Although largely overshadowed by the nearby Irish Memorial, a plaque in the small park on I-95 in Philadelphia marks the location of the historic Tun Tavern, considered the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps.
The brewery-tavern was established around 1686 by settler Joshua Carpenter, named after a type of barrel for beer or wine. In the 1740s, it was given the subtitle “Peggy Mullan’s Red Hot Beef Steak Club,” by then a popular restaurant among the locals. It wasn’t long before Tun Tavern became a significant meeting place for major political organizations.
For example, the tavern is recognized by the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia as the birthplace of masonic teachings in America, and as the host of the first meetings of St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in 1732. It was also used by historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, serving as a recruitment center for the Pennsylvania militia as well as a meeting point for the Continental Congress.
According to popular legend, Tun Tavern also served as the recruitment station for the Marines, then known as the Continental Marines. Though it is said that the Marines were founded at the tavern on November 10, 1775, some historians believe that it’s more likely to have been at another inn in Philadelphia, which was owned by the mother of the commandant, Captain Samuel Nicholas.
The tavern did not survive for long despite its illustrious history, having burned down near the end of the American Revolution. The Marines, along with the Continental Navy, were also disbanded following the war, and then re-established in 1798 as the current U.S. Marines. Today, November 1oth is commemorated every year as the United States Marine Corps Birthday.