Fraunces Tavern opened in 1762 as the "Queen's Head Tavern" and also was known as the “Sign of Queen Charlotte”—for its portrait of the queen. The tavern, under the proprietorship of Samuel Fraunces--a patriot of African and French extraction born in the French West Indies, was located across the Bowling Green from the Whitehall Ferry landing. There, a barge waited to carry Washington across the Hudson River to New Jersey and then to Annapolis to resign his commission.
Until British troops evacuated the city on November 22, 1783, Fraunces Tavern was called the "Queen's Head Tavern." Its sign incorporated a portrait of Queen Charlotte. After British troops evacuated the city on November 25, 1783, Governor George Clinton threw a huge party at the tavern in honor of General Washington. On December 1, a display of "fire-works and illuminations" was viewed from the Battery.
According to Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge's account, General Henry Knox stood closest to General Washington. As the general concluded his address, the two turned to each other and "suffused in tears…embraced each other in silence." Then, each of the officers followed suit, afterwards following Washington to the ferry landing where he departed, waving to them from his barge.
General Washington had already issued his Farewell Orders to the Continental Army. The outpouring of emotion and affection for Washington upon his retirement to Mt. Vernon for Christmas imposed a heavy burden of reciprocal correspondence. The general authored many letters of recommendation for former soldiers and patriots including a testimonial for Samuel Fraunces, who likely assisted the Continental Army by obtaining intelligence from British army officers frequenting his tavern while New York was under royal government. Fraunces later was employed by Washington as a steward in his presidential households in New York and Philadelphia.