Philadelphia is known as the ‘Cradle of Liberty’ for good reason. The city served as the first capital of the United States and was home to the original White House. Although the U.S. capital and White House were eventually moved to the more centrally located Washington D.C., Philadelphia has remained steeped in presidential history.
Jacob Graff House
This was the residence of President Thomas Jefferson, and prior to the American Revolution, it was here that he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Today, the building is a fully restored 3 1/2 story red brick building. The first floor features displays of 18th century life, and the parlor and bedroom that Jefferson lived in on the second floor are also completely restored and contain furniture of the day.
The President’s House
This place served as the White House from 1790 to 1800 while Philadelphia was the American capital. Currently, there is an open air exhibition at the location called “The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation.” Washington lived here for more than six years (from 1790-97), as did John Adams for almost four years (from 1797-1800).
Independence National Historic Park
The presidential inaugurations of George Washington as well as John Adams occurred in this park. The Constitutional Convention also took place here in 1787. Joining Washington and Adams on these hallowed grounds were future Presidents Jefferson and Madison. The fully restored, stately, and symmetrical Hall features a 2 1/2 story red brick building, and is believed by historians to be the most authentic 18th-century public building of Georgian style surviving in the United States.
In 1793 and 1794, a yellow fever epidemic swept through Philadelphia, prompting President Washington to move his residence seven miles away to the city’s Germantown section. The home is known as the “Germantown White House” and is certified as the oldest official presidential residence. Washington held cabinet meetings here and also used the home as a summer retreat after the epidemic subsided. A Deshler-Morris House Passport Stamp is available at the Independence Visitor’s Center at 6th and Market Streets in Olde City, Philadelphia.
Related: Guide to Historic Germantown.
City Tavern was the place to be and the spot where members of the Constitutional Convention and Continental Congress and Government officials, including a number of future presidents, stayed and dined while in Philadelphia. Upon arriving in Philadelphia in August of 1774 to attend the First Continental Congress, John Adams was greeted by Washington and Jefferson, who took him to the tavern he would then call “the most genteel tavern in America.” City Tavern was also where Paul Revere would go to report on the developments of the Revolutionary War.
Related: Story telling tours of Philadelphia.
Darren Hunter is an author, lecturer, and freelancer covering travel and outdoors around Philadelphia. His third book, The Exile Project, was set in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park at Valley Green. His work can be found at Examiner.com.