American Revolution
Things to See & Do in New York
Governors Island National Monument
Governors Island is a 172-acre island located a half-mile from the southern tip of Manhattan in New York harbor. Its name comes from the time when New York was a British colony and the colonial assembly reserved the island for the exclusive use of New York’s royal governors. When the American Revolution began in 1776, George Washington ordered the island to be fortified with earthworks just prior to the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) - the first ever engagement of the fledgling Continental Army with British forces. Two fortifications were placed on Governors Island in the years preceding the War of 1812 as part of an extensive coastal defense system. During the Civil War, Castle Williams held Confederate prisoners of war. After the war, it was used as a military stockade and became the east coast counterpart to military prisons at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. In 1878 the military installation on the island, then known as Fort Columbus, became a major Army administrative center and, in 1939, the headquarters of the United States First Army. When the Army left Governors Island in 1966, the installation became a U.S. Coast Guard base - the largest in the world. Its closing in 1997 concluded almost two centuries of the island’s use as a federal reservation. In 2001, the two historic fortifications and their surroundings became a national monument.
Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site
This 18th-century church is one of New York's oldest parishes (1665-1980). It was used as a hospital following the important Revolutionary War Battle at Pell's Point in 1776, and was the scene of various military developments for the next six years. The church stood at the edge of Eastchester village green, the site of the "Great Election"(1733), which raised the issues of Freedom of Religion and Press. The adjoining cemetery contains burials dating from 1704. Increasing industrialization of the area around St. Paul's Church in the early 20th century led to the decline of the parish. In 1942, as part of an effort to revitalize the congregation and draw attention to the site's historical significance, the interior of the church was restored to its 18th century appearance, based on the original pew plan of 1787.
Federal Hall National Memorial
26 Wall Street was the site of New York City's 18th century City Hall. Here John Peter Zenger was jailed, tried, and acquitted of libel for exposing government corruption in his newspaper, an early victory for freedom of the press. City Hall hosted the Stamp Act Congress, which assembled in October 1765, to protest "taxation without representation." After the American Revolution, the Continental Congress met at City Hall, and in 1787 adopted the Northwest Ordinance establishing procedures for creating new states. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, New York remained the national capital. Pierre L'Enfant was commissioned to remodel City Hall for the new federal government. The First Congress met in the new Federal Hall, and wrote the Bill of Rights, and George Washington was inaugurated here as President on April 30, 1789. When the capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, the building again housed city government until 1812, at which time Federal Hall was demolished. The current structure on the site was built as the Customs House, opening in 1842. In 1862, Customs moved to 55 Wall Street and the building became the U. S. Sub-Treasury. Millions of dollars of gold and silver were kept in the basement vaults until the Federal Reserve Bank replaced the Sub-Treasury system in 1920.
Saratoga National Historical Park
Site of the first significant American military victory during the Revolution, the Battles of Saratoga rank among the fifteen most decisive battles in world history. Here in 1777 American forces met, defeated and forced a major British army to surrender, an event which led France to recognize the independence of the United States and enter the war as a decisive military ally of the struggling Americans. First authorized as a New York state historic preserve in 1927 on the sesquicentennial of the Battles, the Battlefield was made part of the National Park System in 1938 when Saratoga National Historical Park was authorized by the United States Congress. The park now comprises three separate units: the 4 square mile Battlefield in Stillwater, New York, the General Philip Schuyler House eight miles north in Schuylerville and the Saratoga Monument in the nearby village of Victory. The park is located on the upper Hudson River in an area possessing significant natural and cultural attractions appealing to a wide range of visitors from around the world.
Featured Resources

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