Fourth of July weekend -- besides flying the American flag, of course -- to visit the house now known as Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site. It's a museum about the Continental Army's activities in the Hudson Valley, plus an art gallery that's mostly portraits of Revolutionary patriots -- only Hudson Valley patriots, no Boston Patriots, with or without football helmets.

It was in this house that Gen. Washington rejected the idea of becoming king after the war. It was here that he created and awarded the Badge of Military Merit, which later became the Purple Heart. And it was from here that he posted letters to State Governors that influenced the writing of the Constitution.

Another important bit of history about Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site -- in 1850 an act of Congress named Washington's Hudson Valley headquarters as the very first National Historic Landmark. How appropriate for the first President of the United States.

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