The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in Art & History

Inn Sign from The “General Wolfe” Tavern

Museum of the American Revolution - Joy of Museums 4

This Inn Sign hung outside the “General Wolfe” tavern in Brooklyn, Connecticut, before the American Revolution of 1765 – 1783. Images of British heroes played a role in forging the colonialists’ sense of a British identity. American place names reflected this British identity. George Washington’s home “Mount Vernon” was named in honour of British Admiral Edward Vernon, a hero of the wars in South America.

The tavern’s owner, Israel Putnam, had led Connecticut provincial forces during the French and Indian wars of 1754 – 1763. So, when Putnam established his tavern, it was natural for him to call it the “General Wolfe”, like many colonial Americans before the American Revolution, colonists celebrated British heroes, such as the British general James Wolfe. Images of the celebrated General Wolfe were widely distributed and was regarded as a hero who died  commanding the forces  that captured Quebec in 1759.

Major General James Wolfe (1727 – 1759) was a British Army Officer, who played a key role in the taking of Quebec in 1759, which earned him posthumous fame. He was depicted in the painting The Death of General Wolfe, which became famous around the world. Wolfe was posthumously dubbed “The Hero of Quebec” or “The Conqueror of Quebec”. The capture of Quebec led directly to the capture of Montreal, ending French control of Canada provided British victory in the French and Indian Wars.

The Death of General Wolfe B.West,1770

“The Death of General Wolfe”, 1770 by Benjamin West at the National Gallery of Canada 

The holes in the Inn Sign are from buckshots. It is claimed that Revolutionaries shot the sign in 1770. Putman the owner of the Tavern became an American general in the Revolutionary War against the British.

Other Historical Items from the American Revolution include:

Essential Facts:

  • Name:                          Inn Sign – The “General Wolfe” Tavern
  • Original Location:     Brooklyn, Connecticut
  • Made:                           1768
  • Material:                      Paint on Pine Board, Iron
  • Museum:                     Museum of the American Revolution

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“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”
George Washington

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Photo Credit: 1) By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) Benjamin West [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons