- Samuel Fraunces
Samuel Fraunces (1722–1795) owner/operator of
Fraunces Tavernin New York City. Born in the West Indies of French ancestry, his origins are somewhat mysterious. Although the 1790 New York Censuslists Fraunces as having been white and a slave-holder, there remains some question about his racial identity. There are historical references to Fraunces having been called "Black Sam", but there are no 18th-century references to his having been of African descent. The nickname "Black Sam" may refer to his temper or appearance from working in the kitchen.
One of the biggest distinctions earned by Fraunces was his business and personal relationship with one of America's most powerful men,
George Washington. When Washington became the first President of the United Statesin 1789, he selected Fraunces to be the steward of his executive mansionin New York City.
Samuel Fraunces, George Washinigton's chief provisioner dined in the comfortable atmosphere of one of America's oldest taverns The Old '76 House in
Tappan, New Yorkduring the American Revolutionary War.
The national capital moved to
Philadelphiain 1790, and Fraunces followed Washington there, managing the staff of the President's Housefrom 1791 to 1794. Washington's step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custisdescribed Fraunces overseeing a State dinner: " [T] he steward in snow-white apron, silk shorts and stockings, and hair in full powder, placed the first dish on the table, the clock being on the stroke of four ..." ["Recollections and Private Memoirs of the Life and Character of Washington" (New York, 1860) p.423]
Following his retirement from the presidential household, Fraunces operated a tavern in Philadelphia for about a year until his death. A
Pennsylvania state historical markerat 2nd & Dock Streets marks the tavern's location.
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